Andrew Wiggins Rumors

Flip Saunders On Wiggins, Muhammad, Dieng

January 23 at 6:30pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Flip Saunders, the Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations and coach, sat down for an interview with Britt Robson of MinnPost.com to discuss the state of the team and the progress of some of its younger players this season. The entire interview is worth a read, and here are some of the highlights…

On the development of rookie Andrew Wiggins:

When we made the [Kevin Love] trade, there is no question that we switched somewhat, although we thought if we kept Ricky [Rubio] together with those guys we could be a blended team [of veterans and young players]. So based on where we were, and where everyone thought Wiggins was — coming out of college in Kansas people thought he was inconsistent and that you didn’t know what you were going to get out of him — I think over the last month or six weeks we are way ahead of where I thought we would be. Andrew wants to be good and will accept criticism. He has gotten to the point now where he knows when he is making a mistake. That is the difference between him and Zach LaVine at times. Zach still doesn’t know at times that he is making a mistake when he makes mistakes.

On which kind of role he envisions for Wiggins in the future:

We want him to be like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Scottie Pippen. Because they are all two-way players. A lot of those guys were their team’s best offensive player but also their team’s best defensive player. And their tenacity, the team goes through it. Wiggins is in a much more difficult situation than what Kevin Garnett had here [as a younger player]. Because Garnett had some vets that were going to be there for awhile and really locked in and we just don’t have the same type of guys. So we never asked KG to carry us offensively [early in his career]. We have had to ask that of Wiggins. My biggest thing, the one thing KG could always do, he could always create shots at the end of games — that’s tough when you are a power forward. Wiggins will be able to create shots for himself or for somebody else and be able to do that off the bounce.”

On what other players have been bright spots this season:

Shabazz Muhammad. There is no question that Muhammad — Wig probably misses him a little bit now, because with those two guys in there you are always creating some type of mismatch. There will have to be a smaller guy on one of them. But if you look at where Muhammad was at a year ago compared to where he is now, he is one of the top five guys [in the league] in terms of most-improved player. Then there is the development of Gorgui Dieng. He has proven he is a solid guy and one of the top young big players in the league. And Zach [LaVine] is a lot better now than he was the first week of the season and through training camp.”

On if the team would seek to bolster its guard positions:

I’ll put it this way: If we can get backcourt help that is someone we feel could be in a long-term situation with us, we would do that.

Atlantic Notes: Williams, Stephenson, Wiggins

January 16 at 11:13am CST By Chuck Myron

The Knicks have the league’s worst record, but commissioner Adam Silver isn’t concerned about their lack of success on the court in the league’s largest market, even with the All-Star Game coming to Madison Square Garden, as Peter Botte of the New York Daily News details. The Nets will host part of the All-Star festivities, too, but they’re 16-23 and appear ready to hit the reset button. Here’s more on the struggling Atlantic Division, where only the Raptors are above .500:

  • There’s apparently plenty of interest in Brook Lopez, but the Nets have had such trouble finding a taker for Deron Williams that one source tells Marc Stein of ESPN.com that the point guard will be staying put through the trade deadline.
  • A source close to Lance Stephenson told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News a month ago that Stephenson wasn’t mentally prepared to play for his hometown Nets (Twitter link). The shooting guard would apparently like to play for Brooklyn at some point, but the Nets also reportedly have their doubts.
  • The Raptors are listening to offers but not shopping, and while a minor move is conceivable, a significant change is highly unlikely, reports Cathal Kelly of The Globe and Mail. They remain poised to pursue Marc Gasol as they prepare to chase marquee big men this summer, and GM Masai Ujiri is studying what prompted Carmelo Anthony to re-sign with the Knicks this past summer to better understand the free agency process. The Raptors are already making plans for a run at Ontario native Andrew Wiggins, who can’t elect unrestricted free agency until 2019 at the earliest.
  • Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com analyzes the sum of the many moves of the Celtics, who since September have traded nine players and one second-round draft pick for 15 players and what’s likely to turn to out be nine second-rounders, Forsberg notes.

