Timberwolves center Luka Garza spoke with Giorgos Kyriakidis of BasketNews about how he benefited from joining Minnesota in 2022/23, following what he felt to be a frustrating rookie two-way season with the Pistons.
“This year [2022/23], signing with Minnesota and being in a way more comfortable position, allowed me to come out and play,” Garza reflected.
This past season with the Timberwolves, the 6’11” big man out of Iowa averaged 6.5 PPG on .543/.359/.788 shooting splits, along with 2.3 RPG, 0.6 APG. Across six regular season contests with Minnesota’s NBAGL affiliate, the Iowa Wolves, he averaged 32.2 PPG on a superlative slash line of .642/.429/.704. The big man also pulled down 11.5 RPG, dished out 3.8 APG, and rejected 1.3 BPG.
Garza and Kyriakidis also discussed the third-year center’s decision to re-sign with Minnesota on a two-way contract, joining Bosnia and Herzegovina’s national team for the Olympic pre-qualification tournament next month, and more. Their full conversation is well worth a read, but here are some highlights.
On why he ultimately opted to play for Team Bosnia instead of Team USA:
“For me, the only other option I could have taken was play for the USA team. Obviously, there were opportunities mid-year and during the summer time, like playing in the qualifiers. But for me, there was never a doubt in my mind where I wanted to play for and who I wanted to represent. It has been that way since I was a kid. Just being around my grandfather, my grandmother, and my mom, it was an easy decision.”
On playing with Bosnian center Jusuf Nurkic:
“And obviously, alongside Nurkic, there’s going to be a little bit of both for both of us because he’s a skilled guy who can score from the perimeter as well. So, I think it will be a smooth transition because I can adjust my game. We have to just wait and see what training camp is like and figure it out from there, but I believe so.”
On returning to the Timberwolves:
“Through early conversations, it seemed that the front office wanted me back. It was about figuring out the terms of the contract and what the situations was going to be like.”
On agreeing to a two-way deal instead of a standard roster spot:
“It’s not set in stone. For me, it doesn’t mean that much. It’s about being with the organization and the team. I feel like the rest will take care of itself as I continue to play and show my value.”
On receiving overtures from European teams:
“When I first entered the draft from my junior year, there were some opportunities there. Even last summer, after being cut by the Pistons, I didn’t have any contracts besides Exhibit 10s or training-camp deals. Different teams reached out to me, but I felt like I hadn’t finished my story in the NBA… I’ve always had big respect for European basketball. It’s amazing the way the game is played over there. At no point have I said, ‘Oh, I don’t want to play in Europe.’ That’s something that’s on the cards for me, but not until I’m done chasing my dream in the NBA.”