Timberwolves GM says they are going slow, not had any Kevin Love trade talks yet

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Minnesota is going to take its time.

With the NBA draft a month away, the Timberwolves are not rushing to find their new coach for next season.

More importantly, while Kevin Love’s people have pushed for the team to trade him before July 1 according to reports, the team has not fielded any offers for him and are in no rush to do so.

That according to Minnesota general manager Milt Newton, who spoke to the Associated Press on Thursday.

The team is letting the search for a replacement for the retired Rick Adelman play out and has yet to see any potential trade talks involving Love, who can opt out after next season, or any of its other players heat up, general manager Milt Newton said on Thursday.

“We’ll do what’s best for the organization,” Newton said. “He’s a hell of a player, a hell of a talent. Our first inclination is to keep him on board. If that’s not the case, you best believe we’ll be a better team based on what happens….

“We’re not rushed for time to select a coach, the process will take care of itself,” Newton said, before smiling to deliver a quick jab. “I guarantee we will have one before the season starts next year.”

Love has the ability to opt out of his contract in the summer of 2015 and his people have reportedly told the Timberwolves he will do just that, which puts pressure on the franchise to trade him and get something back in return. Love has some control over where he lands in that he can refuse to either opt into the last year of his current contract or sign a new deal with a team he does not wish to play for. That has not stopped teams, for example Sacramento has said it wants in on the talks whether he agrees to stay or not.

In the ongoing coaching search, reports have surfaced that Vinny Del Negro has become a serious candidate. Former Raptors coach Sam Mitchell had been considered the frontrunner.

Maybe there’s no rush there, but most teams prefer to have a coach on board before the draft (set for June 26).

With Love, they really have no reason to rush. If they are going to trade him — and they may not be set on that course of action yet, starting with owner GlenTaylor — the trade deadline is next February. The Timberwolves can listen to offers at the draft, they can listen to offers this summer once free agency starts (July 1), and if they don’t like what they see they can bring Love back and wait until the season gets going and see what offers come in as the deadline approaches. They have the luxury of time.

Newton’s comment that the team will be better no matter what they choose is a dream, they are not going to get equal value for Love, one of the best power forwards in the game. But they can get a package to help them rebuild quickly (see Denver in the Carmelo Anthony deal with the Knicks). They don’t have to take the first offer they see, they can let teams bid against each other until Minnesota gets something it can live with.

It sounds like that’s where they are at. No rush on their part. They are going to go at a relaxed summer pace.

Kevin Durant gets into Twitter debate with reporter over White House comments

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Kevin Durant became the latest Warrior — joining Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston, that we know of — to say he would not visit President Donald Trump’s White House as NBA champion. Which is all kind of moot because it’s unlikely the White House invites them and outspoken Trump critic/Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his players any way. (The White House’s biggest concern should be that Kerr accepts the invitation and uses that platform to challenge the president’s policies and style in front of him.)

Durant’s comments led to plenty of talk on sports talk radio and around the sports world online about whether a player or team should decline an invitation from the president. It’s not a new debate, Tom Brady denied that politics is why he didn’t visit Barack Obama’s White House (although I’m not sure many believed him), but KD’s on a big stage now so it became a talking point.

Former ESPN reporter Britt McHenry questioned a player not visiting the White House, and Durant responded, leading to a little Twitter back-and-forth.

Durant had previously Tweeted in response “by doing the opposite, I am inspiring more people” but that Tweet was deleted.

There is no one correct way to protest a person/policy/action, McHenry may see things differently, but Durant has chosen to stay away. That’s valid — traditionally these “champions to the White House” things are tedious photo ops with a few bad jokes thrown in. Having a hoops fan/player in Obama in the White House made the NBA visits more entertaining the past eight years, there was some trash talk, but still, they are largely just a public relations moment. If KD doesn’t want to play the PR game with Trump, that’s a legitimate response.

This has all been a tempest in a teapot. Until/unless the White House actually invites the Warriors to come, it’s all kind of moot.

Dwight Howard on Hornets’ coach Clifford: “It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you”

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Dwight Howard‘s game is much better than his reputation among fans.

He’s not the Defensive Player of the Year/All-NBA/MVP candidate level player he was back in Orlando, but Howard is still one of the best rebounders in the game, he’s strong defensively, and he’s an efficient scorer inside. He’s a quality center, if he plays within himself and is used well. His perception as a guy who does not take the game seriously and held back Houston and Atlanta in recent years has validity (he plays better in pick-and-roll than on the move, but wants the ball in the post), but the idea he is trash is flat-out wrong. He’s still good.

Howard wants to change his reputation, rewrite the final chapters of his career, and told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that Steve Clifford’s Charlotte Hornets are the place that is going to happen.

“The other places I was, the coaches didn’t really know who I am,” Howard told ESPN. “I think that they had perception of me and ran with it. Cliff knows my game. He knows all the things that I can do. I’m very determined to get back to the top. It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you. They aren’t just saying it; they believe it. It really just pushed me to the limit in workouts: running, training, everything. I want to do more.

“In Orlando, I was getting 13-15 shots a game. Last season, in Atlanta, it was six shot attempts. It looks like I’m not involved in the game. And if I miss a shot, it sticks out because I am not getting very many of them. But I think it’s all opportunity, the system. I haven’t had a system where I can be who I am since I was in Orlando.”

Howard averaged 8.3 field goal attempts per game in Atlanta, which is about five a game below his peak. Last season 75 percent of Howard’s shots came within three feet of the rim — is is not there to space the floor, however, he can still move fairly well off the roll and is a good passer for a big.

Last season, 28 percent of Howard’s possessions came on post ups, and he averaged a pedestrian 0.84 points per possession on those. On the 21 percent of shots he got on a cut, he averaged a very good 1.36 PPP. When he got the ball back as a roll man (again on the move), it was 1.18 PPP. The challenge long has been Howard is better on the move but doesn’t feel involved unless he gets post touches, and if he doesn’t feel involved and engaged he’s not the same player.

Maybe Clifford can make this all work with some older plays where Howard feels comfortable.

Charlotte, with Howard in the paint and on the boards, should get back to being a top 10 NBA defensive team, not the middle of the pack as they were last season. Clifford is better than that as a coach, and Howard is an upgrade in the paint (on both ends). Charlotte should be a playoff team again in the East.

But it all will come back to Howard. Fair or not. And Wojnarowski is right, this is Howard’s last best chance to write the ending he wants to his career.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.