Derrick Rose

Wolves Notes: Saunders, Rose, Wiggins, Saric

One of Ryan Saunders’ first moves as Timberwolves head coach has been to expand the rotation, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Former coach Tom Thibodeau, who has long been criticized for relying too much on his starters, used a set rotation of nine players before being fired Sunday. Saunders has expanded that to 10 and has been substituting much earlier.

Saunders has also been trying out different combinations, such as Taj Gibson and Dario Saric, who only shared the floor for just one minute under Thibodeau.

“There definitely is (some adjusting to do),” Tyus Jones said after last night’s game. “And it’s still early. But until we’re all the way acclimated, we’ve got to let our energy be what we fall back on. We’ve got to be the team that is going to play the hardest night-in and night-out.”

There’s more news from Minnesota:

  • In his first home game as head coach, Saunders received an enthusiastic reception from fans who used to loudly boo Thibodeau during pre-game introductions, notes Chip Scoggins of The Star-Tribune. One of the reasons behind the coaching change was that Thibodeau had become such an unpopular figure in the Twin Cities. Afterward, the players accepted blame for the loss and offered some advice to Saunders. “If anything I just tell him to be himself. Players will be able tell if he’s not being himself,” said Derrick Rose, whose connections with Thibodeau go back to Chicago. “We all respect him. That’s one thing that he has. He has our respect. That’s huge for a coach.”
  • Saunders hopes to protect Rose by keeping his minutes to about 30 per game, according to Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. The veteran guard, who returned to action Friday after missing six games with an injured ankle, saw his minutes fluctuate wildly under Thibodeau. Hines notes that every time Rose has topped 38 minutes this season, he either sat out the next game or couldn’t finish it because of injury.
  • Andrew Wiggins is the Minnesota player most likely to benefit from the coaching change, according to Michael Rand of The Star-Tribune. He scored 40 points in Saunders’ first game in charge and had a 37% usage rate, far beyond his season average of 23.8%. Rand cites Saric and Jones as other players who should improve under Saunders.

Timberwolves’ Derrick Rose Suffers Sprained Ankle

Derrick Rose suffered a sprained ankle in the Timberwolves‘ 123-120 overtime loss to the Hawks on Friday, according to NBA.com. Rose is set to be reevaluated on Saturday, per the announcement.

The injury occurred during a jump shot attempt on the Timberwolves’ last play of regulation. Rose was visibly limping after the game, according to the report.

Rose, 30, registered 25 points, nine assists and three rebounds for Minnesota in the loss. Losing Rose for a prolonged stretch would be a blow to an already injured Timberwolves team. Starting point guard Jeff Teague is currently sidelined with his own ankle injury.

A potential Sixth Man of the Year candidate, Rose has enjoyed a resurgent season in the Twin Cities. In 32 games (11 starts), Rose is averaging 18.9 PPG. 4.8 APG and shooting 48.6% from the field. He is also shooting a career-best 46.2% from beyond the arc.

Minnesota has Tyus Jones and Jerryd Bayless as options at point guard should Rose miss extended time.

Central Notes: Griffin, Thomas, Evans, Rose

Pistons coach Dwane Casey wants to reduce Blake Griffin‘s workload, as he told the Detroit Free Press. Griffin is averaging 35.9 minutes per game, the sixth-most for any player in the league. The former Clipper has missed significant time with injuries over the past four seasons but sat out only one game this season, when Casey decided to give him a night off. “We want to watch his minutes and the key is the first half,” Casey said. “Making sure we keep it at a certain level in the first half, that’s what I’ve done with most high minutes players or high usage players in the past.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Casey inserted rookie second-round pick Bruce Brown Jr. into the lineup against Washington on Wednesday. He would like to get his other rookie wing player, Khyri Thomas, some minutes as well. Thomas who was chosen four picks ahead of Brown and acquired in a draft-day deal with Philadelphia. He has made 43.2% of his 3-point attempts while averaging 19.9 points in seven games with the G League’s Grand Rapids Drive. “It’s up to me to get some growth out of these young guys,” Casey said.
  • Pacers guard Tyreke Evans received PRP injections for his sore right knee and he feels much better, as he told J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star and other media members. Evans had 19 points and five assists in 19 minutes against Atlanta on Wednesday after sitting out the previous two games. That was his highest point since he supplied 23 points against Miami in mid-November. Evans will be a free agent again after signing a one-year, $12MM deal with Indiana over the summer.
  • Derrick Rose could return to the Bulls in free agency, as he hinted to the media this week in comments relayed by Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. Rose has enjoyed a bounce-back season with the Timberwolves and will be an unrestricted FA after the season. “This is home for me. I’ll never leave Chicago,” Rose said. “I still have a place here, I’m always going to have a place here. … You never know in the future, you never know.” A Rose reunion would speed up the tempo of the Bulls’ offense and boost their perimeter shooting, Strotman notes.