Atlantic Notes: Brown, Johnson, Bargnani

December 3 2014 at 6:37pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Sixers coach Brett Brown has the difficult task of holding together a last place team that didn’t acquire any players who are likely to help the franchise this season despite having two top-10 picks in the 2014 NBA draft. But Brown doesn’t regret signing on to coach Philadelphia, Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press tweets. “Even knowing what I know now, with the draft picks not here and some hits with injuries, I’d take this job 50 times out of 50 times,” Brown said.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Brown had expected the Sixers to land Andrew Wiggins in this year’s draft, notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). “I thought we had him [Wiggins]. I was expecting we were going to draft [Nik] Stauskas and Wiggins,” Brown said. But the ping-pong balls of the draft lottery didn’t go their way, and Philly ended up selecting third, where it nabbed the injured Joel Embiid instead.
  • The fans in Sacramento let James Johnson hear their derision when he made his return to Sleep Train Arena last night, but Johnson is a much different person now than when he departed the Kings back in 2013, Doug Smith of The Toronto Star writes. He has matured much since then, Smith notes, and is providing the Raptors with a nice spark off the bench this season. “I just think it was tough for me to play here [in Sacramento],” Johnson said. “I won’t put all the onus on Sacramento either. It had a lot to do with me being immature. I was playing bad. I had a bad year that year [2012/13]. I have to own up to it.
  • It is still unknown just when the Knicks can expect Andrea Bargnani to return to action for the team, Marc Berman of The New York Post reports. Head coach Derek Fisher had originally expected Bargnani would be available 10 days ago, but he reinjured himself during his second full practice with the team, notes Berman. Fisher did say that Bargnani was a “big piece to the future,’’ adds Berman.
  • There is no evidence that players who fall in the draft like the CelticsRajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger, who were both selected 21st in their respective drafts, perform better because of the “chip” on their shoulders, Braden Campbell of Boston.com writes. Campbell cites a statistical analysis performed by Michael Lopez and Noah Davis of FiveThirtyEight.com as evidence to support this assertion.

And-Ones: Wiggins, Ariza, Mavs

November 7 2014 at 10:15pm CST By Eddie Scarito

No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins is only averaging 9.8 PPG after his first four NBA games, but the Wolves rookie is already drawing comparisons to another NBA star, Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops writes. “He reminded me of Paul George,” an Eastern Conference GM told Scotto. “Paul came in a better off-ball defender than Andrew. He’s [Wiggins] probably a good on-ball defender. Paul had a very difficult time handling the ball when he came in and worked on it and their shooting is similar. I’d say Andrew is a hair better athlete and Paul is a little bigger maybe.” The biggest difference between the two players as rookies is Wiggins is under much more scrutiny and pressure than George was as a rookie thanks to his top slot on the draft board, adds Scotto.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Despite quite a few predictions of a Cavs-Bulls Eastern Conference Finals, the Raptors and the Wizards might prove those prognostications premature, Eric Koreen of The National Post writes. Toronto and Washington are taking different approaches regarding the mixture of veterans and younger players on their respective rosters, notes Koreen. The Raptors are building around a younger core, and the Wizards, despite younger stars like Bradley Beal and John Wall, have added a number of long-in-the-tooth veterans this past offseason. Wizards coach Randy Wittman said, “Obviously, talent prevails. You’ve got to have that first. It was important for us to have a mixture of veterans with our young guys,” Koreen adds.
  • The Mavs have been affiliated with the Texas Legends of the D-League for five seasons and view the partnership as a way to experiment with new ideas, Bryan Gutierrez of ESPNDallas.com writes. “There have always been a lot of advantages to having the team in Frisco, but we’re using it more experimentally now,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said. “There are certain things we’ll hopefully unveil that will be different. We’ve been practicing some things, and hopefully they will work. We want to try some things that will hopefully change things up.”
  • Trevor Ariza is making it easy for Rockets fans to forget that Chandler Parsons is now in Dallas, Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) writes. Thus far, Ariza is averaging 15.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 3.2 APG, while shooting a ridiculous 55% from behind the arc for the 6-0 Rockets.

