Heat star Jimmy Butler praises new Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau

The Knicks recently made Tom Thibodeau their new head coach. Heat star Jimmy Butler knows Thibs, having spent serious time playing for him in the past. Here’s the New York Post reporting what Butler had to say about New York’s newest hire:

Jimmy Butler sounds ready for another reunion with Tom Thibodeau.

Having played under the new Knicks coach in Chicago and Minnesota, Butler — who has credited Thibodeau with his development from late first round pick to five-time All-Star — said he believes the young core of RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson could make similar progress with Thibodeau’s teachings.

“He’s going to do great. He’s going to turn those young guys into some real players; some superstars, some All-Stars,” Butler said of Thibodeau. “I know he’s been itching for this. I know he’s been preparing for it. When you talk about Thibs and the big stage, I think they go hand in hand.”

Things with Butler didn’t go smoothly in Minnesota, as the rest of the above article details. But his praise of Thibs is the takeaway here.

Butler and the Heat are in Orlando at the Disney NBA campus, where they will face the Nuggets on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Leading Heat scorers this season (PPG)
Jimmy Butler 20.2
Bam Adebayo 16.2
Goran Dragic 16.1
Kendrick Nunn 15.6
Duncan Robinson 13.3

Timberwolves statement on NBA return to play plan

Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas today issued the following statement regarding the NBA’s decision to resume the 2019-20 NBA season with 22 teams playing in Orlando, Florida:

“While we are disappointed for our team and our fans that our season is coming to an end, we understand and accept the league’s plan to move forward with 22 teams. It is important that we be a good teammate not only to the NBA, but to the other 29 teams to support the efforts to complete this season and prepare for next season in a healthy and safe manner.

“Our offseason program will be intensive and thorough to make sure our players continue their development and are prepared for the start of the 2020-21 season. Our Head Coach Ryan Saunders, his assistants and our performance staff will be creative, aggressive and proactive to deal with a period of inactivity that we have not dealt with before. We built good momentum as a team following the trade deadline and our basketball staff will diligently continue to work through our team building processes, including the draft and free agency, as we continue to look for ways to improve our team during this pivotal offseason.

“We will also use this offseason to work tirelessly to help our community heal, to influence change and to promote thoughtful actions in response to recent events.”

In-development Timberwolves would benefit if season continues

The NBA is currently deciding how to proceed regarding resuming play, possibly as early as mid or late July. It sounds increasingly likely that at the very least, we’ll hopefully get a 2019-20 postseason.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune:

If the Wolves are part of a restart, though, the main benefit would be a chance for the revamped Wolves — who dramatically made over their roster a month before the shutdown, adding D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and a host of other players — to play together and gather momentum toward next season.

We’re all rooting for NBA play to resume. Which will only happen if the world in and out of sports becomes more and more safe.

Some insight on the state of the Timberwolves

Truly changing a franchise starts at the top. The front office dictates the direction. Then comes roster changes. Then comes player development, team chemistry, etc. Here’s the Minnesota Star Tribune reporting on the Timberwolves:

When Gersson Rosas became president of the Timberwolves, he promised to remake the roster by making it younger and finding talent that could play an up-tempo style of basketball. He added that one of the primary ways he would accomplish that was through trades.

Rosas wasn’t hiding much in those statements, because as Rosas marks his one-year anniversary on the job, the Wolves roster looks nothing like the one he inherited — and even nothing like the one he assembled after his first free-agent cycle. Just Josh Okogie and Karl-Anthony Towns remain from the roster Rosas inherited. Several came in the days preceding the trade deadline: Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, James Johnson and the apple of Rosas’ eye from the moment he took the job, D’Angelo Russell.

“Building an organization, building a foundation, the DNA and the values of who we’re going to be, I feel like we’ve done that in a very tangible way after Year 1,” Rosas said in a phone interview. “Rosterwise, our front office staff deserves a ton of credit because as we sit here, we’ve changed over 13 out of 15 roster spots. … That typically takes organizations two to three years. That we were able to do it by the trade deadline was quite an achievement for our staff.”

Right now, the Timberwolves core is Karl-Anthony Towns up front and D’Angelo Russell in the backcourt. Roster-wise, there’s much work to be done, and it won’t happen overnight.

Karl-Anthony Towns’ mother Jacqueline passes away due to complications from COVID-19

The Minnesota Timberwolves today issued the following statement regarding the passing of Karl-Anthony Towns’ mother Jacqueline Towns:

“The Timberwolves organization is incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of Jacqueline Towns due to complications from COVID-19. In the four-plus years we were fortunate to know Jackie, she became part of our family. Her passion for life and for her family was palpable. As Karl’s number one fan, Jackie provided constant and positive energy for him and was beloved by our entire organization and staff at Target Center as she supported her son and the Timberwolves. The League, teams, and players have come together in their support of Jackie and Karl and we are grateful for our NBA family. We would like to thank all the doctors, nurses and medical personnel who cared for Jackie during her illness and all of Karl’s fans who sent their support this past month. Our deepest condolences go out to Karl and his family during this difficult time.”

From the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

Karl-Anthony Towns first revealed his mom’s battle with the virus in late March via an Instagram video in an effort to spread awareness about the potential severity of the virus and the need for everyone to take proper safety measure to minimize its impact.

In the days after Jackie and Karl Towns Sr., Towns’ father, first had symptoms of the virus, Towns watched as his mother’s condition continued to get worse. Her cough worsened and her fever was constant.

