Kevin Garnett

Celtics Notes: Williams, Stevens, Garnett, Schedule

The four-year extension agreement reached with Robert Williams was a sensible move by the Celtics, Kevin Pelton of ESPN opines. Williams showed before he was slowed by injuries that he could be productive as the starting center after Daniel Theis was traded in March. The $54MM deal shows that the Celtics are planning to give him a much larger role than he’s had most of his young career. The contract will take him through his development years and into his prime, Pelton adds.

We have more on the Celtics:

  • While extensions to Williams and Marcus Smart will eat up the team’s cap space in future years, president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has maintained a level of future flexibility, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe notes. The Celtics were able to dump Kemba Walker’s contract, gain a $17.1MM trade exception in the Evan Fournier deal with the Knicks, and sign Dennis Schroder below market value. “I think we’ve been fortunate to add some guys that can really play,” Stevens said. “That’s a positive. I think we’re in a good position from a big picture standpoint.”
  • The Celtics will hold a ceremony to retire Kevin Garnett’s number on March 13, the team tweets. The Hall-of-Famer spent six seasons in the organization from 2007-13, winning the 2008 championship.
  • The Celtics have a rough stretch in December, including a five-game West Coast trip against many of the top teams in that conference,  longtime beat reporter Mark Murphy tweets. The entire regular-season schedule can be accessed here.

Pacific Notes: Paul, Haliburton, Wiseman, George, Kings, Lakers

Suns guard Chris Paul entered the league’s health and safety protocols on Wednesday morning, and has been ruled out indefinitely pending his COVID-19 test results. With the Clippers defeating the Jazz on Saturday night to advance to the Western Conference Finals, head coach Monty Williams and the Suns are now preparing to enter their series against the Clippers without their star point guard.

While Williams wasn’t ready to give up on the idea of Paul playing, he is preparing to have to name another starter and Cameron Payne seems the likely replacement, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Cam has played with the starters a lot this year,” Williams said. “So it’s not anything that he hasn’t done or he’s not used to. So that part won’t change.”

Payne is coming off a breakout season following a strong performance in last year’s summer restart, and will soon face his biggest test as a pro.

I’m just getting ready like any other series,” said Payne, as reported by Arizona Republic’s Duane Rankin. “Just being ready to play when my name’s called. If I get an opportunity, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I’m ready.”

We have more from around the Pacific Division:

  • Kings rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton is fully healthy and ready to begin his offseason training, he reported on a recent episode of JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast. Haliburton also underwent Lasik eye surgery to avoid needing contacts moving forward, according to James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area.
  • Former Warriors guard Leandro Barbosa weighs in on number two pick James Wiseman‘s rookie season, his struggles and his promise heading into year two, as covered by NBC Sports Bay Area’s Josh Schrock. “It’s complicated, but at the end of the day he’s a talent, he’s a guy that if he works, he’s going to be a very good player,” said Barbosa. “He’s able to do a bit of everything on the court. He’s just gotta understand the offense and the way we like to play.” Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets that there’s still a chance Wiseman works out with Kevin Garnett this offseason, which was the plan before Wiseman suffered a knee injury. “It should still happen. For sure,” says Wiseman.
  • Paul George and the Clippers rallied following news of Kawhi Leonard‘s ACL injury, winning two straight games to advance to the Western Conference Finals. George, who hasn’t reached a Conference Finals since 2014, discussed the relief of getting past the second round, as tweeted by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. “It was a special night,” George said. “You felt the monkey off of the Clippers’ back in terms of getting out of the second round.”
  • NBC Sports Bay Area’s James Ham discusses the Kings‘ hopes for a little extra luck during Tuesday’s draft lottery. He also suggests that if the Kings fail to move up (they have a 20% chance to jump into the top four), everyone will potentially be available for trades outside of De’Aaron Fox and Haliburton.
  • Following a season ravaged by injuries, the Lakers have decided not to renew the contract of their trainer, reports ESPN’s David McMenamin. Nina Hsieh was hired two years ago after being the head trainer for the Lakers’ G League team. McMenamin says to expect more changes as the Lakers continue to try to revamp their staff to focus on player health.

Warriors Notes: Oubre, Thompson, Wiseman, Curry

Kelly Oubre‘s willingness to accept a reserve role may determine his decision in free agency this summer, writes Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area. In his end-of-season press conference this week, Warriors coach Steve Kerr indicated that Oubre would be used as a sixth man if he returns to the team next season.

