Minnesota Timberwolves

Van Gundy: Jackson Won’t Be Traded For Rubio

Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy took the unusual step of assuring point guard Reggie Jackson that there’s no substance behind a rumored deal to Minnesota in exchange for Ricky Rubio, relays Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

Van Gundy said trade rumors are a normal part of NBA life this time of year and he typically doesn’t address them with players. However, Jackson’s agent called GM Jeff Bower after hearing the Rubio rumor, so Van Gundy felt the need to put Jackson’s mind at ease.

Van Gundy admits that it’s possible the Wolves called to see if there was any interest in a Jackson-for-Rubio swap, but says the fact that it didn’t happen means the Pistons didn’t like the deal. He adds that he never hears about most of the proposed trades Bower discusses.

“To be honest, I don’t know if the discussion was had, because Jeff only brings to me the stuff that we would consider. There’s so many of these discussions that he’s not even going to bring to me [smaller stuff],” Van Gundy said. “He doesn’t do that with me. He brings me the stuff, like when we got close to Reggie two years ago or Marcus [Morris] when we traded for him or Tobias [Harris]. That stuff comes to me.

“I don’t even know if that discussion took place — I’m just saying it’s very possible because we’ve had calls on Reggie; we’ve had calls on Andre [Drummond]. People are interested in those guys. If you’re not getting any calls on your guys — wow.”

Jackson has been rumored to be on the trade market because the Pistons has been less effective since he returned from tendinitis in his left knee that cost him the first 21 games of the season. His scoring and assist numbers are down from last year, and Detroit’s defense has been worse with him in the lineup. Jackson has three seasons and more than $51MM left on his contract.

Timberwolves, Pistons Have Discussed Rubio, Jackson

The Timberwolves and Pistons have discussed a point guard swap of Ricky Rubio and Reggie Jackson, Marc Stein of ESPN reports. Nothing is imminent, as each team is in the “talking stage,” and as Stein notes, any deal would expand to involve other players, such as Shabazz Muhammad.

While the Timberwolves have reportedly been actively shopping Rubio, the Pistons have contended that Jackson wouldn’t be available via trade, though rival clubs aren’t so convinced. Both players have multiple years left on long-term deals, but could be available in the next month for different reasons. Jackson and the Pistons have struggled this year, and in their ESPN report, Stein and Haynes note that rookie Kris Dunn is regarded as Minnesota’s “point guard of the future,” making Rubio expendable.

The 26-year-old Rubio has averaged 7.7 points with 7.9 assists in his sixth NBA season. The Spaniard missed a five-game stretch in November due to an elbow injury, but has otherwise remained healthy in 2016/17. Now in the second year of a four-year, $55MM contract, Rubio has a cap hit of $13,400,000.

On the heels of a breakout 2015/16 campaign, Jackson’s statistics have slightly regressed this season; averaging 16.7 points with 5.3 assists through 23 games. The 26-year-old Jackson missed the season’s first 21 games with left knee tendinitis, but has come on strong of late; scoring 20.2 points on 46.4% shooting over his last 10 games.

If the Timberwolves are seeking a “bridge” guard to assume starting duties until Dunn is ready, as has been reported, Jackson would be a peculiar choice for a few reasons. Jackson is slated to make $16MM, $17MM+, and $18MM+ over the next three seasons, making him an expensive option to bridge the gap at point guard. What’s more, the role of (eventually) backing up Dunn may not come naturally to Jackson, who hasn’t played in a reserve role since 2012/13 with the Thunder.

Rubio Unconcerned About Trade Talk: LaVine Unavailable

A year ago, when his name came up in trade rumors, Ricky Rubio wanted to meet with management to discuss his role with the Timberwolves. However, this time around, Rubio is finding it easier to shrug off those rumors, like the one about Minnesota “actively shopping” him.

“My name or every name is going to be out there at some point, but you can only worry about things you can control,” the Timberwolves’ point guard said, according to Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. “Right now, what I can control is playing my best and do what I’ve been doing.”

