Taurean Prince

Taurean Prince Signs Two-Year Extension With Timberwolves

JUNE 30: Prince’s extension is now official, according to the Timberwolves (Twitter link).

JUNE 28: Taurean Prince is returning to the Timberwolves on a two-year, $16MM extension, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Prince was headed to unrestricted free agency but had expressed a strong desire to remain in Minnesota, and the team is locking up to an extension that will keep him off the market.

Shortly after the season, Prince said he planned to return, adding that the strong camaraderie in the Wolves’ locker room is something he hasn’t experienced since college. He praised head coach Chris Finch, comparing him to Mike Budenholzer, who coached Prince in Atlanta at the start of his NBA career.

The second year of Prince’s new contract will be non-guaranteed, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets. It’ll represent a slight pay cut for Prince, who signed a two-year, $25.25MM contract with Brooklyn in 2019 and earned $13.3MM this past season.

Prince averaged 7.3 PPG and 2.5 RPG on .454/.376/.756 shooting in 69 regular season games (17.1 MPG) during his first year in Minnesota. The Wolves held his Bird rights, so they had the ability to go over the cap to re-sign him without using any other exceptions.

Southeast Notes: Clifford, Hornets, Davis, Heat

Steve Clifford, who is now embarking on a second stint with the Hornets, signed a three-year contract with a team option in the final year, sources tell Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Clifford will earn $4MM in each of the next two seasons, Boone adds.

In case you missed it, you can find our full story on Clifford’s hiring right here.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Hiring Clifford for a second time is just wild enough to work, argues Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer. The Hornets made the playoffs twice in Clifford’s first five-year stint with the team, and in 10 years prior and four years since, the team has only made the postseason one time, says Fowler, who notes that Clifford’s work ethic, professionalism and honesty are all admirable traits. According to Fowler, Clifford “always had a good relationship” with owner Michael Jordan, and he didn’t burn any bridges when he was fired in 2018, leading to the unexpected possibility of bringing him back.
  • Johnny Davis, the 10th pick of the draft by the Wizards, hopes to make a lasting impact in the NBA, writes Austen Tealer of WashingtonWizards.com. “I want to leave a legacy of being a great teammate and a winner, that’s the main goal,” Davis said. “I want to win an NBA championship whenever I can.” For his short-term goals, Davis hopes to become a regular part of the rotation and help the club make the playoffs, per Tealer.
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald considers possible fallback options if the Heat can’t re-sign forward P.J. Tucker. Taurean Prince, Thaddeus Young and T.J. Warren are a few free agents on Jackson’s list, among others. Tucker is declining his $7.35MM player option to be come an unrestricted free agent, and he’s said to have several suitors outside of Miami.

Wolves Rumors: KAT, Russell, Edwards, Beasley, Draft, More

In the latest HoopsHype podcast with Michael Scotto, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic said he fully believes that Karl-Anthony Towns will be offered — and will sign — a super-max extension with the Timberwolves summer. Towns became eligible for the super-max after being selected to the All-NBA Third Team.

Krawczynski acknowledges that Towns has his share of flaws, but he points out that Minnesota isn’t a free agent destination, the team has undergone lots of front office and coaching changes in his seven seasons, and he hasn’t played with a whole lot of talent around him. Once the deal is signed, if Towns plateaus, the Wolves still have the option of trading him in the future due to his “age, production and efficiency,” says Krawcyznski.

Here’s more from Scotto and Krawczynski:

