MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jonny Flynn hopes to stay in Minnesota and grow with a group of young teammates he loves to be around.
The realist in him knows that may not happen.
Flynn hears his name mentioned in trade chatter across the league. He sees veteran Luke Ridnour starting and getting the bulk of the minutes and knows the Timberwolves hope to get Ricky Rubio to come over from Spain next season. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for Flynn, or backups Sebastian Telfair and Sundiata Gaines, the other two point guards on the roster.
“If you just look at the depth chart, something’s going to happen,” Flynn said after practice Thursday. “It’s inevitable. You can’t really overlook that. Something’s going to happen. It’s just who and when. When that time comes, it will come.”
This is not the way Flynn envisioned his second season going. The Timberwolves drafted him No. 6 overall last year, one pick after they selected Rubio. President David Kahn has been criticized for passing on Stephen Curry and Flynn struggled to master the way coach Kurt Rambis wanted him to play during his rookie season.
Flynn went to work over the summer fully expecting to have much more of an impact in his second season, but he had to have hip surgery in July and missed training camp and the first 24 games of the season while recovering.
He made his season debut on Dec. 14, but Ridnour has asserted himself as the starting point guard for now, and the minutes have been hard to come by. Flynn is averaging 5.1 points and 2.9 assists and has topped 20 minutes twice in his nine games this season, with Rambis trying to ease him back in.
“It’s definitely hard,” Flynn said. “Ten minutes, broken up, it’s hard to get in a rhythm. But it’s definitely what’s best for the team, I guess. I’ll just come in every day, keep working and keep getting better.”
The Timberwolves are in the middle of another rebuilding project, one that for now is centered around forwards Michael Beasley and Kevin Love.
They have been competitive for most of the season, but don’t have many wins to show for it. The youngest team in the league is 8-25, having lost more games than any other team. Lacking the kind of veteran leader to stabilize them in tight moments, the Wolves have blown a double-digit lead seven times.
Kahn and Rambis made a conscious decision to remake the roster into a team this young, and they’re taking their lumps for it right now.
“There’s just no way, without having veteran players, veteran leadership, veteran examples out there on the floor, there’s no way you’re going to take 10 new guys and all the young guys that we have and collectively get them on the same page to work together on both ends of the floor with the type of unity and chemistry and knowing how to play off each other in this limited time,” Rambis said after the Timberwolves lost to Denver on Wednesday night. “It takes months, it takes years for that to happen.”
Both Rambis and Kahn have preached patience while this team grows together and learns on the job, but both also know that the wins need to start coming.
Rambis was asked Thursday about the possibility of making a trade or two to bring in the kind of established veteran that can show the young Wolves the ropes.
“We’re always looking at ways to improve our ballclub and changes that we might be able to make,” Rambis said. “But we’ve got a really good core group of guys here and it’s about developing those guys.”
The coach, of course, did not mention any specific names. But Flynn, Telfair and swingman Corey Brewer are the three players who have been mentioned in trade rumors most.
“It’s hard not to listen to it,” said Flynn, a self-described sports news junkie. “Being an avid sports fan and looking at everything like I look at it, you’re going to see those things. Around this time there’s a lot of rumors that come up. The only thing I can control is just getting better. Getting stronger.”
He has been visibly frustrated on the court several times this year with his inconsistent playing time, scowling and hollering whenever he’s been given the quick hook.
But Flynn also says Minnesota is where he would prefer to stay.
“I love it here. I love the guys here. I love the coaching staff,” Flynn said. “It’s a young team that I definitely see great things out of. But it’s still a business at the end of the day. You can never overlook that. This is a business. Some things you just can’t control.”
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