D'Angelo Russell

Timberwolves Notes: Beasley, Hernangomez, Towns, Gupta

Even though he’ll be a restricted free agent when the offseason arrives, Malik Beasley opted to attend the Timberwolves‘ in-market camp, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Beaskey may be risking an injury that could affect his value, but he wanted to get back on the court after six months away from organized basketball, and his decision was noticed by management.

“I’m smiling and giggling,” said president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas. “Coach (Ryan Saunders) can speak to it, that’s what I love about our group. We’ve got workers. Coach and I were sitting in a meeting before this, and Beasley calls to say how much he wants to play and be here throughout it.”

Beasley, 23, is positioned for a nice raise after making an impact in 14 games since being acquired from Denver at the trade deadline. He became a starter in Minnesota and averaged 20.7 PPG while shooting 42.6% from 3-point range. The Wolves have interest in re-signing him, and his appearance seems to be an expression of loyalty.

There’s more from camp, all courtesy of Krawczynski:

  • The only notable player missing is restricted free agent Juan Hernangomez, who is filming a movie with Adam Sandler. Krawczynski notes that the acting commitment was made before the NBA finalized plans for the teams that didn’t go to Orlando.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell have emerged as leaders during camp and are trying to set an example for their teammates. “D’Angelo worked out this morning at 7 a.m. Karl’s been the 6 a.m. guy in the gym,” Saunders said. “It’s good to get out there. Even though you can only do it with one player, one coach, it’s been nice for me to be able to get not hands-on, but hands-on at a safe social distance and focus on things that we feel these guys need to work on and know they need to work on to take not just their games to the next level, but take this team to the next level.” Rosas said Towns has fully recovered from a wrist injury that sidelined him for a month before the hiatus.
  • Executive vice president Sachin Gupta will remain with Minnesota after being one of the finalists for the Kings’ GM job. Gupta seemed to be the favorite earlier this week and the Wolves were preparing for him to leave, but Sacramento opted for Monte McNair instead.

New York Notes: Team Options, P. Jackson, Russell, Dinwiddie

ESPN’s Bobby Marks predicts all 29 players with options will exercise them this offseason, potentially creating a favorable situation for the Knicks, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Huge losses in revenue are expected, even if the season can completed, and a reduction in the salary cap and luxury tax threshold could benefit New York, which holds several team options that it will likely decline.

“If I was the Knicks I would want the cap and tax to crash,’’ Marks said. “It would give them a huge advantage. They can collect the tax money and also have flexibility while few do.’’

The Knicks have a $15MM team option on Bobby Portis and would owe $1MM each to Elfrid Payton, Wayne Ellington, Reggie Bullock and Taj Gibson if they are let go. Marks also notes that New York will be in a group of four teams that will have enough cap room to take advantage if players sign for less than their normal market value.

There’s more from New York City:

  • Phil Jackson was warned not to take the job as Knicks president by writer Charley Rosen, his biographer and longtime friend, Berman adds in a separate story. Rosen was concerned that Jackson would tarnish his legacy by going into a “crazy” atmosphere and believes the failure to find the right coach doomed any chance of success. Rosen also states that Carmelo Anthony could have been a huge star under the triangle offense, but refused to embrace the system. “Carmelo undercut him, telling (Kristaps) Porzingis not to say anything in public about how good the triangle was,’’ Rosen said. “Carmelo refused to run the triangle — which is why Phil re-signed him: There was a lot of pressure from (owner James) Dolan. But if Carmelo would’ve run the triangle, he’d be open on the weakside. … He’d be a killer. He’d be Michael Jordan. He’d be unstoppable. But Melo was catch and shoot and didn’t want to do other things.’’
  • Even though former Nets guard D’Angelo Russell refuses to credit coach Kenny Atkinson with helping him become an All-Star, D-Lo’s time in Brooklyn was positive for both him and the team, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. “Brooklyn was a place that he needed as well as Brooklyn needed him,” said his older brother, Antonio Russell Jr. “They were able to mold each other and build each other up.”
  • Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie is willing to let fans choose his next team, but only if they meet a Bitcoin goal of $24,632,630 on GoFundMe, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. “Shoe companies and endorsers influence team decisions all the time,” Dinwiddie said in explaining the semi-serious offer. “My/our biggest endorsers will always be the fans, so I want to have some fun with this while we’re all under quarantine. I hope no owners/team personnel participate so there’s no impropriety on this one-of-a-kind endorsement deal.”

