For Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves dynasty and huge NBA payday on the horizon

In late June, with the excitement of the Timberwolves’ acquisition of All-Star guard Jimmy Butler setting in, Karl-Anthony Towns blurted some excessive enthusiasm. With Butler on board, plus Towns, former No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins and new point guard Jeff Teague, Towns said, This is what dynasties are made of.

But, weeks later, Towns was ready to clarify he did not mean to say the Timberwolves, who have not been to the postseason since 2004, already qualify as a dynasty.

I think it is way too early for that, Towns said. The Golden State Warriors, that is a dynasty. What the Spurs have had is a dynasty. Cleveland, because they’ve gone to the Finals and won a championship. It’s a goal we should set for ourselves, but I think it is too soon.

Unbelievable, Towns said. For his ability to have $57 million in the bank yearly is something special, but it speaks to the popularity of the NBA, how well it is doing. I am so fortunate to be part of the league at this time, not just because it is lucrative, but because it is at its strongest point, the best foundation that has been built by the NBA and the players who came before us.

Another topic of conversation and contention this offseason has been that of resting players. It came to a head last year when the trend increased league-wide. Greg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs have done it for years, and more ‘DNP-Rest’ appeared in box scores in 2016-17 with other coaches trying to find a respite for their big-name players.

The NBA is perhaps more in-tune with catering to the desires of its fans and paying attention to the quality of its in-game product than any other North American league. It took measures this summer such as changing its rules regarding timeouts, the ones that turn the final two minutes of a game into a two-hour production. ESPN’s Zach Lowe also reported the league was trying to alter the schedule to get teams playing in marquee, national games a day of rest prior to the matchup. It’s clear that when all eyes are watching, the NBA wants to be putting forth its best product.

As to whether there is any tension between James and Irving, Jefferson said that couldn’t be further from the case.

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Steph Curry mocks LeBron James workout video with a little help from Kyrie Irving

Remember that rapping, muscle-flexing viral workout video LeBron James posted on Instagram last month?

Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving apparently didn’t appreciate it very much. That led to a bizarre video that surfaced today of Curry mocking James’ moves in the video, while Irving eggs him on, as the two attended Harrison Barnes’ wedding reception Saturday.

Such great hands. This is a kid who knows just what he is. He comes in and he defends. He does not get cheap blocks. He can get up and get a block from behind without fouling, and that gets into the heads of the offensive players. You think about where he is before you shoot in the lane.

He is going to need some offense. Just something, like a 15-footer. His offensive game is pretty much just cutting to the basket. There is no room in the league now for a Ben Wallace-type.

Mason Jr. has also worked to get Sr.’s high school gym and a street named after him. Proceeds from the sales of the sneakers and T-shirts will go to Jr.’s Family on Three Foundation, started in 2015 to impact the youth and community by providing inner-city kids with positive role models strategic enrichment and exposure. (The sneakers can be purchased for $130 at Ewing Athletics’ Web site. The shirts are going for $35 apiece online.)

The launch event, held at retail outlet Jimmy Jazz in Mason Sr.’s South Jamaica Queens, was a glorious occasion. The whole neighborhood as well as many of his friends from St. John’s and the Knicks organization came out to pay respects to one of their own. Mikey’s Lit Ice Cream catered the event, and world-renowned barber Freddy Avila was on hand to bless a chosen few with the custom cut Mason Sr. made him famous for back in the day.

Mason Jr.’s post-basketball career is well on its way. But his story could’ve ended up much, much worse.

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Wizards sign John Wall to lucrative 4-year extension

John Wall is staying in Washington.

Friday the Wizards signed the All-Star point guard to a lucrative four-year contract extension worth $170 million, ESPN reported on Friday. The team officially announced the signing Wednesday.

Wall, who has two years and $37 million left on his current contract, confirmed the deal later Friday night in a video tweeted by the UNINTERRUPTED and assured fans you know I wasn’t going anywhere.

I just had to think it out with my family and friends and make a decision, Wall said. Y’all know where I wanted to be at. I’m happy I’m coming back another four years to be a Washington Wizard. Y’all know what I’m going for. Definitely gonna bring y’all the championship, that’s my ultimate goal, and I won’t stop till I get it.

An avid golfer, Curry will compete against tour pros in an official event for the first time after previously participating in the last five American Century Championship celebrity events. He finished fourth at the most recent AACC in Lake Tahoe last month. While the odds of him winning aren’t exactly favorable at 3,000-1, Curry is just thrilled to be invited to play and will give the tournament all he’s got.

I’m staying realistic, Curry said. First goal is just to get off the first tee on Thursday. If I can do that, I’ll be off and running.

