Minnesota Timberwolves Rumors

Timberwolves Open To Trading Mo Williams

January 30 at 3:18pm CST By Chuck Myron

3:18pm: The Cavs, Clippers and Heat are among the teams to watch regarding Williams, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 Twin Cities, adding that there’s a “small chance” that the Pistons become involved (Twitter link). The return Minnesota would receive for Williams would be “minimal,” Wolfson also says.

11:49am: Rival teams believe the Wolves are making Mo Williams available to potential trade partners willing to relinquish a draft pick, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Williams is indeed available, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press (on Twitter). Still, a source told Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that there’s “almost zero chance” that Minnesota makes any deal this season, given the limited market for its veterans, as Deveney wrote earlier this morning.

The source who spoke with Deveney referred to the long-term financial commitments to some of those vets as stumbling blocks, but Williams is on a $3.75MM deal that only covers this season. Many executives and scouts who spoke with Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck for a December report identified Williams and teammate Thaddeus Young as likely trade candidates. Young has a player option worth almost $9.972MM for next season, and Krawczynski doesn’t get the sense that the Timberwolves want to trade Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic or perhaps Young, as the AP scribe wrote in his tweet.

Williams, a 12th-year veteran, has been starting in place of the injured Ricky Rubio, though the team does have lottery pick Zach LaVine and 10-day signee Lorenzo Brown in reserve. Williams’ 6.4 assists per game are his most since the 2010/11 season, and his 12.5 points per game represent a bounceback from his 9.7 PPG scoring average for the Blazers last season, the first time he hadn’t averaged double figures in points since his rookie year. Still, the now 32-year-old Williams wanted to return to Portland this past summer, and there was reportedly mutual interest in a deal with the Mavs before they signed Jameer Nelson instead.

Wolves Try To Honor Budinger’s Trade Request

January 30 at 10:27am CST By Chuck Myron

Chase Budinger‘s representatives have let the Timberwolves know that he’d like to play elsewhere, and the Wolves have been trying to trade him to teams around the league, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Budinger isn’t demanding a trade, sources caution to Deveney, but in any case, there’s “almost zero chance” the Wolves find a taker for Budinger or any other players before the deadline, a source tells Deveney. That’s because of the financial commitments that extend beyond the season for Budinger, Kevin Martin and Thaddeus Young, Deveney writes, adding that it’s nonetheless likely that the Wolves will trade Budinger after the season, when his contract will be easier to swallow.

Timberwolves coach/executive Flip Saunders denied that the team was shopping Budinger in October amid a flurry of rumors. There were conflicting reports about whether the Rockets had interest at that point, but regardless, Houston’s acquisition of Corey Brewer from the Wolves last month eliminated the team’s need for Budinger, according to Deveney. The Sporting News scribe reported in October that the Blazers had some interest, but Deveney says now that no substantive talks ever took place with Portland. The Pacers also apparently had interest before the season, and the Pistons reportedly inquired about the sixth-year small forward around that same time, with Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities pegging Detroit as the “team to watch” regarding Budinger in October.

Budinger, 26, is averaging career lows in points per game, minutes per game and shooting percentage. The BDA Sports Management client is making $5MM this season with an identical $5MM player option for next season. Young, about whom the Wolves and Nets have reportedly spoken, has a salary of almost $9.411MM this year and a player option of close to $9.972MM for 2015/16. Martin is making nearly $6.793MM this year, and his contract runs through 2016/17, which is a player option year.

