Karl-Anthony Towns

Northwest Notes: Ingles, Towns, Nuggets, Jones, Conley

Jazz forward Joe Ingles has sought advice from San Antonio’s Patty Miles and New Orleans’ J.J. Redick as he adjusts to a sixth-man role, Aaron Falk of the team’s website reports. “It’s been a few years since I’ve come off the bench,” Ingles said. “I’m just figuring out different ways, what they do, their routines. If there’s anything I can steal or use to help our team win games, I’m going to do it.” Ingles is off to a slow start in his new role, averaging 7.6 PPG and 3.4 APG with a .400 FG%.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns has no regrets about his scrap with Joel Embiid that resulted in a two-game suspension, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets“Listen I’m going to defend myself. I ain’t going to take nothing,” he said. “That’s a very … talented player. I just had to defend myself in that situation.”
  • The Nuggets are getting an average of 36.7 points from their bench, putting them in the middle of the pack in the league, but forward Will Barton says they’re way better than that, Kyle Fredrickson of the Denver Post relays. “We’ve got the best bench in the league when we’re clicking on all cylinders,” Barton said.
  • Tyus Jones was grateful he had the chance to play for his hometown team, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune relays. Jones grew up in Minnesota and played four seasons for the Timberwolves. He signed a three-year offer sheet with the Grizzlies this offseason and Minnesota declined to match it. “Last year it was like, ‘Man, I might not get this chance again to play for my hometown team.’ … It was just a cool experience, something I’m grateful for because not everyone gets to do something like that. It’s pretty unique and pretty cool,” the point guard said.
  • Mike Conley is going through a bigger adjustment than anticipated, as the Jazz guard told Sam Amick of The Athletic. “It’s kind of a little bit out of my routine because I’ve had to watch more film on us than I can on the other teams because I’m still learning. … I’ve got a big guy now (in Rudy Gobert) who can go get it. I can throw pocket passes, but it’s a little different. We’ve got lob threats and shooters around. You’re just trying to figure out where guys like to come off screens, and which hand, and then just remembering the terminology,” he said. Conley, who was traded by the Grizzlies over the summer, is making a combined $67MM this season and next season.

And-Ones: Timberwolves, Durant, Buycks, Draft

The Timberwolves are fuming over how the NBA handled the discipline for Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns, which stems from a mid-game scuffle between the two superstars last week, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Minnesota has expressed disapproval of the league’s decision to suspend both Embiid and Towns two games for multiple reasons, as noted by Krawczynski.

Firstly, team officials believe Embiid was the instigator of the scuffle, leading to Towns’ involvement. The franchise also touched on Embiid’s decision to leave the game with a bang upon his ejection, shadow-boxing and firing up the Philadelphia crowd while Towns exited the floor quietly.

And the last issue, one discussed heavily by fans across the league, relates to the league’s decision not to penalize Ben Simmons for his involvement in the altercation. Simmons was seen with his arms wrapped around the neck of Towns, causing many to believe he was attempting a rear-naked choke. The league ultimately viewed Simmons as a peacemaker.

“While we are disappointed in the league’s decision, we understand the magnitude of this unfortunate incident,” Wolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said, according to Krawczynski. “The NBA is highly competitive and last night was a reflection of that. We support Karl and will move forward together as a group.”

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The shaky starts from both the Nets and Warriors show Kevin Durant‘s tremendous on-court value even more, as detailed by Frank Isola of The Athletic. Golden State lost Durant in free agency this summer, with the 10-time All-Star choosing to take his talents to Brooklyn on a multi-year deal. Durant is expected to miss the rest of the 2019/20 season as he rehabs from a torn Achilles’ tendon, with the Nets currently struggling at 2-4.
  • Free agent guard Dwight Buycks has agreed to a new deal with the Shenzhen Leopards in China, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Buycks averaged 20.5 points with the team last season.
  • Jonathon Givony and Mike Schmitz of ESPN.com discuss the early contenders for the 2020 NBA Draft, including which prospects have the best chances of being selected in the lottery. ESPN revealed its early mock draft for the event last week, with 7-foot-1 center James Wiseman currently projected as the No. 1 overall pick.

NBA Suspends Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns Two Games Each

The punishment for the scuffle between Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid has been handed down by the league. Each player will miss the next two games, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The two big men wrestled one another to the ground on Wednesday and were each ejected from the contest. The jabs didn’t stop there, as the star big men exchanged insults via social media later that night. Charania adds that the duo’s suspension was for their on-court altercation and “their continued escalation following the incident.”

Ben Simmons, who held Towns down on the ground as other players pulled Embiid away, will not be suspended for the incident, despite the Wolves pushing back against the notion that he acted as a peacemaker.

