Anthony Edwards

Northwest Notes: Knecht, Bjorkgren, Blazers, Jazz, Wolves

Tennessee star Dalton Knecht had a solo pre-draft workout with the Trail Blazers on Thursday, tweets Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report. The 23-year-old wing is ranked No. 8 on ESPN’s big board, while Portland controls a pair of lottery picks (Nos. 7 and 14) and two second-rounders (Nos. 34 and 40).

ESPN recently reported that each team in the 6-10 range holds “strong interest” in Knecht, who averaged 21.7 points and 4.9 rebounds on .458/.397/.772 shooting in 36 games for the Volunteers in 2023/24 (30.6 minutes per contest).

Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) hears the Blazers will host a 3-on-3 workout next week “that’s supposed to feature” G League Ignite wing Ron Holland, French forward Tidjane Salaun, Virginia wing Ryan Dunn, Purdue center Zach Edey, Baylor center Yves Missi, and Miami guard Kyshawn George. Five of those prospects are projected first-round picks — the only exception is Dunn, who is No. 34 on ESPN’s board.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Nate Bjorkgren, who went 34-38 as head coach of the Pacers in 2020/21, has been attending the Portland’s recent pre-draft workouts, according to Highkin, who points out (via Twitter) that the Trail Blazers have some vacancies on their coaching staff. Bjorkgren had two stints as an assistant with Toronto, most recently in ’22/23.
  • In a press release, the Jazz announced several members of their basketball operations staff have been promoted to new positions. Shane Fenske, who previously served as VP of analytics and insights, is now an assistant GM. Assistant coach Sean Sheldon will move to the front of head coach Will Hardy‘s bench, as previously reported. Andrew Warren, who has been an assistant video coordinator the past two seasons, is now an assistant coach. Several other basketball operations employees have new positions as well.
  • Chris Hine of The Star Tribune examines which players on the Timberwolves‘ roster will return in 2024/25, while John Hollinger of The Athletic wonders if “really good” can be good enough for Wolves guard Anthony Edwards.

Wolves Notes: Connelly, Anderson, Edwards, McDaniels

Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly reportedly has an opt-out in his contract. Amid an ownership dispute, there has been speculation that the veteran executive may exercise that opt-out clause.

However, he told reporters on Friday that he’s “super excited’ about the team’s future and doesn’t plan to leave Minnesota, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune (subscription required).

I mean, moving [from Denver] wasn’t fun,” Connelly said. “I’ve had a blast here. Feels like we have roots here. It’s pretty special. That’s the goal. It has been a great couple years, and hopefully, we can make it a much longer couple years.”

Connelly said he’d be comfortable no matter which group ultimately gains majority control of the franchise, Zgoda adds. Longtime owner Glen Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, is on one side of the dispute, with minority stakeholders Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez on the other. The matter is heading to a three-person arbitration panel.

Ownership is obviously in a unique place right now,” Connelly said. “Whatever happens is kind of a level up. I trust whatever happens will be the right path. We’ve all shared great moments throughout this whole season. There are conversations that we’ve had, and they’ll be ongoing. Now that we’re officially in the offseason, we’ll get a better sense of what we might do.”

The Timberwolves were eliminated from the Western Conference finals after being blown out by Dallas in Game 5 in Minnesota. It was just the second time the Wolves have advanced that far in the postseason, and Connelly believes they’re capable of advancing further in the future, according to Zgoda.

When you’re a home-court team and a final four team, all those teams can win a championship,” Connelly said. “So I don’t know if there is any linear path to that next step. I don’t think there is one singular answer. A lot of it is match-ups and health.”

Connelly praised Karl-Anthony Towns, who had an otherwise solid playoff showing but largely struggled against the Mavs. Minnesota’s top basketball executive also discussed the team’s future payroll, suggesting the Wolves would be willing to be a taxpayer, but not on a repeated basis due to the restrictions of the new CBA.