Northwest Notes: Nelson, Huestis, Robinson

January 29 at 12:07pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Thunder nearly dealt Reggie Jackson to the Nuggets this week, as Frank Isola of the New York Daily News wrote overnight in a piece linking Kevin Durant to the Knicks, adding that it’s “expected” that the Thunder will trade Jackson before the deadline. Still, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders wrote earlier this week that he’d heard from executives around the league that the Thunder remain on the fence about trading the soon-to-be restricted free agent guard, and that some within the organization want to hang on to him. Jackson’s trade candidacy, which I examined in greater detail last week, looms as a prominent storyline between now and the trade deadline, which is just three weeks away. Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets want to keep Jameer Nelson around for next season, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Nelson has a player option worth nearly $2.855MM, though he isn’t giving an indication of his plans beyond this year, according to Dempsey. The point guard rebuffed Denver’s entreaties in free agency this past summer thinking he would have a larger role with the Mavs, Dempsey adds. Nelson is seeing slightly fewer minutes per game since arriving in Denver via trade this month than he did with the Mavs.
  • An NBA GM from outside Oklahoma City tells Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that he doesn’t think the Thunder‘s D-League arrangement with Josh Huestis will become a trend. The Thunder don’t see this past year’s 29th overall selection as a star, but they do envision him as a potential rotation player, Deveney writes. That suggests that the Thunder will eventually sign him to a rookie scale contract, but Deveney adds that the team has given Huestis no such assurance.
  • Timberwolves coach/executive Flip Saunders wishes he had a roster with enough healthy players so he could send Glenn Robinson III on D-League assignment, as Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com notes amid his Rookie Ladder rankings. Minnesota has yet to make any D-League assignments this season.

And-Ones: Heat, D-League, Brown, Knicks

January 28 at 10:26pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Knicks coach Derek Fisher said that it was very important for New York to sign Louis Amundson and Lance Thomas for the remainder of the season, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com reports (Twitter link). Both players are inked to 10-day deals that expire this week. In five appearances for the Knicks this season, Thomas has averaged 9.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in 26.0 minutes per game. Amundson has also made five appearances for New York, and his averages are 4.6 points and 5.8 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per night.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • All of the injuries that the Heat have endured this season haven’t allowed the team to see how effective its intended roster could be, Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. “The most disappointing thing is we’re not even having a chance to be at full strength, to even see what we could do,” said Miami center Chris Bosh. “Not 100%, but just at least have most of our guys. It just seems like every time we’re about to turn the corner, there’s a drawback. And it is what it is. I can’t really say anything else.”
  • The Cavaliers have recalled Joe Harris from the Canton Charge, their D-League affiliate, the team has announced. This was Harris’ third jaunt of the season to the D-League. Harris has played in two games for the Charge this season, averaging 18.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in 39.5 minutes per game.
  • The Warriors have assigned center Festus Ezeli to the Santa Cruz Warriors, their D-League affiliate, the team has announced in a press release. Ezeli has missed the last 16 games with an ankle sprain. Golden State also announced that it has recalled Ognjen Kuzmic, who concludes his fifth sojourn of the season in Santa Cruz.
  • With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, Basketball Insiders’ Cody Taylor looked at some players whom the Hawks, Hornets, Heat, Magic, and Wizards could be willing to deal.
  • Lorenzo Brown will earn $48K from his 10-day contract with the Wolves, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). One-year veterans, like Brown, and rookies cost their teams slightly less than other players when they sign 10-day contracts, as Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors explained earlier this month.

Pistons Eyeing Norris Cole

January 27 at 6:43pm CST By Eddie Scarito

With point guard Brandon Jennings out for the season, the Pistons are looking into the possibility of trading for the Heat’s Norris Cole, Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media Group reports. The talks between the two teams have been described as exploratory, and no deal is imminent, Haynes notes. Detroit is in search of a point guard to add to its depth, and the current plan is to acquire a short-term option and evaluate that player at the end of this season, Haynes adds. This Pistons were also reportedly interested in D-Leaguer Lorenzo Brown, who is set to ink a 10-day deal with the Timberwolves instead.

We definitely got to get a third point guard, there’s no question,” said Detroit’s president of basketball operations and coach Stan Van Gundy. “To go out and get a guy who would be a huge difference maker, you probably have to give up something that would hurt you down the road. We’re not in panic time here. We’re not going to do that and be sitting here in the summer kicking ourselves for trying to do something short-term that would hurt us in the long-term.