“(Klay Thompson)’s going to start when he gets back. So would Kelly be interested in coming off the bench? That’s a question only he can answer,” Kerr said. “So he’ll weigh his options, we’ll weigh ours and we’ll see where it all goes.”

Golden State traded for Oubre in November to help fill the vacancy left when Thompson tore his Achilles. Oubre had an up-and-down season, but he averaged 15.4 points and 6.0 rebounds and would be a dangerous weapon off the bench if the Warriors can keep him.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Kerr expects Thompson’s return to be a memorable moment for both him and the fans, relays Jon Becker of The San Jose Mercury News. In a radio interview this week, Kerr said having Thompson back after missing two years with injuries will be a boost to the entire organization. “Everyone loves Klay. He’s such a breath of fresh air. He’s so much fun to be around,” Kerr said. “And then the fact that when we walk into camp for the first time, it’s all together with Klay being on the court with the rest of the guys in training camp. That means everybody’s spirits will be higher, including mine.”
  • James Wiseman‘s meniscus surgery last month forced the team to delay a plan to have him work out with Kevin Garnett over the summer, according to Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area. The Warriors don’t expect to issue an official update on Wiseman’s condition until September, and they hope he will be ready for the start of training camp. “KG is pretty unique — on the court and what he brings and the mentality,” president of basketball operations Bob Myers said. “Exposing James to a guy like that (would be great). We (also) talked to David West and we were gonna get something going with him. So we have these people in mind that we think can really be helpful.”
  • Stephen Curry, who will be eligible for a four-year, $215.4MM extension starting in August, deserves to be a Warrior for life, Poole contends in a separate story.

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Rose, Raptors, Garnett, Celtics

The Nets expect to have Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant all available for just the eighth time on Saturday, Malika Andrews of ESPN writes. Brooklyn will host Chicago in its second-to-last game of the season.

“If everything stays the same, those three will play tomorrow,” head coach Steve Nash said after the team’s practice on Friday.

Despite coping with injuries this season, Brooklyn still holds the second-best record in the East at 46-24. The team has struggled to build on-court chemistry due to inconsistent lineups — though it appears to be regaining health just in time for the playoffs.

“I’m just happy they are on the floor,” forward Jeff Green said of his team’s big-three. “We’re getting to finally try to create a rhythm with all guys healthy. We’ll see what happens from there. We have a long week to prepare for whomever we play. For those guys, it will be good. For us, it will be good to get a look and see where we are at when everybody is healthy.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division today:

  • Knicks guard Derrick Rose missed Thursday’s contest against the Spurs due to a minor ankle injury, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “Just needed a day,’’ head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We knew we were getting a couple of guys (Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks) back so we thought it would be good to give him the rest.’’
  • The Raptors will look to add to Nick Nurse‘s staff this summer with former assistants Nate Bjorkgren and Chris Finch gone, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. Bjorkgren has since joined the Pacers as head coach, while Finch has become head coach of the Timberwolves.
  • Celtics legend Kevin Garnett wishes that he joined the team sooner, he said during his Hall of Fame induction speech on Friday. “My only regret in any of this was that I should have came to Boston a little earlier. Other than that, it was magical,” Garnett said, as relayed by Taylor Snow of Celtics.com (video link). Garnett ultimately joined the team via trade in July of 2007.

Latest On Potential Timberwolves Sale

Longtime NBA star Kevin Garnett expressed interest last summer in bidding on his former team, the Timberwolves, as part of a prospective ownership group, but Garnett said in an Instagram story on Thursday that he’s no longer in the running to buy the franchise.

“Sooo just got the news that this process in trying to acquire the TWOLVES IS OVER for me n my group,” Garnett wrote, adding that he plans to “focus on other places” such as Seattle and Las Vegas. “Thx Glen for being yourself n what I kno you to be!!!”

Garnett’s comments – including renewed criticism of current Wolves owner Glen Taylor, with whom KG has feuded in the past – suggested that perhaps the franchise is paring down its list of potential suitors and informed Garnett’s group that it’s no longer a candidate.

However, Taylor told Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic and other reporters that neither he nor his representatives received any offer from Garnett and that he wasn’t sure what prompted KG’s public announcement.

“Kevin never contacted me at all saying that he was interested,” Taylor said. “Nor was his name listed on any of the buying groups that asked for financial information to review.”

According to Krawczysnki, Taylor was always open to considering a bid from Garnett or a group representing the Hall-of-Famer, but there was some skepticism about KG’s ability to put together the money necessary to make a competitive offer — Forbes’ latest franchise valuations projected the Wolves’ worth to be $1.4 billion.