Embiid will lose roughly $379K as a result of the conflict while Towns will lose roughly $376K, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). The 76ers will play Portland and Phoenix over their next two games while Minnesota faces Washington and Milwaukee.

Wolves Dispute Simmons As ‘Peacemaker’ In Brawl

While Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns were the instigators of Wednesday’s brawl between the Sixers and Timberwolves, they weren’t the only players who jumped in the fray. Ben Simmons was among the players who ended up on the ground with Towns during the fracas, with referees ruling that Simmons was acting as a “peacemaker.” According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Wolves are pushing back on that ruling.

As Wojnarowski details, the Timberwolves are arguing that Simmons had Towns in a “dangerous choke hold” as he pinned him to the floor. Minnesota’s front office was in touch with NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe, sources tell Wojnarowski, and presumably the Wolves would like to see Simmons receive some sort of discipline as a result of the altercation.

According to Michael Lee of The Athletic (Twitter link), people on the Wolves’ side may have been even more upset with Simmons’ actions than Embiid’s, and questioned why he was allowed to stay in the game.

For their part, the Sixers were “adamant” in supporting the referees’ conclusion that Simmons was a peacemaker, per Woj. The 76ers have also been in contact with VanDeWeghe and the league office, telling the NBA that they believe Towns was the aggressor in the fight.

The NBA will review the tape and interview participants and witnesses beginning today as it determines the appropriate punishment for those involved in the brawl, says Wojnarowski. Neither team plays until Saturday, so the league has some time to mull its decisions.

As we detailed in our earlier story on the incident, Embiid and Towns brought the fight to social media after the game, though it’s not clear whether the league will take those tweets and Instagram posts into account when considering discipline.

Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns Involved In Brawl

OCTOBER 31, 7:56am: Embiid and Towns took to social media overnight to essentially pick up where they left off, trading increasingly nasty barbs on Instagram and Twitter.

As we wait to see how the NBA will respond to Wednesday’s fight, Marks notes (via Twitter) that a suspension will cost Embiid nearly $190K per game and Towns about $188K per game.

OCTOBER 30, 9:57pm: All-Star big men Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns were involved in an on-court brawl during the third quarter of the Sixers‘ win over the Timberwolves‘ on Wednesday night, resulting in both players being ejected for fighting.

It’s possible that one or both combatants threw a punch, and photographs make it appear as if Embiid attempted to gouge/poke Towns’ left eye with his right thumb, although his hand may have landed on Towns’ face accidentally.

This is not the first time bad blood has surfaced between Embiid and Towns. After a game in December 2017, Embiid went to Instagram to post a photograph of himself scoring on Towns. Towns criticized the caption and picture quality, to which Embiid responded, “Better quality than your defense.”

Bobby Marks of ESPN notes that the severity of the brawl will likely warrant multi-game suspensions for both players. Marks adds that both teams don’t play again until Saturday, so the league will have plenty of time to assess whether any players left the bench area, which could lead to additional suspensions (Twitter link). Stay tuned.

Northwest Notes: Towns, Blazers, Bazemore, Thunder

For Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves, any barriers that have kept him from leading the team are now removed this year, Chris Hine of the Star Tribune writes.

Towns, a perennial All-Star who’s averaged 36.5 points and 14.5 rebounds in his first two games of the season, is set to lead Minnesota as the club seeks its second postseason berth in the last 16 years.

“I’m in a spot right now where I got to lead these guys,” Towns said. “I’ve got to lead them. And no matter what I go through in life or whatever I went through, I got to make sure I take those experiences, teach the guys, especially young guys, how to go from boys to men, no pun intended.”

Behind Towns’ strong play, the Timberwolves could wind up contending for a spot in the postseason. Their major concern, however, is the glut of other West teams that are also expected to make concerted efforts for a late seed: Dallas, Phoenix, Sacramento and San Antonio.

There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • Since the Trail Blazers don’t have a G League affiliate of their own, their two-way players – Moses Brown and Jaylen Hoard – will join the Texas Legends, G League affiliate of the Mavericks, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
  • Trail Blazers forward Kent Bazemore is here to disrupt, Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com writes. Bazemore, an accomplished defender who’s spent eight seasons in the NBA, was acquired by the team this past summer in a deal with Atlanta. “It’s good to kind of see the ball go in, but that’ll come,” he said. “Just find your rhythm as you kind of get used to things, get the jitters out. My defense is going to be the constant thing for me regardless of if the shot’s falling for me or not. I just want to find other ways to impact the game. We’ve got two of the best scorers at their position in the league and Hassan down low, Ant Simons did a great job for us off the bench. My job is to go out there and disrupt.”
  • The Thunder’s rivalry with the Warriors has dissolved without the likes of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, contends Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman. Nevertheless, Oklahoma City delivered a crushing defeat to Golden State on Sunday, winning 120-92 at home.

