D'Angelo Russell

Wolves Notes: Russell, Gobert, Prince, Edwards

The trade that brought D’Angelo Russell to the Timberwolves has turned into a huge mistake, contends Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune. Minnesota was looking for more size and scoring in its backcourt when it sent Andrew Wiggins and a pair of draft picks — one of which became Jonathan Kuminga — to Golden State in exchange for Russell and two other players at the 2020 trade deadline. Wiggins wound up as a vital cog in the Warriors’ title team, while Russell continues to frustrate Wolves fans, Souhan states.

The latest embarrassing incident came in the first half of tonight’s loss to the Suns when Russell didn’t realize he was supposed to be on the court. Minnesota played a four-on-five possession that resulted in a Phoenix three-pointer. Souhan notes that Russell came into the game ranked 211th overall in Player Efficiency Rating and 42nd among point guards in a 30-team league.

After being benched in the playoff series against Memphis, Russell hasn’t looked any different this season, according to Souhan. He observes that the Wolves often look uncertain on the court, which shouldn’t happen to a team with a veteran point guard.

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • The Wolves are still working out a role on offense for Rudy Gobert, who returned tonight after missing two games while in the health and safety protocols, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Gobert’s new teammates, particularly Karl-Anthony Towns, have been trying to make sure he gets enough touches. “The guys have been great looking for me, especially KAT,” Gobert said. “I can tell he’s been doing a lot of effort hitting me on the duck-ins, hitting me on the lobs. I think that’s the way we’re going to play if we want to be a great offensive team, be able to space for each other, move the ball, have the ball not stick.”
  • Veteran forward Taurean Prince has become a locker room leader for the Wolves and he credits the influence of former teammate Patrick Beverley, particularly in film sessions, Hine adds. “He really taught me how to break down film and really process it quicker,” Prince said. “That’s helped me be in more of the right spots defensively. So I appreciate him for that. Now I’m also able to … put it in a way to where other guys understand it as well, and they’re maybe thinking two or three steps ahead.”
  • After Monday’s loss to the Knicks, Anthony Edwards expressed concerns that the Wolves are getting a reputation for being soft, Hine states in a separate story. “It’s hard, man,” Edwards said. “I don’t know, man. We’re going to try to figure it out, because that’s what it looks like right now. That’s what teams are saying, from the looks of it. They’re coming out like, ‘We’re going to punk them.’ That’s what’s going on.”

Wolves Notes: Russell, Edwards, Starting Lineup

Timberwolves point guard D’Angelo Russell had an uneven performance during last season’s playoffs and that has continued with an inconsistent run through eight games in 2022/23, writes Michael Rand of The Star Tribune. While Russell’s counting stats look solid — he’s averaging 14.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.6 steals — his shooting splits of .394/.279/.783 leave a lot to be desired.

If the Wolves aren’t playing better after 20 games (they’re currently 4-4), Rand believes Russell could be the odd man out of the starting lineup, since he’s the only player among the group the franchise isn’t committed to long term. The 26-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023, so it’s a big year for him.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Third-year wing Anthony Edwards has lacked his usual explosiveness this season, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune, who notes that Edwards has yet to dunk thus far in 2022/23. The 21-year-old recorded 128 dunks in 144 games over his first two seasons, per Basketball-Reference. Edwards gained weight in an effort to add muscle over the summer, but he recognized the added weight was impacting his leaping ability so he’s been working on conditioning, Hine notes. “I’m just waiting for my legs to get under me 100 percent and I’ll be all right,” said Edwards, who added that he’d dropped nine pounds and is now at 230.
  • The starting lineup of Russell, Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert has struggled mightily to open the season, posting a minus-5.3 net rating and scoring an abysmal 97.4 points per 100 possessions, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The unit didn’t get much playing time together during the preseason, as Towns was sidelined for much of it with an infection and Gobert rested some after competing in EuroBasket for France, so head coach Chris Finch has been giving them extra run in an effort to get the five-man group more comfortable with each other, Krawczynski writes. Finch admits they haven’t made much progress to this point. “Well there hasn’t really been a whole lot of growth with that unit just yet,” Finch said. “So yeah, just working on it, keep focusing on it.”
  • In a similar story for The Star Tribune, Hine says that the starters could look to the bench as an example of how to play together and not force so many shots. “They’re sharing the ball,” Edwards said of the second unit. “They don’t care who scores. That’s the biggest thing. They don’t care who score. They all want to see each other shine in that second group.”

