Karl-Anthony Towns

Western Notes: Lakers Loan, Bagley, Walton, Towns

The Lakers returned a $4.6MM loan they received from a federal government program intended to help small businesses during by the coronavirus pandemic, according to ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz. The Lakers applied for relief through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. When many small businesses were shut out of the program, the team opted to return the money.

“Once we found out the funds from the program had been depleted, we repaid the loan so that financial support would be directed to those most in need,” the team said in a statement. “The Lakers remain completely committed to supporting both our employees and our community.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Kings coach Luke Walton isn’t sure how much big man Marvin Bagley III will play if the season resumes, Jason Jones of The Athletic reports. Bagley has played in only 13 games this season due to a left foot sprain and a broken thumb. “In talking to Marvin, he feels much better,” said Walton, who added Bagley would still have to go through protocols during injury rehab, including three-on-three and five-on-five play.
  • Walton struck an optimistic tone regarding his club in the same story from Jones. “I love where we’re at as a group,” Walton said. “I think our future is bright, I think we have a great group of guys. This is a hard thing, winning consistently in any pro sport is hard. But when you get a good group of guys that works hard and likes each other and is willing to trust each other, I think, is how you make that happen.” Sacramento was 28-36 when play was halted but had won seven of its last 10 games.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the Timberwolves and it has brought organization members closer on an emotional level, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes. Karl-Anthony Towns’ mother, Jacqueline, and a relative of Malik Beasley succumbed to complications from the virus. “We’ve done everything possible for our players and our staff and their families to make sure they’re as safe as possible,” president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said. “Once it affects you the way it’s affected us now, we’re ultra-sensitive to the fact that we want to be here for our players and their families and our staff.”

Karl-Anthony Towns’ Mother Passes Away Due To COVID-19

Jacqueline Towns, the mother of Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns, has passed away due to COVID-19 complications, a Towns family spokesperson announced today (via the Timberwolves’ Twitter).

“Jackie, as she was affectionately known among family and friends, had been battling the virus for more than a month when she succumbed on April 13,” the statement reads. “Jackie was many things to many people — a wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend. The matriarch of the Towns family, she was an incredible source of strength; a fiery, caring, and extremely loving person, who touched everyone she met. Her passion was palpable and her energy will never be replaced.

“… The family is devastated by their tremendous loss, and respectfully requests privacy in this time of great mourning.”

The Timberwolves’ big man had previously revealed in a YouTube video that his mother was in a coma after being diagnosed with the coronavirus. Towns’ father, Karl Sr., also tested positive for COVID-19 but was said in March to be recovering well after being briefly hospitalized.

We at Hoops Rumors send our condolences to Karl-Anthony, as well as to the rest of Jacqueline’s family and friends.

Karl-Anthony Towns’ Father Also Tests Positive For COVID-19

Karl-Anthony Towns recently shared the news about his mother contracting the coronavirus, revealing that she has been hospitalized for the past week and in a coma. Towns’ father also tested positive for the virus, Malika Andrews of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). Karl Sr. is reportedly “recovering well” after a multi-day stay in the hospital, Andrews adds.

“I was told early last week my parents weren’t feeling well,” Towns said (via his Instagram). “My first reaction to her was to go seek medical attention immediately. There’s no reason to wait, just go to the nearest hospital. And after a couple days of not showing any signs of improvement, I was very adamant on the first day to go to a hospital and seek further evaluation.

“Specifically, my sister told her she needs to get checked for corona. I don’t think anyone really understood what it was, with deteriorating condition. She kept getting worse, she kept getting worse, and the hospital was doing everything they can.”

Towns said he was in constant contact with his mother before she was put into the medically induced coma.

“This disease needs to not be taken lightly,” Towns said. “Please protect your families, your loved ones, your friends, yourself. Practice social distancing. Please don’t be in places with a lot of people; it just heightens your chances of getting this disease, and this disease … it’s deadly. It’s deadly. And we’re going to keep fighting on my side, me and my family, we’re going to keep fighting this. We’re going to beat it. We’re going to win.”

Hoops Rumors sends its thoughts and prayers to the Towns family and all those who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Karl-Anthony Towns’ Mother In Coma Due To COVID-19

In a video posted to YouTube on Tuesday evening, Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns provided an emotional account of the health issues his mother Jacqueline Cruz is facing, as she has been hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms.

While Towns didn’t explicitly say in the video that his mother has tested positive for the coronavirus, the Wolves confirmed that diagnosis to ESPN’s Malika Andrews. According to Towns, who had to pause to compose himself throughout the video, his mother is in a medically induced coma and had to be put on a ventilator.

“She’s been in a medically induced coma,” Towns said. “Since that day (when she was put into a coma), I haven’t talked to her, haven’t been able to obviously communicate with her. I’ve just been getting updates on her condition. It’s rough, and day by day we’re just seeing how it goes. We’re being positive; I’m being very positive. So I’m just keeping the strength up for everybody and my family.”

