Timberwolves sign Leandro Bolmaro

The Minnesota Timberwolves have signed guard Leandro Bolmaro.

Bolmaro, a 6-6 guard, wrapped up his second season with FC Barcelona where he capped off the season by winning the Spanish league championship and being named Liga ACB’s “Jugador Más Espectacular” – the league’s Most Spectacular Player. Bolmaro joined a list of three current NBA players to be awarded Most Spectacular Player in ACB play. The Las Varillas, Argentina native averaged 6.4 points and 1.8 assists per game.

Per the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Bolmaro “will be on a rookie scale deal with team options after the first two years.”

The 21-year-old recently played in his first Olympics for Argentina where in four games, he totaled eight points, four rebounds and three steals in 47 minutes of action.

Timberwolves re-sign Jarred Vanderbilt Jordan and McLaughlin

The Minnesota Timberwolves yesterday re-signed forward Jarred Vanderbilt guard Jordan McLaughlin.

Vanderbilt, 22, set career-highs across the board last season including seeing action in 64 games (30 starts) for the Timberwolves, averaging 5.4 points on 60.6% shooting, 5.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.0 steals in 17.8 minutes per game.

The Kentucky product saw one of his best games of the 2020-21 season in Minnesota’s 119-111 victory over the Miami Heat on Apr. 16, when in 21:35 of action off the bench, Vanderbilt scored nine points and grabbed a career-high and game-high 14 rebounds, including nine rebounds in the fourth quarter. His 14 rebounds equaled the most by a Timberwolves reserve since Anthony Tolliver grabbed 15 rebounds vs. Boston on Mar. 27, 2011, at Target Center.

The 6-9 forward holds career averages of 4.1 points on 59.7% shooting and 4.3 rebounds in 13.6 minutes per game with Denver and Minnesota.

Vanderbilt was originally drafted by the Orlando Magic with the 41st overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft.

McLaughlin, 25, wrapped up his second season with the Timberwolves, appearing in 51 games (two starts), averaging 5.0 points, 2.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.0 steals in 18.4 minutes per game last season.

On Feb. 12 at Charlotte, he registered a career-high-tying four steals (Mar. 1, 2020, vs Dallas) in 22:15 minutes of play off the bench, becoming the 17th player in club history to have multiple games with 4+ steals off the bench. McLaughlin dished out a team-high seven assists off the bench on Jan. 20 vs Orlando while scoring six points, becoming the 14th Timberwolves players to have five or more games off the bench with at least seven assists.

The Pasadena, Calif. native played four seasons at the University of Southern California averaging 12.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 58 assists and 1.7 steals in 128 games.

In G League, Iowa Wolves name Jeff Newton new head coach

The Minnesota Timberwolves today named Jeff Newton as Head Coach of the Iowa Wolves, the team’s G League affiliate. Newton spent the last two seasons as the offensive associate/player development coach for the Timberwolves.

Minnesota also announced the hire of Scott Thom as athletic performance coach.

“Jeff has proven throughout the last couple years that he is dedicated to the Timberwolves’ overall mission, including developing our young players, which makes him a natural choice as the Wolves head coach,” said Timberwolves Assistant General Manager Gianluca Pascucci. “We feel that Jeff will continue to succeed and grow in his role in Iowa, just as he has excelled here in Minnesota. We are also excited to welcome Scott into the Timberwolves and Wolves family.”

“I am proud to see the progression Jeff has made in his role throughout this summer, especially with the development he made with our Summer League roster,” said Timberwolves Head Coach Chris Finch. “Jeff has proven in his daily work with the Timberwolves that he is prepared and deserves this next step in his career. His coaching philosophies align with what we are building here in Minnesota and his groundwork will serve as a great foundation for our two-way players and those in Iowa making the transition to Minnesota throughout the season. I believe in his ability to encourage our players to improve based on his passion for the game and his dedication every step of the way. We are excited about him leading our program down in Iowa and to continue supporting his professional advancement and success.”

“I am thrilled to continue my professional career with the Timberwolves organization as I step into this new role with the Iowa Wolves,” Newton said. “I have been dedicated to the vision and future goals for the Timberwolves and will carry those same principles in my role as head coach of the Iowa Wolves.”

