Towns fell on his lower back after slipping off the rim after a dunk. However, Woj says X-Rays on Towns’ lower back came back clean. We’ll have to wait and see if there’s an update from the team to determine if Towns might be sidelined.
Here are some more injury notes:
- Heat star Jimmy Butler (tailbone) missed his second consecutive game Wednesday night against the Cavs and it sounds like he could miss more time. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel tweets that he’s likely to miss the back-to-back games Friday and Saturday against the Pacers and Bucks.
- Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters there’s still no update on Markieff Morris, who has now missed 12 games in a row with whiplash, per Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).
- Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said that scans on T.J. Warren‘s foot had positive results, but there’s still no timeline for his return, the team announced (via Twitter).
- Rockets starters Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr. were both injured in Wednesday night’s game against the Thunder and did not return. Wood suffered a sprained ankle, while KPJ has a left thigh contusion, per Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link).
The Timberwolves are expected to be without veteran guard Patrick Beverley for at least the next couple weeks, head coach Chris Finch said today (Twitter link via Jace Frederick of The St. Paul Pioneer Press).
Beverley, who suffered a left adductor strain in Wednesday’s win over Miami, had already been ruled out for Friday’s contest in Charlotte. He’ll miss several games beyond that one, with Finch suggesting today that the Wolves will reevaluate the injury in two weeks. If Beverley is able to get back on the court two weeks from today, he’ll miss Minnesota’s next seven games.
Beverley, who was traded to the Timberwolves in the offseason, had started 12 of his 16 games for the club so far, averaging 8.1 PPG, 4.5 APG, and 4.4 RPG in 25.4 minutes per contest. He also handles many of the tougher perimeter defensive assignments, so the team will miss him in matchups like the one against Hornets guard LaMelo Ball tonight.
With Beverley on the shelf, Malik Beasley and Jordan McLaughlin appear to be the best candidates for a bump in minutes. The Wolves have been playing well as of late, riding a five-game winning streak that has them back at .500 (9-9). They’ll be looking to maintain that momentum for the next couple weeks without their fourth most-used player available.
Anthony Edwards led the Timberwolves to a victory over Jimmy Butler and the Heat on Wednesday, putting up 33 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists in a game-high 43 minutes. Edwards was a plus-19 in the 12-point win and his performance earned rave reviews from a pair of his teammates with All-Star appearances on their résumés, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes.
“I think we’re watching him grow in front of us, just all around,” said D’Angelo Russell, adding that Edwards “got us over the hump” in the game vs. Miami.
“You need superstars to win in this league now,” Karl-Anthony Towns said of the second-year wing. “We need someone like him. We always talk about the big three. Well, he’s solidified himself. It’s amazing to see him getting better and better every game and figuring it out more and more.”
Edwards is building off his strong second half as a rookie and has boosted his numbers across the board so far this season, further solidifying his place as a long-term cornerstone in Minnesota. In 18 games (35.9 MPG), he has put up 22.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 3.4 APG on .434/.360/.746 shooting.
Here’s more from around the Northwest:
- How did Alex Rodriguez go from MLB All-Star to co-owner of the Timberwolves? In an in-depth story for The Athletic, Krawczynski explores A-Rod’s entry into the business world and how he teamed up with Marc Lore, his partner in the purchase of the Wolves.
- Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault returned to the sidelines for Wednesday’s contest vs. Utah after missing the team’s three-game road trip to be there for the birth of his first child (Twitter link via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman). Oklahoma City was 0-3 in Daigneault’s absence.
- Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington was ejected from Wednesday’s game in Sacramento for throwing his face guard and hitting an official’s foot with it. As Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian relays, head coach Chauncey Billups and star guard Damian Lillard said after the game that it was an accident. “Roco always takes his mask off and tosses it to the side,” Lillard said. “This time he just tossed it and it literally bounced into the referee.” It remains to be seen whether Covington will be fined by the NBA for the incident.
After spending some time out of the Timberwolves‘ rotation, Taurean Prince delivered his best game of the season on Thursday with 13 points and three rebounds in 15 minutes, writes Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune.
Prince, who was acquired from the Cavaliers in an offseason trade, has been putting up the worst numbers of his career since coming to Minnesota. He’s been particularly bad as a three-point shooter, connecting at just 19% before Thursday’s game. After sinking three of his five shots from long distance vs. San Antonio, Prince hopes the worst is over.
