The Scoops: Tubby Smith has big buyout, but staff changes likely afoot
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Upon a second consecutive 6-12 Big Ten finish, Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith got a contract extension in July even though he had two years remaining on his deal.
It should be noted that the new regime, including athletic director Norwood Teague and senior associate athletic director Mike Ellis, had little to do with the contractual terms -- with one exception.
The original plan was for Smith's buyout the next two years to exceed the $2.5 million that ended up in the final language.
That's still a hefty number for a change, and when the idea of parting ways with Smith was run past a high-level Gophers official, he said, "It's way too early to speculate on stuff like that."
There's no doubt that's true, but there is a caveat. There already is a sense internally Smith will be asked to make a staff change, or two.
Assistants Ron Jirsa, Vince Taylor and Saul Smith, Tubby's son, have been on staff since Smith took the Gophers over in 2007.
An offensive guru/recruiting wizard seems to be a necessity. As another Gophers official put it late Wednesday night after Smith's team struggled mightily in the loss at Northwestern: "It's like we've never seen a 1-3-1 (zone) before."
As for Smith calling out players publicly during this three-game losing streak, it's worth remembering former AD Joel Maturi had to pull Smith aside in 2011 and tell him it was in the best interest of the program if he backed away some.
Talking with Terry
KSTP-TV colleague Chris Long caught up with Twins general manager Terry Ryan at the Old Timers Hot Stove banquet on Tuesday. Here's a quick Q&A:
Spring training should be interesting ...
"We'll have a lot of people in there, there's no doubt. We'll have competition with some new faces. Most importantly is figuring out that rotation. Other things will fall into place. There will be a lot of new guys in the rotation who will hopefully upgrade what we have."
Do you have a sense of how the rotation will set up?
"We got (Mike) Pelfrey, (Kevin) Correia, (Vance) Worley and (Scott) Diamond and those are guys who have been around long enough to think they should fit right in. The (Sam) Dedunos, (Cole) De Vrieses and Esmerling Vasquezes and those types of guys, the younger pitchers who are first-time roster guys, will be interesting to see how they respond -- whether they are ready or not. They need to show that to us."
Do you think another signing comes before you get down there?
"We may have some things going on still. There are still some people that interest us. There are still a lot of free agents on the board. A few of them are intriguing and some certainly fit."
Pitcher or infielder?
"Frankly, we can use both. We have areas of concern. Some of the guys out there have ability. Whether there's a fit, whether they have an interest in us, whether the dollars fit, all that stuff, but there are guys we still have an interest in."
Watching catcher Joe Mauer, it seems like he's more at ease ...
"He's healthy. He has to feel good heading into spring training. He's geared up for the (World Baseball Classic). He had a good year. He's very comfortable with the direction he's headed and that's a good feeling for all of us to have him healthy. (Justin) Morneau's healthy. The health of this team is pretty good with the exception of (Nick) Blackburn. That's a good feeling for once."
What's the latest on Blackburn?
"He'll be out until May 1st (after undergoing wrist surgery this month). It's a setback. It's unfortunate. But at least we took care of it now instead of waiting until spring training. He should be ready by May."
• The "U" official laughed at the report that Smith could be a fit at USC. "Not buying that at all," the source said. "Zero chance of that happening. ... One-hundred percent false."
• Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn, via email when presented with the notion that coach Rick Adelman will be gone for the rest of the year: "Anything's possible, but that's not where this is headed." That being said, two sources insist that Adelman has at least thought about needing to be away for the duration of the season.
• Considering Adelman badly wanted to bring Elston Turner onto his staff when he first got the job in September 2011, it makes sense to think Turner could end up with the Wolves eventually. Turner was released from his contract on Thursday. Phoenix wouldn't let him out of it previously.
• The Wolves didn't have any interest in forward Marreese Speights, whom Memphis traded to Cleveland earlier in the week.
• League sources say all is relatively quiet for now on the Wolves' trade front. They're still expected to do something before the Feb. 21 deadline. But like many deals, it may not materialize until the final days.
• As long as the Lakers are losing, forward/center Pau Gasol's name will percolate in trade rumors. Consider the Wolves still in the hunt.
• The Wolves have indicated to center Nikola Pekovic they have no intention of shopping him. But as someone close to Pekovic said, "What does that really mean?" For what it's worth, I'm told Pekovic wants to stay with the Wolves long-term.
• If the Wolves don't keep big man Chris Johnson beyond his 10-day contract, the feeling from a couple scouts and agents is that another NBA team will grab him almost immediately.
• Before Australian center Aron Baynes signed a multi-year deal with the Spurs earlier in the week, the Wolves were in the mix. But the combination of the Wolves' injuries, the need for more immediate help and Baynes' relationship with Spurs guard Patty Mills and assistant coach Brett Brown made it an easy call.
• No reason was given -- just a respectful "no" when free agent forward Kenyon Martin was presented as an idea to Kahn.
• There's still no date set up for free agent pitcher Brandon Webb to audition for teams. When he does, the Twins are expected to be there.
• Free agent Bill Hall is not under consideration for that backup infielder spot the Twins are seeking.
• It's safe to say that Carl Pavano era with the Twins is officially over. The pitcher remains a free agent and reportedly is out six to eight weeks after rupturing his spleen in a fall while shoveling snow at his Vermont home.
• There's no buzz, at least yet, the Twins have an interest in 24-year-old pitcher Sam Dyson. A fourth-round draft pick in 2010, Dyson was designated for assignment by Toronto earlier in the week. He made his major league debut last year. While doing so, then Blue Jays manager John Farrell (now Boston's manager) said Dyson had some of the best stuff in the organization.
• The Twins didn't put in a waiver claim on 26-year-old starting pitcher Zach Stewart, but the White Sox did. Stewart's agent said his client has put a lot of his weight back on following sports hernia surgery.
• Twins first baseman Justin Morneau said at Thursday night's Diamond Awards at Target Field there's been no dialogue between his agent and the team about a contract extension. Morneau's deal expires after the 2013 season.
• Twins pitcher Scott Diamond will throw on Monday for the first time since undergoing offseason left shoulder bone chip removal surgery.
• Gophers football coach Jerry Kill is expected at DeLaSalle High School on Saturday afternoon to watch quarterback recruit Reid Travis' basketball game against Eden Prairie. Iowa is visiting with Travis weekly and Stanford, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oregon are expected to visit in the next month. This excludes all the basketball interest in him. Big-time coaches are swinging in regularly on that front too.