Jaden McDaniels

Wolves Notes: Finch, K. Anderson, McDaniels, Nowell

After a competitive playoff performance and a major offseason trade that brought in Rudy Gobert, the Timberwolves appear to be legitimate contenders in the Western Conference. Minnesota won 46 games and reached the postseason for the first time in four years, but coach Chris Finch plans to emphasize to his team that the next step won’t come easily, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

“I’m thinking a lot about the tone I want to set when we start,” Finch said. “We’re not going to be good because we expect to be good. We’re not going to be good because we had a good season last year. We’re going to be good because of the foundation that we lay from Day 1 and continue to build on that.”

Minnesota sent five players and a hefty package of draft assets to Utah to acquire Gobert, but the front office views him as a difference maker and doesn’t believe it overpaid, Krawczynski adds. Now it’s up to Finch and the rest of the coaching staff to figure out the best way to use Gobert alongside fellow big man Karl-Anthony Towns.

“I’m trying not to overthink that right now,” Finch said. “I don’t want to solve a problem before we have a problem. But we have to have some ideas ready to go.”

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • The addition of Kyle Anderson in free agency was an underrated offseason move, Krawczynski adds in a mailbag column. The 28-year-old forward doesn’t put up flashy stat lines, but he’s a versatile defender who can make up for the losses of Patrick Beverley and Jarred Vanderbilt and he can handle the ball and help run the offense. He also brings playoff experience, appearing in nine series during his time with the Spurs and Grizzlies.
  • Jaden McDaniels has a chance to become a starter this season, and team officials are very happy with what they’ve seen from him during the summer, Krawczynski states in the same piece. McDaniels has been training at the team facility along with Naz Reid, Nathan Knight and several other players. He’s been focused on becoming stronger and quicker and has been working with player development coach Joe Boylan to improve as a transition scorer.
  • With Beverley and Malik Beasley shipped out in the Gobert trade, Jaylen Nowell will likely be the first guard off the Wolves’ bench, Krawczynski adds. The team talked to Nowell about an extension after the end of last season, according to Krawczynski, but didn’t offer enough for him to commit without knowing whether he would have a role in the rotation.

Wolves’ Glen Taylor Talks Gobert, McDaniels, Russell, Towns

Appearing on The Scoop podcast with Darren Wolfson of SKOR North and 5 Eyewitness News, Timberwolves majority owner Glen Taylor admitted he was somewhat surprised by the team’s acquisition of star center Rudy Gobert, since it “happened fairly fast.”

According to Taylor, new Wolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly had his eye on multiple impact trade targets, but Gobert was his “number one option.” The input of head coach Chris Finch, who expressed confidence in his ability to use Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, was also a key factor in Minnesota’s decision to pull the trigger on the blockbuster deal.

“What I did when Tim and Chris talked to me about this trade is to ask (Finch) is there a system that he knows how to utilize these players,” Taylor said. “And he was very confident that he did understand how to utilize their skill sets, being two big guys. We talked about a lot, so he convinced me that this is something that is going to take us to a winning situation, and gave us the go-ahead to make the trade.”

Taylor confirmed that the Jazz pushed for Jaden McDaniels to be part of the trade package for Gobert, which “prolonged the trade talks for a while,” but the Wolves were eventually able to meet Utah’s asking price without including the young forward.

Here’s more from Taylor on the Wolves:

  • Asked if he’d like to see D’Angelo Russell sign an extension before the season begins, Taylor said it might benefit both sides to hold off and see how the 2022/23 season goes. “(Finch) believes that with the new lineup, and with Russell in that lineup, that he’ll have a much better year just because of the way we’re going to play,” Taylor said. “He says he thinks there’s a big upside for Russell with this group of (players). That’s to his advantage and to our advantage if it works out.”
  • The decision to give Towns a super-max extension this offseason was an easy one, Taylor said: “It was a non-issue. That’s what we set it up for, the elite players, and Karl has proved he’s one of those players.”
  • Taylor said that he doesn’t expect the Timberwolves to make any more significant roster moves this offseason, though he didn’t rule out the possibility that Connelly could surprise him. “I just know Tim keeps his ears and eyes open all the time, looking (to see) if there’s something else that might happen,” Taylor said. “He’s very proactive if he sees an opportunity that could enhance our team. I think we’re set, but always knowing that he’ll be looking for an opportunity.”
  • The plan remains for Taylor to hand over control of the franchise to incoming owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez in a little over a year. The Wolves’ longtime owner said he’s not having any regrets about giving up control of the team as it becomes a more legitimate contender. “No, I don’t have any second thoughts. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Taylor said. “We’ve left some options open that I’ll continue to be involved if I want to be involved, and that suits me just fine.”

