Jordan McLaughlin

Wolves Notes: Point Guards, McLaughlin, Offense, Edwards

Point guard has become a position of strength for the Timberwolves, according to Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune, who points out that Mike Conley, Monte Morris, and Jordan McLaughlin shared the court together during Friday’s victory over Cleveland.

Known more for their star frontcourt duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, the Wolves have been forced to play smaller lately due to injuries to those big men and it has been working for the club, which also occasionally uses Nickeil Alexander-Walker in a ball-handling role.

“We’re spoiled for choice right there,” head coach Chris Finch said of his point guards. “And I love the fact they all like to play together and they can play together.”

Minnesota acquired Morris at the trade deadline in order to fortify its depth behind Conley at the point, but McLaughlin – who had shared backup duties with Alexander-Walker until that point – has made the case with his recent play that the addition of Morris was more of a luxury than a necessity.

“J-Mac is just playing otherworldly right now,” Finch said. “He has come in and changed the game for us. He’s shooting with so much confidence, making all the normal J-Mac plays, getting all the 50-50 balls, competing for the ball in the air, flying around, getting his hands on stuff.”

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • Chris Hine of The Star Tribune takes a look at how the Timberwolves’ offense has changed since Towns went down with his knee injury earlier this month, observing that the team has been launching more shots from beyond the arc. Minnesota ranked 25th in the NBA in three-pointers per game up until Towns’ last appearance on March 4, but has jumped to No. 12 in the games since then. “We haven’t made a conscious decision to say, ‘Hey we need to shoot more threes because KAT’s not here.’ It’s a by-product of our spacing,” Finch explained.
  • It has been a tumultuous month for the Timberwolves on the whole — Towns’ injury occurred during the first week of March and was followed by the incoming ownership group’s push to secure the necessary financing in time for its payment deadline. The organization also reportedly fired an employee for stealing thousands of confidential files. However, as Michael Rand of The Star Tribune writes, Minnesota’s players have done a good job blocking the outside noise and focusing on its performance on the court, having gone 6-3 with Towns unavailable.
  • Howard Beck of The Ringer hopes NBA pundits don’t make a habit out of comparing rising Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards to Michael Jordan – as some have recently – arguing that such comparisons have backfired repeatedly over the years and that “we should just enjoy the Ant.”

Northwest Notes: McLaughlin, Olynyk, Jazz, Thunder

Veteran guard Jordan McLaughlin hasn’t seen much playing time this season for the Timberwolves, but he made an instant impact in his 12 minutes on Monday in New York, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune, and logged a season-high 17 minutes on Wednesday vs. New Orleans.

Minnesota lost both games, but McLaughlin was a plus-18 in his 29 minutes of action and appears on track to securing a more consistent role in head coach Chris Finch‘s regular rotation, according to Hine.

“Every single time he’s come in and had a super positive impact,” Finch said after the loss to the Knicks. “… We still believe that position (the ninth man) could be situational, but if somebody comes and takes it, then somebody comes and takes it and it looks like J-Mac is on his way to doing that right now.”

As Hine writes, McLaughlin was limited last season due to a calf injury, and a knee issue affected him for several weeks earlier in 2023/24, but he looks like he’s back in form as of late. The 27-year-old is in the final season of a three-year contract with the Wolves and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer if he doesn’t sign an extension before then.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Big man Kelly Olynyk has had the most “robust” trade market so far of the Jazz players presumed to be available, Ben Anderson of KSL Sports says in a mailbag. That doesn’t necessarily mean that an Olynyk trade would result in the most significant return — it’s more likely that his skill set (and expiring contract) appeals to the widest range of teams.
  • After searching for an optimal rotation for much of the season, the Jazz seem to have found it lately, notes Tony Jones of The Athletic. Since Kris Dunn entered the lineup as the starting point guard on December 21, Utah has won six of seven games. A starter earlier in the season, Jordan Clarkson has been thriving in a bench role, recording the Jazz’s first triple-double in 16 years on Monday.
  • In a pair of stories on the ascendant Thunder, Zach Kram of The Ringer takes a look at how impactful Chet Holmgren has been in his first 33 NBA games, while Anthony Slater of The Athletic explores how the team has taken advantage of its versatility and been “open-minded and experimental” in building a top-five offense.
  • Despite the Thunder‘s impressive 23-10 start this season, which includes recent wins over top teams like Boston, Denver, and Minnesota, the young team’s stars aren’t interested in discussing where they fit among the NBA’s contenders, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “We know we have a long ways to go,” Holmgren said after the victory over the Celtics on Tuesday. “We’re at 32 games into the season, so we still have 50 games left. We got a lot of lessons to learn, a lot of lessons we’ve already learned from that we’ve got to kind of keep in the back of our mind.”

