Andrew Wiggins

Wolves Rumors: Draft, Wiggins, McConnell, Harris

The Timberwolves had five players in their top tier for Thursday’s draft, and knew they had no shot at Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, or R.J. Barrett, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Darius Garland and Jarrett Culver were the other players in that group, according to Krawczynski, who says that Minnesota may have preferred Garland to Culver, but didn’t hesitate to nab the Texas Tech wing at No. 6 over Coby White and others.

According to Krawczynski, the Timberwolves might have had an opportunity to move up to No. 4 before the Pelicans made a deal with the Hawks, but Minnesota was seeking the No. 11 pick and Robert Covington and would’ve wanted to dump Solomon Hill‘s unwanted contract on the Wolves.

Even after moving up to select Culver at No. 6, the Timberwolves stayed active, according to Darren Wolfson and Danny Cunningham of Skor North, who report (via Twitter) that the team had discussions about the No. 12 pick with the Hornets. Those talks didn’t seem to get far, per Wolfson, adding that Sekou Doumbouya was the presumed target at that spot for Minnesota.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • The Timberwolves have been actively exploring options to move off Andrew Wiggins‘ contract, league sources tell Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link). It’s not clear if Minnesota is just gauging the market or if the club will continue to pursue a Wiggins deal as the offseason progresses.
  • Wolfson (Twitter link) hears that Sixers veteran T.J. McConnell is among the free agent point guards on Minnesota’s radar.
  • John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) has heard that free-agent-to-be Tobias Harris has interest in the Timberwolves. That looks like a very unlikely pairing though, since Minnesota has no path to cap room and the Sixers won’t be eager to accommodate a sign-and-trade.
  • Bryan Gates is the latest coach expected to join Ryan Saunders‘ staff as an assistant, tweets Krawczynski. Gates, who had a previous stint in Minnesota, has served as an assistant in Sacramento for the past few seasons.

Wolves Notes: Vanterpool, C. White, Doumbouya, Terrell

The Timberwolves hired David Vanterpool as associate coach to improve the defense and motivate Andrew Wiggins, which might be the toughest jobs in the organization, suggests Michael Rand of The Star-Tribune. Team president Gersson Rosas interviewed Vanterpool for the head coaching slot before deciding to stick with Ryan Saunders, so the former Trail Blazers assistant obviously made a good impression.

However, Rand points out that Vanterpool will be taking over a defense that has ranked in the bottom third of the league for the past five seasons and that even defensive specialist Tom Thibodeau couldn’t fix. Vanterpool has a solid relationship with Wiggins from coaching him with Team Canada in 2015, but raising his level of play has been a concern even before the club signed him to an extension two years ago.

There’s more news out of Minnesota:

  • North Carolina guard Coby White held an individual workout for the Wolves Friday, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. White is listed at No. 8 in the list of top 100 prospects compiled by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, and Minnesota doesn’t pick until No. 11, so the Wolves may be thinking about trading up. The team held a separate six-player workout yesterday that included Rayjon Tucker (Arkansas-Little Rock), Amir Coffey (Minnesota), Dedric Lawson (Kansas) and Kris Wilkes (UCLA) (Twitter link).
  • French standout Sekou Doumbouya held a pro day today and will pay a visit to Minnesota for a workout early next week, according to Wolfson (Twitter link). The 6’9″ forward comes in ninth on Givony’s list .
  • Aaron Brooks, who ended his playing career with the Wolves during the 2017/18 season, attended a free agent camp with the team this week as a coach, Wolfson adds. At age 34, Brooks is hoping to make the transition into coaching. He played for seven teams in an 11-year career.
  • Two-way player Jared Terrell did well in the G League, but didn’t get much of a chance to showcase his skills at the NBA level in his rookie season, writes Kyle Ratke of NBA.com. Terrell, who averaged 7.9 minutes in 14 games with the Wolves, will now wait for an invitation to be part of Minnesota’s Summer League team.

Timberwolves To Make Sweeping Staff Changes

The Timberwolves will be making extensive changes to their coaching staff, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reports.

Every assistant with an expiring contract — Ed Pinckney, Jerry Sichting, Larry Greer, John Lucas III and Dice Yoshimoto — will not return on Ryan Saunders’ staff as the organization distances itself from the Tom Thibodeau era. Saunders had the interim tag removed on Monday. The only assistant with a year left on his contract, Malik Allen, will be retained.

New president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas wants to split up duties more like a football staff. “We’re going to get the best offensive coordinator. We’re going to get the best defensive coordinator. We’re going to get the best player development coordinator,” Rosas said. “They’re going to execute our vision together. And Ryan will manage that program as a whole.”