And-Ones: Cap, Walker, Bledsoe, Rubio, Wiggins

September 23 2014 at 11:43am CST By Chuck Myron

Some teams think the salary cap will jump above $70MM for next season, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports, though Lowe’s dispatch from a week ago indicated that the league has told clubs not to get carried away with their projections for the time being. Clarity on the matter will be important, especially for clubs with players up for extensions to their rookie-scale contracts before the October 31st deadline. Lowe’s latest piece centers on one such case, as the Hornets face a decision about whether to extend Kemba Walker, whom rival executives often say isn’t a “championship point guard,” according to Lowe. We’ll pass along another tidbit from the Grantland scribe amid the latest from around the league:

  • The Suns haven’t shown much interest in sign-and-trades involving Eric Bledsoe, Lowe hears, advancing Friday’s report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports that threw cold water on the idea that Bledsoe would end up with the Wolves.
  • The Wolves and Ricky Rubio‘s camp remain in a stalemate in extension negotiations in part because agents Dan Fegan and Jarinn Akana know that the Knicks and Lakers can open cap space next summer, writes Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter links).
  • Rumors as late as the eve of the draft suggested that the Cavs were conflicted about whom to take No. 1 overall, but coach David Blatt insists the team had settled on Andrew Wiggins long before making him the top pick, as Blatt tells Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer. Cleveland didn’t hold on to Wiggins for long, of course, shipping him to the Wolves in the Kevin Love trade.
  • Nazr Mohammed‘s contract with the Bulls is non-guaranteed for the minimum salary and covers just one season, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).
  • Clippers signee Jared Cunningham rejected a deal from Serbia’s KK Partizan to instead try his hand at making the opening-night roster in L.A. on his non-guaranteed contract, tweets David Pick of Eurobasket.com.

Wolves Offer Eric Bledsoe Max Deal

September 19 2014 at 4:53pm CST By Zach Links

4:53pm: The Suns have no interest in a sign-and-trade deal with Minnesota, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports. According to Wojnarowski’s sources the Suns are only interested in trading Bledsoe for an All-Star, or a potential All-Star player, and had only considered Kevin Love in a possible sign-and-trade scenario with the Wolves.

3:53pm: The Suns own the Wolves’ 2015 first-round pick but it’s top-12 protected.  Removing or reducing the protection could be a part of the Bledsoe talks, tweets Windhorst.

3:25pm: The Wolves are offering Eric Bledsoe a four-year, $63MM maximum level contract, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com.  The offer turns up the heat on the Suns, who have offered the restricted free agent a four-year, $48MM deal.  The Wolves don’t have the necessary cap room to sign the guard outright, so they’d have to swing a sign-and-trade deal with Phoenix.

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Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reported yesterday that the Wolves were still in talks with the Suns on a sign-and-trade deal even after the completion of the Kevin Love deal.  The possibility of the Wolves making a play for the 24-year-old seemed somewhat remote after Love was shipped to the Cavs, but it’s now very much a reality.

While the Suns and the Rich Paul client have been in a stalemate this summer, Phoenix was reportedly willing to dial up their offer if necessary.  An increase of roughly $15MM probably wasn’t what they had in mind, however.  Bledsoe’s camp made it known to Phoenix and every other team that he was only interested in signing a max contract.  Otherwise, he said he was prepared to sign a one-year, $3.7MM qualifying offer with the Suns that would enable him to become an unencumbered free agent next summer.  Fellow restricted free agent Greg Monroe made the same threat to the Pistons and made good on his promise earlier this summer.