Jazz Rumors: Mitchell, Gobert Trade, McDaniels, Backcourt

In the latest episode of his Hoop Collective podcast (video link), ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said people around the league still believe Donovan Mitchell will be traded, despite reports that the Jazz plan to retool around the All-Star guard following the Rudy Gobert blockbuster. His ESPN colleague Tim MacMahon agrees.

“I don’t think he’s on the roster when the season starts,” MacMahon said. “Maybe he is. I’d be shocked if he’s on the roster after the trade deadline.”

Tony Jones of The Athletic, who – along with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski – reported following the Gobert trade agreement that the Jazz don’t intend to move Mitchell, reiterated on Friday night that the team is “not amenable” to trading the former Louisville star. The plan is for Mitchell to be with the team for the start of the 2022/23 season, Jones says.

However, Jones added a caveat: If Utah receives an offer that’s similar in scale to the Gobert package, “it will be hard not listen.” Jones also notes that the Jazz will need to ensure they have Mitchell’s buy-in before committing to building the roster around him.

Mitchell and Gobert never seemed to be on the best of terms, so Mitchell may not view the Gobert trade unfavorably, especially if the front office is committed to flipping some of the assets from that package for win-now help.

Still, the team just hired a first-time head coach (Will Hardy) on a five-year contract and may be moving on from three of Mitchell’s best friends on the roster (Royce O’Neale was traded to Brooklyn, while Eric Paschall and Trent Forrest became unrestricted free agents after not receiving qualifying offers). So there will have to be conversations between the Jazz and the 25-year-old guard, Jones writes.

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • In initial negotiations between the Jazz and Timberwolves for Gobert, Utah was insisting on the inclusion of forward Jaden McDaniels, but Minnesota refused, according to Jones. That’s one reason why the package of draft picks (three unprotected first-rounders, a top-five protected first-rounder, and a swap) was so substantial — the Wolves preferred to give up extra draft assets rather than surrender McDaniels.
  • The Jazz’s front office viewed Gobert’s super-max contract as a “hindrance,” sources tell Jones. The big man is owed a guaranteed $123MM over the next three seasons and has a $46.7MM player option for 2025/26, so moving that contract creates significant cap flexibility for Utah going forward.
  • The Jazz are “not even close” to finished with their offseason, according to Jones, who says a logjam in the backcourt will need to be cleared. In addition to Mitchell, Utah still has guards Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker , Jared Butler, and Leandro Bolmaro.
  • Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune breaks down the return the Jazz got for Gobert, making a case that all 10 pieces headed to Utah can be viewed as assets (as opposed to filler).

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.

Injury Updates: LeBron, LaVine, Murray, Powell, Knicks, More

Facing a must-win game in Phoenix on Tuesday and looking to keep their play-in hopes alive, the Lakers will once again be without star forward LeBron James, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. James, who continues to deal with a left ankle sprain, has been ruled out for a second consecutive game and will now have missed three of the last four.

If the Lakers lose to the Suns and the Spurs win in Denver, L.A. would be officially eliminated from play-in contention by the end of the night.

