Karl-Anthony Towns

Karl-Anthony Towns Reveals He’s Tested Positive

Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns has tested positive for COVID-19, he revealed on his Twitter account.

His announcement came shortly after the league postponed the GrizzliesTimberwolves game on Friday due to coronavirus issues within Minnesota’s team.

Towns, whose family has been devastated by the virus, said he will “immediately isolate and follow every protocol.”

“I pray every day that this nightmare of a virus will subside and I beg everyone to take it seriously by taking all of the necessary precautions,” Towns said.

Towns lost his mother and several other relatives to the virus. In his statement, he expressed concern for the health of his father and sister.

President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas says it is “heartbreaking” that Towns tested positive, especially with what the Towns family has been through with COVID-19, ESPN’s Malika Andrews tweets.

“It’s a lesson for all of us. Basketball is a microcosm of society right now…this virus is powerful,” Rosas said.

Rosas confirmed two players have tested positive and another is out due to contact tracing, Andrews adds in another tweet.

The Timberwolves previously announced that power forward Juan Hernangomez would isolate for at least 10 days due to health and safety protocols and that point guard Ricky Rubio would miss Friday’s game due to those regulations.

Northwest Notes: Harris, Towns, Lillard, Green, Hill

Despite the Nuggets opening the season with a 4-5 record, the team is widely recognized as having one of the best offenses in the league — one that significantly improves when Gary Harris finds his rhythm, head coach Mike Malone acknowledged.

“Gary allows us to be a different team when the offense is flowing like it was tonight,” Malone said after Denver’s 115-103 win over Philadelphia on Saturday, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “…Gary deserves it. He’s been working so hard, and for him to see the ball go through the net, I’m just happy for him because I know it’s been on his mind.”

Harris finished with 21 points against the Sixers, shooting 7-of-11 from the field and 5-of-8 from three-point range in 28 minutes. He’s been a key cog in Denver’s offense for several years, averaging double-digit points per game in each of his last six seasons. The team could use his offensive production as it looks to contend in an already-crowded Western Conference this season.

There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic examines the return of Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns, who finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds and four assists in an overtime loss against the Spurs on Saturday. “People don’t know the toughness that he has, not just physically but mentally, too,” head coach Ryan Saunders said postgame. “I’ll always ride with KAT. Tonight was evident of that. He was clearly limited. I thought he was unbelievably effective.”
  • Damian Lillard and his camp have advocated for the Blazers to acquire Warriors forward Draymond Green over the past couple of years, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic (hat tip Dan Feldman of NBC Sports). However, there has been no indication that Golden State has any interest in trading Green, who has spent all nine seasons of his career with the Warriors.
  • Marc Spears of The Undefeated examined the Jacob Blake decision and more with Thunder guard George Hill, who offered insight about topics on and off the court. “I can’t speak for everybody. I can only speak for myself. I just think with the way the world is going, I just think we all need to come together,” Hill said as part of a larger quote addressing where players should go with the social justice movement this season. “We’re 450 [players] and when 450 stand strong, we’re more powerful than everyone thinks. We’re way more powerful than they think we are. I learned a lot from LeBron [James] and how he migrated and moved on and off the floor. He is a huge inspiration with how he uses his leverage to open doors and how powerful he is. That is just one guy. Four hundred and fifty can be really strong if we just come together.

Injury Updates: Exum, Hayes, Bogdanovic, Okogie, Towns

Cavaliers guard Dante Exum departed Monday’s game against Orlando in the opening minute with a right calf strain, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He went down with a non-contact injury and eventually hobbled to the bench, unable to put weight on his leg. Cleveland players spoke with optimism regarding the injury after the game, Fedor tweets.

Here are a few more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Pistons lottery pick Killian Hayes left Monday’s game against Milwaukee during the third quarter with a right hip injury, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets. Hayes has started regularly during his rookie season. He’ll have an MRI on Tuesday, coach Dwane Casey said after the game.
  • Jazz swingman Bojan Bogdanovic has continually experienced soreness in his surgically repaired right wrist, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News writes. Bogdanovic put on a brace during Sunday’s game against San Antonio and it helped dramatically, as he scored 28 points. “I really hate to play with anything on my body, any tape, any brace, anything,” he said. “But I really needed it because my wrist is kind od sore whenever I follow through when I’m shooting.”
  • Josh Okogie is closer to returning than Karl-Anthony Towns for the Timberwolves, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. Okogie has missed the last four games with a left hamstring strain. Towns has only played two games due to a dislocated left wrist. Meanwhile, Jaylen Nowell is ramping up in practice and is close to making his season debut. He’s been sidelined with a left ankle injury.

