Wolves president dismisses Pau Gasol trade talk

Wolves president dismisses Pau Gasol trade talk

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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3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

After a rough start, the Caps battled back to make a game of it against Tampa Bay, but ultimately fell 4-2 to the Lightning. Here's why.

The first period

To put it simply, this game was lost in the opening period. Washington was the better team for the second and third but they could not overcome the 3-0 lead they spotted the Lightning in the first. Beyond the goals, the Caps just did not play well. Even the simplest of plays looked difficult as Washington struggled to get the puck out of their own zone, gave up numerous turnovers and scoring chances and just looked overmatched. Braden Holtby also looked shaky allowing three goals on just eight shots. Usually he is able to cover up some of the mistakes the defense makes it front of him, but he was not there to bail the team out on Tuesday in what was a really rocky start.


Taking a penalty 34 seconds into the game

Entering Tuesday’s game, Tampa Bay boasted the second best power play unit in the league. Playing a disciplined game is part of every game plan, but that is especially true against such a dominant unit. Giving up a penalty just 34 seconds into the game was not an ideal start. The call itself was debatable. Brett Connolly was called for interference when he knocked over Dan Girardi in the offensive zone. The puck was just behind Girardi as he had lost control of it in his skates. The sticking point here is that Girardi no longer had possession and Connolly could have played the puck instead of the player. Most referees would probably let that go with the puck so close, but Connolly was not so lucky. Whether it was a good call or not, the Caps found themselves down a man and down a goal soon after as Brayden Point scored the power play tally.

A missed opportunity from Kuznetsov on one end, a goal for Nikita Kucherov on the other

Even after spotting the Lightning a 3-0 lead, the Caps made a game of it. Lars Eller struck on the power play in the second period and Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington to within one with about nine minutes left to play. Just over a minute later, Evgeny Kuznetsov stole the puck away from Nikita Kucherov, the frontrunner for league MVP this season, at the Tampa blue line giving the Caps a short 2-on-1. Defenseman Andrej Sustr was textbook on the play forcing Kuznetsov as far wide as he could go while still covering the passing lane and Kuznetsov elected to shoot from the faceoff dot rather than attempt the pass to T.J. Oshie.Andrei Vasilevskiy made a routine blocker save to deny what looked like a great opportunity to tie the game. As always happens in hockey, a failed opportunity on one end led to an opportunity in the other direction. Less than a minute later, Kucherov made up for his mistake by scoring a breakaway goal to put the game out of reach at 4-2.


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3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

The first 20 minutes of Tuesday's game did not go well for Washington. The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three times in the opening frame and rode that lead all the way to the 4-2 win.

With the game heading towards a repeat of their blowout loss to Chicago, the Capitals rebounded in the second period to make a game of it as Lars Eller scored on a power play. Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington within one in the third period, but Nikita Kucherov slammed the door shut with a breakaway goal to extend the lead back to 2.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Brayden Point: Tampa Bay won this game in the first period when they took a 3-0 lead. Point scored two of those three goals. His first came only 2:30 into the game. He retreated to the blue line on the power play believing Jay Beagle would clear the puck. When Beagle turned the puck over, he recognized it and immediately crashed the net, taking a Ryan Callahan pass in the slot and shooting it through the five-hole of Braden Holtby.

On his second goal, Anton Stralman saw an opportunity on the Caps’ line change and passed the puck up to Point at the blue line. Point turned on the jets to get behind the defense and went five-hole again on Holtby to make the score 3-0.

2. Alex Ovechkin: After the first period, Washington slowly took this game over for much of the remaining 40 minutes. Ovechkin was a big part of that as he totaled an incredible 19 shot attempts for the game. Nine of those shots were on goal and he found the back of the net in the third period for career goal No. 594.

3. Tom Wilson: Through the first period, the Caps looked well on their way to a repeat of the 7-1 debacle they suffered Saturday in Chicago. They had nothing going in this game until Wilson drew a trip from Vladislav Namestnikov in the second period. Eller would score on the resulting power play giving Washington some much-needed life.

The Namestnikov penalty was the 29th drawn penalty of the season for Wilson, which moves him into a tie with Matthew Tkachuk for the most drawn penalties in the NHL.