Gorgui Dieng

Report: Timberwolves active in trying to land Paul George or Jimmy Butler

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Minnesota is one of the NBA’s best positioned up-and-coming teams. They have a franchise cornerstone in Karl-Anthony Towns, a quality No. 2 in Andrew Wiggins, maybe like Zach LaVine can blossom into an All-Star, and players such as Gorgui Dieng and Nemanja Bjelica could be part of the picture. Maybe Ricky Rubio, too, although he’s further along his career arc. A lot of people look at this team and think around 2020, when the Warriors fade (or break apart), the Timberwolves can step up to elite.

Tom Thibodeau is apparently not willing to be that patient — he’s looking to get in the Paul George/Jimmy Butler talks, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Thibodeau helped develop Butler in Chicago and they have a great relationship, he certainly makes the Timberwolves better next season. Same with George, although he’s a rental who almost certainly bolts after the coming season

My question to the Timberwolves: Why?

What was wrong with the building trajectory they are on? I get it, they haven’t been to the playoffs since 2004, a ton of money was just sunk into upgrades at the Target Center, and the owner is not getting younger. Those are all non-basketball reasons to screw up what the basketball side is doing right. It’s the mistake of poor franchises to let that happen.

I also get Thibodeau wants a veteran voice to help lead this young core and help show them how to win. That doesn’t need to be an elite player that comes at a high price, however.

Could the Timberwolves use a point guard of the future, more depth on the wings and better defenders all around? You bet. But they don’t need to rush the development program either. If Minnesota can land Butler only giving up Rubio and a protected future first or something, sure, but the Bulls continue to ask a very high price for a deal.

Outside of personal feelings, why would the Timberwolves do that?

Reports: Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Suns all linked to Jimmy Butler trade talks

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The smart money is still on Jimmy Butler starting next season as a Chicago Bull, mostly because Chicago is asking the world for him in a trade.

That doesn’t mean teams will not try.

Tom Thibodeau, who coached and helped develop Butler back in Chicago, has been one knocking on the door, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Interesting note followed from K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

Cleveland has been linked to Butler as well, although that may be as a tool to get these other teams to up their offers because both Minnesota and Phoenix have a lot more young players and picks to offer than the Cavaliers. For Cleveland to pull this off, other teams will have to jump in as part of it.

The Celtics are not mentioned here, but you can be sure that call has been made.

The Bulls are doing what they said they would do: listen to offers, but ask for a lot in return. Which gets back to the overall question in Chicago of “what exactly is the long-term plan?” Maybe it’s flexible.

Minnesota has young players such as Zach LeVine, Gorgui Dieng, Tyus Jones and others to put in the mix (only Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins will be completely off limits). They also have picks. The Suns have young players they can throw in such as Marquese Chriss or Tyler Ulis, then they also have veterans who can help the Bulls win more now such as Eric Bledsoe (especially if they draft De'Aaron Fox with the No. 4 pick). The Cavaliers may have to deal Kevin Love, and either way would need to be very creative to pull this off. Something David Griffin has been in the past (whether he has a job in Cleveland after July 1 remains to be seen), but a lot of things need to come together for this to work.

Expect Butler rumors to ramp up around the draft and again as free agency starts, but the ratio of Bulls’ trade rumors to actual Bulls’ trades suggests being patient here. They often talk to everyone, stuff gets leaked, then they choose not to act.

Klay Thompson scores 41, Warriors roll to 12th straight win

Associated Press
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Klay Thompson scored 41 points for his 10th career 40-point game, Stephen Curry had 19 points and nine assists, and the playoff-ready Golden State Warriors ran their winning streak to 12 straight by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 121-107 on Tuesday night.

Matt Barnes contributed 12 points, six rebounds and four assists, and Golden State could wrap up the West’s No. 1 seed as soon as Wednesday night with a win at Phoenix and a Spurs’ loss at home to the Lakers.

Now, it seems, the Warriors just need one key reinforcement: Kevin Durant. And KD could be back by week’s end with his team on quite a roll to finish the regular season atop the NBA again.

Andrew Wiggins scored 24 for Minnesota, which couldn’t keep up with Golden State’s spiffy passing and contributions from so many players on both ends of the floor.

In his highest-scoring performance since getting 60 on Dec. 5, Thompson hit 7 of 14 3-pointers – giving him at least four 3s in a career-best six consecutive games. His 262 3s rank as eighth-most ever for a single season after he had 276 last season.

Andre Iguodala produced another impressive game off the bench with 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting, while David West dished out five of his season-best six assists in the second quarter to get the offense clicking.

Golden State has matched its longest winning streak of the season, also done from Nov. 7-28, and eagerly awaits Durant’s return perhaps as soon as Saturday.

The Warriors displayed more spot-on ball movement, with West providing the key minutes. He found Iguodala for a second-quarter 3, Ian Clark and Barnes on layups and hit Thompson on a jumper before feeding Draymond Green‘s dunk.

With their 204th victory the Warriors have the most wins in NBA history over three seasons, the team said according to Elias.

This win avenged a tough defeat last month. The Warriors lost 103-102 on March 10 at Minnesota during a grueling road stretch that featured two cross-country trips, a one-game visit back to Oakland before back-to-backs at the T-wolves and Spurs.

Without injured star Durant, too.

On Tuesday, with 1:04 left in the first, JaVale McGee made a hard foul on Gorgui Dieng and their arms tangled. McGee was walking away from the play and Dieng pushed him from behind, McGee turned around and immediately shoved Dieng in the chest as they jawed before being separated. The play went to review, with each player receiving a technical and McGee also a Flagrant 1 foul.

