Jordan McLaughlin

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Prince, Brown, Wiggins

Rudy Gobert understood that the Timberwolves‘ adjustment wouldn’t be easy after shaking up their roster to acquire him from Utah, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Not only did Minnesota give up five players in the deal, the team committed to an entirely different style of play with Gobert clogging the middle and forming a modern-day Twin Towers alongside Karl-Anthony Towns.

Nineteen games into the season, Gobert’s concerns have been proven correct. The Wolves are a game above .500, but they’ve had some ugly losses along the way, including Friday’s at Charlotte, where it’s seemed like the pieces don’t really fit together.

“Each bad game, they’re going to be ready to talk. That’s great. We love it,” Gobert said before the season began. “That’s part of the process. Nothing great comes easy. If it was going to happen in one game, that wouldn’t be worth having. We gotta work hard and work every night to get better.”

After a 5-8 start, Minnesota had strung together five straight wins before Friday. But perimeter defenders have been relying too much on Gobert to bail them out after their man drives by, Krawczynski observes, and the chemistry between Gobert and D’Angelo Russell on the pick-and-roll remains a work in progress.

“Sometimes, you know, passes are tough. Sometimes I fumble it,” Gobert said. “Most of the time, I get it and something good happens. As long as we can keep that trust and I can try to put myself in the right spots for him to find me and whether it’s that pocket pass or that lob, any pass actually, just trusting me.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves forward Taurean Prince suffered a right shoulder subluxation during Wednesday’s game and could miss a week or two, tweets Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Coach Chris Finch said Jordan McLaughlin is “more in the day-to-day category” with a left calf injury.
  • Bruce Brown continues to look like a major free agency bargain for the Nuggets, Mike Singer of The Denver Post notes. Brown posted his first career triple-double Wednesday to help Denver pull out a win despite the absence of four rotation players. “Some guys are in the foxhole with you, some guys, like they’ve got one foot in, one foot out,” Malone said. “Bruce is, he’s all the way in.”
  • Thunder guard Aaron Wiggins has the unusual distinction of five starts and five DNP-CDs already this season, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Coach Mark Daigneault explained that it’s a result of having so many young players to develop.

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.

Western Notes: Zubac, Ayton, Paul, McLaughlin

The Clippers are expecting Ivica Zubac to take another step forward offensively next season, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register writes. Los Angeles owns a $7.5MM team option in Zubac’s contract for 2022/23, which requires a decision to be made by June 29.

“You have to give a lot of credit to Zu and Isaiah (Hartenstein),” president Lawrence Frank said. “Sometimes we take it for granted because Zu … at his age, to have the experience to anchor a top defense, and you look at his rim protection, rebounding. But I think offensively, he’ll make another jump.”

Zubac, 24, averaged 10.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 24.4 minutes per game this season, starting in all 76 of his contests. He’ll also be eligible to sign a four-year extension worth up to about $61MM with the Clippers this summer, Swanson notes.

Here are some other notes from the Western Conference:

  • Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic explores whether the real Deandre Ayton has showed up against the Pelicans this series. Ayton has seen plenty of highs and lows through three games. He most recently finished with 28 points and 17 rebounds in the Suns’ Game 3 victory on Friday. Game 4 is currently in progress.
  • In a separate story for the Arizona Republic, Somers examines a simple-but-effective winning formula: Let Chris Paul take over down the stretch. Paul scored 19 points in the fourth quarter of Game 3, helping seal the 114-111 victory for the Suns.
  • Timberwolves guard Jordan McLaughlin rewarded himself and the team by staying prepared ahead of Game 4, Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune writes. McLaughlin has seen inconsistent playing time this season, but he made the most of his opportunity on Saturday. The 26-year-old scored 16 points (4-of-4 from deep) in 14 minutes off the bench. “It’s always what he does,” teammate Karl-Anthony Towns said of McLaughlin. “Consummate professional. Every day he steps on the court he makes an impact. It’s normal, it’s routine. We need someone like him, someone who comes off the bench and dominates the game.”

