Timberwolves Rumors

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/22/18

Here are Thursday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA.

  • The Cavaliers have recalled rookie center Ante Zizic from their Canton affiliate, the team announced on its website. In 15 games for the Charge, Zizic has averaged 15.7 PPG and 8.9 RPG.
  • The Magic assigned forward Jonathan Isaac to their Lakeland affiliate, according to Orlando’s PR Twitter. Isaac will attend Lakeland’s practice but he is expected to be recalled back to Orlando before the team faces the Knicks on Thursday. Isaac, who has missed almost three months with an ankle injury, is expected to see his first game action tomorrow for the G League squad.
  • The Heat have assigned guard Rodney McGruder to their G League affiliate, the Sioux City Skyforce, the team announced in a press release. McGruder has not appeared in a regular season game after undergoing surgery on a  left tibia stress fracture in mid-October. He is expected to play two G League games on Saturday and Monday before making his NBA return, tweets Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald.
  • The Lakers assigned rookie center Thomas Bryant to the South Bay Lakers for their upcoming two-game road trip, according to the G League team’s Twitter feed. Thomas has averaged 19.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in 27 games with South Bay.
  • The Timberwolves have assigned rookie center Justin Patton to the G League’s Iowa Wolves, according to the team (Twitter link). Patton has yet to make his NBA debut but has averaged 11.9 PPG for Iowa in 25 games.

New Schedule Not Helping?

  • Some members of the Timberwolves believe that the new NBA schedule, implemented this season to reduce the number of back-to-back games and ensure teams now don’t play four games in five nights, is actually making the season feel longer, reports Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. “You can tell there’s a big difference,” says Taj Gibson. “A lot of guys are getting hurt. The fatigue is there.”
  • In another article for the Star Tribune, Zgoda writes that Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler, while a fan of free agent guard and former teammate Derrick Rose, will not try to influence the team to sign Rose. “That’s not my job,” Butler said. “Is he a hell of a player? Yeah. But that’s up to Thibs and everybody else to figure if he has a place on this roster and this team. Obviously, I’ve played with him before. I know the talent he has. (But) It’s not my job to say.”

Noah, Hornacek Altercation Turned Physical?

FEBRUARY 19: There are conflicting reports on the exact details of the altercation, with sources telling Marc Berman of The New York Post that Hornacek never pushed Noah. Berman reports that the two men did engage in a shouting match, adding that Noah had to be restrained.

FEBRUARY 17: Knicks center Joakim Noah got into a physical altercation with coach Jeff Hornacek that led to his leave of absence, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

Their long-running disagreement over playing time became heated at a practice following a January 23 game against the Warriors in which Noah logged just five minutes. They had to be separated after Hornacek shoved Noah, Bondy reports.

Noah is currently on a leave of absence, which Knicks officials describe as mutual. The team tried to trade him before the February 8 deadline, but there were no takers because of his hefty contract, which still has two more seasons and nearly $38MM remaining.

Trying to reach a buyout agreement is another option, but it’s one the Knicks have been opposed to. If Noah does become a free agent, the Timberwolves are an obvious potential destination with Noah’s former coach Tom Thibodeau running the team.

Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, a teammate of Noah for five seasons in Chicago, spoke to the veteran center recently and said he just wants an opportunity to play.

“He wants to help win. He’s a great dude,” Butler said. “I talked to him a little bit, not a lot. All in all, I want him to be happy. Because you can’t go to work every day, being with the same people every day, if you’re not happy. That’s not good for anybody.”

Wolves Notes: Franchise Valuation, Rose, Saunders

The Timberwolves only ranked 27th in Forbes’ most recent list of NBA franchise valuations, but like the 29 other teams in the league, Minnesota has a perceived value of at least $1 billion, coming in at $1.06 billion. For Wolves owner Glen Taylor, who bought the team for $88.5MM back in 1994, that’s a staggering figure.

“It never occurred to me that anything like this would happen,” Taylor told Sid Hartman of The Star Tribune. “But it has been, especially in the last few years, partly due to the big contract we got on TV, but just everything — the advertisements, sponsorships have gone up, attendance has gone up every year, and therefore the value has gone up.”