Karl-Anthony Towns Suffers Dislocated Wrist

Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns has suffered a dislocated wrist (left perilunate subluxation), the team announced in a medical update. The injury was revealed during further examination with a hand specialist on Sunday.

Towns, who sustained the injury in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s contest against Utah, will be examined on a week-by-week basis going forward. There’s optimism that it won’t be a long-term absence for the 25-year-old, but he’s expected to miss several games, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Towns is averaging 22.6 points and 11.5 rebounds through the team’s first two contests of the season. He originally left Saturday’s game after falling hard on his wrist, but later returned to help Minnesota secure a 116-111 victory.

“I didn’t want to just quit the game and go get X-rays and stuff,” Towns said, as relayed by Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “I wanted to be available in case my team needed me, and just be out there cheering them on. I did what I had to do.”

Towns fractured the same wrist last season, though he won’t need surgery on this injury, according to the team. He played 35 games in 2019/20, averaging 26.5 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per contest. This includes a 51% shooting mark from the floor and 41% mark from deep.

Northwest Notes: McCollum, Towns, Daigneault, Maledon

After James Harden added the Trail Blazers to his list of preferred destinations this week, CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard made a powerful statement Saturday night for keeping the current backcourt together, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. McCollum especially stood out in the win over the Rockets with 44 points, eight assists, and a game-winning three-pointer in overtime.

“What am I supposed to think?” McCollum responded when asked about trade rumors. “I play the same position as James. If there is a trade for James, who is going to be in the trade?”

McCollum’s $29.3MM salary also makes him a logical candidate to be included if the Trail Blazers need to match salaries with Houston, Quick adds. The 29-year-old has been a 20+ PPG scorer for the past five years and would help replace some of the offense the Rockets will lose by dealing Harden. McCollum prefers to try to win a title with Lillard in Portland.

“I think besides Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson), we are probably the only backcourt that not only gets along, but like, empowers the other,” McCollum said. “There is no competition. I don’t force my way into the game if he is playing well; he doesn’t force his way into the game. I just let whatever is going to happen, happen. I’m comfortable not taking shots, I’m comfortable playing a role. I do what is necessary for the team.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves got a scare when Karl-Anthony Towns had to leave Saturday’s game after falling hard on his left wrist, notes Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. Towns returned to help Minnesota win at Utah, but the team won’t know how much damage was done until he undergoes further testing. “I didn’t want to just quit the game and go get X-rays and stuff,” he said. “I wanted to be available in case my team needed me, and just be out there cheering them on. I did what I had to do.”
  • Mark Daigneault impressed Thunder players with his calm demeanor in his first NBA game as a head coach, according to Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. Daigneault picked up his first win Saturday, but not before OKC let a big lead slip away at Charlotte. “We, myself, almost gave the game away,” said Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. “But (Daigneault was) super composed, kept our heads up, kept us confident. He was our leader down the stretch, even though things weren’t going the right way. And just in the right mind frame. Cool, calm, collected.”
  • Former NBA guard Tony Parker tells French outlet L’Equipe (hat tip to Stefan Djordjevic of EuroHoops) that Thunder rookie Theo Maledon should have been a first-round pick, but his stock fell because he wasn’t used properly in Europe by Zvezdan Mitrovic, the former head coach of Parker’s ASVEL franchise. OKC grabbed Maledon with the 34th selection.

Wolves Notes: RHJ, Taylor, Vanterpool, Russell, Towns

Speaking to Darren Wolfson of SKOR North, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor praised Rondae Hollis-Jefferson‘s performance during training camp and the preseason, explaining that the team’s decision to release him was an “insurance policy” for roster flexibility.

“If we’d (retained Hollis-Jefferson), then we’d have the roster. We wouldn’t have any room for any movement at all,” Taylor said. “And I just think that you want to go into this year leaving a little bit of flexibility to see if you get some injuries or something like that, that you can bring in somebody to fill it.”