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

  • Bulls guard Zach LaVine (knee) will likely miss Tuesday’s game vs. Milwaukee, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). LaVine’s left knee has been an issue for much of the season, though he has been able to play through the discomfort for the most part — this would only be the second game he has missed since the All-Star break.
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (ACL) has “really ramped up” his activity in the last week, Wojnarowski said on NBA Countdown on Sunday (video link). While Wojnarowski describes Murray as “aggressive” in his efforts to get back on the court, he cautions that the guard is still experiencing some soreness at times in his surgically-repaired left knee.
  • Norman Powell (foot) will be a full participant in Tuesday’s practice for the Clippers, according to head coach Tyronn Lue, who noted that the team isn’t playing five-on-five today. Lue is hopeful that Powell will be able to return within the next several days, tweets Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California News Group.
  • Asked today about whether Julius Randle (quad) or Derrick Rose (ankle) will play again this season, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau responded, “I don’t see it happening” (Twitter link via Fred Katz of The Athletic).
  • Mavericks guards Sterling Brown and Trey Burke are out of the COVID-19 protocols and will be available on Wednesday vs. Detroit, per head coach Jason Kidd (Twitter link via Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News).
  • Out since March 14 due to a high ankle sprain, Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels has been upgraded to questionable for Tuesday’s game vs. Washington (Twitter link). I think he’s had a really good week, good evaluation,” head coach Chris Finch said (Twitter link via Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic). “Just not sure if he’s ready to play in the game tonight, but try to push him today in our ‘stay in shape league‘ and see how everything goes.”

Injury Notes: Allen, Mobley, McDaniels, Powell, Fox, Sabonis

Discussions about Jarrett Allen‘s potential return for the Cavaliers have gravitated toward “if” rather than “when,” according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The team has said Allen is making progress in his recovery from a broken finger and hasn’t ruled out the possibility of him returning before the regular season ends on Sunday, but his finger was still in a splint this weekend, says Vardon.

Even if Allen is able to play soon, it’s “highly unlikely” that he’ll be 100% effective, says Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). In Fedor’s view, Evan Mobley – who has missed four games with a sprained ankle and wasn’t walking with a limp after Sunday’s game – is a better bet to be fully effective, or at least close to it, when he returns.

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

  • Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels, who has been out since March 14 due to a high left ankle sprain, “looks really good” in his scrimmages, head coach Chris Finch said on Sunday (link via Chris Hine of The Star Tribune). The Wolves will formally reevaluate McDaniels on Monday. Finch expects him to be on a minutes limit when he returns, per Hine.
  • Clippers forwards Paul George and Marcus Morris hinted after Sunday’s game that Norman Powell could be close to returning from his left foot injury, according to Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California News Group, who notes that the injured swingman took part in an on-court pregame workout. “It’ll be great for Norm if he could get back out there in the next game or two, just to get a good feel back,” Morris said.
  • With the Kings officially eliminated from playoff contention, head coach Alvin Gentry acknowledged that shutting down De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis will likely be “something we’ll talk about” (Twitter link via Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee). Fox has missed Sacramento’s last eight games due to a hand injury, while Sabonis has been out for six games due to a knee issue.

Timberwolves Notes: Russell, McDaniels, Towns

Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell admits his confidence is a little shaken due to a shooting slump, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Russell is shooting just 34% overall during his last 11 games and 26% from three-point range.

“It’s just a confidence thing right now,” he said. “When you see a lot of shot you usually make miss, the confidence isn’t there. So it’s just staying high, staying high with my confidence and knowing they’re good looks and I make these and take these shots.”

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • On the same topic, coach Chris Finch believes Russell can be more effective by running more pick-and-rolls, Hine writes in a separate story“He’s aggressive in pick-and-roll,” Finch said. “I think we’ve got to get him in more pick-and-roll.”
  • Forward Jaden McDaniels, who is recovering from a high left ankle sprain, will be reevaluated in the middle of next week, Hine tweets. McDaniels has been cleared for some basketball activities. He has been out since March 14.
  • Minnesota finally has the right pieces to accentuate Karl-Anthony Towns‘ ability, Dan Devine of The Ringer opines. Devine takes a deep dive into Towns’ big season, noting that Finch has given him the green light to attack more off the dribble.