While Taylor was reportedly seeking a successor at one point to take over control of the franchise, a deal with Steve Kaplan fell through, and the Timberwolves’ majority owner has since re-committed to his investment in the team. Taylor, who is 76 years old, won’t control the Wolves forever, but it doesn’t seem as if he has any desire to sell anytime soon — particularly with the club in position to claim a playoff spot for the first time since 2004.

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • While the Timberwolves have been linked to Derrick Rose since he was traded from Cleveland to Utah – and subsequently waived – Taylor says his club hasn’t had any plans to sign the former MVP, according to Hartman. “If we could find the right person to fit into our team and have some ability to play, get out there on the floor, we are certainly going to look at it,” Taylor said. “We kept one slot open all year long just in case that possibility occurred. But as of today we don’t have anybody in mind.”
  • Earlier today, we passed along word from Taylor – via Hartman – that the Timberwolves are willing to accommodate a Shabazz Muhammad buyout.
  • The late Flip Saunders, who served as the head coach and president of basketball operations for the Timberwolves, was honored by the franchise with a banner on Thursday night, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details. Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic took an in-depth look at the Wolves’ decision to honor Saunders, and what he meant to the organization.

Timberwolves Open To Shabazz Muhammad Buyout

A report earlier in February indicated that Timberwolves swingman Shabazz Muhammad hoped to be traded or waived before last week’s trade deadline. While neither of those things happened, the Wolves remain open to accommodating Muhammad’s departure, majority owner Glen Taylor tells Sid Hartman of The Star Tribune details.

“Shabazz hasn’t gotten out on the floor to play very much, so he’s disappointed,” Taylor said. “He would like to get with a team that he could put in more minutes and show his skill-set. We have given the OK that if he finds such a team he can go to and wants to walk away, [he can] get out of our contract.

“My goal is I wish he could get out there; he just hasn’t had the year he anticipated or that we anticipated,” Taylor continued. “Because of that, and we’ve had so many close games, it’s hard for us to find the minutes for him. I still like him and think our fans like him. He has a different style of playing than anybody else. But on the other hand, if he can find another team that I think tells him he can get on the floor for sure, I think we’ll cooperate.”

Muhammad, 25, looked like a promising young prospect for Minnesota back in 2014/15, when he averaged 13.5 PPG on .489/.392/.717 shooting. However, his numbers – and his role – have declined since then. This season, he has played very sparingly for the new-look Wolves, averaging 3.7 PPG on .385/.211/.710 shooting in 31 games (9.6 MPG). The former lottery pick is also one of the NBA’s least effective facilitators, recording 0.5 APG in 266 career contests.

An unrestricted free agent in 2017, Muhammad sought a raise but ultimately had to settle for a two-year, minimum salary contract to return to Minnesota. The second year of that deal is a player option, which would become guaranteed if the Wolves were to waive Muhammad outright — it’s not clear if he’d be willing to give up some or all of that option salary to accommodate his release.

March 1 is the deadline to watch for the Wolves and Muhammad, who wouldn’t be playoff-eligible for a new team if he’s waived after that date.

Teague Has Had To Adjust Style Of Play; FA Targets For Wolves

  • With so many scorers on the Timberwolves‘ roster, Jeff Teague has found himself playing a facilitator role more often this season after signing with the team last summer. The veteran point guard, whose 12.7 PPG is his lowest mark in six years, admits that new approach has taken some getting used to. “It’s just not how I play,” said Teague, per Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. “But someone has to make a sacrifice, and it was me.”
  • Michael Rand of The Star Tribune identifies five veteran free agents or buyout candidates who could be of interest to the Timberwolves.

NBA Teams With Open Roster Spots

Now that the dust has settled on last Thursday’s trade-deadline deals and the first round of veteran buyouts and cuts has been completed, it’s worth taking stock of which NBA teams have the flexibility to add a player or two without waivers anyone else.

With the help of our roster counts page, which we update all season, here are the NBA teams with open spots on their 15-man rosters. Open two-way contract slots aren’t included here, since teams are ineligible to sign new two-way contracts at this point in the season.