“Maybe a couple years ago I would’ve felt some type of way or acted a certain way,” he said of the reduced playing time. “But now I’m to the point where I just want to hoop. I’m with a great organization. We got something going here. … For me to feel any type of way about playing time right now would be — it’d be a little bit selfish on my behalf. Just try to stick together, see it all through and things will come together.”
There’s more from Minnesota:
- Jaden McDaniels has struggled with foul trouble in his second NBA season, but apart from that he has been tremendous on defense, Hine adds in the same story. Coach Chris Finch rates him as an “A or A-minus” defender and says opponents are starting to take notice. “Every game pretty much we have some opponent coming over saying to our bench he can really guard,” Finch said. “(Suns guard) Chris Paul said it the other day: ‘Who is this guy? He can really guard.'”
- Since moving into the starting lineup five games ago, Jarred Vanderbilt has provided an edge to the first unit, notes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Minnesota doesn’t have a traditional power forward, so the undersized Vanderbilt tries to fill the role by outworking opponents. “Very aware, very self-aware. Mature,” Finch said of Vanderbilt. “Understands who he is as a basketball player. That’s 90% of the battle of getting better in this league.”
- Malik Beasley‘s shot has been off this season, but he has been able to hold onto his rotation spot by improving on defense, Krawczynski adds. Beasley credits studying film with helping him to better understand what opposing players are trying to do.
The Timberwolves had the NBA’s third-worst record in 2019/20 and the sixth-worst record in ’20/21. However, there was an internal belief entering the season that the team was capable of taking a step forward with all its key players finally healthy and available.
Through 15 games, five of Minnesota’s seven most-used players – including Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards – have yet to miss a game, and the other two – D’Angelo Russell and Patrick Beverley – have been sidelined for just two games apiece.
But the team’s good health luck hasn’t translated into a better start. Even after wins against Sacramento and San Antonio this week, the Wolves are just 6-9, despite playing 10 of their first 15 games at home. Their home record includes losses to New Orleans and Orlando.
It’s too early in the season to draw any sweeping conclusions about the state of the Timberwolves, but this is a big year for the team, which has playoff aspirations. If the core that Gersson Rosas spent two years building, including Towns, Edwards, Russell, and Malik Beasley, isn’t good enough to enter the playoff mix, new head of basketball operations Sachin Gupta will be under pressure to make additional roster moves.
Minnesota has been repeatedly cited as a potential suitor for Sixers star Ben Simmons, though it’s unclear if the Wolves have the assets necessary to bring Philadelphia to the table without including Towns or Edwards in their offer.
There’s no indication that Turner is available at this point, but Wolfson says there are those in the Wolves’ front office who are fans of the Pacers center (hat tip to HoopsHype). Boucher, who is on an expiring deal with the Raptors, may be a more realistic target at this point, though he wouldn’t be the same sort of difference-maker as Turner.
With the Wolves looking to fight their way back to .500, we want to get your thoughts on the team. Do you believe in a core led by Towns and Edwards? Are Russell or Beasley long-term keepers? Does the roster need another impact player to become a legit playoff team, or is the current group capable of making it? If a trade is necessary, which players are the most desirable – and the most realistic – targets?
Head to the comment section to weigh in with your thoughts!
- The Timberwolves need to take advantage of a soft part of their schedule, according to Michael Rand of The Star Tribune, who suggests the front office might have to start thinking about “major roster moves” if Minnesota doesn’t win at least two or three times in its current four-game stretch. The Wolves got off to a good start with a win over Sacramento on Wednesday. Matchups with San Antonio, Memphis, and New Orleans are on tap.
The Timberwolves have been hit with a $250K fine by the NBA, the league announced on Monday (Twitter link).
According to the NBA, the Wolves violated league rules prohibiting teams from arranging or paying for offseason practices or group workout sessions outside the team’s home market.
New incoming Timberwolves owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez reportedly hosted the club’s players for scrimmages and practices in Miami for a week in early September, culminating in a dinner at Rodriguez’s house. Those team activities came in the final days of Gersson Rosas‘ tenure as president of basketball operations.
As Bobby Marks of ESPN observes (via Twitter), the NBA’s rule prohibiting teams from arranging and/or financing out-of-market offseason workouts is actually the very first one listed in the NBA’s 786-page operations manual.
Given that Lore and Rodriguez are reportedly paying $1.5 billion to take over the Timberwolves from Glen Taylor, a $250K fine will be a drop in the bucket for them.