D’Lo On Wolves: “Where I’m Supposed To Be”

Timberwolves point guard D’Angelo Russell, speaking to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic in an extensive interview, asserted that his latest landing spot, playing alongside best friend Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota, is “where I’m supposed to be.”

After being drafted by the Lakers with the No. 2 pick in 2015, Russell was shipped to the Nets in the summer of 2017. He evolved into an All-Star for Brooklyn in 2019, and was promptly moved in a four-year, $117MM maximum contract sign-and-trade with the Warriors that summer.

At the time of his overcrowding the Golden State backcourt, it was widely speculated that he was brought in to eventually be shipped out as a trade asset. In February 2020, that speculation bore fruit, as Russell, Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman were sent to Minnesota in exchange for Andrew Wiggins and two future draft picks.

The 6’4″ 24-year-old out of Ohio State reflected on his prolific NBA resume in an interesting piece.

“When I tell you about my career,” Russell tells Krawcyznski, “it’s like I’m in the water and I take a breath… then I see it and I go back in the water.”

Elsewhere in Russell’s interview with Krawcyznski, which is worth reading in full, Russell discusses all the stops on his five-year NBA journey to this point. Here are some highlights:

On his tumultuous tenure with the Lakers:

“I didn’t know how to be a professional and the guidance wasn’t there also… I don’t blame anybody. I blame myself. It was really a blur to me, just in the sense that the things that I’ve been through ever since then.”

On then-Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson’s role in Russell’s All-Star development:

“I’m not going to give (all the credit) to Kenny… I still don’t think he knew what he had, honestly. I don’t think he knew what I was capable of in the fourth quarter.”

On learning from Golden State’s championship-level All-Stars:

“My whole thing was I’m gonna just learn from these guys… Even if I don’t get to play with them (very long), I’m going to pick their brain as much as I can.”

On savoring his new leadership role in Minnesota:

“I’ve been enjoying it knowing I could be here for the rest of my career if I take advantage of it.”

Joe Lacob Unsure How Hiatus Will Impact Warriors’ Future Spending

The Warriors, who wouldn’t have hosted any playoff games this spring if the NBA season had played out as scheduled, may not be the team hit hardest by the league’s indefinite suspension. However, owner Joe Lacob admitted that the lost revenue as a result of the hiatus and its potential impact on the salary cap going forward have created uncertainty about Golden State’s future spending ability.

Appearing on The TK Show with Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, Lacob was asked whether the Warriors still plan to go full-steam ahead next season, using their $17MM trade exception and full taxpayer mid-level exception to bolster their roster. As Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area relays, Lacob has adjusted his stance a little since declaring last February that the franchise can “do whatever we want” financially.

“We’re looking obviously at all of those questions and the possible answers,” Lacob said. “But I don’t really have a good sense yet because I really have no idea how this is gonna shake out. We don’t know what the salary cap is going to be, we don’t know what the luxury tax is going to be, so we don’t really know what we can plan on at this point. We just have to look at a lot of different scenarios, and that’s what we’re doing right now. (The NBA’s stoppage) could make a huge difference and it might make no difference.”

When Kawakami pointed out that the Warriors may have a limited window of opportunity to continue competing for championships, given that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are all now in their 30s, Lacob acknowledged that the team still wants to take advantage of that window as best it can.

“That was our plan and still – until further notice – is our plan for next year and the next few years,” he said. “However, a lot of things could change. And we’re going to have to adjust, just like every other team’s going to have to adjust, to whatever the new world order is, to whatever the new situation is in the NBA.”