Northwest Notes: Towns, McLaughlin, Dort, Gilgeous-Alexander

The Timberwolves overcame a foul-plagued outing by Karl-Anthony Towns to beat the Clippers in the play-in tournament. Towns says he’ll be just fine as the team prepares for its first-round series with the Grizzlies, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. “I’m not tripping at all. In a good space,” Towns said. “Just good to get past the last two days and I’m ready to go.”

Towns says he’ll play smarter against Memphis. “I got a more clear role for what they want me to do in the playoffs,” he said. “So I’m very confident, feel very good.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves reserve guard Jordan McLaughlin never left the bench in the play-in game but he’ll have a role against the Grizzlies, coach Chris Finch told Hine in a separate story. McLaughlin will take any minutes he can get. “I’m a team player, so when my number is called, I’m going to be ready to go and do whatever I can to help my team win,” McLaughlin said. “If it’s not called, I’m still going to help my team win, cheering on the bench, talking to guys, telling them what I see and stuff like that. It’s never about me.”
  • Thunder guard Luguentz Dort anticipates he’ll be fully recovered from shoulder surgery by training camp, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Dort believes he’ll be back to 100% during the next two to three months. Dort is eligible for a contract extension and could become an unrestricted free agent next summer. “I’m going to let my agent handle it,” Dort said of a possible extension.
  • Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is pumped about the franchise’s future, Mussatto writes in a separate piece. He’ll enter the first year of his five-year max extension next season. “We have that trust in each other,” Gilgeous-Alexander said, referring to the front office and coaching staff. “I can’t go into details, but we’re excited for the future.” 

Northwest Notes: Murray, Porter Jr., House, McLaughlin, Wolves

The Nuggets scrapped their plan to send Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. to the team’s G League affiliate in Grand Rapids on Friday, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. Murray is rehabbing from a torn ACL, while Porter is recovering from lumbar spine surgery.

The pair was set to travel to Grand Rapids, but logistical concerns and the team only being able to practice once nixed the idea — it’s about a two-and-a-half hour flight from Denver to Grand Rapids. It remains possible that Murray and Porter could practice or scrimmage with the Gold down the road, Singer notes.

Denver currently ranks sixth in the West with a 37-26 record. Porter is eyeing a return sometime this month, as we previously relayed, while the Nuggets still hope Murray can return before the playoffs.

Here are some other notes from the Northwest:

  • Rockets coach Stephen Silas expressed support for Jazz forward Danuel House, who played for Houston from 2018-21, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake City Tribune tweets. House signed three 10-day contracts with Utah before earning a standard deal. “I’m happy for him and proud of him because he’s a contributor for a winning team,” Silas said. “I love him. It wasn’t anything he did wrong (here). I’m happy he landed on his feet.”
  • The Timberwolves‘ coaching staff hesitated to get Jordan McLaughlin into the team’s flow earlier this season, Chris Hine of the Star Tribune writes. McLaughlin has since taken on a bigger role for Minnesota, playing double-digit minutes in his last 16 games. “He kind of fell through the cracks in our player development structure a little bit,” head coach Chris Finch admitted. “So that was on us for the beginning of the season.”
  • Speaking of the Timberwolves, the team’s bench unit has benefited from its off-court chemistry, Hine writes in a separate story for the Star Tribune. Minnesota finished with 74 bench points a 138-101 victory over the Thunder on Saturday, headlined by strong performances from Malik Beasley, Taurean Prince and Naz Reid.

Western Notes: Alvarado, Payne, Crowder, McLaughlin

Pelicans rookie Jose Alvarado is elated about the start to his professional career, William Guillory of The Athletic writes. Alvarado signed a two-way contract with New Orleans after going undrafted last year and has appeared in 18 games so far this season.

“I’m still at the beginning, but I feel like this is about as good of a beginning as I could possibly ask for,” Alvarado said in his interview with Guillory. “I just want to keep it going and show everybody how grateful I am to be here.”

