This wasn’t quite a dagger. Thanks to their suspect defense, the Timberwolves still needed overtime to beat the Heat, 125-122.
But dear lord, Andrew Wiggins.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Anthony Edwards said he’s “willing to do whatever it takes to make it right” with the LBGTQ community and Minnesota Timberwolves fans following the homophobic remarks he recently made on social media.
Addressing reporters at Timberwolves media day on Monday, his first public appearance since the NBA fined him $40,000 for his now-deleted video clip on Instagram, Edwards apologized again for the disparaging, profane comment he made about what he assumed to be the sexual orientation of a group of men he filmed on a sidewalk outside a vehicle he was riding in.
“Man, I respect everybody. I know what I posted was immature, and I’m sorry for that if I hurt anyone,” Edwards said. “I’m working to be better.”
Edwards said he would be OK having a gay teammate if someone came out and would try to clamp down on homophobic language in a locker room if he heard it.
“For sure. I’m taking it as far as I can. That’s not who I am,” Edwards said.
After ranking 19th in the league with an average of 21.3 points per game last season and helping lead the Timberwolves back to the playoffs, Edwards in his second year flourished into a true star and fan favorite who consistently brought a youthful energy and a charming confidence to the court and off of it.
Following the trouble he stirred up earlier this month, Edwards found himself in the strange and sudden position of being an unpopular figure.
“It’s kind of messed up, because I want people to love me, man. I don’t want to give nobody a reason to hate me or talk bad about me, so I felt bad for myself and for what I said about people for sure,” said the 21-year-old Edwards, who was the first overall pick in the 2020 draft.
“It just makes me think before I do everything now, pretty much,” Edwards said.
Said Connelly: “He’s disappointed in his own actions. He’s disappointed that he put himself in that position, and hopefully he’ll continue to grow and we’ll continue to educate these guys on the importance of being really positive community members and respectful of all people that we’re lucky enough to have in our community.”
Media day for the Timberwolves has often been accompanied by some kind of off-the-court distraction, with the sudden firing of president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas (2021) and the trade demand made by star Jimmy Butler (2018) the most recent examples.
This time, the Edwards situation overshadowed some of the arrival of Rudy Gobert, the veteran center and defensive ace who was acquired this summer from the Utah Jazz for four players and five first-round draft picks.
Gobert recently returned from the EuroBasket championship, where his France national team lost to host Spain in the gold medal game in which he had only six points and two shots.
“You learn from the losses. You learn from the wins. For me, just learn how to finish the job. We had a really good tournament, but we fell short at the end,” Gobert said.
Playing this season on a salary of more than $31 million, point guard D'Angelo Russell has returned to training camp with an upbeat attitude, a new pick-and-roll partner in Gobert – and as a new dad.
After an up-and-down season, and a first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies – a six-game loss – that left much to be desired, Russell did not receive a contract extension. But the eighth-year veteran didn’t get traded, either.
“The money’s in free agency, so if that’s what you’re about, tap into it. No frustration,” he said. “The organization has treated me as great as it could possibly go, and the people here now have obviously showed their love toward me and how much they want me to be here. That’s all I can ask for.”
Karl-Anthony Towns was absent from media day with an unspecified illness, but he was not expected to miss the first practice on Tuesday.
Most of the NBA conducted media day on Monday — some moments turned our head.
Here’s what you need to know from media day around the league — just the highlights. This does not include anything on the Nets — there’s a separate story on them — or the Lakers (there will be a story Tuesday morning out of Lakers’ media day).
Zion last season vs this season pic.twitter.com/IKufgl7Hje
— HoodieBev (@HoodieBev) September 26, 2022
"I feel like I'm at my best right now… Moving faster, jumping higher. I feel great."
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) September 26, 2022
We’ll see if this translates to the court — there’s a lot of pressure on him — but Zion looks like he’s put in the work.
• Speaking of players who looked in better shape, James Harden looked slimmed down. He joked he lost 100 pounds, but he also talked about his diet and exercise regimen.