Newton showcased his head coaching acumen as he took the helm of the 2021 Timberwolves Summer League team in Las Vegas, leading the group to a 4-1 finish. Prior to joining the Wolves, Newton served as an assistant video coordinator for the Sacramento Kings for three seasons. Prior to that, he was with the Houston Rockets for three seasons, spending one year each as a personnel scout, assistant video coordinator and basketball operations intern. Newton got his start in the NBA as a basketball operations intern with the then Charlotte Bobcats. A native of Barrington, Rhode Island, Newton graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a degree in Sports Management.

Thom joins the Wolves after serving as the College of Marin men’s basketball head coach and director of strength and conditioning since 2016. Thom led the Mariners to the program’s first back-to-back winning seasons since 1989. The Napa, Calif. native brings more than 19 years of experience as a strength and conditioning coach and player development coach, including stints at University of California, Berkeley, Washington State University and his alma mater Vintage High School.

Timberwolves announce new additions to coaching staff

The Minnesota Timberwolves yesterday announced additions to the coaching staff, including Joe Boylan (Assistant Coach/Director of Player Development), Nate Bubes (Quality Control Coach), Chris Hines (Player Development Associate), Ashlee McGee (Video/Player Development Associate), Alex Stepheson (Video/Player Development Associate), Elston Turner (Assistant Coach) and Addison Walters (Video Associate).

“We are thrilled to welcome Joe, Nate, Ashlee, Alex and Elston into the Timberwolves organization, as well as advance Chris and Addison to these new opportunities,” said Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas. “The experience and skill set each one brings to the staff will emphasize the steps we are taking to reach our goals for our players and program as a whole. Each is talented in their field and are passionate in assisting Coach Finch in executing the vision for the Timberwolves going forward.”

“Starting with the coaching staff announcement earlier this summer, we have put an emphasis on staff development and rewarding the hard work and dedication our staff make to the organization,” said Timberwolves Head Coach Chris Finch. “We are now excited to support Chris and Addison in their new roles as they transition from the Iowa Wolves to Minnesota, as well as Ashlee as she takes her experience with the Lynx and applies it to the Timberwolves. I look forward to working with Elston as he joins our coaching staff, as well as Joe, Nate and Alex as they all contribute to shaping our players and supporting the goals we have laid out for the organization.”

Boylan joins the Timberwolves after spending three seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans, serving as their director of player development for two of those seasons. Prior to joining the Pelicans, he served as a player development coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, as well as the associate head coach of their then G League affiliate, the Iowa Energy. Before joining the Grizzlies organization, Boylan was an assistant coach for the Grand Rapids Drive in the G League during the 2014-15 season. He also spent three seasons with the Golden State Warriors from 2011-14, serving first as the video coordinator, then as video coordinator/player development and finally as assistant coach/player development. Boylan also spent time with the Boston Celtics and the G League’s Maine Red Claws.

Bubes comes to the Timberwolves by way of the Pelicans, where he served as the assistant video coordinator starting in 2019. Prior to his time with New Orleans, he was the coordinator of strategy and analytics for Brigham Young University men’s basketball program. Bubes had his start in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers when he served as the team’s video intern in 2018. A graduate of Boston College, Bubes served as the men’s basketball graduate assistant from 2016-2018 after being the program’s student manager from 2012-2016.

Hines has been elevated into his new role after serving as an assistant head coach for the Timberwolves G League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves since 2019. Prior to joining the Timberwolves organization, he spent three seasons with the Guangdong Southern Tigers (China) as an assistant coach and director of player development. He also served as the director of basketball operations and player development for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers beginning in 2015. Hines played briefly for the Iowa Energy during the 2014-15 season and played one season collegiately at Drake University after graduating from the University of Utah in 2012.