  • Scotto wonders if trading away D’Angelo Russell might affect Towns’ decision to sign an extension, and points out that the last time Russell was in a contract year he wound up making the All-Star team with the Nets. Krawczynski thinks Towns will sign the super-max either way, but determining what to do with Russell will be a challenge for new president of basketball operations Tim Connelly. Krawczynski notes that Russell is eligible for an extension this summer, but he’s doubtful his next deal will be worth the max. If the price is right for both sides, Krawczynski thinks an extension might be viable. Russell helped lead the team to a 46-36 regular season and had a huge game in the play-in win over the Clippers, but then struggled against the Grizzlies, so gauging his market value will be tricky for Connelly, says Krawczynski.
  • A couple of scouts told HoopsHype that they think Anthony Edwards, not Towns, will eventually be the best player on the Timberwolves, but Krawczynski says there’s no jealousy between the two players — they enjoy playing together and believe their games complement each other.
  • Malik Beasley, who was drafted by Connelly in Denver, could benefit from the reunion, says Scotto, who believes Beasley is primed for a bounce-back year after seeing his name in trade rumors. Krawczynski agrees that Connelly’s presence should help, and reports that Beasley was out of shape entering training camp last fall due to his legal trouble. While noting that it was Beasley’s fault and he only has himself to blame, Krawczynski also says that he’s the hardest worker on the team.
  • The Timberwolves currently control the Nos. 19, 40, 48, and 50 picks in the upcoming draft, but don’t expect them to have four rookies on the roster next season. According to Krawczynski, a more likely outcome is that they either draft-and-stash some European prospects in the second round or package some picks to move up or acquire veteran help. Attaching the No. 19 pick with a veteran to improve the roster is also a possibility, he says.
  • A reunion with Taurean Prince, who’s an unrestricted free agent, could be in the cards. Krawczynski says there’s mutual interest between the two parties, noting that “players and coaches love him,” and Prince has stated that he was happy in Minnesota. Neither Scotto nor Krawczynski expect Jake Layman to be back, and Josh Okogie‘s return seems unlikely, but could still occur if he doesn’t draw much interest in free agency. The team likes him, but he didn’t receive much playing time, so he’ll probably look for another opportunity, per Krawczynski.

Western Notes: Prince, Dinwiddie, Nance, Kings

Timberwolves forward Taurean Prince will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but he said on Friday that he “plans to return” to Minnesota for next season, as Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News relays (video link).

Prince told reporters that the strong camaraderie in the Wolves’ locker room is something he hasn’t experienced since college and praised head coach Chris Finch, comparing him to Mike Budenholzer, who coached Prince in Atlanta at the start of his NBA career. The 28-year-old added that he hopes Minnesota reciprocates his interest.

Prince averaged 7.3 PPG and 2.5 RPG on .454/.376/.756 shooting in 69 regular season games (17.1 MPG) during his first year in Minnesota. The Wolves will hold his Bird rights this summer, so they would be able to go over the cap to re-sign him without using any of their mid-level exception.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie earned a $100K bonus on Thursday when Dallas beat Utah to advance to the second round, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Dinwiddie would receive another $571K if the Mavs get past Phoenix and earn a spot in the Western Conference Finals.
  • Having played for four teams and eight head coaches since entering the NBA in 2015, Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. would welcome some stability and said on Friday that he’d like to make New Orleans his permanent home, tweets William Guillory of The Athletic. Nance has just one year left on his current contract, but will be extension-eligible this offseason.
  • With Monte McNair believed to be entering the final guaranteed year of his contract with the Kings, Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee wonders if the general manager will feel pressure to hire a veteran head coach such as Mike D’Antoni instead of a candidate without any head coaching experience.

Taurean Prince Unavailable For First Play-In Game

Timberwolves reserve forward Taurean Prince will miss Minnesota’s play-in game on Tuesday against the Clippers, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link). Prince is struggling with right knee inflammation.

In 69 regular season games, Prince averaged 7.3 PPG and 2.5 RPG across 17.1 MPG during his first year with the Timberwolves. The 28-year-old boasts shooting splits of .454/.376/.756 this year. In the absence of Prince, 6’9″ power forward Jaden McDaniels may see an uptick in his minutes off Minnesota’s bench.

Sporting a 46-36 regular season record, the Timberwolves enter the play-in tournament as the No. 7 seed and will be fighting L.A. for the right to play the second-seeded Grizzlies in the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs. The loser of tonight’s meeting will play the victor of tomorrow’s play-in game between the Pelicans and Spurs for the West’s eighth seed.

Taurean Prince Fined $15K By NBA

The NBA has announced (via Twitter) that it is penalizing Timberwolves backup power forward Taurean Prince to the tune of $15K for “making an obscene gesture” during the third quarter of the club’s 116-95 victory over the Mavericks on Friday.