— Dave Uram (@MrUram) September 26, 2022
• Deandre Ayton got a four-year, $132.9 million contract extension this summer, but not because the Suns were handing it out. Ayton had to get the Pacers to make the offer (which is why he doesn’t have a five-year deal) and then the Suns matched it. Ayton is a guy with a usually upbeat personality, but when asked about his new contract, it was a short answer and a low-key tone.
Suns center Deandre Ayton kept his answer short when he was asked about the team matching the Pacers' offer sheet. pic.twitter.com/SmRToIUYDQ
— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) September 26, 2022
• The Suns’ players and coach had to all answer the “what did you think of the Robert Sarver investigation report?” question, and the answers were unanimous — they were disgusted, saddened, and felt for those (especially the women) who had to deal with his behavior. They also to a man said they had no idea (which, at least before the original ESPN report, may have been true; how he acted around players and those on the business side appears to be different).
Monty Williams addressing the usage of the N-Word as Robert Sarver was found having used it.
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) September 26, 2022
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) September 26, 2022
• All the Celtics were asked about their former coach Ime Udoka’s season-long suspension, and Marcus Smart summed up the sentiments well — “it’s been hell.” They were caught off guard like much of the NBA was. That said, to a man, they backed interim coach Joe Mazzulla.
"It's been hell for us… these last couple days for us have been confusing."
Marcus Smart reacts to Ime Udoka's suspension, and Joe Mazzulla stepping in as interim head coach pic.twitter.com/IwD4YJCDco
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) September 26, 2022
Jimmy Butler says he could play power forward "if they absolutely need." Adds, "But I'm not playing the four."
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) September 26, 2022
The Heat continue to look for a trade for a four, but may not have one to start the season.
• At his end-of-season media session last May, Pat Riley said Kyle Lowry needed to show up in better shape this season. It appears Lowry did, but did it motivate him? “It’s whatever… everyone has their opinion.”
• It’s not media day unless Kawhi Leonard is laughing.
Your new Kawhi Leonard media day laugh 😂 pic.twitter.com/8hgdmP6QUQ
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) September 26, 2022
As for Leonard and load management this season, coach Tyronne Lue said he would play it by ear. But also, expect some.
"We gotta be smart about the situation and with the process. We know he feels great. We'll know tomorrow, get a better gauge on how he feels and go from there."
Ty Lue on the plan for Kawhi Leonard starting with camp tomorrow. #Clippers
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) September 26, 2022
The Phoenix Suns had media day on Monday, but veteran Jae Crowder was not there, part of a mutual agreement with the team to sit out until a trade could be found. It left players and GM James Jones addressing the issue.
What teams are interested in Crowder? Shams Charania of The Athletic says to watch for the Heat, Celtics, Mavericks and Grizzlies among others.
"Sources tell me that both the Suns and Crowder are now working toward finding him a trade out of Phoenix…Look for teams like Boston, Memphis, Dallas, Miami."
— The Rally (@TheRally) September 26, 2022
Miami has been at the front of the line in terms of interest (and Crowder has suggested online he would welcome a return to Miami). The Heat have minutes to fill at the four after P.J. Tucker left for Philly and Crowder — who was on the Heat team that went to the bubble Finals against the Lakers — would be a solid fit. Putting together a trade is a little more tricky. The Heat would likely want Duncan Robinson at the core of the deal, but to make the salaries match the Suns would have to throw in another player — Dario Saric, Landry Shamet, Cameron Payne, Torey Craig — and that means the Heat have to throw in a pick (a protected first) or a minimum-contract player (Gabe Vincent?) to make the deal work. Not impossible, but not likely.
The Celtics need depth at the four but what they can offer is bench minutes, filling Danilo Gallinari‘s role (he is out for the season with a torn ACL) but putting together a trade is next to impossible financially considering who Boston would be willing to give up (not Robert Williams). Dallas could put together a deal if the Suns are interested in Dwight Powell (probably not, the Suns just paid Deandre Ayton a lot of money to be their center) or Reggie Bullock. Memphis could send out the dead money of the Danny Green contract (out for the season due to injury) and picks, or Ziaire Williamson and some minimum players (probably also with picks). Atlanta, Chicago and other destinations have come out in rumors.
