Andrew Wiggins

The Deadline Deals That Didn’t Happen

The Raptors were close to acquiring Nikola Mirotic, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports on his podcast. The power forward would have been part of a three-team trade with the Pelicans and Magic in the proposed framework. Toronto didn’t have the expiring contracts that New Orleans was seeking and Mirotic was instead sent to the Bucks.

Toronto shifted its focus back to Marc Gasol and acquired the big man from Memphis in exchange for Jonas ValanciunasDelon WrightC.J. Miles, and a 2024 second-round pick.

The Hornets came close to acquiring Gasol before some “last-minute haggling,”  ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes. Charlotte had a lottery-protected first-round pick on the table for most of the week leading up to the deadline. Lowe passes along more deals that were discussed behind the scenes. Here are the highlights from his latest piece:

  • The Sixers offered two second-rounders to the Pelicans for Mirotic and prior to trading for Tobias Harris, Philadelphia and New Orleans discussed a Markelle Fultz-Mirotic swap. Fultz was dealt to the Magic for Jonathon Simmons and a pair of picks.
  • The Hornets pursued a deal for Harrison Barnes, dangling a first-round pick to the Mavericks, Lowe adds in the same piece. Dallas would have had to take back long-term money in the potential deal, something that it wasn’t willing to do.
  • The Nets and Grizzlies briefly discussed sending Allen Crabbe to Memphis along with a first-round pick (Denver’s 2019 selection) in exchange for Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green, sources tell Lowe. Tax concerns led Memphis to shy away from acquiring Crabbe, who will take home approximately $19MM next season.
  • Several teams attempted to pry Andrew Wiggins from the Wolves without giving up much in return. Minnesota was uninterested in giving Wiggins away.
  • Kris Dunn was available at the deadline but the Bulls weren’t looking to deal Zach LaVine. Lowe writes that Chicago may have only considered trading LaVine if it received an overwhelming offer, something that was unlikely to occur.

Trade Rumors: Wolves, A. Davis, Irving, Conley, More

After making a big splash earlier in the season by sending Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia, the Timberwolves remain active on the trade market, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, who reports that GM Scott Layden is “canvassing the league for available deals.” Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News relays a similar sentiment, tweeting that Layden has been “much more communicative” than in past years.

According to Wolfson, players on expiring contracts are available, as are Jeff Teague and Gorgui Dieng. However, as of Tuesday, there was “zero sense” that anything was close to getting done. Meanwhile, sources tell Krawczynski that multiple teams checked in last month on Andrew Wiggins to see if the Timberwolves might be willing to move him for “pennies on the dollar.” Those inquires qualified more as due diligence though, and didn’t really go anywhere, per Krawczynski.

Here are several more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Pelicans still have yet to respond to the Lakers‘ most recent trade offer for Anthony Davis, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). L.A. reportedly pulled out of talks on Tuesday after making a big offer on Monday night, though it appears the club would be ready to re-engage if New Orleans makes a counter-offer.
  • While Kyrie Irving‘s comments on his upcoming free agency last week had some league observers wondering if the Celtics would consider moving him at the trade deadline, the team – unsurprisingly – has no intention to do so, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. “Boston’s not taking calls on Kyrie,” one general manager said. “That was made pretty clear.”
  • The Grizzlies are believed to be seeking multiple first-round picks in any package for Mike Conley, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. According to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune, the Jazz’s final offer to Memphis was a first-round pick, a second-round pick, and expiring contracts (likely Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors). The Grizzlies asked for Dante Exum, but were told no, per Jones (Twitter link via John Martin of 92.9 ESPN).
  • A source tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that the Bulls have received “a handful” of calls about Jabari Parker within the last week. Parker is a candidate to be traded, or to be bought out if Chicago can’t find a suitable deal.
  • According to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), the Hawks have started to receive more calls on veteran trade candidates Kent Bazemore, Dewayne Dedmon, and Jeremy Lin. Smith adds (via Twitter) that Knicks forward Noah Vonleh is another trade candidate to watch, as he has generated multiple inquiries.

