MINNEAPOLIS (AP) —The Minnesota Timberwolves have long been interested in Pau Gasol.
Now that Gasol is having trouble fitting in with new Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense, the time would seem natural for the teams to renew trade talks. But that’s not the case.
“There’s absolutely nothing imminent that we’re working on,” Timberwolves President David Kahn said Friday.
Kahn called an impromptu news conference after a shootaround leading to Minnesota’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He addressed a report that said the Wolves have built a package around Derrick Williams and Nikola Pekovic to offer the Lakers for Gasol.
The Associated Press reported in June that Wolves did dangle Williams in an effort to land Gasol, but Kahn said Friday that is the last time the teams talked about it.
“I can assure you there have been absolutely no discussions with that team since last June,” Kahn said.
Kahn has considered speaking with Williams and Pekovic to reassure them. But he acknowledged that can be “a slippery slope” because while there is no immediate deal one or both of them could be on the move in the future.
Pekovic said he pays no attention to the talk, hearing of it only when friends contact him to see if there is truth to it.
“I just never think about it,” Pekovic said.
What does appear clear is that Kahn wants to see how the team responds to point guard Ricky Rubio’s return to the lineup. Rubio has been out since March with a torn ligament in his left knee. But he has been practicing and could play in a game as early as next week, though there is no firm timetable.
“My main concern right now is that the team simply regain its health and then maintain its health,” Kahn said. “That’s the No. 1 concern I have because this has been, since really the night Ricky got hurt last March, it’s really been difficult for us to become healthy again. Hopefully sooner rather than later the team will become healthy again.”
Kevin Love, Chase Budinger, Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko, JJ Barea and Pekovic have all missed time with injuries this season. The Wolves, though, have not fallen too far behind. They were 8-9 heading into the game against the Cavaliers.
“I’m very admiring of the players and the coaching staff,” Kahn said. “I’m admiring and proud. If you really think about it, if we’d been at full health, we might’ve had a pretty nice record right now because they’ve been competitive, I think, in every game.”
The Lakers maintain they don’t plan on any moves until Steve Nash returns from a leg injury. But Gasol, who is earning more than $19 million this year and next, struggled to find a place in D’Antoni’s up-tempo system. He is averaging just 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds, and has missed the last two games and is out indefinitely with tendinitis in his knees.
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