And-Ones: Wade, China, Stoudemire, Contracts

Six months after retiring as a player, Dwyane Wade is employed in a new capacity. According to an official press release (via NBA.com), Wade has reached a multiyear, multi-platform agreement with WarnerMedia, and will become a basketball commentator for TNT this season.

In addition to appearing on the network’s NBA broadcasts, Wade will make studio appearances during Turner Sports’ and CBS Sports’ NCAA tournament coverage later in the season.

“I’m thrilled and grateful to be joining the WarnerMedia family with many exciting opportunities ahead,” Wade said in a statement. “I have great respect for TNT’s team of analysts and their longstanding commitment to quality sports coverage. After sixteen seasons in the NBA, I look forward to connecting with my fans in this new role and bringing my own perspective to the game I love.”

Here’s more from around the NBA and the rest of the basketball world:

  • Chinese state television didn’t air the NBA’s opening-night games on Tuesday, while Chinese streaming partner Tencent only showed the Lakers/Clippers game, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst. CCTV typically shows the league’s opening-night doubleheader, but Tuesday’s decision is a signal that the ongoing NBA/China controversy is far from settled. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said earlier this week that the league has “no choice but to engage” China, as Ben Cohen of The Wall Street Journal details.
  • Speaking of China, former NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire has signed the Fujian Sturgeons of the Chinese Basketball Assocation, according to reports from Roi Cohen of Sport5 and Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter links).
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks provides some financial details on the rookie scale extensions signed on Monday, outlining (via Twitter) exactly how much bonus money is included in five of those deals. Marks also identifies four players who will receive increased partial guarantees as a result of remaining under contract with their respective teams through Wednesday (Twitter link). Those players are Christian Wood (Pistons), Jordan McRae (Wizards), Kendrick Nunn (Heat), and Trey Burke (Sixers).
  • In a conversation with Max Resetar of SLAM, good friends Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, and D’Angelo Russell joked about eventually teaming up. “When we’re all on the same team—I ain’t gonna tell you which team because I don’t know—we’re gonna do this again,” Russell said of the joint interview. While we probably shouldn’t assume the trio is destined to form a Big Three down the road, it’s worth noting that both Towns and Booker tried to recruit Russell to their respective teams when he was a free agent this summer.

Karl-Anthony Towns Talks Changes In Minnesota, False Narratives Off The Court

The NBA has seen its share of power moves by players in the last year. Kawhi Leonard joined the Clippers this offseason while angling for the Paul George trade. Anthony Davis, who shares an agent with LeBron James, demanded a trade with eyes for the Lakers and Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving reportedly began their planning to team up long ago.

Many have speculated that Karl-Anthony Towns could the next player in a small market to leverage his way to a new destination. Towns hears the noise and says he isn’t swayed by the glamour of a bigger city.

“Game is game. Basketball is basketball,” Towns said (via Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic). “Competition is competition. It don’t matter where you at,” Towns said. “All of us were raised, regardless of where we’re at, playing in the park, playing in hot box rec gyms. You were competing. It don’t matter if you’re in Milwaukee, in Minnesota. It doesn’t matter if you’re in L.A. or New York, competition is competition. You have to come ready to play and kick some ass.

“That’s how I approach it. I’m not afraid to play anywhere. I don’t care about where it’s at, who it’s against. I’m going to go out there and compete and try my best.”

New president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas has made it clear that the team is building around Towns as its star. Coach Ryan Saunders, who served in an interim capacity last season, has a close relationship with the center and that was part of the reason Saunders was awarded the full-time job.

“I’m here. That’s the answer. That’s the best answer I can give you,” Towns said. “I’m here. I’m actually in Minnesota.”

A year ago, Tom Thibodeau was still running the show in Minnesota. Towns was entering the final season of his rookie deal and Jimmy Butler was seen by some as the leader of the team. Towns had his concerns about the franchise then, Krawczynski writes. He steered clear of the off-court turmoil surrounding Butler and Thibodeau, instead, focusing on the game.

“I go out there to do my job and do it better than everybody in this league. That’s what my focus is,” Towns said. “I’m not here to be a show.”

Towns is entering the first season of five-year, $190MM max deal. He missed out on roughly $32MM by not making an All-NBA team this past season, though he doesn’t dwell on last year’s results.

“It’s a great thing for me because I laugh about it,” Towns said. “When you’re doing something so well for so long, it gets boring. I guess I’m a boring guy now…It’s never been about the individual awards. It’s about the team success. I’ve got to do better of getting my team in a better position to win. Obviously, it’s going to be fun this year to have the kind of group I have.”

While it may seem like the endorsements and other financial opportunities are heavily concentrated in bigger markets, Towns is doing just fine, as his agency (CAA) has helped him with off-court exposure. In addition to endorsements, Towns has been in movies and on television shows. He has a YouTube Channel as well.