Timberwolves Notes: Gobert, Edwards, McDaniels, McLaughlin

Rudy Gobert feels a greater acceptance in the Timberwolves‘ locker room and it’s showing on the court, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes.

Gobert has settled in after struggling through his first season with the franchise. He’s become the defensive force the Timberwolves were looking for when the front office made the blockbuster deal with Utah.

“I always tell people, great things take time. Especially myself, the way my life is, I’m not a guy that just comes here on Day 1 and everything is wonderful,” he said. “It takes time to build, to grind every day, build respect, build habits, build relationships with my teammates, the organization, the community.”

Gobert is also blending well with Karl-Anthony Towns on the court, Krawczynski notes. In the seven games since the Timberwolves took over the top spot in the Western Conference, the frontcourt duo has a plus-24.3 net rating in the 157 minutes they’ve shared the floor.

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • Anthony Edwards is listed as questionable to play in the Timberwolves’ return to action on Wednesday against San Antonio, the team’s PR department tweets. Edwards is dealing with a right hip pointer and has missed Minnesota’s past two games.
  • Forward Jaden McDaniels, who suffered a right ankle sprain on Nov. 20 against the Knicks, was reevaluated and he’s progressing well throughout his rehabilitation program with no setbacks, according to a team press release. He has been cleared to participate in individual on-court player development basketball and strength training activities.
  • Guard Jordan McLaughlin, who suffered a right knee MCL sprain on Nov. 2 against the Celtics, is also progressing well, the team announced in the same release. He has been cleared to participate in full, five-on-five on-court basketball activities.

Injury Notes: Grant, Simons, Duarte, Hachimura, Wolves

Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol, Portland announced on Monday (via Twitter). Grant sustained the injury during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Utah and did not return, per the team.

Grant, who re-signed with Portland on a five-year, $160MM contract over the summer, is averaging 22.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists on .437/.412/.830 shooting in 19 games this season.

In other injury news for the Blazers, guard Anfernee Simons is nearing a return, tweets Sean Highkin of the Rose Garden Report. Simons, who has been out since Oct. 25 after tearing a ligament in his thumb and undergoing surgery, practiced on Monday and is considered day-to-day, according to Highkin.

Here are some more injury notes from around the league:

  • Kings wing Chris Duarte will miss Monday’s in-season quarterfinal matchup against New Orleans due to knee soreness, league sources tell Sean Cunningham of Fox 40 KTXL (Twitter link). It will be the second straight absence for the former first-round pick, who is averaging 4.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in 15.1 minutes in his first season with Sacramento.
  • Lakers forward Rui Hachimura was cleared for Saturday’s contest against Houston, but head coach Darvin Ham opted to be cautious and held him out after he missed a week due to nasal fracture surgery. “In all likelihood” Hachimura will play in Tuesday’s quarterfinal against the Suns, Ham said on Monday (Twitter link via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin). Hachimura practiced today while wearing a face mask and he thinks he’ll be ready tomorrow, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
  • Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards was a partial practice participant on Monday and is day-to-day after missing the past two games with a hip injury, head coach Chris Finch told reporters, including Chris Hine of The Star Tribune (Twitter link). Jaden McDaniels (ankle sprain) did not practice and will not play this week, but the team is hopeful he might be able to practice next week, Finch added. As for Jordan McLaughlin, who has missed the past month with a knee sprain, he was a full practice participant and he could return as soon as later this week, according to Hine.

Jordan McLaughlin Has Knee Sprain, Out At Least One Month

Jordan McLaughlin has played sparingly for the Timberwolves so far this season and he won’t play at all for at least the next month.

McLaughlin underwent an MRI on Tuesday that revealed a right knee MCL sprain, according to a team press release. He will be reevaluated in four weeks.

McLaughlin was injured during a four-minute stint against Boston on Monday. He has appeared in five games last season.

It’s a rough blow for a 27-year-old reserve who will be a free agent after the season. He had his $2.32MM salary for this season guaranteed prior to the start of free agency in July.

A member of the Timberwolves since the 2019/20 season, McLaughlin appeared in 43 games last season and a career-high 62 in 2021/22. He sports career averages of 4.6 points and 3.4 assists in 16.4 minutes over 197 career games.

Raptors’ Thaddeus Young Among Players Earning Salary Guarantees

Veteran forward Thaddeus Young got good news on Friday when the Raptors opted to keep him on their roster rather than waiving him. Because he’s still under contract, Young’s $8MM salary for the 2023/24 season has become fully guaranteed, league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). It was previously only partially guaranteed for $1MM.