Timberwolves Notes: Sichting, Covington, Wiggins

The Timberwolves are finalizing a deal with veteran assistant coach Jerry Sichting, who is poised to join Ryan Saunders‘ coaching staff, according to Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). This will be Sichting’s third stint with the Wolves — his first came from 1995-2005, when he was part of Flip Saunders‘ coaching staff in Minnesota for a decade.

As Krawczynski notes (via Twitter), there’s a lot of familiarity between Sichting and Ryan Saunders, making it a logical hire for the Timberwolves. Sichting will fill the hole on the staff created by Andy Greer’s departure, Krawczynski adds. Greer was dismissed earlier this month along with Tom Thibodeau, given his close association with Thibs.

Here are a few more notes from out of Minnesota:

  • Timberwolves forward Robert Covington, who is on the shelf with a bone bruise, said today that there’s no timetable for his return to the court, tweets Krawczynski. “I haven’t pressed the issue just yet,” said Covington, who hasn’t done any substantial on-court activities.
  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report explores whether the Timberwolves might be able to find a realistic – and favorable – trade involving Andrew Wiggins, whose maximum-salary contract runs through 2022/23.
  • With Jimmy Butler poised to face the Timberwolves for the first time since the club traded him to Philadelphia, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer previews the showdown and relays some comments Butler made to Kevin Garnett during a recent appearance on TNT’s KG Area 21. Butler’s response when asked if his issues in Minnesota were more with management or his fellow players: “Maybe a little bit of both.”

Wolves Notes: Hoiberg, Saunders, Wiggins, Thibodeau

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is trying to quell speculation that Fred Hoiberg is in line for a coaching or front office job with the organization, relays Danny Lawhon of The Des Moines Register. Hoiberg, who was fired by the Bulls last month, has past experience with Minnesota, both as a player and an assistant GM. But during a trip to Iowa today to see the team’s G League affiliate in action, Taylor emphasized that he is committed to seeing what interim coach Ryan Saunders can do.

“My goal would be that Ryan would be successful,” Taylor said. “That would be the ideal thing for us.” Saunders, the youngest coach in the league at age 32, got off to a good start Tuesday with a win at Oklahoma City.

Taylor told reporters he reached out to Hoiberg after he was fired in Chicago last month, but hasn’t talked to him since the Wolves dismissed Tom Thibodeau on Sunday.

“We had already made up our mind on Ryan (as interim coach), because Ryan has worked with these players, been there all year,” Taylor said. “That was the easiest way to make the transition.”

There’s more Timberwolves news to pass along:

  • Saunders didn’t get much time to prepare before taking the reins as head coach, writes Sid Hartman of The Star Tribune. He left the Target Center after Sunday’s win over the Lakers, but was asked to return and learned that Thibodeau has been fired. He ran his first practice Monday and had his first game as head coach last night. “With not a lot of sleep, coffee and not a ton of food,” he said of the process. “There wasn’t much time to do anything other than prepare. Really just trying to dive into the work. And talking to the team, to meet with the players and get their thoughts on things.”
  • Saunders held individual meetings with each player on the roster, including one in which he encouraged Andrew Wiggins to become more assertive on the court, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Wiggins responded Tuesday with 40 points and 10 rebounds. “He’s excited. We’re excited for him,” Wiggins said. “To get this win for him, I know it means a lot to him and his family. We’re going to keep at it.”
  • Thibodeau will probably have to be successful as an assistant again before he gets another head coaching job, states Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. He cites Thibodeau’s strained relationship with the front offices in both Minnesota and Chicago as reasons that other teams will be reluctant to give him much power right away.

Towns On Butler: “I Think He’ll Be Missed”

Although Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns both downplayed the idea, there was a sense that a frayed relationship between the two Timberwolves stars contributed significantly to Butler’s desire to leave Minnesota. Now that Butler is heading to Philadelphia, there’s no need for the two stars to play nice, but Towns still had nothing but praise for the four-time All-Star on his way out.

