Rumors continue to bubble up there’s tension between Minnesota, Karl-Anthony Towns

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This season the Minnesota Timberwolves improved by 16 wins over the season before, saw their offensive numbers jump to top five in the NBA, and the franchise made the playoffs for the first time since 2004. It’s the most successful the Timberwolves have been since the Kevin Garnett era, and their future is even brighter.

However, just under that veneer of success, rumors of tension and trouble between the team’s younger players and coach/GM Tom Thibodeau (particularly Karl-Anthony Towns) have circulated around the league for a year or more.

ESPN’s well-connected duo of Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst briefly touched on it during The Lowe Post Friday.

Lowe said Towns and the Timberwolves are “not in a good place internally.” Windhorst added, “I don’t think Anthony Davis is going anywhere any time soon. But Karl Towns, now that might be a different story.”

Two things. First, we are a long, long way from this actually happening. This is the NBA rumor mill, and no doubt Thibodeau (and maybe Towns) will deny this publicly soon. That denial doesn’t make the report accurate, just know this is nowhere near any kind of reality. Yet.

Second, if it did get to the point where Thibodeau started to test the trade market for KAT, I would expect owner Glen Taylor to step in. Trading away a young, franchise-level player is drastic. Not unheard of, but drastic. If Taylor stepped back and assessed the situation, who do you think he would see as more valuable to the franchise long-term, Towns or Thibodeau? And if he chose Towns, what would that mean for Jimmy Butler?

When training camp starts next fall, expect Towns and Thibodeau to both be there for Minnesota. However, three years from now, it’s far less likely both are around. This is just the start of these rumors.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.