The Timberwolves are all but officially eliminated from the playoff race.
But Karl-Anthony Towns is still playing for something – a projected $32 million more over the next five years if he makes an All-NBA team.
He’ll continue that pursuit without teammates Robert Covington, Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague.
Covington has missed the last 34 games while recovering from a right knee bone bruise, originally suffered on December 31 at New Orleans. Covington had made improvements in his recovery and had progressed to on-court activities, in preparation to rejoin the team. However, he recently suffered a setback which will require further treatment before returning to the court and as a result, is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
Rose has missed the last four games while experiencing soreness and swelling in his right elbow. An MRI taken Tuesday at Mayo Clinic Square revealed a chip fracture and a loose body in his elbow. The team and Rose are currently exploring further treatment options and he is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
Teague has missed the last four games after reaggravating a left foot injury, originally suffered in December. On Tuesday, Teague received an injection designed to treat chronic inflammation. He will wear a boot and is scheduled to be reevaluated in approximately three weeks. He is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
The language – “expected to miss the remainder of the season” – allows the possibility of the players returning. But the Timberwolves wouldn’t set this expectation unless they were pretty certain the players were finished.
Covington deserved All-Star consideration, and maybe Minnesota would still be in the playoff mix if he remained healthy. He was also heading toward an All-Defensive team before getting hurt. I doubt 35 games, even at 34 minutes per game, will be enough to get him selected now. Paul George, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Draymond Green clearly belong ahead of him. Covington has an outside chance for that fourth spot, though.
Rose had a bounce-back year after it appeared he could fall out of the NBA entirely. He looks like a solid backup point guard. He’ll draw plenty of interest in free agency this summer.
Teague has a $19 million player option for next season. He already seemed likely to exercise it, and this only increases the odds. The 30-year-old had a relatively down season.
Teague’s and Rose’s absences will leave the ball in Tyus Jones‘ hands at point guard. Jones has looked good in a small role, and this offers him an opportunity to prove himself before restricted free agency this summer.
Importantly for Towns, Minnesota’s depth at point guard allows him to play with someone credible at the position while he attempts to finish the season strong. There’s a lot of room to produce for the Timberwolves now, though Towns will likely face double-teams even more frequently.