“She was deteriorating in front of our eyes,” he said.

In that video, Towns shared that his mother was on a ventilator and in a medically-induced coma.

Timberwolves waive little-used guard Allen Crabbe

The Minnesota Timberwolves waived guard Allen Crabbe today.

Crabbe played in just nine games this season for the Timberwolves, for an average of 3.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game.

Per the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

According to ESPN’s front office insider Bobby Marks, Crabbe had roughly $4.6 million remaining on his $18.5 million contract, which is set to expire after this season. If Crabbe signs with another team, it would give the Wolves some relief as it relates to the luxury tax.

He was acquired by the Wolves on January 16 from Atlanta.

Crabbe showed scoring ability around 2015-18 or so, as he played for the Trail Blazers and then the Nets, but injury struck, and in recent NBA seasons he has not contributed much.

The Timberwolves are 17-41 this season, which is the second worst record in the Western conference. During trade deadline week, they agreed to a deal that sent Andrew Wiggins to the Warriors and brought D’Angelo Russell, who along with center Karl-Anthony Towns, forms the team’s core as they move ahead.

D’Angelo Russell has brought mid-range jumpers to the Timberwolves

The mid-range jumper is a fascinating topic in the NBA these days. Many people frown upon it. But here’s the thing: It’s a good shot if the player shooting it is actually good at shooting mid-range jumpers, and takes them at the right time.

So, yes, it can be a good shot! And in other cases, it is not.

Your mind is blown, right?

Anyway, here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting:

The trade for D’Angelo Russell has meant the return of the mid-range jumper for the 2019-20 Wolves.

He’s attempted 13 shots from between 16 feet and the three point line in just four games with Minnesota, out of 71 total attempts – 18.3% of his total shots. Russell connected on just 1 of the first 7 of those before trying six more in Monday’s loss at Dallas – making three.

That 18.3% small sample size mark is higher than it was pre-trade with Golden State (14.3%) and his career mark (13.2%), but both those numbers would still be more than triple the Wolves’ team rate this season. All would also be far higher than the number posted with the Wolves this year by Andrew Wiggins (8.5%), the man Russell was traded for and a frequent long two hoister in previous seasons.

It’ll be fun watching Russell and center Karl-Anthony Towns develop chemistry as the season continues. And the question this summer will be, who will be alongside them.

Timberwolves forward Jake Layman cleared for practice

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jake Layman, who has missed the last 39 games while recovering from a sprained left toe originally suffered November 18 at Utah, underwent evaluations by multiple foot specialists. Following the assessments, Layman was given clearance today to begin practicing.

Layman will continue to be monitored closely by the Timberwolves medical staff as he progresses. He is expected to be re-evaluated in one week and further updates to his playing status will be updated as appropriate.

In 14 games, two starts, this season with Minnesota, Layman is averaging a career-high 10.5 points on 46.2 percent shooting, including a career-best 35.2 percent shooting from deep.

Celtics will retire Kevin Garnett’s jersey

The Boston Celtics announced tonight that Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Nominee and 2007-08 NBA Champion Kevin Garnett’s number 5 will be retired, joining other Celtics legends to receive the team’s ultimate honor. Garnett’s number will be elevated to the TD Garden rafters during the 2020-21 season.

“I’m honored and thankful to have my number retired with the Celtics,” said Garnett. “I will always have immense respect and appreciation for ownership, Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers, my past teammates and Celtic Nation!”

“From the moment he arrived in the summer of 2007, Kevin changed everything for us,” said Wyc Grousbeck, Celtics Co-Owner. “His complete commitment to winning was a decisive factor in our 2008 championship. He will always be one of my very favorite Celtics.”

“KG arrived in Boston as a quintessential Celtic who embraced the ‘team first’ ethic and brought a competitive fire,” said Steve Pagliuca, Celtics Co-Owner. “We will be forever grateful for his extraordinary contribution to bringing the 17th championship banner to Boston, and we will always remember him as a leader on and off the court. He was the true embodiment of Celtics pride.”

“Kevin gave everything he had to the Celtics in every practice, in every game, and his unique blend of energy, intelligence, and talent brought out the best in his teammates and coaches,” said Danny Ainge, Celtics President of Basketball Operations.

Andrew Wiggins off to good start for Warriors

Are you mentally prepared to read something nice about Andrew Wiggins?

Hopefully so, because it’s about to happen. Here’s NBC Sports Bay Area reporting:

In his first week as a Warrior, Wiggins is averaging 23 points per game on an incredibly efficient 57.5 percent from the field and 53.3 percent from deep. His 23 points have come on 13.3 field goal attempts per game, rather than the 22.4 points on 18.8 field goal attempts he put up in the first 42 games this season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He has shown an impressive ability to make quick moves off the dribble to attack the hoop, and slash through the lane off the ball. Unlike his days with the Timberwolves, Wiggins is buying into Kerr’s free-flowing, ball movement offense, and avoiding unnecessary dribbling and stagnant iso-ball. Per Kerr’s wishes, he also is sprinting in transition and using his athleticism and size to beat his defender down the court.

Of course, this is all well and good, but the real test for Wiggins’ long-term prospects this squad is how he looks alongside a full-strength squad that includes a healthy Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. But we won’t know the answer to that for quite a while.

For now, after one mere week, Wiggins hasn’t disappointed.