Young didn’t initially look like a great bet to earn that full $8MM, since Toronto was facing a cap crunch and he didn’t play a major role in 2022/23. The 35-year-old, who appeared in 54 games for the Raptors last season, averaged just 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds in 14.7 minutes per night — all three numbers were career lows.

However, the Raptors gained significant cap flexibility when Fred VanVleet opted to leave Toronto for Houston in free agency. With no risk of surpassing the luxury tax threshold, the team opted to hang onto Young, whose expiring salary could come in handy in a trade at some point during the 2023/24 league year.

Young was one of several players who had a salary guarantee deadline on Friday, as our tracker shows. Hoops Rumors can confirm that Jeremiah Robinson-Earl of the Thunder ($1.9MM) and Brandon Boston Jr. of the Clippers ($1.84MM) also remain under contract and have fully guaranteed salaries for 2023/24, as does Timberwolves guard Jordan McLaughlin ($2.32MM), which was anticipated.

Trail Blazers forward Trendon Watford was the only roster casualty among Friday’s group, having been cut before his $1.84MM salary became guaranteed. The Magic postponed their decision on big man Bol Bol, though his new salary guarantee date has yet to be reported.

Wolves Expected To Guarantee Jordan McLaughlin’s Contract

The Timberwolves are expected to guarantee Jordan McLaughlin‘s salary for 2023/24, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News and SKOR North.

Chris Hine of The Star Tribune has heard similarly from a league source (Twitter link).

The veteran point guard’s $2.32MM contract was fully non-guaranteed, but it certainly sounds like the Wolves will keep him around. As our list of early salary guarantee dates shows, we’re still waiting on decisions for several other players who have a Friday deadline for their contracts to become guaranteed.

McLaughlin, 27, had a strong showing in the 2021/22 playoffs, but suffered a significant calf injury that limited him for much of last season. He ultimately appeared in 43 games off the bench, averaging 3.7 PPG and 3.4 APG on .421/.308/.833 shooting in 15.8 MPG.

Known as a player who takes excellent care of the ball, McLaughlin has spent all four of his NBA seasons with Minnesota. According to Hine, both sides are hopeful McLaughlin will have a bounce-back ’23/24 season with better health.

McLaughlin is set to hit unrestricted free agency in 2024.

Wolves Rumors: McLaughlin, Russell, Reid, Hyland

Jordan McLaughlin‘s return from a calf injury may be the spark the Timberwolves need to move up the Western Conference standings, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. After missing the past 30 games, McLaughlin was back on the court Sunday, playing nearly 12 minutes in a win over the Nuggets. The backup point guard helped Minnesota’s offense become the best in the league over the second half of last season, and his play-making has been missed while he’s been out of action.

“He just brings a pace to the game,” coach Chris Finch said. “Gets off it early. Makes all the right plays. Competes his butt off on defense. It was good to see him back out there.”

When he suffered the injury in November, McLaughlin was originally considered to be day to day. He returned in early December after missing five games, but reaggravated the calf and admits that he might have tried to come back too soon.

“Calf injuries, anything with the lower extremities, you never know,” McLaughlin said. “It may feel good, but it may not be good. It could’ve been that, but you never know.”

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • Having McLaughlin available may change the Wolves’ philosophy heading into the trade deadline, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The team has been mentioned as a possible suitor for Kyle Lowry or Mike Conley, but with McLaughlin back, and Kyle Anderson and Anthony Edwards sharing the playmaking duties for the starting unit, Krawczynski doesn’t see a strong need to bring in an experienced point guard. He points to perimeter defense, bench scoring and rebounding as more pressing priorities.
  • Trade talks regarding D’Angelo Russell are likely to continue up to the deadline, but his improved shooting numbers over the past two months will make it tough to part with him, Krawczynski adds. The Clippers are among the interested teams, but so far have been unwilling to part with Terance Mann in a potential deal.
  • Krawczynski confirms that the Wolves have engaged in extension negotiations with Naz Reid during the season and believes both sides would prefer a new agreement over a trade. Karl-Anthony Towns is expected to return from his calf injury sometime after the All-Star break, but Krawczynski states that uncertainty about Towns’ timeline makes it difficult for Minnesota to part with Reid.
  • Krawczynski identifies Nuggets guard Bones Hyland as a name to watch as the deadline draws near. Wolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly drafted Hyland when he was in Denver and still believes in his potential. Krawczynski suggests it may take an offer of Reid or Taurean Prince to land Hyland.
  • The front office investigated the possibility of acquiring Kyrie Irving when his trade request became public last Friday, but decided against submitting an offer to Brooklyn, per Krawczynski.

