Luka Garza

NBA G League Announces 24 Players For Next Up Game

The NBA G League announced today that G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson and Timberwolves/Iowa Wolves forward Luka Garza have been named team captains for the NBAGL Next Up Game, which will take place in Salt Lake City during All-Star weekend.

While the exhibition match isn’t technically being called a G League All-Star Game, that’s essentially what it is. The 24-player pool was selected by a fan vote and by the league itself.

Henderson averaged 21.2 PPG, 6.0 APG, and 4.3 RPG in six Showcase Cup games (28.5 MPG) before missing time with an injury. The guard, widely projected to be the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, has registered 17.7 PPG, 5.7 APG, and 4.5 RPG in 11 regular season games (29.8 MPG) since returning.

Garza, meanwhile, has been dominant at the G League level while playing for the Timberwolves on a two-way contract. He averaged 29.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 3.2 APG on .628/.500/.794 shooting in nine Showcase Cup games (34.4 MPG) and has been boosted those averages in two regular season games (32.5 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 5.0 APG) for the Iowa Wolves.

Here’s the full list of players who will take part in the G League Next Up Game:

(* Players marked with an asterisk are on two-way contracts with NBA teams.)

As is the case with the NBA All-Star Game, the team captains – in this case, Henderson and Garza – will select their 12-man squads in a draft. The draft for the G League Next Up Game will take place on February 14.

Northwest Notes: Nowell, Wolves Centers, Kessler, Blazers

Part of the reason the Timberwolves were willing to part with Patrick Beverley and Malik Beasley in the Rudy Gobert trade was because they wanted to give Jaylen Nowell an opportunity to have a regular spot in the rotation. The fourth-year guard admitted a couple weeks ago that his season was “not going well,” and Monday’s loss to the last-place Rockets was further evidence of that, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

In nearly 19 minutes of action, Nowell finished 3-of-8 from the field for seven points, and committed three turnovers with zero assists. He also struggled defensively, Krawczynski notes, which has been an ongoing issue.

Obviously, the loss was not solely on the 23-year-old, who is set to hit unrestricted free agency in the summer. But if the Wolves want to make a real playoff push, they’ll need Nowell to provide a more consistent offensive spark off the bench, says Krawczynski.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • With Karl-Anthony Towns sidelined since late November due to a calf strain, and Gobert missing nine games with various injuries, the Timberwolves‘ center depth has been a positive in 2022/23, as Chris Hine of The Star Tribune details. Naz Reid, Nathan Knight and Luka Garza have all been given opportunities at various points during the season, and while they’re all trying to earn minutes, they also support each other. “You still want them to be successful,” Reid said, per Hine. “So you talk to each and every one of those guys. I might see something on the court, say something to them adjustment-wise of whatever the case may be and they might say something to me. At the same time, we’re all trying to help each other get better.”
  • Walker Kessler has had an impressive rookie season for the Jazz, and is already one of the top shot blockers in the league. He has been starting at center in place of the injured Kelly Olynyk (ankle), but how can he land the job full time? Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune has the story.
  • The Trail Blazers have had a rocky season, currently sitting at 23-25, the No. 12 seed in the West. While Damian Lillard has been as great as ever, scoring a season-high 60 points (on 21-of-29 shooting) in Wednesday’s win over Utah, there has been “little to zero” indication that Portland can make a legitimate playoff push, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic. Ahead of the trade deadline, Quick believes the simplest route to infuse more talent on the roster would be to land in the lottery again, as the Blazers will lose their 2023 first-rounder if they reach the playoffs. However, that’s complicated by the fact that Lillard wants to be “in the best position to win.”

Wolves Notes: Edwards, Gobert, Reid, Garza, Prince

Anthony Edwards‘ evolution into the franchise player in Minnesota remains a work in progress, but the Timberwolves guard is viewed by teammates and coaches as a great listener who is willing to put in the work necessary to reach stardom, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports writes in a profile of the former No. 1 overall pick. One area of focus for the Wolves this season has been encouraging Edwards to find his teammates rather than forcing shots when opposing defenses double-team him.

