Tyus Jones

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Jimmy Butler on being called James: ‘I hate that [s—]!!!’

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76ers coach Brett Brown tried to compliment Jimmy Butler‘s maturity by calling him “James Butler.” Butler wasn’t having it.

Big deal or no?

Butler brought up the erroneous moniker in an Instagram caption, which made it sound as if he were willing to kid about the mistake. But in comments to former Timberwolves teammate Tyus Jones, Butler sounded much more serious.

Butler:

Butler:

it’s Jimmy not James. 1-1. see you at the crib PHILA..

Jones:

JAMES!!!

@jimmybutler you know I was crying when I seen coach call you that at the presser

Butler:

@1tyus << family. you know how much I hate that [s—]!!!

I can’t say precisely how much Butler cares about Brown calling him James. But Butler made a name for himself from humble beginnings. He should take pride in that, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this legitimately bothers him.

Brown clearly meant no harm. He was trying to praise Butler, and intent should matter.

But knowing a player well enough not to accidently offend him is part of coaching, too.

Timberwolves shut down Robert Covington, Derrick Rose, Jeff Teague for rest of season

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The Timberwolves are all but officially eliminated from the playoff race.

But Karl-Anthony Towns is still playing for something – a projected $32 million more over the next five years if he makes an All-NBA team.

He’ll continue that pursuit without teammates Robert Covington, Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague.

Timberwolves release:

Covington has missed the last 34 games while recovering from a right knee bone bruise, originally suffered on December 31 at New Orleans. Covington had made improvements in his recovery and had progressed to on-court activities, in preparation to rejoin the team.  However, he recently suffered a setback which will require further treatment before returning to the court and as a result, is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

Rose has missed the last four games while experiencing soreness and swelling in his right elbow. An MRI taken Tuesday at Mayo Clinic Square revealed a chip fracture and a loose body in his elbow. The team and Rose are currently exploring further treatment options and he is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

Teague has missed the last four games after reaggravating a left foot injury, originally suffered in December. On Tuesday, Teague received an injection designed to treat chronic inflammation. He will wear a boot and is scheduled to be reevaluated in approximately three weeks. He is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

The language – “expected to miss the remainder of the season” – allows the possibility of the players returning. But the Timberwolves wouldn’t set this expectation unless they were pretty certain the players were finished.

Covington deserved All-Star consideration, and maybe Minnesota would still be in the playoff mix if he remained healthy. He was also heading toward an All-Defensive team before getting hurt. I doubt 35 games, even at 34 minutes per game, will be enough to get him selected now. Paul George, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Draymond Green clearly belong ahead of him. Covington has an outside chance for that fourth spot, though.

Rose had a bounce-back year after it appeared he could fall out of the NBA entirely. He looks like a solid backup point guard. He’ll draw plenty of interest in free agency this summer.

Teague has a $19 million player option for next season. He already seemed likely to exercise it, and this only increases the odds. The 30-year-old had a relatively down season.

Teague’s and Rose’s absences will leave the ball in Tyus Jones‘ hands at point guard. Jones has looked good in a small role, and this offers him an opportunity to prove himself before restricted free agency this summer.

Importantly for Towns, Minnesota’s depth at point guard allows him to play with someone credible at the position while he attempts to finish the season strong. There’s a lot of room to produce for the Timberwolves now, though Towns will likely face double-teams even more frequently.

Minnesota owner says interim coach Ryan Saunders ‘has a good chance’ to get job full-time

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The Minnesota Timberwolves did not suddenly turn a corner after coach and GM Tom Thibodeau was let go midseason.

The Timberwolves have gone 10-12 under interim coach Ryan Saunders, although they have looked better in recent weeks. In their last 10 games the Timberwolves have a top-10 offense in the league, and since the All-Star break Karl-Anthony Towns put up big numbers until a car accident sidelined him. All of that is not enough to get Minnesota in the playoffs this year, but there is some reason for optimism going forward.

Owner Glen Taylor likes what he’s seen out of Saunders and thinks the youngest coach in the NBA could keep his job after the season. Here is what Taylor told Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune.

“I think he has a good chance [to get the job full-time],” Taylor said. “It’s like everything, we’re going to wait until we play out these last 20-some games and I think we’ll know and he’ll know at that time if it works out. But he is off to a good start.

“I would just say I really like him as a person. I have known him since he was a young man, and I am really pleased with how he is starting out coaching this team.”

To me, it’s been challenging to judge just how good a job Saunders is doing. There isn’t enough hard evidence to swing a job review one way or the other yet.