Alvarado, 23, played college ball at Georgia Tech for four seasons. In addition to his 18 NBA appearances, he’s also played in five G League games this season, averaging 19.8 points on 52% shooting from the floor and 43% from three-point range.

Along with Alvarado, the Pelicans also have Devonte’ Graham, Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Kira Lewis Jr. and others in the backcourt. Gary Clark currently occupies the team’s other two-way spot.

Here are some other notes out of the Western Conference:

  • Suns guard Cameron Payne and forward Jae Crowder suffered wrist injuries in the team’s win over Indiana on Saturday, Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes. Both players exited the game early and won’t play in Monday’s contest against Utah, according to Kellan Olson of 98.7 Arizona Sports (Twitter link). Crowder sustained a wrist contusion, while Payne suffered a sprain. “It’s tough,” teammate Mikal Bridges said. “It kind of put my mood down a little bit when at the end the game seeing those guys hurt a little bit. You always want to have your whole team out there, but just pray for them tonight and next man up, but yeah, obviously you always want to have your team out there.”
  • Timberwolves guard Jordan McLaughlin has exited the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced on social media. McLaughlin has missed five straight games. He’s appeared in 28 contests this season, averaging 2.2 points and 2.4 assists in 11.2 minutes per contest.

COVID-19 Updates: White, Green, McLaughlin, Roby, Azubuike

Spurs guard Derrick White exited the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols last night, per Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). White suited up for San Antonio and logged 25 minutes off the bench in an eventual 101-94 victory over the Clippers on Saturday.

The 6’4″ combo guard out of Colorado shot 7-of-11 from the field and 2-of-4 from the free-throw line for a total of 19 points in the victory. He also chipped in four assists, four rebounds, a steal and three blocks. White is currently averaging 14.6 PPG, 5.4 APG and 3.5 RPG during his sixth NBA season with the 16-27 Spurs.

Here are more COVID-19 updates from around the NBA:

  • Nuggets reserve power forward JaMychal Green has entered the league’s COVID-19 protocols, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The 31-year-old veteran is averaging 5.7 PPG and 3.7 RPG across 35 contests with the Jazz during the 2021/22 NBA season.
  • Timberwolves reserve point guard Jordan McLaughlin has entered the league’s coronavirus protocols and will be unavailable for Minnesota ahead of today’s contest against the Warriors, according to Minnesota’s PR team (Twitter link).
  • Thunder power forward Isaiah Roby has exited the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman (via Twitter). The 6’8″ big man was available to play in yesterday’s 107-102 loss to the Cavaliers, though he was ultimately a DNP – CD.
  • Jazz center Udoka Azubuike has cleared the protocols, tweets Ryan Miller of KSL.com. The 22-year-old seven-footer has appeared sparingly for Utah thus far this season, suiting up for just six games.

Northwest Notes: McLaughlin, Wolves, Whiteside, Favors

After riding the pine for the first three quarters of an eventual 96-89 Timberwolves victory over the Pelicans on Sunday, reserve point guard Jordan McLaughlin made sure to maximize his minutes when his number was called during the game’s fourth quarter, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.

“We all have our job to do and mine is to be ready at all times,” McLaughlin said. “So, I’m just going in there, trying to change the game, pick up full court, be a pest on defense and push the pace on offense and make plays.”

A 5’11” point guard out of USC, the 25-year-old McLaughlin re-signed with Minnesota over the summer on a three-year, $6.5MM deal, with a team option for the final season. Hine notes that head coach Chris Finch had stuck with a 10-man rotation before ultimately turning to McLaughlin in a successful strategic maneuver to close out New Orleans. McLaughin’s solid offensive contributions in a win for the 2-1 Timberwolves could certainly earn him future rotation time.

In 12 minutes on Sunday, McLaughlin netted a +5 plus-minus rating, to go along with six points on two-of-three shooting, two steals, two boards and an assist. During the Timberwolves’ Monday rematch against the Pelicans on Monday, however, McLaughlin was less successful. In 11 minutes during the 107-98 loss, McLaughlin scored no points and registered a -10 rating, though he did chip in three assists and a rebound.