Prince got into an altercation with Dallas All-Star guard Luka Doncic, resulting in both players being assessed technical fouls, per Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). The win was big for the Timberwolves, who trail the Mavericks by just 2.5 games for the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Minnesota is currently the No. 7 seed.

The 6’7″ Prince is averaging 7.2 PPG and 2.5 RPG across 16.7 MPG in a largely reserve role for an upstart Minnesota club. He boasts shooting splits of .458/.380/.764 in his first season with the team. A 2022 unrestricted free agent, Prince is in the last year of a two-season, $25.3MM deal he signed with the Nets in 2020.

Sporting a 43-32 record, Minnesota is in a good position to make its first postseason appearance since 2018, largely behind the play of All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns and second-year shooting guard Anthony Edwards. Prince has value around the league as a switchable veteran forward with shooting prowess, and could very well opt to sign the best possible deal for himself rather than sticking around in Minnesota next season.

Wolves Notes: Beverley, Finch, Prince, Towns

The Timberwolves are starting to look like serious contenders in the West, winning 10 of their last 11 to move within a half-game of escaping the play-in tournament. Part of the success lies in a pair of new attitudes, from the fiery Patrick Beverley, who was acquired in an offseason trade, to the more relaxed Chris Finch, who is in his first full season as Minnesota’s head coach.

Beverley’s influence was evident in Saturday’s win over the Bucks, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. When Serge Ibaka and Taurean Prince had a brief scuffle early in the game, Beverley ran from across the court to shove Ibaka. George Hill shoved Beverley in return, and although they were both ejected, it set the tone for a Wolves team that refused to back down from the defending champions.

“I was telling (Jarred Vanderbilt) at the half, I was like, ‘That gave me a different kind of boost,’” Anthony Edwards said.

Finch, who was brought in as head coach 13 months ago, has adopted a philosophy he learned from Rick Adelman to avoid trying to control everything that happens. He ‘s being careful not to discourage a young team that’s learning how to assert itself.

“We have a lot of strong personalities, a lot of outgoing guys,” Finch said. “Just try to let them be themselves. They’re young. They’re excitable. They like each other. They root for each other. Don’t want to dampen their spirits too much.”

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • Prince has been a steady contributor since the injury to Jaden McDaniels, Krawczynski adds. His willingness to accept a reduced role for much of the season is part of being a team leader. “Two or three years ago, I would’ve said I wanted to be there (with the starting lineup),” Prince said. “Now, I’m just trying to play basketball. There’s been days when I came off the bench and still played 25 or 30 minutes and days I’ve played 15. It’s part of being a pro.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns isn’t just putting up impressive stats, he’s making the difference between winning and losing for the first time since arriving in Minnesota, contends Chip Scoggins of The Star Tribune. “It feels like I’m playing the best basketball of my career and it’s leading to great wins,” Towns said. “The reason why I’m finding myself playing some of the best basketball of my career is because I have some of the best teammates I’ve ever had.”
  • Towns, who was listed as questionable for the Milwaukee game with a right forearm contusion, didn’t think he would be able to play when he woke up Saturday, tweets Dane Moore. Towns said he got “chopped” in Monday’s game against the Spurs and has been dealing with pain in the arm all week.

Timberwolves, Suns Interested In Thaddeus Young

The Timberwolves and Suns are among the teams that have expressed interest in trading for veteran Spurs forward Thaddeus Young, league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Young, who was sent from the Bulls to the Spurs in the DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade in the offseason, had a nice year in Chicago last season, averaging 12.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 4.3 APG in 68 games (24.3 MPG).

However, he was essentially just a salary-matching placeholder in that DeRozan deal and hasn’t been used much in San Antonio this season. His averages of 6.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 14.2 MPG in 26 games are career lows.

Still, the Spurs are hopeful they’ll be able to find a trade partner willing to give up at least one draft pick for Young, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who hears that San Antonio and Minnesota have discussed a deal that would feature Taurean Prince. Scotto has heard the same thing, writing that the two teams have had exploratory talks about a trade that would send Prince and a second-round pick to the Spurs for Young.