As for why Crowder pushed for a trade, the man himself posted his own hype video on Instagram and Tweeted this.
ONE MUST SEEK WORK WHERE HE IS WANTED.. WHERE HE IS NEEDED.! I AM THANKFUL FOR WHAT THESE PAST 2 YRS HAVE TAUGHT ME.! NOW I MUST TAKE ON ANOTHER CHALLENGE WITH CONTINUED HARDWORK & DEDICATION.! FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO CLOSED THE DOOR ON ME…. THANK YOU! 99 BACK SOON.! 🥷🏾🤫🤐
— JAE CROWDER (@CJC9BOSS) September 25, 2022
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported the most heard speculation around the league as to the reason — the Suns were going to start Cameron Johnson at the four to have more shooting and Crowder wanted none of that — but the reason now is moot. Crowder will get traded.
The only questions are when and where.
Media Day — arguably the most boring and tedious day on the NBA calendar — was anything but in Brooklyn.
After a summer Kyrie Irving admitted was “very awkward” — where both he and Kevin Durant pushed to be traded, and Durant threw down an ultimatum saying it was him or coach Steve Nash and GM Sean Marks — everyone was back under one roof and trying to stay on message about just wanting to win.
But drama will follow this team like a dark cloud until they force the conversation to be about something else. Like how many games they are winning.
Until then, the awkward questions and moments will come. For example, why did Kevin Durant ask for a trade this summer? What did he want to see changed? He talked about the team feeling unstable last season. Which it was (for a variety of reasons).
“My whole thing was, I wanted everybody to be held accountable for their habits as a basketball player. I think a lot of stuff was getting swept under the rug because we’re injured or this guy’s not around or just the circumstances. I thought we could have fought through that a little bit more and focused on the guys that were here a little bit more.
“You know, when I went out with the injury, we lost 10 in a row. And I’m like, we shouldn’t be losing some of these games that we lost, regardless of who’s on the floor. So I was more so worried about how we’re approaching every day as a basketball team. And I felt like we could have fought through a lot of the stuff that I felt that held us back.”
KD says you earn respect by how you work, and "we skipped some steps last year." #Nets
— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) September 26, 2022
Those are the best, drama-free answers he could give. But Durant still loves to stir the pot on Twitter and did so later in the day.
This shit here is why I don’t like talkin to lames like you. This isn’t the question he asked but you love engagement on twitter so u will twist shit up. https://t.co/nXOnu2jd9v
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) September 26, 2022
(That was the question asked boiled way down, but both the question and Durant’s answer had a lot more context, it was not a confrontational answer in the moment.)
Kyrie Irving said there were options for him this summer, although limited ones, because he is unvaccinated. He also talked about the reasons he wanted to return to the Nets.
Kyrie Irving on whether other teams had opportunities for him this offseason: “Yeah. Yeah. There were options but not many because of this stigma or whether I want to play or whether or not I’m committed.”
— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) September 26, 2022
Kyrie: "There was a level of uncertainty of what this was going to look like of me coming back and I had questions. They were answered truthfully and that's all I needed….I gave up four years $160 million deciding to be unvaccinated and that was the decision."
— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) September 26, 2022
Marks handled the inevitable “your star wanted you fired” questions as well as he could, saying at one point “that’s pro sports.”
“Everybody’s entitled to their opinions and I think from us, it’s not to hold a grudge against what Kevin said, but it’s a little bit of saying, ‘All right, if that’s the way he feels, what’s going on here?’ Like, what do we need to change?” Marks said.
In the end, everyone talked about moving on and the potential for this roster. Durant is not disappointed to be back.
“I wasn’t disappointed. I still love to play. I knew that wasn’t going to get affected regardless of what happened this summer,” Durant said.
The Nets have the talent on the roster to be title contenders, but have more questions than any other team at that level after the past couple of years: Can Durant stay healthy? Will Irving be focused and committed for an entire season? How does Ben Simmons fit in and what is his role? Can their thin frontcourt hold up? Will they play enough defense? Is Steve Nash up to the task? Does this team have the will and drive to be contenders?
Playing through the drama is the only way to answer all those questions, but if they do this team could be a powerhouse.