“We have literally 15 guys on the roster that can play at a high level, night in and night out,” McLaughlin said. “We have a really deep team, and every night we’ve got to bring it, withstand the punches and just keep rolling with them and try to overcome it at the end.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Following their aforementioned 107-98 Monday defeat to the Pelicans, the Timberwolves held an intense practice, focused on emphasizing passing and looking for open teammates, writes Chris Hine of the Star Tribune“The person that’s open gets the ball,” shooting guard Josh Okogie commented. “Obviously, we have (D’Angelo Russell) and (Karl-Anthony Towns), and those guys are the stars on our team, and those guys get, obviously, more leniency on the shots they do take because they’ve proved that they can make those shots. But in the normal flow of the offense, I feel like whether it’s me, Malik (Beasley), Taurean (Prince), Jaden (McDaniels), whoever it is … If the person is open, I feel like they should get the ball.” Minnesota head coach Chris Finch confirmed the intensity of the practice following the loss. “It was a little testy,” Finch said. “A lot of the guys talking about what could have been done better or different. … I’d rather have that than guys in there who don’t care and not say anything, they’re not bothered. Then winning doesn’t mean enough to you.”
  • New Jazz reserve center Hassan Whiteside seems to be taking to his new fit on a playoff-caliber roster behind All-Star center Rudy Gobert quite well, per Tony Jones of The Athletic. Jones notes that the Jazz have outscored opponents by 20 points during the time Whiteside has logged on the floor in Gobert’s stead during the young season. “This is why they brought me here,” the 32-year-old said. “I knew what I was getting myself into when I signed here, so I had to prepare myself for how the Jazz liked to play. They like to have a rolling big. They want to have the shot-blocking. They’ve been really successful at it in the past, so I know how they like to play. I just have to put myself in a position to be successful.” Through two games as of this writing, Whiteside is averaging 7.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG, and 1.5 BPG in just 17.0 MPG.
  • Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault intends to rest veteran center Derrick Favors during one game of their back-to-back sets, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). Daigneault noted that this strategy was agreed upon by both Oklahoma City and Favors. The 6’9″ 30-year-old out of Georgia Tech has started two of his three contests with the Thunder thus far, averaging 4.0 PPG and 6.3 RPG across 16.3 MPG.

Details On Timberwolves’ Dismissal Of Gersson Rosas

The Timberwolves‘ dismissal of president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas was made for “performance reasons,” a high-ranking team source told Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic. The team’s lack of success during Rosas’ tenure was a key factor in the decision, and complaints from staffers about Rosas’ leadership also played a part, per The Athletic’s duo.

However, another issue that factored into the timing of the move was the fact that the Wolves recently learned that Rosas – who is married – had a “consensual intimate relationship” with a member of the organization, according to Krawczysnki and Charania, who suggest that the relationship made several people within the franchise uncomfortable.

The Athletic’s deep dive into the situation in Minnesota’s front office uncovered sources who said Rosas worked his staffers long hours without giving them much input into personnel decisions. Some members of the front office took issue with those decisions, such as the one to include such light protections (top-three) on the first-round pick the Wolves sent Golden State in the D’Angelo Russell trade.

Rosas did have backers within the organization, including some who reached out to The Athletic in recent weeks to defend the way things were going, per Krawczynski and Charania. Some of Rosas’ defenders believe the pandemic and the change of ownership were factors that contributed to tension in the front office, while Rosas himself “vehemently disputed” that there were any significant problems with the team’s culture.

Still, many of The Athletic’s sources described Rosas’ tenure as dysfunctional, and when those complaints reached ownership, Glen Taylor, Alex Rodriguez, and Marc Lore decided the situation was untenable and a move needed to be made sooner rather than later.

“It’s hard,” said one staffer who followed Rosas to Minnesota after he was hired in 2019. “He’s not who I thought he was.”