Teams with a player on a 10-day contract filling their open spot:

  • Phoenix Suns
  • Utah Jazz

Both the Suns and Jazz have 14 players on fully guaranteed NBA contracts, leaving one potential opening. For now, Josh Gray is filling that 15th spot in Phoenix and Naz Mitrou-Long is doing the same in Utah. However, they’re only on 10-day contracts, so both of these teams could soon create an open spot if necessary.

Teams with one open spot:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • New York Knicks
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic
  • Sacramento Kings
  • Toronto Raptors

The teams listed above represent a mix of playoff-bound squads and rebuilding non-contenders. Teams like the Bulls, Mavericks, and Knicks could use their open roster spots to take fliers on young players via 10-day contracts, while clubs like the Timberwolves, Thunder, and Raptors may be eyeing the buyout market for veterans who could fortify their respective benches.

Teams with two open spots:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Washington Wizards

NBA rules generally prohibit teams from carrying fewer than 14 players on their 15-man squads. However, clubs are permitted to dip to 13 – or even 12 – in special circumstances, as long as they get back up to 14 within two weeks. Roster moves made last week by the Hawks, Cavaliers, Trail Blazers, and Wizards left them below the limit, so they’ll each have to add at least one player by the end of the All-Star break.

Note: Roster info current as of Tuesday, February 13 at 2:00pm CT.

Derrick Rose May Not Sign Until After All-Star Break

With just three more days of games scheduled before the NBA’s All-Star break begins, it’s increasingly possible that Derrick Rose‘s next move won’t be resolved until later this month, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Community Shootaround: Derrick Rose’s Future]

Traded by the Cavaliers to the Jazz in the three-team deadline-day deal that saw George Hill and Rodney Hood land in Cleveland, Rose wasn’t part of Utah’s plans and was subsequently released. The former MVP cleared waivers on Monday, making him an unrestricted free agent.

According to various reports, the Timberwolves and Wizards are among the teams with some interest in Rose. However, as Stein notes, the 29-year-old may not find a new NBA home until teams resume practicing following the All-Star break. That makes sense, particularly for clubs with luxury-tax concerns. For instance, signing Rose now instead of waiting until after the break would put the Wizards on the hook for nine extra days of salary and taxes, and they’d only get one extra game out of the veteran.

If the Wizards – who have also been linked to guards like Ty Lawson and Ramon Sessions – go in another direction and Tom Thibodeau opts to pass on a reunion with Rose in Minnesota, it’s not clear where the former No. 1 overall pick might land. League sources tell Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net that several teams have heard from Rose’s agent in recent days, but have opted to pass on signing him.

Jazz Waive Derrick Rose; Wolves Have Interest

FEBRUARY 12: Rose has officially cleared waivers, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

FEBRUARY 10: The Jazz have formally requested waivers on Rose, the team announced in a press release.

FEBRUARY 8: Once their three-team trade with the Cavaliers and Kings becomes official, the Jazz will waive newly-acquired point guard Derrick Rose, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Assuming the move is completed today, Rose would be on track to clear waivers on Saturday.

Rose, 29, has only been healthy enough to play in 16 games this season, and has seen his minutes significantly cut back. After averaging at least 30 minutes per contest in each of his previous NBA seasons, the former MVP played 19.3 MPG for the Cavs this season, recording a modest 9.8 PPG and 1.6 APG on .439/.250/.854 shooting.

With Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, and Raul Neto all available to handle point guard duties in Utah, the Jazz didn’t have a pressing need in their lineup for Rose, who was included in today’s three-way deal for salary purposes. According to Charania, Rose will look to join a playoff-bound team once he reaches free agency, but it’s not clear how many teams will seriously consider the veteran, given his underwhelming play this season.

One team that figures to be in play is Minnesota, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times, who tweets that the Tom Thibodeau-led Timberwolves are expected to try to sign Rose if he goes unclaimed on waivers. There’s no guarantee that Rose will clear waivers though — he’s on a one-year, minimum salary contract, so any team could use the minimum salary exception to claim him.

Timberwolves Recall Justin Patton From G League

  • The Timberwolves have recalled rookie center Justin Patton from the G League, according to the team (Twitter link). Patton has yet to make his NBA debut, but looked good for the Iowa Wolves on Sunday, scoring a team-high 21 points.
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