During his half-hour conversation with Kawakami, Lacob addressed a few other topics of interest. Here are a few of the highlights from the discussion, which is worth checking out in full for Warriors fans:

On the Warriors’ draft plans:

“We’ve never spent more time as a group on the draft as we have this year. Obviously we have a lot more time to do it, we all do. I have watched videos of probably all the top players at this point. I’ve watched interviews, I’ve watched high school highlights, AAU highlights, like everybody else. … I think there’s enough information out there and enough work that’s being put in our side that we’ll be able to make a good decision and try to help our team.

“We’re going to look at all scenarios. … We’re going to look at drafting someone at our position, we’re going to look at maybe we trade down. I’m not saying that’s preferred or not preferred, I’m just saying it’s something we have to look at. We’re going to look at all options and we’re going to figure out a way to have our team be the best possible team that it could be for this year, but still with an eye toward building for the future.”

On signing D’Angelo Russell to a four-year contract and trading him seven months later:

“We thought (acquiring Russell in a sign-and-trade) was a great opportunity to be able to get a player in the wake of losing a Kevin Durant. To get anything of that quality was just an advantage, whether it worked out or not. We did not do it just for that reason, but we did it because we thought he could potentially be a part of what we were building for the future.

“That wasn’t without risk. We all understood that he was another guard, so we had to wait and see how it all worked out. I think as time went on we obviously began to take a little bit different look at the whole thing in terms of the fit, and even though he’s a good guy and really performed quite well for us, I think we all made the decision that perhaps there was a better fit out there than that. … Maybe it could have worked out, but we made the decision – right or wrong, we’ll find out – that (Andrew) Wiggins would be the better fit for us. And we think it’s a great fit, actually.”

On finding the silver lining in Durant’s decision to leave Golden State:

“He wouldn’t have played this last year, he was injured. We would have had a huge payroll as a team. So I think maybe this is the best thing. We’re able to start a rebuild a little bit earlier than we otherwise might have, and maybe it’ll prove to be the right thing in the long run that that occurred. I’m an optimist, I always look at things for what’s the positive in the situation. Yes, he left, that’s negative, but the positive is we got a chance to move forward quicker and to move into the next phase of what we’re doing.”

On NBA teams reducing certain employees’ salaries and/or furloughing staffers:

“There are no plans like that with us. … I think at this point in time, knowing what we know… our view is that we need and value all of our employees. We spent a lot of time hiring these people and training them and building up this organization to be a really good one, and I don’t want to tear it down unless for some reason we really had to, if there was economic calamity.”

Northwest Notes: Dort, Nader, Russell, Grant

The Thunder and their surprising success have been among the NBA’s best stories this season. From the play of veterans Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari to the development of youngsters Luguentz Dort and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, there’s a lot to like about this team.

Speaking of development, head coach Billy Donovan wishes that Dort could practice more with the team and not have his NBA service days affected, writes Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman.

“I think one of the things that would be great,” he said, “is if some of those guys could practice and it not count against them. But I understand that’s not the rule.”

A player such as Dort, who is on a two-way contract, can only spend 45 days with his NBA parent club. When those players are not in the NBA, they are predominately spending time with their NBA G League affiliate.

This season, Dort has played in 29 games (started in 21) with the Thunder. He is averaging 6.2 points and 1.9 rebounds in 22 minutes per game. When his NBA service days run out, the Thunder will have the opportunity to sign the former Arizona State guard to a standard NBA contract. If Oklahoma City does this, he will be a part of the team’s 15-man roster and able to participate in the postseason.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • In other Thunder news, it seems as they found themselves a defensive playmaker in Abdel NaderJoe Mussatto of The Oklahoman wrote about how the 26-year-old forward, who has a team option for 2020/21, made an impact on both ends of the floor in the Thunder’s 105-104 win on Sunday over the Celtics.
  • Chris Hine of The Star Tribune wrote about D’Angelo Russell‘s shooting slump from this past weekend. The recently-acquired Timberwolves point guard shot 8-of-32 from the field against the Magic and Pelicans. Nevertheless, Russell is not worried and understands that it’s a part of the game. “Just got to kind of let it go,” he said. “Don’t dwell too much on it. Never too high. Never too low. It’s a part of the game. Just let it go and I’ll be all right.” On Tuesday night against the Rockets, Russell scored 28 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field and 5-of-12 from three-point range in a 117-111 loss.
  • The Nuggets will have some tough decisions to make when it comes to their frontcourt this offseason, explains Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. Possible tax concerns may push Denver to decide between bringing back either Jerami Grant or Paul Millsap, who helped them defeat the Bucks on Monday. Grant had 19 points and six rebounds off the bench and is playing well over Denver’s last eight games. The former second-round pick has a $9.3MM player option for next season, while Millsap is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