Wolves Notes: Gobert, Towns, Garza, Russell

The Timberwolves weren’t exactly firing on all cylinders in their 115-108 win over Oklahoma City to open the regular season on Wednesday. Stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards combined to shoot just 6-of-27 from the field for a total of 23 points.

However, center Rudy Gobert made his presence felt in his regular season debut with his new team, leading the way with 23 points and 16 rebounds. Head coach Chris Finch said after the game that Gobert’s “impact was strong everywhere,” while the center himself said there’s still plenty of work to do.

“It shows how good we can be and how much better we can be at the same time,” Gobert said of the Wolves’ up-and-down play in the opener, per Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune. “It’s going to be a process and every night is going to be an opportunity for us to get better.”

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • The Wolves’ frontcourt pairing of Gobert and Towns, rivals turned allies, is the NBA’s biggest experiment entering this season, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes in an article looking back at how the duo came together and what we should expect from the two star big men.
  • Luka Garza was thrilled to have his Exhibit 10 contract converted into a two-way deal at the end of the preseason, as Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune details. “The coaching staff, the system, the players, everything kinds of fit me really well,” Garza said. “For a young big in this league there is no better environment to be in, with the best offensive big in the league and the best defensive big man. What better guys to learn from?” The opportunity to spend some time with the Iowa Wolves was an added bonus for the former Hawkeyes star. “I’m from (Washington) D.C., but now it feels like I’m from Iowa. So I’m super excited,” he said.
  • A potential unrestricted free agent in 2023, D’Angelo Russell enters this season seeking redemption after a disappointing showing in the Wolves’ first-round playoff loss this spring, says Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.
  • Michael Rand of The Star Tribune identifies five factors that will help determine how high the Timberwolves’ ceiling is, including their defensive consistency, Russell’s performance in a contract year, and the team’s role players being a net positive.

Extension Notes: Russell, G. Williams, Clarke, Poole

Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell is about to begin the final season of the four-year contract he signed in 2019, and will be eligible to sign an extension anytime up until June 30, 2023, the day before he reaches free agency. However, Brian Windhorst of ESPN and Darren Wolfson of SKOR North and 5 Eyewitness News suggested during the latest episode of Wolfson’s The Scoop podcast that an extension for Russell probably isn’t around the corner.

“I have not heard any discussion of him getting an extension,” Windhorst said, per RealGM.

Wolfson agreed, adding, “I think (Russell’s) representation has reached out to the Wolves, but it doesn’t seem like it’s being reciprocated.”

The Timberwolves already have significant financial commitments to Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert on their books for the next several years, and will likely be signing Anthony Edwards to a lucrative long-term contract next summer, so it makes sense that the team would be unwilling to work out a big new deal with Russell before assessing how all the pieces fit together this season.

Here are a few more extension-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Celtics forward Grant Williams, extension-eligible for a few more hours, recently spoke to Brian Robb of MassLive.com about the possibility of getting a new deal. Williams shared some interesting insights, including explaining why he doesn’t view recently extended power forwards like Larry Nance Jr. and Maxi Kleber as direct comparables. “It’s one of those things like — you look at guys across the league, they maybe play different roles and a different situation,” Williams said. “You bring up Nance Jr. with the Pelicans and he’s probably their ninth or 10th man. They are one of the teams that are on the edge of making a run. Similar to Kleber’s, who is 30. He doesn’t necessarily have the versatility, the guarding — I try my best not to look at those guys. I just feel like you make your own market and understand your value.”
  • Brandon Clarke‘s four-year contract extension with the Grizzlies, reported to be worth $52MM, actually has a base value of $50MM, with $2MM in total incentives ($500K per year), tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic. The deal features four flat annual cap hits of $12.5MM, adds ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter).
  • Warriors guard Jordan Poole, who officially signed a four-year, $123MM+ extension on Sunday, told reporters that he “couldn’t stop smiling” when he put pen to paper on his new deal, as Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic writes. Poole didn’t have much to say about his practice altercation with Draymond Green, downplaying the impact he expects the incident to have going forward: “He apologized and we’re professionals. We plan on handling ourselves that way.”

