Taurean Prince

Karl-Anthony Towns Diagnosed With Calf Strain, Will Undergo MRI

Timberwolves star forward Karl-Anthony Towns will be further evaluated on Tuesday after an initial diagnosis of a right calf strain, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets.

Towns suffered a non-contact injury during the third quarter of Minnesota’s contest against Washington on Monday night. He grabbed at the back of his leg as tried to head down the court. Towns needed assistance to be helped back to the locker room.

“Obviously super-concerned about that. Big blow for us,” coach Chris Finch said (Twitter link via David Aldridge of The Athletic).

Towns will get an MRI but there’s some early optimism that he may have avoided a substantial injury, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

It has been a disappointing season so far for the Timberwolves, whose record dropped to 10-11 with a loss to the Wizards. They were expected to be serious contenders in the Western Conference after the blockbuster trade with Utah that brought center Rudy Gobert to Minnesota.

An extended absence for Towns would make it much more difficult for a turnaround. He’s averaging 21.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.

The Timberwolves frontcourt is already dealing with the absence of Taurean Prince, who expected to be out a couple of weeks with a shoulder injury. Jaden McDaniels missed Monday’s game due to an illness.

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.

Northwest Notes: Prince, Nuggets Injuries, Watson, Grant

Timberwolves forward Taurean Prince said he’s relieved that a grand jury in Texas did not charge him with possession of a controlled substance stemming from a May 19 arrest, according to Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“To me, I wasn’t in the wrong in the first place,” Prince said. “The situation that happened was very unfortunate. Things happen, for whatever reasons they happen. I’m past it now, though.”

Police in Arlington, Texas said after the arrest that they found guns and a vape pen with THC oil in Prince’s car when they stopped him for an expired registration. Possession of marijuana is illegal in Texas, and it also violates state law “to carry a gun while engaging in a criminal offense.”

Prosecutors also dropped the gun charges after the grand jury’s decision, according to a TMZ report.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets will likely be without several key players again when they host Detroit on Tuesday, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. Jeff Green is out with a right knee contusion, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are doubtful due to health and safety protocols, while Aaron Gordon (non-COVID illness) and Ish Smith (right calf strain) are listed as questionable.
  • Rookie Peyton Watson has appeared in just five Nuggets games and is currently playing for their G League affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Watson, a late-first round pick, is trying to be patient while developing his skills, Singer writes in a separate story. “They know I want it right now and that I’m super, super motivated to take it,” Watson said. “You’ve got to wait your turn. We’re the No. 2 team in the West.”
  • Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant learned during his first season with the Pistons what it was like being the top scorer for his team. He told current teammate Damian Lillard that he gained a greater appreciation for players with that status, Grant revealed on an interview with The Athletic’s Shams Charania (video link). “I told him I got a lot more respect for people who are the No. 1 option because it’s a lot more difficult than just putting up the numbers,” Grant said.

Wolves Notes: Russell, Gobert, Prince, Edwards

The trade that brought D’Angelo Russell to the Timberwolves has turned into a huge mistake, contends Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune. Minnesota was looking for more size and scoring in its backcourt when it sent Andrew Wiggins and a pair of draft picks — one of which became Jonathan Kuminga — to Golden State in exchange for Russell and two other players at the 2020 trade deadline. Wiggins wound up as a vital cog in the Warriors’ title team, while Russell continues to frustrate Wolves fans, Souhan states.

The latest embarrassing incident came in the first half of tonight’s loss to the Suns when Russell didn’t realize he was supposed to be on the court. Minnesota played a four-on-five possession that resulted in a Phoenix three-pointer. Souhan notes that Russell came into the game ranked 211th overall in Player Efficiency Rating and 42nd among point guards in a 30-team league.

After being benched in the playoff series against Memphis, Russell hasn’t looked any different this season, according to Souhan. He observes that the Wolves often look uncertain on the court, which shouldn’t happen to a team with a veteran point guard.

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • The Wolves are still working out a role on offense for Rudy Gobert, who returned tonight after missing two games while in the health and safety protocols, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Gobert’s new teammates, particularly Karl-Anthony Towns, have been trying to make sure he gets enough touches. “The guys have been great looking for me, especially KAT,” Gobert said. “I can tell he’s been doing a lot of effort hitting me on the duck-ins, hitting me on the lobs. I think that’s the way we’re going to play if we want to be a great offensive team, be able to space for each other, move the ball, have the ball not stick.”
  • Veteran forward Taurean Prince has become a locker room leader for the Wolves and he credits the influence of former teammate Patrick Beverley, particularly in film sessions, Hine adds. “He really taught me how to break down film and really process it quicker,” Prince said. “That’s helped me be in more of the right spots defensively. So I appreciate him for that. Now I’m also able to … put it in a way to where other guys understand it as well, and they’re maybe thinking two or three steps ahead.”
  • After Monday’s loss to the Knicks, Anthony Edwards expressed concerns that the Wolves are getting a reputation for being soft, Hine states in a separate story. “It’s hard, man,” Edwards said. “I don’t know, man. We’re going to try to figure it out, because that’s what it looks like right now. That’s what teams are saying, from the looks of it. They’re coming out like, ‘We’re going to punk them.’ That’s what’s going on.”

Timberwolves Notes: Outside Shooting, Nowell, Prince

Having traded away solid three-point shooters like Malik Beasley and Patrick Beverley in the blockbuster Rudy Gobert deal, the Timberwolves have seen their outside shooting take a step back in the early part of this season, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

In 2021/22, Minnesota ranked first in the NBA in three-point attempts per game and 12th in three-point percentage. So far in ’22/23, those marks have slipped to 12th and 24th, respectively, even after a solid showing vs. Houston on Saturday, when the team made 15-of-33 (45.5%) tries from beyond the arc.

