Karl-Anthony Towns

Knicks Notes: George, Mitchell, Anunoby, Hartenstein

Paul George would be an “ideal fit” for the Knicks, but it won’t be easy to acquire him if he fails to reach a long-term deal with the Clippers, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. The 34-year-old forward has a $48.8MM player option for next season that must be picked up by June 29. He’s eligible for a four-year, $221MM extension with Los Angeles, but negotiations have been at an impasse.

George’s three-point shooting, pick-and-roll skills and constant movement would help him blend seamlessly with the rest of New York’s roster, according to Katz, who adds that George and OG Anunoby would become the best pair of perimeter defenders in the league. Katz points out that George has a history of playing alongside other stars and he’s a client of CAA, which was formerly run by Knicks president Leon Rose.

New York won’t have cap space to sign George if he opts out, and the Clippers wouldn’t be permitted to sign and trade him because they’re above the second apron. The Knicks would need George to opt in to make a deal possible, and Katz is skeptical that L.A. would be in a hurry to move him if he’s under contract for another season.

Sources tell Katz that the Knicks have considered George in the past, but they’ve never made a serious offer to acquire him. That could change if he and the Clippers agree that picking up the option and being traded this summer is the best course of action.

There’s more from New York:

  • Sources also tell Katz that the Knicks’ desire to add Donovan Mitchell isn’t nearly as strong as it was two years ago. There has been speculation that the Cavaliers guard could be available again if he doesn’t agree to an extension this summer. New York made an offer to Utah for Mitchell in 2022, but Katz notes that Jalen Brunson‘s emergence into a star has diminished the need for another scoring guard. Katz also examines Mikal Bridges, Karl-Anthony Towns, Dejounte Murray and DeMar DeRozan as potential additions. Katz cites sources who say that the Nets have been offered multiple first-round picks for Bridges, but they continue to view him as part of the foundation and hope to eventually pair him with another star.
  • After their playoff run ended, members of the Knicks organization expressed confidence about their chances of re-signing both Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein, per Ian Begley of SNY. Begley adds that the team expects competition for both players and could be outbid for Hartenstein because league rules limit their offer to about $16MM for next season and $72.5MM over four years.
  • In a subscriber-only piece, Stefan Bondy of The New York Post examines Rose’s draft history to see if it offers any clues about what the Knicks might do with picks No. 24 and 25 this year.

Western Notes: Wolves, Towns, Lakers, Redick, Ingram, G. Allen

Discussing the Timberwolves‘ ownership situation during the latest episode of the Hoop Collective podcast (YouTube link), ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said there’s a perception around the league that if Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore assume majority control of the franchise, “payroll’s getting slashed.” However, his colleague Brian Windhorst disagrees with that notion.

“Let me just say this: I don’t believe it’s going to get slashed,” Windhorst said (hat tip to RealGM). “I believe if (A-Rod and Lore) get the team by the fall, which I am skeptical of for various reasons, but if they get the team by the fall, I don’t think they’re cracking this team in pieces to save money. I think because one thing about the team, they have instantaneous equity, they can borrow it against it like that.”

While Windhorst doesn’t expect payroll to decline drastically if Rodriguez and Lore take over majority control from longtime owner Glen Taylor, he does think the new owners may not be attached to Karl-Anthony Towns as Taylor has been to this point.

“I do not think they would tear the team apart. However, I do think that there’s a possibility if the ownership change took place that Karl Towns’ role would be reevaluated,” Windhorst said.

After MacMahon stated more frankly that Towns would likely find himself “on the trade block” in that scenario, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps pointed out that exploring trade scenarios involving the big man doesn’t necessarily mean he’d be moved, since his super-max contract, which includes a $49MM+ cap hit for 2024/25, will make it difficult for Minnesota to find a suitable deal.

“(That’s) why I believe he’s not going anywhere,” Windhorst said. “Because trading him and getting equal return is going to be next to impossible.”

