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

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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.

Rockets to add Spurs buyout DeMarre Carroll, free agent Jeff Green

Spurs forward DeMarre Caroll
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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that DeMarre Carroll and the San Antonio Spurs have agreed to a buyout. Carroll will then sign with the Houston Rockets:

ESPN’s Tim McMahon added in a subsequent report that the Rockets will bring in free agent forward Jeff Green:

Green will first sign a 10-day contract with the Rockets, so he can get used to their system and see if there is a fit, Woj reported.

Carroll signed a three-year, $20.65 million contract as part of a sign and trade from the Brooklyn Nets to the Spurs this past summer. That agreement was part of a three-team trade that saw San Antonio send forward Davis Bertans to the Washington Wizards. The 10-year veteran is owed $7 million for this season, $6.65 million for 2020-21 and $1.35 million guaranteed for 2021-22. San Antonio will incur a cap hit for each of the three seasons as part of the buyout process with Carroll. How much of a cap hit will depend on how much money Carroll gave up as part of the buyout agreement.

Carroll was added via sign and trade after Marcus Morris spurned the Spurs in free agency. Morris had originally agreed to sign with San Antonio, but backed out after the New York Knicks offered him $15 million as a free agent. The Spurs moved on to Carroll as a backup plan, but he was never able to crack the rotation. He’s played only 135 minutes over 15 games with San Antonio.

Green was with the Utah Jazz earlier this season, before being waived to create a roster spot for Rayjon Tucker. The 11-year veteran Green averaged 7.7 points per game in 30 appearances with Utah. The Rockets will be the ninth different franchise Green has played for.

In Houston, Carroll and Green will join Mike D’Antoni’s small-ball crew as big man depth. Carroll and Green will likely back up P.J. Tucker and Robert Covington up front. Their experience at both forward spots will give the Rockets additional depth for their playoff run. Carroll and Green are also likely be to asked to play some center, as Houston has downsized dramatically at that position, including trading Clint Capela at the trade deadline.

NBA players’ union votes to support formation of G-League union

Kyrie Irving
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Better pay. Better working conditions. Not to be treated as disposable parts by their employers.

The players in the G-League want the same thing out of a union that auto workers, teachers, and (most obviously) NBA players do. As had been expected (talks had been going on for a while), on Monday the National Basketball Players Association (the NBA players’ union) voted to support the formation of a G-League union, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The G-League players are expected to support this. Sources have told NBC Sports that team and league officials will not oppose the players unionizing, they believe there will be benefits, too.

The primary issue will be pay. Most players in the G-League earn a $35,000 salary, unless they’re an elite high school prospect, or on a two-way contract (which means they are tied to an NBA team and can be called up for 45 days a season). Some players make more through an Exhibit 10 contract with a team — meaning they go to training camp with a team, then get a bonus ($50,000 or so) if they sign with that team’s G-League team.

Other issues would include freedom of player movement, work benefits, and giving the players a voice in other matters like discipline issues.

The NBA continues to push toward each of its teams having a minor-league affiliate. Right now, only the Trail Blazers and Nuggets do not. As the G-League grows, it’s understandable the players want a larger voice in how things are run.

In other news out of the players’ union meeting, Kyrie Irving was voted in as vice president, replacing Paul Gasol. Via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Chris Paul remains the union president.

Check out Dr. Dre’s Kobe Bryant tribute

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CHICAGO — In a weekend filled with spectacular tributes to Kobe Bryant, this one stood out.

Legendary rapper, songwriter, record producer, and businessman Dr. Dre — a guy who grew up in Los Angeles — released a tribute that stood out (and was highlighted on TNT). Dre did this with Gibson Hazard and Jackson Bannon.

Kobe’s public memorial service takes place Feb. 24 at Staples Center.

Giannis Antetokounmpo on team’s All-Star plan: Attack James Harden

Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden
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CHICAGO – James Harden has griped about Giannis Antetokounmpo winning Most Valuable Player last year.

After his team lost to Harden’s in the All-Star game Sunday, Antetokounmpo got in a dig at Harden.

“Offensively, we were just trying to find whoever James Harden was guarding,” Antetokounmpo said of his team’s strategy late. “That’s who we thought we’d have the opportunity to score on.”

Harden is not a good defender. But this is playing right into his hands. He’s at his best in isolation, especially in the post. He faces far more difficulty when run through actions off the ball or trying to keep up in transition.

Down the stretch, Harden defended more effectively than usual. Not great, but above his usual standard. Good enough for LeBron James‘ team to win.

At least, as Giannis previously noted, the MVP trophy is at his house.