Ricky Rubio

Wolves Notes: Trade Deadline, Gordon, McDaniels, Collins, Power Forward

The Timberwolves allowed the trade deadline to pass without making a move, opting not to make a trade just for the sake of doing so, president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said.

Minnesota was most heavily linked to forward Aaron Gordon, who was moved from Orlando to Denver on deadline day. The team has struggled with injuries and currently holds the league’s worst record at 10-34.

“You don’t make a trade for the sake of making a trade,” Rosas explained, as relayed by Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. “We haven’t seen this group together enough starting with our best two players and everybody else. That played a big part in it. We want to see what we have in order to make the best-educated decisions we can make.”

As a whole, an astounding 23 teams were involved in trades on deadline day this year, though Minnesota naturally wasn’t one of them.

Here are some other notes from Minnesota today:

  • A significant hurdle in the Wolves’ talks to acquire Gordon was the availability of rookie Jaden McDaniels, Hine writes. Minnesota and Orlando held discussions for multiple weeks, but Orlando reportedly wanted McDaniels in a potential agreement. Rosas and his team ultimately balked at the idea of parting ways with the 20-year-old.
  • Don’t expect the Wolves to stop monitoring Hawks big man John Collins in the coming months, Hine contends. Collins will be a restricted free agent this summer and received interest from Minnesota until the deadline passed. The 23-year-old has averaged 18.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 30.6 minutes per game this season.
  • The power forward position remains an area of concern for the franchise, Hine relays. What remains to be seen, however, is whether the solution will come internally or externally. “The one thing we don’t want to do is plug a long-term hole with a short-term solution that’s not going to be there when we need it,” Rosas said. “So we’ll continue investing in and developing our young players to see if the answer is there. Jaden gives us a lot of excitement and a lot of optionality there, but it’s a need.”
  • A source tells Hine that the Timberwolves could have made trades involving Ed Davis and Ricky Rubio, but opted against it.

Lonzo Ball Likely To Be Dealt This Week?

Ever since trade rumors involving Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball first started to surface in January, there have been conflicting reports on just how willing the team is to move him. However, a pair of national NBA reporters suggested on Wednesday that the odds a Ball trade happening by Thursday’s deadline may be better than 50/50.

One of those reporters, Chris Mannix of SI.com, wrote that Ball isn’t in New Orleans’ long-term plans and is likely to be dealt this week. The other, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, discussed Ball’s situation in an appearance on the Keyshawn, JWill, and Zubin Show on Wednesday morning.

“I think there’s a sense on both sides that a new home would make sense for him,” Wojnarowski said of Ball and the Pelicans (video link). “… I do think that there’s a pretty good chance he moves before Thursday’s trade deadline.”

Wojnarowski specifically identified the Bulls as a team to keep an eye on for Ball, since he could be a good fit at the point guard spot in Chicago under Billy Donovan. Woj also said that the Sixers have some interest in Ball, though they’re considered a longer shot to acquire the former No. 2 pick.

Mannix, meanwhile, didn’t specifically name Philadelphia as a team with interest in Ball, but noted that the 76ers are canvassing the league looking for backcourt help. According to Mannix, the Clippers are another team to watch, as there’s a sense they may “zero in” on Ball and Ricky Rubio in their search for a point guard upgrade. Marc Stein of The New York Times previously reported the Clippers’ interest in Ball.

The Nuggets have also been repeatedly been mentioned by league sources as a possible Ball suitor, per Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

Ball will be a restricted free agent this summer and may be hoping for $20MM per year on his next deal, according to a Tuesday report. A separate report indicated that the Pelicans are believed to be seeking at least a first-round pick for the point guard — that may be a problem for the Clippers, who can’t currently trade any of their first-rounders.

Northwest Notes: Favors, Thunder, Clarkson, Rubio

Longtime Jazz reserve big man Derrick Favors spoke extensively with Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune about his past and sunny new future with Utah, noting that he wasn’t surprised when Utah sent him to the Pelicans for future draft equity during the 2019 offseason to clear cap space for incoming point guard Mike Conley‘s contract.