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • In another segment of the Hoop Collective podcast, Windhorst suggested that the Lakers have been sending the message that they’re still early in the process of their head coaching search, but that the noise surrounding J.J. Redick‘s candidacy has been loud. “I have some people saying, ‘This is J.J. Redick’s job’ that I trust,” Windhorst said (hat tip to RealGM). “I have some people saying this is a process that is not complete. I suspect I know something, but I am just going to tell you that there’s multiple streams of information. James Borrego has had multiple meetings with the Lakers. I do think that he is a viable candidate for sure, but I think J.J. Redick is a very strong candidate. And he also is calling the (NBA) Finals for our network on ABC and ESPN. So it is what it is.”
  • While there’s a widespread belief that the Pelicans will gauge the trade market for Brandon Ingram this summer, William Guillory of The Athletic makes the case that keeping the former All-Star forward is the right move for New Orleans, arguing that it would be hard to find a deal involving Ingram that makes the team better than the 49-win version from this past season.
  • Having signed a contract extension in April, veteran wing Grayson Allen won’t become trade-eligible until October. But what sort of deal could the Suns make if they were willing to part with Allen in the fall or at next year’s trade deadline? Gerald Bouguet of PHNX Sports attempts to answer that question, generating 15 potential trade scenarios involving Allen.

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.

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: Game 4, Anderson, Clutch Situations, Towns

Ahead of Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday, Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune acknowledges that the odds of the Timberwolves mounting a comeback and winning the series over Dallas are extremely long, but stresses that they’re not zero — even if no team is NBA history has ever advanced after facing a 3-0 deficit.

The first two games of the series were decided by a single possession and the Wolves had the lead in Game 3 with five minutes to play, so it’s not as if they haven’t been competitive. Souhan suggests that playing Kyle Anderson more following the forward’s solid performance on Sunday makes sense for Minnesota.

Souhan also points out that the team could regain an advantage in the frontcourt with Dereck Lively not expected to be available for Game 4 due to a neck injury. The Mavericks had a +14.7 net rating in Lively’s 63 minutes on the court during the first three games of the series, compared to a -6.9 mark in the 81 minutes he didn’t play.

For their part, the Wolves’ players are trying to avoid thinking about winning four games and instead focus on winning one, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.

“It stays in the belief department right now,” Mike Conley said. “Just, mentally believing that it’s one game. Just one game. Get one, bring it back to Minnesota and give ourselves a chance in this series. We’re more than capable of doing that.”

Here’s more on the Wolves ahead of a must-win Game 4:

  • The Mavericks’ superiority over the Wolves in clutch situations was foreshadowed in a January game in which Dallas closed out the fourth quarter on a 15-2 run after trailing by six points with four minutes to play, Hine writes for The Star Tribune. According to Hine, Minnesota had the league’s worst net rating in clutch situations from that night through the end of the regular season.
  • There will be a “reckoning” this summer in Minnesota if Karl-Anthony Towns – who is shooting 27.8% in the series vs. the Mavericks – doesn’t turn things around before the Timberwolves are eliminated, writes Chris Mannix of SI.com. As great as the season has been, the Wolves’ financial situation going forward may be untenable due to the big raises coming for Towns, Anthony Edwards, and Jaden McDaniels, which will push team salary above the second tax apron. Of the club’s high-priced players, KAT is the one whose future in Minnesota appears least certain.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic shares some thoughts on the Timberwolves/Mavericks series, observing that Anderson has been Minnesota’s most effective defender against Luka Doncic. It could benefit the Wolves to lean more into that matchup, Hollinger writes, but it’s tricky to play Anderson alongside Rudy Gobert due to the lack of shooting and spacing. Hollinger also takes a closer look at Towns’ struggles, noting that three-point inaccuracy has been an issue but that the big man is also having trouble scoring inside against a stifling Dallas defense.

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.’”

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.

Timberwolves Notes: Late-Game Slide, Conley, Defense, Edwards

A lack of composure down the stretch cost the Timberwolves in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Mavericks, head coach Chris Finch lamented after Wednesday’s game.

“It cost us a game in the Denver series. It certainly had an impact on this game, too,” Finch said, per Jon Krawcznyski of The Athletic said. “We’ve got to be better in clutch moments.”

Despite the Timberwolves’ size, they were manhandled in the paint, Krawczynski notes. Dallas outscored them 62-38 in the lane and out-rebounded them, 48-40.

“I’ve got to do a better job on the rebounds,” Rudy Gobert said. “I can’t let these guys just get offensive rebounds. I’ll be better.”

In a similar vein, Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes that Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns looked lethargic.

“We didn’t play with enough energy,” Towns said. “We just looked tired. We didn’t move as well as we usually do.”