While Taylor’s point is a fair one, it’s worth noting that Hollis-Jefferson had a non-guaranteed contract, as do Jaylen Nowell and Naz Reid, who remain on the roster. So even if the Timberwolves had carried a full 15-man roster into the regular season, they would’ve had some flexibility to make changes if necessary prior to February’s league-wide salary guarantee deadline.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Although Taylor has done his due diligence on a potential sale of the franchise, he suggested in his conversation with Wolfson that no agreement is close and acknowledged that he could still own the club a year from now. “There’s probably a good possibility that could happen,” Taylor said.
  • Within his discussion with Wolfson, Taylor also said he expects Timberwolves assistant coach David Vanterpool to eventually become an NBA head coach and said that president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas remains on the lookout for trades that could upgrade Minnesota’s roster.
  • Ricky Rubio started in place of D’Angelo Russell in the Wolves’ opener because Russell was late for his coronavirus test on Wednesday, writes Patrick Reusse of The Star Tribune. As Reusse notes, Russell tested negative and ended up playing 33 minutes, but the Wolves’ decision not to start him sent a message that they expect their players to strictly follow COVID-19 protocols.
  • Following the death of his mother and several other loved ones this year, Karl-Anthony Towns is playing with a heavy heart and is no longer the “happy-go-lucky” player he was during his first five seasons in the NBA, Jon Krawzyncski writes for The Athletic. “You may see me smiling and stuff, but that Karl died on April 13,” an emotional Towns said following the Wolves’ win on Wednesday. “He’s never coming back. I don’t remember that man. I don’t know that man. You’re talking to the physical me, but my soul has been killed off a long time ago.”

Northwest Notes: Porter, J. Green, Hood, Towns

Michael Porter Jr. is confident that he’s ready to be the third star the Nuggets are looking for, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Porter got uneven playing time at the beginning of last season, but injuries gave him a chance to be a starter and he became a star at Disney World, earning a spot on the All-Seeding Games second team.

Denver is counting on a strong second season from Porter after losing Jerami Grant and Torrey Craig in free agency. That leaves a huge hole at the wing spots, and Porter is ready to build on what he has learned.

“I kind of saw everything last year,” he said. “We played LeBron (James) in the playoffs, I played against Kawhi (Leonard)Paul George, all the best players at my position. So I feel like I have some experience now going into this season that I didn’t have last year in my first year playing. I went from DNPs to starting on a Western Conference finals team in the playoffs. I learned a lot in one year and looking to carry that over to this year. I want to make a really big jump. I’ve been working really hard in all the areas that I saw that I need to get better in the playoffs. I’m excited and I feel like I’m ready.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets players are excited about the addition of free agent forward JaMychal Green, according to Alex Labidou of NBA.com. Denver was looking to add toughness, which Green has displayed by establishing a presence in the league after going undrafted in 2012. “I’m just glad he’s on our team. He’s one of those power forwards you hate to go up against,” Paul Millsap said. “He’s a guy I’ve battled against for many years. He’s always had an attitude to be relentless and to win.” 
  • Trail Blazers swingman Rodney Hood is ready for a fresh start after a year filled with personal tragedy and recovery from an Achilles tear he suffered last December, notes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. Hood is close to being cleared for five-on-five play and is expected to back up new additions Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr.
  • Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns is heading into a new season with the pain of losing his mother and six other loved ones to COVID-19 still fresh on his mind, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Towns talked about the difficulty of focusing on basketball in the midst of so much tragedy. “I play this game more because I just love watching my family members seeing me play a game I was very good and successful at,” he said. “It always brought a smile for me when I saw my mom at the baseline and in the stands and stuff and having a good time watching me play. It’s going to be hard to play. It’s going to be difficult to say that this is therapy. I don’t think this will ever be therapy again for me. But it gives me a chance to relive good memories I had. I guess that’s the only therapy I’m going to get from it. It’s not going to really help me emotionally or anything.”

Northwest Notes: Favors, Thunder, KAT, Nnaji

Jazz reserve center Derrick Favors didn’t need much convincing around before deciding to return to Utah, per Eric Walden of the Salt Lake City Tribune.

“I just came to the decision: ‘You know what, man? It feels better going back to Utah,’” Favors said in a Wednesday afternoon Zoom conversation. “Utah is like a second home to me — I’ve been there since I was 19, [since] around 2010. It just felt right. So once they came with the opportunity, I jumped on it.” 

