Capitals

Longtime friend helped convince Roy to come to MN

Longtime friend helped convince Roy to come to MN

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) When Minnesota Timberwolves President David Kahn made his pitch to Brandon Roy, he had a glaring need at shooting guard for him to fill, an accomplished coach who could put Roy in the right positions on the floor and a two-year contract all on his side to woo the former All-Star.

He also had Will Conroy.

Kahn and Conroy go way back, to their time together in the NBDL when Kahn was the GM of the Albuquerque Thunderbirds and Conroy was his point guard. Conroy goes back even farther with Roy. The two were teammates at Garfield High School in Seattle and at the University of Washington, and have been the closest of friends for years.

Conroy also played briefly in Houston with current Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman. So when it came time for Roy to decide where to start his comeback after sitting out a season with chronic knee pain, the Wolves had a strong voice in Roy's inner circle that may have made the difference.

``When Minnesota was one of the teams that stepped forward to being on his radar, I said `B, you've got to go to Minnesota,''' Conroy said. ``Now the weather is a little different. But you'll love playing there. You'll love playing for the coaching staff. He had a couple of teams with some nice cities like Dallas, Golden State, Chicago. He chose Minnesota, which is a big testament to the coaching staff and our front office.''

And to the trust that Roy has in Conroy. Along with fellow Seattle native Jamal Crawford, another occasional Timberwolves free-agent target who signed with the Los Angeles Clippers this summer, the three have a tight bond that is years in the making. They rely on each other for career advice, moral support and everything else. So it's no surprise that when Roy was making a big decision, Conroy was in on the discussion.

``We're best friends,'' Conroy said. ``We try to tell each other the best things possible as far as our careers and guiding our careers and stuff like that. If it wasn't a good situation, I wouldn't have told him to come.''

Getting a playmaking veteran with prototypical size at shooting guard was a priority for the Timberwolves entering the offseason. Wes Johnson had difficulty handling the ball and was traded to Phoenix, leaving Adelman with undersized point guards Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea and Russian import Alexey Shved as the main options alongside Ricky Rubio in the backcourt.

``He was actually the one that kind of helped me talk to David Kahn and get that relationship,'' Roy said of Conroy. ``He just really enjoyed the team. He said Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio were all good players. So when I told him I was going to come back, he thought Minnesota was a team I'd fit good with.''

The Wolves knew Roy would be a little bit of a gamble because of his knees, which forced Portland to use the amnesty clause on his contract and cut him loose. But Roy had a procedure done in June to try to address the bone-on-bone issue in his knees and worked out with Wolves assistant Bill Bayno, who had previously coached Roy on the Blazers staff. Bayno saw glimpses of the old Roy, and the courtship was on.

``Whenever you're recruiting a player, there's a lot of hands on deck and a lot of helpful things you can draw upon and (Conroy) was one of them,'' Kahn said.

Now Conroy is hoping to be Roy's teammate once again. After college, Roy became a franchise player for the Portland Trail Blazers and Conroy set about on a basketball journey to keep the dream alive. He's had several 10-day contracts with Memphis, Houston and the Clippers and made stops throughout the D-League and Europe.

``I always used to joke around with (Kahn),'' Conroy said of his time in Albuquerque. ``I said, `David once you get yourself a real general manager job in the league you have to give me a job. He said, `We'll see. We'll see.'''

Conroy had a brief stint with the Wolves in training camp last season, but it was cut short after a problem with his FIBA clearance, a bureaucratic issue that arises when NBA teams bring in players who are playing overseas. So he's back to try to secure the last available roster spot.

As usual, the odds are stacked against Conroy. Rubio is recovering from an ACL injury but is expected to be back in mid-December. The Wolves also have Ridnour, Barea, Malcolm Lee and Shved who can serve as primary ball-handlers.

Whatever happens with him on the court, Conroy already is assured of leaving his mark with the Wolves. Roy has looked impressive in the first four days of training camp, and the Wolves are hopeful that he can again be a difference maker.

In the meantime, Conroy is giving Roy pointers on settling into a new environment. It's the first time in Roy's life that he is living outside of the Northwest, while Conroy knows a thing or two about acclimating to new cities.

``I got a lot of frequent flier mileage, domestic and abroad,'' Conroy said with a smile. ``He definitely listens to me in that facet.

``I kind of get a lot from him because he's played five or six NBA seasons. I'm trying to add to my resume and stack some of those up. Once we're done with it we can look back and laugh. You started fast, but I've got some years in too now.''

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Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter:http://twitter.com/APkrawczynski

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

It doesn't take an expert to tell you players like Alex Ovechkin or Marc-Andre Fleury will play a big role in the Stanley Cup Final.

Both the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights will need their best players to be at their best to take home the Cup. But who will be the unexpected heroes? Who are the players no one is talking about who will have a big hand in their team's success or defeat in this series?

