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Timberwolves: Help wanted
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In the NBA, a mini-camp like the one the Timberwolves are holding at their Target Center practice court is like a job interview. (MPR Photo/Brandt Williams)
The Minnesota Timberwolves coaching staff is taking a look at a crop of prospective players this week during the team's three-day mini-camp. The team is looking to fill a few roster spots. And newly-hired head coach Dwane Casey and team vice president Kevin McHale say they like what they see so far. The team is also anxious to bring in its No. 1 draft pick, Rashad McCants. However, they'll have to wait until McCant's sore hamstring heals.

Minneapolis, Minn. — In the NBA, a mini-camp like the one the Wolves are holding at their Target Center practice court is like a job interview.

Players fresh out of college or who have been playing in Europe try out in camps like this around the league. They're trying to show Timberwolves head coach Dwane Casey they've got what it takes to compete in the NBA. Casey is putting the guys through defensive drills.

Casey says one of his big challenges with coaching young players is teaching them the finer points of the NBA game.

"A lot of the guys have not played NBA defense or NBA offense -- learning the nuances," says Casey. "So not only are you teaching them sets, you're teaching them the basics, the fundamentals, nuances of the NBA, and that takes time."

Mini-camp is also an opportunity for newly signed draft picks to become familiar with the team's style of play, and get a chance to show what they can do.

Kevin McHale, the Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations, says he likes what he's seen so far from the team's top two draft picks, Rashad McCants and Bracie Wright.

"Bracie's done a really nice job," says McHale. "The little bit that Rashad was able to practice before tweaking his hamstring. Rashad was a very easy player. A lot of guys have done a nice job and looked good here."

McCants is the team's top draft pick. The 6'4" guard was part of the NCAA championship North Carolina Tarheels team last season. He's known as a guard who can score a lot of points. McCants has been nursing a sore hamstring and hasn't been practicing.

"I'm very excited. I really can't wait to play," says McCants. "That's why it's so frustrating to sit around in practice, because I just want to be out there playing."

Besides the health of his players, Casey also has to worry about assembling his coaching staff. So far he's two short of a full crew. On Tuesday, one of Casey's choices turned down the job because his wife wouldn't move to Minneapolis.

The transition to life in the city has been easier for Casey. He says all he needs is a cot and a VCR so he can watch game tapes.

"It doesn't take a lot for me," says Casey. "I'm going to find a place to live here; someplace close to downtown Minneapolis, like I was in Seattle. I lived close to the office. I spent some nights on the couch in Seattle. And I'm sure I'll spend some nights here watching tape."

The Timberwolves open their summer league play Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Target Center. Casey says Rashad McCants is day to day but may see some limited action in the summer league.

The team will also not likely see guard Fred Hoiberg in uniform anytime soon. Hoiberg recently underwent open heart surgery. However doctors say eventually, he should be able to play basketball again.

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