View Full Version : Szczerbiak: If they don't want me-- trade me!

10-13-2004, 05:36 PM
Szczerbiak: If they don't want me-- trade me!


COLLEGEVILLE, MINN. -- Wally Szczerbiak's jaw is set, his eyes are fixed and his mind is made up. He is going to have a dynamite season in 2004-05.

For the Timberwolves or for somebody else.

As in: "Hey, if they don't want me, trade me."

If that reads like a threat, it shouldn't. It's more of a pledge, a promise to himself not to waste time or lose opportunities gimping around with his foot in a moon boot. Or rehabbing in a swimming pool. Or settling for a backup role in which, too often, his first thought was how not to mess up the other guys' rhythm.

Szczerbiak -- now 27, beginning his sixth NBA season, eager to earn the $9 million the Wolves are paying him -- said he believes that his time is now. And if that means convincing his teammates and coaches all over again, so be it.

"People for some reason forget what I was capable of doing when I was healthy," Szczerbiak said after a recent practice. "I just came in, worked hard, wanted to be ready to go and kind of remind people what I did for a few years in this league."

In little more than a week of training camp, Szczerbiak has done just that. Showing no ill effects of the plantar fasciitis in his left foot that cost him the first 53 games last season, nor of the transverse process fractures in his tailbone that he suffered in Game 3 of the playoff series against Denver, the 6-7 swingman has been, by all accounts, one of the team's most active and impressive players. Fans at the public scrimmage Sunday got a glimpse when Szczerbiak played aggressively, took 22 shots and scored 27 points.

"Wally's had a great camp," guard Fred Hoiberg said. "When he gets it going, he's as good a scorer as there is on the perimeter. He got a little stronger and looks more confident. I think he's going to have a big year for us."

Said Latrell Sprewell: "He likes to shoot, I'll tell you that."

Too much? "I wouldn't say that. That's Wally's game," Sprewell said. "If he sees a little bit of daylight, he's going to let it go ... He can get to the basket and do a lot of things. He's good at coming off curls. A lot of these plays are designed for players like myself and Wally to get nice, easy looks, and he has the ability to knock down shots."

Not that Szczerbiak is about to apologize for shooting anyway. Or defer or settle or take a step back in the Wolves' plans. He wants to start. He craves heavy minutes. He is, after missing 84 games to injuries over the past two seasons, impatient for his game to flourish, back to the level he was at as a 2002 NBA All-Star.

And while he wants to win and be a good teammate, his days of walking on eggshells, waiting his turn and being the good scout apparently are over.

"I've had a great experience with the Timberwolves," Szczerbiak said. "It's been a real fun five years. But I'm prepared, if I get traded, to go kick butt somewhere else. That's how you've got to be in this business."

Let's face it, Szczerbiak has heard the trade rumors, too, a couple years' worth fanned by his alleged friction with Kevin Garnett, his zeal to score, the coaching staff's view of his defense and, of course, the interest of other teams. This summer, it was the Wolves' financial commitment to defender Trenton Hassell (six years, $27 million) that supposedly made Szczerbiak expendable. Portland and New York were mentioned.

"I've heard those rumors time and time again," Szczerbiak said. "But I'm still here, so obviously they think we can both help them. Trenton and I are both committed to helping them win."

Just not at any price.

Szczerbiak came off the bench in all 28 of his appearances last season, and posted the weakest stats (10.2 points, 44.9 percent shooting) of his career. There was no other way around it -- the Wolves were humming along with the Big Three of Garnett, Sprewell and Sam Cassell -- but a valuable asset, drawing the club's third-highest salary, felt underused.

"Because of his injury, we did not want to put too many major minutes on him," coach Flip Saunders said Tuesday. "He had sat out so long and had been hurt the last couple years, that's where we were at."

Said Szczerbiak: "I was forced into playing a role I wasn't comfortable with and I don't like to play."

There's something else: No more targeting him for mistakes, those shouts of "Wally!" from the bench for a blown assignment. In Szczerbiak's view, those criticisms haven't been fairly dispensed. "I'm not putting up with it anymore," he said. "When it gets to the point where it's constantly one guy and not others, I don't think that's right."

So there it is: Szczerbiak wants what he feels he has earned, is driven to earn even more and doesn't care who knows it. He and Garnett had an encouraging chat at a Lynx game last month, but even their relationship isn't going to dictate whether Szczerbiak has the season he envisions.

Too bold? Too brash? Too honest?

"I think it's great," assistant coach Randy Wittman said. "He's put pressure on the other guys to understand that, 'I want to play as many minutes as anybody else.' So they can't coast. After being called injury-prone or a guy you can't depend on, he's got that determination to say, 'I'll show you this year is going to be different.' "

Link (http://www.startribune.com/stories/511/5029789.html)

10-13-2004, 05:52 PM

WTH Hell is this?i/expressions/anim_laugh.gif

10-13-2004, 06:18 PM
zoolander ad

10-13-2004, 08:51 PM
Originally posted by: dirk2003
zoolander ad


10-13-2004, 10:38 PM
Originally posted by: FilthyFinMavs

WTH Hell is this?i/expressions/anim_laugh.gif

LOL. I thought the same thing. Itīs sooo cheesy.