McGee joins the Timberwolves after spending two seasons as the Minnesota Lynx video coordinator. She will serve a dual role where she will continue working for the Lynx during the WNBA season and join the Timberwolves during the NBA season. Prior to her time with the Lynx, McGee served as an advance scout for the Los Angeles Sparks in 2018. She also served as an assistant women’s basketball coach for both James Madison University and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Prior to her time in Milwaukee, McGee served as both a graduate assistant and an assistant coach at Tennessee State University. A graduate of Austin Peay State University and member of the women’s basketball program, she led the Governors to back-to-back appearances in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.

Stepheson joins the Timberwolves after a 10-year professional playing career that included stints with the Los Angeles Clippers, Grizzlies and overseas with Panionios (Greece) and Guangzhou Long Lions of the CBA. In 2015, he was acquired by the Iowa Energy and went on to earn All-NBA D-League First Team honors. Stepheson played collegiately for the University of North Carolina before transferring to USC.

Turner comes to Minnesota with more than two decades of NBA coaching experience, including his last two seasons as an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets as well as a prior four-year stint with the organization from 2007-11. Turner’s coaching career includes stops in Sacramento, Memphis and Portland. The Tennessee native was selected 43rd overall in the 1981 NBA Draft and appeared in over 500 games across eight seasons. Turner played professionally for Dallas, Denver and Chicago throughout his NBA career. Turner hails from the University of Mississippi, where he led Ole Miss to its first ever NCAA Tournament in his senior year.

Walters joins the Timberwolves after spending one season with the Iowa Wolves as a basketball operations associate. The San Francisco native attended Stetson University and Cal State Bakersfield where she was a member of the women’s basketball program at each. Walters was named the ASUN Newcomer of the Week in 2018.

Grizzlies trade Patrick Beverley to Timberwolves

The Memphis Grizzlies have acquired guard Jarrett Culver and forward Juancho Hernangómez in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves for guard Patrick Beverley.

In addition, the Grizzlies have waived guard/forward Sean McDermott.

Beverley, 33, has appeared in 468 regular season games (384 starts) in nine NBA seasons with the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers, averaging 8.8 points on 41.5% shooting, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. The 6-1 guard played in 37 games (34 starts) for the Clippers last season, averaging 7.5 points on 42.3% shooting, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. His best game in 2020-21 came on Jan. 5 vs. San Antonio when he finished with a season-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 6-of-9 from deep, eight rebounds and a season-high eight assists. Beverley has seen action in 59 career playoff games (48 starts), including 17 games (seven starts) in last season’s playoffs and has averaged 7.9 points on 41.2% shooting, 4.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

The University of Arkansas product is a three-time NBA All-Defensive team selection, including being named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team in 2016-17, his final season with the Rockets. Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 42nd overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Chicago native spent three seasons overseas in Greece, Russia, and Ukraine. He signed as a free agent

Culver (6-6, 195) has appeared in 97 games (42 starts) and holds career averages of 7.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 20.7 minutes in two seasons with Minnesota. The 22-year-old Dallas native was selected by Phoenix with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft after guiding Texas Tech University to the 2019 NCAA Championship Game as a sophomore.

Hernangómez (6-9, 214) has appeared in 257 games (57 starts) and owns career averages of 5.7 points and 3.5 rebounds in 16.4 minutes over his five-year NBA career with Denver and Minnesota. A native of Madrid, Spain, the 25-year-old was drafted by Denver with the 15th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

McDermott (6-6, 195) appeared in 18 games off the bench for the Grizzlies as a rookie last season and averaged 2.2 points and 1.1 rebounds in 8.8 minutes. Undrafted in the 2020 NBA Draft out of Butler University, the 24-year-old native of Anderson, Ind., also competed in six games for the NBA G League’s Memphis Hustle.

Timberwolves sign Nathan Knight and McKinley Wright IV to two-way contracts

Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas today announced the team has signed forward Nathan Knight and guard McKinley Wright IV to two-way contracts.

Knight, 23, most recently played for the Atlanta Hawks last season where he saw action in 33 games while averaging 3.8 points on 37.0% shooting and 2.2 rebounds in 8.5 minutes per game. He appeared in six playoff games with Atlanta in 2020-21, totaling four points and six rebounds. His best game of the season came on Dec. 26 at Memphis, when he scored 14 points in nine minutes of action, becoming the first rookie in Hawks franchise history to total at least 14 points in nine minutes or less. He is the third NBA player from William & Mary, where in four years, he averaged 17.1 points on 56.0% shooting and 7.7 rebounds. Knight became just the second player in league history to be named both the CAA Player and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season in 2020.