It’s a big task for ownership,” Connelly said. “It’s a lot, a lot of money. Relative to the impact on our flexibility, I think the jury is still out. It’s not a place you want to be long-term. It gets more and more harsh each year. Dipping your toe in it, it could have relatively limited impact on what we can and cannot do. But we’re learning it like the other 29 teams.”

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Veteran forward Kyle Anderson, who has been rotation regular for Minnesota the past two seasons, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Retaining him will be a real challenge, considering how much money the Wolves have tied up in their other players. While Anderson said he enjoyed his time with the team and wants to return, he acknowledged he might be headed elsewhere this offseason, tweets Dane Moore. “I don’t know where I’ll be… but obviously (I) want to be back here,” Anderson said.
  • Star guard Anthony Edwards, who will be playing for Team USA at the Olympics in Paris this summer, said he plans to do some extra training this offseason to prepare for 2024/25, as Chris Hine of The Star Tribune writes (subscriber link). “I’ve never played this deep into a basketball season,” Edwards said. “So now I know, like, OK, in order for me to be dominant in the third round, and if we get past this and finally go to the finals, I’ve got to train like I’m going to go to the playoffs. So I can’t be missing training days, I can’t take days off, you know what I mean? I’ve got to be ready. So I know what it takes, and I’ll be ready.”
  • Consistently unlocking Jaden McDaniels offensively is an offseason goal for Minnesota, says Patrick Reusse of The Star Tribune (subscriber link). McDaniels’ lucrative rookie scale extension begins next season. He earned a spot on the All-Defensive Second Team this season, but often wasn’t involved enough on offense, Reusse observes.
  • Mark Deeks of HoopsHype provides his offseason preview for the Wolves. In addition to Anderson, veteran point guards Monte Morris and Jordan McLaughlin will also be unrestricted free agents, and so will forward T.J. Warren. Big man Luka Garza will be the club’s lone standard RFA.

Wolves Notes: Towns, Edwards, Ownership Fight, Connelly

As the Timberwolves deal with the disappointment of a Game 5 blowout that ended their playoff run, the focus now turns to the future and whether the franchise can afford to keep the core of its current team together. Karl-Anthony Towns, who has been the focus of some trade speculation because of his pricey contract, told reporters after Thursday’s game that he wants to stay in Minnesota, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“I’m confident I’ll be able to be here with my brothers and continue what I love to do here at home,” said Towns who has spent his entire nine-year NBA career with the team. “So that’s the plan. Nothing’s changed on my side. I love this city. I love this organization. I love this city. It’s given me my life, me and my family.”

Towns’ $221MM extension will take effect next season, paying him roughly $49.4MM, $53.3MM and $57.3MM over the next three years with a $61.2MM player option for 2027/28. With an expensive roster around him and an unsettled ownership situation, there’s no guarantee the Wolves will be willing to keep Towns and deal with the second tax apron restrictions that will result.

Towns refused to comment on the team’s financial situation following Game 5.

“That’s not for me to worry about,” he said. “My job is to go out there every day and do something this summer in the offseason and continue to take steps forward in my game and my mentality not only as a player but as a person too.”

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • Anthony Edwards wasn’t discouraged by the loss, promising that the Wolves will be ready for another long playoff run next season, McMenamin adds. Edwards, who had three 40-point games in the playoffs, believes the organization has a bright future after reaching the conference finals for the first time in 20 years. “It’s a lot of our guys’ first time being in this light, especially me. It’s my first time,” he said. “But we’ll be ready, man. We’ll be all right. First time. Took a loss. Congratulations to the Mavericks. But we’ll be back. We’ll be all right.”
  • A three-person arbitration panel has been selected to oversee the ownership dispute, but there are no signs of a quick resolution, according to Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic. Arena sources tell the authors that the bitter feelings between current majority owner Glen Taylor and prospective owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez have intensified, reporting that Taylor tried to approach the duo several times during the playoffs and even attempted to hug Rodriguez, but was turned away.
  • President of basketball operations Tim Connelly, who has an opt-out clause in his contract, will have to make a decision on his future before the ownership situation is settled, Krawczynski and Charania add. They note that Lore and Rodriguez led the recruiting pitch that convinced Connelly to leave Denver, and he joined the Wolves with the expectation of eventually working for them. Sources tell the authors that Minnesota was very concerned about the Pistons making a huge offer to lure Connelly away before they opted to make Trajan Langdon their new head of basketball operations.

