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Report: Significant angst within Timberwolves organization

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The Timberwolves just ended a 13-year playoff drought. They have multiple stars in Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns. Tom Thibodeau is making headway in remaking the franchise, as he was hired to do.

So, everything is rosy in Minnesota, right?

Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN:

Being at Games 3 and 4, I found it interesting, fascinating, however you want to describe it, the amount of people that sought me out, within the organization, to just spew whatever. Put it this way: To suggest it’s a cohesive bunch, that organization, to think that they’re holding hands singing Kumbaya, is laughable. There is a lot of disconnect. Now, where do you want to begin on that? Should Tom Thibodeau know the names of people on the business side, on the marketing side? There may be some people listening say, “No. Why? Win games. He won games. Who cares?” But there are people upset that he alienates himself. There’s a big wall up. He’s got his guard up constantly. He always appears to be grumpy.

You get to 47 wins. You sell out the building 16 times. The TV ratings go up 78 percent. And, again, that’s from rock bottom a year ago, but still. The TV ratings go up 78 percent. There should be a ton to celebrate, right? Just on the surface. You look at those things. But I’m telling you, there is so much angst, and I’m telling you, disconnect behind the scenes.

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and Thibodeau have different sensibilities. Thibodeau focuses on winning, no matter how many feathers must be ruffled in the process. Taylor prefers a more genteel approach.

There are real questions whether they can coexist long-term.

This is why it was so fascinating Taylor hired Thibodeau as president-coach in the first place. Thibodeau showed his coaching acumen with the Bulls. But he also did so in a hard-driving way that suggested trouble transitioning to the wider perspective necessary of a team president.

Debate how involved Thibodeau should be in the business side. If Taylor wants him to be more cordial to people on the business side, that alone makes it an issue.

Thibodeau’s on-court success will buy him time. Winning cures most ills.

But expectations are only increasing after Minnesota lost in five games to the Rockets in the first round. Thibodeau’s style – which includes a stubbornness that makes him unlikely to change that style – could give him less margin for error.

Timberwolves fined $25,000 for resting healthy D’Angelo Russell against Denver

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Sunday, in a game against Denver, the Minnesota Timberwolves rested D'Angelo Russell. He was healthy, they just gave him the night off, and nobody around the NBA thought twice about it.

Except for the folks in Manhattan at the NBA’s league office.

The league fined the Timberwolves $25,000 as an organization for “violating the league’s player resting policy.”

The Timberwolves response? Basically, ¯_(ツ)_/¯

The new management team in Minnesota is very focused on modernizing the health and player development programs in the organization. Resting Russell was part of that, and if they felt the need to make sure Russell was good to go for future games they were not going to be dissuaded from sitting him.

Some teams have gone to great lengths to make sure the league knew their player medically needed days off, the most prominent among those being the Clippers with Kawhi Leonard on back-to-backs. Then Doc Rivers admitted the truth — that they were resting him at times when Leonard was healthy and could play — and he got hit with a $50,000 fine.

The league has become very sensitive to the idea of “load management,” that healthy players are being rested during the regular season. From a PR perspective, it’s bad for business and is seen as devaluing the regular season. However, coaches and team sports scientists have seen the value, particularly in preventing injuries and having players relatively fresh for the playoffs, so they will continue to do it.

At this point in the season, every player is a little banged up. These kinds of fines by the league will push teams to say Russell — or whomever — is out for a game due to a sore knee, or ankle, or back, or whatever. Every player has some ailment that could use a little rest. This is how it was done before the league became more transparent and let teams just call it “rest.” The practice is not going to change with teams, it may just have a new name.

Kobe Bryant memorabilia, including game-worn Finals jerseys, going up for auction

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NEW YORK (AP) — Some key Kobe Bryant memorabilia, including two of his Los Angeles Lakers uniforms and cement handprints from his induction into the Grauman’s Chinese Theater hall of fame gallery, are going up for sale in April.

Julien’s Auctions said Thursday that the items would be up for sale on April 30 as part of its annual sports auction that includes a silver medal from the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and a 2002 FIFA World Cup gold winner’s medal.

Bryant’s items were already being planned for auction when he, his daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.

“We are honored to include this collection of his items and pay tribute to this giant who was an inspiration not only to basketball fans but to the entire world,” said Darren Julien, Julien’s Auctions’ president and CEO.

The Lakers uniforms up for sale are one worn during the 2000 NBA Finals, with his original number 8. The uniform included a black armband which marked the memory of Wilt Chamberlain, who died that season.

The other uniform was from his 2007 season, when his number was 24.

Other Bryant items include Adidas game shoes signed by the late legend; and a basketball signed by the 2010-11 Lakers including Bryant and other stars such as Ron Artest and Pau Gasol.

Juliens said the Bryant items were being sold by a collector in Kentucky. Fans can view what’s up for sale between April 27 and April 30 in Beverly Hills, California, before the auction takes place at Juliens Auctions Beverly Hills.

Bryant, who was 41, and his daughter were remembered Monday at the Staples Center with a memorial that included a performance from Beyoncé and tributes by Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse to perform musically next month

Raptors coach Nick Nurse
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On his way to guiding the Raptors to a championship, Nick Nurse earned viral fame by arriving in Milwaukee for the Eastern Conference finals with a guitar slung over his back:

Now, Nurse is preparing for a different stage.

Nurse, via CityNews:

I’m working on four songs right now that I’m getting ready to – I’m getting ready to have a little performance. Actually, March 11th, I’m having a kickoff for my foundation – Nick Nurse Foundation – in support of music programs for kids around the Toronto area. So, we have a lot of bands coming in, and I’m going to sit in with, well, at least one of them.

Nurse is doing this while building a strong case for Coach of the Year.

Excelling in the NBA and music, Nurse is a regular Damian Lillard.

Report: Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr. diagnosed with torn meniscus

Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr.
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Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr. is transitioning from raw young player to solid starter.

His progress will be stalled.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

This could end Oubre’s season.

At 4.5 games and five teams out of postseason position, the Suns (24-35) have hung in the playoff race. But this could sink their already-slim chances.

Oubre will earn $14,375,000 in the final year of his contract next season. There will be plenty of attention on his health and athleticism entering 2021 free agency.