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Timberwolves coaching staff had COVID-19 related absences, too



When will Timberwolves get players back from health and safety protocols? It depends

The Timberwolves’ battle with COVID-19 in the weeks around the New Year were well documented — well, the player absences, anyway. Minnesota spent time playing without Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, Patrick Beverley, D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and more.

At one time, the Wolves were legitimately without their entire starting five as end-of-the-bench players and hardship signees had to carry Minnesota through a difficult stretch.

But Minnesota has experienced similar issues on its coaching staff, as well. While head coach Chris Finch has managed to stay COVID-free, Minnesota was without defensive coordinator Elston Turner and strategy guru Micah Nori — among others — for a stretch of games, and is currently sans offensive coordinator Pablo Prigioni, as well as a video coordinator.

Player development coach Kevin Burleson only returned to the fold Saturday.

Being short-handed has meant the Wolves coaching staff has had to be adaptable, shifting responsibilities and covering gaps.

“Our coaching staff has done a great job covering for each other,” Finch said. “It’s been, I know, a lot of work on guys getting ready for games and covering these guys’ needs, but we’ve done a really good job. We had a pretty flexible setup here, so we’ve been able to adapt.”

Members of the staff take turns doing the advanced scouts on upcoming opponents. When someone who was set to present on gameday was out, someone else would peruse the presentation and deliver it instead. When he was still with the team, Prigioni had to take on a high volume of scouts, so Finch took over more of the offensive responsibilities. The head coach has continued to run the offense in Prigioni’s stead, with assistance from Nori.


Finch is a known Philadelphia Eagles fan, and while the birds season came to an uninspiring finish in the wild-card round Sunday in Tampa Bay, Finch declared the season a success.

“It was a great Eagles season,” Finch said. “Young team, finished strong, beat the teams we should have.”

Perhaps that provides a window into the coach’s eventual thinking if and when his Timberwolves are eventually ousted from postseason play in the play-in round or the first round of the playoffs.


Jaylen Nowell returned to action Sunday. He missed just one game after suffering a sprained ankle in the Timberwolves’ loss to New Orleans on Tuesday. Minnesota was without Jordan McLaughlin on Sunday, as the guard entered health and safety protocols.


Luck not on Knicks’ side – again – as they fail to move up in NBA draft lottery, will pick 11th



Luck not on Knicks’ side – again – as they fail to move up in NBA draft lottery, will pick 11th

Lottery luck still alludes the Knicks.

The franchise will pick 11th, the spot they were slotted before Tuesday’s draft lottery drawing, failing to move up for a depressing 18th consecutive time in the lottery. It’s a streak that started after the Knicks won the Patrick Ewing sweepstakes in 1985.

The Orlando Magic won the lottery. The Knicks entered the drawing with a 9.4% chance of cracking the top-4.

The 2022 draft class is considered top heavy with four top prospects – Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr., Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Duke’s Paolo Banchero and Purdue’s Jaden Ivey – now out of Leon Rose’s range. At No. 11, the Knicks’ options are difficult to predict five weeks before the draft (although we take a stab below). They could also trade the pick and have been linked to Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, who would cost Rose’s entire asset chest to get out of Utah.

The Knicks were represented at the lottery dais by team executive William Wesley, AKA ‘Worldwide Wes,’ who took a front-and-center role in Chicago after a career out of the spotlight as a backroom operator.

Developing a mythical status as a power broker and even referenced in songs by Drake and Jay-Z, Wesley has never spoken publicly on camera. Whether intended or not, Wesley’s presence served as a reminder (or introduction) of his connection to the Knicks, even though people around the league doubt the 57-year-old carries much sway with today’s players.

Wesley, whose official role is Executive Vice President, nodded in approval when NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum announced the Knicks at No. 11.

Wesley’s rise as a networker spanned relationships with Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and the 2004 champion Detroit Pistons, but that was many years ago – before Wesley’s falling out with LeBron James over a decade ago — and he has yet to transfer his connections into a star arriving at MSG.

In the secret and enclosed drawing room Tuesday, where the Ping Pong balls were pulled, the Knicks were represented by executive Brock Aller, the team’s number cruncher and asset manager.

It wasn’t a lucky combination. Tuesday represented the 11th time the Knicks stayed in their lottery slot. They’ve fallen back 10 times.

The Knicks’ participation in the lottery Tuesday, a year after they climbed to the fourth seed in the East, was the result of a disappointing campaign stoked by the regression of Julius Randle.

They fell to 11th in the East with a 37-45 record, one spot of out of the play-in tournament, but the progression of the youngsters, especially RJ Barrett, provided hope about the direction.