Northwest Notes: Russell, Gilgeous-Alexander, Jokic, Brown

D’Angelo Russell has an expiring $31.4MM contract, but the Timberwolves guard doesn’t want to dwell on becoming a free agent after the season, he told Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“Nothing changes,” he said. “You see guys approaching a contract year and doing it incorrectly and it becomes magnified if you’re doing it incorrectly. You might not be going about things the right way or ways you would be going about it if it wasn’t a contract year. I try to keep it consistent, my approach.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who begins a five-year, $179.3MM extension this season, believes that the Thunder are ready to turn the corner, he told Andrew Schlecht of The Athletic“I know what I signed up for when I signed a five-year extension… and I don’t think we’re going to be losing for much longer,” he said. “I believe in this team.”
  • Fresh off signing a super-max extension, Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic says he hopes to play his entire career with the organization, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. “That’s the goal,” Jokic said.
  • The Nuggets finished last season ranked No. 15 in team defense. Coach Michael Malone wants to see dramatic improvement, Singer relays in another tweet“Our goal this year is to be a top-five defense,” he said.
  • Bruce Brown left the Nets and signed a two-year contract with the Nuggets in free agency. Malone has big plans for him, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets“I don’t think people understand the importance that Bruce Brown is going to bring to this team,” he said.

Northwest Notes: A-Rod, Jazz Staff, Russell, Murray

Alex Rodriguez said he has been welcomed around the NBA, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Rodriguez is part of the Timberwolves’ ownership group and will eventually become the majority owner along with business partner Marc Lore.

“I mean, I come at it from a different perspective, being in baseball for about a quarter of a century, and now it’s interesting to take my experience from Major League Baseball, from broadcasting and now being here as an owner,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been great. The NBA has welcomed me with open arms.”

He has been especially impressed with the league office.

“Team ownership is 365, 24/7,” Rodriguez said, “I knew that (NBA commissioner) Adam Silver and his team were great, but they’re even better than what they project. His senior management team, all the way through, they’re really incredible, they add tons of value. And I think they’re great at welcoming people, whether you’re a player, media, owner, executive into the room, and they know how to do that better than anyone.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • New Jazz coach Will Hardy might retain holdovers Bryan Bailey and Irv Roland on his staff, Tony Jones of The Athletic reports. It was previously reported that Alex Jensen and Lamar Skeeter could remain on the staff. The Jazz are also in the market for a top assistant, Jones adds.
  • D’Angelo Russell is eager to get an extension this offseason, as he told Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic“Obviously every player wants an extension, and you want to be in a position to do that,” the Timberwolves guard said. Russell, who has been the subject of trade rumors, added that his representation has had some dialogue with Minnesota’s front office. He’s also eager to play with the frontcourt duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert. “For myself, I’ve always realized that if you put a shooter and a roller next to me, I can make the game easier for everyone around me,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to bringing that to the team.”
  • Load management will be the way the Nuggets handle Jamal Murray coming off his major knee injury, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets. Murray’s minutes will be limited to the 20-30 minute range at the start of next season and he’ll also have some games off.

Trade Rumors: Suns, Jazz, Capela, Wolves, Russell, Fournier, Anunoby

The Suns don’t currently own a pick in the 2022 NBA draft, but there have been recent rumors that the team is interested in trading for a second-rounder. John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Phoenix goes a step further, stating (via Twitter) that “while a second-round pick is more likely, I cannot rule out (the Suns) trading into the first round.”