Northwest Notes: Rose, Nader, Schroder, Jazz

If Derrick Rose continues at his current pace, he could become just the second player ever to win Sixth Man of the Year after winning the Most Valuable Player award earlier in their career. As he prepares to return to Chicago to play the Bulls, the team with which he experienced his greatest successes, he deserves praise for his renaissance season, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes.

Injuries derailed Rose’s once seemingly surefire Hall 0f Fame career, but he has rebounded to be an impactful player of the Timberwolves‘ bench. Rose is averaging 18.5 PPG and 4.6 APG in 29.2 minutes per contest in 2018/19. Not only that, his field goal percentage (48.5%) is at its highest mark since his sophomore season and his three-point shooting (46.9%) is over 12% better than at any other point.

“The way he’s getting ready for the game as far as working out, monitoring his body, taking care of himself, he’s a totally different person,” Rose’s longtime teammate Taj Gibson said. “Every game, it’s like he’s in a new form. He’s born again. And it shows.”

Check out more Northwest Division notes:

Northwest Notes: Roberson, Teague, Adams

While the Thunder have gotten off to a strong start, they would surely love to have Andre Roberson back in the lineup. Roberson has had several setbacks in his recovery from the ruptured left patellar tendon he suffered nearly a year ago. However, as Erik Horne reveals for The Oklahoman, Roberson has stayed active during his recovery and has led some defensive film sessions with the team’s young wing players.

Most notably, Terrance Ferguson has benefited the most from these film sessions, as he has stepped up to a bigger role in the starting lineup as a result of his much-improved defense. Led by quality defenders such as Paul George and Steven Adams, the Thunder have length and versatility throughout their number-one ranked defense.

The Thunder have been below average offensively this season, which highlights how much of their success is derived by their defense. And even when Roberson can’t play, he is still making his mark on the defense.

There’s more from the Northwest division:

  • Erik Horne also details Steven Adams‘ case for being an All-Star this season, highlighted by the advanced metrics that paint the picture of Adams being one of the best centers in the league. However, as Horne also points out, Adams isn’t focused on being an All-Star.
  • Unfortunately for the Timberwolves, they will continue to be without starting point guard Jeff Teague for another 7-10 days, according to Alan Horton (via Twitter), the radio voice of the Wolves. The Timberwolves have struggled in recent games as they continue to adjust to life without Jimmy Butler.
  • Speaking of the Timberwolves, Chris Hine of The Star Tribune writes that Derrick Rose has struggled with an ankle injury and could miss some time, which would leave the Wolves short at point guard as they look to bounce back from recent losses.

Western Notes: Korver, Nowitzki, Rockets, Rose

Shooting guard Kyle Korver knew the Cavaliers’ front office might deal him early in the season and he listed the Jazz as one of his preferred destinations, Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News reports. Korver was traded for Alec Burks and two future second-round picks. “It feels like a good fit,” Korver told Woodyard. Korver is in his second stint with Utah, having played there from 2007-10. He has averaged 8.5 PPG in 19.5 MPG in his first two games since the deal.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Dirk Nowitzki participated in a 3-on-3 scrimmage at the end of practice on Monday as he nears his return to action, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News reports. The longtime Mavericks power forward has not played this season due to a left ankle injury. Dallas is hopeful he can make his season debut sometime this month. “He’s got to keep working on strength, playing simulation games with some of our guys,” coach Rick Carlisle told Sefko. “Sprinting, moving and all that. It’s never going to be the same as running out there with real NBA players. But you got to do what you can do.”
  • Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni believes improved health will lead to better defense, as he told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The Rockets currently rank 26th in that department. Nene and Chris (Paul) coming back, first of all, that’s two of the better defenders in the league, so that helps,” D’Antoni said. “That’s going to take minutes off Clint (Capela) and P.J. (Tucker). So they’ll be better defensively because they won’t be as tired. … We know we need to be in the top 10 to be a real contender.”
  • D’Antoni has high praise for the Timberwolves’ Derrick Rose, who has reinvented himself as a shooting guard, Feigen writes in a separate story. Rose is averaging 19.3 PPG despite starting just five of 21 games. “Accepting new roles is tough. Some guys can do it. Some guys just can’t do it,” D’Antoni said. “They can try to shoot threes all they want. When they can do it, for the team, obviously, it’s beneficial. The league has changed. If you want to be effective, you have to change sometimes.”

