The Wolves‘ Kevin Garnett had glowing words for rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns, but sidestepped a question on interim coach Sam Mitchell, according to Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune. “Next question,’’ the veteran forward said when asked if Mitchell is the right coach for the team’s future. But he had much more to say about Towns, who is among the favorites for Rookie of the Year honors. “He’s very smart,” Garnett said. “He has a high IQ. He understands basketball. Sometimes [it’s] a little difficult teaching him because he is so smart. I guess that’s a young thing. But he gets a lot of things you teach him very quickly.’’
There’s more from the Northwest Division:
- Towns’ skills weren’t fully appreciated coming out of college because he was sharing minutes on a deep, talented Kentucky team, writes Jonathan Tjarks of Real GM. Tjarks compares Towns to a larger version of the Hawks’ Al Horford and says he has a chance to be like Garnett, only with the ability to play center and hit 3-pointers.
- Although Brooklyn seems like an improbable free agency destination for the Thunder’s Kevin Durant, Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com warns not to count out the Nets entirely. Durant’s representatives are Roc Nation Sports and Jay Z, who used to hold a minority ownership stake in the Nets. Also, Roc Nation’s president/chief of branding and strategy is Michael Yormark, whose twin brother Brett is CEO of the Nets. If Durant decides he wants to play in a big market and get away from the Warriors and Spurs in the Western Conference, Mazzeo believes Brooklyn could be on his radar.
- There is a bright side to the injuries that have limited the Jazz to a 19-24 start, claims Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. With Dante Exum out for the year and Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors missing big chunks of the season, rookies Trey Lyles and Raul Neto have gotten valuable playing time. Neto has emerged as the starting point guard and is averaging 5.8 points and 2.4 assists per game, while Lyles overcame a slow start to become an effective scorer and 3-point shooter.