Mavericks Notes: Doncic, Irving, Lively, Hardy

After shooting a combined 13-of-39 (33.3%) from the floor on Tuesday, Mavericks stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving both accepted the blame for the Game 4 loss, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes. While Doncic cited his lack of energy and Irving mentioned his early-game sloppiness, their teammates weren’t willing to let the backcourt duo shoulder the full responsibility for the defeat.

“It’s not on them, it’s on us as a team,” Derrick Jones Jr. said. “We are a unit. We go out there, and we play together, we win together, we lose together. It’s not on one person. I know that they’re the leaders of the team, that head of the snake, but we got their back through thick and through thin.”

The Timberwolves adjusted their defensive assignments on Tuesday, with Anthony Edwards serving as the primary defender on Doncic. Jaden McDaniels guarded Irving, who admitted after the game that the All-Defensive wing represented a new challenge.

“He has a huge impact,” Irving said of McDaniels. “I mean, he is a 6-9 wing defender that I’m seeing now for the first time from the start of the game. So it’s going to be an adjustment, but I love it. I relish in these type opportunities.”

Here’s more out of Dallas:

  • Referring to Dereck Lively as the Mavericks’ third-most important player, Tim Cato of The Athletic says the rookie center’s absence was noticeable in the Game 4 loss. Lively told Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link) that his neck sprain is a “day to day thing” and that he’s trying not to rush his recovery and return. On FanDuel’s Run it Back show (Twitter video link), Shams Charania of The Athletic said it’s promising that Lively didn’t have to enter the concussion protocol, adding that there’s a chance the big man could be back for Game 5, though that’s far from a certainty.
  • Lively isn’t the only Mavericks youngster giving the team important playoff minutes. Second-year guard Jaden Hardy scored 13 points in just 12 minutes of action in Game 4, making 3-of-4 three-pointers and throwing down a highlight-reel dunk. “It felt great to see some shots go in while I was out there,” Hardy said, per Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com. “I’m just trying to bring energy and bring another element to the team that makes us different and trying to make this championship run.” Hardy is under contract for one more season before becoming eligible for restricted free agency in 2025.
  • The Mavericks still hold a commanding 3-1 lead over Minnesota in the series, so there’s no need to panic yet, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). Still, it will be crucial not to let the Timberwolves continue to gain confidence by winning additional games. “This is a great opportunity for us as a young team to go through this,” head coach Jason Kidd said.

Wolves Notes: Towns, Edwards, Finch, Anderson

No Timberwolves player had more points (29), rebounds (10), or assists (9) in Game 4 on Tuesday than Anthony Edwards, but the fourth-year shooting guard told reporters, including Dave McMenamin of ESPN, that teammate Karl-Anthony Towns deserved credit for the victory that saved the club’s season. Towns, who struggled immensely during the first three games of the series, scored 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting (4-of-5 threes) and was a game-high +15.

“Everything came together for him; he was super confident,” Edwards said. “He played exceptionally well, and he came through big-time. He was the reason we won tonight.”

Head coach Chris Finch, who said after Game 3 that Towns’ shooting woes were “hard to watch at times,” praised the star big man for bouncing back, referring to the performance as a “great step” for him.

“KAT’s a great player,” Finch said, per McMenamin. “His struggles were not going to last forever. He got himself going. Even when he got deep in foul trouble, we left him out there. … Just let him roll, and he played smart, played under control, rebounded really well for us, executed defensively. Really proud of him.”