Cole would certainly fit the Pistons’ criteria, since he is set to become a free agent at the end of this season. The Heat are reportedly open to dealing the 26-year-old out of Cleveland State, and Cole was reportedly a part of a proposed deal with the Nets for Brook Lopez. Miami team president Pat Riley has denied that he made any proposals to Brooklyn, and he insists that the that Heat haven’t made any offers to any team. The Hornets have also been mentioned to have interest in Cole, with Charlotte seeking to add depth in the wake of Kemba Walker‘s injury. Walker is likely to miss at least six weeks of action.

In 39 appearances this season, including 23 as a starter, Cole is averaging 6.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in 24.4 minutes per game. His slash line is .386/.239/.711. His career averages over four seasons are 6.2 PPG, 1.8 RPG, and 2.5 APG.

Timberwolves, Pistons Eye Lorenzo Brown

January 27 at 9:32am CST By Charlie Adams

9:32am: The Wolves plan to sign Brown to a 10-day deal this week, probably in advance of Wednesday’s game against the Celtics, according to Stein (on Twitter). It’s not entirely clear whether there’s an agreement between Minnesota and the point guard or if Detroit remains in the equation, but it seems the situation is fast-moving. The Wolves can terminate their contract with Raduljica early, though they’d still be on the hook for the full 10 days’ worth of salary to him.

TUESDAY, 9:23am: The Timberwolves have Brown in their sights, too, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com, who says Minnesota is envisioning a 10-day deal. The Wolves are still without Ricky Rubio, though their most recent loss came at small forward, where Robbie Hummel is out for four to six weeks with a broken hand. Minnesota, which originally drafted Brown and brought him to camp in 2013, has 15 players on its roster, though Miroslav Raduljica is on a 10-day contract that expires at the end of Wednesday. Flip Saunders and company inquired about Brady Heslip recently, according to Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 Twin Cities (Twitter link), but Heslip struck a deal to play in Bosnia. Even though Brown is with the affiliate of the Pistons, he’s free to sign with any NBA team.

SUNDAY, 2:03pm: The Pistons are “strongly considering” signing Lorenzo Brown, according to Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). Detroit fears that starting point guard Brandon Jennings might be out for the rest of the year, so bringing aboard Brown would help supplement the club’s backcourt depth. The Pistons’ roster stands at 14 players, so no corresponding move would be needed to accommodate a potential signing.

Charania doesn’t specify what sort of contract that the Pistons are considering offering Brown, and although it could be just a 10-day deal, it wouldn’t be surprising for Detroit to ink the former second-round pick to a deal that covers the remainder of the season. Jennings tweeted “6/9 months” this morning, presumably implying he would be sidelined for the remaining portion of the 2014/15 season.

Brown, 24, spent training camp with the Pistons after playing 26 games for the Sixers last season. In 18 D-League games for the Grand Rapids Drive this year, Brown has scored 16.8 points per night and shot an impressive 50.4% from the floor.

And-Ones: Hummel, Bullock, Celtics, Draft

January 26 at 9:00am CST By Chuck Myron

There’s been a run of tough luck over the past few days, with Kobe Bryant, Brandon Jennings, Tony Wroten and Mirza Teletovic all likely having been knocked out for the season. There’s news on another injury this morning as the NBA hopes inclement weather in the Northeast won’t interfere with a seven-game night:

  • The Wolves have lost Robbie Hummel to a broken right (shooting) hand, the team announced (on Twitter), and Hummel said he’ll be out four to six weeks, reports Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. Hummel has started four of the last five games for Minnesota, which has a full 15-man roster, including Miroslav Raduljica, who’s on a 10-day contract.
  • Suns coach Jeff Hornacek believes new acquisition Reggie Bullock will fit into Phoenix’s plans for the future, as he told reporters, including Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Bullock engaged in what he calls a “great conversation” with Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers when he found out that Rivers had pulled the trigger on the deal that sent him to Phoenix, Markazi observes.
  • The original plan was for Andre Dawkins to remain on D-League assignment for the duration of his 10-day contract with the Celtics, but coach Brad Stevens indicated there’s a decent chance that will change, notes Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. In any case, Gino Pilato of D-League Digest examines the reasons why NBA teams would sign a player to a 10-day deal and immediately send him to the D-League, as Boston did with Dawkins.
  • Tyler Harris said the idea that he intends to enter this year’s NBA draft didn’t come from him, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. A report last week indicated that the Providence junior small forward planned to declare for early entry.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Wolves, Nuggets

