Jordan McLaughlin‘s return from a calf injury may be the spark the Timberwolves need to move up the Western Conference standings, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. After missing the past 30 games, McLaughlin was back on the court Sunday, playing nearly 12 minutes in a win over the Nuggets. The backup point guard helped Minnesota’s offense become the best in the league over the second half of last season, and his play-making has been missed while he’s been out of action.
“He just brings a pace to the game,” coach Chris Finch said. “Gets off it early. Makes all the right plays. Competes his butt off on defense. It was good to see him back out there.”
When he suffered the injury in November, McLaughlin was originally considered to be day to day. He returned in early December after missing five games, but reaggravated the calf and admits that he might have tried to come back too soon.
“Calf injuries, anything with the lower extremities, you never know,” McLaughlin said. “It may feel good, but it may not be good. It could’ve been that, but you never know.”
There’s more from Minnesota:
- Having McLaughlin available may change the Wolves’ philosophy heading into the trade deadline, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The team has been mentioned as a possible suitor for Kyle Lowry or Mike Conley, but with McLaughlin back, and Kyle Anderson and Anthony Edwards sharing the playmaking duties for the starting unit, Krawczynski doesn’t see a strong need to bring in an experienced point guard. He points to perimeter defense, bench scoring and rebounding as more pressing priorities.
- Trade talks regarding D’Angelo Russell are likely to continue up to the deadline, but his improved shooting numbers over the past two months will make it tough to part with him, Krawczynski adds. The Clippers are among the interested teams, but so far have been unwilling to part with Terance Mann in a potential deal.
- Krawczynski confirms that the Wolves have engaged in extension negotiations with Naz Reid during the season and believes both sides would prefer a new agreement over a trade. Karl-Anthony Towns is expected to return from his calf injury sometime after the All-Star break, but Krawczynski states that uncertainty about Towns’ timeline makes it difficult for Minnesota to part with Reid.
- Krawczynski identifies Nuggets guard Bones Hyland as a name to watch as the deadline draws near. Wolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly drafted Hyland when he was in Denver and still believes in his potential. Krawczynski suggests it may take an offer of Reid or Taurean Prince to land Hyland.
- The front office investigated the possibility of acquiring Kyrie Irving when his trade request became public last Friday, but decided against submitting an offer to Brooklyn, per Krawczynski.