“One thing we preach to him a lot is the essence of offense in the league is not how much you score, but when they put two on you and you create an advantage,” head coach Chris Finch said. “No matter how they do it, pick-and-roll trap, early gap help, all that stuff that comes from the gravity he creates, just trying to continue to find the right play and trusting his teammates to score. Keep trusting the right pass.”

While Edwards is averaging a career-best 4.4 assists per game through 40 appearances this season, it’s his scoring ability that makes him special. He’s averaging a career-best 23.7 points per contest so far this season and led the Wolves to a victory over Portland on Wednesday with a game-high 32.

“He’s six years away (from his prime) and he’s already this good,” teammate Austin Rivers said that night, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). “Franchise player. He’s the guy here. There’s no doubt about it.”

Unfortunately, Edwards exited Friday’s game in the third quarter due to a sore left hip that has been bothering him as of late, tweets Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. The Wolves still managed to pull out a solid 128-115 win over the visiting Clippers.

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • Seth Partnow of The Athletic took a closer look on Friday at some advanced stats that suggest Rudy Gobert‘s defensive impact has declined this season, writing that the big man’s regression is a cause for concern. Hours later, Gobert delivered perhaps his best game since arriving in Minnesota, piling up 25 points and 21 rebounds in the team’s victory over the Clippers. “I don’t think we’ve seen the best Rudy yet,” he said after the game (story via Hine). “I’ve been putting in a lot of work. My teammates are sticking with me. The coaching staff is sticking with me. And I know that it’s going to pay off. It’s a long season. My goal is to just keep raising my level every day and set the tone for these guys.”
  • After missing the Wolves’ previous two games due to back spasms, backup center Naz Reid played just nine minutes on Friday before exiting early due to the same injury, Hine writes.
  • With Reid and Karl-Anthony Towns both sidelined, two-way player Luka Garza got a chance to crack the rotation this week and delivered with 23 points in 27 minutes during the two games Reid missed. Though Garza felt comfortable on the offensive end of the court, he was more concerned about how he performed on defense, Hine writes for The Star Tribune. “I know that’s the decider of how long I can stay in this league,” Garza said. “If I could become a real rotation piece, it’s how good I get at that end. … I think at the end of the day, just playing hard is going to help you most of the time.”
  • Taurean Prince‘s return has given the Wolves a shot in the arm, Hine says in another Star Tribune story. Prince has played 47 total minutes off the bench in his two games back after missing 20 consecutive contests due to a right shoulder injury. He scored double-digit points on Wednesday and Friday, both Minnesota wins. “He was our most consistent player in a lot of ways in his role, when he went out,” Finch said on Wednesday. “I knew what I was going to get from him every night. He knows who he is. His game is super well-defined and he sticks to his strengths, so definitely pleased to have him back.”

Timberwolves Notes: Reid, Garza, Gobert

Timberwolves center Naz Reid is adjusting to life backing up Minnesota’s All-NBA frontcourt of Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. That has meant playing power forward in addition to center.

“Guarding different players and position,” Reid said of the change. “It’s very different actually.”

With Towns sidelined indefinitely due to a right calf injury, the 6’9″ Reid will get additional rotation minutes as a reserve. He should see more time at the five rather than the four until Towns is back.

I wouldn’t say I can’t play the four… it’s a big role I’m going to be in within the next couple weeks,” Reid said. “I’m excited to be in that role and excited to help our team.”

The fourth-year big man out of LSU is averaging 7.8 PPG on 52.8% shooting from the floor, along with 3.7 RPG and 0.9 BPG, across just 14.3 MPG.

