NBA: Brandon Roy prepares to start comeback with Minnesota
Brandon Roy, a three-time NBA All-Star for Portland who said he was retiring last year, is on the comeback trail with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Star Tribune (Minneapolis
MINNEAPOLIS — Six years later, the blue Minnesota Timberwolves cap Brandon Roy wore so briefly on draft night still is on display in his mother's living room.
Roy volunteered that tidbit when he recently met with Wolves owner Glen Taylor, president of basketball operations David Kahn and coach Rick Adelman in Seattle, bemused by fate's fickle hand and the roundabout journey that finally brings him to Minnesota after the team traded him minutes after it selected him.
Roy, a standout for the Washington Huskies and Garfield High School in Seattle, spent five seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers and is a three-time All-Star.
The same Minnesota franchise that worried about Roy's problematic knees enough it swapped him for Randy Foye and a chunk of cash long ago is betting on those same knees with a partially guaranteed, two-year, $10 million-plus contract agreement reached Thursday.
At least five other teams pursued the 27-year-old Roy, who announced in December he was retiring because of a degenerative knee condition that has left him without cartilage in either one.
But his agent Friday said Roy chose the Wolves because of their detailed and sincere pursuit, their existing roster Roy considers young and promising and perhaps because the team's most glaring deficiency is at shooting guard, Roy's position.
And Minnesota is also believed to have offered more money than anybody — at least the first year's $5 million-plus guaranteed, the second year dependent on his good health — although agent Greg Lawrence said money wasn't a determining factor.
The Roy deal was agreed to Thursday, the same day the Wolves reached oral agreement with restricted free agent Nicolas Batum on a four-year offer sheet expected to pay the ex-Portland swingman at least $45 million.
Ultimately, Lawrence said, Roy decided he wanted to join former Portland assistant coach Bill Bayno with a franchise he decided was "a team that's headed north."
The Wolves were the only team that sent a full contingent to Seattle to visit Roy — owner included — and the group traveled on Taylor's private jet.
Lawrence called the excursion "a real sign they were serious."
"They not only expressed their interest face to face, they presented their vision," he said. "It was compelling, having Rick Adelman tell you what his vision is for the team and where you fit in."
Roy said he plans to move his wife and two young children to Minnesota, planning that it will be his future beyond the contract's two years. When asked by the Wolves at the meeting about the prospect of living in the frozen north, Roy said he wants his kids to experience a white Christmas.
"It wasn't one or two things," Lawrence said. "It was everything. It just fit."
Of course, some big questions remain: Can Roy still play? Will his knees allow him?
Wolves doctors received Roy's medical records and the team sent athletic trainer Gregg Farnam on Taylor's jet for last week's meeting. In May, he received the same injection therapy sought by Kobe Bryant and baseball player Alex Rodriguez that uses a patient's own blood and its natural anti-inflammatory proteins to reduce osteoarthritis' pain.
There is no repair for a knee that has no cartilage left, but Lawrence said Roy is experiencing less pain and swelling after workouts already, even though the process usually requires three months for full effect.
"Look, it's not a magic potion he rubs on his knees and all of a sudden he feels great," Lawrence said. "But there is small, incremental improvement."
Roy contemplated a comeback last winter, two months after he retired with an agreement the Trail Blazers would pay him the remaining $63 million on his contract. He started slowly, then ramped up his workouts, his body feeling better as he went.
"It's not something he has to do, it's something he wants to do and do at a high level," Lawrence said. "Brandon is more in tune with his body than anyone I've ever met because of what he has been through."
He has not returned to the NBA to be the "last guy on the bench," Lawrence said.
Roy wants a chance to prove himself once again, whether it's in a starter's role or as a reserve who plays 15 to 20 minutes a night, some of those at the end of games nightly.
"What he wants is an opportunity where whatever he earns is what he should get," Lawrence said. "If that means he plays at a starter's level in training camp, an opportunity to start. If he's playing at a sixth-man level, then a sixth man. He never said, 'Guarantee me a starting spot.' All he wants is a chance to play really well at a high level."