Timberwolves president Flip Saunders rips organization for mocking Kevin Love in video promoting game vs. Cavaliers


Earlier this week, the Timberwolves put together a video to promote what was perhaps their biggest game of the season — a Saturday night home contest against the Cavaliers.

LeBron James is always a draw, but of course, this wasn’t about him. It was about Kevin Love returning for the first time as a member of the opposing team, after forcing his way out of town via trade last summer.

The video was clearly meant to be funny; it touted “The Return” of Mike Miller, who played one season with the Timberwolves back in 2009, and mentioned every relevant player on the Cavaliers roster — omitting Love from the clip entirely, and on purpose.

While Love himself said it was “hilarious,” Timberwolves president and head coach Flip Saunders criticized the organization for a gesture that he deemed to be disrespectful.

From Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

“I didn’t know about it,” Saunders said. “I didn’t approve of it. I think as an organization, we should be above that. We have to acknowledge that Kevin, when he was here, he was a great player for us. He was an All-Star, won an Olympic gold medal, did a lot of positive things.

“Last year at this time, everyone was patting themselves on the back for helping him get selected as a starter in the All-Star Game. And for us to not to acknowledge that and go the other way, I think it was hypocritical. As I had to address some of the people and I just told them that as an organization, that’s not the direction we want to go.” …

“It doesn’t matter if he thinks it’s funny,” Saunders said. “You have to decide what you want to do as an organization. Would San Antonio do that? No. They wouldn’t do that. Our players didn’t like it. They have to play against him too. They don’t like it. It just doesn’t set the right message and if you’re here and then you leave, all of a sudden it’s not.

“Was it funny? Maybe people thought it was funny. For me it wasn’t. I had to deal with three and half, four hours the last two days having people calling me and talking about it while I’m trying to prepare for games. Maybe you think it’s OK. That’s up to you. You can look at it that way, but I don’t look at it that way. As someone running an organization and has to go out and recruit players and to get those player. He may have thought it was funny, but I know deep down in his heart no one likes it. No one would like that. It’s human nature.”

Some may view it s harmless, but Saunders has a point, here.

The Timberwolves were unable to retain Love in free agency because they were unable to put together a winning roster around him during his six seasons in Minnesota. At some point, Saunders is going to acquire some top-level talent via trade or through the draft (like Andrew Wiggins, for example), and he’d like to be able to get those players to re-sign.

If the winning remains slow to come, and they see the organization as one that acts disrespectfully toward its players (even if that doesn’t happen until after they’re gone), it simply sends the wrong message.

Saunders knows that trying to recruit star free agents to sign in Minnesota will be difficult enough due to the constraints of the city itself. If the organization is viewed as a clown show around the league, it will make his job downright impossible.

Report: Draymond Green facing potential discipline after fight with Jordan Poole


Warriors practice got heated on Wednesday and Draymond Green reportedly escalated some chest bumping with Jordan Poole and punches were thrown. The team is now considering internal disciple, according to The Athletic.

When a heated interaction with guard Jordan Poole escalated, Green forcefully struck Poole and needed to be separated swiftly, sources said. Green and Poole came chest-to-chest, with both players pushing and shoving each other prior to Green’s escalation of the physical altercation, those sources said.

The two players had been jawing at each other when it escalated and Green punched Poole, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. There aren’t details of the incident beyond that description (at least so far), although several reporters have confirmed the was a fight and the two had to be broken up. Poole was seen getting up shots after practice when the media was allowed in and reportedly was joking with teammates.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports Tweeted out what feels like the Draymond Green camp spin on the incident.

Warriors elder statesman Andre Iguodala Tweeted out this on the situation, wanting to keep it all in the family, and adding that “it broke my heart… but it fixed my vision.”

There is a history of tension between Green and Poole, including a public flare-up between the duo early last season, but the two talked after and smoothed things over. At least for a while.

What punishment Green will face from the team remains to be seen.

Poole is on the verge of an extension to his rookie contract, one where Tylyer Herro just set the market.

