Jaden McDaniels

Wolves Notes: Simmons, McDaniels, Coaching Hire, Offseason

The Timberwolves sitting idly by as three power forwards to whom they’d previously been linked switched teams, all while the club has a conspicuous question mark at the four spot, could be a byproduct of their continued pursuit of disgruntled Sixers point guard Ben Simmons, writes The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski.

The Wolves’ interest in the 25-year-old is one of the league’s worst-kept secrets, and Krawczynski writes that even though it’s possible the Wolves don’t have the assets required to land Simmons, the chance at landing him, however small, could potentially have outweighed the appeal of making a more marginal upgrade.

Krawczynski adds that he’s told by those around the league that if there’s any decision-maker who would ignore the optics and noise and keep pushing until he gets the deal he wants, it’s Daryl Morey. That said, the sense Krawczynski gets is that, given the improbability of Damian Lillard demanding a trade before the season, teams are content to wait and let the Sixers situation get worse, knowing eventually Morey will have to make a decision.

We have more news from the Wolves:

  • There are still questions as to whether rookie standout Jaden McDaniels is better suited to playing small forward or power forward, Krawczynski writes in the same piece. McDaniels’ defense was a major high point for the Wolves last season, but at 6’9″ and 185 pounds, he gives up a lot of size and doesn’t solve the team’s rebounding issues. Part of his role going forward will be determined by whether the team takes an offense-first or defense-first approach to the starting lineup, Krawczynski says.
  • The Wolves issued a press release today announcing some new hires. Among the names: Assistant Coach Elston Turner. According to Darren Wolfson of SKOR North, Turner had previously interviewed for the team’s head coach job and comes with a reputation as a defensive-minded coach.
  • The Timberwolves didn’t get better this summer, writes Zach Harper in his Offseason Review for The Athletic, which is why he gives them a D+ grade for their moves, or lack thereof. Harper adds that their avenues to success involve monster defensive performances from their role players (McDaniels, Patrick Beverley, RFA Jarred Vanderbilt) and the hope that the team’s record of 13-11 with D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns playing together is the real deal.

Trade Rumors: Reddish, Pacers, Knicks, McDaniels, Kemba, Bulls

The Hawks and Pacers have had exploratory talks about a deal that would send Cam Reddish and the No. 20 pick to Indiana in exchange for the No. 13 selection, writes Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer had previously reported that the Hawks and Pacers had discussed the No. 13 pick, and reported separately that Atlanta had offered Reddish and the No. 20 pick to teams in the late lottery, so it was safe to assume Reddish was on the table in those talks with Indiana. Scotto confirms as much, though it remains to be seen if the two sides will work out an agreement.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the league as the start of the 2021 NBA draft nears:

  • Scotto and Marc Berman of The New York Post each confirmed that the Knicks have talked to the Magic about a possible Terrence Ross trade, as was reported earlier. Berman hears that the Knicks are offering draft assets and that Orlando has made Ross available for the better part of a year.
  • According to Scotto, the Knicks have asked the Magic about the No. 8 pick, but didn’t gain any real traction. They’ve also talked to the Spurs about No. 12, per Scotto, who says the sense around the league is that New York is eyeing Chris Duarte.
  • Multiple lottery teams have expressed interest in trading for Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels, according to Scotto. However, Minnesota remains reluctant to move McDaniels, whom the team views as part of its core going forward.
  • The Thunder are exploring possible trades for Kemba Walker, tweets Chris Mannix of SI.com. This had been expected, as Oklahoma City has made a habit in the last couple years of taking on unwanted contracts and then trying to flip them for positive value.
  • The Bulls are eyeing draft prospects Miles McBride and Nah’Shon Hyland and may be looking to trade into the back half of the first round, tweets Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago currently only has the No. 38 pick in the 2021 draft.

Timberwolves Notes: Vanterpool, Gates, Edwards, Towns, McDaniels

Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool as well as assistant Bryan Gates won’t return to Chris Finch’s staff next season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. Vanterpool and Gates were holdovers from Ryan Saunders‘ staff. Numerous players around the league openly questioned Minnesota’s decision to hire Finch away from the Raptors’ staff, instead of promoting minority candidate Vanterpool when Saunders was let go.

