Karl-Anthony Towns

NBA Postpones Wolves-Nets Game From Monday To Tuesday

APRIL 13: Monday’s Timberwolves/Nets game has been rescheduled for Tuesday afternoon, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). It will be played at 3:00pm central time without any fans in attendance, sources tell Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link).


APRIL 12: The NBA is postponing the Timberwolves/Nets game that had been scheduled to take place in Minnesota on Monday night, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links). The NBA has formally confirmed the postponement.

Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews of ESPN first reported (via Twitter) that there were ongoing conversations about a postponement of Monday’s game due to unrest in Minneapolis in the wake of a police shooting. A 20-year-old Black man, Daunte Wright, was fatally shot during a traffic stop on Sunday.

The MLB contest between the Red Sox and Twins that was scheduled to be played on Monday afternoon in Minnesota was also postponed.

While it won’t take place tonight, there’s still a chance that the Wolves/Nets game could be played on Tuesday, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

With just over a month left in the regular season, there won’t be a ton of opportunities to make up postponed games, and every win or loss is important for a Brooklyn team currently tied for first in the Eastern Conference. Minnesota’s final record will also be important for draft lottery reasons — the team is a half-game “ahead” of Houston for the top spot in the lottery standings.

Kyrie Irving and Karl-Anthony Towns had been ruled out for Monday due to personal reasons — it’s unclear if either one would be available by Tuesday.

Northwest Notes: Towns/D-Lo, Thunder, Gordon, Wolves

Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell made his long-awaited return to the floor in a 116-106 win against the Kings on Monday night after missing 26 games due to a left knee surgery. It marked just the sixth contest in which Russell appeared alongside his friend Karl-Anthony Towns for Minnesota.

Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes that Russell’s return has to encourage Timberwolves fans, as it perhaps can be seen as a preview of the interplay that could lift the club out of the depths next season.

“As long as we continue to work, work the way we want it, we can do something special,” Towns said of himself and his Timberwolves teammate. “We just got to work. Obviously, first, we got to be healthy enough to stay on the court with each other.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault discussed the team’s latest additions, Justin Robinson and two-way player Jaylen Hoard, according to Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman. “Robinson gives us a little extra ball handling,” Daigneault said, adding that Hoard “[p]lays hard, [is a] defender, somebody that understands how to play in a system on offense.”
  • Dan Devine of The Ringer wonders if Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon is allowing his new team to maximize its ceiling — and if being in Denver is doing the same for Gordon. Because he can cut off the ball, handle the rock, and roll to the rim, in addition to being a multifaceted defender, Gordon thus far has proven to be a more-than-serviceable facsimile of what Jerami Grant was in Denver last season. As of this writing, the Nuggets are poised to win their fifth straight game since adding Gordon.
  • The Timberwolves have announced (via Twitter) that Minnesota’s players and staff have received their COVID-19 vaccines.

Western Notes: Towns, Powell, Paschall, Hall, Roby

Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns acknowledged that the time to chase stats is over, re-affirming that his only focus is helping Minnesota win in a turbulent season, Dane Moore of Blue Wire Podcasts tweets.

Towns recently put forth a 30-point, 16-rebound performance in a loss to the Grizzlies on Friday, following it up with a 39-point, 14-rebound outing in a loss to the Sixers on Saturday. The Timberwolves are just 12-38 and have dealt with significant injuries and COVID-19 issues throughout the season.

“I’ve had the time to mess up and I guess you could say ‘chase stats.’ That s–t is over,” Towns said. “I’ve proved myself in this league. I truly believe that. I don’t have to prove myself anymore. But now what I have to prove is: can I win? I think that’s the next step. 

“I have to do whatever it takes. I look at the stat sheet, ‘Oh, it’s great, it’s wonderful, 30 and 16’. But we lost. I don’t give a s–t then. At the end of the day, the word on me is still gonna be the word. There’s only one way to change the narrative, and that’s to go beat the narrative.”