“I wanted to be here,” Favors said. “I wanted to stay. I thought I was going to stay. But it was because of the money, the business side.”

The Jazz could have declined their $18MM team option on Favors for the 2019/20 season, but the Pelicans were happy to pay that sum in full upon making a deal. “If Utah would have waived me, I would have lost a lot of money, but they ended up trading me, and I’m blessed and thankful that New Orleans was willing to pick up that option for me,” Favors noted.

Favors’ Pelicans teammates raved about his fit within the club’s locker room and on the court. “Nothing but respect for D-Fav,” New Orleans guard Lonzo Ball said. “We know he did all the little things that we needed to win games.”

Favors was excited to get another opportunity in the 2020 offseason with the Jazz, who were all business in their recruitment.

“They literally just said, ‘Hey, you want to come back? We want you, here’s what we’re offering. Do you want to take it or not?’ It kinda felt like that!” Favors noted. “I didn’t want to waste my time or waste an opportunity… and I knew with Utah that they had other guys that they wanted to go after if I didn’t commit, so I didn’t want to waste Utah’s time.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder will likely receive inquiries on just about every player on their roster, as team president Sam Presti looks to acquire even more future draft picks, but Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman thinks veteran role players like George Hill, Al Horford, and Mike Muscala could be next in line to be dealt.
  • Jazz reserve guard Jordan Clarkson, the current favorite for 2021 Sixth Man of the Year honors at present, has taken a massive stride in his scoring output — but the growth of his passing deserves recognition, too, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “It’s just another growth part of my game that I’m trying to keep improving on,” Clarkson said.
  • After a rough start to the 2020/21 season, Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio has turned things around in the month of March, so much so that the 30-year-old vet has become a potential trade chip for a Minnesota team that now may not want to deal him away as the deadline looms, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. A reinvigorated Rubio seems to have developed great chemistry with No. 1 2020 draft pick Anthony Edwards and (former No. 1 draft pick) Karl-Anthony Towns.

Mannix’s Latest: Clippers, Rubio, Magic, Celtics, Horford, More

The Clippers remain in the market for help at the point guard position, with Hornets veteran Terry Rozier among the players who has drawn “strong internal interest,” according to Chris Mannix of SI.com. Mannix adds that George Hill and Ricky Rubio are among the other possible trade candidates in play for the Clippers, who have limited draft assets to use as sweeteners.

The Magic, who are also seeking point guard help, have kicked the tires on Rubio lately as well, per Mannix. That lines up with a Monday report from Jake Fischer of SI.com, who said Orlando had discussed a trade with the Timberwolves that would involve Rubio and Aaron Gordon.

Magic head coach Steve Clifford, who coached Kemba Walker in Charlotte, remains a big fan of the Celtics point guard, but Walker is unlikely to be on the move by March 25, says Mannix.

Here’s more from Mannix’s latest round-up of trade-related rumors:

  • Reports on Monday indicated that a trade is more likely than a buyout for LaMarcus Aldridge, and that the Celtics are focusing on the Spurs‘ big man. However, Mannix cites league sources who believe a buyout is the most likely outcome for Aldridge, and adds that Boston isn’t interested in trading for the veteran Spur.
  • While the Thunder are open to listening to inquires on Al Horford, they’re happy with how he has performed this season and won’t be looking to just give him away, Mannix writes.
  • Rival executives view the Heat as the favorites to land Rockets forward P.J. Tucker, per Mannix.
  • Tom Thibodeau has urged the Knicks‘ front office to be active at the deadline, and the club may pursue upgrades, but so far New York has shown little appetite for moving any of its top young players or taking on long-term salary, Mannix reports.
  • While Michael Porter Jr. is presumed to be off-limits, Gary Harris, Will Barton, and Bol Bol are among the Nuggets believed to be available as the team seeks a complementary piece for Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, according to Mannix.

Magic Rumors: Gordon, Vucevic, Ross, Fournier

As we relayed earlier today, Portland and Minnesota are among the teams interested in Aaron Gordon, but the Magic forward is receiving interest from several other clubs as well.

