If you’re reading this, congratulations on successfully surviving yet another summer weekend. As the calendar once again flips over to Monday, most of you are now gearing up for a fresh week of work, happy hours, viral videos, new episodes of Dave and Loki, etc.
The one thing you’re probably NOT gearing up for is fresh news involving the Minnesota Timberwolves, because — well — there isn’t much going on right now. It’s not uncommon for the last few weeks of the NBA Playoffs to be slow for the teams no longer competing for a championship, but when you factor in not (currently) having a first or second round pick in the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft, things may never have been quieter for our beloved Wolves.
And yet — there were still a few miscellaneous housekeeping items from last week worth catching up on, so let’s tackle those below.
Despite the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns being the only two teams left standing, you could make an argument that no franchise has suffered more injuries over the last few weeks than the Minnesota Timberwolves.
First, there was the injury to Anthony Edwards that he suffered during his practice with Team USA out in Las Vegas:
Anthony Edwards suffered a sprained ankle during practice today for the Select Team against Team USA in Vegas, sources said. It’s not believed to be serious but he’ll be out for the rest of training camp.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 7, 2021
The word behind the scenes was that, despite the initial scare, ANT’s injury was not believed to be serious and holding him out of the remainder of Team USA training camp was simply precautionary. Either way, it’s never fun to read about a player getting injured in the offseason, so all positive vibes go out to Edwards on a quick and full recovery.
Not to be outdone, it was reported the following day that Adam Sandler’s good friend Juancho Hernangomez sustained a serious shoulder injury while preparing for the Olympics with the Spanish National Team:
Juancho Hernangomez has a grade 4/5 left shoulder dislocation.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) July 9, 2021
A dislocated shoulder is a more serious injury than a shoulder separation, often requiring surgery. Players who have needed surgery for a shoulder dislocation have been sidelined up to six months.
The severity of this injury compared to ANT’s was reinforced by the fact that the team issued a press release for Juancho’s injury (but not ANT’s), confirming the report and stating “We are evaluating all information and will provide an update when available.”
Last but certainly not least was the news about Naz Reid also suffering an injury while practicing with USA basketball; however, Chris Hine went on to report that this injury appeared to be very minor and holding Naz out was simply as a precaution:
A source said it appears as of now Naz Reid had calf soreness at USA basketball practice, held out as a precaution. https://t.co/u3kU1gRE8c— Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) July 10, 2021
Nevertheless, having multiple players suffer injuries while practicing with their Olympic teams is less than ideal for a squad entering one of the most important seasons in franchise history, so let’s hope they all fully recover in a quick and timely fashion.
Trail to Tokyo
Speaking of the Olympics — it was a significant weekend for a handful of Wolves players who will be representing their country later this summer in Tokyo, including both Ricky Rubio and Josh Okogie.
In terms of Rubio, he was the best player on the floor for Spain as they defeated France this past Saturday. The Spanish Unicorn dropped a game-high 23 points against the likes of Evan Fournier, Rudy Gobert, and Frank Ntilikina, including this clutch shot to ice the game:
Despite having an older roster, Spain figures to be one of the main contenders for a gold medal in Tokyo, and a lot of their success will once again fall on the shoulders of their beloved point guard.
As for JO, he was part of one of the most fascinating pre-Olympic upsets in men’s basketball history on Saturday:
NIGERIA BEATS USA!!!! pic.twitter.com/CpdJDQOW4x— D’Tigers | Nigeria Basketball (@NigeriaBasket) July 11, 2021
Again, it’s important to stress that this was simply a tune-up game for both Nigeria and Team USA, so the overall result doesn’t mean too much as we inch closer to the Opening Ceremonies. With that in mind, our friends in the desert informed me that the United States was somewhere between a 28-30 point FAVORITE in this exhibition game, so to lose outright despite fielding a roster with guys like Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, and Jayson Tatum should be a much-needed wakeup call for Coach Popovich’s squad.
No Olympic update is complete without mentioning my beloved son Leandro Bolmaro, who continues to show more and more signs of development:
Leandro Bolmaro showed a couple flashes of self-creation in Argentina’s exhibition game against Australia. Yet another sign of his increasing confidence.— Wolves Talk (@twolvestalk32) July 11, 2021
He has/will continue to benefit from these minutes against professional players many incoming rookies have not gotten pic.twitter.com/30wbLTMgIB
Unfortunately, I didn’t catch this game between Argentina and Australia, so I’m not exactly sure how it ultimately played out. Regardless, it’ll be extremely enjoyable to watch guys like Rubio and Bolmaro (and JO!) represent their country when the Olympics kick off next week and see how far they can help carry their teams.
Front Office Departure
Finally, it was reported by our very own Jon Krawczynski last week that Dr. Robby Sikka, the Timberwolves VP in charge of player wellness and the franchise’s COVID-19 response, was leaving the organization:
Timberwolves VP Robby Sikka, who oversaw player wellness and COVID-19 response, is leaving the organization. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to help them these last two years,” he says in a statement to @TheAthleticMIN https://t.co/l2OUhZcBxZ— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) July 8, 2021
As Jon wrote in his piece on The Athletic, Sikka’s “most prominent role was in helping the Timberwolves, and the NBA, first come to grips with the enormity of the COVID-19 problem and then implementing protocols to keep basketball going.”
I’ve had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Sikka a few times over the years, and I just wanted to personally thank him for everything he did not only for the Wolves and Lynx, but also the Minneapolis community and the country as a whole. As some of you may know, Dr. Sikka grew up in the area and was a life-long Wolves fan, so it’s disappointing to see him go but we wish him the absolute best in whatever his next step is.
Outside of ALL of that, the Wolves remain in somewhat of a holding period as it relates to their 2021 offseason. The 2021 NBA Draft is scheduled for two weeks from this Thursday, and while Minnesota currently does not possess a pick in either the first or second round, don’t be shocked to see them wiggle their way into the draft to select a player (or two) that they have their eyes on. Once the draft concludes, it’ll be a few short days until NBA Free Agency kicks off (August 2) and then NBA Summer League, which is scheduled to begin on August 8.