The NBA lockout has ended, along with the Vikings season, so the focus of local fans will likely now shift to the Timberwolves — especially with news reports indicating former Gopher Bobby Jackson is headed back to Minnesota in a three-team trade.
The Denver Nuggets are expected to send Jackson, former Wolves center Dean Garrett and a first-round pick to the Wolves. Minnesota would then send oft-injured point guard Michael Williams and that first-round pick to the Raptors. The Raptors would send former Colorado Buffalo Chauncey Billups and the rights to rookie guard Tyson Wheeler, the 18th pick in the second round, to the Nuggets.
Finalization of the deal will wait until the league and the players union iron out the final details of the collective bargaining agreement, which is expected to occur by Wednesday.
Jackson was the Big Ten MVP in 1997, leading the Gophers to their first-ever Final Four. He was picked 23rd in the 1997 draft by Seattle, which then dealt the 6-foot-1 guard to Denver. Jackson averaged 11.6 points, 4.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game last year, making the NBA all-rookie second team.
Gophers men’s basketball coach Clem Haskins said he had heard the rumors, but knew of nothing concrete. He said it doesn’t matter where his former players play, as long as they are with a team and able to draw a paycheck.
Still, Haskins is pleased with Jackson’s return.
“I know that it will give my family a chance to watch him play a little more, and I think (Minnesota fans) would be happy to see him play here,” Haskins said. “Other than that, I’m just happy he’s in the NBA and on a team.”
— Michael Dougherty