There’s more out of Minnesota:

  • Two-way Timberwolves big man Luka Garza has recently shown out in his play for the team’s NBAGL affiliate, the Iowa Wolves. Hines wonders in another piece if the 6’11” center/forward can become a part of Minnesota’s future. Garza’s 29.8 PPG, on 62.8% shooting, leads the entire NBA G League, and he has also put up 9.2 RPG and 3.2 APG. “I love this system that we play with here,” Garza said of the coordinated approach of both the Iowa and Minnesota franchises. “We play a lot through the bigs, Karl and Rudy. It’s very evident and it’s kind of the same thing with me down there. We’re not only put in positions to score but make decisions and get guys involved.” Hine notes that Garza could get additional time at the NBA level with Towns unavailable.
  • Rudy Gobert‘s new teammates continue to learn about how best to fit in with his game, Hines writes in another Star Tribune story. That extends to how Gobert feels about help coverage around the basket — he is not a fan. “When someone drives on me, unless I fall down, which doesn’t happen, just let me make a play,” Gobert said. “Then if they score, I’ll take the blame.”
  • Following a largely successful nine-season run with the Jazz, Gobert was flipped to Minnesota in the offseason. Now, he’s gearing up for his first game in Utah as an opposing player on Friday, Hine writes. “I just want to enjoy the moment,” Gobert said. “There’s a lot of people that I have a lot of love for over there. There’s a lot of great memories. … I just want to enjoy the moment and, of course, get a win.” Gobert won three Defensive Player of the Year awards and made three All-Star teams during his time with the Jazz, though his teams failed to advance beyond the second round of the playoffs.

Western Notes: Wiseman, Conley, Gay, Garza, Davis, Ingram

The Warriors recalled James Wiseman from their G League affiliate in Santa Cruz, according to a press release tweeted by the team’s PR department. Wiseman averaged 15.6 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in seven starts with Santa Cruz. Wiseman struggled during his 11 NBA appearances this season before the team decided to give him a stint in the G League to boost his confidence. He had a minus-24.4 net rating in his 147 NBA minutes.

The No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft, who was assigned to Santa Cruz in mid-November, could jump right back into the rotation. The Warriors won’t have three of their starters when they face Utah on Wednesday. Stephen Curry (left ankle soreness), Draymond Green (left hip tightness) and Andrew Wiggins (right adductor strain) are all listed as out, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. The defending champion are one game ab0ve .500.

We have more Western Conference news:

  • While the Warriors will be depleted, the Jazz could have their starting point guard back in action. Mike Conley is listed as questionable to play, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. Conley (knee) has not played since Nov. 19. Rudy Gay, who has been sidelined since Nov. 13 due to a hand injury, is not even on the injury report, so he should be available.
  • Second-year big man Luka Garza has been recalled from the Iowa Wolves by the Timberwolves, the team’s PR department tweets. Garza, who is on a two-way contract, leads the G League at 29.8 points per game. He racked up 44 points and 15 rebounds against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on Monday.
  • Anthony Davis, who left the Lakers’ game on Tuesday early due to flu-like symptoms, has a non-COVID illness, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Davis battled a fever throughout the day but tried to play through it. No other players are currently sick, according to coach Darvin Ham.
  • Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram won’t play against Detroit on Wednesday, according to a team press release. Ingram will miss his fifth straight game due to a left great toe contusion.

Wolves Notes: Gobert, Towns, Garza, Russell

The Timberwolves weren’t exactly firing on all cylinders in their 115-108 win over Oklahoma City to open the regular season on Wednesday. Stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards combined to shoot just 6-of-27 from the field for a total of 23 points.

However, center Rudy Gobert made his presence felt in his regular season debut with his new team, leading the way with 23 points and 16 rebounds. Head coach Chris Finch said after the game that Gobert’s “impact was strong everywhere,” while the center himself said there’s still plenty of work to do.

“It shows how good we can be and how much better we can be at the same time,” Gobert said of the Wolves’ up-and-down play in the opener, per Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune. “It’s going to be a process and every night is going to be an opportunity for us to get better.”