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • Adding players with a defensive mentality is a priority, Krawczynski adds in the same story. The team wants to utilize a more switch-heavy scheme to defend 3-point shooters. “I’ve got to help (Saunders),” Rosas said. “We’ve got to surround our team, our best players with personnel that will be complementary to them and we need more defenders.”
  • The team’s most notable players, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, attended Saunders’ press conference and gave him ringing endorsements. “I think this is a very positive change,” Wiggins told Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and other media members. “You can see the fresh air, you can see the faces and the positive energy in the air. Everyone is happy for Ryan — you don’t see negative faces, everyone is happy and we’re supportive.”
  • The decision to retain Saunders was a bow to Towns and his importance to the franchise’s long-term future, Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune writes. Towns respects and trusts Saunders and feels rejuvenated about the franchise’s direction, Scoggins notes. That’s crucial, because the Timberwolves can’t afford to alienate their best player to the point where an ugly divorce becomes inevitable, Scoggins adds.

Wolves Notes: POBO Search, Saunders, Wiggins

The importance of making the right president of basketball operations hire cannot be overstated for the Timberwolves, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. As Krawczynski details, after the team took a step backward during the 2018/19 season, the next steps in Minnesota are critical, and finding the right person to run the show will be the franchise’s top priority this spring.

The Timberwolves’ search has centered on ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups, Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon, Nuggets assistant GM Calvin Booth, and Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas. While the club’s list of targets may expand beyond that group, it seems likely that one of those four execs will ultimately land the job.

Clippers GM Michael Winger initially seemed interested in the position, and was prepared to “plunge into the process” last week, according to Krawczynski. However, after a conversation with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and the rest of the staff, he decided to remove his name from consideration and remain in L.A.

That leaves four candidates, all of whom are in their early-40s, Krawczynski notes. With the exception of Billups, they all have strong backgrounds in player development too. In addition to targeting a younger executive who has the ability to identify emerging talent, the Wolves are also prioritizing hiring someone who is willing to communicate and cooperate, Krawczynski writes.

As Krawczynski observes, communication wasn’t necessarily a strong suit for former head of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau, so the club will be looking for an executive who is more interested in “building bridges” across the organization.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • The Timberwolves have conveyed a desire to retain head coach Ryan Saunders, who took the reins from Thibodeau during the 2018/19 season. However, it’s common for a new head of basketball operations to pick his own head coach. Michael Rand of The Star Tribune digs into whether candidates for the open front office job are expected to keep Saunders, and how that would impact the Wolves’ search.
  • The Timberwolves’ new president of basketball operations will immediately face a major question on what to do with Andrew Wiggins, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. With the former No. 1 overall pick on track to earn $122MM+ over the next four seasons, the Wolves need to find a way to get more out of him — or to explore whether there’s any realistic way to get out from under his contract on the trade market.
  • For all the latest out of Minnesota, be sure to check out our Timberwolves team page.

Wolves Notes: Offseason, Saric, Experimentation

It’s been a busy year for the Timberwolves, who find themselves in a very different position now than they did this time last year. Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider) recently broke down the offseason priorities for a front office still reeling from a whirlwind few months.

Among the first tasks will be figuring out what to do with interim head coach Ryan Saunders, who took the reins after Tom Thibodeau‘s firing with predictably modest results given the circumstances. Minnesota will need to hire a general manager following Thibodeau’s departure and that individual would likely want a say in who is coaching the team.

Marks also flags Derrick Rose and Andrew Wiggins as players that Minnesota’s brass will need to mull over. Just how much of a priority should Rose be, he asks, and is it finally time to consider dramatically downgrading Wiggins’ role?

There’s more out of Minnesota today:

  • There’s a strong possibility that veteran point guard Jeff Teague opts into the final year of his contract, Michael Rand of the Star Tribune writes. Although the $19MM he’ll earn through 2019-20 may sound steep to Wolves fans eager to rebuild, Rand notes that the team was distinctly better with the 30-year-old on the court in 2018/19.
  • After an underwhelming season, Dario Saric and the Timberwolves can take solace in the fact that they’ll have another full season in which to gauge how well they fit together before a free agency decision needs to be made, Britt Robson of The Athletic writes.
  • The Timberwolves won’t be sneaking into the postseason this spring so head coach Ryan Saunders will use the final games of the campaign to tinker with different strategies. Per Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune, Sanders is particularly interested in seeing how Andrew Wiggins and rookie Keita Bates-Diop fare in unusual situations.

Wolves Have No Plans To Shut Down Towns, Wiggins

Even after winning their last two contests, the Timberwolves remain 5.5 games out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with just 15 left to play, meaning their hopes of making a postseason push are minuscule. Nonetheless, the club has no plans to shut down its two highest-paid young players, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, both of whom are dealing with injuries.

“We’re a competitive basketball team,” head coach Ryan Saunders said today, reiterating that the Wolves don’t intend to tank down the stretch, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Towns, who missed Sunday’s game against the Knicks, is battling right knee inflammation, while Wiggins has been sidelined for Minnesota’s last two games with a left quad contusion. Saunders said today that both players will go through shootaround and warmups before the team determines their availability for Tuesday’s game vs. Denver (Twitter link via Krawczynski).