Here are some other notes from the Western Conference:

  • Trail Blazers guard Norman Powell is adjusting quickly in Portland, Casey Holdahl of NBA.com writes. Powell was recently traded to Portland from Toronto and has proven to be effective in his limited time, scoring 15 points in the team’s win over the Thunder on Saturday. “I feel good, I feel like the transition has been really easy,” Powell said. “The coaches, the guys have made it real easy to fit in. I feel like the more time I spend with them, the more practices we get in, the more games, I’ll start to feel better with the chemistry, the flow of the game, the play-calling and rotations on defense. I’m liking it so far.”
  • Warriors forward Eric Paschall will miss at least two weeks after undergoing an MRI on Saturday that revealed a left hip flexor strain, the team announced (Twitter link). Paschall, 24, is averaging 9.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 17.3 minutes per game this season.
  • The Thunder have released medical updates on Josh Hall and Isaiah Roby, announcing that both players sustained concussions in the team’s game against Portland. They’ll now join second-year player Luguentz Dort in the league’s concussion protocol.

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:

Wolves Notes: Finch, Defense, Towns, Vanterpool

The Timberwolves hired Chris Finch as their new head coach in the hopes of improving an offense that ranked 28th in the NBA under Ryan Saunders, and while the results on that front were promising in Finch’s debut on Tuesday, Minnesota also allowed a season-high 139 points in a blowout loss to Milwaukee, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes.

Acknowledging that he has a reputation as more of an offensive-minded coach, Finch stressed on Tuesday that the Wolves’ defense has to improve, noting that he’s hoping to streamline the system and implement “simple, highly executable coverages” for the team’s young roster.

“We don’t want them overthinking anything out there where there’s a lag time in their performance and reaction. But yeah, we’re all about the defense,” Finch said, according to Krawczynski. “I’m known for the offensive side of the ball, but the reality is I’m a defense-first guy because that creates the best offense. You still have to play defense in this league to win.”

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • After being hired, Finch told Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns that he’s committed to running the team’s offense through him going forward, according to Chris Hine and Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune. “He should be at the center of everything,” Finch said of Towns, per Krawczynski. That approach was evident on Tuesday, as Towns matched a season high with 19 shot attempts and established a new career-high with 11 assists.
  • While Towns expressed a hope that more “Black and minority coaches” – including Wolves assistant David Vanterpool – will get head coaching opportunities going forward, he pledged to support Finch and once again reiterated his commitment to the franchise, as Hine writes in a separate story for The Star Tribune. “I’m a very loyal guy, to a fault. I’ve said it before, I would love to finish my career here in Minnesota,” Towns told reporters. “I want to build something great here. I want to build a legacy in Minnesota.”
  • When Wolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas discussed the hiring of Finch, he explained that the veteran assistant was a finalist when the team conducted a brief search and ultimately decided to retain Ryan Saunders in 2019, which was one reason why he was comfortable bringing him in midseason without a full-fledged search this time around. “When we got that opportunity we were very aggressive with it because he’s a candidate that we have experience with through our last process and the guy we identified as a target for us,” Rosas said (link via Hine).
  • Ricky Rubio admitted he’ll miss Saunders and called the timing of Finch’s full-time hiring “a little weird,” but said he has been impressed by the new coach’s offensive mind so far (link via Hine). Malik Beasley, who played for Denver during the one season that Finch was a Nuggets assistant, had nothing but praise for him as well, calling Finch a “great guy” and predicting that the Wolves are “going to do some big things.”

Timberwolves Notes: Towns, Saunders, Russell, Vanterpool

Amid the turmoil of a mid-season coaching change, the Timberwolves got some good news Sunday night as star center Karl-Anthony Towns indicated he foresees a long future with the organization, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Towns was asked about his intentions following a loss to the Knicks that dropped Minnesota’s record to a league-worst 7-24.

“If you want to build a legacy we got to win,” Towns said. “And I want to build my legacy here so I want to win with the Wolves, and I’m going to do everything I possibly can to keep step-by-step, brick-by-brick, building something and a culture here that’s going to stand here for a long time.”

