The Timberwolves and Kings finalized a trade today that sent Luc Mbah a Moute to Minnesota straight up for 2011′s second overall pick, Derrick Williams. Because Williams is making a little more money this year than Mbah a Moute, the Wolves obtained a trade exception worth $428,576, which will almost certainly go unused. While that TPE may not be noteworthy, a few of today’s quotes out of Minnesota and Sacramento were, so let’s round them up….
- Sources tell Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld that the acquisition of D-Will isn’t the only trade the Kings have discussed. According to Kyler, there’s a belief that the Kings have “one or two more deals up their sleeves.”
- Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro cited Williams’ untapped potential in explaining to Sam Amick of USA Today why the team decided to acquire him. D’Alessandro adds within the same piece that he feels like the Kings owe it to their fans to be aggressive in exploring roster moves.
- Wolves president Flip Saunders tells Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune (Twitter link) that Minnesota talked about acquiring Mbah a Moute over the summer when the team put together the deal that sent Luke Ridnour to the Bucks.
- Reports yesterday indicated that Mbah a Moute would have to undergo a physical before the swap become official, due to concerns about knee issues. However, according to Saunders, that physical has yet to happen — the Wolves were confident enough in their research that they were comfortable completing the deal without it (Twitter link via Zgoda).
- More from Flip: Asked about the possibility of sending Shabazz Muhammad and/or Robbie Hummel to the D-League, Saunders said the notion that they won’t see any playing time with the Wolves isn’t necessarily true (Twitter link via Zgoda).
- Interestingly, while Saunders suggested to Zgoda (Twitter link) that he and Rick Adelman concluded Williams couldn’t play small forward in the Wolves’ system, D’Alessandro says the initial plan for D-Will in Sacramento is to start him at the three (Twitter link via Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld).
- Alexey Shved was rumored to be available as well, but he hopes to remain with the Wolves, as he tells Phil Ervin of FOX Sports North.
10:46pm: Wolves president of basketball ops Flip Saunders called Wojnarowski’s report “untrue” and told Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune that he’d prefer to wait until the team is at least 20 games into the season to make a major move. Saunders added that the team hasn’t pursued any free agents and that he’ll talk personnel matters with coach Rick Adelman this week before evaluating the roster again next week.
9:46am: The Timberwolves are off to a solid 5-3 start this season, but it sounds as if the team won’t necessarily be content to play out the season with its current roster. League executives tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports that both Derrick Williams and Alexey Shved are available in trades that would help the T-Wolves add veteran contributors.
Wojnarowski’s note on the Wolves duo comes within a larger piece on the Knicks, which we covered earlier today. According to the Yahoo! scribe, with Kevin Love eligible for free agency two years from now, the Wolves are “determined to make deals” that would help the club make a deep playoff run this season or next. That could mean trading a talented but inconsistent young player like Williams or Shved for a veteran more capable of helping Minnesota win in the short term.
Williams, the No. 2 overall pick in 2011, has been considered a potential trade candidate for some time, since he has never quite fit in Minnesota. Within his latest piece for Grantland, Zach Lowe notes that other teams have been keeping an eye on Williams “for a while,” sensing an opportunity to buy low on the third-year forward. However, the 22-year-old hasn’t improved his stock much with his subpar play in the Wolves’ first eight contests (5.8 PPG, 8.5 PER).
Shved, 24, had a solid rookie season in Minnesota last year, averaging 8.6 PPG and 3.7 APG. Like Williams though, he has struggled out of the gates this season. If a rival team were to make a run at either player, that suitor would be investing in upside rather than recent performance, meaning the Wolves may not be able to extract as much value as they’d like.
It's Friday, which means Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities has checked in with his weekly edition of Scoops. Here are Wolfson's Timberwolves updates from his latest piece:
- The Timberwolves are likely to make a deal before the February trade deadline, but aren't making any calls yet while they wait to see how the lineup looks when Ricky Rubio returns.
- David Kahn has been answering incoming calls, however. Wolfson reports that the Raptors and Cavaliers have both been in touch with the Wolves, to gauge interest in Andrea Bargnani and Anderson Varejao, respectively. Minnesota likes Varejao a lot, according to Wolfson, though in my opinion it would take a massive package for the Cavs to move him this season.
- One league source doesn't believe money is a source of frustration for Kevin Love, since the All-Star forward is still in position to earn as much or more over the long-term as he would have if he'd received a five-year extension. The source points to a Kahn quote from 2009 ("On a championship-contending team… Kevin might be the fourth-best player") as something that still irks Love.
- Obrad Fimic, the agent for Alexey Shved, on the Timberwolves recruitment of his client: "Honestly, the whole deal was done thanks to David, who convinced us that Shved is a perfect fit for coach Rick Adelman's system. Alexey and I liked what we heard and here we are."
- Although Brandon Roy denied that retirement wasn't something he thought about following his latest knee procedure, a league source insists to Wolfson that Roy at least considered it.
- There should be closure on the Martell Webster compensation case soon, with the Wolves expecting to receive cash and/or a second-round pick from the Trail Blazers.
