Anthony Edwards

Wolves Notes: Gobert, Towns, Durant, Murray

Although the Timberwolves were encouraged by last season’s success, there was an “overwhelming feeling internally” that the team would hit a wall before becoming a legitimate title contender if it didn’t make at least one more major upgrade, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

That line of thought was the motivation behind the team’s blockbuster trade agreement for three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. As Krawczynski explains, the front office had a hard time identifying another player around the NBA who could address so many of the club’s weaknesses and would be available for the package Minnesota was willing to offer.

The Timberwolves anticipate Gobert will make life easier for his new teammates, allowing them to take more gambles on defense and giving D’Angelo Russell a pick-and-roll partner who sets good screens and can be a lob threat.

The Wolves also believe they can make Gobert’s life easier — Minnesota has stronger perimeter defenders (Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Kyle Anderson, Taurean Prince) than Utah did, and Karl-Anthony Towns‘ ability to make outside shots will complement Gobert’s inside game, Krawczynski notes.

Here’s more on the Wolves and their roster shake-up:

  • Sources tell Krawczynski that Gobert has expressed excitement about playing with the Timberwolves and that Towns was especially supportive of the move.
  • According to Krawczynski, Wolves sources were pessimistic throughout the process that an agreement would actually be reached, and a deal looked to be “in peril” as of Friday morning. Minnesota was prepared to shift its focus to other targets like Myles Turner or Clint Capela before the Gobert talks gained traction again later on Friday when Utah agreed to do a deal without McDaniels included.
  • Before striking a deal for Gobert, the Wolves made “several calls” to the Nets about Kevin Durant, sources tell Krawczynski. However, Minnesota was unwilling to give up Edwards or Towns for Durant, so those talks didn’t go far.
  • The Timberwolves were also in the mix for Dejounte Murray and could have outbid the Hawks for him, but the fact that they didn’t shows that they valued Gobert more, observes Krawczynski.
  • Chris Hine of The Star Tribune takes a closer look at the impact the acquisition of Gobert will have on the Wolves both offensively and defensively, as well as from a salary cap perspective.

Wolves Rumors: KAT, Russell, Edwards, Beasley, Draft, More

In the latest HoopsHype podcast with Michael Scotto, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic said he fully believes that Karl-Anthony Towns will be offered — and will sign — a super-max extension with the Timberwolves summer. Towns became eligible for the super-max after being selected to the All-NBA Third Team.

Krawczynski acknowledges that Towns has his share of flaws, but he points out that Minnesota isn’t a free agent destination, the team has undergone lots of front office and coaching changes in his seven seasons, and he hasn’t played with a whole lot of talent around him. Once the deal is signed, if Towns plateaus, the Wolves still have the option of trading him in the future due to his “age, production and efficiency,” says Krawcyznski.

Here’s more from Scotto and Krawczynski:

  • Scotto wonders if trading away D’Angelo Russell might affect Towns’ decision to sign an extension, and points out that the last time Russell was in a contract year he wound up making the All-Star team with the Nets. Krawczynski thinks Towns will sign the super-max either way, but determining what to do with Russell will be a challenge for new president of basketball operations Tim Connelly. Krawczynski notes that Russell is eligible for an extension this summer, but he’s doubtful his next deal will be worth the max. If the price is right for both sides, Krawczynski thinks an extension might be viable. Russell helped lead the team to a 46-36 regular season and had a huge game in the play-in win over the Clippers, but then struggled against the Grizzlies, so gauging his market value will be tricky for Connelly, says Krawczynski.
  • A couple of scouts told HoopsHype that they think Anthony Edwards, not Towns, will eventually be the best player on the Timberwolves, but Krawczynski says there’s no jealousy between the two players — they enjoy playing together and believe their games complement each other.
  • Malik Beasley, who was drafted by Connelly in Denver, could benefit from the reunion, says Scotto, who believes Beasley is primed for a bounce-back year after seeing his name in trade rumors. Krawczynski agrees that Connelly’s presence should help, and reports that Beasley was out of shape entering training camp last fall due to his legal trouble. While noting that it was Beasley’s fault and he only has himself to blame, Krawczynski also says that he’s the hardest worker on the team.
  • The Timberwolves currently control the Nos. 19, 40, 48, and 50 picks in the upcoming draft, but don’t expect them to have four rookies on the roster next season. According to Krawczynski, a more likely outcome is that they either draft-and-stash some European prospects in the second round or package some picks to move up or acquire veteran help. Attaching the No. 19 pick with a veteran to improve the roster is also a possibility, he says.
  • A reunion with Taurean Prince, who’s an unrestricted free agent, could be in the cards. Krawczynski says there’s mutual interest between the two parties, noting that “players and coaches love him,” and Prince has stated that he was happy in Minnesota. Neither Scotto nor Krawczynski expect Jake Layman to be back, and Josh Okogie‘s return seems unlikely, but could still occur if he doesn’t draw much interest in free agency. The team likes him, but he didn’t receive much playing time, so he’ll probably look for another opportunity, per Krawczynski.

