The Timberwolves had their first official practice Tuesday, but center Rudy Gobert said he still has not seen Karl-Anthony Towns since the Wolves completed the trade for Gobert over the summer.
That's because Gobert was busy in Europe the last few weeks competing in the Eurobasket tournament, in which he helped France finish with a silver medal.
Then as the Wolves opened camp this week, Towns will be out likely at least until the end of this week, coach Chris Finch said, because of a non-COVID illness.
Gobert said despite their physical distance, the new teammates and former foes have been in touch a lot over the summer and ... "we both understand that it's an amazing opportunity for both of us to make each other better … and to win."
Gobert said he could feel "great" energy as he wrapped his first official practice with the Wolves. The reps with Towns will come in time and Gobert said the two have discussed how they can maximize each other's potential.
"On both ends on the floor and even off the floor, just be a great friend, be a great support for him and then on the court, just let that relationship carry over," Gobert said. "Help him be the best Karl he can be and I know, just by being himself, he's going to help me be the best Rudy I can be."
As for the teammates who were there at Tuesday's practice, Gobert spent some time working with point guard D'Angelo Russell. The team has high hopes that Russell's and Gobert's proficiency operating in the pick and roll will prove to be a fruitful combination.
Finch said the early chemistry between the two "looked good." Gobert was impressed.
"He can see it all," Gobert said. "There's a few times when I didn't know that he saw me, and he still saw me. It's really impressive and it's really exciting."
The Wolves don't want to just utilize Gobert the way he was used in Utah. They won't just have him be a drop defender to the basket on defense and Finch wants to use him more offensively, especially after seeing him play in Europe, where Finch watched a lot of Gobert on the French national team.
"You got to see some different things that he was able to do there — playmaking in the pocket, they played through him at the elbow quite a bit," Finch said. "Things that we can touch upon here. Defensively, when you study him, his numbers are kind of ridiculously good how Utah employed him. But I think he can do a lot of other things. He can be up and aggressive, he can probably switch more."
That's a prospect on defense that was exciting to Gobert, a three-time defensive player of the year.
"There will be situations when I'm going to have to [switch] and I love to do it," Gobert said. "The more important thing is whatever we do, we're on the same page. We all understand the lineup that's on the floor, who we're playing against and we have our mind focused on that. If we do that, we can be a top defense in this league."
Tuesday marked the first official step on getting the Wolves to that point.