Minnesota Timberwolves Rumors

And-Ones: Oden, McCants, Giddens, Anderson

November 23 at 12:17pm CST By Arthur Hill

Greg Oden attended the Cavaliers game Saturday, but has no immediate plans for an NBA comeback, tweets Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. Oden, the first player selected in the 2007 NBA draft, said he has other priorities. “I have to deal with other stuff first,” he said. “Life stuff.” Oden allegedly punched his ex-girlfriend in the face during a recent fight and was charged with felony battery, misdemeanor domestic battery and misdemeanor battery resulting in serious bodily injury.

Other players were on the move this weekend:

  • Free agent Rashad McCants will continue his career in Lebanon, notes Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. McCants, a college star at North Carolina, played four years in the NBA with the Timberwolves and Kings. He has not been in the league since the 2008/09 season. He played last season in Brazil.
  • J.R. Giddens, a first-round pick by the Celtics in the 2008 NBA draft, has landed a free agent deal in Argentina, tweets David Pick of Basketball Insiders and Eurobasket. Giddens spent two seasons in the NBA with the Celtics and Knicks. He has also played in Poland, Greece, Italy and Puerto Rico.
  • The Spurs announced that rookie Kyle Anderson has been assigned to the Austin Spurs of the D-League. A first-round pick out of UCLA in this year’s draft, Anderson has seen limited playing time in San Antonio, averaging 1.0 points and 2.8 rebounds in six games.

Western Notes: Howard, Saunders, Thunder

November 23 at 10:19am CST By Arthur Hill

The Rockets’ Dwight Howard is out indefinitely after undergoing platelet-rich plasma therapy on his strained right knee, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. Coach Kevin McHale said there is no timetable for the center to return after going through the PRP therapy that Kobe Bryant experimented with in 2013. “It feels a lot better,” Howard said after the treatment. “I had to get a shot in it to clear some of the stuff out of it. I’m trying to do whatever I can to get back on the floor.”

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • The Wolves’ Flip Saunders has been putting in late hours trying to find a replacement for the injured Kevin Martin, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Martin is out indefinitely after breaking his right wrist Wednesday, adding to an injury list that already includes Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Ronny Turiaf. Saunders, who serves as team president and coach, has been talking to agents and looking at D-League prospects for potential roster help.
  • The injury news is better in Oklahoma City, where Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook participated in practice Saturday, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman. The Thunder stars were limited to a few non-contact drills, but coach Scott Brooks was encouraged. “They looked good,”  Brooks said. “They’ve been with the group the whole time, but (Saturday) was the first day they’ve actually participated in some of the drills.” Durant, the league’s reigning MVP, had surgery on his right foot. Westbrook has a surgically repaired right hand. Both are scheduled to have their medical progress evaluated this week.
  • Kobe Bryant’s refusal to demand a trade from the Lakers undermines his public image as a cut-throat competitor, opines Shaun Powell of NBA.com. Powell notes that the woeful Lakers were in a similar situation a decade ago, and Bryant responded by threatening to sign with the Clippers if the talent around him didn’t improve. This time, Powell says, Bryant “agreed to serve as the conductor” on a train wreck in exchange for a two-year, $48MM contract extension that runs through next season.

Cavs Notes: Love, James, Miller, Blatt

November 22 at 4:44pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Kevin Love has had to sacrifice his game the most out of any player on the Cavs thus far this season, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Love is playing the same 36 minutes a game as a year ago, but is taking five fewer shots each contest, notes Pluto. This is something that Chris Bosh, LeBron’s former teammate with the Heat, predicted would happen prior to the season, and it has been a struggle for Love to find his place and playing rhythm as a result, Pluto adds.

Here’s more from Cleveland:

  • The Cavs need to get a good look at Mike Miller in order to see if the veteran can still be productive, Pluto opines. Miller is only averaging 1.1 points per game and logging 11.1 minutes per night, which isn’t a smart return for a player the team inked to a two-year, $5.5MM deal this past summer.
  • With Cleveland’s defense currently ranked 23rd in the league in points allowed (102 per game), GM David Griffin would prefer to use his $5,285,816 trade exception for a big man, rather than a shooting guard such as the Wolves’ Corey Brewer, Pluto reports.
  • Despite the Cavs assembling a superstar laden roster this season, there isn’t the same animosity directed at this Cleveland squad as the vitriol that was thrown towards the Heat’s “Big Three,” Mike Ganter of The Toronto Sun writes. Much of this has to do with LeBron James returning home rather than leaving it, as well as a number of talented players on the Cavs roster being in place before James’ arrival, Ganter adds.
  • Despite the extremely small sample size of 11 games, this year’s Cavs squad doesn’t look like they enjoy playing together, and there appears to be a distinct lack of communication on the team, something that could end up costing head coach David Blatt his job, Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media Group opines.