In a sign-and-trade deal, the Suns would want Andrew Wiggins, according to Wolfson (on Twitter).  That’s less-than-preferable for the Wolves, however, and that wouldn’t be a match, according to Wolfson.  This is purely speculative, but since the Wolves were entertaining a Love-for-Bledsoe swap and Wiggins was the primary haul of the Love deal with Cleveland, it’s seems possible that the Wolves would consider including the No. 1 overall pick.

The Suns obviously want to keep Bledsoe (at the right price) but they would still have a very strong backcourt without the Kentucky product.  The Suns have a highly-talented guard in Goran Dragic and the addition of free agent guard Isaiah Thomas on a four-year, $27MM deal would also lessen the sting.  Phoenix also has first-round guard Tyler Ennis in reserve.

Bledsoe averaged 17.7 points and 5.5 assists across 43 games for the Suns last season after being traded from the Clippers.  Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury which cost him a good chunk of his 2013/14 campaign.

Jude LaCava of FOX 10 in Phoenix (on Twitter) first reported that the Wolves were prepared to offer Bledsoe a max deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: Fesenko, Wolves, Team USA

August 28 2014 at 6:25pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Free agent center Kyrylo Fesenko made a positive impression on the Wolves during summer league play, and he’s dropped 20 pounds, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link). Fesenko has played for the Jazz and the Pacers, and has career averages of 2.3 PPG and 2.0 RPG over 135 games played.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The package that the Wolves received for Kevin Love is superior to the one that the franchise had gotten for Kevin Garnett, writes Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders. By acquiring Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett from the Cavaliers, Minnesota essentially skipped two years of being in the NBA Draft lottery, opines Koutroupis.
  • Bob Donewald Jr. was hired by the Grizzlies to be the head coach of their NBA D-League team, the Iowa Energy, the team announced (Twitter link). Donewald most recently served as the head coach of the Chinese National Team, and he has also worked as an assistant coach for the Cavs and Pelicans.
  • With each game that passes for Team USA, so does the horror of Paul George‘s injury, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. In regards to how the team is coming to terms with what happened to George, Anthony Davis said, “That was a gruesome injury (to George), and it kind of affected all of us, even guys who weren’t playing. Basketball players around the world and people around the world got affected by it. But now we know that he’s doing fine and we’ve got to keep moving forward and try to win this gold for him. … I’m hoping that (this experience) makes me take a leap coming into the season next year.”

And-Ones: Thomas, Wiggins, Drew

August 26 2014 at 10:25pm CST By Eddie Scarito

The NBA is creating more room around the basket stanchions and reducing the number of photographers along the baseline, as Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press reports. The league planned the changes before Paul George was hurt, league president of basketball operations Rod Thorn tells Mahoney, and that’ll prevent another injury of the sort that befell George, but that’s of little comfort to the Pacers at this point.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • Isaiah Thomas tells Jeff Caplan of NBA.com that he never requested trade from the Kings, who wound up participating in the sign-and-trade that sent him to the Suns. I was always professional about every situation,” Thomas said. “I always came in with my hard hat on willing to do whatever is best for the team. When they signed Darren Collison, I knew I was going in a different direction.”
  • Larry Drew said that he was blindsided by the events which led to him being fired and replaced by Jason Kidd as coach of the Bucks, writes Howie Kussoy of The New York Post. Drew also said, “From their [the owners'] standpoint, there’s no set time for these type of things. It caught me in a position when I least expected it. But I know how these things work. I don’t have any hard feelings, any grudges against anybody. [Owner] Marc [Lasry] called me and I just wished him luck. I’ve got to keep moving forward.”
  • Andrew Wiggins just wanted to play for a team that wanted him, and called the completion of the deal that sent him to the Wolves a big relief, writes Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press.
  • Former NBA player Dominic McGuire has signed with Hapoel Eilat of the Israeli League, reports David Pick of Eurobasket (Twitter link). McGuire’s last NBA action came during the 2012/13 season with the Pacers, Pelicans, and Jazz. In six NBA seasons, he has averaged 2.7 PPG and 3.4 RPG.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Wolves Notes: Rubio, Young, Saunders