Towns, who made a $100K donation to the Mayo Clinic to aid the coronavirus response and testing process even before his mother got sick, explained that he shared his story because he feels it’s important that “everyone understands the severity of what’s happening in the world right now with the coronavirus.” He also expressed hope that his mother will recover.

“Dominican women are strong. I know they are,” Towns said. “My mother is one of the strongest women I know and I know she’ll beat this. We’re going to rejoice when she does.”

We wish Towns and his family the best in this difficult time.

More Teams, Players Pledge To Support Arena Workers During Hiatus

The list of teams and players who have vowed to help support arena workers who will lose wages during the NBA’s hiatus continues to grow. Here are several of the updates from the couple days:

  • The Bulls‘ ownership group, along with United Center ownership, announced that it will pay day-of-game employees through the remained of the originally scheduled season. The Nets issued a press release indicating they’ll do the same for hourly employees who worked games and events at Barclays Center. A team official said the Sixers are doing so too, tweets John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia.
  • The Spurs announced the formation of a fund totaling $500K+ that will be used to pay its part-time employees through the rest of the season. The Hornets also established a fund to assist the organization’s part-time employees who had been scheduled to work Hornets and Greensboro Swarm games through the end of their respective seasons.
  • The Nuggets‘ ownership group pledged to pay its part-time and hourly employees for the next 30 days, per a press release.
  • Madison Square Garden has committed to paying event-driven employees, including those who work at Knicks games, through March 22 and is working to come up with a longer-term plan, per a memo obtained by Ian Begley of SNY.tv. The Suns, meanwhile, are paying their employees who were scheduled to work their two home games in March, noting that the staffing for their four home games in April hadn’t yet been finalized.
  • The Raptors said in a press release that they have joined forces with Toronto’s other sports franchises to create a fund for arena and stadium workers. “Being a good teammate means looking out for our neighbours, friends and the people we work with,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said in a statement. “Through this fund, we all pledge to be good teammates to our arena, stadium and support staff. We want to be here for them, the way they are always here for us.”
  • Following the lead of stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, the rest of the Bucks‘ roster has also committed to making donations to impacted Fiserv Forum workers, per the team (Twitter link). Magic center Mohamed Bamba vowed to do the same for Amway Center employees (Twitter link).
  • Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is making a $100K donation as well, but his money will be going to the Mayo Clinic, which is rolling out a test to detect the virus that causes COVID-19.My hope is that we can fight this virus quicker and more efficiently by increasing the testing capabilities and availability and Mayo Clinic’s overall COVID-19 response,” Towns tweeted.

Towns Out At Least Another Two Weeks

Timberwolves star center Karl-Anthony Towns will be sidelined at least two more weeks with a left wrist fracture, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Towns hasn’t played since February 10 due to the injury, though it wasn’t diagnosed as a fracture until 11 days later.

At that time, the Timberwolves said they would re-evaluate Towns in two weeks. That timetable passed and the team now says the injury will be re-evaluated once again after giving it two more weeks to heal.

Towns has struggled to stay on the court this season. He also missed 15 games due to a sprained left knee and two others for a league-imposed suspension. He’s played just once with his new pick-and-roll partner, D’Angelo Russell, since the high-scoring guard was traded from Golden State.

On the positive side, Towns’ wrist won’t require surgery but his chances of returning to action before next season have diminished. Towns, 24, is averaging career highs in points (26.5 PPG) and assists (4.4 APG).

Karl-Anthony Towns Has Fractured Wrist

Timberwolves superstar center Karl-Anthony Towns has been diagnosed with a fractured left wrist and will be sidelined for a minimum of two weeks, according to a team press release.

It’s the latest setback for Towns, who has also missed 15 games this season due to a sprained left knee and two others for a league-imposed suspension. Towns sat out the last game prior to the All-Star break due to the wrist injury.

Towns received a period of treatment and monitoring from the Wolves medical staff before the fracture was discovered. He has been assessed by multiple specialists over the last several days, the release adds.

The Timberwolves are 21 games under .500, so Towns’ absence won’t impact the team’s postseason hopes. However, it will reduce the opportunities that Towns has this season to establish chemistry with newly-acquired point guard D’Angelo Russell.

Towns, 24, is averaging career highs in points (26.5 PPG) and assists (4.4 APG) this season.

Karl-Anthony Towns Sidelined Indefinitely

The wrist injury that sidelined Karl-Anthony Towns shortly before the All-Star break will keep him out of action a while longer, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Towns was held out of today’s practice and won’t be in the lineup when the Timberwolves resume their season Friday night.

“He’s still being evaluated with things,” said coach Ryan Saunders, who didn’t offer a timetable for Towns’ return or discuss the severity of the injury. “He went through the All-Star break. We’ll get back in touch with him right here.”