Here’s more on the Wolves, who still trail Dallas by a 3-1 margin in the Western Conference finals:

  • Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch, who is still recovering from knee surgery, is off his crutches and came onto the court in the third quarter on Thursday to object to the fifth foul call on Towns, earning a technical foul of his own in the process. As Sam Amick of The Athletic writes, Finch was looking to “inject emotion” into the game by earning that tech and then taking over the team’s huddles for the first time since he injured his knee a month ago. “He fired us all up,” Naz Reid told Amick. “He’s doing that, and he’s bringing that energy, so it’s like, ‘We ain’t got no choice.’ It’s definitely special and huge to see him that engaged, and that in the moment. So everybody’s excited for that. I mean, you see he’s limping and it doesn’t matter. He’s still gonna keep going.”
  • Kyle Anderson logged a series-high 25 minutes in the Game 4 win, and while he had more fouls (3) than points (2), he made the most of his increased role by adding four assists, four rebounds, and three steals. Anderson was also an important factor in a crucial late-game possession, directing Towns to the corner and then making sure Edwards knew he was open for a three-pointer (Twitter video link). “I was dribbling the ball. I damn sure was about to shoot it,” Edwards said of the play, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “And I seen him pointing at big fella, and I’m like ‘OK, cool.’ Big fella, he done cashed out.”
  • After struggling in clutch situations throughout the series, the Timberwolves came up big down the stretch on Tuesday, holding onto a slim lead in the game’s final minutes as Edwards consistently made the right decisions on offense, writes Zach Harper of The Athletic.
  • While the Wolves remain a long shot to come back and win the series, it bodes well for the franchise going forward that Edwards and Towns performed so well in an elimination game in late May, notes Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune.

Wolves Notes: Towns, Defense, Edwards, Gobert

Karl-Anthony Towns has been misfiring throughout the Western Conference Finals, but his shooting struggles were particularly painful in Sunday’s Game 3 loss, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Towns, who finished with 14 points, shot just 5-of-18 from the field and 0-of-8 from three-point range. He missed all four of his attempts in the final five minutes, including three from beyond the arc, as Minnesota’s offense collapsed down the stretch.

“He struggled, of course,” coach Chris Finch said at his post-game press conference. “It was hard to watch at times.”

The Wolves haven’t been able to keep up with Dallas’ high-powered attack while getting limited production from one of their prime scoring threats. Towns is shooting 27.8% in the series, which McMenamin notes is the fourth-worst mark of any player through the first three games of a conference or divisional finals in the shot clock era (minimum 50 shot attempts).

“I’ve got to laugh,” Towns said. “I’m putting up to 1,500 shots a day. Shot so well all playoffs, confidence extremely high. To be having these unfortunate bounces and these looks that are just not going in, it’s tough. It’s tough, for sure. I’m good confidence wise. Just got to keep shooting.”

There’s more on the Timberwolves:

  • Towns’ poor shooting and questionable decision-making in the series raise questions about whether he should be part of the team’s long-term future, per Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Towns’ four-year, $221MM extension kicks in next season, likely pushing Minnesota into second apron territory and limiting its options for improving the roster.
  • Towns’ three-point shooting and the league’s top-ranked defense have carried Minnesota all season, but neither has been effective in the conference finals, observes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Whether Finch has tried to guard Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving straight up or blitz them with an extra defender, the Mavericks‘ play-makers always seem to have an answer. Finch has also experimented with his big-man rotation, benching Towns for Naz Reid late in Game 2 and sitting out Rudy Gobert for more than nine minutes in Sunday’s fourth quarter.
  • The Mavericks’ edge in experience and the individual brilliance of Doncic and Irving have been too much for Minnesota to handle, notes Sam Amick of The Athletic. Even though the Wolves were locked in a season-long battle for the top record in the West, it’s rare for teams to win titles when their best player is still early in his career. “We’ve got (Anthony Edwards), who’s 22, and Dwayne Wade won a championship at that age,” Gobert said. “(Wade) was the guy, but he was surrounded by some other veterans who helped him grow. I think that’s the way I feel about our team. Ant is not in his prime yet, but he’s still (capable of leading a title team). For him, it’s about learning every day, being willing to learn and grow, and he’s done that. Sometimes the pain of losing is the best lesson, but I think we’ve had some of that. I think we’ve had enough of that. Now it’s ‘Let’s win it.’”