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • Anthony Edwards could be “scary” good after a strong rookie season, president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said this week, per Dave Campbell of The Associated Press. “He doesn’t know how good he is and, scary enough for us, we don’t know how good he is,” Rosas said. “You’re talking about a 19-year-old who’s late to the sport. It’s not always pretty, not always efficient, but the signs of greatness are there.”
  • Edwards expects the team to participate in the postseason next year, Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. “I’m ready to go to the playoffs,” he said. “I know this is my first year, but I just see how happy teams [are], knowing they’re going to play more basketball. So I want that feeling next year.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns wants to make a point that he’s not concerned about sharing the spotlight with Edwards, according to Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. “He’s showed exactly why he’s the No. 1 pick and why he’s the Rookie of the Year,” Towns said. “So we’ve got to put our egos to the side at all times. We cannot let that get between us. We cannot let that be a story of amazing talents coming together and not making it work.”
  • The Wolves’ front office made a prudent choice with Jaden McDaniels at the No. 28 overall pick, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic notes. McDaniels started regularly in the final 27 games of the season and showed great promise as a 3-and-D wing. Having productive players on low-cost contracts is necessary to keep the team’s core intact while still avoiding the luxury tax, Krawczynski adds.

And-Ones: Referees, Play-In Tourney, Iverson Classic

While the NBA and its players’ union have provided weekly updates on the number of positive COVID-19 tests among players, we haven’t heard much about how the league’s referees – who travel commercially – have been affected by the coronavirus this season. Baxter Holmes of ESPN fills in some blanks, reporting that 10 of the NBA’s referees are currently sidelined, primarily due to COVID-related issues, and adding that 24 refs have missed at least one game this season due to the league’s health and safety protocols.

A league spokesperson tells Holmes that most of the current absences are related to contact tracing and that the NBA expects all 10 affected referees to be available for the start of the postseason next month.

In the interim, however, the league has had to “call up” six referees from the G League. According to Holmes, a number of teams and executives around the NBA have complained about the performance of those refs, prompting NBA VP of referee development and training Monty McCutchen to defend their performances.

“These were our top six G League officials who would have been getting some NBA games anyway this year. They had to be pressed into some more service, but they are knocking on the door to being staff members,” McCutchen told ESPN. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, let’s just call any random G League (official) because they live in Portland and we’ll pull them up that night.’ They had already reached levels of excellence that meant they were ready for this.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • NBA executives believe that flattening the lottery odds and introducing the play-in tournament has helped reduce league-wide tanking among non-playoff teams, according to Howard Beck of SI.com, who says that league sources think the play-in tournament will be adopted on a permanent basis beyond this season.
  • The Iverson Classic All-American Game, which will take place on May 8 in Memphis, has received NBA approval as a certified event, meaning team scouts can attend and evaluate prospects, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). Top 2022 prospects such as Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren headline the list of participants.
  • A little over five months after the 2020 draft took place, Sam Vecenie, John Hollinger, of James L. Edwards III of The Athletic completed a re-draft of the ’20 class. Among the big risers in The Athletic’s re-draft are LaMelo Ball (No. 3 to No. 1), Tyrese Haliburton (No. 12 to No. 5), Isaiah Stewart (No. 16 to No. 7), Aleksej Pokusevski (No. 17 to No. 7), and Jaden McDaniels (No. 28 to No. 10).

Northwest Notes: McDaniels, Thunder, Jazz, Pokusevski

Rookie Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels, the No. 28 pick in the 2020 draft, has earned the trust of head coach Chris Finch and his teammates to tackle Minnesota’s top defensive assignments, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.

“At times I’ll say that people just aren’t knowing how long my arms really are,” McDaniels said of his defensive attributes for the Timberwolves. “The first time we played Houston, at the end of the game I had blocked Ben McLemore. I’m cool with him and he was like, … ‘I didn’t think your arms was that long.’ Just hearing little things like that is kind of uplifting.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Many Thunder players and staffers received their first COVID-19 vaccines yesterday, now that everyone aged 16 and up is eligible in the state of Oklahoma, according to Royce Young of ESPN.
  • The Jazz faced a recent scare in transit. One of the engines blew on the team’s plane during a recent road trip, forcing the team to return to Salt Lake City, per Mark Medina of USA Today (Twitter link). Head coach Quin Snyder called the experience “traumatic and eerie.” He added, “The pilots, you have their appreciation for their expertise and training to keep us safe.” All-Star point guard Mike Conley elaborated, per Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). “Sounded like there was an explosion,” Conley said. “It felt like the plane was breaking apart in midair.” Reserve guard Jordan Clarkson added, “A lot of us came to a point where it was like, ‘This might be over for us,'” tweets Mark Medina of USA Today.
  • Thunder rookie power forward Aleksej Pokusevski has entered the league’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, tweets Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman.