While the personnel changes are one reason why the Wolves aren’t attempting or making as many three-pointers, several players on the roster are shooting below their previous rates, so some positive regression could be coming. Still, head coach Chris Finch said last week that he doesn’t necessarily expect this year’s team to shoot as much from outside as last year’s, stressing that good ball movement and quick decisions are more important for unlocking the offense.

“Too much thinking, I think, as a group, including myself,” D’Angelo Russell said of the offensive issues. “It’s part of the process. Everybody’s in positions that they’ve never been before.”

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Having lost tone-setters like Beverley and Jarred Vanderbilt, the Timberwolves need to commit to playing with the edge and intensity that championship-caliber teams do on a night-to-night basis, according to Karl-Anthony Towns. “I think just more for us to have a mindset that I think when I watch those teams play, they play as if everything is Game 7 of the Finals,” Towns said, per Krawczynski. “They treat everything with that kind of level of execution and discipline and seriousness. I just think that’s something we gotta reach, and it’s not going to come overnight.”
  • Jaylen Nowell, who is extension-eligible and can be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, has a new agency, though he hasn’t technically changed representatives. As Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News relays (via Twitter), Nowell’s agent Ryan Davis has moved to LIFT Sports Management, which was founded by former NBA forward Mike Miller.
  • After signing a two-year extension with the Timberwolves over the summer, Taurean Prince is off to a hot start (.542/.459/.857 shooting) on the court, and his presence off the court has been just as impactful. Prince’s teammates refer to him as “the leader in the film room,” according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.“He’s just calling everybody out,” Nowell said. “Whoever it is, whether it’s the No. 1 guy or the No. 15 guy. He’s calling everybody out, and that’s where you get the respect from everybody.” Naz Reid also had praise for Prince: “He’s a great teammate, great vet. Nobody like him.”
  • In case you missed it, center Rudy Gobert entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Saturday.

Taurean Prince Arrested In Miami

11:35am: Police in Arlington, Texas say they found guns and a vape pen with THC oil in Prince’s car when they stopped him in May for an expired registration, according to Eric Chaloux of KSTP-TV (Twitter thread).

Possession of marijuana is illegal in Texas, and it also violates state law “to carry a gun while engaging in a criminal offense,” the police said.

8:33am: Timberwolves forward Taurean Prince was arrested on Thursday in Miami, according to several reports, including from KSTP in Minnesota and Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.

KSTP’s report indicates that Prince was booked into jail custody on Thursday evening in Miami-Dade County. According to Hine, Prince was arrested at Miami International Airport on a fugitive out-of-state warrant from Texas. The six-year NBA veteran was born in San Marcos, Texas, was raised in San Antonio, and attended Baylor for college.

Details are still sparse on the possible charges that Prince is facing. Andy Slater of Fox Sports 640 South Florida reported (via Twitter) that the Texas warrant was drug-related, but that has yet to be confirmed.

“We are aware of the alleged report regarding Taurean Prince and are in the process of gathering more information,” the Timberwolves said in a statement on Thursday.

Prince, 28, was a regular part of Minnesota’s rotation in 2021/22, averaging 7.3 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 69 games (17.1 MPG). He’s a solid, versatile defender, as well as a reliable floor spacer (.376 3PT% last season).

Prince had been on track for unrestricted free agency this summer, but the Timberwolves signed him to a two-year contract extension just before the new league year began. That deal includes a guaranteed base salary of $7.1MM for 2022/23, with $195K in likely incentives and another $870 in unlikely incentives for the coming season. The second year of the contract is non-guaranteed.

We’ll have to wait for additional information to get a real sense of how serious Prince’s legal situation is and whether it will affect his availability at all for the coming season.

Northwest Notes: Prince, Wolves, Nuggets, Jordan, Arms

Taurean Prince‘s two-year extension with the Timberwolves was initially reported to be worth $16MM, but its base value actually comes in at just $14.56MM, and the second year is non-guaranteed, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Prince’s new deal also includes $195K in likely incentives per year, along with another $870K in annual unlikely incentives, so if he plays out the full two-year contract and maxes out its value, it’ll be worth $16.69MM in total.

The second year of Prince’s new deal would become fully guaranteed if he remains under contract through June 28, 2023.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • It might be a while before we know if the Timberwolves “won” the deal for Rudy Gobert, and even evaluating what constitutes a win will be complicated, writes Michael Rand of The Star Tribune. However, Rand views the deal as trading “nine dimes for a dollar,” and believes it’s the kind of move the team needed to make to be serious about contending for a title.
  • Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscription required) acknowledges that the Nuggets‘ deal with DeAndre Jordan may not have been an exciting way to kick off free agency, but says the team did its homework on Jordan, vetted his engagement, and felt comfortable bringing him into the locker room. “They’d learned enough about former center DeMarcus Cousins that they weren’t willing to make the same commitment,” Singer writes.
  • Both Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports and Singer (Twitter links) believe that Adonis Arms, who is signing an Exhibit 10 contract with the Nuggets, is a strong candidate to eventually fill Denver’s open two-way slot. Currently, Collin Gillespie is the only Nugget signed to a two-way deal.
  • In case you missed it, our Community Shootaround discussion on Monday explored what’s next for the Jazz following the blockbuster Gobert trade.

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.