MINNEAPOLIS - What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, the Minnesota Timberwolves were waiting out a labor lockout. This year, they have seven new members and a lot more fans in the stands.
The team's home opener against the Sacramento Kings was almost a sellout at seven hours before tipoff.
Another 2,000 new season ticket holders signed up over the summer, helping the team leap over the 10,000 season ticket holder landmark.
"It's a big watermark. We renewed at 98 percent in the lower level last year and the lower level is pretty well sold out," Wolves President Chris Wright said.
Wolves guard Luke Ridnour has noticed something different this fall.
"Even just around town you can just feel the excitement and the buzz. It's going to be fun just to know you have those fans here supporting you," he told KARE 11.
But this is Minnesota, so all optimism is mixed in with a little dose of pessimism. The Wolves most marketable player, Ricky Rubio, is recovering from knee surgery and won't be back until around Christmas.
The Wolves best player, All-Star Kevin Love, will miss the first month of the season after breaking his hand doing push-ups. It's left many wondering if this franchise is cursed in some way.
"I've heard about it around twitter and things like that, just how there's a lot of injuries that revolve around this team, but right now it doesn't look that way besides those two players," new forward Chase Budinger said.
Budinger is one of the seven new faces who will help pick up the slack in Rubio and Love's absence.
Wright says last year, in a lockout-abbreviated season, the team sold out 11 games. This year, they plan on selling out at least 20.
"With Kevin Love getting back from his injury and with Ricky Rubio coming back from his injury, we're talking about having three opening nights this year," he said with a smile.
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