MINNEAPOLIS -- Visitors to Minnesota Timberwolves practices so far this season are witnessing something that was missing a year ago -- other than a collective increase in length and athleticism and better shooting.
Kurt Rambis is smiling a lot more these days.
Maybe that's because the Timberwolves coach has a vastly remade roster that's seemingly much better equipped than a team that won 15 games last season.
Or maybe it's just because he's coaching Michael Beasley, a nonstop swirl of movement and noise who leaves Rambis laughing during practice.
"He's very outgoing," Rambis said. "He has a lot of fun playing. He loves the game of basketball. We certainly enjoy his enthusiasm."
Beasley, in turn, doesn't sound quite sure what to make of Rambis after he spent two seasons playing for Miami coach Erik Spoelstra.
Beasley calls Spoelstra "a little more animated" than his new coach.
"Coach doesn't really yell. It always sounds like this, 'Hey, Michael,"' Beasley said, switching into a slowed-down monotone. "It's like, 'Are you talking to me, or am I in trouble?' Even when he's mad, it's still kinda the same thing. ... You don't really know when coaching is yelling.
"It's just different."
GETTING STRONG NOW
The Wolves are bringing former pro soccer player and Vancouver physical therapist Nico Berg into town periodically this season to work with them on their core-strength conditioning, one of his specialties.
He has worked with Kevin Love, Martell Webster and Sebastian Telfair during training camp and after practices last weekend using a resistance-band device attached to their wrists and legs that works abdominal and back muscles.
The connection: Berg has worked with Los Angeles Lakers physiotherapist Alex McKechnie, a core-strength specialist with Rambis' former team.
Veteran guard Luke Ridnour is, at age 29, learning a new way to play in Rambis' triangle-centric offense.
"This is my sixth coach in eight years, so I've seen a lot of different systems," said Ridnour, who played five seasons for Seattle and two with Milwaukee. "I can adjust to a lot of different things."
Did you see Beasley walk forward after missing a free throw in each of the team's first preseason games, tilt his head and glare at the rim?
WELL, HERE'S THE STORY:
"That's a college job," said Beasley, who played one season at Kansas State. "Luis Colon was my college center. He's a big Spanish guy and when big Spanish guys get mad, they start speaking Spanish real fast. Every time he missed, he'd look at the rim and curse the rim out. So every time I miss, I'm trying to get the gremlin off the top of the rim."
--Corey Brewer outmuscled Nikola Pekovic for the ball during Sunday's practice, then the man with perhaps the skinniest legs on the planet told the big fella to get back in the weight room.
--The Wolves have hired former University of Nevada and former D League assistant coach Jason Glover as an assistant coach for player development, joining Darrick Martin in that position.