The draft has thus far been the highlight of Leon Rose’s tenure. They’ve used first-round picks on Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes.


Jaden Duren

SCHOOL: Memphis

AGE: 18

HEIGHT: 6-10

STATS LAST SEASON: 11.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 blocks

With Mitchell Robinson entering unrestricted free agency and Nerlens Noel proving unreliable, the Knicks could use another rim-protecting presence to develop alongside Jericho Sims. Duren is young with the upside of an premier athlete. He just can’t shoot.

Dyson Daniels

LAST TEAM: G-League Ignite

AGE: 19


STATS LAST SEASON: 11.3 points, 4.4 assists, 25.5% shooting

Projected as a two-guard in the NBA, Daniels draft position will rely heavily on the pre-draft process and workouts. He’s a well-rounded player with a high IQ but those shooting numbers were unimpressive last season in the G League.

Bennedict Mathurin

COLLEGE: Arizona

AGE: 20


STATS LAST SEASON: 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 36.9% shooting

A scorer and strong shooter who can create for himself off the dribble, which the Knicks are missing in their backcourt. He’ll run with the athletic second unit but requires improvement defensively.

Johnny Davis

COLLEGE: Wisconsin

AGE: 20


STATS LAST SEASON: 20 points, 8.1 rebounds, 30.9% 3-point shooting

Another off-ball guard option who is a two-way threat and would be a Tom Thibodeau favorite because of his defensive intensity. The negatives are Davis’ athleticism and sporadic outside shot. But he’ll figure out ways to score.


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Ramsey County attorney: Officers justified in fatal shooting of armed Mounds View carjacking suspect



Ramsey County attorney: Officers justified in fatal shooting of armed Mounds View carjacking suspect

Police officers who shot and killed an armed carjacking suspect inside a Mounds View liquor store in November were justified in using deadly force, the Ramsey County attorney’s office announced Tuesday.

An investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension found that 21-year-old Noah Douglas Kelley was pointing a handgun at police when two officers fatally shot him at Merwin Liquors on the evening of Nov. 28, 2021.

No criminal charges will be filed against Officer John Thomas of the New Brighton Police Department or Sgt. Michael Hanson of the Mounds View Police Department, both of whom fired their weapons during the incident.

Police were pursuing Kelley after he carjacked a man in an SUV outside an Aldi grocery store at Mounds View Boulevard and Long Lake Road, forcing the driver at gunpoint to take him across a parking lot to the liquor store where he was shot.

Kelley, who lived nearby, left his apartment on foot that evening after an argument with his fiancee, the BCA report said. He was intoxicated after spending the day drinking and smoking marijuana. A toxicology report found his blood-alcohol concentration was 0.191 — more than twice the legal limit to drive.

Kelley walked to the Aldi, where he encountered the driver of the SUV, who was waiting in the vehicle with his 3-year-old son while his wife and another child were inside shopping.

After forcing his way into the SUV, Kelley pointed his pistol at the man’s son and ordered the man to drive him to Merwin Liquors, which is in the same strip mall as the Aldi, the BCA report said.

Once outside the liquor store, Kelley exited the vehicle and the man in the SUV drove back to Aldi and called police.

Meanwhile, Kelley fired two shots through the liquor store’s front door, forced his way inside and assaulted its lone employee, who was eventually able to leave the store and call 911.

Police arrived about 7:10 p.m. and were told Kelley was still inside and armed with a handgun. When four officers entered the store and announced themselves, they were confronted by Kelley, who was holding the gun with both hands and pointing it at the officers, according to the BCA report.

After Kelley did not comply with commands to drop the gun, Hanson and Thomas shot him, the report said.

The officers provided first aid until paramedics arrived, but a gunshot wound to Kelley’s neck was fatal, according to a report by the Hennepin County medical examiner.

A .380-caliber pistol was found next to Kelley’s body.

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Orlando Magic win NBA draft lottery, come away with No. 1 pick



Orlando Magic win NBA draft lottery, come away with No. 1 pick

The NBA draft lottery misfortune that’s surrounded the Orlando Magic for nearly 20 years has ended.

The Magic won Tuesday night’s draft lottery in Chicago, coming away with the No. 1 pick for the first time 2004.

After early success with the lottery, the Magic had either stayed at or fallen from their pre-lottery positioning in their last nine tries.

That trend ended, with the Magic, who entered Tuesday with the second-best odds of having a top-five pick, winning the lottery for the fourth time in the franchise’s history.

This article first appeared on Email Khobi Price at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.


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