Towns, 25, still has three more years on the extension he signed in 2018, paying him $31.65MM, $33.83MM and $36MM through the 2023/24 season. He could opt to demand a trade, as other stars have done in losing situations, but Sunday’s comments should offer some hope to the Wolves that he’s committed to turning things around in Minnesota.

There’s more on the Timberwolves:

  • Ryan Saunders knew for weeks that his job was in jeopardy, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Players had been openly speculating about a coaching change, and the only question was whether management would keep him in place through the end of the season. Owner Glen Taylor had resisted the move because Towns was out of the lineup so much this season due to injuries and a battle with COVID-19. However, Minnesota was just 1-7 since Towns returned February 10, which was enough for Taylor to endorse firing Saunders.
  • Obvious tension built up between guard D’Angelo Russell and Saunders as losses mounted, Krawczynski adds in the same story. A long-time friend of Towns, Russell was brought in at last year’s trade deadline to provide a second star for the team to build around. However, because of injuries and the hiatus, Saunders only got to coach Towns and Russell together in five games.
  • Several NBA players questioned why Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool wasn’t chosen to replace Saunders, with the loudest support for the former Trail Blazers assistant coming from Portland stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, notes Jamie Hudson of NBC Sports. “How the hell do you not hire David Vanterpool,” Lillard tweeted, “and he’s right there on the bench… and has been in front office SUCCESSFULLY and on the front of a bench of a winning team SUCCESSFULLY (7 years) … and also has played a major role in the development of a dominant backcourt smdh!” According to Krawczynski, there has been speculation throughout the league that Chris Finch has been on top of president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas‘ wish list since he joined the Wolves two years ago, and Rosas was willing to endure criticism over not considering a minority candidate such as Vanterpool.

Northwest Notes: Diallo, KAT/D-Lo, MPJ, Lillard

Thunder wing Hamidou Diallo has displayed such improvement this season that he could be a leading candidate for Most Improved Player honors, argues Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman.

Diallo’s output has dramatically increased across the board. The third-year swingman out of Kentucky is averaging career-highs in points (12.7), rebounds (5.5), assists (2.4), field goal percentage (48.9%) and minutes (24.2) for a chippy Thunder squad. “I would say the biggest thing is just opportunity,” he said of his progress this year. “Sometimes, when you have opportunity and you have people around you that believe in you, it just makes the game much easier.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • A variety of health and injury problems have conspired to limit marquee Timberwolves players Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell to just five games together since Minnesota acquired Russell last season. Towns recently vented his frustration, as Chris Hine of the Star Tribune details. “Obviously we want to play with each other,” Towns said. “I finally come back [from a COVID-19 absence] and now he’s out [with a knee injury], so he was emotional too because it’s been bothering him, wanting to play together.” Britt Robson of The Athletic wonders if the Towns-Russell tandem, light on defense, will live up to fan expectations once it finally does appear more consistently.
  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. has shown off his impressive scoring abilities this season, but his defensive flaws (especially at the rim) are clear too, writes Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated. Porter, 22, is averaging 13.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.2 BPG and 1.0 SPG this season. He is also shooting well, with a slash line of .475/.379/.786.
  • Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is set to compete three-point shooting contest at this year’s Atlanta All-Star Game, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Haynes notes that Lillard currently ranks third in the league when it comes to made three-pointers this season. Lillard’s 105 made triples rank behind only Buddy Hield (106) and Stephen Curry (140).

Towns Questioned Playing Friday After COVID-19 Outbreak In Charlotte

Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns went to head coach Ryan Saunders to question the wisdom of playing Friday’s game in Charlotte after three Hornets players entered the league’s health and safety protocols, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Towns said he started to get “spooked” after learning Cody Martin, Caleb Martin and P.J. Washington would all have to miss the game due for coronavirus-related reasons. Hornets coach James Borrego wasn’t allowed to join his team until an hour before tip-off as he waited for his test results.

“It just brought up so many things I’ve been through, and it affected me in such a way where basketball wasn’t important anymore,” Towns said. “And I remember going up to Ryan and asking, ‘Are you sure we should play this?’ These guys had some COVID positives and we’re playing with guys who were around these people.”

