D'Angelo Russell

D'Angelo Russell vs. Timberwolves
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Report: Timberwolves intensifying pursuit of Warriors’ D’Angelo Russell, not progressing

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The Timberwolves just traded Jeff Teague and Treveon Graham to the Hawks for Allen Crabbea curious move for Minnesota.

Just what are the Timberwolves doing?

Perhaps still trying to acquire a oft-rumored target, D'Angelo Russell.

Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic:

New team president Gersson Rosas and the rest of his front office have been actively pursuing deals on a number of fronts to try to remake the roster to better fit their vision for the team moving forward, league sources told The Athletic. That includes intensifying their pursuit of Golden State Warriors guard D’Angelo Russell. Discussions have yielded no traction to this point, league sources said.

Minnesota tried to sign Russell last summer. From the moment he arrived in Golden State in a sign-and-trade for Kevin Durant, Russell has appeared in trade rumors. The assumption was the Warriors were just trying to recoup value for Durant however they could.

Russell is an odd fit with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson when those guards are healthy. But Golden State seemingly isn’t rushing to solve that dilemma.

The Timberwolves would welcome Russell. He’s a good young player and friend of franchise player Karl-Anthony Towns.

The Teague deal slightly trimmed Minnesota’s payroll and opened a roster spot, which are usually useful in facilitating future trades. But unlike Teague, the newly acquired Crabbe can’t be aggregated in another trade. That’s a major obstacle when trying to acquire a max-salaried player like Russell.

How will the Timberwolves send out enough salary to match Russell’s?

Robert Covington is an obvious trade candidate. But the 3-and-D forward could help many teams this season, a lost year for the Warriors. It seems his value would be higher elsewhere, though Golden State could land Covington – who has two additional years on his contract – in preparation for next season.

Minnesota would have to send out much more salary than just Covington’s, though. Towns isn’t going anywhere. Andrew Wiggins and Gorgui Dieng have negative-value contracts – especially for a team already facing the luxury tax like the Warriors.

Though it’s possible to construct a deal without it, Teague’s expiring contract would have been quite useful in trading for Russell.

Just how are is Minnesota intensifying its pursuit of Russell? This report is vague. It sounds more like the Timberwolves are just trying to show they’re actively seeking upgrades.

I’d put much more stock into the part about them not getting anywhere.

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson both to be reevaluated by Warriors in February

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Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson could both be on the court for the Warriors this season. Too late to do any good, but they could return.

Curry and his fractured left hand, and Klay Thompson with his torn ACL, both will be reevaluated in February, reports Kerith Burke of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Both guys want to get back on the court, Thompson is already showing off his shot (in an empty gym, but still).

Expect Curry to get play for the Warriors again this season. Eventually. Also, the Warriors would be interested in seeing how Curry, Thompson, and D'Angelo Russell mesh. Just not enough to mess up a good draft position.

 

They will be cautious

Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo lead first NBA All-Star fan vote returns

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It’s not a complete changing of the guard — LeBron James, James Harden, and other veterans are still drawing a lot of votes — but fans want to see the game’s young stars headline the NBA All-Star Game.

The first returns from the fan voting for the NBA All-Star Game are in and Dallas’ Luka Doncic leads all Western Conference players, while Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo tops the East. Other young players such as Trae Young and Pascal Siakam will be starting if the fans get their way.

The fans don’t get their way, completely. Fans get to help select the starters and their votes account for 50 percent of the total (and are the tiebreaker), with select media member votes accounting for 25 percent, and player votes making up the final 25 percent.

Fans want to see who they want to see. They also voted the Lakers’ Alex Caruso eighth among West backcourt players — ahead of the Suns’ Devin Booker (which is a crime people, Booker has been fantastic this season) — and the Celtics’ Tacko Fall seventh among East frontcourt players (ahead of Miami’s Bam Adebayo, among others).

Here are the starting lineups if this were this fan vote were all that counted:
Eastern Conference: Trae Young (Atlanta), Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia), Pascal Siakam (Toronto).
Western Conference: Luka Doncic (Dallas), James Harden (Houston), LeBron James (LA Lakers), Anthony Davis (LA Lakers), Kawhi Leonard (LA Clippers).

The rest of the All-Star rosters are voted on by a vote of the league’s coaches.

As of now, Doncic and Antetokounmpo would be the team captains, and they would get to chose their teams “playground style” — they pick their teams from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves, making their selections regardless of conference affiliation

Voting is open through Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 20), and fans can vote at vote.NBA.com, through the NBA app, or through their Google Assistant.

The 2020 NBA All-Star Game will take place at the United Center in Chicago on Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. ET (on TNT).

Here are the top 10 vote getters in each category so far.