Wolves Notes: Russell, McLaughlin, T. Jones, Edwards, McDaniels, Gupta

D’Angelo Russell was upset about being kept on the bench during the closing minutes of Friday’s Game 6 loss, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. With their season on the line, the Timberwolves opted to trust reserve point guard Jordan McLaughlin instead of Russell.

It was a tough way to end the series for Russell, and he responded, “No. Not at all,” when asked if he was OK with coach Chris Finch’s decision. Russell had seven points and four turnovers in Game 6 and averaged 12 PPG and shot 33% throughout the series.

“We still think the fit is great,” Finch said of Russell. “His skill set, his play-making, all that stuff hasn’t changed. We’ve just got to figure out maybe some different sets or structures that kind of accentuate those things too. I could’ve done a better job of trying to get him into the series a little bit more with some plays for him maybe off the ball.”

The poor series came at an unfortunate time for Russell, who will be eligible for a four-year extension starting in July that could pay him up to $40M+ per season. Hine believes it’s unlikely the Wolves will make that offer and he questions Russell’s future with the team, especially now that Gersson Rosas, who brought him to Minnesota, is no longer with the organization.

“I don’t like to speak on that,” Russell said when asked about the extension. “It kind of comes back to haunt you a lot of the times. There’s nothing more that I can do to showcase my worth or the number that I’m looking for or anything like that. I would just rather not entertain myself with that until the time comes.”

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • The Wolves should commit to McLaughlin rather than Russell and should consider bringing back Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones in free agency, argues Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune. Jones played his first four seasons in Minnesota before signing with Memphis in 2019.
  • The team had to be impressed by its two youngest players, Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels, who both shined in their first playoff tests, states Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. After the Game 6 elimination, Edwards invited his teammates to train with him this summer, and McDaniels said he’ll spend part of the offseason working out with Clippers star Kawhi Leonard“The best path for us still is our internal growth, which is the exciting part with Jaden and Ant and the performances they can leave the season on,” Finch said.
  • Finch supports a permanent role for executive vice president Sachin Gupta, who has been running the team since Rosas was fired in September, Hine adds in a separate story.

Northwest Notes: Edwards, Jazz, Mitchell, Trail Blazers

Anthony Edwards has posted some big offensive numbers during the postseason and the Timberwolves’ second-year guard is embracing the spotlight, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Edwards racked up 36 points in the Game 1 upset of Memphis and was thrilled to have a national audience to witness it.