Offseason In Review: Minnesota Timberwolves

November 22 at 8:42am CST By Eddie Scarito

Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team’s offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.

Signings

Extensions

Trades

Waiver Claims

  • None

Draft Picks

  • Zach LaVine (Round 1, 13th overall). Signed via rookie exception to rookie scale contract.
  • Glenn Robinson III (Round 2, 40th overall). Signed via minimum-salary exception for one year, $507K. Partially guaranteed for $250K.

Camp Invitees

Departing Players

Rookie Contract Option Decisions

For the second time in seven years, the Timberwolves were forced to deal away their star player and begin anew. Team president Flip Saunders certainly hopes this time around brings Minnesota better results than when Kevin Garnett was shipped to Boston back in 2007, seeing as the franchise has only averaged 25 wins per season since that trade.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Miami HeatIn this rebuilding sequel the player being dealt was Kevin Love, and much of the offseason headlines and speculation around the league were focused squarely on where Love was headed, and what kind of package it would take for the Wolves to hit the reset button on the franchise. It turns out that a package of the last two No. 1 overall picks from the Cavs was the answer to that riddle, along with Thaddeus Young, by way of the Sixers, whose talent level makes him much more than just a throw-in.

While I understand how frustrating it must be for fans of the Wolves to see yet another highly talented player leave town, the fact is that the team wasn’t headed to the NBA Finals with Love anytime soon. The franchise hasn’t so much as sniffed the playoffs during his tenure, so this is nowhere near the step back that losing Garnett was. Love was almost assured of leaving the team next summer, when he can opt out the contract that former GM David Kahn designed when he wouldn’t commit to a five-year extension for Love, so Saunders made a tough call, but a correct one.

A deal that sends away a superstar for a package of lesser assets doesn’t usually help the franchise that relinquishes the better player, as is illustrated in my Trade Retrospective Series. This trend might continue with Minnesota, but I applaud Saunders for pulling the trigger on flipping Love for the best possible package available in Wiggins, Bennett, and Young. The Wolves aren’t likely to contend in the brutal Western Conference for a few more seasons, but if and when they do finally break through, this deal could be looked back upon as one that laid the foundation for that achievement.

The primary piece that Saunders acquired is this year’s No. 1 overall draftee, Andrew Wiggins. It will take some time, but Wiggins has superstar potential, and he’s a player whom a franchise can build around, as well as someone the Wolves can use as a marquee attraction to sell season tickets, given his ridiculous athleticism and above-the-rim antics. The only real knock on Wiggins is that he seemingly lacks the killer instinct present in most, if not all, of the true alphas in the NBA. But if that’s true, Minnesota is the perfect place for Wiggins to develop, outside of the spotlight of a major market where he can play for a team not expected to make the playoffs this season. I think Wiggins will end up surprising many in this regard and figure things out sooner than expected. In a few seasons, the Cavs could be ruing the day they traded him.

The other pieces Minnesota acquired are wild cards, however. There is no denying that Young is a talent, and he’ll be counted on for veteran leadership. But the ex-Sixer may be too weary from all those losing seasons in Philadelphia to go through the process again with the Wolves, and with an early termination option for next season in his possession, it’s quite possible he’ll end up having been merely a one-season rental. I’d be surprised if Young didn’t exercise his ETO, as the long-term security of a brand new deal would be the smart play, and he’s almost assured to do better salary-wise than the $9,971,739 that he’s set to earn next year. A strong season by Young should thrust his market value into the neighborhood at least the $12MM per year. That doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t re-sign with the Wolves, but he’d be remiss if he didn’t at least explore the free agent market.

