DA's Morning Tip

Morning Tip Mailbag: Your questions on Minnesota Timberwolves, All-Star contestants and more

David Aldridge

But the pony doesn’t shoot glitter out of its nose. From Jan Indra:

I have a question regarding the Timberwolves: ESPN ran a piece detailing the team’s financial situation going forward in the case of trying to maintain the Big three of Butler, Towns and Wiggins (having very little to no flexibility regarding the rest of the roster). While the team’s playing solid basketball, I still can’t seem them cracking the top three in the West with OKC likely coming from behind to snatch the four spot. With Kris Dunn playing significantly better lately, Zach LaVine on track to return and Markkanen showing potential to be a great four, do you, in retrospect, think Minnesota might have been better off without the deal for Butler and staying on course to develop the young core instead of going into win now mode?

No. The Wolves are a top-four team in the West for the first time since the KG/Sprewell/Cassell Years; why on earth would they have been better without Butler, who’s provided them with All-Star level play while not dominating the ball (24.6 usage rate entering play this weekend), and who’s only 28? I’m a big Dunn guy, and LaVine obviously has great potential, but potential tends to get players beat and coaches fired. Minnesota had to speed up the rebuild and did so without mortgaging its future; it’s got a tremendous nucleus, a strong coach/management in place and a legit contending window for the next several years. What’s not to like?

No Country for Old Men. From Ralph Sacdalan:

I was reading through the recent news of Gregg Popovich passing George Karl as the fifth all-time in wins as a coach. And his comments were something like, “I don’t remember scoring points or grabbing rebounds..”

So, what do you think about coaches vs. coaches in a pick-up game during All-Star weekend? East vs. West sort of thing, each team like an NBA team with 15 on its roster. I mean, some coaches might not be fully physically capable to play, but I’m sure something like Steve Kerr (hope he’s back is fine) vs. Tyronn Lue would be nice to see on the court. Or some teams might opt to send one of their assistant coaches instead.

I’d be surprised if no else came up with this idea before. What do you think?

I was initially set to dismiss your suggestion out of hand, Ralph, having seen a lot of former great players blow out assorted hamstrings, ACLs and Achilles’ when the NBA had old-timers’ games during All-Star Weekend in the late 80s. But I gave it some more thought, and I figured, well, Ice Cube’s league is halfcourt, not full-court, and most of those guys came through the season unscathed. If you were thus talking about one half-court game for coaches at All-Star, maybe. And I think players would go nuts seeing their coaches out there shooting (or missing), maybe lucking into a crossover that doesn’t stick, etc. But, man: can you imagine the blowback if an active head coach went down with a significant injury?

And on the seventh day, He sat in front of his big screen and watched playoff games. From Mathias Gjerlow:

Who will you pick for dunk and 3 pt contest to all star weekend?

Well, it’s not up to me, of course, Mathias, but I think I understand the question. If it was my call, I think I’d find a way to get Terrance Ferguson onto the floor at Staples for the dunk contest, along with Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, maybe Toronto’s O.G. Anunoby (this was nice, but he had a whole bunch of sick ones like this at Indiana in college) and…the Freak. (Dear God.)

For the 3-point contest, I’d obviously invite defending champ Eric Gordon back. As for the rest…how about his Rockets teammate James Harden (assuming his hamstring is healed by then, of course) Philly’s Robert Covington, Miami’s Wayne Ellington, the Wizards’ Bradley Beal, OKC’s Paul George, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and, if I have eleventy billion dollars with which to coerce him, Steph Curry.

Send your questions, comments and other moments where the Animal Revolution was writ large to daldridgetnt@gmail.com. If your e-mail is funny, thought-provoking or snarky, we just might publish it! (endital)

MVP WATCH

(Last week’s averages in parenthesis)

1) James Harden (DNP: hamstring strain)

2) LeBron James (25.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 7.7 apg, .545 FG, .857 FT): Closing in on 30,000 career points — he’s just 136 short of the milestone, which could well come in next Monday’s rematch with the Warriors in Cleveland on MLK Day.

3) Giannis Antetokounmpo (28.8 ppg, 9 rpg, 6 apg, .627 FG, .806 FT): Last seven games since missing Dec. 23 game vs. Charlotte with knee soreness: 26.9 ppg, 9.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, shooting .625 (!) from the field.

4) Kevin Durant (25 ppg, 12 rpg, 6 apg, .476 FG, 1.000 FT): Missed last two games last week with a sore calf, but spent his down time giving back in a big way to his college, Texas.

5) Kyrie Irving (16 ppg, 8 rpg, 6 apg, .365 FG, .700 FT): Took it easy and let his teammates do the heavy lifting in the Celtics’ rout of his old Cavs Wednesday, and good for him.

BY THE NUMBERS

12 — Consecutive home wins at Air Canada Centre by the Raptors, tying the franchise record. Toronto can break the record, set in 2016, by beating the Heat Tuesday night.

11 –Technical fouls picked up already by the Warriors’ Draymond Green, who got the latest one Saturday against the Clippers. When a player receives his 16th T in the regular season, he is automatically suspended for the next game.

863,416 — Votes for Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first round of fan voting for next month’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles. The Greek Freak was the leading vote getter among all players in the first round, with Kevin Durant leading Western Conference players in votes with 7678,402.

The leading vote getter in each conference will get to pick his team from the pool of players both voted in by fans and selected by coaches. Not being stupid, Antetokounmpo said last week that he’d take LeBron James if he winds up with the first pick.

I’M FEELIN’…

1) I agree with Paul Pierce. A jersey retirement is a special, emotional — and singular night for the honoree. He shouldn’t have to share it with anyone, even another great player from that organization. Pierce is certainly a finalist in the Celtics’ Mount Rushmore, following Russell, Havlicek and Bird; the fourth could be among any of Pierce, K.C. and/or Sam Jones, Bob Cousy and a few others. Point is, the Truth was one of the greatest players in franchise history, and while Isaiah Thomas had two great seasons there, that’s not the same. Circumstances sometimes make for hard choices. In this case, I’d wait until the playoffs or until next season to give IT his video tribute.

2) Charlotte, showing a pulse out West by winning three out of four, including beating the Dubs in Oakland, now has a chance to get back in the playoff chase in the East, with eight of its next nine games at home.

3) Alabama, he said with no particular conviction, over Georgia tonight.

4) A quad! Congrats to Grambling’s Shakyla Hill for achieving the elusive stat-stuffer last week in the Tigers’ win over Alabama State, just the fourth time a player in women’s Division I history has done so.

NOT FEELIN’…

1) There is, apparently, no place east of Las Vegas where it isn’t currently 13 degrees with a wind chill of -7. The foot of the stairs at my house has frostbite.

2) I have tried to give Matthew Dellavedova the benefit of the doubt, calling him careless rather than dirty with some of his play over the years. This was dirty. Point blank.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v

3) Hopefully Gregg Popovich and the Spurs are right and the partial tear in Kawhi Leonard’s shoulder isn’t serious. But you always get nervous when a guy injures something else right after he returns from an injury to another part of his body.

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Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here andfollow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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