“He’s one hell of a player,” Towns said on Sunday, per ESPN’s Malika Andrews. “I don’t know how many Jimmy Butlers there are in the world, so I think he’ll be missed.”

Rumors circulated throughout Butler’s short-lived stint in Minnesota that there was friction between him and the team’s younger players – primarily former No. 1 overall pick Towns and Andrew Wiggins – with reports suggesting that the 29-year-old questioned his teammates’ desire to win. Butler came close to acknowledging that point during a preseason interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols when he cited Towns and Wiggins as the Wolves with the most talent, but referred to himself the one who played the hardest.

Despite that reported friction, Wiggins also complimented Butler following word of Minnesota’s trade agreement with Philadelphia. As Andrew relays, Wiggins told Joel Embiid that Butler is a player you “want on your side” if you’re going into battle.

“I learned a lot of things from him,” Wiggins said of Butler. “We made the playoffs, something we haven’t done in a long, long time. So I think it was a positive either way you put it.”

While Towns and Wiggins appear to be sticking to the line that there were no off-court issues with Butler, they should have the opportunity to regain larger roles on the court now that he’s gone.

In 2016/17, the season before Butler’s arrival, Wiggins averaged 23.6 PPG on 19.1 FGA, while Towns posted 25.1 PPG on 18.0 FGA. Those were career highs for both players, who saw those marks slip to 17.6 PPG and 15.8 FGA (Wiggins) and 21.1 PPG and 14.4 FGA (Towns) during Butler’s tenure in Minnesota.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Barton, Jokic, Westbrook

The Timberwolves are back to where they started before the first Jimmy Butler trade with a young nucleus built around Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, writes Chip Scoggins of The Star-Tribune. Coach/executive Tom Thibodeau changed the blueprint in Minnesota last year when he acquired Butler from the Bulls in hopes of finding a veteran leader who could vault the team to the top of the West. Now the Wolves are back to square one, only instead of having Zach LaVine, who was sent to Chicago in the Butler deal along with a draft pick that became Lauri Markkanen, their core will include Dario Saric and Robert Covington.

Thibodeau has reduced job security after the Butler incident, and Scoggins suggests his first move should be to try to repair relationships within the organization. He let Butler virtually run the team over the past two months — catering to his outrageous behavior in an effort to convince him to stay —  which created dissension in the locker room that won’t be easy to erase.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets guard Will Barton is making progress in his rehab after surgery to repair core and hip muscle injuries, according to an Associated Press story. There’s still no timetable for his return, but Barton said he’s “getting stronger every day.” Team doctors planned to re-evaluate his progress six weeks after the October 23 procedure, so his comeback could start in early December. Barton said strengthening core muscles is the focus of his rehab work.
  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone defended center Nikola Jokic, who was fined $25K this week for using “derogatory and offensive language” in a postgame interview, relays Mike Singer of The Denver Post“There’s so many things being said about this poor kid, and I understand some of it, but those of us who know him, like most people in this hallway, give the kid a break,” Malone said. “He made a mistake, he’s paying for it, get off his back a little bit. He’s a great kid. He loves everybody, and he meant no offense to anybody.”
  • The Thunder are citing progress for Russell Westbrook, who is recovering a a sprained left ankle he suffered in Monday’s game, writes Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman. With a packed schedule this week, OKC hasn’t had time to fit in a practice to fully evaluate Westbrook’s condition. “He’s got to get out there, he’s got to practice, move and cut and do those things, so that’s going to take a little bit of time,” coach Billy Donovan said at Saturday’s shootaround.

Wolves Notes: Butler, Towns, Wiggins, Rose

The Clippers, who hosted the Timberwolves on Monday, were reportedly on Jimmy Butler‘s list of preferred destinations when he requested a trade in September, and the Lakers, who will face Minnesota tonight, have also been identified as a potential suitor for the 2019 free-agent-to-be. However, Butler was in no mood to answer questions about a possible future in Los Angeles this week, as Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com relays.

