Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge admits he was careful about the sort of young players he brought around Kevin Garnett, who “could be intimidating — and destructive — if the player didn’t respond in the right way,” he tells Jackie MacMullan of ESPN The Magazine. That’s evidence that Minnesota’s plan to use Garnett as a mentor for its host of young players isn’t foolproof, but the intense Garnett and No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns have taken to one another, and Garnett has accepted his purpose as a team leader, even giving Towns uncharacteristic advice to ease up at times, as MacMullan details. The edginess that Garnett brings to the Timberwolves has been a positive, GM Milt Newton tells MacMullan, and the late Flip Saunders cited Garnett’s ability to work well under Sam Mitchell when Saunders reacquired Garnett for Minnesota last season, MacMullan notes. See more on the Wolves and other Northwest Division teams:
- Jahlil Okafor outplayed Towns this week in a matchup of two of the top three picks, but the Timberwolves still chose wisely when they went with the former Kentucky big man, opines Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune. “It was an off-game for Karl,” Mitchell said, “but you look at the other 11, 12 games that Karl has played, he’s been unbelievable.”
- Kevin Durant lifts the performances of many around him, but that’s especially so with Thunder teammate Dion Waiters, notes Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. Both are set to become free agents at season’s end, and Waiters has denied rumors that he wants to jump to the Sixers to play in his hometown of Philadelphia, a most unlikely destination for Durant.
- Enes Kanter elicited questions about his maturity from some executives around the league in the wake of pithy comments he made about the Jazz after they fulfilled his request for a trade last season, but the Thunder big man is contrite these days, The Oklahoman’s Anthony Slater observes. “I think that I was a little, you know, harsh,” Kanter said. “But I just want to clear, I have no problem with the players or the fans. I respect the guys and they helped me a lot with my career. They helped me a lot in my first three and a half years.”