Northwest Notes: Thomas, Plumlee, Rose, Wolves

Isaiah Thomas hasn’t played since signing with the Nuggets over the summer, but he is having a huge impact on the team, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Thomas has become a mentor to younger players and a vocal leader on an otherwise quiet team.

“To have his voice in our locker room, to help some of these younger guys out, it takes a lot of load off myself,” said Paul Millsap, the only other player on Denver’s roster older than 30.

Thomas expects to return soon from a lingering hip injury and hopes to re-establish himself after a nightmarish 2017/18 season that began with a trade out of Boston, where had become a fan favorite and an MVP candidate. He missed his first two months in Cleveland, then took the blame for the team’s defensive and chemistry problems when he did start playing. The Cavaliers shipped him to the Lakers, who elected not to re-sign him when the season ended.

“For my wife and my family, it’s definitely been difficult,” Thomas said. “At the end of the day, I’m human. I’ve been three places in less than one year, so it’s like, I’m tired of moving.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Mason Plumlee‘s teammate’s consider him the NBA’s “most underrated player,” Singer relays in a separate story. Although his stats aren’t impressive, Plumlee leads the Nuggets in field goal percentage, takes the toughest assignments on defense and is an important part of a bench unit that is tied for the second-highest plus-minus rating in the league. Coach Michael Malone believes Plumlee should be considered as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, even though the award usually goes to big scorers.
  • Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose also wants to be considered for the Sixth Man award, according to Chris Pine of The Star Tribune. The former MVP has settled into a reserve role since coming to Minnesota and is averaging 19.3 points per game while shooting a career high .494 from 3-point territory. “I would like winning Sixth Man of the Year,” Rose said. “I don’t think that’s anything bad to say or a bad goal with me coming off the bench. I want to be the best bench player.”
  • Adding Robert Covington and Dario Saric in the Jimmy Butler trade has turned the Timberwolves into a much better rebounding team, Pine notes in the same story. Since the deal, Minnesota has upped its defensive rebounding percentage from 67% to 73%.

Western Notes: Popovich, Rose, Jazz, Harrison

Gregg Popovich was asked Saturday about the importance of Patty Mills‘ leadership following the departures of Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili, with the longtime Spurs coach delivering a straightforward answer on the matter.

“Kawhi was a great player, but he wasn’t a leader or anything,” Popovich said, according to ESPN’s Michael C. Wright. “Manu and Patty were the leaders. Kawhi’s talent will always be missed, but that leadership wasn’t his deal at that time. That may come as he progresses, but Manu and Patty filled that role last year, and LaMarcus [Aldridge] came a long way in that regard also.”

The Spurs traded Leonard and Danny Green to the Raptors in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round pick this summer, ending a seven-year run for Leonard with the team. Leonard grew as a player and teammate in San Antonio, receiving two All-Star selections and a Finals MVP.

Popovich called him a “great teammate” this past offseason and appreciated his contributions, but it’s no secret who the leaders on the team were during their time together.

There’s more out of the Western Conference today:

  • Derrick Rose is happy with the Timberwolves‘ play since Jimmy Butler was traded, as relayed by the Chicago Sun-Times. “I think the ball movement, everyone being on the same page, and the new pieces that we have, like they’re for the team,” Rose said. “They’re professional, great dudes, and that’s what we needed.’’ Minnesota traded Butler and Justin Patton for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick in early November.
  • Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News examines what’s wrong with the Jazz, who have started the 2018/19 season with an 8-11 record. Utah was one of the NBA’s most surprising teams last season, finishing the campaign with a 48-34 record.
  • Shaquille Harrison holds no hard feelings toward the Suns after being cut by the team before the season, Gina Mizell of The Athletic writes. “I’ve always taken that with me,” Harrison said. “You just never know what’s gonna happen, how things are gonna shake out. I just looked at it as an opportunity for me. It ended up working out for me. I looked at things as everything happens for a reason, so it was purposeful.” Harrison, now with the Bulls, played 18 minutes against Phoenix on Wednesday.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Northwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Northwest Division:

Isaiah Thomas, Nuggets, 29, PG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2018
Thomas hoped to revive his career as a high-scoring sixth man for one of the league’s up-and-coming teams. Instead, Thomas has yet to make his Denver debut. Thomas continues to struggle with hip issues and there’s no timetable for his return. Just a couple of years removed from being a candidate for the league’s Most Valuable Player award, Thomas has a cloudy future. It’s more likely he’ll be forced into early retirement than ever approaching his former level of excellence and that would be a shame.

