Juan Hernangomez

Northwest Notes: Hernangomez, McCollum, Barton, Jazz

Timberwolves officials will have to work to repair the damage with Juan Hernangomez after denying permission for him to represent Spain in the Olympics, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The 25-year-old forward, who has been participating in international competitions since 2013, was “deeply disappointed and hurt” by the decision, according to Krawczynski.

Hernangomez suffered a dislocated left shoulder in a July 8 exhibition against France. The Spanish team originally said Hernangomez might need surgery and would require several weeks to recover. Minnesota’s front office believed that meant he was out of the Olympics, but Spain included him on the official roster that was announced Monday, saying his condition improved rapidly.

President of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said the Wolves’ medical staff never cleared Hernangomez to resume playing.

“We support our international players’ decisions to play with their national teams and appreciate the passion of Juancho and the Spanish Federation to represent their country. Unfortunately, we are dealing with an active injury,” Rosas said in a prepared statement. “Based on our team physician’s recommendation, Juancho needs time to recover from and rehabilitate his injury, and that timeline restricts Juancho’s availability to participate in the Tokyo Olympics. The determined recovery plan is the best path forward to allow Juancho to heal properly.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • In two meetings with president of basketball operations Neil Olshey since the Trail Blazers were knocked out of the playoffs, Damian Lillard has emphasized the need to add more talent, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic. Portland doesn’t have any picks in this year’s draft and re-signing Norman Powell will be the priority in free agency, so Olshey will likely have to be aggressive on the trade market. Teams have offered picks in the top half of the draft in exchange for CJ McCollum, Quick adds, but the Blazers have been refusing because that wouldn’t help with their urgency to improve right away. They are expected to try to purchase a pick in the second round.
  • Will Barton declined his player option, but he and the Nuggets are optimistic about reaching a new deal, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. JaMychal Green also opted out of his contract for next season, though Singer believes that it makes more sense for the team to prioritize a new deal with Green than with frontcourt free agents Paul Millsap and JaVale McGee.
  • The Jazz aren’t likely to use their biannual exception this summer, states Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Utah hopes to re-sign point guard Mike Conley, which would put its team salary above the tax apron and remove any chance to use the roughly $3.7MM BAE. Even if Conley goes elsewhere, Todd doesn’t believe the Jazz would be willing to take on the hard cap that comes with using the exception.

Olympic Notes: LaVine, NBA Participants, Hernangomez, Finals Trio

Zach LaVine was placed in protocols due to contact tracing before he was allowed to go to Tokyo. That development came as a big surprise to the Team USA wing. LaVine was sidelined for 11 Bulls games in April when he tested positive for COVID-19, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times writes. “Well I was a little shocked,’’ LaVine said. “Obviously, I didn’t think I could get [the virus]. Obviously, I didn’t. I’m going to have to be careful with everybody including the team and everybody coming over here, so it made sense, and I pretty much had to do my time, jump through a couple hoops to get here.’’

We have more Olympic-related notes:

  • If there are a lot of familiar faces in the Olympic tournament, it’s because there are a record number of current and former NBA participants. According to an NBA press release, there are 49 current players and 16 former players dotting Olympic rosters. The Heat lead the way with four players in the competition.
  • Spain’s basketball federation president claims that Juan Hernangomez won’t play in the Olympics because Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas nixed it, according to a Eurohoops story relayed by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Hernangomez dislocated his left shoulder this summer but Jorge Garbajosa says the big man has been cleared by Spain’s medical staff. “Juancho wants to play in the Olympic Games, but Juancho won’t be able to play,” Garbajosa said. “We’ve had countless medical meetings and we’ve never received a ‘no.’ We have a received a ‘yes’. … It’s a problem of people – not medical personnel – who have personally decided that Juancho couldn’t play. I’m talking about their president of basketball operations.”
  • Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday arrived in Tokyo on Saturday and their Team USA teammates are impressed by the commitment of the three players who participated in the Finals, Brian Windhorst of ESPN writes. “I have a lot of respect for those guys for not only committing to do this but actually keeping their word,” Draymond Green said. “You’re talking about three true professionals, three extremely competitive guys that wouldn’t be on their way here if this didn’t mean something.”