“I think it’s very important to play at my best because they hide me during the regular season as far as no national TV games,” Edwards said. “So, people don’t really get to see me play unless I have an enormous game where I score 40-something or hit a game-winning shot or I get a huge dunk. I feel like games like this, I have to take advantage of because it’s the only time I get to be on TV so I’m trying to showcase my talent and everything I can do.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Luka Doncic‘s calf strain has actually put more pressure on the Jazz this postseason, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News opines. Dallas evened up the series with a victory in Game 2 on Monday. If the Jazz fail to eliminate a Mavericks team operating without their franchise player for at least part of the series, they would likely undergo major changes throughout the organization this offseason.
  • Donovan Mitchell made some comments out of frustration late in the regular season as the Jazz stumbled into the playoffs, saying “it’s the same s—” that had led to the team’s demise in previous seasons. However, Mitchell addressed the team shortly after those comments were made to reassure his teammates that he had seen growth with this current group and still believed in their chances to make a deep run, Sam Amick of The Athletic reports.
  • The Trail Blazers have the resources for an accelerated rebuild, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) writes in his offseason guide. They can go over the cap to re-sign key free agents Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic and use their $20.9MM trade exception to pull off a major deal. They’ll also have the $10.3MM mid-level exception at their disposal in free agency.

Northwest Notes: Edwards, Wolves, Williams, Azubuike

Anthony Edwards returned this week after a four-game absence, but the tendinopathy in his left knee may force the Timberwolves guard to play with pain for the rest of the season, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Edwards, who sat out games for the first time in his NBA career, described the feeling as a “big knot just hurting, hurting, hurting.”

“It’s something that you can play through,” he said. “Certain people can play through it, but if you don’t have a certain tolerance for pain, you can’t play through that.”

Edwards is having a strong second season after finishing as the runner-up in Rookie of the Year balloting last year, but his numbers had been declining lately because of the sore knee. He said he usually felt fine at the beginning of games, but the pain would return quickly.

“It would start off good, then three to four minutes into the game, hurting, hurting, hurting for the rest of the game,” he said. “And I be in trouble because I can’t really do nothing, for real.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves could be headed to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons and they may be aiming even higher next year, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Minnesota owns all its first-round picks moving forward, and sources tell Lowe that the Wolves are ready “to push some chips in” this summer. The team also faces an important decision on D’Angelo Russell, who will be eligible for a max extension in the offseason.
  • A depleted roster is a mixed blessing for several young Trail Blazers players, who are getting a chance to prove themselves at the NBA level but are also dealing with the embarrassment of frequent blowouts, notes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. Portland has eight players who are 22 or younger, including two-way player Brandon Williams, who moved into the starting lineup this week after an injury to Anfernee Simons“When times get low, even when times get high, you can’t be nonchalant in this league because you have another game around the corner,” Williams said.
  • Jazz center Udoka Azubuike has suffered his third ankle injury in the past 13 months, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Azubuike appeared to dislocate his right ankle in the closing seconds of a G League game Thursday night.

Wolves Notes: Cauley-Stein, Edwards, Beverley, Ownership

In an appearance on Darren Wolfson’s The Scoop podcast at SKOR North, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said that Minnesota is considering adding a free agent who could help improve the team’s rebounding numbers.

Asked specifically if the Wolves could bring back veteran center Greg Monroe, who was on a 10-day deal with the club earlier this season, Taylor responded, “We’re looking at a number of possibilities.”

According to Wolfson, one possible target the Wolves have discussed internally is Willie Cauley-Stein, who recently spent time in Philadelphia on a 10-day deal. Cody Zeller, who was waived last month while recovering from a procedure on his knee, isn’t currently considered an option, Wolfson adds.

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • Anthony Edwards has missed the Timberwolves’ last four games due to knee soreness, but Taylor is confident the injury is not a major issue. “We’re dealing with some swelling and some pain,” Taylor told Wolfson. “We just want to buy a little time, but it’s nothing major or anything that will keep him from being out there soon.”
  • Taylor doesn’t anticipate a significant offseason roster shakeup in Minnesota. “Most players are already signed for next year, so there won’t be major changes,” he told Wolfson.
  • One player who had been on track for unrestricted free agency this summer was guard Patrick Beverley, but he signed a one-year, $13MM extension with the Wolves in February. Taylor said that was a fairly straightforward negotiation, since both sides had interest in continuing the relationship, and that the main issue was deciding on the length of the contract. Beverley “preferred to add something longer,” according to Taylor, who said the team wanted to maintain some flexibility beyond 2022/23.
  • Asked by Wolfson if the plan is still for Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore to assume majority control of the Timberwolves in December 2023, Taylor replied, “Probably.” Pressed on whether it could happen sooner than next December or later than that, Taylor said that both scenarios are possible, indicating that nothing is set in stone yet.

