The Timberwolves will be one of eight teams who will not be finishing the regular season in Florida in late-July.
While it’s not ideal for the Timberwolves and their fans, nothing over the last three months around the country have been ideal. The Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Hawks, Pistons, Knicks, Bulls, Hornets and Warriors didn’t have a chance at the postseason. For the obvious safety reasons, the Timberwolves are being what President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas calls “good teammates” during this extremely odd season.
The teams going to Orlando, even the ones who don’t make the playoffs (which will be six teams), will gain a huge competitive advantage by being together for at least a month of practice and bonding time. That’s an important thing! Even if the Pelicans and Zion Williamson don’t make the playoffs, you can’t tell me that more time together won’t give the franchise a better idea of what they have moving forward.
How does the NBA give the other eight teams that same advantage while at the same time being safe during the time of a pandemic?
That’s a great question and one we don’t quite have the answer for, but the Timberwolves are one of the teams pushing for something to happen. What exactly that is will be interesting to see.
“We’re actively engaged with the league and the seven other teams to create the most intensive, competitive platform for us to work with our players over the next four or five months,” Rosas said in a call with media members this week. “A silver lining there is the ability to maybe be better prepared for the following season with the right plan in place as we work through things, get guys healthy, get guys on the same page. We’ve got a lot of development to do in terms of our team philosophy, our offense, our defense, our player development approach, and this gives us time to do it.”
At the very least, the hope is that the Timberwolves can practice together for a period of time. Think of it like a mini-training camp or how NFL teams have offseason workouts.
The Timberwolves are in such a unique position considering seven of the 15 players on their roster were acquired at the trade deadline. And these aren’t just small pieces. You’re talking about an All-Star point guard in D’Angelo Russell and a wing who might just fit perfectly on this team in Malik Beasley. But those two played just one game with Karl-Anthony Towns and 12 games together. It would certainly be nice if Rosas had more to base some of his offseason decisions off of.
It’s worth noting that there haven’t been any updates on Towns’ wrist injury or if he’d be able to participate in any sort of post-season plan for the Wolves. It’s probably not fair to speculate either way considering what Towns has gone through this offseason.
“We feel like things are at a positive place with Karl,” Rosas said. “But out of respect to him personally and where we’re at with the pandemic and health reasons and everything and what’s expected of him at this point in terms of his rehab, we’ve given him his space physically. But overall, we feel very positive about where things are at.”
Could there be some sort of mini-tournament with the eight other teams? What would the incentive be? Where would the location be and how long would it last? How would the league ensure everyone was safe? Could these games be televised?
These are all questions that will need to be addressed, and I would imagine after the NBA figures out what will happen in Orlando, they’ll address the other eight teams.
While the new-look Timberwolves want more time together, certainly the Cavaliers and Darius Garland, the Hawks and Trae Young, the Pistons and Sekou Doumbouya, the Knicks and R.J. Barrett, the Bulls and whoever their coach will be, along with the Warriors and the return of Stephen Curry, would also like to get some more action in.
Again, safety is the big concern here, but from a competitive standpoint, it’s only right for the NBA to let these teams do something while the other teams finish up their regular seasons.
Regardless of what decision is made, Rosas is confident it will be the right one from the league on all fronts.
“We really feel like what the league is going to put together for us over the next four or five months is going to be a very productive platform that will allow us to not only get our work in, work with our players but prepare them physically and mentally, emotionally to take a big step forward next season and to allow us to continue to have our process build sustainable success in the future.”