According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, the Rockets, Mavericks, Nuggets, and Warriors are all eyeing Gordon. Some lead members of the Pelicans‘ front office are high on Gordon too, per Fischer. And the Pistons have also inquired about him, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Haynes suggests that Gordon would be “open to a change of scenery.”

Gordon has been the subject of trade rumors for quite some time and the Magic’s current front office hasn’t made many major deals in recent years, so some people around the league are skeptical that Orlando will do anything big at next week’s deadline, per Fischer.

“You talk to them and it’s just like, ‘Well, you know, we’re open to this…’ It’s just like talking in circles,” an assistant general manager told Fischer. Another league source added: “They don’t pick up the phone and call.”

However, according to Fischer, the Magic have already seriously explored moving Gordon and are seeking a return of young players and draft picks. Prior to Gordon’s ankle sprain, the Magic and Timberwolves were making progress on a potential deal that would have sent the 25-year-old to Minnesota for a package that included Ricky Rubio and draft capital, sources told Bleacher Report.

Brooklyn also made an offer for Gordon in mid-January before acquiring James Harden, according to Fischer, though the Nets may not have been targeting the Magic forward for themselves. Fischer reports that Houston is especially interested in Gordon and asked teams during the Harden discussions to engage Orlando about the veteran forward. The Rockets may be taking a similar approach in their Victor Oladipo trade talks, Fischer adds.

Here’ more on the Magic:

  • In addition to Gordon, the Magic are believed to be listening to inquiries on Terrence Ross, Evan Fournier, and Nikola Vucevic, though Vucevic is considered far less likely than the others to be moved. Sources tell Fischer that for Orlando to consider a Vucevic offer, it would need to include at least a starter-caliber player and multiple first-round picks. “It would have to be to a point where (a team) offers what someone hasn’t yet been willing to offer,” one Western Conference executive said.
  • The Celtics are said to have interest in Vucevic, but their overtures haven’t piqued Orlando’s interest, according to Fischer, who says Boston may be focused on Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge for the time being.
  • Some executives believe the Magic could get a late first-round pick for Ross or Fournier, but most believe that a package of multiple second-rounders is more realistic, writes Fischer. “If you know you can get better, I would give up all my seconds (for Fournier). Who cares?” one assistant GM said. “I think he’s a good sixth man, maybe a fifth starter. One night he might give you 20, the next night he’s giving you eight. But he definitely can put that thing in the basket, and you gotta guard him.”
  • Here’s what one Eastern Conference exec had to say about the Magic and their trade candidates, per Fischer: “They should sell. They own their first-round pick. If you can get that pick into the top five, and you’re adding back Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz next season, all of a sudden things could look very different.”

Western Notes: Rubio, Edwards, McCollum, Nowell, Thompson

Timberwolves veteran Ricky Rubio praised rookie teammate Anthony Edwards and his toughness during the highs and lows of the season so far, Chris Hine of the Star Tribune writes.

Edwards, who was drafted by the team No. 1 overall last year, has shown flashes of potential during his first campaign. The 19-year-old is currently holding per-game averages of 15.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 38 contests, though he’s shooting just 38% from the floor.

“When you’re young, every game and every situation it seems like it’s the end of the world sometimes when it’s not working,” Rubio said. “But his character is special. I said it from day one, I think we have a gem here. We have something that — he’s going to be really good in this league.”

Here are some other notes from the Western Conference tonight:

  • Blazers star CJ McCollum is hoping to return next week from a broken left foot, Jason Quick of The Athletic writes. “Friday’s workout went well; how I expected it to go,” McCollum said. “I’ll be back soon, as long as everything continues to go the way it’s been going.” McCollum, who has averaged 26.7 points per game in 13 contests this season, has been sidelined since January 16.
  • Timberwolves guard Jaylen Nowell received an expanded role in the team’s game against the Blazers on Saturday, Chris Hine of the Star Tribune writes. Nowell scored 17 points and grabbed four rebounds in the loss, playing the final minutes despite starting the contest on the bench. “I’m just focused on being aggressive whenever I catch it, making sure I can make a play,” said Nowell, who recently spoke to our Ben Stinar about his impressive season to date. “The one difference that I might say would be when I’m initiating offense, making sure I get guys in spots, making sure I keep the ball moving, making sure the ball doesn’t get stagnant. That’s probably the only difference when I’m in with that second unit rather than the first.”
  • Warriors star Klay Thompson hopes to return early next season from a torn Achilles’ tendon, as relayed by The Athletic. “Definitely. Could be a few weeks after [opening night]. Could be a month after,” Thompson acknowledged. “But definitely geared toward early in the season.” Thompson is a five-time All-Star and hasn’t played since June of 2019 due his Achilles’ injury and a torn ACL.