Wright IV, 22, averaged 14.2 points on 46.7% shooting, 4.9 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game during his four-year career at the University of Colorado Boulder. He finished his college career as Colorado’s all-time leader in assists with 683 and owns school career records for double-figure scoring games (109), double-figure assists games (10) and points-assists double-doubles (10). The North Robbinsdale, Minn. native became the only men’s basketball player in Pac-12 Conference history with 1,800 points, 600 assists and 600 rebounds and one of just seven to reach that mark in NCAA Division I (since 1985-86). He was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team for the third-straight year his senior season, becoming the first Buffalo in the Pac-12 era to garner three all-conference first team honors.

Timberwolves hire Joseph Blair, Micah Nori and Pablo Prigioni as assistant coaches

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced its front bench coaching staff, naming Joseph Blair, Micah Nori and Pablo Prigioni as assistant coaches.

“Chris and I are excited to have Micah join our coaching staff in addition to giving new responsibilities to Joseph and Pablo. With staff development at the forefront, we look forward to supporting Joseph and Pablo as they continue to progress in their new roles, as well as provide guidance for Micah as he steps into a new coaching chapter,” said Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas. “We had a diligent process to evaluate our front bench needs and determined the coaching styles, philosophies and ideologies that best complement Head Coach Chris Finch and the vision we see for the future of the Timberwolves. We’re confident that with Chris at the helm and with the support of the assistant coaches, we have a group in place that will maximize our top players’ potential both on and off the court and also untap our young talent.”

“Gersson and I executed a collaborative process to evaluate the purpose and talents of the coaches we needed on staff to support the future goals and accomplishments of the Timberwolves,” said Timberwolves Head Coach Chris Finch. “It was an easy decision to round out our front bench staff with Joseph, Micah and Pablo because of the different skills, approaches and backgrounds each bring to the table. I look forward to getting to work with each coach starting this summer.”

Blair spent the past season with the Timberwolves after serving as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2019-20 season. Prior to the 76ers, Blair spent four seasons with the Houston Rockets G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, one of which as head coach (2018-19). Blair led the team to the 2019 G League title over the Long Island Nets after amassing a 34-16 overall record. In 2015, he originally joined the Rockets organization as an assistant with Rio Grande Valley. He also spent two seasons as an assistant at his alma mater, the University of Arizona.

Nori joins Minnesota after spending three seasons as an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons. Prior to his time in Detroit, he spent three seasons with the Denver Nuggets. A 23-year veteran of the NBA, Nori also spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings. He entered the NBA in 1998, spending 15 seasons with the Toronto Raptors organization including four years as an assistant coach. Before being named assistant coach, Nori held roles of director of NBA scouting, an advance scout and an assistant to the coaching staff with the Raptors. The Middleton, Ohio native was a four-year starter and captain of Indiana’s 1996 Big Ten Championship baseball team. He also holds a master’s degree in Sports Organization from Miami (OH) University.

Prigioni was named an assistant coach for the Timberwolves during the summer of 2019, becoming the team’s offensive coordinator. He also led the club to the championship game of the 2019 NBA Las Vegas Summer League. Prigioni spent the 2018-19 season as an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets. Prior to the Nets, he enjoyed a 20-year playing career that featured stops both overseas and in the NBA. The Argentina native spent the majority of his career playing in Spain, where he led Baskonia to three Spanish King’s Cup titles, four Spanish Supercup titles and a Spanish League championship. Prigioni became the head coach of Baskonia in 2017 after retiring as a player for the club. In 2012, Prigioni became the NBA’s oldest rookie, when at age 35 he embarked on a four-year NBA stint which included stops with the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers. As a member of the Argentine national team, Prigioni won a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Hornets guard LaMelo Ball wins 2020-21 NBA Rookie of Year award

Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball is the recipient of the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy as the 2020-21 NBA Rookie of the Year, the NBA announced today.

