Karl-Anthony Towns

Karl-Anthony Towns On Wolves: “Not The Circus It Used To Be”

With rumors surrounding Karl-Anthony Towns‘ future with the Timberwolves, the All-Star big man addressed his mindset and status in Minnesota with reporters on Friday after he returned to action.

Towns missed 15 games due to a knee injury and his return was delayed after he suffered an illness. During that time, rumors of him potentially being unhappy in Minnesota swirled even as the team reportedly explored a trade for D’Angelo Russell.

Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic was among those to speak to Towns about his future after he posted 27 points in 28 minutes in Friday’s loss.

Check out highlights of Towns’ postgame chat:

On returning from his first extended absence due to injury:

“The game of basketball is a very fragile thing. I don’t like playing with it. I had to take my time, had an unfortunate setback with getting sick. But if I could really say I’m just so happy the game of basketball is here for me. It was some great therapy for me today. I needed the game more than ever. It allowed me to put my mind somewhere else.”

On rumors of his unhappiness in Minnesota:

“I’m here to be a Minnesota Timberwolf. Very fortunate I have a head coach like Ryan (Saunders), a president and friend like Gerss (Gersson Rosas). I’m not worried about all that nonsense. Whatever we have to deal with in house, we’ll deal with in house, but this ain’t the circus like it used to be. This is something that’s going to be done as a family. If we have a problem or anything, we’ll deal with it internally. We won’t have any external forces here adding anything.”

On his focus for the remainder of the season:

“I trust my teammates. They did an amazing job. (Gorgui Dieng has) been fantastic. Noah (Vonleh), Naz (Reid) has come up and played really well. Just gotta find ways to get wins. I’m back now. So I gotta find ways to implement myself into the winning formula.”

Karl-Anthony Towns Returns To Action

Timberwolves star big man Karl-Anthony Towns returned to action on Friday,  according to the team’s PR department (Twitter link), a development which could impact the trade market.

Towns hadn’t played since December 13th, mainly due to a knee injury. He was cleared to play earlier in the week but then contracted an illness which delayed his return.

The Timberwolves have reportedly been seeking another impact player to pair up with Towns, particularly Warriors guard D’Angelo Russell. Minnesota made a hard push for Russell during free agency but the Wolves’ recruiting efforts fell short when the Warriors offered him a four-year, maximum-salary contract after losing Kevin Durant.

The front office created more roster flexibility by making a two-for-one swap with the Hawks earlier this week, dealing point guard Jeff Teague and swingman Treveon Graham in exchange for wing Allen Crabbe.

The Timberwolves entered Friday’s action in the 13th spot in the West but aren’t completely out of the playoff hunt. They’re 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies, who currently hold the final playoff berth.

A healthy Towns certainly improves their prospects, as would a blockbuster deal. There was speculation when Towns was sitting out that Minnesota might entertain trade offers for him and the Knicks and Warriors were reportedly monitoring his situation. However, a subsequent report insisted that the Timberwolves have no interest in dealing their franchise player.

Wolves Notes: Trades, KAT, Culver

Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said trading away Jeff Teague gave the team added flexibility, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic relays (Twitter link).

“We want to be positioned where we can take advantage of opportunities that present themselves where you can acquire a high-level player and give a team savings if they need it,” the executive said.

Minnesota traded Teague and Treveon Graham to Atlanta for wing Allen Crabbe earlier today. Here’s more from Minnesota:

  • The Wolves are confident they’re on the same page with their superstar Karl-Anthony Towns, as Rosas tells Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “We have an ownership group and a leadership group here that’s given us every resource to be successful,” Rosas said. “We’ve been aggressive at every step of the way during my short tenure here, whether it’s the draft or free agency, to bring in high-level talent. There’s going to be challenges along that path, but I’m extremely confident we’re on the same page and there’s full commitment from every level here to make this successful.”
  • In the same piece, Rosas added that the team is happy with No. 6 overall pick Jarrett Culver‘s progress. “What he’s doing in a semi-point guard role this year, for a guy at his age, with his skill set, is very exciting. History shows you that guys will improve their shooting,” Rosas said. “…We’re very excited about what he means for this organization now and in the future.”
  • Former Suns general manager Ryan McDonough has been in Minnesota, visiting with the Wolves’ coaching staff and front office, Krawcynski tweets. The scribe adds that the late Flip Saunders had a history of meeting with coaches who were currently out of the league.