Injury Notes: J. Brown, Edwards, Brooks, Iguodala

Appearing on the Toucher & Rich radio show in Boston on Thursday, Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens confirmed that Jaylen Brown‘s sprained ankle, which sidelined him for Thursday’s game vs. Memphis, doesn’t look like a significant injury.

“I think he’s doing better than I originally thought when I saw him go down,” Stevens said, per Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston. “He’s going to be constantly reevaluated over the next couple days … but it doesn’t look like a long-term thing.”

The Celtics have two days off before facing Brooklyn on Sunday, and then another two days off before visiting Charlotte on Wednesday. It’s unclear at this point whether Brown will play in either of those games.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Timberwolves wing Anthony Edwards missed Tuesday’s game due to a left knee issue and has been ruled out for Friday’s contest too. Head coach Chris Finch stated earlier in the week that the club was considering giving Edwards multiple games off to try to get him right for the stretch run, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “Everything is on the table right now to try to get him where he needs to be,” Finch said.
  • Dillon Brooks (ankle) doesn’t yet have a specific return date lined up, but Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said the forward took a “huge step” in his recovery process this week, per Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “He’s been fully integrated,” Jenkins said. “We haven’t had a lot practices to get him out there. We’re not going live or contact. He’s doing contact in other settings, but he’s been fully involved in all of our team film sessions.”
  • Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala (back), who has played just once since January 20, is “making strides,” according to head coach Steve Kerr (Twitter link via Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Bay Area). The team still wants to have Iguodala participate in more scrimmages before he’s cleared to return, so he’s considered day-to-day for now.

Chris Finch Talks KAT, Edwards, Defensive Approach

On the one-year anniversary of his tenure with the franchise, Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch sat down for a wide-ranging conversation with Chris Hine of The Star Tribune to discuss his approach to the team.

Finch, 52, has guided Minnesota to a 32-28 record this season thus far, good for the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. Center Karl-Anthony Towns made his first All-Star team since 2019, and second-year shooting guard Anthony Edwards has continued his trajectory toward becoming an All-Star talent in his own right.

Finch was an assistant coach under Nick Nurse for the Raptors during the first half of the 2020/21 season before accepting the gig as the head man in Minnesota on February 22, 2021.

Finch discussed his expectations for the club’s roster upon arriving as head coach late into the 2020/21 NBA season. Under Finch’s abbreviated stewardship as a midseason replacement for Ryan Saunders last year, the Timberwolves ultimately finished 16-25. 

“I thought there was a lot of talent, particularly in [Towns] and [point guard D’Angelo Russell],” Finch said of his initial impressions of Minnesota’s roster. “Not just talent but skill. You can have talent, but skill is another thing altogether too.”

This season, the Timberwolves have been striving to strike a balance defensively between a proactive and reactive approach towards opposing offenses. Finch considers this tactic a good dress rehearsal for adjusting to playoff matchups.

“Now that you played teams multiple times, they have a good feel for who you are and what you’re trying to do,” Finch noted. “Our defense is pretty aggressive and aggressive defenses can be baited into a lot of things. Tempering some of that or using that at the right time is key. Two, as we whittle everything down towards what we hope is a playoff presence, it’s all about being able to adjust and execute different schemes in a playoff.”

Edwards, the No. 1 pick out of Georgia in 2020, has taken an offensive leap recently. Finch discussed how the 20-year-old is learning to adjust to different defenses. Through 55 games this season, Edwards is averaging 21.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, and 1.5 SPG. The 6’4″ wing has shooting splits this season of .431/.348/.765.

“He is definitely a smart and quick learner,” Finch said. “Obviously we’re walking him through it on video, pointing it out when we see it in a game as soon as it happens and communicating so he can start making some adjustments. … It’s not on autopilot for him to switch gears right away and do something different. Every night it might be different so he’s still in that phase where he’s struggling to get an offensive rhythm at times because of this.”