Northwest Notes: Braun, KCP, Edwards, Dort

The Nuggets can’t just plug Christian Braun into the starting lineup if Kentavious Caldwell-Pope leaves in free agency and expect the same production, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post writes.

Keeler notes that the team tried to overcome the free agent loss of Bruce Brown with a combination of Braun and Peyton Watson, but those second-year players couldn’t replicate Brown’s impact. If KCP does sign elsewhere, the Nuggets will need at least one proven veteran shooter behind Braun to slot into the bench. Keeler also notes Caldwell-Pope posted a 122.4 offensive rating per 100 possessions this season, compared to Braun’s 110.0 mark.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • A more aggressive Anthony Edwards and a more physical, forceful defensive effort against Luka Doncic could allow the Timberwolves to turn the Western Conference Finals around, Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports opines.
  • Edwards concurs with Goodwill’s assessment, vowing to be a bigger offensive force in Game 3 this evening, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I’m going to be super aggressive,” Edwards said. “I haven’t taken more than 16 shots in each game. So I’m going to be ultra-aggressive coming out, for sure.” The Timberwolves guard also says he and his teammates are unfazed by the prospect of being down 2-0 in the series and needing to win at least two road contests. “It didn’t do nothing but add fuel to the fire for Game 3,” Edwards said. “I think all my teammates ready to go, it’s fun. … I think we’re in a pretty good mood. Everybody’s smiling and joking. We know we’re a good team. We know it’s not over. I don’t think anybody’s worried. Just know we got to come ready to play tonight.”
  • In his series of player report cards regarding the Thunder, The Oklahoman’s Joe Mussatto notes that Luguentz Dort has improved his offensive game to complement his elite defense.

And-Ones: Fan Favorites, Media Deal, Bacon, Shooting Guards

The votes have been tallied for league appreciators’ “Fan Favorites” for the 2023/24 season, per NBA.com. Fans voted for various categories via the NBA App, NBA.com and the @NBA handle on social media.

All-Star Timberwolves shooting guard Anthony Edwards won Block, Dunk and Photo of the Year honors, while Bulls swingman DeMar DeRozan won Assist of the Year, All-NBA Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was honored with the Style of the Year accolade, and Mavericks point guard Kyrie Irving was praised for possessing the Handle of the Year.

There’s more from around the wider basketball world:

  • NBA players stand to reap major financial benefits from the league’s lucrative impending batch of media rights deals, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. As Vorkunov notes, based on the terms reported, the agreement is set to pay the league $6.9 billion annually, which is about two-and-a-half times what the league is earning under its present TV deal. Suddenly, a $100MM maximum annual player salary is in play, and could possibly happen as soon as 2032/33.
  • Following a prolific season with Shanghai Dongfang in Chinese Basketball Association, former journeyman NBA guard Dwayne Bacon  has agreed to a deal with Puerto Rican team Leones de Ponce, according to Dario Skerletic of Sportando. Bacon spent four years in the NBA, last playing for the Magic in 2020/21.
  • Keith Smith of Spotrac unpacks the top free agent shooting guards set to hit the market this summer in a new tiered ranking system. He lists seven starting-caliber wings, 17 rotation-level players, and 25 other players with upside at the position.

Northwest Notes: Edwards, Malone, Simpson, Zanik

Anthony Edwards was so dominant in the first two rounds of the playoffs that it’s easy to forget he’s only 22. However, his age and postseason inexperience might be catching up to him in the Western Conference Finals, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. The Timberwolves guard is shooting just 11-of-33 from the field so far against the Mavericks, who have thrown him off his game by mixing up coverages and using multiple defenders.

“It’s not harder to get (to the basket). They just pack the paint once you get there,” Edwards said. “So, I mean, you’ve got to make the right play because there’s three, four people in the paint. You’ve got to watch the game, so it’s all about just making the right play, and my teammates are open.”