August 24 2014 at 2:07pm CST By Eddie Scarito

In an interview with Enea Trapani of Sportando, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities discussed the impact the Love trade would have on Ricky Rubio. Wolfson said, “Rubio is on notice. The Wolves are trying to sign him to an extension, and so far his agent, Dan Fegan, is balking at the idea of a four-year, $43MM deal. That’s plenty for a player of Rubio’s caliber. It’s a lot more than Atlanta point guard Jeff Teague makes — maybe a better player — and is what Golden State All-Star guard Stephen Curry makes. But Fegan is seeking the five-year max. That’s not happening. The situation is pointing toward Rubio being a restricted free agent next summer. In other words, the 2014/2015 season is huge for Rubio. He should improve his shooting under Flip and we know he has unbelievable athletes to cut to the hoop and catch alley-oop passes.

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • With the trade of Thaddeus Young, there are no players left from the Sixers‘ last playoff team, writes Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Young isn’t heading into an ideal situation in Minnesota, notes Ford, with both Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett figuring to cut into his minutes.
  • Timberwolves GM Milt Newton believes that Young’s production will improve in Minnesota, tweets Jon Krawczysnki of the Associated Press. Newton said, “I think he will be better statistically than he’s ever been based on all the options he will have in the offense.”
  • Timberwolves President and coach Flip Saunders relayed his thoughts on the franchise’s new acquisitions in an interview with NBA.com (video link).

Cavs Officially Acquire Kevin Love

August 23 2014 at 1:07pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Cavaliers have officially acquired Kevin Love in a three-team deal that’s the blockbuster trade of the summer, the Wolves announced. The Wolves receive Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett from Cleveland and Thaddeus Young from the Sixers as part of the deal, while Philadelphia comes away with Luc Mbah a Moute and Alexey Shved from Minnesota and the Heat’s 2015 first-round pick from Cleveland. The agreement has reportedly been in place for weeks, but the inclusion of Wiggins kept it from becoming official until today. That’s because Wiggins, this year’s No. 1 overall draft pick, couldn’t be traded within 30 days after the Cavs signed him to his rookie scale contract on July 24th.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Minnesota TimberwolvesLove is the only asset going Cleveland’s way in the deal, but the Second-Team All-NBA power forward is the centerpiece of the trade. He joins LeBron James as the marquee additions for Cleveland in a landmark offseason, one that’s left them the favorites to win the Eastern Conference championship after four straight seasons outside the playoffs. Love is expected to opt out of his contract next summer after making more than $15.7MM this season, but the Cavs will have his Bird Rights and are heavy favorites to re-sign him, just as they are with James, who also possesses a player option for 2015/16. Love’s ability to hit free agency in 2015 helped precipitate the trade, as he’s made it clear that he had no intention of staying with Minnesota beyond the coming season.

The Warriors, Bulls, Celtics, Nuggets, Lakers, Kings, Knicks, Rockets, Wizards and Suns have all been linked to Love in various reports at one point or another since mid-May, when the Wolves ramped up their efforts to trade him. It appeared even before James decided to sign with Cleveland that Love would like to join the Cavs if it meant he could play with James, and James reportedly reached out to Love to reciprocate his interest in becoming teammates. The Warriors appeared to come closest to beating out Cleveland for Love, but Golden State’s unwillingness to include Klay Thompson left the sides at a stalemate, particularly once the Cavs relented to Minnesota’s insistence that Wiggins be part of any deal that would ship Love to Cleveland.

Still, others made strong pushes, including the Celtics, particularly in the wake of Love’s weekend visit to Boston around the beginning of June, but the Wolves showed disinterest in dealing with the C’s. The Suns reportedly made a call Friday to see if Minnesota would send Love their way in a sign-and-trade arrangement involving Eric Bledsoe, but the Wolves were unmoved.