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • The Wolves’ frontcourt pairing of Gobert and Towns, rivals turned allies, is the NBA’s biggest experiment entering this season, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes in an article looking back at how the duo came together and what we should expect from the two star big men.
  • Luka Garza was thrilled to have his Exhibit 10 contract converted into a two-way deal at the end of the preseason, as Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune details. “The coaching staff, the system, the players, everything kinds of fit me really well,” Garza said. “For a young big in this league there is no better environment to be in, with the best offensive big in the league and the best defensive big man. What better guys to learn from?” The opportunity to spend some time with the Iowa Wolves was an added bonus for the former Hawkeyes star. “I’m from (Washington) D.C., but now it feels like I’m from Iowa. So I’m super excited,” he said.
  • A potential unrestricted free agent in 2023, D’Angelo Russell enters this season seeking redemption after a disappointing showing in the Wolves’ first-round playoff loss this spring, says Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.
  • Michael Rand of The Star Tribune identifies five factors that will help determine how high the Timberwolves’ ceiling is, including their defensive consistency, Russell’s performance in a contract year, and the team’s role players being a net positive.

Wolves Converting Luka Garza To Two-Way Deal

10:50pm: Lawson will be waived to make room for Garza, sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). Minnesota was high on Lawson, but didn’t want to lose Garza, per Krawczynski.

10:26pm: The Timberwolves are signing center Luka Garza to a two-way deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

While Charania says “signing,” Garza is already under contract with the team, so the Wolves are technically converting his Exhibit 10 contract into a two-way deal. Minnesota’s two-way slots are currently occupied by A.J. Lawson and Eric Paschall, so they’ll need to waive one of them in order to convert Garza.

Garza, 23, was selected by the Pistons with the 52nd overall pick in the 2021 draft and spent his rookie season in Detroit, averaging 5.8 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 32 games (12.2 MPG). He was a standout for the Motor City Cruise, Detroit’s G League affiliate, putting up 20.6 PPG and 9.5 RPG in 16 games (29.8 MPG) and earning a spot on the All-NBAGL Third Team.

The former Iowa star’s contract with the Pistons was for two years, but the 2022/23 season was a team option, which Detroit declined, making him an unrestricted free agent. Garza signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the Wolves in August.

Wolves head coach Chris Finch recently stated that he likes what Garza has brought to the team during training camp.

He’s the perfect system fit for us. Great acquisition by our front office,” Finch said. “He’s a guy I think can really grow into our system here. He can stretch the floor and he can score around the basket. That’s a great combo. Not a lot of bigs can do that.”

Wolves Notes: Gobert, Towns, Chemistry, Garza

The Timberwolves‘ trade for Rudy Gobert was perhaps the NBA’s biggest blockbuster this summer, shocking league executives due to the price Minnesota was willing to pay. The move also surprised the Wolves’ own players, who were caught off guard that so many of the team’s most well-liked players – including Patrick Beverley – were included in the deal, Brian Windhorst writes in an Insider-only ESPN story.

“It wasn’t that it put us in a bad mood,” forward Taurean Prince said, “but, uh, we were surprised.”

As Windhorst outlines, the Wolves recognized that players like Gobert – a three-time Defensive Player of the Year on a long-term contract – don’t become available often, and believed he would make the team’s current core players better. On top of that, Minnesota didn’t have to give up any of those core players – Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, D’Angelo Russell, and Jaden McDaniels – to acquire Gobert.

“We put up the 30 best players in the league on a board,” head coach Chris Finch said. “At any given time, like there’s maybe three or four of them available. Some aren’t even available if you gave 10 picks. And if you have one you can get and he fits and does a lot of the things that we like — the more that we looked at it and the deeper we went, like just the more we felt like we couldn’t not (trade for him).”