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Blazers, Hernangomez, Nuggets

While it doesn’t look at this point like the Trail Blazers will seriously explore Damian Lillard trades this offseason, that doesn’t mean they’re not getting calls about their All-NBA point guard. Front office sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer that the Heat, Kings, Knicks, Rockets, and Sixers have been the most aggressive suitors for Lillard as of late.

With no Lillard trade request imminent, the Blazers are more likely to pursue upgrades around the star guard, though O’Connor notes that the team’s trade assets are somewhat limited. Portland doesn’t have any draft picks this year and rival teams aren’t particularly high on young players like Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little, according to O’Connor. The club’s best bet for a deal that reshapes the roster and increases its ceiling might involve CJ McCollum and Ben Simmons, O’Connor adds.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

Timberwolves Notes: Draft, Simmons, Sikka

The Timberwolves have traded away their picks in this month’s draft but they’re still preparing as if they’ll wind up participating, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. They’re co-hosting pre-draft workouts this weekend with the Jazz.

“Just because we don’t have a pick on whatever day today is doesn’t mean we’re not going to have a pick on draft night,” team president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said. “The worst thing you can do is be caught unprepared and we’re fortunate we have players on our roster that are valued by other teams. We have opportunities to jump in the draft at very strategic levels and that’s a testament to our players, the value they have around the league.”

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • Rumors surfaced late last month that the team would explore a trade with the Sixers for Ben Simmons. Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic explores how Simmons might fit in and what it would take to bring him to Minnesota. The Timberwolves could match up salaries by including Ricky Rubio and Malik Beasley in a deal, but it’s likely Philadelphia would ask for D’Angelo Russell and/or future first-rounders, Krawczynski notes.
  • Robby Sikka has resigned from his position as the Wolves’ VP of basketball operations and wellness, Krawczynski writes in a separate story. Rosas hired Sikka two years ago to improve the team’s ability to stay healthy, revamp its player nutrition program and work with head athletic trainer Gregg Farnam to oversee the rehabilitation of injuries.
  • Forward Juan Hernangomez, who had been preparing to represent Spain in the Olympics, dislocated his left shoulder during an exhibition game and will miss the Tokyo games. Get the details here.

Olympic Notes: Bridges, Washington, Quickley, Stewart, Hernangomez

Hornets forward Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington and Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley are no longer with the U.S. Select Team scrimmaging against Team USA’s Olympic roster in Las Vegas, tweets ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. The three players have been removed from the mix due to the coronavirus protocols.

A person with knowledge of the situation told Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press that one of those three players tested positive for COVID-19, while the other two were deemed close contacts and are being held out for precautionary reasons. According to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (via Twitter), Quickley entered the protocols for contact tracing purposes rather than a positive test, which suggests that one of the Hornets forwards was the player who tested positive.

Here’s more on the Olympics:

  • The U.S. Select Team is down another player, according to Windhorst, who tweets that Pistons center Isaiah Stewart suffered an ankle injury during a scrimmage and left the game to receive treatment. There’s no indication at this point that Stewart’s injury is a significant one.
  • Timberwolves forward Juan Hernangomez, who had been preparing to represent Spain in the Olympics, dislocated his left shoulder during an exhibition game and will miss the Tokyo games, Reynolds writes for The Associated Press. The Wolves put out a statement indicating they’re aware of Hernangomez’s injury, but there’s no timeline yet for his recovery and return to the court.
  • Warriors guard Stephen Curry said it was a “hard decision” not to play for Team USA at the Olympics this summer, but he has “no regrets at all” about opting to skip the event, per Nick Wagoner of ESPN. “You take everything into account,” said Curry, who has won a pair of FIBA World Cup gold medals but hasn’t played in the Olympics. “I take how I’m feeling physically, mentally, what’s happening around the league, all those things. It’s not one specific reason or a part of it, but just knowing at the end of the day do I want to play or not? And the answer was no at the end of the day. And getting ready for next season (with a) relatively quick turnaround is important to me and I have a plan of how to do that and get ready for when training camp starts.”