As for Bennett, he’s clearly not going to live up to his status as the top pick in the 2013 NBA draft, though there’s an easy argument to make that he should never have been selected that high to begin with. The Wolves have little to lose by giving him a shot to develop, and he has looked much improved this season, though he’s not likely to be an All-Star anytime soon. Any production they can get from Bennett, whom the Wolves are using almost exclusively at power forward this season after the Cavs tried him at small forward last year, is a bonus.

Minnesota is not viewed as a true free agent destination, as smaller cold-weather cities rarely are in the NBA. So the team is forced to mine the second tier of available free agents. That template certainly applies to the team’s lone free agent acquisition this offseason. The Mo Williams signing was another shrewd move by Saunders, as the team certainly needed veteran leadership, as well as depth at the point guard spot. With the injury to Ricky Rubio, Williams’ presence is even more valuable. At the very least Williams could provide the team with a valuable trade asset later in the season.

The draft is extremely important to the fortunes of the team, given Minnesota’s lack of appeal to marquee free agents. Saunders’ selection of Zach LaVine comes with some intriguing possibilities. LaVine is a stellar athlete who has off-the-charts leaping ability, and his potential is unlimited. But he’s incredibly raw, having played only one season at UCLA, and he wasn’t even a starter during that time. Scouts have compared LaVine favorably to another Bruins alum, Russell Westbrook. That is a tough legacy to live up to, though Westbrook entered the league with many of the same concerns about his game, and he turned out pretty well for the Thunder. It’s going to take some time to be able to accurately gauge what kind of player LaVine will be, but Saunders deserves some credit for gambling on him.

With his second round pick, Saunders selected Glenn Robinson III, another player with intriguing long-term potential. Robinson has the skills to develop into a useful rotation player, though he’ll likely spend more time in the D-League than on the NBA hardwood this season.

Saunders also needed to find a new head coach to replace the retired Rick Adelman. He surveyed a number of marquee college coaches, and at one point owner Glen Taylor was keen on Saunders hiring ex-Raptors coach Sam Mitchell, who had a long career with the Timberwolves as a player. But Saunders’ primary target became Grizzlies head man Dave Joerger, whose job security was tenuous at best since Memphis owner Robert Pera was revamping his entire front office and had been rumored to be considering firing Joerger back in November of 2013. But Joerger and Pera patched up their relationship and Joerger signed an extension to remain in Memphis. This led Saunders to fill the role himself, though his arrangement is “open-ended” in terms of length, meaning Saunders will have the opportunity to revisit a search for someone else to coach the team in the future.

The final move the team made during its active offseason, and perhaps the most important one aside from the Love trade, was to lock up Rubio on a long-term extension. Saunders was obviously determined not to run the risk of losing yet another player to free agency, though $55MM plus incentives over four years may be a bit of an overpay for the 24-year-old from Spain. Prior to his injury, Rubio was enjoying an excellent season, averaging 9.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 10.0 assists per game. If Rubio can ever develop a reliable jump shot, something his contract incentives are tied directly to, and resume his early-season production level when he returns, he’ll be worth that chunk of cap space.

Heading into 2015/16, the team currently has more than $49MM committed in guaranteed salaries. That figure doesn’t include Young’s salary, though he’ll likely exercise his ETO, and the player options for Chase Budinger ($5MM) and Corey Brewer ($4.905MM). If the team re-signs Young, and if both Budinger and Brewer opt in, which is likely in Budinger’s case, the team won’t have much room under the cap to play with. Brewer is currently the subject of numerous trade rumors, though Saunders has hinted that he’s too valuable to trade. That is something I believe is posturing on Saunders’ part, designed to try and increase any return the team would receive for Brewer. Budinger, too, found his name in trade rumors prior to the season.

Another contract on his books that Saunders should consider trying to unload is Nikola Pekovic‘s. The team still owes him three more years and $35.8MM after this season, numbers not in line with Pekovic’s production. While talented big men are at a premium in the league, their importance in the guard-oriented NBA world we currently live in has been diminished. And at 28 years of age, Pekovic isn’t likely to provide much more than his career averages of 13.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. This contract will hamper the team’s growth similar to how Roy Hibbert‘s deal is hamstringing the Pacers.