Northwest Notes: Russell, Johnson, SGA, MPJ

The Timberwolves were hit with a $25K fine by the NBA on Thursday for violating the league’s resting policy when they sat D’Angelo Russell a week ago despite D-Lo being considered a healthy player. Following that decision, the Wolves faced accusations of tanking, but president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas insists that’s not the case, as Chris Hine of The Star Tribune writes.

“I wouldn’t say it gets under my skin, but it’s just disappointing when you don’t have all the facts,” Rosas said of claims that the Timberwolves are tanking. “The reality is if individuals knew what was going on behind the scenes, how hard our coaches are working, our players are working — that’s the disappointing part because I think it’s disrespectful to them and what they’re putting in.

“… The side effects (of the Timberwolves’ midseason roster overhaul) unfortunately for Coach (Ryan Saunders) and his staff is you have nine players from three different programs, three different philosophies that are coming here and learning on the fly what we’re trying to do,” Rosas continued. “When you’re playing good teams like we’re playing, you get exposed. That’s the stage we’re at. But to say we’re not focused day in, day out on winning? That’s false and inaccurate.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • While he was hardly the biggest name of the players acquired by the Timberwolves at the deadline, James Johnson has quickly emerged as a team leader in Minnesota, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “If James told me to jump off a cliff I would do it yesterday,” Josh Okogie said of his new teammate. “He’s been great for us, and we’ve been following his lead.”
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s breakout year and budding stardom is giving the Thunder plenty to think about as they contemplate a potential rebuild, writes ESPN’s Royce Young. If Gilgeous-Alexander has All-NBA upside, it likely reduces the odds of the team fully bottoming out in the next couple seasons.
  • Nick Kosmider of The Athletic attempts to make sense of Michael Porter Jr.‘s reduced playing time for the Nuggets, arguing that it’s time to let the second-year forward reclaim a more impactful role.

Northwest Notes: Stotts, Wolves, D-Lo, Dort

Despite a disappointing season so far in Portland, there’s no reason to believe Terry Stotts‘ job will be in any danger this spring, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Sam Amick of The Athletic. Coming off the Trail Blazers‘ appearance in the Western Conference Finals a year ago, the team extended Stotts’ contract through the 2021/22 season.

This season, the Trail Blazers are in danger of missing the postseason altogether. Even if they sneak in, they’re extremely unlikely to win a series. However, major injuries to key contributors like Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins, and Rodney Hood have played a significant role in Portland’s slide, so regardless of how the season ends, Stotts looks safe going forward, Amick writes.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Timberwolves have the most valuable combination of first-round picks for the 2020 draft, according to research by ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider link). Besides their own lottery pick, the Wolves will have Brooklyn’s first-rounder, which will almost certainly fall in the 15-17 range.
  • D’Angelo Russell had his first great game since joining the Timberwolves on Wednesday night, showing why the team pursued him so aggressively for so long, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.
  • ESPN’s Royce Young reported earlier this week (via Twitter) that Thunder wing Luguentz Dort has 16 days of NBA service time available on his two-way contract. Since Dort is only moving closer to his 45-day limit on days when Oklahoma City actually plays, the team should be able to have him active through March 28, the last day of the G League season. After that date, he can spend the rest of the regular season with the Thunder.
  • As I explained earlier today, Dort won’t be eligible for the postseason unless the Thunder promote him to their 15-man roster. Young suggests (via Twitter) that talks on a standard contract likely won’t pick up until late in the season, since it could be in both sides’ best interests to wait — OKC would save some tax money and Dort could continues increasing his value.