Injury Updates: Holiday, Zion, George, Towns

Reinforcements are on the way soon for the Pelicans, who have been without their most talented backcourt player (Jrue Holiday) for the last four games and their most talented frontcourt player (Zion Williamson) for the entire season.

According to Christian Clark of NOLA.com (Twitter link), Holiday isn’t expected to play on Monday night in Detroit, but Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry sounded optimistic that the veteran guard will be ready to go on Thursday against Utah.

Meanwhile, Williamson – who was playing 3-on-3 after shootaround this morning with Holiday and Pelicans staffers – is inching closer to making his NBA debut. According to veteran NBA writer Mitch Lawrence (Twitter link), there’s a chance that could happen as early as Thursday, depending on how practice goes this week for Zion.

As we wait for an update from New Orleans on the season’s most-anticipated debut, let’s round up a few more injury-related items…

  • Paul George, who has missed the Clippers‘ last two games due to a hamstring injury, is expected to be re-evaluated early this week, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. George aggravated the left hamstring issue in a practice last Wednesday.
  • Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns won’t be back to action on Monday night, but it sounds like that’s more a result of an illness than his knee injury, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. A return appears imminent for Towns, who hasn’t played since December 13.
  • After being sidelined for nearly a month with a broken finger, Celtics center Vincent Poirier is available to play on Monday night, tweets Marc D’Amico of Celtics.com.

Northwest Notes: Towns, Thunder, Nuggets

Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders indicated during Thursday’s shootaround that Karl-Anthony Towns could be back in the lineup tonight, as Chris Hine of The Star Tribune relays. However, Saunders said during warmups that Towns’ return will be postponed by at least one more game since the club wants to make sure he’s fully ready (Twitter link via Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic).

Towns, who is dealing with a left knee injury, hasn’t suited up for the Timberwolves since December 13 after putting up some of the league’s best numbers in his first 23 games. While Minnesota initially struggled without its star, the team has won four of its last seven contests to remain in the playoff hunt.

With the 16-20 Spurs holding the No. 8 seed, the 14-22 Timberwolves are just two games back, and will look to make a push once Towns returns. Based on Saunders’ comments, it sounds like there’s a decent chance that could happen on Saturday in Houston.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The July trade that sent Russell Westbrook to Houston for Chris Paul was interpreted at the time at the latest signal that the Thunder were entering rebuild mode. Instead, the blockbuster deal has been a bonanza for an Oklahoma City team that comfortably holds a playoff spot, writes Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman.
  • After being drafted by the Nuggets in 2014, Nikola Jokic spent one more year overseas before joining Denver for the 2015/16 season. Using that example as a launching point, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic takes a deep dive into the Nuggets’ approach to the “draft-and-stash,” noting that the club views it as more of a “draft-and-nurture” process.
  • In his latest mailbag for Nuggets.com, former Hoops Rumors writer Eric Spyropoulos explores the Nuggets’ wing rotation and the latest on rookie center Bol Bol.

Stein’s Latest: KAT, Paul, Zion, Predictions

Reports surfaced this week that the Knicks and Warriors are among the teams monitoring Karl-Anthony Towns‘ situation in Minnesota, but the Timberwolves have no interest in trading their star center, Marc Stein of The New York Times writes in this week’s newsletter. Stein adds that team officials have told him repeatedly that they are building “everything” around Towns, and a trade is the last thing the organization is considering.

The Wolves have tumbled into 12th place in the West after a 10-8 start, and Towns’ injury is part of the reason for the slide. He is in the first season of a five-year, $190MM extension and there’s a new front office team in place run by Gersson Rosas, so there’s no hurry to make major changes.