Here are five players you should be watching in the Stanley Cup:

1. Devante Smith-Pelly: Smith-Pelly had seven goals in 79 games in the regular season. Now he has four goals in just 19 playoff games.

Smith-Pelly has been one of those unlikely playoff heroes for the Caps this postseason with very timely performances such as scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 6 against the Columbus Blue and scoring the goal that put the game away in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The physical play has really stood out as well for him, which fits well on the fourth line role he has settled back into now that the team is healthy again. Barry Trotz tried moving him to the top line in the absence of Tom Wilson and the results weren't great. He is best suited for the role he currently has and that will allow him to thrive.

2. James Neal: Neal came up just short of the Stanley Cup last season as a member of the Nashville Predators. He totaled nine points in 22 games during that run, a number he has already matched in just 15 games this postseason.

There are very few players on either team that boast the kind of postseason experience Neal has. He will be leaned upon this series for his leadership.

Vegas is a young team and their unprecedented success in the playoffs may make this feel like the first run of many for the Golden Knights, but not for Neal who is on the last year of his contract and came tantalizingly close to the Cup last season. He will play like there is no tomorrow because, for him, there may not be in Vegas.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky was one of the heroes of Game 7 with two goals to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning. That marked just the latest peak in a career full of peaks and valleys for the young winger. Just two games before, Burakovsky was a healthy scratch and spoke to the media about his plans to speak with a sports psychologist in the offseason.

The talent is there and it certainly appears that the injury that kept him out earlier in the playoffs is largely behind him. Burakovsky’s issues have always been mainly between the ears. In a series against a fast team with strong depth, he can be an absolutely critical piece for the Caps. Hopefully, his Game 7 performance gave him the confidence he needs to continue to be effective.

4. Ryan Reaves: Vegas acquired both Reaves and Tomas Tatar around the trade deadline. If I were to tell you that through three rounds of the playoffs, both players were healthy, had played the same number of games (6) and had the same number of points (1), you’d think I was crazy. Yet, here we are.

Reaves was largely an afterthought in a complicated trade between Vegas, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, but he has carved a nice role for himself on the Golden Knights’ fourth line and even scored the goal that sent Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final against the Winnipeg Jets.

Reaves is also an agitator on the ice, but what do the Caps do against a player like that when their normal fighter plays on the top line? We may see Reaves and Wilson come to blows this series, but it won't be very often because that is a bad tradeoff for the Caps.

5. Brooks Orpik: The elder statesman of the blue line, Orpik is the only player on the Caps with a Stanley Cup to his name and is the only one who has any idea what this experience is going to be like for the team.

Orpik is very diligent about keeping in shape which has allowed him to play in 81 games this season and all 19 playoff games despite being 37 years old, but you do have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Despite being the favorite whipping boy for the proponents of analytics, his physical play has been effective this postseason. The focus he placed on the skating in the offseason has paid dividends so far in matchups against the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Golden Knights will be the fastest team they have played yet. There is no denying Orpik is much more suited towards a physical style of game. Wil he continue to be effective or will Vegas exploit the Caps' third defensive pairing?

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Stanley Cup Final: Date, Time, TV Channel, Livestrem

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Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Stanley Cup Final: Date, Time, TV Channel, Livestrem

The wait is finally over. 

After two decades, the Capitals are back in the Stanley Cup Final. 

After a convincing 4-0 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Capitals are in Vegas to take on the Golden Knights. They'll be facing off against a handful of familiar names, with former Caps GM George McPhee, fan favorite Nate Schmidt, and ex-Penguins goalie Marc Andre-Fluery are just a few of the names that'll be suiting up for Vegas. 

What will the X-factors in the series be? Who will be the unexpected heroes of Game 1? The action is almost underway, and here are all the details you need to know.

Game 1 Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Monday, May 28
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV.
TV Channel: NBCSN 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 FM)

WHEN IS GAME 1 OF THE CAPITALS-GOLDEN KNIGHTS SERIES?

Game 1 of the Capitals-Golden Knights 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final takes place on Monday, May 28 at 8:00 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.

WHAT TV CHANNEL IS GAME 1 OF THE CAPITALS-GOLDEN KNIGHTS SERIES ON?

The TV broadcast of Game 1 between the Capitals and Golden Knights is on NBC. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

5:00 p.m. — Caps Cup Preview
6:00 p.m. — Caps GameDay Live
6:30 p.m. — Caps Face Off
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Game 1 Capitals vs. Golden Knights
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM CAPITALS vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS GAME 1?

Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final between the Capitals and Golden Knights is available for online stream on the NBC Sports App. Click here for the NBC Sports live stream page.

CAPITALS vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS GAME 1 OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals digital producer JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.