The Scoops: Wolves hire influential ex-Blazers employee as scout
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
It turns out there was more to the Brandon Roy package than his dear friend, point guard Will Conroy.
A league source said longtime Seattle-based NBA consultant Steve "Hat Man" Gordon is now on the Minnesota Timberwolves' payroll as a scout. He has worked out Roy and Conroy for years.
Generally, when a team brings in a new talent evaluator who on the surface has very little say in personnel moves, the reaction is met with a collective yawn.
But this case could eventually be different for a couple reasons:
1. Gordon wielded lots of power while an employee for the Blazers. In fact, multiple reports said he was incredibly tight with owner Paul Allen and was partly responsible for the firing of general manager Kevin Pritchard and assistant general manager Tom Penn. Presumably, Gordon is still close with Allen. Considering the Wolves' issues with the Blazers -- the Nic Batum fallout and the Martell Webster compensation claim -- does it make sense to have an Allen confidant on the payroll?
2. Gordon has a good relationship with free-agent center Greg Oden. Mike Conley Sr., Oden's agent, told me over the summer that his client wasn't expected to play this year but is expected back for the 2013-14 season. Assuming his knees don't break down again -- he has had three microfracture surgeries in the last five years -- Oden will likely be on the Wolves' radar and they could have the inside track to getting him because of Gordon.
• A source close to Conroy is convinced he'll stick on the opening night roster because of his $100,000 guarantee. Conroy will become expendable when point guard Ricky Rubio is back in December.
• There has been no dialogue between the Wolves and wing Chase Budinger's camp about a contract extension. Budinger will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
• A Twins source called retaining pitcher Scott Baker "a high priority" even though they'll decline his $9.25 million option. In fact, they want to keep him away from the open market and are talking regularly to his agent, Alan Nero. An incentive-laden one- or two-year deal with a lower guarantee is possible. Baker, who underwent Tommy John surgery in April, is on schedule to pitch at the start of the 2013 season.
• In the last two weeks the Twins have fired VP of Marketing Patrick Klinger and another marketing maven, Heidi Sammon. Klinger had been with the Twins for 14 years. Among Sammon's duties: running TwinsFest.
• Ex-Twins catcher Mike Redmond was never contacted for the bench coach job that went to another ex-Twins catcher, Terry Steinbach. Well, Redmond is now a front-runner for the Marlins managerial opening.
• Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, who won a World Series with the Blue Jays, is not in the mix for their managerial opening. His role with the Twins for next year at this point is still undefined.
• Twins general manager Terry Ryan recently checked out his prospects in the Arizona Fall League.
• Former Twins general manager Bill Smith has been instrumental in what soon will be a long-term lease extension with Lee County in Florida where the team has spring training. Smith is still on the payroll as a special assistant and will be heavily involved in the expansion process of Hammond Stadium and its surrounding property. As a part of the lease extension, the Twins will get a sizeable amount of money to invest in its facilities there.
• A number of teams have called on minor-league free agent pitcher Aaron Laffey, but the Twins haven't. I still wouldn't be shocked if they eventually do.
• Third baseman Trevor Plouffe has started his hardcore offseason workouts already. Typically in late October he's still unwinding from the season.
• Twenty-five years ago this week, the Twins won their first World Series (1987). Twenty years ago this week, St. Paul's Jack Morris and Dave Winfield won the World Series with Toronto (1992).
• A Gophers men's basketball source said there will be news on assistant coach Saul Smith in the next day or two. Smith has agreed to certain conditions to maintain his presence on his dad's staff. His suspension stemming from last weekend's DUI arrest remains intact until those conditions are met.
• Gophers baseball coach John Anderson, who needs money for lights for new Siebert Field, on seeing the athletic department sacrifice $800,000 to cancel a football series with North Carolina: "I've been a proponent of this my whole career: you need to have a successful football program if any of us are to do well in any of the other sports here. So, if Norwood (Teague) and Jerry (Kill) think that's the right direction to go to grow our football program, they're the leaders and I guess I have to accept that."
• Mankato West football coach Mark Esch on his former quarterback Philip Nelson's debut with the Gophers last Saturday against Wisconsin: "I think Philip played very well. He showed great composure overall. His ability to make plays with his feet is an important part of that offense. He seemed to read the defense well and make accurate throws. He will only get better as the season goes on. He is a hard worker and a competitor."
• Ex-Gophers commit and Wisconsin commit Keelon Brookins (Tartan High School cornerback) on his visit to Madison last weekend: "This weekend was one of the best I've had since committing. I got to spend some time on campus and with the other commits, which was fun. I took care of some business and spent a little time in Madison getting to know the area. My family and I even went to the Henry Vilas Zoo on Sunday afternoon before heading home. The best part of the trip, of course, is the Axe stays in Wisconsin! Looking forward to going back this upcoming weekend for homecoming against Michigan State."
• By the way, the Gophers are still recruiting Brookins and Cooper High School's Malik Rucker, who has committed to Iowa. Brookins' season came to an end a couple weeks ago when he tore his ACL and meniscus.
• A Lynx source said there's a better chance than not that sixth-woman Candice Wiggins departs this offseason via free agency.
• The NHL players who were skating/scrimmaging regularly at the St. Louis Park Recreation Center have been booted out so St. Louis Park's and Benilde St. Margaret's high school teams can utilize the locker rooms. Those NHLers are now skating at Ridder Arena.
• Ex-Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards, now with the Atlanta Falcons and an avid boxer, used to train at Kronk Gym in Detroit with famed trainer Emanuel Steward, who passed away on Thursday. He was 68 years old.