Phoenix, meanwhile, has had previous discussions with San Antonio about trading Dario Saric, Jalen Smith, and a second-round pick for Young, per Scotto. While Smith – like Prince – will be a free agent at season’s end, Saric has one more year left on his contract. If Saric is fully healthy next season following his 2021 ACL tear, that second guaranteed year may not be a problem for the Spurs, but it will certainly be an important factor to consider as they weigh their options.

If the Spurs don’t end up finding a deal they like for Young, the two sides would likely try to negotiate a buyout agreement, says Fischer.

COVID-19 Roundup: Nets, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Knicks, Wizards, Thunder

The NBA’s new guidelines regarding its health and safety protocols have resulted in several players being released from protocols this morning. The league and its players union agreed Monday to shorten the minimum required quarantine period for a vaccinated COVID-positive players and coaches from 10 days to six.

Here is the latest news on who has entered and cleared protocols today:

  • Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are out of protocols, as is LaMarcus Aldridge, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. While Durant and Aldridge may be ready for Thursday’s game, Irving is still working his way back into game condition and remains ineligible to play in home games because he hasn’t met New York City’s vaccine requirement.
  • Timberwolves forward Taurean Prince has cleared protocols and will rejoin the team, but won’t play tonight against the Knicks, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Minnesota also gets back Anthony Edwards and Naz Reid (Twitter link).
  • Cavaliers power forward Evan Mobley has cleared protocols and is set to reunite with the club today, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter). Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com tweets that the Cavaliers hope to have Mobley play in tonight’s game against the Pelicans, but will put him through his pregame paces first to gauge his conditioning level.
  • Unfortunately, just as one of Cleveland’s best players recovers, another will be absent. Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, enjoying a nearly All-Star-level season with Cleveland, has entered the NBA’s coronavirus protocols, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic.
  • Knicks rookie point guard guard Miles McBride has cleared protocols, the team has announced (via Twitter). New York adds that he has rejoined the team ahead of its game tonight against the Timberwolves.
  • Veteran Heat power forward Udonis Haslem has entered the league’s coronavirus protocols, writes Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. Heat point guard Kyle Lowry is also in protocols. Miami assistant coach Chris Quinn will return to the sidelines, Chiang adds.
  • Wizards forwards Rui Hachimura and Montrezl Harrell have entered the league’s COVID-19 protocols, joining six other Washington players, the team has announced (Twitter link). Hachimura has missed the Wizards’ entire season thus far due to personal reasons. Among the others, unvaccinated All-Star guard Bradley Beal is still in protocols and Wallace reports that his status is “questionable” prior to the Wizards’ upcoming contest against the Heat tonight. Center Thomas Bryant, wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and guards Anthony Gill, Aaron Holiday and Raul Neto are still in protocols.
  • Thunder rookie guard Josh Giddey has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Head coach Mark Daigneault has also entered the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, and will be replaced by assistant coach Mike Wilks starting with this evening’s contest against the Kings, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). Wilks, a former journeyman NBA guard, suited up for four games with the Thunder during the 2009/10 season, Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman adds (Twitter link). Players Darius Bazley, Tre Mann, Aleksej Pokusevski, and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl remain in the protocols for Oklahoma City.
  • Keep track of all the players currently in COVID-19 protocols through out our daily tracker.

Arthur Hill contributed to this report.

Wolves’ Edwards, Prince Placed In Health And Safety Protocols

Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The Wolves have confirmed Wojnarowski’s report and added that Taurean Prince has also been placed in the protocols (Twitter link).

Edwards played nearly 34 minutes for the Wolves in Denver on Wednesday night, scoring 38 points on 14-of-21 shooting. Prince hasn’t played in either of Minnesota’s last two games.

If Edwards and Prince tested positive for COVID-19, they’ll be out for the next 10 days or until they record two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart. The team figures to test the rest of its roster now, so it’s possible more players could enter the protocols in the coming days.

Half of the league’s 30 teams now have at least one player in the health and safety protocols. The Wolves are the ninth team with multiple players in the protocols.