He is the third player to win the annual award with Charlotte, joining Larry Johnson (1991-92) and Emeka Okafor (2004-05).

Ball received 84 first-place votes and earned 465 total points from a global panel of 99 sportswriters and broadcasters. Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards received the other 15 first-place votes and finished in second place with 309 points. Sacramento Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton finished in third place with 114 points. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.

Ball averaged 15.7 points, 6.1 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 1.59 steals in 28.8 minutes in 51 games (31 starts), leading all rookies in assists and steals and ranking second in points and rebounds. He is the seventh rookie to average at least 15.0 points, 6.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.50 steals in a season since steals became an official statistic in the 1973-74 season, joining Magic Johnson (1979-80), Penny Hardaway (1993-94), Steve Francis (1999-00), Chris Paul (2005-06), Michael Carter-Williams (2013-14) and Ben Simmons (2017-18). Ball was one of two NBA players to reach all four of those averages this season, along with Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler.

On Jan. 9, Ball recorded 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists against the Atlanta Hawks at 19 years, 140 days old, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to have a triple-double. In other standout performances, Ball posted a career-high 34 points, eight assists and zero turnovers against the Utah Jazz on Feb. 5 in his third career start, and he had 30 points, eight assists, six rebounds and four steals against the Portland Trail Blazers on March 1. Despite missing 21 games with a wrist injury, Ball finished with the second-most assists (313) and third-most three-pointers made (92) by a rookie in Hornets history.

Ball was selected as the NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in each of the first three months of the season (December/January, February and March). He was also named to the U.S. Team for the 2021 NBA Rising Stars rosters.

Charlotte selected Ball with the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Ball played for the Illawara Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League during the 2019-20 season, where he was named the NBL Rookie of the Year.

The NBA Rookie of the Year trophy is named in honor of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Eddie Gottlieb, one of the NBA’s founders. Gottlieb coached the Philadelphia Warriors to the 1946-47 championship in the league’s first season.

On the state of the Timberwolves

The Timberwolves remain a work in progress. Via the Star Tribune:

Objectively, this season was a failure. The Wolves began with modest hope, then finished 23-49.

Subjectively, you can see the makings of a quality team, an entertaining team, perhaps the best Wolves team since the roster included not only Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell, but also Ndudi Ebi, Latrell Sprewell, Quincy Lewis, Fred Hoiberg, Oliver Miller, Michael Olowokandi, Mark Madsen and “the other” Ervin Johnson, just in case you forgot how any given roster can look like the cast of a “Survivor”-like game show.

Making the dangerous assumption that the Wolves will be relatively healthy next season, their starting five — even without a top-three draft pick — would be D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels and Karl-Anthony Towns.

That’s more than good enough in the categories of athletic ability, three-point shooting and ballhandling, and the Wolves’ improvement on defense toward the end of this season might be an indication that defense won’t be the embarrassment that it was before Ryan Saunders was fired.

Their leading scorers in 2020-21 were Towns at 24.8 points per game, Beasley at 19.6 ppg, Edwards at 19.3 ppg, and Russell at 19.0 ppg. Everyone else averaged under 12 ppg.

Update on pending sale of the Timberwolves

Here’s the latest on the pending sale of the Minnesota Timberwolves, via the Star Tribune:

Glen Taylor has been close a few times to selling his stake of the Timberwolves, but no deal has crossed the finish line.

That appears to be changing.

Taylor, 80, has an agreement for the $1.5 billion sale of the Wolves and Lynx to former baseball star Alex Rodriguez and tech entrepreneur Marc Lore, a source confirmed.

The sides previously agreed to a 30-day exclusive negotiating window last month, but talks between the sides never ceased when that window expired nor were there any major stumbling blocks to getting a deal done. An announcement sealing the deal could come soon.

The next step in the process will be to have the NBA approve the sale, which is likely to take weeks.

The Timberwolves are 22-48 this season, though of course that has little bearing on a team’s value. NBA teams have massive and still-growing value, and the chance to own one is an incredible opportunity.