These guys dedicate their life to the game and are grinding every week to make it to the PGA Tour, so I understand how hard it is out here. Myself as a casual professional golfer in my head, not in real life, I just want to have fun, make some birdies. The cut would be if I can just give myself a chance, like go into Friday with a realistic chance to make it that would be amazing. I want to know what that adrenaline rush is like, because for me, that would be like winning the tourney.

Curry is scheduled to tee off Thursday at 11:55 a.m. ET and will be paired with Sam Ryder and defending champion Stephan Jaeger in each of the first two rounds.

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J.R. Smith calls Tracy McGrady’s Hall of Fame take dumb as hell

Speaking at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame over the weekend, newly elected member Tracy McGrady addressed critics who point out the lack of an NBA championship on his resume.

You have to have a great team and some luck to get a ring, right? Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with that, he said (via MassLive.com). But I go back at them with this: Anybody can win a championship. Everybody can’t get in the Hall of Fame.

Irving might fancy himself as the next Kobe (Bryant) or (Russell) Westbrook alpha dogs who became MVPs after their co-star left the picture but you can’t just ignore Irving’s losing track record as the No. 1 guy. The more realistic expectation is that he’s another Lillard, Haberstroh wrote.

Lillard does have a point. Aside from a tough rookie year in 2012-13, the Trail Blazers have had a winning record each season since. They have also frequented the playoffs during Lillard’s tenure.

From an individual standpoint, Lillard is one of just three players (Oscar Robertson and LeBron James) who has recorded more than 1,500 points and 400 assists in their first five years in the league.

Isn’t that exactly why Irving wants out of Cleveland? From Irving’s point of view, he will never be the bus driver as long as James is standing next to him. Wouldn’t joining one of those other teams add some competitive balance to the league? Inserting Irving into the starting five for the Spurs or Timberwolves likely wouldn’t allow either of those teams to eclipse the Warriors, but it would make the Western Conference race more interesting.

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Phil Jackson reportedly wanted to get Lonzo Ball by trading Kristaps Porzingis

Phil Jackson reportedly wanted to trade Kristaps Porzingis to the Boston Celtics for the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft with hopes of getting Lonzo Ball.

Leading up to the draft the Lakers had been linked to both Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith, so the consensus was they wanted a player to run their system, but Ball’s name was never really thrown out there as a possibility.

Gilbert’s comments likely stemmed from the fact the Cavs missed out on George. He was a major target of theirs, and they felt they were close to landing him. An ESPN report claims Indiana general manager Kevin Pritchard backed out when the Cavs were just starting to celebrate.

The deal, which involved the Nuggets, would have sent Kevin Love to Denver, George to Cleveland and players such as Gary Harris and the 13th pick in the draft to Indiana. Instead, the Pacers ended up with Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis from the Thunder.

While we don’t know why the Pacers didn’t go with the pre-draft trade, Windhorst mentioned Monday on The Lowe Post the Cavs weren’t interested in a deal the Pacers initiated.

I know that around the draft and in the Paul George talks, the Cavs were not willing to make Kyrie Irving available for Paul George, he said.

Zach Lowe added: The Pacers offered Paul George for Kyrie Irving. That’s a thing that happened, according to people that we’ve talked to.

When it’s all said and done, though, it was pretty remarkable to hear Gilbert openly mock the Pacers’ haul for George during Wednesday’s conference. He wasn’t asked a question about it, and instead decided to give his response, unprovoked.

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Brandon Jennings heading to China on one-year deal, report says

Brandon Jennings’ career has come full circle.

The former top prospect who decided to skip college and instead opted to play overseas when he graduated from high school is once again going to take his talents out of the country, only this time he will be playing in China, according to ESPN.

Jennings has accepted a one-year deal worth $1.5 million to play for China Shanxi.

Jennings spent time in 2016-17 playing with the Knicks for half a season before asking to be traded to a contender. He then ended up in Washington with the Wizards but never really fit with John Wall.

That’s a positive. But the more enticing prospect than 2012 Anthony is Olympic Anthony. We don’t see that guy much in the NBA — last year, he was the roll man in pick-and-roll scenarios on just 2.5 percent of his possessions. That’s not going to work in Houston’s offense. If he can be a guy whose function is to set screens for Paul and Harden, line up on the perimeter for open 3s and take advantage of isolation scoring opportunities when they present themselves, he will be a really good offensive complement to his backcourt mates.

Heck, take a look at what the offense did for Anderson last season. In all, he took a career-high 7.0 3s per game, and amazingly, 5.7 of those were open, catch-and-shoot attempts (fourth-most in the league, despite playing just 29.4 minutes). He knocked down 40.3 percent of his 3s, and 42.7 percent of his catch-and-shoot attempts.

There’s no reason Anthony can’t have similar success simply by being part of the offense and letting the ball handlers do the work — he shot 42.6 percent on catch-and-shoot 3s last year, but only saw 3.5 of those per game.

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