Taylor said that he has received inquiries from at least 10 groups or families, per Krawczynski and Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). The Wolves’ owner also informed Chris Hine of The Star Tribune that he spoke to four former NBA players who expressed interest in the team and asked if they were affiliated with Garnett — they all said no.

“If he would’ve called or had been a person who wanted some help, I would’ve tried to help him like anybody else,” Taylor said of Garnett.

Taylor told Wolfson that some of the interested parties are completing their due diligence, suggesting the sale process could gain momentum soon. However, Krawczynski believes “the betting money” is on Taylor retaining control of the franchise for the foreseeable future, since the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the Wolves’ on-court struggles, and Taylor’s insistence that the club remain in Minnesota are all factors working against a bidding war.

“The process has taken longer than anticipated just because we’re not sure when we’re going to have attendance at the games,” Taylor said, per Hine. “And so that’s a hard thing to kind of figure in there, the value or lack of value. Probably the only thing that’s holding it up. I still have interest.”

Multiple reports in the last seven months have indicated that former Grizzlies minority owner Daniel Straus has gotten furthest down the road in negotiations with Taylor. Those talks seem to have hit a standstill though, and aren’t going anywhere at the moment, sources tell Krawczynski.

Latest On Potential Sale Of Timberwolves

It has been nearly six months since reports surfaced indicating that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor was exploring a sale of the franchise. However, firm offers for the team have been “tepid,” sources tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN (Insider link).

In August, a report from The Athletic suggested that former Grizzlies minority owner Daniel Straus was closing in on a deal to buy the Timberwolves. According to Windhorst, Taylor and Straus got as far as a term sheet and continue to talk, but have been unable to finalize an agreement. Sources tell ESPN that Straus modified his offer once it became clear that fans wouldn’t fill arenas during the 2020/21 season.

Straus is still the favorite to become the team’s new owner, but Taylor’s history of exploring a sale and then pulling the team off the market creates some uncertainty, writes Windhorst. It also sounds as if valuations of the Wolves (which are in the $1.3-1.5 billion range, including debt, per ESPN) are lower than Taylor had hoped.

“I think Glen was hoping team values were still going up,” another team owner told ESPN. “I think we’re finding out they may not be right now.”

As we’ve noted in previous stories about a possible sale of the Wolves, Taylor’s insistence that the team remain in Minnesota is expected to put a ceiling on both the number of bidders and the sale price, since many potential suitors would be interested in relocating the club. Taylor has flatly rebuffed inquiries from those looking to relocate the Wolves, reports Windhorst.

A report last July indicated there were some preliminary discussions with the Wilf family – the owners of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings – but that they didn’t advance, which Windhorst confirms. Former Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett was also said to have interest in putting together a group to make a bid, but there has been no traction on that front either, per Windhorst.

While Straus reportedly remains a viable buyer for the Wolves, there doesn’t seem to be a clear Plan B if those talks stall. Taylor acknowledged in a recent interview that there’s a very real possibility he could still control the franchise a year from now.

Timberwolves Notes: Saunders, Draft, Martin, Garnett

It has been nearly two months since the Timberwolves won the draft lottery, but no clear favorite has emerged for the No. 1 pick, coach Ryan Saunders tells Sid Hartman of The Star Tribune. The most commonly mentioned names are Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, Memphis center James Wiseman, Dayton power forward Obi Toppin and point guard LaMelo Ball, who most recently played in Australia.

“A lot of players are interesting to me, a lot of them,” Saunders said. “Like I said, we’re open. This draft has a number of very talented players and we’re a group that is very open-minded.”

Minnesota holds not only the top pick, but also Nos. 17 and 33. There’s a lot of evaluation to be done before the November 18 draft, but Saunders said it has been slowed by coronavirus-related restrictions that placed a ban on in-person workouts.

“Can’t do any of that. It has been a lot of Zoom meetings and interviews and then just evaluating,” Saunders said. “We do a lot of work, and we have a number of people in this organization, (assistant general manager) Gianluca Pascucci, he does a lot of work with our draft. These guys are putting together a great plan and a great step-by-step process to what we’ll do.”