  • While Rubio’s name has surfaced in trade talks, one team that spoke to the Timberwolves recently was told that Minnesota “will not entertain” any trade discussions about Zach LaVine, per Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the Wolves and some of their Northwest rivals:

P.J. Tucker Drawing Trade Interest

The market for P.J. Tucker, who is on track for unrestricted free agency this summer, is growing and several teams hold interest in acquiring the veteran small forward, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM reports. The Clippers, Bulls, Cavaliers, Timberwolves and Hawks all have interest in trading for Tucker, who is known for is defensive prowess, Gambadoro reports.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the Knicks had interest in Tucker as well, but Gambadoro did not add New York to his list. Gambadoro cautions that a trade may not get done for a few reasons. The main one seems to be that Phoenix is also interested in re-signing Tucker because it does not have another player like him with his defensive and rebounding abilities, Gambadoro writes. Unless the Suns are confident they can re-sign him, however, it makes to shop him around.

The Suns likely aren’t willing to part with Tucker unless they can get a first-round pick or good prospect in return, Gambadoro reports, and for a team like the Clippers, that may be a deal-breaker, considering Tucker is only a marginal upgrade over someone like Wesley Johnson. This is simply my speculation, but of the teams listed, a larger trade would likely have to take place for it to make sense because those clubs do not have much to offer in terms of draft picks or young talent.

Tucker has made only 17 starts for the Suns this season, but has appeared in 41 games. His minutes are down a bit at 27.4 per game. Never known as a particularly strong shooter, Tucker is averaging 6.3 points per game and is attempting 5.7 field goals per game. His 5.7 rebounds per game is lower than any of his averages in that category in his three previous seasons with the Suns.

Timberwolves Actively Shopping Ricky Rubio

The Timberwolves are “actively shopping” point guard Ricky Rubio in trade discussions, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. According to Wojnarowski, Minnesota has attached Rubio to Shabazz Muhammad in trade offers to several NBA teams.

Rubio, who is under contract through 2018/19 and will earn $14MM+ in each of the next two years, has been viewed as a potential trade candidate since the Wolves selected Kris Dunn with the fifth overall pick last June. According to Wojnarowski, the Wolves have been seeking a sort of “bridge” guard in their trade discussions — such a player would be capable of starting in the short term before eventually giving way to Dunn.

[RELATED: Trade Candidate: Ricky Rubio]

The Kings have “a strong interest” in landing Rubio, but there’s currently no movement toward a deal between those teams, league sources tell Wojnarowski. According to The Vertical’s report, the Wolves are making an effort to exhaust the market in search of an offer stronger than what Sacramento could put on the table.

Minnesota is currently well below the salary cap, as our 2016/17 Salary Cap Snapshot shows, and moving Rubio could free up even more future cap room. However, the Wolves value him and won’t give him away unless they’re getting solid value in return, as Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press and Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News observe (Twitter links).

Rubio, 26, got off to a poor start this season, slowed by an elbow injury, but he has been thriving for the Wolves over the last couple weeks. In his last five games, the Spaniard has averaged 11.4 PPG, 12.6 APG, and 2.6 SPG, improving his full-season averages to 7.6 PPG, 7.9 APG, and 1.9 SPG.

Rubio Thriving In January; Target Center Renovation Costs Increase

  • Ricky Rubio got off to a poor start this season, slowed by an elbow injury, but he has been thriving for the Timberwolves this month, as Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune writes. “It’s hard to remember when I felt this confident,” Rubio said. “I think this is the best two weeks of my NBA career. I’m more consistent, I would say. Maybe I’ve had better weeks before. But as a feeling? This is good.” Rubio’s play as of late is good news for the Wolves, who are a better team with their veteran point guard thriving and could get a better haul for a productive Rubio if they decide to trade him.
  • Minnesota’s Target Center, the home of the Timberwolves, is undergoing renovations, and the cost of those changes has increased by an addition $21MM, according to Jay Kolls of 5 Eyewitness News. Sources tell Kolls that the Wolves are expected to pay the brunt of those extra costs.