With Love gone, the immediate outlook for the Timberwolves’ fortunes hasn’t improved, though they weren’t likely to shine even if Love had remained in Minnesota. For the long term, the team’s outlook has a glimmer of hope in the core of Wiggins, Rubio, and LaVine. The franchise will continue to struggle to attract top-tier free agents, but if the Wolves can maximize their future draft picks and add the right mix of role players, the long-suffering fans in Minnesota just might have something to cheer about.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post. Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Smith, Moreland, Sampson

November 21 at 10:26pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Minnesota is the latest team to be besieged by injuries, with Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin out indefinitely and Ronny Turiaf also expected to miss time. Also among the Timberwolves to sit on the sidelines in street clothes tonight is Nikola Pekovic, who has a sprained wrist. With the league-maximum 15 players on their roster, the Wolves would not be able to sign another player without being forced to release someone. But if at least three of the players miss three consecutive games and an independent physician declares that they and a fourth player are likely to continue to miss time, Minnesota could apply to the league for a hardship provision that would grant them the ability to temporarily carry a 16th player. Still, “they don’t hand those things out like candy,” as Flip Saunders noted of the league’s willingness to grant 16th roster spots, in spite of recent allowances for the Thunder, Pacers and Grizzlies, tweets Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Kings have sent Eric Moreland to the Reno Bighorns, the team announced. This will be Moreland’s second assignment to the D-League this season. The 22-year-old power forward has yet to make a regular season appearance for Sacramento
  • The Sixers have assigned JaKarr Sampson to the Delaware 87ers, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. This will be Sampson’s first trip to the D-League this season, and the rookie is averaging 2.0 points and 1.7 rebounds per game in nine NBA appearances.
  • Former Blazers first round pick Nolan Smith is headed back to the NBA D-League, Gino Pilato of D-League Digest reports. Smith had cut ties with Turkey’s Galatasaray back in October and intends to use the D-League to showcase his talents for NBA teams, Pilato notes. The D-League will assign Smith to one of its teams through its waiver system. The 26-year-old point guard spent 2011/12 and 2012/13 with Portland, averaging 3.3 PPG and 1.2 APG in 9.9 minutes per contest. Smith had received partially guaranteed offers from the Bulls and the Thunder this summer but instead chose to try his luck in Turkey.

Western Notes: Kobe, Thunder, Martin

November 21 at 2:31pm CST By Chuck Myron

Kobe Bryant rejects the notion that he should have taken a drastic discount the way Dirk Nowitzki did this summer, as Bryant told reporters, including Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. Bryant is making $23.5MM this season, the first of a two-year, $48.5MM extension, while Nowitzki will draw only slightly more than $7.947MM.

“It’s the popular thing to do,” Bryant said of players taking pay cuts. “The player takes less, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I think it’s a big coup for the owners to put players in situations where public perception puts pressure on them to take less money. Because if you don’t, then you get criticized for it. It’s absolutely brilliant, but I’m not going for it. I know the new head of the players association [Michele Roberts] ain’t going for it, either.”

Bryant could be making nearly $32.738MM this season if he took the maximum salary in the extension he signed last year, and he said today that he thinks he gave up enough to help the Lakers become a contender again, MacMahon notes. There’s more on the Black Mamba amid the latest from the Western Conference:

  • Bryant dropped another hint in his chat with reporters today that he doesn’t plan on playing past the expiration of his contract in 2016, notes Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter link).
  • GM Sam Presti exuded confidence a few weeks ago that the Thunder could survive their time without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but people within the Thunder’s basketball operations department “are on edge more than ever before,” The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry writes.
  • The Wolves haven’t decided whether Kevin Martin needs surgery on his broken right wrist, but it’d likely be the fastest way for him to return to the court, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. Zgoda speculates that it would take four to six weeks for him to come back if he goes under the knife, but the Tribune scribe points out that Martin missed more than two months after surgery to his left (non-shooting) wrist in 2009.

Wolves Discussing Corey Brewer Trade

November 20 at 1:58pm CST By Zach Links

1:58pm: Saunders suggested today that Brewer is too valuable to the Wolves for the team to move him, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press.

THURSDAY, 10:48am: Houston has become a more likely destination for Brewer than Cleveland, though the situation remains in flux, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Rockets are ready to make a move immediately, Stein adds (Twitter link), echoing a report from Wednesday that the team is anxious to use its Jeremy Lin trade exception. The Cavs are still deciding whether they should make the addition of a rim-protector a higher priority than bringing aboard a wing defender like Brewer, according to Stein.