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • As one of eight teams not invited to Orlando, the Wolves didn’t get the benefit of seeing how their roster would come together after a pair of significant trades at the February deadline, Hartman adds in the same story. Saunders said an offseason priority will be finding players who fit comfortably with D’Angelo Russell, who played just 12 games for Minnesota after being acquired from Golden State, and Karl-Anthony Towns“That was one of the things that was so disappointing about not playing late in the season because we felt we were going to be able to do more things with some of the other guys that we acquired around (Towns),” Saunders said.
  • After landing a two-way contract with the Wolves last season, Kelan Martin is working to expand his game, writes Ben Stinar of Forbes. Martin was a star at Butler, but had to play overseas and go through the G League to get an NBA opportunity.
  • Kevin Garnett was in Minneapolis this week, but refused to comment on a potential sale of the Timberwolves, according to Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. In July, Garnett expressed an interest in purchasing the team as part of a group of investors.

Nets Notes: Coaching Staff, KG, Durant, Harris

New Nets head coach Steve Nash and the team’s front office are seeking out assistants to join the former two-time MVP’s coaching staff, including Lakers assistant Phil Handy, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

2019/20 interim Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn will stay on staff as the team’s lead assistant during the 2020/21 season. Nash, an eight-time All-Star, joined the Nets staff last week in a surprising hire.

Here are more notes out of Brooklyn:

  • Former Nets forward (and Hall of Famer) Kevin Garnett, a 15-time All-Star, has said that he believes Brooklyn should look to trade for a high-level scoring wing like Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine or Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal to join current Brooklyn All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, according to Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News.
  • Kevin Durant expressed his enthusiasm for new coach Steve Nash‘s addition to the Brooklyn sideline, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “His insight for the game, his communication, how he communicates the game of basketball is definitely going to help me as a player develop and it’s going to help the rest of the team,” Durant said in a new episode of Pelicans swingman J.J. Redick‘s “The Old Man and the Three” podcast.
  • The addition of Nash may help convince Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris to stick around as he enters unrestricted free agency this summer, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “I met with him the other day, grabbed a coffee with him and [team president] Sean [Marks],” Harris said during a recent conversation with “The JWilly Show” podcast. “And he just talked about how he felt about me as a player and wanted me to come back and be in Brooklyn.”

Straus Closing In On Purchase Of Timberwolves

An investment group headed by former Grizzlies minority owner Daniel Straus is in advanced talks to buy the Timberwolves, The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania report.

The WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx would also be part of the deal. However, there are still a number of issues to be resolved before the sides reach an agreement.

The initial report about Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor mulling the sale of the team surfaced on July 21.

While a group that included former Wolves superstar Kevin Garnett was reportedly interested, the Straus Group has shown serious interest from the start. Its representatives visited the Twin Cities two weeks ago for official meetings, toured the team facilities and reviewed financial documents, according to The Athletic duo.

It entered an exclusivity agreement that expired last week. That didn’t slow the talks, though a handful of other groups were also initially interested in purchasing the team.

Garnett has not had formal discussions with Taylor during the process. Their relationship deteriorated over the years. Garnett referred to Taylor as a “snake” as recently as this spring.

Taylor reportedly wanted assurances that the franchise will remain in Minneapolis and Straus has made that pledge, The Athletic duo adds.

Latest On Possibility Of Timberwolves Sale

The Straus Group, an investment firm founded by Daniel Straus, is exploring the possibility of purchasing the Timberwolves, people with knowledge of the matter tells Gillian Tan of Bloomberg. It’s not clear if The Straus Group is operating alone or as part of a consortium, according to Tam.

Straus has been involved in NBA team ownership in the past, having controlled shares of the Grizzlies up until 2018. Majority owner Robert Pera bought out Straus and fellow minority stakeholder Steve Kaplan two years ago after a clause in their purchase agreement was triggered — if Pera hadn’t purchased Straus’ and Kaplan’s shares in the team, he would’ve had to sell the Grizzlies to them at the same valuation.

Straus is one of just many potential bidders in the mix for the Timberwolves, per Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News, who tweets that a number of people and groups with interest have not yet been publicly identified. Former NBA players Kevin Garnett and Arron Afflalo are believed to be part of two separate groups with interest in purchasing the franchise.

[RELATED: Glen Taylor Discusses Potential Timberwolves Sale]

According to Charley Walters of The St. Paul Pioneer Press, Garnett’s group includes a pair of billionaires from California and another one from Florida. Walters suggests that the plan would be for KG to invest $200MM and to become the head of basketball operations if his group were to buy the team. If that’s accurate, it’s not clear what it would mean for current president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas.

Walters also reports that the asking price for the Timberwolves – along with the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx – is expected to be in the $1.2 billion range, though that’s obviously subject to change depending on how the bidding plays out.