Timberwolves Notes: Spellman, Russell, Johnson

The Timberwolves are not planning to waive big man Omari Spellman, though it’s a possibility, according to Darren Wolfson of KSTP. After discussions between his reps and the front office, Spellman is headed to G League affiliate Iowa to get some playing time and will likely finish the season with the organization (Twitter links).

Spellman was included in the deal that sent D’Angelo Russell to Minnesota. He was averaging 7.6 PPG and 4.5 RPG in 49 games with Golden State this season. His contract for next season is guaranteed but the club holds an option on the 2021/22 season.

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • Russell doesn’t foresee a long transition before he develops chemistry with the team’s franchise player, Karl-Anthony Towns, John Krawczynski of The Athletic writes. “We know what we bring to the table,” Russell said. “It’s just about dissecting the film and bringing it together and seeing how we can take the weight off each other’s shoulders down the stretch, whenever we need him to make a play and vice versa.”
  • Forward James Johnson has embraced an elder statesman role with the team, according to Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Johnson, who turns 33 this month, had 15 points and five assists in his Minnesota debut. He was surrounded by a group of young players and provided a lot of instruction for them. “I loved the confidence he was instilling in those guys,” coach Ryan Saunders said. Johnson, who holds a $16MM option on his contract for next season, was acquired from Miami in a three-team trade last week.
  • Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner are the Timberwolves’ candidates to receive a buyout. Check out the latest on the buyout market here.

D’Angelo Russell To Debut For Timberwolves Tonight

Newly-acquired Timberwolves starting point guard D’Angelo Russell will suit up for Minnesota this evening in his team debut, according to The Athletic’s Eric Koreen (Twitter link). The Timberwolves will be taking the ascendent Raptors, who are riding a team-record 14-game win streak. The Wolves just ended a more dubious run of their own, 13 straight losses, with a Sunday defeat of the Clippers.

Russell was dealt last week to the Timberwolves in a package for wing Andrew Wiggins and future draft pick compensation. After being named an All-Star with the Nets in 2019, Russell signed a four-year, $117.3MM maximum contract with the Warriors over the summer of 2019. He was previously listed as day-to-day as he nursed a quad injury.

In 33 games for Golden State, Russell is averaging 23.6 PPG, 6.2 APG, and 3.7 RPG this season. He is shooting 43% from the field, 37.4% from the three-point line, and 78.5% from the charity stripe. Russell will serve as a significant offensive upgrade in the backcourt for the 16-35 Timberwolves.

Kerr On D-Lo: “Fit Was Questionable When We Signed Him”

A day after Golden State completed one of the biggest trades of the 2019/20 season, sending D’Angelo Russell to the Timberwolves, head coach Steve Kerr expressed confidence that newly-acquired forward Andrew Wiggins is in a good position to succeed the Warriors.

“Minnesota needed him to be a star,” Kerr said of Wiggins, per Drew Shiller of Warriors Outsiders (Twitter link). “And we’re not asking him to be a star. We’re asking him to play a role on a team that already has some star players.”

As Kerr explained (video link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic), Wiggins also figures to be a better positional fit for the Warriors than Russell once Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are healthy. According to Kerr, Golden State isn’t expecting a whole lot of talented wings to be available during this year’s draft or free agent period, so the club is happy to add one like Wiggins now.

In his discussion of the trade, Kerr also acknowledged a point that many critics of the Warriors’ initial acquisition of Russell brought up last summer — D-Lo and the Dubs probably weren’t an ideal long-term match.

“To be perfectly blunt, the fit was questionable when we signed him,” Kerr said (video link via Slater). “… When you already have Steph and Klay and you add a ball-dominant guard, you can rightfully question the fit. That was one of the reasons the trade rumors started before the season even began.”

According to Kerr, even with Curry and Thompson sidelined this season, the Warriors got a “good enough look” over the first 50 games of the season to picture how Russell would fit on a fully healthy roster.

“I think you have an idea – I think we have an idea – that the other move, the other player (Wiggins) makes more sense,” Kerr said. “In this case, I would say (the fit is better) for both teams.”