All-NBA Karl-Anthony Towns hasn’t played in a game for the Timberwolves since November 28 because of a severe right calf strain. The Timberwolves have 29 regular season games remaining and are intensely competing for favorable playoff positioning and home court advantage.
Initially there was thought that the Wolves’ forward-center, who was averaging 20.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in 21 games, could return in January. Team owner Glen Taylor talked with Towns Monday and the 27-year-old veteran implied it will be another couple of weeks before he is ready to play.
Towns was named All-NBA Third team after last season when he averaged 24.6 points and 9.8 rebounds. “It can’t be soon enough for me,” Taylor told Sports Headliners about a KAT return.
Jordan McLaughlin, a key reserve at point guard, hasn’t played in a regular season game since December 9 because of a left calf injury. Taylor spoke to McLaughlin on Monday and the 26-year-old hopes to be back “within a week.”
McLaughlin’s return apparently will be prior to KAT’s. “That’s what my understanding would be,” Taylor said.
The Wolves expect a sellout crowd tonight at Target Center to watch their game against the Warriors. Taylor said both attendance and TV viewership are on the upswing in the New Year as the Wolves play better basketball.
The Wolves, 27-26, are eighth in the Western Conference ultra-competitive positioning for the playoffs that can change nightly. The Warriors, 26-24, are fifth in the standings.
Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez are expected to take over the majority share of ownership in the Wolves and WNBA Lynx in less than 12 months. The two men are on an installment plan to purchase the teams from Taylor.
Although Lore and Rodriguez exercised in writing their option for a second payment in December, Taylor said payment won’t be made until March 28. “They requested that they could delay (from a December 31 payment date)…and I had written them back and said I’ll accept their new date.”
Does Taylor expect the ownership sale for $1.5 billion to eventually take place? “Yes, I do,” he answered.
Remembering Ken Lien of Minnesota Mr. Basketball
The Minnesota basketball community lost a pioneer last week when Ken Lien, 72, passed away from blood cancer after being in hospice since November. The longtime Bloomington resident loved basketball and for 40 years owned and chaired the Minnesota Mr. Basketball program, among the oldest such programs in the country annually recognizing the best prep player in the state.
”Outside of his love for his family, he loved going to a basketball game in any gym in the state and knowing probably half the people in the gym,” his son Jon wrote via email. “He truly had a love and passion for giving players opportunities through coaching, summer programs, and with Mr. Basketball.”
Ken was a fan of this column and a friend for many years. Two weeks ago, I texted this: “Ken, thinking about you and grateful for our friendship. We enjoyed a lot of conversations, storytelling, and exchange of information. The Sid (Hartman) stories were favorites. Those darn Gophers just can’t revive the glory days. Thank you for helping me with my column, my friend!”
Ken would have turned 73 on February 17, a birthday date he shared with wife Mary Kay. He also liked to remind others that the February 17 birthday club included basketball legend Michael Jordan and former Vikings coach Denny Green.
Heartfelt condolences to Mary Kay, sons Eric and Jon, and other family members. A memorial event will be held Monday at the Washburn-McReavy Bloomington Chapel with visitation at 10 a.m., services at 11 a.m. and lunch afterward.
Wishing the best for Mike Wilkinson, who is battling pneumonia. He is the author of the coach Murray Warmath biography, The Autumn Warrior.
The No. 1 ranked Gopher men’s hockey team has played in front of five consecutive home sellout crowds. Minnesota is second in the nation in attendance, averaging 8,980 per game and is behind only North Dakota’s 11,325.
Among Division I programs, the Gophers were third nationally in home attendance last season averaging 7,913, while trailing North Dakota and Wisconsin.
Two groups that support local sports, the Twin Cities Dunkers and the Capital Club, ironically both have programs next Wednesday. At Interlachen Country Club Dunkers members will hear from University of St. Thomas sports leaders, including athletic director Phil Esten and multiple coaches as the Tommies progress in their second school year of Division I sports.
The Capital Club, meeting at Mendakota Country Club, will hear from five local women sports executives sharing their insights and success stories: Wendy Williams Blackshaw, Minnesota Sports and Events CEO & president; Meka Morris, Minnesota Twins executive vice president and chief revenue officer; Lara Juras, Minnesota Vikings executive vice president and chief people & culture officer; Carin Anderson, Minnesota Wild senior vice president; and Andrea Yoch, president and co-founder of Minnesota Aurora FC.
Happy 54th birthday today to former Gopher basketball player Walter Bond.
The University of Minnesota announced today that as part of her world tour, Beyoncé will perform July 20 at Huntington Bank Stadium.
Deacon’s Lodge near Brainerd is the choice for Minnesota’s top public golf course on the Men’s Journal list of the best in each of the 50 states. Best Golf Courses in America: The Top Courses in Every State (mensjournal.com)Comments Welcome