Scotto’s Latest: Lowry, Aldridge, Oladipo, Wolves

The Heat are among the teams that have reached out to the Raptors about veteran guard Kyle Lowry, league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Some of the players discussed in a possible deal include Goran Dragic, Kelly Olynyk and Kendrick Nunn, according to Scotto.

Lowry, who will turn 35 this month, continues to remain productive, averaging 18.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.5 rebounds through 31 games. He recently pledged his loyalty to the franchise, but didn’t offer a guarantee that he will re-sign with Toronto when he becomes a free agent this summer.

As a one-year Bird player, Dragic has veto power over any trade, Scotto notes. If Dragic agrees to a deal and a new team declines his $19.44MM option for next season, his Bird rights will be reduced to Non-Bird when he enters free agency. Olynyk is headed for unrestricted free agency, while Nunn will be a restricted free agent if he receives a $4.7MM qualifying offer.

Scotto offers a few more tidbits in advance of the March 25 trade deadline:

  • The Heat have also talked to the Spurs about veteran big man LaMarcus Aldridge, who won’t play again until San Antonio can work out a deal. According to Scotto, Miami offered Avery Bradley, Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard to match salary and would be willing to include a minimum contract such as Chris Silva or KZ Okpala or possibly draft picks. The Spurs will have many suitors for Aldridge, and several league executives expect the Celtics to get involved with their $28.5MM trade exception, Scotto adds. Boston is about $19.9MM below the hard cap and would have to send at least $4.1MM in contracts to San Antonio in return.
  • Rockets guard Victor Oladipo may be the top player available before the deadline, a few executives tell Scotto. The Knicks and Heat are among the teams that are reportedly interested. Scotto adds that Christian Wood is the only player the rebuilding Rockets might consider untouchable.
  • Several teams have inquired about Timberwolves veterans Ed DavisRicky RubioJuan Hernangomez and Jake Layman. Minnesota would like to acquire a young forward such as the Hawks‘ John Collins or the Magic’s Aaron Gordon, Scotto notes, and has future first-rounders to offer starting in 2023.

Rubio On Wolves’ Play: “I Don’t Feel Like This Is Building Something”

So far, a midseason coaching change has done nothing to help the Timberwolves turn things around. After starting the season with a league-worst 7-24 record, Minnesota replaced head coach Ryan Saunders with Chris Finch, but the club has lost Finch’s first four games by an average of 17 points per contest.

Besides being frustrated by the results on the court, veteran point guard Ricky Rubio is concerned about the Wolves’ process and the habits they’re developing, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes.

“We have to build good habits from day one, and I don’t think we are in the right way, to be honest,” Rubio said on Sunday. “I can be here and be positive like we’re trying to be and it’s OK. But we have the worst record in the league. We lost way too many games by 20-plus, and I don’t feel like this is building something. It’s hard. You always have to take positive things and of course, we want to get better, but at one point we got to start wanting to change something, and it’s not happening.”

After hosting the Hornets on Wednesday in their final game of the first half, the Wolves will be off for a week, and Rubio expressed hope that the All-Star break will benefit a team that is “not playing good.”

Rubio made it clear he wasn’t blaming Finch, who “has a lot on his plate” taking over a struggling team in the middle of the season. More practice time under the new coach might help, according to Rubio, who was frustrated by the fact that the Wolves couldn’t stop Devin Booker and the Suns from scoring on Sunday when Phoenix repeatedly ran the same set.

