Northwest Notes: Russell, Johnson, SGA, MPJ

The Timberwolves were hit with a $25K fine by the NBA on Thursday for violating the league’s resting policy when they sat D’Angelo Russell a week ago despite D-Lo being considered a healthy player. Following that decision, the Wolves faced accusations of tanking, but president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas insists that’s not the case, as Chris Hine of The Star Tribune writes.

“I wouldn’t say it gets under my skin, but it’s just disappointing when you don’t have all the facts,” Rosas said of claims that the Timberwolves are tanking. “The reality is if individuals knew what was going on behind the scenes, how hard our coaches are working, our players are working — that’s the disappointing part because I think it’s disrespectful to them and what they’re putting in.

“… The side effects (of the Timberwolves’ midseason roster overhaul) unfortunately for Coach (Ryan Saunders) and his staff is you have nine players from three different programs, three different philosophies that are coming here and learning on the fly what we’re trying to do,” Rosas continued. “When you’re playing good teams like we’re playing, you get exposed. That’s the stage we’re at. But to say we’re not focused day in, day out on winning? That’s false and inaccurate.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • While he was hardly the biggest name of the players acquired by the Timberwolves at the deadline, James Johnson has quickly emerged as a team leader in Minnesota, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “If James told me to jump off a cliff I would do it yesterday,” Josh Okogie said of his new teammate. “He’s been great for us, and we’ve been following his lead.”
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s breakout year and budding stardom is giving the Thunder plenty to think about as they contemplate a potential rebuild, writes ESPN’s Royce Young. If Gilgeous-Alexander has All-NBA upside, it likely reduces the odds of the team fully bottoming out in the next couple seasons.
  • Nick Kosmider of The Athletic attempts to make sense of Michael Porter Jr.‘s reduced playing time for the Nuggets, arguing that it’s time to let the second-year forward reclaim a more impactful role.
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19 thoughts on “Northwest Notes: Russell, Johnson, SGA, MPJ

  1. hiflew

    Why should the Thunder worry about “bottoming out” at all? The whole point of rebuilding is to get younger players capable of leading your team for the next decade of so. They have that in SGA. They can draft smart in the middle of the first round and get complementary players. Just look at the Warriors. Steph Curry was the highest draft choice and he was #7. Klay was a late lotto pick, Dray was a 2nd rounder. You don’t need to pick in the top 5 in order to build a dynasty. You just need one star, good scouting to complement him, and a lot of luck.

  2. nentwigs

    “Northwest Notes: Russell, Johnson, SGA….”

    For a minute there I thought you were covering ………


    • hiflew

      That’s not the Northwest Russell Johnson, that is the South Pacific Russell Johnson.

  3. nentwigs

    In case the NBA has not noticed, the Timberpuppies have been TANKING ever since they were founded back in 1989!!!

    • hiflew

      No they haven’t been tanking. They have just been bad most of that time. Plus, weren’t they the #1 seed in the West a few of those years with KG?

      • nentwigs

        OK so they have just stunk for 21 years !!
        Made the playoffs in:
        03-04 MADE IT TO CONFERENCE FINALS AND (LOST) to the team that stole the name the MINNESOTA TEAM SHOULD HAVE

        SINCE THEN
        17-18 LOST IN 1st ROUND OF PLAYOFFS

        • dynasty in boston

          They’re no worse than Philadelphia. The last time they were relevant was 1983.

          • shmurdascene

            The same 76ers who made the NBA Finals in 2001 and had one of the best players of all time Allen Iverson werent relevant? They were 3 games away from a championship.

  4. All American Johnsonville Dogs

    Thunder are set up nicely with draft picks the next couple years.

    Could be a chance to trade some to move up and grab some elite talent to build around SGA.

  5. Rebuilds, of the new school, are all about bottoming out / tanking, and that’s the easiest formula for a FO to adopt as it gives them the most time before being judged.

    Presti made his bones with the original new school (tanking) rebuild. But at this point, the team and assets he has suggest he might be better off going to an old school one. The team has an identity and a platform for the development of young players that would be lost by a complete fire sale. On the flip side, he has unprotected (and lightly protected) draft picks of other teams (always a great way to be good and still improve).

    • x%sure

      I got modded I think, but I agree tanking is not a good option; for one thing, good young players like SGA don’t like that direction & might make himself a problem. Not much quoting of SGA there though so no read on that.
      And trading him could get the GM in trouble!

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