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: The Timberwolves shot only 4 for 19 from 3-point range. … Minnesota is 6-16 on the road vs. the Western Conference.

Warriors: Thompson also has three 30-point games this season against Minnesota. … In the first, Curry hit a shot from three-quarters quart but after the whistle blew for a timeout. … Golden State had a season-high 41 fast-break points. … Hall of Fame Stanford women’s coach Tara VanDerveer, fresh off the Final Four and 1,000 career wins, sat courtside with owner Joe Lacob.

DURANT UPDATE

Durant warmed up and was set to travel with the team to Phoenix for the back-to-back, and use Thursday’s off day to do some scrimmaging testing his injured left knee. He will then be re-evaluated with the hope he is ready to return Saturday against New Orleans at Oracle Arena after being sidelined since Feb. 28.

 

Karl-Anthony Towns carries Wolves past Nuggets, 111-108

Associated Press
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns had 32 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists and hit the go-ahead shot with 42.5 seconds to play to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 111-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night.

Towns hit 13 of 19 shots and also had four blocks and Andrew Wiggins scored 24 points in Minnesota’s fourth straight home win. Shabazz Muhammad scored 20 points off the bench and the Wolves rallied from nine points down midway through the fourth quarter for the win.

Gary Harris scored 22 points and Nikola Jokic had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Nuggets on the second night of a back-to-back. Wilson Chandler and Jamal Murray added 17 points each for Denver, which played without Emmanuel Mudiay because of a sore back.

Kris Dunn had 10 points and nine assists for the Wolves while starting for Ricky Rubio, who missed the game to attend his grandmother’s funeral.

The Wolves were down 100-91 midway through the fourth quarter when Towns and Muhammad keyed a 12-2 run. Muhammad finished the spurt with a layup for a 103-102 lead, Wiggins hit a 3-pointer and Towns knocked down a jumper from the baseline to put the Wolves up for good in a thriller.

The game featured two of the best young big men in the game in Towns and Jokic. Both are considered the new breed of NBA center, able to shoot the ball like a shooting guard, pass it like a point guard and run the break like a small forward.

Denver coach Mike Malone said the Nuggets offense took off when he inserted Jokic into the starting lineup, and the Serbian gave his coach the luxury of being able to weather Mudiay’s absence by running the offense through him. Rookie Jamal Murray saw extended minutes at point guard, running the pick-and-roll with Jokic to perfection.

Towns knows there is a segment of the NBA analytics community that believe Jokic should have won rookie of the year honors last year, and he went right at Jokic every time he had the chance on Sunday night. Towns dunked on Jokic twice and had another blow-by for a dunk in the second quarter that got the crowd on its feet.

TIP-INS

Nuggets: Denver committed 18 turnovers leading to 31 points for Minnesota. … Mudiay stayed home in Denver to get treatment for his back. The hope is that it is a short-term injury.

Timberwolves: Gorgui Dieng was limited to six minutes in the first half after picking up three quick fouls in the first quarter. … Rubio is expected to rejoin the team on Monday.

SHABAZZ SHINES

Muhammad made 9 of 14 shots, including two 3s and hustled on defense as well, giving the Wolves some much-needed production off the bench. Zach LaVine had another quiet night as he works his way back from a hip injury, but Muhammad picked up the scoring slack. He reached double figures for the fourth time in seven games.

 

Gorgui Dieng on Andrew Wiggins: “He cannot pick and choose when he wants to play”

andrew wiggins
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Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins has had a good third NBA season, but his progression has been slower than some in the North Star state would like. So too have some called out his inconsistency, the latest of which was teammate Gorgui Dieng.

When asked about Wiggins after the Timberwolves’ loss to the Washington Wizards on Friday night, 112-105, the Minnesota big man told Locked on Wizards that he supported his teammate but wanted to see more consistent play from the young guard.

Via Locked on Wizards:

“Wigg is a great basketball player. He cannot pick and choose when he wants to play. We need him to play like this every night. He needs help, we’re all going to help him, but he’s our leader. He needs to play like this every night.”

Wiggins finished Friday night’s game with 41 points on 16-of-31 shooting, adding two assists, two steals, and a rebound.

Prior to his breakout against Washington, Wiggins scored just 8 points against the Philadelphia 76ers. However, the last game Wiggins shot under 50% from the field and fewer than 20 points prior to that was before Christmas.

There’s been monumental pressure on Wiggins, perhaps more so this season as both Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine have emerged as 20+ ppg scorers. He’s an OK passer but not a great rebounder for his position, sitting outside the Top 50 for forwards under 6-foot-10.

Still, Wiggins has made a huge leap in 3-point shooting. He’s bumped himself up to 34.8 percent from deep after a hot start to the year, something that should help his own scoring and spacing for his teammates.

He still has some bad habits on both offense and defense, at times taking awkward, low-efficiency jumpers coupled with poor rotations and technique on the other end of the floor.

That’s likely what Dieng is referring to, given that on Friday Wiggins attacked the paint and got to the free-throw line often. Everyone in Minnesota would like to see that on a nightly basis, but there have been games where Wiggins has been more tentative.

Generally, I think there was an idea that Wiggins would continue on the leap he took between Year 1 and Year 2, that there would be some kind of exponential rise. Wiggins is still just 21, and has years of experience left to gain. Tom Thibodeau’s system takes some repetition to get into, and nobody should fret just yet.