Gambadoro reports that Phoenix has its eyes on eight-to-10 prospects that the team would consider making a deal for. He points to the Spurs, Hornets and Hawks as teams who could be trade partners, though he doesn’t clarify which of those teams’ picks might be in play.

Here are more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • Like Phoenix, Utah doesn’t currently control a pick, but the Jazz are dangling core players to try and acquire some, multiple sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic. Jones reports that the Jazz are very active on the trade market, with the odds increasing that the team’s roster could look significantly different by the end of today. The Jazz have a “lengthy list” of potential undrafted prospects they hope to entice with Exhibit 10 contracts once the draft concludes, sources tell The Athletic.
  • The Timberwolves remain interested in potentially pairing Karl-Anthony Towns with Clint Capela in the team’s frontcourt, but sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic that the Wolves and Hawks haven’t made any real headway on that front.
  • Sources suggest to Dane Moore of Bring Me The News (Twitter link) that there’s a greater than 50% chance that D’Angelo Russell will be traded by the Timberwolves in the coming days. Russell is viewed as a trade candidate due to his poor playoff showing despite having a solid season with Minnesota. The guard is extension-eligible this summer and his $31.38MM contract expires after next season.
  • The Knicks offered to trade Evan Fournier to the Celtics to create cap space in order to sign Jalen Brunson, but Boston has no interest in the deal, according to Gambadoro (Twitter links). The Celtics have a large trade exception that was ironically created by signing-and-trading Fournier to New York, so the Knicks theoretically wouldn’t have needed a player in return, but he’d still count against Boston’s cap, which would push the team deep into the luxury tax.
  • Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report says (via Twitter) that he has “consistently heard” the Raptors are only interested in trading OG Anunoby if they can get an “elite center” in return. Toronto is still linked to Rudy Gobert and inquired about Jarrett Allen in February, sources tell Bleacher Report.

Point Guard Rumors: Brogdon, Knicks, Wizards, Morris, Murray

Although the Wizards and the Knicks are the two teams that have most frequently discussed a possible Malcolm Brogdon trade with the Pacers, people around the league are skeptical that either team would include its 2022 lottery pick in a package for Brogdon, says Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

If those league officials are right, that means a Brogdon trade could end up looking more like Portland’s deal for Jerami Grant. The Trail Blazers are giving up future picks (and a swap of 2022 second-rounders) for Grant, but aren’t including this year’s No. 7 overall pick. The Wizards and Knicks pick 10th and 11th, respectively, and will likely attempt to keep those picks as they pursue Brogdon.

According to Fischer, the Wizards have been open to discussing Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in trade conversations, while the Knicks have explored trade options involving Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, Evan Fournier, Kemba Walker, and Cam Reddish.

Here are a few more rumors related to the point guard market:

  • With the Wizards widely believed to be seeking a trade for a veteran point guard, one potential target worth keeping an eye on is Nuggets guard Monte Morris, according to Josh Robbins and David Aldridge of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Responding to rumors about Dejounte Murray‘s possible availability, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com tweets that the Cavaliers have had conversation with the Spurs about Murray dating back to the trade deadline in February.
  • Besides Brogdon, Morris, and Murray, some other point guards believed to be available via trade this offseason include Mike Conley of the Jazz, Terry Rozier of the Hornets, Devonte’ Graham of the Pelicans, and D’Angelo Russell of the Timberwolves, according to Fischer.

Spurs, Hawks Have Discussed Dejounte Murray Trade

The Spurs are listening to offers for Dejounte Murray, and the “most significant” overtures have come from the Hawks, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

Sources tell Fischer that San Antonio and Atlanta have been discussing a deal since the trade deadline that would send Murray to the Hawks in exchange for a package centered around John Collins. Fischer adds that the Spurs want a “Jrue Holiday-like” return for the All-Star guard, so Atlanta would have to include a few more assets.

The Hawks are seeking a strong ball-handler and defender to team with Trae Young in their backcourt, and Murray qualifies on both counts. Murray, who finished second in the Most Improved Player voting, averaged 21.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 9.2 assists this season while leading the league in steals at 2.0 per game.