“No, I’m in Minnesota for the time being,” Butler said after Monday’s loss. “I’ll enjoy the sunshine for a couple days, and then if we go back there, we go back there.”

Butler also turned away inquiries on whether or not he’d even play in the game against the Lakers on Wednesday. The All-NBA swingman has only appeared in two of the Wolves’ last four contests, missing games against Utah and Portland due to what the team referred to as “general soreness” and “precautionary rest.” He’s listed as questionable for tonight.

Here’s more on Minnesota:

  • With Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau under fire for his handling of the Butler situation, Michael Rand of The Star Tribune revisits all of Thibodeau’s major personnel moves during his time in Minnesota, assigning each a grade. Karl-Anthony Towns‘ rookie scale extension received the highest marks of any transaction Thibodeau has overseen.
  • Speaking of Towns, Chris Herring of ESPN.com explored whether he and Andrew Wiggins are strong enough franchise cornerstones to make the Wolves a legit contender in the West once Butler departs.
  • Although he has started two of his last three outings for the Wolves, including last Wednesday’s 50-point game, Derrick Rose recently suggested that he’s aiming to win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award this season, as Nick Fridell of ESPN.com writes. Rose, who has come off the bench in eight of his 10 games, is averaging 17.4 PPG, 4.6 APG, and 3.5 RPG.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Butler, Morris, Sefolosha

The Timberwolves‘ roller coaster season took a new turn on Friday, with the team suffering a 30-point loss to the Bucks in front of their home crowd. Minnesota has been rocked by trade rumors centered around Jimmy Butler, who remains on the roster nearly six weeks after his trade request went public.

Despite the constant, sometimes nagging attention from media and fans, Wolves players have tried to keep their focus on handling business and business only.

“Me personally, I don’t care,” Gorgui Dieng said, according to Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “If they trade Jimmy, then they’re trading him. If they keep him here, then they keep him here. It’s not my decision, it’s not something that I have a voice [in]. Most important is just what’s important for the team, and what I can do to help this basketball team.”

The Wolves have opened the 2018/19 season with a 2-4 record, and discussions to trade Butler are ongoing. Butler scored just four points on 2-11 shooting in Friday’s game.

“No team is ever going to go through a perfect season unscathed,” Taj Gibson said. “Everybody has a story at the end of the year sometimes of triumph and sometimes falling down. We’re in a crazy situation, kind of difficult, but we have to push through it. That’s why we’re professionals.

“We have to go into every practice, into every game with a smile on your face and push yourself.”

Here are some other notes from the Northwest Division:

  • Andrew Wiggins discussed his relationship with Jimmy Butler last week, stating that he and Butler “have always been cool,” according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (Twitter link). Wiggins also claims the infamous practice where Butler stormed the court and took on the Wolves’ starters was overblown (Twitter link).
  • The emergence of second-year player Monte Morris has greatly helped the Nuggets, who have jumped out to a 4-1 record this season, Mike Singer of The Denver Post contends. Morris is averaging 9.4 points in five games, providing depth in the backcourt with Isaiah Thomas still out to injury.
  • Jazz guard Thabo Sefolosha will be available to play Sunday against the Mavericks, according to Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News. Sefolosha served a five-game suspension this season for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy in April, and played just 38 games with the team last year.

Wolves Notes: Butler, Thibodeau, Towns, Wiggins

Timberwolves coach/executive Tom Thibodeau raised the asking price for Jimmy Butler in trade talks after last week’s infamous practice incident, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on today’s edition of “The Jump.” The ESPN scribe adds that Thibodeau feels like he came away victorious in his struggle with owner Glen Taylor because Butler remains on the team and will play in tonight’s opener.

“This is exactly what Tom Thibodeau wanted, which was him in the lineup on opening night,” Wojnarowski said. “The day that Jimmy came back and practiced, Thibs won. He waited out his owner, he waited out Jimmy, got him back on the court.”