Wolves Notes: Trade Deadline, Gordon, McDaniels, Collins, Power Forward

The Timberwolves allowed the trade deadline to pass without making a move, opting not to make a trade just for the sake of doing so, president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said.

Minnesota was most heavily linked to forward Aaron Gordon, who was moved from Orlando to Denver on deadline day. The team has struggled with injuries and currently holds the league’s worst record at 10-34.

“You don’t make a trade for the sake of making a trade,” Rosas explained, as relayed by Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. “We haven’t seen this group together enough starting with our best two players and everybody else. That played a big part in it. We want to see what we have in order to make the best-educated decisions we can make.”

As a whole, an astounding 23 teams were involved in trades on deadline day this year, though Minnesota naturally wasn’t one of them.

Here are some other notes from Minnesota today:

  • A significant hurdle in the Wolves’ talks to acquire Gordon was the availability of rookie Jaden McDaniels, Hine writes. Minnesota and Orlando held discussions for multiple weeks, but Orlando reportedly wanted McDaniels in a potential agreement. Rosas and his team ultimately balked at the idea of parting ways with the 20-year-old.
  • Don’t expect the Wolves to stop monitoring Hawks big man John Collins in the coming months, Hine contends. Collins will be a restricted free agent this summer and received interest from Minnesota until the deadline passed. The 23-year-old has averaged 18.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 30.6 minutes per game this season.
  • The power forward position remains an area of concern for the franchise, Hine relays. What remains to be seen, however, is whether the solution will come internally or externally. “The one thing we don’t want to do is plug a long-term hole with a short-term solution that’s not going to be there when we need it,” Rosas said. “So we’ll continue investing in and developing our young players to see if the answer is there. Jaden gives us a lot of excitement and a lot of optionality there, but it’s a need.”
  • A source tells Hine that the Timberwolves could have made trades involving Ed Davis and Ricky Rubio, but opted against it.

Magic Trade Aaron Gordon To Nuggets

11:22pm: The deal is official, according to a Magic press release (via Twitter).


3:05pm: The 2025 first-round pick headed to Orlando in the trade will be top-five protected, tweets Zach Lowe of ESPN. That protection will remain the same in 2026 and 2027 if it doesn’t convey immediately.


11:24am: The Nuggets and Magic have reached an agreement on a trade that will send forward Aaron Gordon to Denver, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links) also hears that the two sides are in agreement, reporting that Denver will send Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton, and a protected 2025 first-round pick to Orlando in the deal. The Nuggets will also acquire Gary Clark in the trade, tweets Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Gordon, who has been one of the most frequently discussed trade candidates this month, was said at the start of the week to be drawing serious interest from the Rockets. The Celtics overtook Houston as the frontrunner to acquire the 25-year-old on Tuesday, with the Nuggets reportedly emerging as the favorite as of Wednesday night.

It’s the second trade agreement of the day for the Nuggets, who also struck a deal with Cleveland to acquire JaVale McGee. The moves will shore up a Denver frontcourt that was hit hard last offseason by the free agent departures of Mason Plumlee, Jerami Grant, and Torrey Craig.

While McGee will take over as Nikola Jokic‘s backup at the five, Gordon can play either forward position, and should help provide the club with some of the defensive versatility that was lost when Grant and Craig left. It’s a safe bet that Gordon will be tasked with guarding bigger forwards like LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard during the postseason.

As for the Magic, the Gordon trade is the latest in a series of deals that signal the organization’s intention to reset its roster and retool around Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac. Orlando has also agreed to send Nikola Vucevic to Chicago and Evan Fournier to Boston.

According to earlier reports, the Celtics were offering Aaron Nesmith and a first-round pick as part of a package for Gordon. During conversations with the Timberwolves, the Magic wanted rookie Jaden McDaniels, but Minnesota was reluctant to part with him, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Instead, the Magic will get a package headlined by a future first-round pick and Hampton, who was selected with the 24th overall pick in the 2020 draft. The 20-year-old has logged mostly garbage-time minutes in his 25 NBA games so far, but is viewed as having considerable potential.