Fischer speculates that Murray’s contract status is likely behind the Spurs’ willingness to consider a trade. His four-year, $64MM deal will expire in 2024, and he’s expected to be in line for a max contract after that. San Antonio could still be rebuilding by then and may not want to make such a large investment in Murray.

Fischer points out that the Knicks and Wizards both need point guards, so there may be plenty of options for the Spurs to consider. Sources also tell Bleacher Report that the Timberwolves have tested the market to see what they can get in return for D’Angelo Russell.

Wolves Notes: Connelly, KAT, Draft, Russell, A. Williams

If it were up to president of basketball operations Tim Connelly, Karl-Anthony Towns would remain with the Timberwolves for his entire career. Towns is eligible for a super-max extension this summer after being selected to the All-NBA Third Team.

I hope he’s here forever. I hope we have the type of team success that would allow us to look up and see Karl’s jersey being hung up in the rafters,” Connelly said in a Q&A session with Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “I reached out to a bunch of these guys, but I don’t want to force relationships. You have to develop those things naturally. So, I’ve heard so many great things about him. I know how great a player he is on the court, but off the court it’s been so consistent, just an unbelievably sweet guy that treats everyone in a really classy manner.

“I think he’s been through so much, so many different faces and different chairs, from the front office to the coaching staff. So I think with continuity with Finchy (head coach Chris Finch), you’re going to see a better version of Karl and he’s already a great player.”

Connelly conceded that the team’s potential first-round pick (19th overall) likely won’t have a significant role on the team next year, but he believes the Wolves can find a good long-term fit with the selection.

We’ll beat up all the different possibilities pretty good. We’re also very content and pretty excited about if we’re going to get a good player at 19,” he said. “It’s going to be hard for any player we draft to have a huge role with the team that just had the success they had. We’re not drafting for June 24, we’re drafting for, hopefully, to add a person that can be a part of sustained success and a person who can grow into a role. I think things are on the table, but we do feel pretty convinced that 19 is going to yield a good player.”

It’s an interesting interview from Hine for any Wolves fans looking for insight into Connelly’s approach.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Amid rumors that Minnesota is exploring the trade market for veteran centers, including Clint Capela, Michael Rand of The Star Tribune wonders if one of the team’s biggest offseason moves might be a position change for Towns. Rand notes that sliding Towns down to the power forward spot would improve the Wolves’ rebounding woes, and he’d likely feast on smaller players in the post, but there are some possible drawbacks. Towns is quicker than most centers, so he might lose the ability to pump-fake and drive past slower-footed defenders, and it would take him time to adjust defensively. Ultimately, Rand believes utilizing a bigger lineup could work in certain matchups.
  • Jon Krawczynski and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic discuss Minnesota’s draft possibilities for the 19th and 40th picks (the Wolves also control the 48th and 50th picks). Vecenie doesn’t love the team’s options for the first-rounder and believes trading out in order to acquire additional first-round selections makes sense, but if the Wolves keep the pick, he thinks Blake Wesley or E.J. Liddell could be decent options. Wesley, a guard from Notre Dame, is ranked 22nd on ESPN’s big board, while Liddell, a forward from Ohio State, is ranked 21st. Vecenie says there are a number of “interesting, high-upside” prospects who could be available with the 40th pick, including Peyton Watson, Josh Minott and Kendall Brown, among others.
  • The Wolves haven’t come close to trading D’Angelo Russell “or any other player,” sources tell Krawczynski in another story for The Athletic. However, Krawczynski says trade talks are expected to heat up “the closer it gets to the draft,” which is tomorrow, and the fate of Russell and other possible trade candidates should become clearer once it concludes.
  • Alondes Williams worked out for the Wolves on Tuesday, reports Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (via Twitter). The 6’5″ guard averaged 18.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.2 APG and 1.2 SPG on .507/.282/.691 shooting as a junior for Wake Forest. He’s ranked 59th on ESPN’s board, so he could be a possibility for one of the team’s second-round picks.