As if it weren’t hard enough to be an Minnesota Timberwolf, the Wolves’ point guards seem to have a particularly tough lot in life. Dust off jokes about Minny’s one-time glut of PGs if you must, but these days, the point man is practically endangered in Minneapolis.
Jonny Flynn is still recovering from hip surgery, Luke Ridnour is out with a strained hamstring, Martell Webster (an off-guard capable of covering ball-handling duties in a pinch) just had surgery to repair a herniated back disc, and even Wayne Ellington is out of action with a bruised thigh.
Sebastian Telfair is really the Wolves’ only ball-handler or distributor…and in yesterday’s game against the Kings he had a single assist in almost 40 minutes. Telfair is capable of holding down the fort until the team’s more capable point guards are healthy again, but the circumstances currently demand that he play entirely too many minutes. That’s no good. Telfair’s effectiveness and efficiency will dip when he’s thrust into such a high-minute, high-usage role, and the best answer for the Wolves — unless they can just pop Flynn’s hip back into place — is to get Telfair a little help.
According to Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Wolves are looking to add Sundiata Gaines to back up Telfair. Minnesota has worked out a number of other prospects capable of filling in minutes at the point, but Zgoda reported that Gaines impressed the Wolves most. In order to free up a spot for Gaines, Minnesota has waived former first round pick Maurice Ager, a shooting guard who just hasn’t turned all that many heads since being drafted in 2006. Gaines is a much more natural fit for a reserve point guard, as he put up solid scoring and assist numbers for the D-League’s Idaho Stampede last season before doing well in limited minutes for the Utah Jazz. He also hit some big shot, but you probably didn’t hear about that.
Gaines doesn’t have much of a shot at playing time once Ridnour and Flynn are healthy again, but a stint with the Wolves could be a nice way to boost his NBA stock. Regardless, this is the right decision for the Wolves right now. Ager wasn’t helping much, and though Gaines is more of a stopgap than a notable addition, he makes sense for Kurt Rambis’ team right now.
Rudy Gay complained about how the Kings are handling the trade rumors swirling around him.
Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac, via James Ham of CSN California:
“He has my number,” Divac told CSN California. “If I do something, I will call him. Obviously, if I didn’t call him, we didn’t do anything.”
“Look, I was a player, 16-17 years in the league, nobody called me everyday and tell me what management is doing,” Divac said. “Management was doing their job. If something big happened, they called and told me. Obviously, nothing big happened (so) I’m not going to call anybody.”
I suppose Divac can take that tack. He’s obviously not obligated to provide Gay regular updates.
But the Kings already have a reputation for putting their players in bleak positions. This doesn’t help.
Even if Divac feels calling Gay is going out of his way, so what? The alternative — Gay either coming to training camp unhappy or spreading word of Sacramento’s mistreatment of players to his new teammates after a trade — is far worse.
It’s not enough for Divac to just wait for Gay to call him — especially because Divac might not be as reliable with the phone as he thinks.
The National Basketball Players Association has talked for more than a year about covering medical expenses for retired players.
Today, the union announced a formal plan.
The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced today that its player representatives have voted unanimously to fund health insurance for all retired NBA players with at least three years of service in the league. This program is the first of its kind among North American professional sports. It also exemplifies the NBPA’s focus on the health and welfare of its current, retired and future members.
“The game has never before been more popular, and all the players in our league today recognize that we’re only in this position because of the hard work and dedication of the men who came before us,” said Chris Paul, NBPA President and nine-time All-Star. “It’s important that we take care of our entire extended NBA family, and I’m proud of my fellow players for taking this unprecedented step to ensure the health and well-being of our predecessors.”
The unanimous vote – which took place during the NBPA Summer Meeting in New York on June 26 – established a multi-faceted health insurance program through UnitedHealthcare, the country’s leading health benefits provider. The current proposal includes:
Retired players with between three and six years of NBA service time but who are not yet eligible for Medicare would be offered a plan that includes medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage with modest out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-pays;
Those with between seven and nine years of service would be offered the same coverage with even lower out-of-pocket costs;
Retired players with at least 10 years of service would be offered the same coverage as the seven-to-nine year players, and would include coverage for their entire family;
Retired players with three-nine years of service who are eligible for Medicare would be offered a $0 deductible and $0 co-pay plan along with a low-cost prescription drug plan; those with 10+ years of service to receive this coverage for themselves and their spouse.
The open enrollment period for retired players would begin this fall, with coverage beginning on January 1, 2017.
This is a good thing.
It also could become a bargaining point in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. Should current players face the entire burden of insuring retired players, or should owners split the cost? (The fact that the question is even being posed paints players in a positive light.)
But back to the bigger point: This is a good thing. It’ll help retired players who need it, retired players who helped position the current generation to afford this. Kudos to the union for stepping up.
Warriors center Anderson Varejao will miss the Rio Olympics due to a back injury.
Where will Team Brazil turn now?
Likely to Bulls center Cristiano Felicio.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
Felicio came on strong late last season. He puts his 6-foot-10, 275-pound frame to good use protecting the paint and rebounding. He showed potential as passer and mid-range shooter, too.
At age 24, he’s a candidate to break out in the Olympics.
If he’s not ready, Brazil can turn to a steady veteran at center, Nene.
Blake Griffin broke his hand punching Clippers equipment manager Matias Testi in January.
Make that former Clippers equipment manager Matias Testi.
The L.A. Clippers equipment staffer who was punched in the face by Blake Griffin during a fight in Toronto earlier this year is off the team — and will NOT be back for the ’16/’17 season … TMZ Sports has learned.
We spoke with a rep for the Clippers who confirmed Matias Testi “no longer works for the team.”