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Towns and Gobert are expected to be active together for the first time in Friday’s preseason finale, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Towns’ preseason debut was delayed by a non-COVID illness, while Gobert has rested in the Wolves’ two most recent preseason contests.
  • The Timberwolves will need some time to figure out how Towns and Gobert work together, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who suspects it will take another year for the best version of this team to show up. Hollinger expects the Wolves to take a small step forward in 2022/23, projecting 47 wins and a seventh-place finish in the West.
  • In a Q&A with Mark Medina of, Gobert spoke about his first impressions of his new NBA home, establishing chemistry with his new teammates, and much more.
  • Wolves coach Chris Finch likes what Luka Garza has brought to the team this fall, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “He’s the perfect system fit for us. Great acquisition by our front office,” Finch said. “He’s a guy I think can really grow into our system here. He can stretch the floor and he can score around the basket. That’s a great combo. Not a lot of bigs can do that.” Garza is on a non-guaranteed Exhibit 10 contract, so it’s unclear if Minnesota plans to keep him on its 17-man roster to open the regular season.

Western Notes: Suns, Durant, Bridges, Bogdanovic, Beasley, Garza

The Suns were never truly in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. While the Suns had multiple conversations with the Nets this offseason, none of them occurred in recent weeks.

The Nets wanted a better haul than the Jazz received from the Timberwolves for Rudy Gobert.

Forward Mikal Bridges was never offered because neither side made a formal proposal, Gambadoro adds (Twitter links). The Suns simply didn’t have the assets Brooklyn insisted upon and they would not give up franchise player Devin Booker.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • With Durant pulling back on his trade request, the Suns will look to obtain a post-up power forward, perhaps via free agency, Gambadoro tweets. They have an open roster spot and the taxpayer mid-level exception still available to them. Our updated list of unsigned free agents can be found here.
  • If the Jazz go into fire sale mode, there are several rotation players on their roster that could help the Grizzlies, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. That list includes wing Bojan Bogdanovic — who could slide in nicely alongside Ja Morant and Desmond Bane — as well shooting guard Malik Beasley and veteran power forward Rudy Gay.
  • Luka Garza‘s contract with the Timberwolves is an Exhibit 10 deal, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. Minnesota officially signed the second-year big man on Tuesday. He’ll compete for a roster spot but could become an affiliate player for the Iowa Wolves, Minnesota’s G League team. He’ll be eligible for a bonus worth up to $50K if he is waived and then spends at least 60 days with Iowa.

Timberwolves Sign Luka Garza

The Timberwolves have officially signed free agent forward/center Luka Garza, the team announced today in a press release. The Wolves also confirmed the previously reported signing of CJ Elleby, which was made official a couple weeks ago.

Garza, 23, was selected by the Pistons with the 52nd overall pick in the 2021 draft and spent his rookie season in Detroit, averaging 5.8 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 32 games (12.2 MPG). He was a standout for the Motor City Cruise, Detroit’s G League affiliate, putting up 20.6 PPG and 9.5 RPG in 16 games (29.8 MPG) and earning a spot on the All-NBAGL Third Team.

Garza’s contract with the Pistons was for two years, but the 2022/23 season was a team option, which Detroit declined, making him an unrestricted free agent.

The former Iowa star is now on track to attend training camp with Minnesota, though it’s unclear if there will be any room for him on the club’s 15-man roster. The Timberwolves currently have 12 players on guaranteed contracts, with Austin Rivers, Jaylen Nowell, and Nathan Knight seemingly the frontrunners to fill out the regular season squad.

If Garza doesn’t make the Timberwolves’ 15-man roster or end up on a two-way deal, he could become an affiliate player for the Iowa Wolves, Minnesota’s G League team. Terms of his contract aren’t known, but if it includes Exhibit 10 language, he’d be eligible for a bonus worth up to $50K if he spends at least 60 days with Iowa.

Counting their two-way players, the Timberwolves now have 19 players under contract.