MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The latest European addition to the Minnesota Timberwolves will be able to use a deep backcourt to ease his transition to the NBA.
That's the view of Timberwolves general manager David Kahn, who in announcing Alexey Shved's signing Wednesday took pains to make clear the 23-year-old Russian will not be asked to be a consistent producer for the team during his rookie season.
"This year in particular I think it's important to not put too much pressure on him," Kahn said.
Though point guard Ricky Rubio is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the Wolves still have Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea at point guard, plus Malcolm Lee and whoever else is acquired over the rest of yet another active offseason. The 6-foot-5 Shved is a shooting guard first, but he can move to the point guard spot, too. Kahn, who first saw Shved play last year, was taken by Shved's creativity with the ball.
Shved spent the last six seasons playing professionally in Russia and for his country's national team. Most recently, he scored a game-high 22 points to go with six assists to help Russia beat Nigeria for a spot in the London Olympics tournament. The Summer Games begin this weekend.
But the NBA is always where he's wanted to ultimately be. On a conference call with reporters, using his agent as a translator, Shved said he's played the sport since he was 6 or 7 years old, remembering his coach and father, Victor, bringing home VHS tapes of NBA games for him to watch.
He was hooked.
"I told my mom and dad that this is my wish to play like the guys on TV," Shved said.
He watched more-modern video of the Timberwolves last season, before he knew of their interest in him. Like anyone else, he saw a stark difference in the quality of play before and after Rubio's injury.
"What I like about the team is the players are very young," Shved said, adding: "I think that it will be a good fit for me."
He's been listed around 160 pounds, unquestionably thin. Kahn said he wasn't worried.
"When he arrives we can make him stronger, but there are other skinny players in our league who've been successful," Kahn said. "I have very high hopes for him."
Shved's signing was rather anticlimactic, considering the news of his agreement has been out for weeks. There is still plenty else going on in the front office with the roster, most notably a three-team trade between Minnesota, Phoenix and New Orleans.