5:28pm: Cleveland is “unquestionably” interested in acquiring Brewer, writes Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, who hears from a Cavs official who describes the swingman as a perfect fit, in part because he would allow the team to keep Dion Waiters out of the starting lineup. Still, the Rockets have as much chance as the Cavs do to land Brewer, Amico adds, suggesting that the Wolves are indeed in no hurry to trade him.

MONDAY, 3:35pm: Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders tried to bat down the rumor today, telling reporters that the team won’t rush into a decision, as Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes (Twitter link).

SUNDAY, 5:16pm: A key factor for a team acquiring Brewer is getting him to waive him player option for 2015/16, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (on Twitter) hears.

4:32pm: The Wolves are in active trade discussions regarding Corey Brewer, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The two teams mentioned as being most serious contenders interested in acquiring the 28-year-old swingman are the Rockets and the Cavaliers, notes Stein. The Wolves are reportedly seeking future assets in any deal. It is unclear if that means Minnesota is interested in a return of a younger player or draft picks for Brewer, either of which would help hasten the team’s rebuilding process.

Brewer’s primary value is as a defensive stopper on the perimeter, something that Cleveland in particular could use, and Brewer’s defensive skill is at a premium in the league with the increased focus on guard-driven offense.  Brewer is also a capable transition scorer, and if he ends up in Cleveland he would reunite with former teammate Kevin Love, whose outlet passes often found Brewer in transition with great success last season, notes Stein. The other appeal that Brewer has to the Cavs is in his ability to play and defend multiple positions.  And he also make sense for the Cavs as they look to get stronger at two guard to help keep LeBron James‘ minutes down.

The Rockets have been said to ‎covet Brewer since last season, Stein notes. Houston could use depth at both the small forward and shooting guard spots, and Brewer would help solidify what is already a strong defensive unit, with the Rockets currently second in the league in fewest points allowed at a stingy 91.6 per game. Houston head coach Kevin McHale also has ties to Brewer having drafted him when he was the GM in Minnesota back in 2007.

Both the Rockets and Cavaliers currently have the league-maximum 15 players on their rosters, but each team could fit Brewer’s salary of $4,702,500 into a trade exception, meaning neither would have to send Minnesota a player in return. However, absorbing Brewer’s salary without sending anyone to the Wolves might put the Cavs into tax territory, depending on whom the team would relinquish in a separate transaction to fit Brewer beneath the 15-man roster limit. The Rockets, roughly $10MM clear of the tax threshold, have no such concerns.

Poll: Best Fit For Corey Brewer

November 20 at 9:06am CST By Chuck Myron

Corey Brewer can’t single-handedly change the fortunes of an NBA franchise, but he can be a difference-maker in the title race for a team that already has its stars in place. Brewer’s six-steal performance Wednesday for the Timberwolves in a win against the Knicks is testament to the sort of effect he can have defensively. It’s no doubt with that sort of ability in mind that a pair of elite teams are reportedly in talks with the Wolves to acquire the eighth-year swingman.

Cleveland, one of those teams, is supposed to be atop the league after welcoming LeBron James back and trading for Kevin Love this past summer. Instead, the Cavs are just 5-5, allowing the fifth most points per possession in the league, according to NBA.com. Joe Harris, the 33rd overall pick from this year’s draft, is seeing significant minutes at shooting guard, a development that bodes well for the long-term future but doesn’t speak highly of the team’s perimeter depth for this season.

The Rockets, the other club linked to Brewer, are 9-3 after a 9-1 start. The Rockets have begun the season better than might have been expected after a disappointing offseason, but GM Daryl Morey is apparently anxious to use the trade exception he acquired for Jeremy Lin to fortify a rotation that lost much of its depth over the summer. Houston has the best defense in the league in terms of points allowed per possession, NBA.com shows, but if the Rockets can use their exception to acquire Brewer without giving anyone up in return, they stand a better chance of remaining a defensive force all season and into the playoffs.

The Cavs are probably more talented on the whole than the Rockets are, but that doesn’t mean everything when it comes to the acquisition of a specific player. Let us know whether you think Cleveland or Houston is the better destination for the former University of Florida standout, or if you believe he’d better serve another team. Feel free to elaborate on your choice in the comments.