Saunders confirmed that Towns’ absence will cover multiple games.

Towns had a brace on his left wrist as he took shots before today’s practice, Hine added, and he wasn’t using it as he caught passes from an assistant coach. He underwent an MRI on February 11 that confirmed the injury and sat out last Wednesday’s game.

Hine notes that the Wolves are often secretive about injuries, even when they keep players out of action for extended stretches. Examples include the 15 games that Towns missed earlier this season with a left knee injury followed by an illness, and the sprained toe that has sidelined Jake Layman since November.

An extended absence for Towns would provide a setback for the Wolves as they try to integrate seven new players after a flurry of moves at the trade deadline. The organization is especially concerned with building chemistry between Towns and point guard D’Angelo Russell, who was acquired in a trade with the Warriors.

“Being the youngest team in the league,” Saunders said, “we’re going to have to make sure that we grow and we don’t say, ‘Hey we’ll be better when we mature. We’ll be better in the summertime when you can focus on just development.’ We need to use all the time right now.”

Towns May Not Be Ready To Return After All-Star Break

Karl-Anthony Towns missed the Timberwolves‘ final game before the All-Star break due to a left wrist injury. At the time, the Wolves didn’t provide many details on Towns’ exact diagnosis or his return timeline, simply announcing that he’d be evaluated over the break.

The club still hasn’t issued a formal update on Towns’ status, but league sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic that the big man will likely need more than just the nine-day All-Star break before he’s ready to return to action. According to Krawczynski, Minnesota’s franchise player has been dealing with pain in his wrist for multiple weeks, prompting further testing.

With a 16-37 record this season, the Timberwolves won’t be incentivized to rush Towns back before he’s ready. The team currently has the fourth-worst record in the NBA, but is only separated from the league’s eighth-worst team by two games, as our reverse standings show. The Wolves still own their 2020 first-round pick and would benefit from improving their lottery odds this spring, so they’ll likely be extra cautious with their leading score and won’t be concerned if his absence costs them a couple wins.

On the other hand, the Timberwolves just overhauled their roster at the trade deadline, acquiring potential building blocks like D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley. The club presumably wants a chance to observe how those players mesh with Towns down the stretch — that’s especially true for guys like Beasley and Juan Hernangomez, who will be free agents at season’s end.

We’ll have to wait for official word from the Wolves on Towns’ recovery timetable, but based on Krawczynski’s report, it sounds like he may not be ready to go when the team resumes play next Friday against the Celtics.

Timberwolves Owner Talks Saunders, D-Lo, Wiggins

Although Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas is responsible for making roster decisions in Minnesota, any trade requires the approval of owner Glen Taylor. As such, Taylor was very involved in basketball decisions at this year’s trade deadline, when the Wolves traded away half their roster in a series of major deals.

In a conversation with Sid Hartman of The Star Tribune, Taylor said that he and Rosas “talk quite often” and that the team had spent much of the season preparing for moves like the one that sent Robert Covington to Houston and especially the one that saw D’Angelo Russell land in Minnesota.

Taylor said he’s “excited” to have acquired so many promising young players that are in the same age range as Karl-Anthony Towns, suggesting that the team’s hope is for those players to continue to improve and grow together.

Taylor’s conversation with Hartman included a handful of other noteworthy comments, including the Wolves owner’s thoughts on head coach Ryan Saunders‘ job security, trading former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, and more. Here are a few of the highlights:

On whether he has considered replacing Saunders during the Timberwolves’ current 6-29 stretch:

“No, no, no, he is hired. A young guy and he is going to get better as time goes on and we just have to give him that time.

“[Saunders] is excited about this change that now he has guys that can play the kind of basketball he wants. He is really a believer in the three-point shot, moving the ball fast, and getting up and down the court. He needed some players that were better three-point shooters than what we had previously.”

On the front office continuing to push for Russell after completing its Covington trade:

“They kept working on Russell, that was the main thing that they wanted to accomplish. They were able to do that and get two young guys out of Denver (Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez) that were part of our hopes for the future. It just dragged on — these things are difficult — almost to the last few hours before everything fell into place. But it was very interesting to me that normally if part of this would have fell into place, we would have been happy. But in this particular case, everything went our way. We think we have helped our team and we have probably helped some other teams. It is probably a win-win.”

On Wiggins becoming easier to move this season than he was last summer:

“I don’t think there was any secret to that. Andrew worked really hard. He didn’t have the best year last year, and we worked really hard with him this summer to improve and I think we saw some improvements. That allowed us to have the chance to make a trade this year where last year I don’t think it was there with any team.”

“… I think [Warriors head coach] Steve Kerr said it exactly right, this should be a win-win. Us getting Russell should really help us and them getting Wiggins on their team should really help them. Wiggins won’t be expected to be the main scorer. He can fit in with their team. I’m hopeful it works out for him, and I’m confident it will work out with Russell on our team.”