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • Mike Conley believes the team will benefit from its late-game slide, when it was outscored 10-3 in the final 3:37, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Minnesota also committed half of its 10 turnovers in the fourth quarter. “I think we haven’t been tested like this where we’ve had to trade basket to basket, late-game free throw situations or fouling situations, stuff that we have to be better at,” Conley said. “But we’ll learn from it. I think each game we’ve learned a lot about ourselves, a lot we can get better at. Obviously, it’s going to be a long series, regardless of what happened tonight.”
  • While the Timberwolves faced major defensive challenges in the first two series against Phoenix and Denver, finding a way to control Dallas’ dynamic duo of Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic presents their toughest task in these playoffs, Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune opines. The two star guards combined for 63 points in Game 1.
  • In a comprehensive feature, The Athletic’s Krawczynski and Joe Vardon detail how Edwards is poised to become the NBA’s next major American-born star.

Wolves Notes: Towns, Edwards, Gobert, McDaniels, Finch

While Anthony Edwards had been the Timberwolves‘ engine and leading scorer during their 2024 playoff run, it was the team’s other former No. 1 overall pick – Karl-Anthony Towns – who keyed Sunday’s 20-point comeback in Denver and put up the biggest stat line of the night (23 points, 12 rebounds, and a pair of steals).

As Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune writes, Towns has long been “a symbol of Wolves underachievement, fairly or not,” so it’s fitting that his contributions were crucial in getting the team past the defending champions and into the Western Conference finals.

“I couldn’t be more happy and proud of him,” head coach Chris Finch said of Towns after the victory. “Because I think he’s faced a lot of unfair criticism when it comes to the postseason. The more you go through these things, the more at peace you are … KAT was really special, especially in the second half. I think you see how at peace and happy he is.”

“I’ve been here nine years, talked about wanting to win and do something special here for the organization,” Towns said, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “All of the failures and all the things that materialized and happened, the disappointment that comes with it led to this moment.”

Edwards, meanwhile, put up a solid line of 16 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists, but he made just 6-of-24 shots from the floor. He expressed appreciation after the win that Towns and the other six Wolves players who saw action in Sunday’s Game 7 helped make up for his poor shooting night.

“It was tough, man, because I couldn’t find myself, my rhythm tonight,” Edwards said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “So, I just had to trust my teammates. … I just had to make the right plays throughout the rest of the game. I did that, and my teammates made shots. Big shoutout to those guys.”

Here’s more on the Wolves, who are headed to the Western Conference finals for just the second time in franchise history:

  • Like Towns, Rudy Gobert has faced criticism over the years for his lack of playoff success, most recently after Game 5 when Nikola Jokic had a 40-point game and made 8-of-9 shots with Gobert as his primary defender. However, as McMenamin writes, Gobert scored eight of his 13 points on Sunday in the fourth quarter, including an improbable turnaround fadeaway with the shot clock running down (video link). He also led a stifling defensive effort that saw Denver score just 37 points on 35.9% shooting in the second half. As Sam Amick of The Athletic points out, the Wolves are +111 in the playoffs with Gobert on the court, which is the best mark of any player on the roster.
  • Jaden McDaniels matched Towns with a team-high 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting in Game 7 and earned major praise from Edwards for the role he has played so far in the postseason. “Jaden McDaniels was the MVP of the last two series,” Edwards told reporters (Twitter video link via Michael Scotto of HoopsHype). McDaniels signed a five-year extension with Minnesota last fall — it will go into effect this July, bumping his salary from $3.9MM to $22.6MM.
  • Edwards also lauded Finch for the role he has played in the Wolves’ success this season and this spring, per Amick. “It starts with our head coach — Coach Finch,” Edwards said. “He comes in every day, comes to work, gets there early. He’s thinking of ways to get me and KAT open looks. He’s thinking of ways to get Mike (Conley) and Rudy open looks. He’s thinking of ways to get Jaden involved. He’s trying to keep Naz (Reid) in it to get him involved. He’s just a great coach. And he don’t sugarcoat anything with anybody. If KAT’s f—in’ up, he’s going to get on KAT. If I’m f—in’ up, he’s going to get on me. If Rudy f—in’ up, he’s going to get on anybody that’s messing up throughout the game, and I think that’s what makes him the best coach in the NBA, to me.”
  • The Timberwolves ownership battle, which is headed to arbitration, has taken a back seat during the team’s playoff run. “Only dysfunctional ownership can break up this team,” one team executive told ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).