Olympic Notes: Spain, Simmons, Nigeria, Turkey, Garland

Veteran center Pau Gasol, who has represented Spain in four Olympic tournaments so far, remains on track to be part of the team in Tokyo, per an Associated Press report. Gasol was one of 18 players included on Spain’s preliminary roster for the Tokyo games, joining his brother – Lakers center Marc Gasol – and Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio.

Timberwolves forward Juan Hernangomez, Pelicans big man Willy Hernangomez, and projected first-round pick Usman Garuba are among the other notable names on Spain’s preliminary roster, according to The Associated Press.

Here’s more on the Tokyo Olympics:

Scotto’s Latest: Lowry, Aldridge, Oladipo, Wolves

The Heat are among the teams that have reached out to the Raptors about veteran guard Kyle Lowry, league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Some of the players discussed in a possible deal include Goran Dragic, Kelly Olynyk and Kendrick Nunn, according to Scotto.

Lowry, who will turn 35 this month, continues to remain productive, averaging 18.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.5 rebounds through 31 games. He recently pledged his loyalty to the franchise, but didn’t offer a guarantee that he will re-sign with Toronto when he becomes a free agent this summer.

As a one-year Bird player, Dragic has veto power over any trade, Scotto notes. If Dragic agrees to a deal and a new team declines his $19.44MM option for next season, his Bird rights will be reduced to Non-Bird when he enters free agency. Olynyk is headed for unrestricted free agency, while Nunn will be a restricted free agent if he receives a $4.7MM qualifying offer.

Scotto offers a few more tidbits in advance of the March 25 trade deadline:

  • The Heat have also talked to the Spurs about veteran big man LaMarcus Aldridge, who won’t play again until San Antonio can work out a deal. According to Scotto, Miami offered Avery Bradley, Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard to match salary and would be willing to include a minimum contract such as Chris Silva or KZ Okpala or possibly draft picks. The Spurs will have many suitors for Aldridge, and several league executives expect the Celtics to get involved with their $28.5MM trade exception, Scotto adds. Boston is about $19.9MM below the hard cap and would have to send at least $4.1MM in contracts to San Antonio in return.
  • Rockets guard Victor Oladipo may be the top player available before the deadline, a few executives tell Scotto. The Knicks and Heat are among the teams that are reportedly interested. Scotto adds that Christian Wood is the only player the rebuilding Rockets might consider untouchable.
  • Several teams have inquired about Timberwolves veterans Ed DavisRicky RubioJuan Hernangomez and Jake Layman. Minnesota would like to acquire a young forward such as the Hawks‘ John Collins or the Magic’s Aaron Gordon, Scotto notes, and has future first-rounders to offer starting in 2023.

Northwest Notes: Towns, Conley, T-Wolves, Hernangomez

Timberwolves star center Karl-Anthony Towns continues to recover from the novel coronavirus. Minnesota head coach Ryan Saunders has noted that Towns has made some strides recently as he works his way back, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link).