As we noted on Monday when we discussed Zach LaVine‘s injury, this is typically the time of year when lottery-bound teams take an extra-cautious approach with minor injuries, both to preserve the health of their most valuable players and to potentially improve their draft standing. However, Towns in particular has plenty of incentive to remain in the Wolves’ lineup for the season’s final four weeks.

Towns’ new five-year, maximum-salary extension, which goes into effect for the 2019/20 season, currently projects to be worth about $158MM. However, its projected value would increase to nearly $190MM if KAT earns a spot on an All-NBA team. The big man would have virtually no chance of earning All-NBA honors if he sits out the season’s final month.

We pointed out in February that the Anthony Davis saga in New Orleans could create a clearer path for Towns to snag a spot on an All-NBA team, and his recent numbers suggest he’s motivated to do so — he has posted an impressive 35.1 PPG, 14.1 RPG, and 3.4 APG on .597/.489/.776 shooting in his last seven games (34.1 MPG).

Wolves Notes: Wiggins, Rose, Saunders, Draft

The Timberwolves need to take drastic action on Andrew Wiggins to get the franchise back on the right track, according to Michael Rand and Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune. Wiggins has regressed this year in the first season of a $147.7MM extension. His shooting percentage has dropped to a career-low 40.0% and he ranks last in the league in true shooting among 92 players who have logged at least 1,700 minutes.

Souhan believes Minnesota should do whatever it can to trade Wiggins this summer. Rand recommends taking away his starting spot, but admits that would only lower any trade value he still has. He adds that trading Wiggins now would mean selling him at a low point and likely taking back an expensive contract in return. Souhan contends that the Wolves are better without Wiggins, stating that the priority should be to get rid of him and accept whatever return they can get.

There’s more today out of Minnesota:

  • With Tom Thibodeau gone, the future of the “TimberBulls” – the ex-Chicago players he brought to Minnesota – is uncertain, writes Britt Robson of The Athletic. Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and Luol Deng will all be free agents this summer and may be able to get better deals elsewhere. Rose has revived his career with the Wolves, but Robson notes that his value is only high when his shot is falling and he comes with a constant injury risk. Rose should receive several mid-level offers in the $6-8MM range, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
  • The best chance for interim head coach Ryan Saunders to keep his job is for ownership to recognize how he has been adapting to a short-handed situation, notes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Keita Bates-Diop got his first career start in Saturday’s victory over the Wizards and Cameron Reynolds, who is on his second 10-day contract, played 20 minutes. Krawczynski points out that Saunders’ roster hasn’t been fully healthy since he took over for Thibodeau.
  • If the Wolves’ pick falls in the middle of the lottery, they could be the team to gamble on Bol Bol, Rand suggests in a separate story. The Oregon center was projected as a top-five pick before suffering an injury to his left foot.

Wolves Notes: Jones, Wiggins, Bench, Taylor

Tyus Jones’ status as a restricted free agent is among several factors that make it hard to predict whether he’ll return to the Timberwolves next season, according to Michael Rand and Chris Hine of the Star-Tribune. Minnesota will have to determine how high it is willing to go to match an offer for the fourth-year point guard, who is making $2.44MM this year.

The decision will be influenced by whether starting point guard Jeff Teague opts into a $19MM salary for next year. The Wolves, who have luxury tax concerns, could find their budget tightening if Karl-Anthony Towns makes an All-NBA team, which would increase the value of his extension by $6MM per season.

There’s also a question of whether current GM Scott Layden will be kept around to make the decision on Jones. Minnesota didn’t give serious consideration to giving Jones an extension when Tom Thibodeau was running the organization, but Hine believes Ryan Saunders will advocate for keeping Jones if he is still the coach.

There’s more Wolves news to pass along:

  • Minnesota should take away Andrew Wiggins‘ starting spot and try to trade him this summer, contends Jim Souhan of The Star-Tribune. Wiggins’ low shooting percentages and poor defensive effort have become too much for the team to endure, Souhan argues, and benching him might be the last chance to motivate him and save the season. Wiggins still has four seasons and more than $121MM remaining on his contract.
  • The coaching change has worked out well for the Timberwolves’ reserves, who are seeing more playing time with Saunders than they did under Thibodeau, notes Kent Youngblood of The Star-Tribune. Luol DengKeita Bates-Diop and Anthony Tolliver are among those getting a greater chance to contribute.
  • Owner Glen Taylor recently purchased the 5% ownership in the team held by Chinese investor Lizhang Jiang and may eventually sell some of that to Meyer Orbach, who bought 9.5% of the franchise in 2016, according to Sid Hartman of The Star-Tribune. “I think [the team’s value] went up about 19 percent, which is an awful lot, but everybody else’s went up, too,” Taylor said of a recent Forbes report that valued the Wolves at $1.26 billion. “It is just unbelievable. It’s not anything I anticipated, and it’s surprising. But at this point, I just want to continue to play with this team and work with them. And I have every expectation it might continue to go up in the future.”

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.