Western Notes: Wolves, Morant, Preston, Mahlalela

When Rudy Gobert first heard about the proposed deal sending him to the Timberwolves, he told his agent Bouna Ndiaye that he needed a day or two to think about it, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. After some deliberation, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year got fully on board with the move.

“After one day, I told him it was probably the best, most exciting situation in terms of basketball for me,” Gobert told reporters on Wednesday.

As Michael Rand of The Star Tribune details, the deal will deplete the Timberwolves’ depth to some extent, but the trade-off should be worth it, as Minnesota will have one of the NBA’s best starting fives.

The deal has major boom-or-bust potential, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who notes that the Wolves are betting big on “big ball” by pairing Gobert with Karl-Anthony Towns. If the twin-towers approach works for Minnesota, it could “quickly spawn imitators,” says Hollinger. If it doesn’t, it’ll be a costly mistake that could set the franchise back for years to come.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Ja Morant‘s new maximum-salary extension with the Grizzlies includes a 15% trade kicker, but it doesn’t feature a fifth-year player option, Hoops Rumors has learned. That means Morant will remain under team control through the 2027/28 season.
  • Jason Preston will be available for the Clippers‘ Summer League team after missing his entire rookie season due to right foot surgery. According to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times, about three weeks after the Clippers’ season ended, Preston was able to start participating in 5-on-5 scrimmages without restrictions.
  • The Warriors are promoting assistant coach Jama Mahlalela to the front of their bench for the 2022/23 season, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). Mahlalela will fill the opening created by Mike Brown‘s departure to Sacramento, while Kenny Atkinson – who nearly departed for Charlotte himself – will replace Brown as Steve Kerr‘s lead assistant.
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