Derrick Rose, Timberwolves, 30, PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.39MM deal in 2018
Seriously, did anyone think Rose would have another 25-point outing in his career, let alone twice as many points? Rose’s 50-point explosion against Utah on Halloween was a shocker and he’s remained a steady offensive threat since that blast from the past. He’s averaging 22.0 PPG and 4.0 APG over his last eight games. Once thought to be on the verge of retirement, Rose clearly still has a lot left in the tank. He’ll be getting a substantial raise in the open market if he keeps this up.

Abdel Nader, Thunder, 25, SF (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $4.16MM deal in 2017
The Celtics were about to cut Nader loose this summer until the Thunder came calling with a trade offer. The 2016 second-round pick has a non-guaranteed contract and he hasn’t done anything to convince Oklahoma City to keep him around after this season. Nader hasn’t been able to break into the wing rotation, playing a total of just 15 minutes. Nader will probably be looking for another fresh start in July.

Seth Curry, Trail Blazers, 28, PG (Down) — Signed to a one-year, $2.795MM deal in 2018
Curry left Dallas with the hope of reestablishing his value after missing all of last season with stress fracture in his lower left leg. It hasn’t started off the way Curry envisioned. He wasn’t effective in a backup role (6.09 PER) before missing the last four games with a knee injury. There’s still hope for Curry to turn things around and fill the role that Shabazz Napier played last season. The way it’s going now, he’ll be scrounging for another one-year deal next summer.

Ricky Rubio, Jazz, 28, PG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $55MM deal in 2015
The Jazz have been one of the league’s most disappointing teams during the first quarter of the season. The team’s starting point guard is partly to blame. Rubio, who is making nearly $15MM in his walk year, is shooting 37.3% from the field and over the last six games he’s averaging four assists while making 2.5 turnovers per game. Rubio needed to adjust his game when the team drafted dynamic creator Donovan Mitchell and right now, their backcourt pairing still seems a bit awkward. It’ll interesting to see if the Jazz look to move Rubio before the trade deadline to shake things up.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wolves Notes: Butler, Towns, Wiggins, Rose

The Clippers, who hosted the Timberwolves on Monday, were reportedly on Jimmy Butler‘s list of preferred destinations when he requested a trade in September, and the Lakers, who will face Minnesota tonight, have also been identified as a potential suitor for the 2019 free-agent-to-be. However, Butler was in no mood to answer questions about a possible future in Los Angeles this week, as Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com relays.

“No, I’m in Minnesota for the time being,” Butler said after Monday’s loss. “I’ll enjoy the sunshine for a couple days, and then if we go back there, we go back there.”

Butler also turned away inquiries on whether or not he’d even play in the game against the Lakers on Wednesday. The All-NBA swingman has only appeared in two of the Wolves’ last four contests, missing games against Utah and Portland due to what the team referred to as “general soreness” and “precautionary rest.” He’s listed as questionable for tonight.

Here’s more on Minnesota:

  • With Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau under fire for his handling of the Butler situation, Michael Rand of The Star Tribune revisits all of Thibodeau’s major personnel moves during his time in Minnesota, assigning each a grade. Karl-Anthony Towns‘ rookie scale extension received the highest marks of any transaction Thibodeau has overseen.
  • Speaking of Towns, Chris Herring of ESPN.com explored whether he and Andrew Wiggins are strong enough franchise cornerstones to make the Wolves a legit contender in the West once Butler departs.
  • Although he has started two of his last three outings for the Wolves, including last Wednesday’s 50-point game, Derrick Rose recently suggested that he’s aiming to win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award this season, as Nick Fridell of ESPN.com writes. Rose, who has come off the bench in eight of his 10 games, is averaging 17.4 PPG, 4.6 APG, and 3.5 RPG.