The report from Krawczynski and Charania is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber. Here are some of the other highlights:

  • New interim head of basketball operations Sachin Gupta is well-regarded by team officials and is expected to get a chance to earn the permanent job, sources tell The Athletic. However, Krawczynski and Charania note that Gupta did “butt heads” with Rosas this summer when Gupta sought to make a lateral move to the Rockets for a similar job with higher pay, and Rosas blocked him. Rosas defended the decision by saying that the move wouldn’t have been a promotion, and it was too close to the draft and free agency to let a top executive with so much knowledge of Minnesota’s plans leave to join a rival. According to The Athletic, Rosas “banished” Gupta from the team’s offices in August and allowed him to seek employment elsewhere at that point, but Gupta decided to stay with the Wolves after ownership got involved.
  • Some player agents had issues with Rosas’ negotiating tactics, according to Krawczynski and Charania, who point to the team’s recent contract talks with Jordan McLaughlin as one example. A source tells The Athletic that Rosas reneged on promises about the role McLaughlin would have going forward after Patrick Beverley was acquired. Although agents recognized Rosas’ primary allegiance was to the organization, they expected better treatment in certain scenarios, according to The Athletic’s duo. “Rosas was the cause of mishaps and pulled his promises,” the source said of the McLaughlin negotiations.
  • Rosas’ decision to replace head coach Ryan Saunders with Chris Finch during the season without considering any other candidates – including minority candidates – wasn’t popular with some staffers, and neither was the decision to part with veteran scout Zarko Durisic last year, per Krawczysnki and Charania. Some people believed those moves flew in the face of Rosas’ portrayal of the organization as a “family.”
  • Krawczynski and Charania say Rosas was “working feverishly” this offseason to try to acquire Ben Simmons, who was viewed by some people in the organization as the roster’s missing piece. It’s unclear if Gupta will have the same level of interest in the Sixers star.
  • A report from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report confirms and adds some details to many of the issues reported by The Athletic, including the recent discovery of Rosas’ “consensual extramarital affair” with a team staffer.

Timberwolves Notes: Bolmaro, Prince, Vanderbilt, McLaughlin, Towns

Timberwolves rookie guard Leandro Bolmaro plays fearlessly, head coach Chris Finch told Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and other media members this week. The 23rd pick in the draft, Bolmaro is expected to sign his rookie contract shortly.

“We love that about him. He competes, he’s bouncy, he just knows how to play basketball,” Finch said. “He moves well off the ball, fits in around all of the pieces we already have.”

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • Forward Taurean Prince, acquired in the Ricky Rubio deal with Cleveland, believes he’ll play all three frontcourt positions at some point this season, Hine adds in the same story. “The ball moves around and like coach said it gives a lot of opportunity to everybody,” Prince said. “Those are the best systems because everyone likes to play off each other and it maximizes everyone’s potential as well.”
  • Jarred Vanderbilt officially signed his new three-year, $13.8MM contract on Wednesday. According to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link), the first-year salary is $4.05MM and he’ll get $4.374MM in 2022/23. Vanderbilt’s 2023/24 salary of $4.698MM is partially guaranteed at $300K. The contract also includes $162K in likely bonuses and $405K in unlikely bonuses, Smith adds.
  • Jordan McLaughlin also inked his new three-year, $6.5MM deal this week. The first-year salary will be $2MM, Smith tweets. In 2022/23, he’ll receive $2.16MM. His 2023/24 salary of $2.32MM is non-guaranteed. The contract includes $100K in unlikely bonuses in all three seasons.
  • A refocused Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the reasons for optimism in Minnesota, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes. The past two seasons for the team’s top big man have been marred by injuries and personal tragedy. He’s been working on his game diligently this summer, which bodes well for his continued development. Anthony Edwards’ encore after a powerful finish to his rookie campaign, plus the ability of Finch to have a full off-season to prepare the team for the upcoming season, should also entice fans. Krawczynski delves into a number of topics in the mailbag, including the possibility of Malik Beasley or D’Angelo Russell taking a sixth-man role.