2021/22 Rising Stars Team Rosters

As we previously relayed, the NBA announced a new format for its Rising Stars event at All-Star weekend, which will take place on Friday, February 18. The event will feature four seven-player teams competing in a three-game tournament (two semifinals and a final).

The player pool is comprised of 12 NBA rookies, 12 sophomores, and four players from the G League Ignite, while the games will be played to a target score: 50 points in the semifinals and 25 points in the final, in honor of the league’s 75th anniversary season.

The rosters were announced on February 1, but now the four honorary coaches (75th anniversary team members Rick Barry, Isiah Thomas, Gary Payton and James Worthy) have selected their seven-man teams, per our JD Shaw (Twitter link). Here are the rosters:

Team Barry:

Team Isiah:

Team Payton:

Team Worthy:

James Ham of ESPN 1320 and The Kings Beat provides (via Twitter) the full draft results.

The top 10, in order, were: Edwards, Mobley, Ball, Anthony, Giddey, Barnes, Cunningham, Bey, Bane, and Wagner. It’s worth noting that Worthy and Anthony both went to the University of North Carolina, so Anthony’s selection at No. 4 is less surprising given that context.

What do you think of the teams? Who do you think will come out on top? Head to the comments section and let us know your thoughts!

Northwest Notes: Ingles, Edwards, Beverley, Reed

Jazz swingman Joe Ingles, recently ruled out for the season with an ACL tear, seems likely to either see his expiring $14MM contract traded or waived by Utah, writes Sarah Todd of the Deseret News.

Todd writes that wing Danuel House appears likely to ink a guaranteed deal with Utah, but that the team may need more help than that. The Jazz also have a $7.4MM trade exception they could use to their advantage. Until the team makes another addition to its roster, Todd projects Eric Paschall to see more run in the absence of Ingles.

Tony Jones of The Athletic concurs that it seems probable House will get a guaranteed deal in the wake of the Ingles injury. Jones opines that Ingles will be tough to replace as a reliable wing shooter and ball-handler, particularly in the pick-and-roll. Jones notes that the Jazz, hopeful to make a championship push this season, will most likely look to shore up their roster beyond just keeping House around.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves second-year swingman Anthony Edwards is confident he can reach All-Star levels, possibly even this season, writes Marc Spears of the Undefeated. “My main goal is to get into the All-Star Game,” Edwards said ahead of the NBA revealing coaches’ picks tonight for the 2022 game in Cleveland next month. “I know I am going to get in the Rising Stars Game [this season]. I want to be in [the] All-Star Game.” The 20-year-old is averaging 22.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 3.7 APG, with shooting splits of .443/.363/.807 across 40 games for the 26-25 Timberwolves this year. Responding to a question about his ceiling as a player, Edwards was optimistic. “I don’t think I got one,” he said. “I think I can be as good as anyone.”
  • When asked about the possibility of being dealt at or before the impending trade deadline this season, Timberwolves guard Patrick Beverley indicated that he hopes to stick around in Minnesota, both for the rest of this season and perhaps past it, per Chris Hine of the Star Tribune (Twitter link). “It’s been great here,” Beverley said of his tenure in Minnesota. “Especially trying to establish a culture, a winning culture here … They allowed me to be myself here. Allowed me to do my thing, and that’s affected on and off the court on the team.”
  • Nuggets shooting guard Davon Reed expressed confidence that he has shown he can be more than a “fringe” player in the league, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post. “I can defend multiple positions, I can make open shots and, given the opportunity, I can make plays for my team as well,” Reed said. He has certainly earned rave reviews from head coach Michael Malone. “Every time that kid gets a chance to play, he goes out there and plays at a high level,” Malone said. Reed’s shooting numbers, albeit across a fairly modest 14.4 MPG while taking just 3.4 field goal attempts and 0.2 free throw looks a night, have been encouraging: .500/.476/.800.