Wiggins is the marquee attraction for Minnesota, and he joins Chris Webber as the only No. 1 overall picks since the merger to change teams before playing a single regular season game for the franchises that drafted them. Wiggins had a somewhat disappointing season at Kansas after having been the consensus favorite a year ago to become the top pick, creating doubt that lingered almost until the draft began about whether he, fellow Jayhawk Joel Embiid, or Jabari Parker would go No. 1 overall. Still, Wiggins possesses superstar potential, some of which he put on display in the summer league last month, when he showed off his athleticism as part of Cleveland’s squad.

There were conflicting reports about whether Bennett would join Wiggins in heading to Minnesota or be rerouted to Philadelphia, but it became clear on Thursday that Bennett would become a Timberwolf. Bennett’s performance as a rookie was thoroughly underwhelming and he’ll have a tough time living up to having been the No. 1 overall pick in 2013. Still, there’s hope that he can become a key component on a winning team after having been widely projected as a mid-lottery selection before the Cavs surprisingly took him with the top pick.

The Wolves have reportedly been enamored with Young for a while, and they’ll have a chance to plug him into the starting lineup as Love’s replacement at power forward for at least one season. Young, like Love, can opt out of his contract and become a free agent next summer, but he probably wouldn’t draw nearly as many suitors, and he’s never expressed unwillingness to play in Minnesota. Young will make more than $9.4MM this season, and if he opts in, he’ll receive almost $10MM in 2015/16.

The Sixers, having shed other well-paid veterans in an aggressive rebuilding effort over the past 15 months or so, had reportedly sought a future first-round pick for Young in advance of the trade deadline in February, so this deal facilitates that apparent desire. The Heat’s 2015 first-round pick that’s coming from the Cavs is protected for the top 10 picks the next two years, but it would become unprotected for 2017, according to RealGM. In a coincidental twist, the Heat originally traded that pick to Cleveland in the sign-and-trade that brought LeBron to Miami in 2010.

Philadelphia also reaps Mbah a Moute, who’s already close with Embiid, whom the Sixers drafted third overall in June. Mbah a Moute has mentored Embiid, a fellow native of Cameroon. Mbah a Moute is on the books at nearly $4.4MM for the upcoming season, but he, like Shved, who’ll make nearly $3.3MM, is on an expiring contract, ensuring the Sixers won’t be stuck with their salaries past next summer. That wouldn’t have been the case with Young, who might have opted in.

The Wolves had sought to unload Mbah a Moute, Shved, as well as J.J. Barea, all of whom are on fairly player-friendly deals. Minnesota can create a trade exception worth $4,644,503 as part of the transaction, with the figure equivalent to the difference between Love’s salary and the combined salaries of Wiggins and Bennett. The trade appears to leave the Wolves with a haul that’s about as impressive as possible for a team that’s surrendering the only established superstar in the deal, and most Hoops Rumors readers gave the team high marks for the package it’s receiving.

The move drops Cleveland’s roster count by one, to 17, while the Sixers net one more player to reach a total of 15. Still, Philadelphia is carrying only seven players on fully guaranteed contracts, fewer than every other team in the league. Minnesota remains at 15 players, all of whom have fully guaranteed deals, meaning the Wolves are no closer to creating an opening for second-round pick Glenn Robinson III, as they’ve hoped to do, or finding a spot for Dante Cunningham, with whom talks have picked up.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports originally reported that Cleveland and Minnesota had an agreement in principle. Mark Perner of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote of the Sixers’ involvement in the swap and Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune nailed down the final structure of the trade. Wojnarowski also noted Minnesota’s interest in unloading Mbah a Moute, Shved and Barea. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter links), Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (Twitter links), Dan Barreiro of KFAN Sports Radio (Twitter link) and Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press (Twitter link) provided additional detail.