Andrew Wiggins

Western Notes: Miller, Howard, Warriors, Wiggins

The Pelicans will have a tough time replacing Darius Miller‘s skill set from the current list of replacements on the roster, as William Guillory of The Athletic details. Miller suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon and is expected to miss the season.

Miller provides defensive length and the ability to guard either forward spot while spacing the floor offensively, Guillory notes. The Pelicans might give Josh Hart and E’Twaun Moore more minutes at the wing spot but their options at backup power forward are newcomer Nicolo Melli and Kenrich Williams, who is limited as a shooter and defender against quicker forwards.

The contract that Miller signed this offseason — two years and $14.25MM with the second year non-guaranteed — becomes a less attractive trade piece for the Pelicans, Guillory adds.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Dwight Howard will be a role player with the Lakers for the first time in his career if everything goes as planned. New coach Frank Vogel spoke of his plans for the veteran player, who signed with Los Angeles after passing through waivers, to Spectrum SportNet (hat tip to the Sporting News). “He’s going to serve a different role,” Vogel said. “It’s going to be more of a role-player type of role, as opposed to being the lead. He understands that. He’s excited about playing that type of role on this team and what we can accomplish as a group.”
  • Ryan Atkinson has been named GM of the Warriors’ G League affiliate in Santa Cruz, according to a team press release. Atkinson, 34, had been the G League team’s assistant GM for the last three seasons. Previous GM Kent Lacob has been named the Warriors’ director of team development.
  • The Timberwolves haven’t come close to trading Andrew Wiggins, mainly because they never received an offer that was worth serious consideration, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reports. The Timberwolves are hoping he can come closer to realizing his potential, which would also boost his trade value. Getting Wiggins to make a bigger impact at both ends of the floor is also the best way for the team to become more of a factor in the Western Conference.

Wolves Notes: Wiggins, Rosas, Covington, Teauge

Andrew Wiggins was a popular topic of conversation as new Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas made the rounds Thursday at the Minnesota State Fair, relays Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. Most of the questions concerned the uneven production that Wiggins has provided since signing a five-year max extension in 2017. Wiggins posted an 18.1/4.8/2.5 line last season, but shot a career worst 41.2% from the field and 33.9% from 3-point range.

Rosas understands fans’ frustrations, but pointed out that Wiggins has dealt with frequent coaching changes since coming to Minnesota in 2014. Still, Rosas wants to see more production from one of the cornerstones of the franchise.

“Andrew in particular with his talent and physical abilities, the potential he’s shows, we’ve got to get that on a more consistent basis,” Rosas said. “He’s focused on it as well. In order for us to have the success we want to have, he’s got to be a main contributor. He understands that, we understand that.”

There’s more out of Minnesota:

  • The Wolves already have 15 players with guaranteed contracts, but they may be willing to add more before training camp starts, Rosas said in the same story. That means they could be stuck with dead money if they can’t work out a trade before rosters have to be finalized, but Rosas is willing to take that chance. “If we have to eat a contract, we’ll eat a contract,” he said. “But we want to create depth, competitiveness in camp and sometimes you end up eating or trading a contract you need to. At the end of the day you want to emphasize competition and a guy beats another guy out, we have the flexibility to do that.”
  • Robert Covington and Jeff Teague, who both had their seasons cut short by injuries last year, are expected to be ready for training camp with no restrictions, Hine adds. Covington dealt with a bone bruise in his right knee that limited him to 22 games after he arrived in a November trade with the Sixers. He had an arthoscopic procedure performed on the knee in April. Teague was limited to 42 games because of fragments in his left ankle and had a debridement procedure after the season ended.
  • Two offseason projections give the Wolves a good chance to bounce back from a disappointing season. FiveThirtyEight expects a 42-40 record with a 45% chance to make the playoffs, while ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus projects them for 39.5 wins and a 32% shot at the postseason.

D’Angelo Russell Has T-Wolves Atop Wish List

Marc Stein of The New York Times is reporting that Nets’ restricted free agent point guard D’Angelo Russell has the Timberwolves at the top of his free-agent wish list. Stein adds that while the Lakers still have undeniable interest in Russell, Minnesota is increasingly confident they can make the necessary salary-cap moves to land the 23-year-old All-Star.

The T-Wolves are expected to meet with Russell in Los Angeles this evening at the beginning of free agency. The meeting will reportedly feature new president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, head coach Ryan Saunders, and Russell’s good friend, Minnesota big man Karl-Anthony Towns.

The Wolves currently project to be an over-the-cap team, but the Nets have already indicated that they’d be willing to entertain a sign-and-trade arrangement that would enable Russell to reach a destination of his choosing. The most likely salary-matching pieces, however, are Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague, both of whom the Nets have no interest in whatsoever. As such, Minnesota would likely need to throw in some other assets to make the deal worthwhile to Brooklyn.

Minnesota could also attempt to trade some combination of Wiggins, Teague, Gorgui Dieng, and Robert Covington to open up cap space, but it’s unclear at this point what teams, if any, are interested in acquiring one or more of those players.