Wolves Notes: Gobert, Anderson, McLaughlin, Prince

The Timberwolves need much more from center Rudy Gobert, who hasn’t been the player they thought they were trading for, according Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

As Krawczynski writes, the Wolves lost a winnable game on Monday when Miami was down its two best players in forward Jimmy Butler and center Bam Adebayo. Gobert was outplayed by undrafted two-way Heat rookie Orlando Robinson, which is inexcusable for a player of his stature.

Gobert’s numbers are down across the board, and he doesn’t appear to be as mobile or changing shots at the rim like he did while winning three Defensive Player of the Year awards with the Jazz. Krawczynski points out that perhaps the most concerning statistic is that Gobert’s blocked shots have plummeted down to 1.2 per game — the lowest since his rookie year in 2023/14, when he averaged fewer than 10 minutes per contest.

There’s still time to turn things around, and injuries to key rotation players haven’t helped. But to this point, the blockbuster trade is looking like a disaster for the Wolves, per Krawczynski.

For what it’s worth, Krawczynski said (via Twitter) that Gobert played “great” in Wednesday’s one-point loss to the Pelicans, which dropped the Wolves’ record to 16-19.

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • In a Q&A with Tania Ganguli of The New York Times (subscriber link), Gobert says he isn’t worried about being under a microscope as he adjusts to a new team. “It’s not hard for me. I want to win, I’m a competitor, so it’s hard to lose. But at the same time, I’m able to understand the bigger picture and to understand that you got to go through pain to grow. I’ve said every time people ask me, it’s going to be some adversity. And when adversity hits, obviously everybody will have something to say. People are always going to have opinions,” he said.
  • Prior to Wednesday’s game, head coach Chris Finch told reporters, including Chris Hine of The Star Tribune (Twitter link), that forward Kyle Anderson is nearing a return. The Wolves hope to have him back for Friday’s game in Milwaukee. The veteran play-maker has been dealing with a non-COVID illness and back spasms.
  • Finch also provided injury updates on point guard Jordan McLaughlin (left calf strain) and forward Taurean Prince (right shoulder subluxation), two key role players for the Wolves. As Hine relays (via Twitter), Finch said McLaughlin will be reevaluated in about a week, while Prince has been doing on-court work, but there’s still no timetable for his return. McLaughlin has now missed 10 straight games with his calf injury. Prince has been out since November 25, missing 17 consecutive games.

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Prince, Brown, Wiggins

Rudy Gobert understood that the Timberwolves‘ adjustment wouldn’t be easy after shaking up their roster to acquire him from Utah, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Not only did Minnesota give up five players in the deal, the team committed to an entirely different style of play with Gobert clogging the middle and forming a modern-day Twin Towers alongside Karl-Anthony Towns.

Nineteen games into the season, Gobert’s concerns have been proven correct. The Wolves are a game above .500, but they’ve had some ugly losses along the way, including Friday’s at Charlotte, where it’s seemed like the pieces don’t really fit together.

“Each bad game, they’re going to be ready to talk. That’s great. We love it,” Gobert said before the season began. “That’s part of the process. Nothing great comes easy. If it was going to happen in one game, that wouldn’t be worth having. We gotta work hard and work every night to get better.”

After a 5-8 start, Minnesota had strung together five straight wins before Friday. But perimeter defenders have been relying too much on Gobert to bail them out after their man drives by, Krawczynski observes, and the chemistry between Gobert and D’Angelo Russell on the pick-and-roll remains a work in progress.

“Sometimes, you know, passes are tough. Sometimes I fumble it,” Gobert said. “Most of the time, I get it and something good happens. As long as we can keep that trust and I can try to put myself in the right spots for him to find me and whether it’s that pocket pass or that lob, any pass actually, just trusting me.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves forward Taurean Prince suffered a right shoulder subluxation during Wednesday’s game and could miss a week or two, tweets Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Coach Chris Finch said Jordan McLaughlin is “more in the day-to-day category” with a left calf injury.
  • Bruce Brown continues to look like a major free agency bargain for the Nuggets, Mike Singer of The Denver Post notes. Brown posted his first career triple-double Wednesday to help Denver pull out a win despite the absence of four rotation players. “Some guys are in the foxhole with you, some guys, like they’ve got one foot in, one foot out,” Malone said. “Bruce is, he’s all the way in.”
  • Thunder guard Aaron Wiggins has the unusual distinction of five starts and five DNP-CDs already this season, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Coach Mark Daigneault explained that it’s a result of having so many young players to develop.