January 25 at 1:05pm CST By Chris Crouse

LaMarcus Aldridge‘s surprise decision to play through an injured thumb, that was reportedly going to sideline the power forward for six to eight weeks, was partially made with the team in mind, as he tells Mike Richman of The Oregonian. “With me not being out there and not having [Nicolas Batum] definitely hurts us even more. So I just wanted to do some things today. Things went well. And I did some things yesterday late and it felt decent so we feel like we have a little plan to wrap it and strap it in and we’ll see, ” Aldridge told Richman. Aldridge played 36 minutes in his first game back from the injury and accumulated 26 points, nine rebounds and two steals in the victory over the Wizards on Saturday night.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The time has come for the Wolves to start looking to next season and maintain their good lottery odds, opines Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. Zgoda takes a look at the top prospects in the upcoming draft including Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns Jr. Minnesota is 7-35 on the season, which puts the team atop our reverse order rankings. If the season ended today, the Wolves would be guaranteed a top four pick in the 2015 draft.
  • Ty Lawson remains in the Nuggets‘ future plans at the present time, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Lawson will return to the court after sitting out Friday’s game against the Celtics because of his arrest for suspicion of drinking and driving. The Nuggets sit at 18-25 on the season and remain a long shot, at best, to make the playoffs. Some of the Denver’s key players have been discussed in trade conversations with an eye on the future, including Wilson Chandler, who our own Chuck Myron looked at as a trade candidate.
  • Kendrick Perkins is an advocate of his new Thunder teammate Dion Waiters, writes Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders“It doesn’t matter what you heard [in the media],” Perkins said of Waiters. “I’ve been impressed with his ability on the defensive end.  The way he gets physical on the defensive end. The way he locks in. I have been more impressed with that. We already know he can score the ball. But I have been impressed with the commitment he’s shown on the defensive end.” Oklahoma City is 5-3 since Waiters’ arrival and in my latest poll, Hoops Rumors readers believe the move was the least impactful of the major Western Conference trades this season.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Bogut, Thompson, Bryant

January 24 at 10:00pm CST By Arthur Hill

With the NBA’s best record in the first half of the season, Golden State GM Bob Myers isn’t planning any major moves before the February 19th trade deadline, according to Rusty Simmons of The San Francisco Chronicle. The Warriors are off to a franchise-best 35-6 start and are beating teams by an average of 12.1 points per game. “I don’t think anybody wants roster turnover,” Myers said. “You want to keep the group together as long as you can, and the players have earned the right to grow together and see what they can do in the playoffs.”

There’s other news from the Pacific Division:

  • Andrew Bogut isn’t complaining about the way the Warriors are handling his rest and physical condition, even though it may cost him money, tweets Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group. Reduced playing time hampers Bogut’s ability to reach a $1.9MM incentive bonus.
  • No one enjoyed Klay Thompson‘s 37-point third quarter Friday more than his father Mychal, who told Scott Ostler of The San Francisco Chronicle he hopes his son retires as a Warrior. The elder Thompson, who works as a commentator for the Lakers, said Golden State made the right move last summer by not breaking up the “Splash Brothers” to acquire Kevin Love from the Timberwolves. “I’m very happy they decided to keep that special backcourt together,” he said. “When you have someone like Stephen [Curry] and Klay, you let those guys retire together in a Warriors uniform.”
  • Although he’s likely done for the season, it’s not time for the LakersKobe Bryant to retire, argues Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times. Bryant may undergo season-ending surgery after having his shoulder re-examined on Monday, but Plaschke contends that’s no way for such a brilliant career to end. He wants to see Bryant return in 2015/16 for the final year of his contract with a better team that should include a healthy Julius Randle, a high pick in this year’s draft and possibly a quality free agent addition.

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.