No NBA player has been hit harder by COVID-19 than Towns, who lost his mother and six other loved ones to the virus. He missed close to a month after testing positive in January, and although he is still carrying antibodies that make re-infection unlikely, Towns was concerned about the risk to his teammates and to the other Hornets.

“I was one of those guys that was negative today and tomorrow negative and the next day I was positive with COVID — and a bad case of it,” Towns said. “I understood where the situation was for me and not knowing what the timeline for the cases and stuff like that, and I didn’t know if they were contagious, not contagious, how well the contact tracing was and all that stuff, so I was more worried for the guys and I was worried for myself.”

Krawczynski notes that the NBA has been operating in a high-risk environment since the season began. Teams take chances every day by flying from city to city while hoping that strict protocols and frequent testing will be enough to protect the players, who are confined to their hotel rooms and have their post-game handshakes monitored.

The league has already seen 23 games postponed, albeit none since February 1. Most games are still being played in empty arenas, and there have been a few regrettable incidents, such as Kevin Durant being removed in the middle of a game last week.

Towns understands that players and owners want to keep the season going, but incidents like the one in Charlotte are a harsh reminder that the virus hasn’t gone away.

“It’s not going to stop,” he said. “The world, especially America, is just getting more and more COVID cases. I’m just worried. My heart goes out to all the people that have gotten COVID, the families that have been affected by it. I just couldn’t stomach seeing one of my guys get it and not being able to do anything. I’ve already had that situation once; I’m not trying to have that one again.”

Wolves Notes: Towns, Edwards, G League Bubble

After suiting up and taking the court for the first time in nearly a month on Wednesday, Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns admitted he endured a “rough journey” during his absence as he battled COVID-19.

“I am a high-risk case,” Towns said, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “COVID did not treat me well whatsoever. A lot of scary nights. One of the things that I told my sister when I got COVID was that, ‘Hey, I got it, and I don’t got a good version of it. I got a lot of COVID in me, but I am going to fight and beat it.'”

While Towns acknowledged that many players around the NBA have experienced few symptoms – or none at all – after testing positive for the coronavirus, he noted that everyone’s experience is “totally different.” Several of Towns’ family members have died of complications from COVID-19, including his mother, to whom Towns said he is most “genetically connected.”

“You hear those stories where people get COVID,” Towns said, according to Youngmisuk. “And they’re like, ‘Oh, for four days, five days, I didn’t feel well, and then I turned the corner magically one day and I was feeling great.’ That did not happen with me.”

Towns was solid in his return to action, putting up 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds, but he admitted to reporters that he didn’t feel mentally ready for the game. It may take a little more time before the 25-year-old back to his usual dominant self.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • As Youngmisuk relays, Towns also became the latest star player to question the logic of holding an All-Star Game in 2021. “I personally don’t believe there should be an All-Star Game, but what the hell do I know?” Towns said, sarcastically adding: “S–t, I obviously haven’t dealt with COVID, probably a guy who has some insight into that. What should I know about COVID, right?”
  • Anthony Edwards got off to a slow start during his rookie year, shooting just 34.4% from the floor and 27.4% from beyond the arc through his first 16 games. However, he has come on lately, averaging 16.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 3.1 APG on .435/.400/.800 shooting in his last nine, and entering Minnesota’s starting lineup during that time. The No. 1 overall pick is just getting started, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, who says the Wolves drafted Edwards knowing he was raw and not expecting him to dominate right out of the gate.
  • The Iowa Wolves – Minnesota’s G League affiliate – have been penalized for violating the health and safety protocols at the NBAGL bubble at Walt Disney World. As Adam Zagoria of Forbes tweets, the club was fined $10K, while Charlie Brown, Ashton Hagans, Jaylen Johnson, Ade Murkey, and Dakarai Tucker were all suspended without pay for two games. Iowa added Isaiah Briscoe and Jaylen Morris from the bubble’s available player pool to temporarily fill the holes on its roster, tweets Adam Johnson.