Timberwolves To Meet With D’Angelo Russell

The Timberwolves will meet with restricted free agent point guard D’Angelo Russell at the start of free agency, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

According to Haynes, the meeting will take place in Los Angeles and is expected to feature president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, head coach Ryan Saunders, and franchise player Karl-Anthony Towns.

Minnesota has been repeatedly linked to Russell, a good friend of Towns, who is “really high” on adding the All-Star guard, per Haynes. However, the club’s cap situation makes the path to a deal tricky. Currently, the Wolves project to be an over-the-cap team, while Russell is expected to command a contract worth upwards of his maximum ($27.25MM) or at least something in that neighborhood.

The Nets, who have been strongly linked to Kyrie Irving, could theoretically agree to sign-and-trade Russell to Minnesota, but Brooklyn reportedly has no interest in taking on Andrew Wiggins or Jeff Teague, who would be the Wolves’ most realistic salary-matching pieces.

Even if the Wolves were able to trade Wiggins into another team’s cap room and renounced the rest of their free agents, they could only generate about $20MM in cap room, which likely wouldn’t be enough for Russell, who established himself in 2018/19 as one of the NBA’s most promising young guards.

A sign-and-trade, then, looks like the most viable path for the Wolves to acquire Russell, but at least one other team would have to get involved if the Nets are uninterested in taking on salary. It sounds like a long shot, but it’s worth noting that Rosas came from Houston’s front office, where he worked under Daryl Morey. Morey is no stranger to getting creative with the cap himself, and is currently trying to pursue an equally convoluted sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler.

For what it’s worth, ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote on Friday that one executive predicted to him that the Wolves would succeed in dealing Wiggins at some point and would get “net-neutral value” for him.

Lowe’s Latest: Walker, Brogdon, Mavs, Rubio, Butler

The Celtics might be the frontrunner for Kemba Walker‘s services but devoting most of their cap space to the All-Star point guard would leave them without any proven frontcourt players and limited ways to acquire them, ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes in an in-depth look at free agency. The addition of Walker would force coach Brad Stevens to use either Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum or Gordon Hayward at power forward, Lowe notes. Walker also ran more pick-and-rolls with the Hornets than Kyrie Irving did with the Celtics, yet Irving was sometimes accused of being a ball hog, Lowe adds.

Here are some other interesting tidbits from Lowe’s column:

  • Bucks restricted free agent Malcolm Brogdon will lose a suitor if the Celtics ink Walker. The Suns, Bulls, Mavericks and Pacers could potentially extend Brogdon an offer sheet but some teams are concerned about his foot issues.
  • The Mavericks are not looking to sign any high-level free agents.
  • The Pacers are looking to make a run at point guard Ricky Rubio. They are also likely to let power forward Thaddeus Young walk and go with a frontcourt of Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. Indiana rejected trade offers for Turner at the draft.
  • The Heat could get involved in the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes via a sign-and-trade.
  • The Nets have no interest in doing a sign-and-trade with the Timberwolves involving restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell if it means taking back Jeff Teague or Andrew Wiggins.

Free Agent Rumors: Kanter, Favors, Horford, Wolves

The Trail Blazers, Lakers, and Celtics are expected to be among the teams to show interest in Enes Kanter when free agency opens, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Portland doesn’t have Bird rights on Kanter, and Boston and L.A. may end up using most or all of their cap room on impact players, so it’s possible that none of those three teams will have the resources to make a strong bid for Kanter. We’ll see if the taxpayer mid-level exception (Trail Blazers) or room exception (Lakers, Celtics) is enough to sign him.

Here are more free agent rumors from around the NBA:

  • Jazz big man Derrick Favors remains under contract in Utah, but because his situation remains in flux due to his non-guaranteed contract, he’ll be permitted to take calls from interested teams during the free agent period, agent Wallace Prather tells Shams Charania of The Athletic. If the Jazz decide not to guarantee Favors’ $17.65MM salary for 2019/20, he’d be waived by July 6 and could join a new club.
  • Reporters around the NBA are still trying to pin down the mystery team that appears to be on track to sign Al Horford to a lucrative four-year contract. Marc Stein of The New York Times thought it might be the Pelicans, but says he has been “strongly advised” that that’s not the case (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link) doesn’t believe the Mavericks are seriously in the mix for Horford, despite reports that suggested otherwise.
  • According to Darren Wolfson of SKOR North (by way of Dan Feldman of NBC Sports), the Timberwolves reached out to the Nets to see whether Brooklyn might be interested in Andrew Wiggins in a potential sign-and-trade for RFA-to-be D’Angelo Russell. Predictably, the Nets had no interest in taking on Wiggins’ contract, per Wolfson.
  • The Kings haven’t closed the door on a reunion with Kosta Koufos, who will be an unrestricted free agent this Sunday, and the veteran center feels the same way, writes James Ham of NBC Sports California. Both sides figure to let the market dictate their next moves, Ham adds.

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.