History shows that players in their early 20s don’t enjoy a lot of postseason success. Hine points out that Edwards is going up against Kyrie Irving, who’s a decade older and has a championship ring, and Luka Doncic, who’s in his sixth NBA season and reached the conference finals two years ago. It’s difficult for Edwards to compensate for that difference in experience, but he has to figure out something quickly before the series slips away.

“With Anthony, he’s gotta pick up his decision making,” coach Chris Finch said. “I think Kyrie is actually a good example — he’s playing quick off the catch, he’s trying to beat our defensive pressure with everything on the catch, going quickly.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone admits he probably overused his starters, which led to their exhaustion at the end of Game 7 against Minnesota, per Bennett Durando of The Denver Post. Durando notes that Denver’s starting five was on the court together for 958 minutes during the regular season, which was more than any other group over the past six years. “On one hand, we got the two seed,” Malone said. “And on the other hand, I’m watching our players play in Game 7 in the second half, and our guys looked dead tired. I think you guys probably saw the same thing. So did I run our players into the ground? I’m sure that’s definitely part of it.”
  • Colorado’s KJ Simpson had a pre-draft workout with the Nuggets this week, tweets Tyler King of The Denver Gazette. The junior point guard ranks 51st on ESPN’s big board. Denver holds the 28th and 56th picks in this year’s draft.
  • Jazz general manager Justin Zanik returned to work this week after recovering from a kidney transplant, per Alex Vejar of The Salt Lake Tribune. A spokesperson for the team said Zanik had been targeting a return shortly after the draft combine.

Wolves Notes: Shooting, Edwards, KAT, Gobert

Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards took the NBA world by storm through the first two rounds of the playoffs, helping Minnesota achieve its first conference championship appearance in 20 years. However, his shot isn’t falling through two games against Dallas and it has resulted in an 0-2 hole for the team that knocked off the defending champs, The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski writes.

On Friday, Edwards had as many turnovers as field-goal attempts (two) in the fourth quarter and produced a shooting line of 29.4% (5-of-17). In his last three games, Edwards is shooting just 29.8% from the field. Karl-Anthony Towns is slumping too, shooting just 27.8% from the field in the first two games of the series compared to his 51.7% clip in the first two rounds.

As Krawczynski writes, it’s as simple as the Mavs’ stars showing up while Minnesota’s haven’t. If Edwards and Towns had shot at replacement level in the first two games, the Wolves’ outlook might be different, considering they’ve lost both games by a combined four points. That’s one key reason why Minnesota’s stars aren’t hitting the panic button yet.

“I don’t think anybody in the locker room is panicking,” Edwards said. “I hope not. Just come out and play our brand of basketball. We let ‘em make a run.”

To their credit, the Wolves are 5-1 on the road this postseason and weathered the storm of Denver winning three straight games just last round.

We have more from the Timberwolves:

  • Towns played 25 minutes in Game 2, making four of his 16 shot attempts. He was benched for the final 8:40 of the fourth quarter (hat tip to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin) while Naz Reid played the entire fourth quarter and registered 23 points off the bench. “I’m with winning, so whatever it takes to win,” Towns said. “Naz has it going. Coach’s decision, I’m fully supportive of my coaching staff. Wouldn’t question them one bit. Of course, I’m always going to be ready to play whenever he calls. Naz got it going, our team was playing well.”
  • While the Wolves themselves don’t seem to be worried, Edwards’ shooting calls into question whether Minnesota can win a title if the All-NBA guard isn’t shooting at his peak, The Star Tribune’s Jim Souhan writes (subscriber link). “He’s got to get more in transition,” head coach Chris Finch said. “He’s got to get out [and run]. … I thought he started the game with a great burst, was really going downhill well. That really phased out as the game went along. He went in there a few times. I thought he could do it more. I thought he turned down some open looks, too.
  • Rudy Gobert made the critical mistake of allowing Luka Doncic to get the step back he was seeking on his game-winning shot, Tony Jones of The Athletic writes. When Gobert reacted strongly to Doncic’s first step, it gave the Mavs superstar all the space he needed to get his shot off. Jones writes that it’s disappointing because Gobert has been exceptional in the playoffs and has defended similar shots from Doncic before.