We already thought the Minnesota Timberwolves were going to be good next season, at least better than they were in years past as their young core continued to mature. Now, with Jimmy Butler on the roster thanks to a trade with the Chicago Bulls, it appears that timeline has been accelerated.
Come July 1, it could get even crazier for Timberwolves fans.
Butler has already told the Associated Press that he is trying to recruit players who are better then him in free agency. While that leaves a lot to the imagination — and it’s hard to see who else they could get who is even better than Butler himself — one rumor has Kyle Lowry as a potential target.
Ricky Rubio has been on and off the trade block over the past few seasons, but the Timberwolves are also apparently okay if they end up having to keep him. Lowry is the superior player, and has had a career renaissance as a member of the Toronto Raptors. Minnesota could potentially have enough space to sign him outright after waving Jordan Hill. The Timberwolves now have $19 million in cap space heading into July.
Adding Lowry to Minnesota would immediately make them a contender for a top five position in the Western Conference. The West was tough enough before the Butler trade, but if both he and Lowry switch conferences and head to the same team, that’s a yet another concentration of talent in that conference.
It’s just a rumor at this point, but if both Trevor Ariza and James Harden can lobby Chris Paul to join the Houston Rockets, I wouldn’t put it past Butler to be politicking hard to get players like Lowry over in Minnesota.
Rumors are swirling and things are heating up just a few days before free agency officially opens. Things have already been crazy, so I expect July 1-4 to be pretty insane.
This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.
After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.
Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).
Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.
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?
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.”
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.