Still, the penalty may compel the duo to pay closer attention to the NBA’s rule book going forward, or at least to be more discreet about arranging offseason workouts — Minnesota probably isn’t the only team to violate that rule in recent years, but the fact that management and ownership were in attendance and photos were all over social media meant the NBA couldn’t ignore it, as Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.
After Alex Caruso shared some details on his free agency during a recent appearance on J.J. Redick’s podcast, Bill Oram of The Athletic touched base with the Bulls guard to discuss the subject further, providing some additional specifics on Caruso’s options and what the Lakers were willing to offer him.
As Oram writes, the Bulls and Timberwolves were among the teams that topped the Lakers’ initial offer of $7MM per year. After he received a four-year, $37MM proposal from Chicago, Caruso went back to Los Angeles to see if the team would do $20MM for two years. However, the Lakers were unwilling to increase their offer from $21MM over three years, prompting the veteran guard to choose the Bulls.
Here’s more on the Lakers:
- In his first game since signing a three-year, $30MM+ deal and undergoing thumb surgery, Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker was terrific on Sunday vs. San Antonio, scoring 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting in 27 minutes as a starter. While head coach Frank Vogel wouldn’t commit to Horton-Tucker remaining in the starting lineup, he said the 20-year-old will be a “big part” of what the Lakers do. “We invested in him this summer for a reason,” Vogel said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “We have a strong belief in that young man and what he can do on both sides of the ball. Obviously when we get whole, we got a lot of good choices, but he’s going to be a big part of it.”
- Vogel said on Sunday that LeBron James (abdominal strain) has yet to participate in contact drills or a full practice yet, but a source tells McMenamin that the star forward is “progressing great” and should be back in the lineup soon.
- Offseason additions Kent Bazemore and DeAndre Jordan appear to have fallen out of the Lakers’ rotation at least temporarily, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who notes that both players were DNP-CDs on Sunday. Jordan had started 10 games at center before sitting the last two, while Bazemore had started all 13 games for Los Angeles until he was benched on Sunday.
- The changes to the starting five reflect the Lakers’ preference for smaller lineups for the time being, per Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register, who adds that Vogel left the door open for a return to bigger lineups as the season progresses. Anthony Davis started at center alongside power forward Carmelo Anthony on Sunday.
The Timberwolves need to carve out offensive opportunities for both Karl-Anthony Towns and ascendant second-year wing Anthony Edwards, opines Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Towns and Edwards appear to be the current core for Minnesota going forward.
Towns has thrived as a jump shooter but has been somewhat up-and-down scoring from inside the paint this season.
“I think we’ve studied it and just not getting a lot of production out of it, and I think his finishing could be a little better,” Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch said of his post scoring. “I think we can get him to go maybe a little quicker, but by the same token, he’s not getting a lot of the benefit of the doubt down there.”
There’s more out of Minnesota:
- The Timberwolves took a big swing with a 2020 trade that sent swingman Andrew Wiggins and a lightly-protected 2021 first-round draft pick to the Warriors in exchange for D’Angelo Russell, a longtime friend of Towns. Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic revisited the deal, executed by now-former team president Gersson Rosas, in the wake of a big night for Wiggins against Minnesota, noting that Golden State pretty definitively came out the winner. As Krawczynski writes, Wiggins has been a better fit for the Warriors than he was for the Timberwolves. In part because there is less pressure on him to be the 11-1 team’s main scorer, Wiggins can focus more on his improved perimeter defense. Russell, meanwhile, provides little help on defense and has been erratic offensively for the Timberwolves. The Warriors also used the first-rounder to select small forward Jonathan Kuminga with the seventh selection in this summer’s draft.
- After a solid 107-83 victory over the Lakers on Friday night, the Timberwolves struggled to replicate their success against L.A.’s Staples Center neighbors, the Clippers, in a 129-102 loss on Saturday. Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic contends that this is who Minnesota really is: an inconsistent team with issues on both sides of the ball. Krawczynski says the Timberwolves grew complacent following one impressive showing against a Western Conference foe and let their guard down against another. “I feel like that’s really been the problem with us as a team is how do we not get tired of success,” said guard Josh Okogie. “I feel like after we have good performances, we have to be able to put that game behind us and focus on the next one and try to go 1-0 every night.”
- In case you missed it, Luke Adams took a look at the Timberwolves’ offseason, which was focused primarily on retaining some young talent and adding veteran role players around the periphery of its roster.