Timberwolves Rumors

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Walker, Garnett, Sullinger

Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker have been teammates since Walker signed with the Celtics last summer, including their time together with USA Basketball for the FIBA World Cup, but they will be on opposite sides in tonight’s All-Star Game, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Tatum was drafted by Team LeBron while Walker went to Team Giannis, and they can’t wait to face each other on the court.

“Playing against Kemba’s going to be fun,” Tatum said. “Hopefully we get matched up once or twice so I can take him to the post. I’m going to go right at him, so that should be fun.”

“I’m going to hit him with his own move,” Walker responded. “I already got it down pat. I’m going to hit him with a step-back to the right or left, which he usually does. I’m going to get him. He’s been talking some trash, I seen. Said he’s going at me.”

There’s more Celtics news to pass along:

  • Tatum failed to defend his title in Saturday’s Skills Competition, being eliminated in the first round by the PacersDomantas Sabonis, notes Marc D’Amico of NBA.com. Tatum blamed the defeat on a lack of practice time. “I didn’t get no practice in before. I shoulda practiced,” he said. “They let you practice like 30 minutes before they open the doors or something. I got busy taking pictures and other stuff.”
  • Kevin Garnett expressed thanks on Saturday for the Celtics’ decision to retire his number and took a swipe at the Timberwolves, who still haven’t made that decision, relays Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe“Listen, I have some great years in Minny, but when comes to management, it’s not even close,” Garnett said. “Minny, they run their team one way. Boston has a culture of basketball. They run it a whole other way and I respect that.”
  • Evan Turner believes his former Celtics teammate, Jared Sullinger, is capable of returning to the NBA, Bulpett adds in a separate story. Sullinger, 27, is in his third year of playing in China. “He’s supposed to be entering his prime. I mean, it’s crazy when you play with him and he’s not in the league,” Turner said. “But, I mean, the league it’s not easy, but sometimes it’s little stuff. It’s right fit. It’s timing. You know, you went from signing with Toronto, broke his foot, was rehabbing and they trade him off to an organization that was kind of like rebuilding (Phoenix, which waived him a day later), just trying to get rid of stuff, and that’s how he ended up lost in the shuffle. So unfortunately that’s what happens every now and then.”

Evan Turner To Work Out For Clippers

New Timberwolves swingman Evan Turner is scheduled to work out for the Clippers, with a buyout apparently in progress from Minnesota, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

After being moved from the Hawks to Minnesota at the trade deadline, there were strong overtures that Turner was not long for the Timberwolves when he did not appear at a team press conference celebrating the rest of the team’s new additions.

The 6’6″ Turner was a multi-positional ball-handling bench cog for playoff teams in Boston and Portland before being traded to the Hawks in the final year of a four-year, $70MM contract he inked in 2016. The Athletic’s John Hollinger notes (Twitter link) that buying out Turner’s final year, during which is earning $18.6MM, could save significant luxury tax coin for the Timberwolves.

The former No. 2 draft pick appeared in just 19 games for Atlanta this season, averaging only 13.2 minutes per contest, as the Hawks prioritized developing their youth. He could abet the Clippers as yet another skilled passing wing.

Community Shootaround: Timberwolves’ Long-Term Outlook

The Timberwolves made a bevy of deals prior to the trade deadline, bringing in seven new players. The team is in a grand rebuild and every move is calculated, as Britt Robson of The Athletic writes.

“’Why didn’t we make trades for other positions?’ Because we wanted these guys,” President of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said.. “We had to make sure we made the right decisions.”

The team’s biggest acquisition was D’Angelo Russell. The Wolves didn’t sign a point guard in free agency because they had their eyes set on Russell. Rosas had been pursuing the former No. 2 overall pick to be the court partner to Karl-Anthony Towns essentially since he came on board.

The former Rockets executive now has ownership of the existing roster, similar to how Tom Thibodeau went all-in on the TimberBulls. Will it work long-term?

Do you believe the core Minnesota has assembled will reach great heights? Or will they, like past Timberwolves teams, fail to make any major noise?

Let us know in the comment section below. We look forward to what you have to say!

Towns May Not Be Ready To Return After All-Star Break

Karl-Anthony Towns missed the Timberwolves‘ final game before the All-Star break due to a left wrist injury. At the time, the Wolves didn’t provide many details on Towns’ exact diagnosis or his return timeline, simply announcing that he’d be evaluated over the break.