Veteran Rush Steps Up; Wolves Improve Defensively

  • Veteran Brandon Rush didn’t disappoint when called to produce for the Timberwolves, writes Kent Youngblood of the StarTribune. Rush’s ability to knock down threes and stretch the floor did not go unnoticed by his coach and teammates while he filled in for Zach LaVine. “That shows how valuable he is,” Minnesota big man Karl-Anthony Towns said. “And how professional he is, to be ready for the moment he was needed.” With LaVine’s status still uncertain, Rush could be featured prominently once again.
  • The Timberwolves are showing progress on the defensive end of late, Youngblood writes in a separate piece for the StarTribune. Youngblood cites the team’s eighth-best net rating (plus-2.3) since December 13 as a sign that things are turning around. “One game doesn’t solve everything for us,” says Tom Thibodeau, a head coach renowned for his defense. “But I like the direction we’re moving in now.”

Northwest Notes: Hayward, Bolomboy, Crabbe

The Jazz are thriving this season, which is something that could bode well for their chances of re-signing Gordon Hayward this offseason, Brad Rock of the Deseret News writes. Utah owns a record of 24-16 and is within striking range of a top-4 seed. “I think we expected it,” Hayward said of the team’s success. “I think going into [the season] we had high expectations for ourselves. There’s a long way to go … so it’s important not to get too high on the highs, but not too low on the lows.”

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Wolves have hired Dwight Lutz and Nick Restifo as Basketball Operation Analysts, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune passes along via Twitter. Lutz previously worked for the NBA as a Senior Manager of Game Analytics and Strategy. Restifo, who was a contributor to Nylon Calculus, previously worked as an Associate Data Scientist at Darden Restaurants.
  • Joel Bolomboy made it through Monday without the Jazz waiving him, which means his salary for next season has become guaranteed, as Bobby Marks of The Vertical notes on Twitter. The rookie will make $600K this season and slightly over $905K next year.
  • Allen Crabbe, who re-signed with the Blazers on a four-year, $75MM deal over the summer, struggled to begin the season, but now he’s starting to find his groove, as Jason Quick of Comcast Sportsnet details. Crabbe’s player efficiency rating sits at 10.8, a figure which is well-below the league average of 15.0.

Kevin Garnett To Work With Clippers, Bucks As Consultant

Kevin Garnett, who visited the Clippers during training camp, was in attendance again today at the team’s facility, having officially joined the club as a consultant, per Bill Oram of The Orange County Register (Twitter link). Garnett is expected to work with the team’s big men this season.

“He’s hired in here as a consultant,” Clippers assistant coach Mike Woodson said of Garnett (link via Andrew Han of ESPN.com). “So I’m sure he’ll be in and out when it presents itself for him to work with our guys. And I think when he’s here, it’s important for our bigs to take advantage of him being out here on the floor. Because he brings so much to the table, has so much to offer for the game of basketball, it’s not even funny.”

During his time with the Clippers today, Garnett worked with DeAndre Jordan individually prior to the club’s practice. The veteran center was enthusiastic about KG’s new role with the team, calling it “amazing,” per Han.

“He’s a great spirit and a great basketball mind, a Hall of Fame guy,” Jordan said. “Someone I looked up to coming up and even playing against. So any pointers he can give me, or tips, it’s great. I just want to be a student when he’s here.”

Although Garnett is acting as a consultant with the Clippers, it seems that Los Angeles isn’t the only team with which he’ll work. Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News reports (via Twitter) that Garnett, who has launched an “elite consulting business,” will assists the Bucks as well. Wolfson adds that some members of the Timberwolves would love to see KG help in Minnesta as well.

When Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical first reported in October that Garnett was talking to clubs about a consulting role, he noted that the future Hall-of-Famer may end up being hired by multiple teams. In that scenario, KG would make “periodic stops” into various NBA cities to work with certain players. In Milwaukee, players like John Henson, Greg Monroe, Miles Plumlee, and rookie Thon Maker could benefit from working with Garnett.

Timberwolves Waive John Lucas III

The Timberwolves have decided to waive John Lucas III, says Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. The 34-year-old guard was the club’s lone non-guaranteed player.

Limited to action in just five games this season, Lucas III never did quite carve out a role for himself in Tom Thibodeau‘s rotation. The point guard has played just ten minutes total this season after signing with the club last August and winning a battle for the final roster spot.

According to Bobby Marks or The Vertical, Minnesota’s cap hit on Lucas III is $636K.

Just last month Lucas III squared off against his father for the first time in their respective NBA careers. John Lucas II, a long-retired 14-year NBA veteran, is the head of player development for the Rockets.

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