Favors inked a three-year, $27MM contract with the Jazz to back up All-Star center Rudy Gobert at the start of free agency. Favors previously spent 8.5 seasons with Utah before being dealt to the Pelicans last season. He averaged 9.0 PPG, 9.8 RPG, and 0.9 BPG in 24.4 MPG during the 2019/20 season.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Besides Maurice Cheeks, who already left for a job with the Bulls, Brian Keefe and Vin Bhavnani are the only Thunder assistants not returning to be part of Mark Daigneault‘s new coaching staff, notes Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman. The Thunder previously announced Daigneault’s group, which will include former Knicks interim coach Mike Miller.
  • The Timberwolves are playing a delicate balancing act, as they strive to keep star center Karl-Anthony Towns happy while taking pains to improve the team’s roster long-term, as Jim Souhan of the Minnesota Star Tribune details.
  • New Nuggets rookie forward Zeke Nnaji hopes to become a lockdown defender in Denver, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post reports. “My ultimate goal is to be able to guard one through five consistently,” the 19-year-old out of Arizona said. “I want to be a lockdown defender no matter who I’m guarding. But the biggest thing right now is working on that three through five and just being versatile, no matter what role I’m playing.”

And-Ones: Social Justice Board, Boatright, Jazz, Moore

Carmelo Anthony, Avery Bradley, Sterling Brown, Donovan Mitchell and Karl-Anthony Towns are the players chosen to serve on the league’s Social Justice Coalition Board, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania (Twitter links).

The NBA and NBPA agreed to create the group to advance equality and social justice after teams walked out of games in late August to protest a police shooting. Commissioner Adam Silver, deputy commissioner Mark Tatum and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, as well as owners Micky Arison, Steve Ballmer, Clay Bennett, Marc Lasry and Vivek Randadive and coaches Lloyd Pierce and Doc Rivers.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Ryan Boatright has signed with Lithuanian club team BC Rytas Vilnius, the team tweets. Boatright, 28, played in Europe last season after spending time in the G League during the 2018/19 season. The former University of Connecticut guard also played in Italy, China and Turkey.
  • The sale price of the Jazz bodes well for the league’s franchise valuations, Bill Shea of The Athletic notes. The team, along with an arena and a couple of minor-league teams, were sold to Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith for $1.66 billion, and the league’s owners are expected to approve the sale. The valuation falls in line with expectations and doesn’t reflect any pandemic discount, Shea continues. It also reinforces the notion that team values keep going up.
  • Former Pacers forward Ben Moore has signed with South East Melbourne Phoenix of Australia’s NBL, according to the team. Moore is expected to join the club for preseason training next month. Moore, who also spent time in the Spurs organization, logged two games with Indiana during the 2017/18 season.

Timberwolves Notes: Beasley, Hernangomez, Towns, Gupta

Even though he’ll be a restricted free agent when the offseason arrives, Malik Beasley opted to attend the Timberwolves‘ in-market camp, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Beaskey may be risking an injury that could affect his value, but he wanted to get back on the court after six months away from organized basketball, and his decision was noticed by management.

“I’m smiling and giggling,” said president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas. “Coach (Ryan Saunders) can speak to it, that’s what I love about our group. We’ve got workers. Coach and I were sitting in a meeting before this, and Beasley calls to say how much he wants to play and be here throughout it.”

Beasley, 23, is positioned for a nice raise after making an impact in 14 games since being acquired from Denver at the trade deadline. He became a starter in Minnesota and averaged 20.7 PPG while shooting 42.6% from 3-point range. The Wolves have interest in re-signing him, and his appearance seems to be an expression of loyalty.

There’s more from camp, all courtesy of Krawczynski:

  • The only notable player missing is restricted free agent Juan Hernangomez, who is filming a movie with Adam Sandler. Krawczynski notes that the acting commitment was made before the NBA finalized plans for the teams that didn’t go to Orlando.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell have emerged as leaders during camp and are trying to set an example for their teammates. “D’Angelo worked out this morning at 7 a.m. Karl’s been the 6 a.m. guy in the gym,” Saunders said. “It’s good to get out there. Even though you can only do it with one player, one coach, it’s been nice for me to be able to get not hands-on, but hands-on at a safe social distance and focus on things that we feel these guys need to work on and know they need to work on to take not just their games to the next level, but take this team to the next level.” Rosas said Towns has fully recovered from a wrist injury that sidelined him for a month before the hiatus.
  • Executive vice president Sachin Gupta will remain with Minnesota after being one of the finalists for the Kings’ GM job. Gupta seemed to be the favorite earlier this week and the Wolves were preparing for him to leave, but Sacramento opted for Monte McNair instead.