It’s always difficult to judge an interim coach because there are only so many changes one can make midseason. In Minnesota’s case, you need to throw in a rash of injuries that muddy the picture —  Robert Covington, Tyus Jones, Jeff Teague, and Derrick Rose have all missed time for Saunders, and now Towns is in that mix as well. On the upside, players seem to play hard for him, but the team isn’t winning at a different pace than it did for Thibodeau. Towns had a good stretch of games (before the concussion). Andrew Wiggins has been up-and-down for Saunders, but he is up and down for everyone, that’s just Wiggins.

The other big question in all this: Who will be the general manager next season? Scott Layden is in that role now and there have not been rumblings of the Timberwolves contacting other teams to talk about potential candidates. Layden may keep the job, but whoever is in that chair should get to choose their coach.

Saunders may get to keep the job because the owner really likes him “as a person.” It’s just hard to tell if that will be the best thing for Minnesota going forward.

Trae Young first rookie with consecutive 35-point games since Allen Iverson (video)

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ATLANTA (AP) — Trae Young had 36 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in the Atlanta Hawks’ 131-123 in overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

Young, who scored 36 points against the Rockets on Monday, became the first rookie with consecutive 35-point games since Allen Iverson in 1997.

John Collins scored 18 points of his 34 points in the fourth quarter as Atlanta, which trailed by 13 points late in the third period, rallied to force the extra period.

Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with 37 points and 17 rebounds. Andrew Wiggins had 21 points.

DeAndre Bembry scored six of his 16 points in overtime for Atlanta.

Vice Carter made a 3-pointer to open the overtime period. Back-to-back baskets from Bembry gave Atlanta a 125-118 lead.

Following a timeout, Towns had a jam and a 3-pointer – his season-high fifth of the game. Bembry, who had only 10 points through regulation, answered with his third basket of the extra period, giving the Hawks a 127-123 advantage.

Each team missed last-second shots in regulation.

After Young’s basket tied it at 118, Derrick Rose missed a short jumper for Minnesota. Atlanta called timeout with 0.5 seconds remaining. Young made a jumper off the inbounds pass from Carter, but a video review confirmed the shot came after the buzzer.

It was a damaging loss for Minnesota, which began the night three games behind eighth-place San Antonio in the Western Conference playoff race.

The Timberwolves took a big lead of 13 points at 94-81 late in the third and led 95-86 entering the fourth period. Atlanta pulled even at 102 and again at 114, but each time it couldn’t take the lead.

Young, the rookie who scored a career-high 36 points in a loss at Houston on Monday night, stayed hot with 20 first-half points. Young had help; every Atlanta starter had scored by the time the Hawks led 19-10.

Josh Okogie, the Timberwolves’ rookie from Georgia Tech, had 15 points in his return to Atlanta.

Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague missed his second straight game with a sore left knee. Tyus Jones again filled in as the starter.

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: F Luol Deng did not return after leaving with a sore left Achilles in the first half. … F Robert Covington was sent to G League Iowa as he moves closer to his return from a bone bruise on his right knee. He has missed 23 consecutive games since suffering the injury on Dec. 31. Covington is expected to practice only at Iowa while the Timberwolves are on the road. … F Cameron Reynolds was signed to a 10-day contract.

Hawks: Dewayne Dedmon had seven points and 10 rebounds before fouling out with 3:06 remaining. … Kent Bazemore‘s frustration grew as he missed each of his 12 shots through three quarters. He complained when no foul was called on a miss late in the period and drew a technical foul. He missed two shots – a 3-pointer and a layup – on Atlanta’s next possession and didn’t attempt another shot.

UP NEXT

Timberwolves: Continue three-game trip at Indiana on Thursday night.

Hawks: Host Chicago on Sunday.

Jimmy Butler charters private jet so Tyus Jones can watch brother play for Duke

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Jimmy Butler isn’t handling his (presumed) exit from the Minnesota Timberwolves with much grace. Then again, Butler doesn’t appear to care too much.

What Butler does care about, apparently, is the personal relationships with some of his teammates.

On Wednesday, fellow Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones wanted to get to the matchup between Duke and Kentucky to watch his younger brother Tre play. The elder Jones was unable to secure a flight, which led to Butler stepping in and saving the day.

Via Twitter:

Butler has been a real goober about what’s happened during his time with the Timberwolves, but this was a nice gesture nonetheless and deserves to be acknowledged as such.

Tyus got to see Tre play in 30 minutes in a win over Kansas, 118-84.