By Jon Krawczynski Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Luke Ridnour didn’t sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves just to be a mentor to the younger players.
Team president David Kahn brought the 29-year-old Blaine product in to challenge Jonny Flynn for the starting point guard spot.
“Luke is going to come in here with every intent of trying to win the starting point guard position,” Kahn said Wednesday when Ridnour signed a four-year, $16 million contract. “That was very important to him and that’s the way we like it, too.”
Kahn liked Ridnour for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that he is entering his eighth season in the league and will provide veteran leadership to a team that doesn’t have another player over 25 on its roster. But Ridnour also averaged 10.4 points and four assists to help the Milwaukee Bucks reach the playoffs last year, shooting a career-high 38 percent from 3-point range.
“I think his style of play fits perfectly with who we aim to be,” Kahn said.
Flynn had an up-and-down rookie season with the Timberwolves and had trouble as a pick-and-roll, ball-dominant point guard fitting into an offensive system predicated on ball movement. Kahn told Flynn in his season-ending interview that he “needed to be prepared to defend his starting position” heading into training camp.
“We like competition both in practices and within the roster,” Kahn said. “I think it makes the players better for them to push each other for playing time and the things that go with it.”
Ridnour said he looks forward to competing with Flynn, but also to helping the young player learn the nuances of the game, much like he did with rookie Brandon Jennings with the Bucks last year.
“Here it’s kind of the same situation,” Ridnour said. “You’ve got guys that are a little bit younger. For me, if they can get better, the team’s going to win.”
There are a lot of younger guys on this team, especially at point guard. In addition to Flynn and Ridnour, the Timberwolves also have Ramon Sessions on the roster and Ricky Rubio playing in Spain. The Wolves hope the 19-year-old Rubio will come overseas before next season.
“It’s not my intent in any way, shape or form to have three healthy point guards on the roster this year,” Kahn said. “That wouldn’t be fair to any of them. I recognize that we have to alleviate that situation, provided we have three healthy point guards.”
There’s the rub.
Flynn aggravated a left hip injury in workouts before summer league play, Kahn said. He said the Timberwolves will wait to see the extent of Flynn’s injury before deciding to make a trade.
Sessions would appear to be the odd man out. The Cleveland Cavaliers could be a suitor as they look to reshape the roster after LeBron James’ departure.
Sessions played with Cavaliers guard Mo Williams in Cleveland and the two remain close.
“I don’t think it’s healthy to have three guys who are healthy all wanting to play,” Kahn said. “That can lead to some tension. I think we’ll look to alleviate it as soon as we have more information on everybody’s condition.”