“When you’re young and you gotta play through the mistakes, I understand,” Rubio said, per Krawczynski. “But at one point, if you do the same mistake over and over again, it means you’re not learning. Learning through mistakes as a young team can happen, but then make different mistakes. I think we’re doing the same mistakes over and over.”

Rubio, who was reacquired by Minnesota in the fall to complement young guard D’Angelo Russell, hasn’t been a great on-court fit with D-Lo and is having one of the worst seasons of his 10-year NBA career, averaging a career-low 7.6 points per game on 37.8% shooting. While president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas may explore dealing Rubio at the trade deadline, the guard’s $17.8MM guaranteed salary for 2021/22 will make him a tricky piece to move.

Northwest Notes: Towns, Saunders, Russell, Elleby, Daigneault

Karl-Anthony Towns‘ return to action remains up in the air, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets. The Timberwolves star has been sidelined since testing positive for COVID-19 in mid-January. Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders said Towns has been working out with the team on the road as he tries to get back into playing shape. He hasn’t played since January 13.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves had lost eight of 10 games without Towns entering Friday’s action, and D’Angelo Russell and Saunders don’t seem to be on the same page when the team attempts to close out games, Krawczynski notes. It takes time for a coach and a point guard to build trust, and they are working on that process right now, Krawczynski adds. Saunders is also struggling to maximize the backcourt combination of Russell and natural point guard Ricky Rubio.
  • Trail Blazers rookie CJ Elleby impressed coach Terry Stotts with his overall production when injuries thrust Elleby into the rotation on Thursday, Jason Quick of The Athletic writes. The 46th pick of the draft, Elleby had 15 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 31 minutes. “He asserted himself into the game rather than just watching others play,” Stotts said.
  • Thunder coach Mark Daigneault likes the makeshift format of playing the same opponent in back-to-back games this season, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. “In the NBA schedule, you run into something that bothers you and you end up chasing your shadow but you’ve got a different opponent coming around the corner,” Daigneault said. “And so it’s hard to really spend too much time reflecting on the last game because you’ve got to turn the page. The series allow you to do both.”

Timberwolves Notes: Rubio, Rosas, Reid, Towns

Ricky Rubio hasn’t found a level of comfort since returning to the Timberwolves, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. After the Suns traded Rubio to Oklahoma City on draft day, Minnesota expressed interest in bringing him back to the place where he played his first six NBA seasons. However, he hasn’t developed a rapport with backcourt mate D’Angelo Russell, and the Wolves are sinking with their best player, Karl-Anthony Towns, sidelined by COVID-19.

“Trying to pick it up, but it’s tough,” Rubio said. “It is what it is. There’s no excuses. I’m going to keep working hard. I’ve been in the league for 10 years and I know who I am, but it’s off. My game is not here, and I’ve got to find it.”

Through the first part of the season, Rubio is averaging career lows at 6.2 points, 5.7 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game. His shot has been off as he’s posting his worst marks ever in effective field-goal percentage (.369), field-goal percentage (.341) and 3-point shooting (.185).

“There’s a fine line of overthinking,” Rubio said. “Sometimes, if you think too much, it’s bad for you, but you can’t just let it go and go out there. You’ve got to fix it if things are not working. Got to feel better with the system, with what we’re running, and as a point guard, I’ve got to do my job.”

There’s more on the Wolves:

  • Rubio could wind up being a trade chip, suggests Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. The veteran guard will have a $17.8MM expiring contract next season, which could be useful to help match salary in a deal. Hine adds that team president Gersson Rosas views trades as the best way to improve.
  • Second-year center Naz Reid, who has taken over as a starter in Towns’ absence, shares the organizational philosophy of avoiding mid-range shots, Hine writes in a separate story. “It’s not that I can’t shoot them. It’s that I don’t feel right shooting (them),” Reid said. “The system of (rim) twos, threes, free throws is a proper system.”
  • Towns revealed this week that he was hit by a drunk driver in Los Angeles before the start of the season, relays Mark Medina of USA Today. Towns, who lost his mother and six other family members to COVID-19 last year, talked about the incident in a question-and-answer session on Instagram about how he has overcome so much adversity.