The club still hasn’t issued a formal update on Towns’ status, but league sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic that the big man will likely need more than just the nine-day All-Star break before he’s ready to return to action. According to Krawczynski, Minnesota’s franchise player has been dealing with pain in his wrist for multiple weeks, prompting further testing.

With a 16-37 record this season, the Timberwolves won’t be incentivized to rush Towns back before he’s ready. The team currently has the fourth-worst record in the NBA, but is only separated from the league’s eighth-worst team by two games, as our reverse standings show. The Wolves still own their 2020 first-round pick and would benefit from improving their lottery odds this spring, so they’ll likely be extra cautious with their leading score and won’t be concerned if his absence costs them a couple wins.

On the other hand, the Timberwolves just overhauled their roster at the trade deadline, acquiring potential building blocks like D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley. The club presumably wants a chance to observe how those players mesh with Towns down the stretch — that’s especially true for guys like Beasley and Juan Hernangomez, who will be free agents at season’s end.

We’ll have to wait for official word from the Wolves on Towns’ recovery timetable, but based on Krawczynski’s report, it sounds like he may not be ready to go when the team resumes play next Friday against the Celtics.

Timberwolves Owner Talks Saunders, D-Lo, Wiggins

Although Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas is responsible for making roster decisions in Minnesota, any trade requires the approval of owner Glen Taylor. As such, Taylor was very involved in basketball decisions at this year’s trade deadline, when the Wolves traded away half their roster in a series of major deals.

In a conversation with Sid Hartman of The Star Tribune, Taylor said that he and Rosas “talk quite often” and that the team had spent much of the season preparing for moves like the one that sent Robert Covington to Houston and especially the one that saw D’Angelo Russell land in Minnesota.

Taylor said he’s “excited” to have acquired so many promising young players that are in the same age range as Karl-Anthony Towns, suggesting that the team’s hope is for those players to continue to improve and grow together.

Taylor’s conversation with Hartman included a handful of other noteworthy comments, including the Wolves owner’s thoughts on head coach Ryan Saunders‘ job security, trading former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, and more. Here are a few of the highlights:

On whether he has considered replacing Saunders during the Timberwolves’ current 6-29 stretch:

“No, no, no, he is hired. A young guy and he is going to get better as time goes on and we just have to give him that time.

“[Saunders] is excited about this change that now he has guys that can play the kind of basketball he wants. He is really a believer in the three-point shot, moving the ball fast, and getting up and down the court. He needed some players that were better three-point shooters than what we had previously.”

On the front office continuing to push for Russell after completing its Covington trade:

“They kept working on Russell, that was the main thing that they wanted to accomplish. They were able to do that and get two young guys out of Denver (Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez) that were part of our hopes for the future. It just dragged on — these things are difficult — almost to the last few hours before everything fell into place. But it was very interesting to me that normally if part of this would have fell into place, we would have been happy. But in this particular case, everything went our way. We think we have helped our team and we have probably helped some other teams. It is probably a win-win.”

On Wiggins becoming easier to move this season than he was last summer:

“I don’t think there was any secret to that. Andrew worked really hard. He didn’t have the best year last year, and we worked really hard with him this summer to improve and I think we saw some improvements. That allowed us to have the chance to make a trade this year where last year I don’t think it was there with any team.”

“… I think [Warriors head coach] Steve Kerr said it exactly right, this should be a win-win. Us getting Russell should really help us and them getting Wiggins on their team should really help them. Wiggins won’t be expected to be the main scorer. He can fit in with their team. I’m hopeful it works out for him, and I’m confident it will work out with Russell on our team.”

Karl-Anthony Towns Injures Wrist, Timeline For Return Unknown

Karl-Anthony Towns will missed the Timberwolves‘ contest against the Hornets on Wednesday night and it’s unclear if he will miss more time. Towns has a left wrist injury, as the team announced in a press release.

Towns had an MRI on Tuesday, which revealed the ailment. The big man will be further evaluated over the All-Star break.

“He’s a guy who takes a lot of contact,” Saunders said (via The Associated Press). “He’s a guy who attacks the rim with force. There’s been times where he’s getting knocked to the floor. So we know that there is wear in that sense but no specific action.”

The Wolves’ next game is on February 21 against the Celtics. Towns, who did not make the All-Star game this year, missed 15 games earlier this season with a knee injury.