Dwight Howard opened up this weekend about his parting with the Magic, in advance of Orlando's meeting with the Lakers last night, and he talked about his willingness to change teams if that's what the pursuit of a championship requires. John Denton of Magic.com interprets that comment to mean D12 might be willing to leave the Lakers as a free agent next summer, but it seems more logical that Howard was referring to his departure from the Magic. Either way, there's plenty of room for pessimism about this year's Laker team, which takes an 8-9 record on the road for seven of its next eight games. Here's more from around the Association:
- Injuries to other Timberwolves have thrust rookie Alexey Shved into a prominent role, and the Russian guard is surprised at how quickly NBA success has come, writes Ray Richardson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- Wolves coach Rick Adelman believes Shved will eventually become a mainstay in the backcourt alongside Ricky Rubio, as Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune documents.
- HoopsWorld's Steve Kyler, who noted earlier that the Hornets are not shopping Ryan Anderson, says the team isn't looking for an immediate solution to its troubles this season, preferring an approach predicated on draft picks and cap space (Twitter link).
- Earl Boykins, linked to the Mavericks last week before they signed Derek Fisher, has been working out in Denver and is in great shape as he awaits interest from teams, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link).
- DaJuan Summers, who last played in the NBA with the Hornets in 2011/12 and was a training camp invitee of the Bobcats, has signed to play with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League, tweets Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com, who notes the Red Claws let go of Brian Cusworth.
Since taking over as head coach of the Lakers, Mike D'Antoni has had difficulty utilizing Pau Gasol. The primary reason is because he wants to stretch the floor for Dwight Howard, writes the Los Angeles Times' Eric Pincus.
Jabari Davis of Sheridan Hoops noted
a few highlights from a roundtable discussion between longtime personal friend of Phil Jackson
/NBA author Roland Lazenby and the hosts of a blog talk radio show called TheOpinioNationNetwork. Most notably, Lazenby feels that Jackson's return to the Lakers
is a foregone conclusion and went on to briefly talk about how Jackson would be able to handle the team's schedule, Nash's fit within the triangle offense, and where he currently stands with Jerry Buss.
While the head coaching situation in Los Angeles currently appears to be the most polarizing topic of the basketball world, we'll keep track of tonight's other rumblings from around the Association here:
The Olympic basketball tournament was an eventful one for Timberwolves fans, who not only got a chance to see Kevin Love play a major role for the U.S., but also got a good look at two new T-Wolves, Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved of Russia. All three players earned a medal in London, but the Wolves would have had a player on each of the podium teams if Spain's Ricky Rubio had been healthy. Speaking to Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor discussed Rubio's recovery and a few other topics of note. Here are some highlights:
- Rubio is "progressing faster than normal," which might mean he returns to the T-Wolves earlier than January. Taylor says the point guard will start running in the next few weeks.
- Minnesota's roster is likely set for the coming year. According to Taylor, GM David Kahn will continue to check in on other possibilities, "but my sense is that he's pretty well [done]."
- It may take some time for Shved to work his way into the Wolves' lineup, says Taylor.
- The Wolves' owner on whether Minnesota is now a playoff team: "That's a high challenge, but I'm not going to shy away from it. We've got a very good coach and some of the players that he wanted, and without injuries, and if Ricky can get back soon, that should be our goal, to be in the playoffs."
Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune has written a new column tracking several members of the Timberwolves' performances in the London Summer Olympics:
- New signees Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved, teammates on the Russian national team, both turned in strong performances in an opening victory over Great Britain and have already developed chemistry.
- Kevin Love, playing with Team USA, was impressed with the team's two new Russian players, and has already spoken to Kirilenko about the upcoming season.
- Kirilenko and Shved were likewise impressed with Love, both today and during the 2011/12 season, and are excited about playing in Minnesota.
It was yet another night of fevered Dwight Howard rumors, as he reiterated his trade demands in a meeting with Magic GM Rob Hennigan and assistant GM Scott Perry. One of the bombshells amidst a flurry of reports was that the Mavericks are the "overwhelming favorite" to sign Howard if he becomes a free agent next summer. That makes a trade more difficult, as Wojnarowski writes, since other teams now know Howard has a soft spot for Dallas. Chris Mannix of SI.com says Howard would re-sign with the Lakers or Nets if traded there, but otherwise plans to become a Maverick (Twitter link). Zach Lowe of SI.com points out, with an assist from Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com, that the Mavs would have to clear some cap room for 2013/14 in order to make a maximum offer for Howard (All four Twitter links). Here's more from the Association this evening:
- Nets GM Billy King doesn't consider signing a backup center a priority after missing out on Nazr Mohammed, reports Fred Kerber of the New York Post, who adds that the team's offseason work is likely done.
- Jason Quick of The Oregonian takes an in-depth look at the finalists for the Blazers head coaching job.
- Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com does the math and determines the Magic own a pair of trade exceptions: $2.75MM left over from the Brandon Bass trade expiring December 12th, and $4.35MM from the trade that sent Ryan Anderson away, expiring next summer.
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post spoke with Cartier Martin, who recently re-signed with the Wizards. Martin is the only Wizard left on the roster from before Washington took John Wall with the No. 1 pick 2011, as Lee notes.
- A veteran NBA doctor tells Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork that 75% of players require some kind of procedure on their knees at the end of the season, and many of them keep it a secret (Twitter link).
- Obrad Fimic, the agent for Russian guard Alexey Shved, said the Nets showed no interest in his client despite being owned by fellow Russian Mikhail Prokhorov, tweets Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Shved finalized his three year, $10MM deal with the Wolves today.
- Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star argues retaining assistant coach Brian Shaw is the best move the Pacers have made this offseason.