He adds that Minnesota still hasn’t gotten serious about trading Butler and continues to ask for returns that it knows teams won’t agree to. Woj doesn’t expect the situation to change until closer to the trade deadline in February, when he says some teams that have been involved in trade talks will “circle back” to see if the Wolves have become more realistic.

There’s more today out of Minnesota:

  • Thibodeau isn’t concerned about team chemistry despite the surreal preseason and lingering rumors from last year of locker room disharmony, relays Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Thibodeau contends the bond that players have is reflected by their performance on the court. “That’s how you measure chemistry. When guys are playing together, how do they play with each other? Do they play effectively?” he said. “That’s what was so encouraging to me about what we did last year. The starters were a very dynamic group. To be third in offense and seventh in defense and the record we had when everyone was healthy (37-22) was terrific. And we want to build off of that.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns has the talent to be considered the second-best player in franchise history after Kevin Garnett, but he may not reach his potential until Butler is gone, suggests Jim Souhan of The Star-Tribune. Towns has been targeted frequently by Butler because of a passive attitude, and Souhan believes the best outcome is a trade that leaves Towns as the team’s unquestioned on-court leader.
  • A Star-Tribune panel debates whether Andrew Wiggins can blossom into the player the Wolves hoped when they gave him a five-year, $148MM extension. That new deal kicks in this year, and there are concerns that he might never be more than an inefficient scorer.

Wolves Updates: Practice, Butler, Towns, Jones

After a Wednesday practice session that figures to go down as one of the notorious NBA scrimmages of the decade, the Timberwolves have cancelled their Thursday practice, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As Krawczynski observes (via Twitter), head coach Tom Thibodeau complained just last week that the preseason schedule didn’t allow for much practice time for a Timberwolves team that desperately needed it. So the cancellation today is probably more about avoiding another media circus than anything else. After all, following Wednesday’s performance, Jimmy Butler told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that he planned on being back at practice on Thursday.

Here’s more out of Minnesota, with several notes on the Butler situation:

  • Within his conversation with Nichols, Butler confirmed much of the recent reporting on his situation, acknowledging that he wanted the Timberwolves to renegotiate his contract in the offseason and indicating that he believed he made it clear long before September 19 that he wanted out of Minnesota.
  • According to Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic, Butler’s return to practice played out just like he frequently promised Thibodeau and owner Glen Taylor it would if they didn’t trade him. The Athletic duo reports that Butler also made it clear he wanted to sit down and discuss a handful of issues with Karl-Anthony Towns in the hopes of challenging Towns to be upfront and honest. It’s not clear whether that meeting has happened or will happen.
  • While Butler claimed that Towns started the trash talk in practice, others in the gym disagreed with that assessment, per Krawczynski and Charania.
  • Here’s what Butler told Nichols about Towns: “Am I being tough on him? Yeah! Yeah, that’s who I am. I’m not the most talented player. Who’s the most talented player on our team? KAT. Who’s the most god-gifted player on our team? Wigs (Andrew Wiggins). Wigs got the longest arms, the biggest hands, can jump the highest, can run the fastest. But who plays the hardest? Me. I play hard. I play really hard. I put my body on the line every damn practice. Every day in the games. That’s my passion. That’s how I give to the game. That’s how I give to you guys.”
  • The reactions to Butler’s performance in practice were mixed, according to Krawczynski and Charania, who suggested some players laughed and enjoyed it, while others in the building were concerned, wondering how Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden could stand for Butler’s conduct. ESPN analyst Stan Van Gundy said on SportsCenter (video link) that he heard from some members of the organization that it was the team’s best practice of the fall, which suggests Thibodeau and Layden weren’t bothered by it.
  • In non-Butler news, the Timberwolves have yet to have any contract extension talks with backup point guard Tyus Jones, per Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN (Twitter link). If the two sides don’t work out a new deal by Monday, Jones will be on track for restricted free agency in 2019.