Magic Discussed Aaron Gordon Trades Before Deadline

Aaron Gordon remained with the Magic through last week’s trade deadline, but Sean Deveney of Heavy.com hears that Orlando discussed the sixth-year forward with a handful of teams. According to Deveney, the Warriors and Timberwolves were among the clubs that spoke to the Magic about Gordon. There was also “chatter” involving the Suns.

Although the Magic ended up having a fairly quiet deadline, executives around the NBA think the team may end up revisiting Gordon trade talks this summer, says Deveney.

“They were trying, and they tried hard to get something done with him at the deadline,” one source told Deveney. “All that gets brought back into focus once the season is over and you have a good idea what the market is for him.”

This is hardly the first time we’ve heard Gordon-related trade chatter this season. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported back in November that teams were monitoring the former No. 4 overall pick, and Deveney wrote shortly thereafter that there may be some long-term concerns in Orlando about Gordon’s frontcourt fit with with cornerstone player Jonathan Isaac.

A pair of January reports even connected both the Warriors and Wolves to Gordon. Those teams ultimately made a blockbuster deal with one another instead, swapping D’Angelo Russell and Andrew Wiggins in a trade that included other players and draft picks.

Gordon has had a down year in Orlando, with his scoring average slipping to 13.9 PPG and his shooting percentage dropping to a career-worst .422 FG%. Still, he’d be a coveted player on the trade market, given his versatility, his age (24) and his relatively team-friendly contract ($34.5MM over two years after 2019/20).

According to Deveney, the Mavericks are another team that has “long had interest” in Gordon, but they might have a hard time putting together a competitive package. Deveney writes that “buzz around the league” suggests the Nets and Nuggets – perhaps with a package featuring Spencer Dinwiddie or Gary Harris – would be teams to watch if Gordon is made available this summer.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/11/20

Here are Monday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the league:

  • The Pacers assigned rookie center Goga Bitadze to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, according to the team’s transactions log. The first-round pick has appeared in 42 games with Indiana this season, averaging 3.0 PPG and 2.1 RPG in 8.6 MPG.
  • The Timberwolves assigned power forward Omari Spellman to their Iowa affiliate, according to the G League transactions log. Spellman, a 2018 first-round pick by Atlanta, was acquired from Golden State last week.

Timberwolves Notes: Spellman, Russell, Johnson

The Timberwolves are not planning to waive big man Omari Spellman, though it’s a possibility, according to Darren Wolfson of KSTP. After discussions between his reps and the front office, Spellman is headed to G League affiliate Iowa to get some playing time and will likely finish the season with the organization (Twitter links).

Spellman was included in the deal that sent D’Angelo Russell to Minnesota. He was averaging 7.6 PPG and 4.5 RPG in 49 games with Golden State this season. His contract for next season is guaranteed but the club holds an option on the 2021/22 season.

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • Russell doesn’t foresee a long transition before he develops chemistry with the team’s franchise player, Karl-Anthony Towns, John Krawczynski of The Athletic writes. “We know what we bring to the table,” Russell said. “It’s just about dissecting the film and bringing it together and seeing how we can take the weight off each other’s shoulders down the stretch, whenever we need him to make a play and vice versa.”
  • Forward James Johnson has embraced an elder statesman role with the team, according to Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Johnson, who turns 33 this month, had 15 points and five assists in his Minnesota debut. He was surrounded by a group of young players and provided a lot of instruction for them. “I loved the confidence he was instilling in those guys,” coach Ryan Saunders said. Johnson, who holds a $16MM option on his contract for next season, was acquired from Miami in a three-team trade last week.
  • Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner are the Timberwolves’ candidates to receive a buyout. Check out the latest on the buyout market here.

Details On Timberwolves' Projected Tax Bill

The Trail Blazers, Heat, and Thunder all reduced their projected end-of-season tax bills with their moves leading up to the trade deadline, while the Rockets and Warriors got out of tax territory altogether. The Timberwolves ended up sneaking slightly over the tax line as a result of the D’Angelo Russell trade, but the league-wide tax penalties for 2019/20 will be very modest overall, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter).

According to Marks’ calculations, the Trail Blazers will have the highest bill, at around $5.94MM, followed by the Heat ($2.96MM), Thunder ($2MM), and Timberwolves ($1.34MM). If those numbers don’t change between now and the end of the regular season, it would mean the league’s other 26 teams receive approximately $236K apiece in tax distribution, which would be the lowest mark in league history, according to Marks.