Orlando also gets Harris, who has been productive in the past but has an oversized contract, including a $19.6MM salary this season and a $20.9MM cap hit for 2021/22. He was included in the deal for salary-matching purposes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wolves Rumors: Russell, Beasley, McDaniels, Gordon, Powell

As the Timberwolves approach the trade deadline, they have no intention of entertaining trade offers for big man Karl-Anthony Towns, shooting guard Anthony Edwards, or point guard D’Angelo Russell, sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

As Krawczynski explains, the Wolves view those three players as cornerstone pieces and are eager to see how they look together under new head coach Chris Finch once Russell returns to action.

Russell, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to remove a loose body in February, has started to work out with the club and could begin participating in team activities this weekend or early next week, per Finch (via Krawczynski). D-Lo’s exact return date will hinge on how knee responds following last month’s procedure.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Minnesota has been receiving a number of calls about Malik Beasley and Jaden McDaniels, sources tell Krawczynski. However, the club is reluctant to part with either player. The Wolves believe McDaniels has the potential to develop into a versatile, shot-blocking power forward who would be an ideal complement for Towns.
  • Krawczynski confirms a previous Bleacher Report story that indicated the Wolves and Magic were making progress on a potential Aaron Gordon trade prior to the forward’s ankle injury earlier this season. By the time Gordon returned from that injury, Minnesota had fallen well out of the postseason, and the 25-year-old is hoping to be sent to a playoff team. That doesn’t mean the Wolves couldn’t still acquire him, but they may not be confident about their ability to sign him beyond his current contract.
  • During his televised Trade Deadline special with Adrian Wojnarowski this afternoon, ESPN’s Zach Lowe suggested the Magic would “love to get their hands on” McDaniels in any Gordon trade with the Wolves.
  • The Timberwolves have previously inquired about trading for Raptors swingman Norman Powell, but were unable to agree on compensation, says Krawczynski.

Northwest Notes: Millsap, Nuggets, Thunder, Blazers, Wolves

After being sidelined for 10 games by a left knee sprain, Nuggets big man Paul Millsap came off the bench in his first game back, but was reinserted into the starting lineup on Saturday when Monte Morris and Gary Harris were unavailable.

According to Nuggets head coach Michael Malone, Millsap approached him after that Saturday loss and reiterated that he’d be happy to continue coming off the bench or to accept another role to avoid impending the chemistry the new starting group had established (Twitter link via Mike Singer of The Denver Post). Millsap has started both of Denver’s games since then – both wins – but could return to the bench once Morris and Harris return.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

Northwest Notes: Muscala, MPJ, Lillard, Blazers, Wolves

Veteran forward/center Mike Muscala has been a regular, reliable rotation player for the Thunder so far this season, averaging a career-high 9.7 points per game to go along with 3.8 RPG and a .368 3PT% in 34 games (18.6 MPG). However, he received a DNP-CD in the team’s first game of the second half, with youngsters Aleksej Pokusevski and Moses Brown inserted into the rotation following their time in the G League.

“It took Mike out of the rotation, but Mike’s a pro and he’ll stay ready,” Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said. “Those conversations with Mike are easy, and he makes it easy because of how professional he is.”

It was just one game, but both Pokusevski (14 points, eight rebounds) and Brown (eight points, 12 rebounds) looked good, and there’s no reason to expect the rebuilding Thunder to dial back their young players’ minutes the rest of the way. A playoff team may have more use for a low-cost bench player like Muscala, so he’ll be worth keeping an eye on as the March 25 trade deadline nears.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. will be eligible for a rookie scale extension during the 2021 offseason, and ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Insider link) says he’d be shocked if Porter’s representatives don’t open negotiations with a “max or nothing” stance. That looming payday is one reason why Denver may be wary of taking on much long-term salary in trades, Lowe notes.
  • Despite Damian Lillard‘s repeated insistence that he wants to spend the rest of his career in Portland – and the contract extensions he has signed to back up that stance – it sometimes seems as if everyone wants him to seek a title elsewhere, according to Chris Mannix of SI.com, who explores why that’s the case and what a title with the Trail Blazers would mean for Lillard and the franchise.
  • In his list of players returning from injuries who could impact the playoff race, Matt Eppers of USA Today has Trail Blazers teammates CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic sharing the top spot. Neither play was active on Thursday, but they’re both believed to be close to returning.
  • After a dismal first half, the Timberwolves got off to a promising start in the second half, with young building blocks Jaden McDaniels and Jaylen Nowell playing key roles in head coach Chris Finch’s first win on Thursday, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.