With the final horn echoing throughout Target Center late Sunday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves finally put a stamp on their 2020-21 season, which signals the beginning of yet another crucial offseason for this front office (and this franchise in general).
As you know by now, the Wolves held their end-of-season media availability on Monday, and despite finishing the season with a pedestrian 23-49 record, the overall vibes from the team’s most notable players seemed rather upbeat and optimistic. Those feelings may have been skewed by the fact that these same players were minutes removed from a nonstop flight to a tropical destination as their summer break officially kicks off, but either way I found some of the direct quotes from Monday morning to be worth highlighting.
"I'm so happy to play here in Minnesota."— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) May 17, 2021
The best “feel good” quotes from Monday came from Karl-Anthony Towns, who discussed Kevin Garnett’s recent enshrinement in the basketball Hall of Fame and how KAT himself would like to play his entire career with one franchise. As Jon notes above, Karl added that he’s “so happy to play here in Minnesota,” which regardless of if you believe him or not, is a refreshing quote from a player in a small(er) market like Minneapolis.
Speaking of “feel good quotes,” Anthony Edwards went out of his way earlier this week to tell anyone within earshot that his rookie season was nice, but the next step for him (and this team) is winning more games than they lose:
Anthony Edwards on if making the playoffs next year is an expectation:— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) May 17, 2021
"That's not even to talk about. We definitely going to make a strong push for the playoffs next year... I'm ready to go to the playoffs."
Again, if you’re more pessimistic (or should I say more realistic) than someone like myself, a quote like this from ANT means about as much as the quote from Towns about playing for one franchise. We as a fan base have been burned many times by end of season media availabilities, so saying this team wants to make the playoffs doesn’t hold much water until it actually happens.
For me specifically, these quotes from ANT just add to his all-around stellar rookie campaign, a campaign that will be remembered just as much for what he said off the court as what he did on it. I’m definitely not the first person to make this statement, but the arrival of Anthony Edwards basically saved my “fandom” with this team, not only because he was a joy to watch play basketball, but the authenticity and pureness that he brought to media sessions made covering him an absolute pleasure. At just 19-years old, I hope ANT can stave off the “PR nature” of professional sports and continue to say whatever he wants to say, rather than what other people want to hear.
Malik Beasley on if he feels he could fit into a 6th man role on the Timberwolves:— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) May 17, 2021
"I'm focused on winning. So whatever the case may be for winning."
OK now let’s get to some of the more fascinating, basketball-related quotes from this past Monday. The biggest takeaway from Malik Beasley’s end of season media session was this quote about potentially transitioning into a 6th man role, which sounded eerily reminiscent of what Ricky Rubio said about a potential bench role before the start of the season.
Would Malik REALLY be OK coming off the bench, even if it WAS the best option for the team’s success? Color me skeptical, primarily because I think he’s wired in such a competitive way that he really does think he’s the best player on whatever team he’s on. With that said, if the coaching staff (which will include some new faces next season) can convince Malik that a bench role could allow him to thrive against second units, then we may need to expedite the planning process for our life-size Chris Finch statue.
Chris Finch said a “critical mass” of guys will play in Summer League— jace frederick (@JaceFrederick) May 17, 2021
One guy who confirmed today he’ll be in that mass is Jaden McDaniels
Last but not least, I thought the overall conversation of “Summer League” from Monday was really eye-opening. As Chris Finch mentioned, a “critical mass” of current Wolves will play in Summer League later this summer, which is officially scheduled to begin in early August:
The NBA’s annual Summer League is returning to Las Vegas from Aug. 8-17, a source tells the Review-Journal.— Sam Gordon (@BySamGordon) May 19, 2021
As someone who has attended Summer League multiple times over the years, it’s great to see that the NBA is bringing this event back in order to allow younger players to develop and accrue the necessary reps for the regular season.
With that said, the risk averse side of me isn’t quite sure a “critical mass” of the roster needs to be playing in meaningless games in the desert this summer. I fully understand how these two weeks in Las Vegas would greatly benefit guys like Jaylen Nowell, Jarrett Culver, and even Naz Reid, but I struggle to see any reason whatsoever that Anthony Edwards would participate in something that he has already shown is well beneath his talent level. There’s an argument to be made for a guy like Jaden McDaniels in order to help develop the offensive side of his game, but ANT-Man should be encased in bubble wrap for the next five months and only allowed to explore Spain and do interviews (and also work on his defense).
That’s all I’ve got for now — let me know if I missed any noteworthy quotes from earlier this week, and feel free to share your opinions on some of the ones I shared above. Have a great Thursday!