“I thought when you were in Minnesota, you would have less opportunities. I’ve seemed to have only grown with my opportunities,” Towns said. “The idea of it being because of my market or where I’m at is a false narrative that’s written by people who want to keep big cities’ talent pool larger than others. It’s just not true.

“We’re in a digital age. Talent is talent wherever you are. We find it through social media and the markets and the companies know who they want to work with. It doesn’t matter where.”

Western Notes: Russell, Suns, Beverley, Kings, Rivers, Blazers

The Timberwolves, led by D’Angelo Russell‘s close friend Karl-Anthony Towns, were confident about their ability to get a commitment from Russell in free agency and went into their Sunday meeting with him ready to make the trades necessary to make a deal work, sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Minnesota was just waiting for the green light from D-Lo to move forward on those trades, but the All-Star point guard instead opted to join the Warriors.

The Suns were viewed as a team that might try to get into the mix for Russell, who has another good friend – Devin Booker – in Phoenix. However, despite Booker’s campaign, Phoenix chose not to pursue the RFA guard, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. According to Rankin, the Suns “apparently felt Russell wouldn’t have been a good influence on Booker off the court.”

The Warriors, with their veteran leaders, apparently had no such qualms about D-Lo, who – by all accounts – matured considerably during his time in Brooklyn.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • After agreeing to sign a three-year, $40MM deal with the Clippers, Patrick Beverley tells Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times that he turned down a more lucrative offer from the Kings to return to L.A. “I got a bigger offer from Sacramento and I took $9-10 million less to come here,” Beverley said. “… It was the right decision. Of course, the human part of you wants to take as much money as you see, but all money isn’t good money. I did what was best for me and my family and I did what was best to stay on a winning team, and I feel like I made the right decision.”
  • Despite Beverley’s comments, Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link) hears that the Kings offered the veteran guard a guaranteed total of $35MM over three years, with a partial guarantee in year three. Theoretically, it’s possible that Beverley’s claim could still be accurate if that third-year partial guarantee was very small and he’s including the non-guaranteed money as part of Sacramento’s bid.
  • Before he agreed to return to the Rockets for the veteran’s minimum, Austin Rivers had offers in the range of the $5.7MM taxpayer mid-level exception, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com. “Now that the league is wide open, I just saw an opportunity,” Rivers said. “You can’t really put a price on happiness. The goal was to come back to Houston all along. I think we have the team to beat.”
  • The Trail Blazers have announced Terry Stotts‘ coaching staff for the upcoming season, with Nate Tibbetts replacing David Vanterpool as the team’s associate head coach. Portland has also promoted Jim Moran to the front of the bench and hired former NBA guard Jannero Pargo as an assistant.

Warriors Agree To Acquire D’Angelo Russell Via Sign-And-Trade

JULY 1: The Warriors will send a future protected first-round pick to the Nets as part of the deal to help incentivize them to acquire Durant via sign-and-trade, tweets Wojnarowski.

JUNE 30: The Warriors are trading for D’Angelo Russell, Treveon Graham, and Shabazz Napier from the Nets, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (Twitter link). The move would be made via sign-and-trade in exchange for Kevin Durant.

Russell will receive a four-year, $117MM maximum salary contract, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link).

It was reported earlier today that the Warriors may have an interest in turning Durant’s departure into a sign-and-trade with the Nets. If they hadn’t taken back any salary in the deal, the Dubs could have created a $30MM trade exception. Instead, they’ll land one of the top restricted free agents on the market.

Brooklyn replaced Russell with Kyrie Irving at the point guard position and the franchise was said to be open to helping Russell find a new home of his choosing, even if it meant committing to a sign-and-trade. The Nets wouldn’t look to take salary back in most scenarios, but since they are getting Durant from Golden State, sending Russell there wouldn’t hinder their ability to sign their new stars.

Russell was said to be eyeing a possible move to Minnesota to team up with his close friend Karl-Anthony Towns. Perhaps that was before a deal in Golden State seemed like a feasible option.

The Warriors must stay below the tax apron, which is set at approximately $138.9MM, to remain eligible to accept a sign-and-trade. Doing so with Russell and Klay Thompson receiving maximum-salary deals will be extremely difficult, so another move or two is likely coming for Golden State. As Wojnarowski tweets, Andre Iguodala may have to be moved. Shaun Livingston also appears unlikely to be back.

[UPDATE: Warriors trading Iguodala to Grizzlies]

With Thompson expected to miss most or all of the 2019/20 season with a torn ACL, Russell figures to share the backcourt with Stephen Curry next season in a revamped Warriors lineup. It will be fascinating to see if the club plans to move forward and build around all three guards long-term once Thompson is healthy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.