New name, same old league

The former NBA Development League, known as the D-League, has changed its name to that of a sports beverage and is now known as the G League. Iowa Wolves Head Coach Scott Roth admitted it takes some getting used to the name change: “I don’t know how many times I’ve said ‘D’ instead of ‘G’,” he said. “It will take a little bit to catch on, but it is still a developmental league. It’s a league for everyone…referees, front office…to get better at their craft.”

It may have a new name, but the former D-League is still preparing players, coaches and officials as a “research and development lab” for the parent NBA. The 26-team NBA G League’s regular season games in November, which began Nov. 3, will use four-person officiating crews. This testing also was used during the preseason. Four- or five-person crews were used in nine regular season games.

Scott Roth (Charles Hallman/MSR News)

Minnesota earlier this year acquired the Iowa franchise and renamed it the Wolves, making it the local NBA club’s first full-time G League affiliate.

Of two area player tryouts, one was held in Iowa and one in the Timberwolves-Lynx training facility in downtown Minneapolis in September. “We’ve found two or three pretty good players,” Roth told the MSR afterwards.

Marvin Singleton, a 6’-6” forward who played at Hopkins High School and Northern Iowa, is the only player from those tryouts that made the Wolves 2017-18 final roster. The club also picked up 6’-6” guard Elijah Millsap, a five-year G League veteran whose rights were acquired in an October 20 trade with the Northern Arizona Suns. Millsap was among an all-time high of 44 percent of all NBA players with G League experience when he played in two games with Phoenix at the end of the 2016-17 season.

Other notables on the Wolves roster include Melo Trimble, a 2017 Timberwolves draft choice, and Jarvis Williams, who once starred at Minnesota State.

“It’s about reestablishing the culture, building a foundation” at the minor league franchise, Roth told us. “They have been struggling for many years. My expectations are to lay the foundation and have some synergy between the Timberwolves and [Iowa] and make sure everything is up and running.”

Two-thirds of Iowa’s assistant coaching staff is Black — Charlie Bell and Kevin Burleson, who spent three years as a player development coach with the NBA’s Houston Rockets. He also played two seasons in the G League (2006-07; 2009) and 39 games for Charlotte (2005) as an undrafted player out of the University of Minnesota. Bell also went undrafted out of Michigan State but played seven NBA seasons.

Iowa started its season play at home last Saturday.

“Hopefully we do win some games along the way and [will] be very competitive,” Roth said, fully understanding his role as Iowa head coach. “Not to say we don’t want to win, but it’s about the development of the players. Winning isn’t necessarily the main objective in the league.”


Globe-tracking the Lynx

In recent overseas action: Temi Fagbenie (CCC Polkowice, Poland) averaged 14 points in two wins. Alexis Jones (Al-Qazeres, Spain) had 22 points in a win. Renee Montgomery’s 19 points included six threes in one win and nine assists and four steals in another for Flammes Carolo (France).

Both Fagbenie (Great Britain) and Anna Cruz (Spain) are in action on Saturday in the EuroBasket 2019 Qualifier for their respective country teams.



The Minnesota women’s basketball team opens their regular season Saturday as part of a “football-women’s hoops doubleheader” as they host Lehigh at the Barn.


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