Western Conference backcourt
(Rank Player Votes)
1. Luka Doncic, Mavericks 1,073,957
2. James Harden, Rockets 749,080
3. Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers 202,498
4. Stephen Curry, Warriors 191,149
5. Russell Westbrook, Rockets 189,005
6. D'Angelo Russell, Warriors 122,499
7. Donovan Mitchell, Jazz 108,349
8. Alex Caruso, Lakers 92,233
9. Devin Booker, Suns 91,817
10. Ja Morant, Grizzlies 77,081

Western Conference frontcourt
(Rank Player Votes)
1. LeBron James, Lakers 1,020,851
2. Anthony Davis, Lakers 955,246
3. Kawhi Leonard, Clippers 740,657
4. Paul George, Clippers 280,894
5. Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves 173,129
6. Kristaps Porzingis, Mavericks 171,749
7. Nikola Jokic, Nuggets 160,934
8. Carmelo Anthony, Trail Blazers 142,292
9. Brandon Ingram, Pelicans 118,188
10. Dwight Howard, Lakers 69,785

Eastern Conference backcourt
(Rank Player Votes)
1. Trae Young, Hawks 443,412
2. Kyrie Irving, Nets 432,481
3. Kemba Walker, Celtics 432,031
4. Derrick Rose, Pistons 233,669
5. Zach LaVine, Bulls 174,991
6. Ben Simmons, 76ers 159,065
7. Jaylen Brown, Celtics 156,537
8. Kyle Lowry, Raptors 154,139
9. Bradley Beal, Wizards 149,640
10. Spencer Dinwiddie, Nets 94,618

Eastern Conference frontcourt
(Rank Player Votes)
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks 1,073,358
2. Joel Embiid, 76ers 606,534
3. Pascal Siakam, Raptors 544,302
4. Jimmy Butler, Heat 431,483
5. Jayson Tatum, Celtics 364,137
6. Tacko Fall, Celtics 110,269
7. Bam Adebayo, Heat 104,086
8. Gordon Hayward, Celtics 75,240
9. Andre Drummond, Pistons 68,076
10. Domantas Sabonis, Pacers 67,482

Golden State reportedly watching Karl-Anthony Towns situation in Minnesota

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Golden State is not alone in this.

While there is a lot of buzz among fans and some media about Giannis Antetokounmpo and what will happen when the Bucks offer him a supermax contract next July, the general consensus of sources I’ve spoken to around the league is he is not going anywhere. Antetokounmpo is an MVP at age 25, the kind of talent teams keep an eye on just in case, but he’s on a contending team in the only city in America he’s ever known, the place he and his family have made home. What happens with the Bucks in the playoffs will play a role in his decision — and if he passes on the supermax things get interesting — but most sources expect him to re-sign in Milwaukee.

Karl-Anthony Towns, on the other hand, might be the next big star on the move. Eventually. Golden State is among the teams watching him, reports Ethan Straus of The Athletic.

The Warriors have been monitoring Karl-Anthony Towns’ situation in Minnesota. He’s under contract until 2023-24 but has less reason than Antetokounmpo to be thrilled with his team’s trajectory. This was a topic among multiple team executives at the recent G League Showcase, with a few relaying word that Towns is unhappy in Minnesota. The Wolves currently sit at 13th in the Western Conference, two spots ahead of the gap-year Warriors, looking at another lost season.

The Warriors are monitoring the Antetokounmpo situation, too. So is Toronto. So are 27 other NBA teams.

What the Warriors are really doing is thinking about what’s next? Not next year, when they get Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson healthy and back with Draymond Green and company (which may or may not include D'Angelo Russell). Those Warriors should be a threat again for a few seasons.

But then what? That’s where Towns comes into play. Towns is as good an offensive center as there is in the league, averaging of 26.5 points and 11.7 rebounds a game this season, and shooting 41.3 percent from three. Towns is in the first year of a five-year max contract extension, the Timberwolves don’t have to trade him immediately, but they are always on the clock. As we saw last summer with Paul George and others, if a star player wants out where they are in their contract may not matter. (Teams treat players the same way, just ask Blake Griffin.) If Towns is unhappy, as is rumored, there is pressure on Timberwolves’ management to turn things around quickly, something that has not happened this season. The clock is ticking in Minnesota.

The Warriors are watching. They are not alone.

 

Warriors still flummoxing Rockets in high-profile games

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The Warriors and Rockets developed quite a rivalry. Nobody challenged peak Golden State like Houston did. Still, the Warriors eliminated the Rockets four of the last five seasons.

These aren’t the same Warriors.

But the Warriors still brought Houston down to their level in a 116-104 Christmas win.

Golden State frequently trapped James Harden, even at half court. Though they have faced similar defenses throughout the season, the Rockets looked out of sorts Wednesday.

Harden got held to just 24 points on 18 shots, though he dished 11 assists. Most startlingly, Harden attempted only one free throw, a miss.

Russell Westbrook led Houston with 30 points, but he shot just 11-for-32, including 0-8 on 3-pointers. The Rockets’ role players didn’t capitalize on the attention their stars drew. Beyond its starting backcourt, Houston shot just 30% on 3-pointers against an energetic Golden State defense.

The Warriors were unselfish offensively with several players stepping up – Damion Lee (22 points, 15 rebounds, four assists), Draymond Green (20 points, 11 rebounds, three assists), D'Angelo Russell (20 points, four assists) and Glenn Robinson III (18 points, three assists).

Golden State remains near the bottom of the standings. Houston is still in the championship hunt.

Still, this was a satisfying victory for the Warriors, who’ve now won three straight.

For the Rockets, it’s another lesson in the challenges of relying so much on a single player. Expect Houston to face even more defenses like this. Also expect the Rockets to have better outcomes against this style.