Two disappointing Timberwolves to miss rest of disappointing season

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The 38-38 Minnesota Timberwolves have already been eliminated from the playoff race. Heck, they can’t even finish ninth in the Western Conference.

On one hand, going .500 in a tough conference is a noble accomplishment. It’s their best record in nine years.

On the other hand, with Kevin Love’s free agency rapidly approaching, relative-but-modest achievements don’t mean much. Minnesota needs to get good and get good quickly to have any chance of retaining its star forward.

The Timberwolves will have a lot to address this offseason. In the meantime? I dunno, I guess they have to play these final games, but it really seems like a waste of time.

Associated Press:

Minnesota Timberwolves forwards Chase Budinger and Shabazz Muhammad will miss the final six games of the season with injuries.

Budinger sprained his ankle in the first minute of play against Orlando on Saturday night and Muhammad sprained the MCL in his right knee on Friday night against Miami.

These injuries don’t even carry any tanking upside. Minnesota will get the No. 13 seed in the lottery, with only the slightest mathematical possibility of splitting the 12/13 odds with the Nuggets.

The shutdowns are just a reminder of how many opportunities the Timberwolves have squandered.

In two seasons with Minnesota – both set back by injury – Budinger has failed to approach the 3-point percentage during his final season with the Rockets (40.2) that convinced the Timberwolves to trade a No. 18 pick for him. He’s shot 32.1 and 35.0 percent from beyond the arc in Minnesota, below-average marks that hardly provide coveted floor spacing.

Muhammad, the No. 14 pick in last year’s draft, has averaged just 3.9 points per game – and scoring is what he does best. There were plenty of pre-draft questions about Muhammad, and he answered none of them this season. It’s unlikely he develops into a quality NBA contributor.

If Budinger and Muhammad come back healthy next season, it’s possible they could help Minnesota. For now, these injuries are –  while less harmful than the Timberwolves’ bigger problems – just more disappointment

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.