Northwest Notes: Gay, Hart, Towns, McDaniels

Rudy Gay‘s first season with the Jazz has been disappointing, but he believes there’s still time to turn it around, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Gay signed as a free agent over the summer, but offseason heel surgery kept him out of action through the first 14 games of the season. He missed four more games because of soreness in the heel and another six in February due to illness and knee pain. Although the season is winding down, Gay feels like there’s still progress to be made before the playoffs.

“I feel pretty good going into the later part of the season,” he said. “This is good. We went through a lot early. That was good for us. The thing about it is, I’m motivated. Just trying to make a long run in these playoffs. That’s what it’s really about. The real season’s coming. This is all trying to get in a rhythm so we can be our best by then.”

Coach Quin Snyder recognizes that because he’s missed so much time, Gay is still adjusting to his role on the team. Snyder has been extending Gay’s minutes lately, even in games that are out of reach.

“I feel about Rudy the way I do about our team: as he plays more, he’ll continue to be able to give us more,” Snyder said. “… Getting him out there is important to us. Rudy’s obviously someone we feel like can really impact the game for us.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Josh Hart is adapting to his new situation with a Trail Blazers team that is currently more focused on developing young players than winning games, notes Jason Quick of The Athletic. Coach Chauncey Billups said Hart is used to being a complementary player on teams with stars, rather than a primary scorer surrounded by youngsters. “I had to have some conversations with him, because Josh is a very, very competitive dude, and sometimes we’ve been in situations where we haven’t been very competitive,” Billups said. “And that’s tough, especially for a vet. So I’m challenging him right now to just control that, and help our guys. But it’s a tough deal.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns‘ 60-point outburst Monday was accompanied by a joy that was missing when he set the previous team record of 56 in 2018, observes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. After some difficult years with the Timberwolves, Towns is now the leader of a winning team that enjoys playing together. He could be headed for a spot an All-NBA team, which would make him eligible for a four-year super-max extension this offseason.
  • Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels suffered a high ankle sprain, tweets Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. Josh Okogie is expected to get extra playing time while McDaniels is sidelined (Twitter link).

Jaden McDaniels Out At Least Two Weeks With Sprained Ankle

An MRI has revealed that Timberwolves power forward Jaden McDaniels sprained his left ankle late in last night’s 149-139 victory over the Spurs, the team announced in a press statement.

Minnesota indicated that McDaniels will be shelved indefinitely as he recovers from the injury. The Timberwolves will reevaluate him in two weeks.

Across 67 contests, the 6’8″ forward has been a key role player on both sides of the floor for the upstart Timberwolves, averaging 9.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG and 1.1 APG in 26.1 MPG. McDaniels is connecting on 45.9% of his field goal looks and 80% of his charity stripe attempts.

With a 40-30 record, Minnesota currently occupies the seventh seed of the Western Conference. As the Wolves look to make their first postseason appearance since 2018 (and only their second since 2004), they could look to supplement the loss of McDaniels in the short term.

Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reports (Twitter link) that Minnesota will explore adding a free agent big man via a 10-day contract, something that had already been considered a possibility.

Timberwolves Eyeing Marcus Smart

The Timberwolves remain interested in Celtics guard Marcus Smart, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News said during an appearance on the Mackey & Judd podcast on SKOR North (Twitter link). However, Boston’s asking price for Smart may be too high for Minnesota.

“Here’s what I was told, I’m reading this verbatim: ‘Minnesota (is) definitely trying to trade for Marcus Smart,'” Wolfson said, quoting a source. “‘But unless they include a first-round pick or Jaden McDaniels in addition to Malik Beasley, (it) most likely doesn’t get done.'”

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said last week that Smart was on the Timberwolves’ radar, especially in the event that they move Patrick Beverley in a separate deal. However, Beverley still seems more likely to stay put than to be moved, in which case the Wolves probably wouldn’t make another defense-first guard like Smart their top priority.

While Boston and Minnesota may not end up making a deal involving Smart, the two teams have apparently been having a variety of trade discussions leading up to the deadline. A previous report stated that the Celtics explored a possible deal that would’ve sent Josh Richardson and either Romeo Langford or Aaron Nesmith to Minnesota in exchange for Beasley. The Wolves reportedly weren’t interested in that concept at the time.