Green had hoped for an extension from the Warriors this offseason but there were limited discussions between the parties. Green can opt out of the final year of his contract at the end of this season and become a free agent.

Wizards’ Kispert likely to miss start of season due to sprained ankle


The Washington Wizards made fewer 3-pointers than any other team in the league last season. They didn’t take a lot (second fewest) and didn’t make the ones they took (fifth lowest percentage). One goal for Wes Unlseld Jr. this season was to change that dynamic, and second-year player Corey Kispert was a big part of that plan.

Now Kispert is out through at least the start of the season, sidelined 4-6 weeks by a sprained ankle, the team announced Wednesday.

The injury happened on a fluke play in Japan against the Warriors, but Kispert shouldn’t miss much time once the real games start. The Wizards are a little short on the wing right now with Kispert joining Deni Avdija (groin injury) in the training room.

Kispert took 62% of his shots from beyond the arc last season and hit 35% of them, both solid numbers but ones Wizards hoped would improve for the 6’6″ wing this season.

Scoot Henderson says he has skills to be No.1 pick but not hung up on it

Metropolitans 92 v G League Ignite
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Scoot Henderson came out like a man on a mission Tuesday night against the Metropolitans 92 and Victor Wembanyama — he was in attack mode. He used his explosive athleticism to get to the rim, his impressive body control to get off good shots, and his strength to finish with authority. And if the defender played back, he would drain the jumper over him.

A year ago, Jaylen Brown called him the best 17-year-old he’d ever seen. Scoot is better than that now.

Many years, Henderson would be a clear No.1 overall pick. But, not this year, Wembanyama has that crown because he breaks the mold with his size and skill set (in the NBA, height still wins out).

Kevin O’Conner of The Ringer asked Henderson why he should be the top prospect and got a confident answer.

There will be a lot of people making the Henderson case this season — and with good reason. He could be a franchise cornerstone player for the next decade.

Henderson, however, is trying not to get hung up on No.1 vs. No.2.

There’s a long list of legendary players selected No.2: Bill Russell, Kevin Durant, Jerry West, Jason Kidd, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Henderson can be one of them.

Unless Wembanyama’s medicals come back with red flags, he is destined to be the No.1 pick next June. That, however, will not be the end of Henderson’s story. Instead, it will be just the beginning.

Doc Rivers says he wants Harden to be ‘a scoring Magic Johnson’

Philadelphia 76ers Media Day
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We’re not in Houston anymore.

James Harden in Philadelphia will not be chasing scoring titles and dominating the game in quite the same way. Instead, he’s been asked to be more of a facilitator — but not too much of one. Doc Rivers told the team at ESPN’s NBA Today he wants scoring to go with the facilitating. Just like one of the all-time greats.

“I think we’ve talked so much about him being a facilitator… I need him to be James Harden too. If I had to combine, I would say a scoring Magic Johnson, I don’t know, but that’s what I want him to be. I want him to be a James Harden, but in that, I want him to also be the facilitator of this basketball team too. So in a lot of ways, his role is growing bigger for our team, and I just want him to keep thinking, ‘Do both.'”

Just play like Magic, no pressure there. For his career, Magic averaged 19.5 points a game (with four over 20 PPG) with 11.2 assists.

Harden can get close enough to Rivers’ lofty goals to make Philly a real threat, so long as defenders still fear his first step and step back. Harden can get his shot and get to the line, and he’s long been a great passer who has averaged 10.5 assists a game over the past two seasons. Now it’s just a matter of finding the balance of when to set up Joel Embiid, when to turn the offense over to Tyrese Maxey, and when to get his own shot.

Philadelphia is a deep team poised to win a lot of regular season games — the Sixers being the top seed in the East is absolutely in play. The questions Harden — and, to a degree, Embiid — have to answer come in May, when the second round of the playoffs start and Harden has faded while Embiid has had poor injury luck. In a deep East with Milwaukee, Boston, and maybe Miami and Brooklyn in the contender mix, there is no margin for error.

A Magic-like Harden would be a big boost for the Sixers in that setting.