Western Notes: Brewer, Jackson, Gay

November 17 at 8:22pm CST By Alex Lee

Tonight’s matchup between Memphis and Houston is a good one, but it’d be hard to fault fans looking forward to Wednesday night’s clash between the defending champion Spurs and the LeBron James-led Cavaliers. Sam Amick of USA Today writes that the Cleveland faithful should thank the Spurs for their part in sending James back to his hometown club, as few dispute that a Miami victory last June would have prevented the offseason’s biggest shakeup.

We’ll have to wait until Wednesday to see if the Spurs get their due from the Quicken Loans Arena crowd. Until then, let’s see what else is going on out West:

  • While Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders tried to downplay the Corey Brewer rumors earlier today, it sure appears that interest in the veteran swingman is legitimate. However, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities isn’t getting the sense that a trade is imminent (via Twitter). Meanwhile, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle questions whether the Rockets would use their traded player exception this early in the season (via Twitter). As our Outstanding Trade Exceptions guide shows, Houston obtained a trade exception of nearly $8.4MM when they sent Jeremy Lin to the Lakers.
  • With superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the shelf, Thunder guard Reggie Jackson has had the spotlight to himself in Oklahoma City recently, averaging 21.5 points in the team’s first 11 games. Jackson and the Thunder broke off extension talks in October and the fourth-year guard is set for restricted free agency this summer. One guy who knows what it’s like to be the third fiddle in OKC is James Harden, who told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman that Jackson should take advantage of this opportunity. “I fell into the same situation, and that could have been my only contract. And I’m sure Reggie feels the same way. He has to get the money that he’s earned and that he’s worked his whole life for. It’s the nature of the business. It’s going to happen every single year and it’s going to continue to happen.”
  • Rudy Gay and the Kings are perfect for each other, writes Tom Ziller of SB Nation. Ziller considers the extension agreed upon yesterday to be mutually beneficial, with Sacramento keeping a good player at a reasonable price while Gay pockets a nice chunk of change in the short term without totally sacrificing his ability to take advantage of the league’s new TV money. Assuming his success continues in Sacramento, Gay can decline his player option for 2017/18 and cash in one year after the cap explodes skyward in 2016.

Northwest Notes: Barea, Wolves, Shaw, Leonard

November 16 at 1:01pm CST By Arthur Hill

J.J. Barea confirmed to Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he gave up some guaranteed money to get out of his contract with the Timberwolves. Barea said he was paid a portion of the $4.5MM the Wolves owed him, and then signed with the Mavericks for the veterans minimum. “I think we finished on good terms,” he said. “We communicated pretty good. They wanted to go another direction. We talked about it and came up with the decision and went from there.” Barea played five seasons in Dallas before signing a free agent deal with Minnesota in 2011.

More from the Northwest Division:

  • As the Wolves adjust to life without Kevin Love, their former general manager can empathize, reports Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Kevin McHale said the circumstances that led to Love being dealt to Cleveland were very similar seven years ago when he was forced to trade Kevin Garnett“It’s the lesser of two evils,” said McHale, now the coach of the Rockets. “Like, are we going to let a guy walk for nothing, or are we going to try to get the greatest amount of assets we can and see if we can build from here? But, yeah, I felt bad for [Minnesota head coach and president of basketball operations] Flip [Saunders], because it’s just a tough position to be in.”
  • Woody Paige of The Denver Post opines that the Nuggets need to cut ties with coach Brian Shaw as a way to save their season. Paige called this year’s version of the Nuggets “the least entertaining, exciting and enthralling” in more than a decade, and said Shaw made a huge mistake by implementing a slowdown approach that wastes Denver’s natural advantage over visiting teams because of the city’s altitude.
  • The Trail Blazers‘ Meyers Leonard believes he was miscast during his first two NBA seasons, writes Jason Quick of The Oregonian. The 7-footer has cracked Portland’s rotation as a stretch four after struggling to contribute as a center. He grabbed 12 rebounds Saturday while filling in as a starter for an ailing LaMarcus Aldridge in a win over the Nets. “Once coach started to see me shoot more threes after practice, and shoot them during camps, and in games and summer run … that’s when coach realized ‘He can really help us,”’ Leonard said.