“He’s really been able to push himself,” Saunders said of the Timberwolves’ leading scorer. “Our medical group has been able to try to simulate certain stints during a game, the stopping and going, what that might feel like with his lungs.” Krawczynski adds in a separate tweet that Saunders says Minnesota’s medical team needs to examine the way Towns’s lungs respond to “high-intensity work.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz can take cold comfort in the fact that, while star point guard Mike Conley is out indefinitely with a hamstring injury, the injury is not considered as severe as a similar hamstring injury he suffered last season, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets.
  • The Timberwolves‘ youngest players have surprisingly emerged as some of Minnesota’s best, as Michael Rand of The Star Tribune details. Jordan McLaughlin, Anthony Edwards, Jaylen Nowell, Jaden McDaniels, Naz Reid, and Jarred Vanderbilt have impressed with their play of late.
  • After missing nearly three weeks of action due to COVID-19, Timberwolves power forward Juan Hernangomez is now striving to break back into Minnesota’s rotation, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. His younger teammates Vanderbilt and McDaniels have supplanted him in the power forward rotation for now, though Hernangomez enjoyed a productive nine-minute stint last night. “I’m probably the MVP of waiting for my chance,” Hernangomez said. “I’m happy for the young guys to develop. If I get my chance, I’m going to try to do my best.”

Hernangomez, Rubio Entering COVID-19 Protocols

Timberwolves power forward Juan Hernangomez will isolate for at least 10 days due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to Jon Krawcyznski of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Like Hernangomez, Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio will also miss the Timberwolves’ Friday bout against the Grizzlies as a result of the league’s COVID-19 protocols, the team tweets, though a timeline for Rubio’s absence has not been established publicly.

Rubio could have recorded a positive or inconclusive test, or could be quarantining himself as a result of contact-tracing measures. Depending on what happened, the timeline for Rubio’s return could be briefer than Hernangomez’s absence.

In 11 games for Minnesota (including 6 starts), Hernangomez is averaging 6.6 PPG and 5.3 RPG across 20.4 MPG. He is struggling to shoot from the floor thus far this year, connecting on just 39.7% of his field goals. For his second stint with the NBA club that drafted him, Rubio is averaging a career-low 6.3 PPG and 5.4 APG in a reduced role over the team’s first 11 contests.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Campazzo, Hartenstein, McCollum

Following a 2-0 start, the Timberwolves have lost four straight games and are struggling to stay competitive without star center Karl-Anthony Towns available. As Chris Hine of The Star Tribune details, head coach Ryan Saunders attempted to jump-start the club on Sunday by shaking up his starting lineup, inserting Juan Hernangomez and Ed Davis in place of Ricky Rubio and Naz Reid.

According to Hine, the plan was to help Russell establish some pick-and-roll chemistry with Davis, his former teammate in Brooklyn, and to reduce Reid’s minutes against Nikola Jokic in the hopes of avoiding foul trouble.

Jarrett Culver, playing the three instead of the four in the new-look lineup, had his best game of the young season, and Davis led the team in rebounding, but the Timberwolves still lost by 15 points and Hernangomez’s early struggles continued. Still, Saunders said after the game that he saw some positive signs from the fifth-year power forward.

“I did think he had some good defensive possessions. I thought that helped us,” Saunders said of Hernangomez. “His size and length helped us a little bit even though we got beat on the glass, I thought he was able to get his hands on a few. He had some good looks, missed a couple that he’ll usually make around the basket. So for that reason, I see progress with Juancho as well.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Former Real Madrid star Facundo Campazzo had looked relatively invisible in his first five NBA games, but he showed on Sunday why the Nuggets brought him over from Spain this offseason, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “I thought this was the best version of Facundo Campazzo that you could imagine,” head coach Michael Malone said of the 29-year-old point guard, who had 15 points and three steals in Denver’s win over Minnesota.
  • Before he signed with the Nuggets as a free agent in November, Isaiah Hartenstein drew interest from the Trail Blazers, Cavaliers, Pelicans, and Wizards, league sources tell Singer in a separate Denver Post story.
  • Typically a slow starter, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum has been excellent so far in 2020/21, having averaged 28.0 PPG with a .431 3PT% in six games. Jason Quick of The Athletic takes a look at what has fueled the hot start for McCollum, who said he’s motivated by wanting to secure a postseason berth without having to take part in the play-in tournament again.