Executives around the league expect Rosas to be active around the trade deadline, but that’s mostly because of his background with the traditionally aggressive Rockets. Stein notes that teams continue to express interest in acquiring swingman Robert Covington.

There’s more from Stein’s latest piece:

  • Stein has been skeptical that the Russell WestbrookJames Harden pairing could work, but states that the Rockets were forced to make a move because their relationship with Chris Paul was “irretrievably broken” after last season’s playoff ouster. Westbrook was one of the few available options whose contract matched up well with Paul’s.
  • Stein predicts the Pelicans will give serious consideration to keeping Zion Williamson sidelined for the entire season if he’s not healthy enough to return in January. There have been encouraging signs that he might be ready to suit up soon, and New Orleans would like to see how he fits alongside Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram before making long-term decisions on both players. However, Stein states that if Williamson goes another month without playing, the safest option may be to skip his entire first season and make sure he’s ready for training camp.
  • Among other 2020 predictions, Stein expects the PacersMalcolm Brogdon and the NetsSpencer Dinwiddie to be first-time All-Stars, the Bucks to fall short of 70 wins, the NBA Board of Governors to approve an in-season tournament as well as a play-in tourney for the final two playoff spots in each conference and Gregg Popovich to retire after coaching the U.S. Olympic team.

Warriors Among Teams Keeping Eye On Towns

Less than a week after one report indicated the Knicks are monitoring Karl-Anthony Towns‘ situation in Minnesota in the hopes of eventually making a play for the Timberwolves star, Ethan Strauss of The Athletic writes that the Warriors are doing the same.

According to Strauss, Towns’ situation was a popular topic of conversation among team executives at this month’s G League Showcase, with some of those execs believing that the 24-year-old is unhappy in Minnesota.

Towns has been better than ever this season, averaging a career-best 26.5 PPG to go along with 11.7 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.3 BPG, and a .514/.418/.796 shooting line. However, the Timberwolves have slumped after a strong start and currently have an 11-20 record, good for 13th in the Western Conference.

Despite the Wolves’ struggles, the franchise is extremely unlikely to consider trading Towns anytime soon, as Darren Wolfson of SKOR North tweets. The big man is in the first season of a five-year, maximum-salary contract and can’t reach the open market until 2024.

Even if Towns expresses dissatisfaction with his circumstances, the Wolves are more likely to make moves to improve their roster around him than to send him elsewhere. So while the Knicks, Warriors, and the rest of NBA will continue to keep an eye on Minnesota, Wolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas figures to remain focused on acquiring upgrades that can make a Towns-led squad a contender.

Knicks Monitoring Karl-Anthony Towns’ Situation

Yes, we’ve heard this before: the Knicks are planning to make a big splash by trading for or signing a star. In the latest edition of this Groundhog-Day-like news cycle (it’s Christmas so perhaps, we should use 12 Dates of Christmas as a reference), New York continues to have hopes of using its cap flexibility and assets to turn itself into a contender.

Marc Berman of the New York Post reports that the Knicks’ current “dream scenario” is to trade for a disgruntled superstarm and the franchise is expected to monitor Karl-Anthony Towns‘ situation. Towns, who signed a five-year, $190MM extension prior to the 2018/19 season, is from Metuchen, New Jersey, and the team has hopes that he would be open to playing for the Knicks should the Wolves ever consider trading him.

Berman writes that Bradley Beal remains on the Knicks’ radar. However, a source tells Hoops Rumors that the Wizards still aren’t entertaining trade offers for the shooting guard, who is ineligible to be moved until the 2020 offseason anyway.

New York has the assets to put together a pretty compelling package for any star that becomes available. In addition to their own picks, the Knicks have two future firsts from the Mavericks as well as several young prospects. The franchise could have more long-term assets if it makes future-looking trades at the deadline, such as moving Marcus Morris.

Trading for a star appears to be the Knicks’ best chance at landing a one and with the Timberwolves dwelling in the cellar of the Western Conference, it’s fair to wonder whether Towns and Minnesota would each welcome a deal. Still, any deal for Towns appears to be far away, as the Wolves have given every indication that they are not open to trading their franchise center.

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.