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Glen Taylor: No Interest in KAT Trade

 

Speculation persists the Minnesota Timberwolves might be trade partners in a deal involving their most valued player, 25-year-old former all-NBA center Karl-Anthony Towns (KAT).

Even last off-season there were rumors the Wolves could part with Towns. Asked about the truth of those rumors, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said, “No, absolutely not. I don’t know where they (the rumors) would come from.”

Towns averaged 18.3 points per game and was NBA Rookie of the Year for the 2015-2016 season. He has averaged over 20 points per game each season since and in 2018 signed a five-year contract with Minnesota. “We’re building the team around him,” Taylor told Sports Headliners this morning.

Part of why Towns is targeted for trade speculation is the Wolves haven’t found much success on the floor, making the playoffs just once since he joined the team. Does Taylor know of Towns having a desire to play elsewhere?

Glen Taylor

“If anything he has indicated the opposite,” Taylor said. “He likes the coach (Ryan Saunders). He likes playing here and he’s just sorry he’s not out there playing.”

Because of COVID, Towns hasn’t played since January 13 but he will return soon. “I would think it would be this week, yes,” Taylor said. (Towns will not play in tonight’s game in Cleveland against the Cavs).

With COVID protocol and a wrist injury earlier, Towns has only played in four games for the 5-14 Wolves who are in last place in the Western Conference. The team has won two of eight games without Towns, including a 109-104 victory over the Cavs in Minneapolis last night.

The team record is a clear disappointment to Taylor who made it known before the season he expected the club to make the playoffs. “I just expected them to do better than they have,” Taylor said.

But despite the slow start, Taylor is still anticipating his team in the playoffs later this year. “I recognize that it’s going to be difficult, but on the other hand, there’s other teams that aren’t performing up to their expectations, too, and I guess we just gotta catch them.”

Taylor thinks the Wolves can have better results even without Towns in the lineup. “I don’t know why there’s this much difference (without Towns). There were some games we played pretty well. Almost all the games we lose, we go through a streak, maybe a quarter of the game, where we just have difficulty putting up shots, and I don’t know that you can tie that just on one person. There’s gotta be somebody else out there that can take the leadership role and…score during those difficult periods.”

Towns had a friendship with high scoring point guard D’Angelo Russell even before the Wolves acquired him last winter. The two haven’t played much together yet, nor have they seen many minutes with 2020 NBA first round overall draft choice Anthony Edwards, another gifted scorer. “Potentially we have some firepower there,” Taylor said. “We just gotta get them on the floor.”

Worth Noting

Word is the Minnesota Twins remain optimistic about signing free agent DH Nelson Cruz and free agent right-hand pitcher Jake Odorizzi. A source told Sports Headliners a Cruz deal could be for two years, the Odorizzi contract for one.

The Capital Club, via Zoom, will hear from Dave St. Peter of the Twins and Mike Veeck and Derek Scharrer from the St. Paul Saints Thursday morning.

Because of the pandemic it’s uncertain when the Saints will begin their first season as a Twins Triple A affiliate. Twins fans are curious to see who among the team’s top minor league prospects will be on the Saints roster.

If shortstop Royce Lewis is in St. Paul, it’s a lock fans will flock to CHS Field. MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects, announced on Friday, ranks Lewis No. 17. The other Minnesota prospects on the list are outfielder-first baseman Alex Kirilloff, No. 26; outfielder Trevor Larnach, No. 80; and right-hand pitcher Jordan Balazovic, No. 97.

Former Gophers right-hand pitcher Max Meyer, now with the Miami Marlins, is No. 27.

Ex-Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario has reportedly signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Indians and he has a successful history at Progressive Field. As a visiting player he has a .353 average and 1.031 OPS, per a Friday MLB.com story. His 11 home runs, 12 doubles and three triples are career bests in any road stadium.

The current bid this morning was $270,000 on the Heritage Auctions website for a mint condition Topps 1954 Hank Aaron rookie card.

Minnesota (center Liam Robbins and guard Marcus Carr) and Illinois (center Kofi Cockburn and guard Ayo Dosunmu) are the only schools that have players who are top 10 candidates on the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award and Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award.

Harvey Mackay, the New York Times best selling author and former Gopher golfer, shared memories with Sports Headliners of his 32-year friendship with the late Larry King who died January 23. The famous talk show host interviewed Mackay many times about his business and motivational books, and the two formed a close relationship.

“Larry loved boxing and Muhammad Ali,” Mackay said via email. “He once wrote in his column in USA Today that meeting Muhammad was ‘the biggest thrill in my life … I couldn’t sleep last night … chills running up and down my spine.’

“One night I was having dinner with Larry in New York, and I brought Muhammad with me as a surprise. Suddenly a woman came up and said, ‘Oh, Mr. Mackay, I’ve read all your books … Can I have your autograph?’

“Larry went nuts and said, ‘Don’t you know who this is? This is Muhammad Ali. Don’t you want his autograph?’

“I looked at Larry and said you bit it hook, line and sinker. I paid her $50 an hour to come up and ask for my autograph. We were still laughing about that years later. But the point is don’t ever be boring. Don’t be predictable. Show some creativity with your friends and have some fun.”

Mackay’s latest book came out last month, “Getting a Job is a Job.”

Sign of the times: various online reports in the last few days have the NHL borrowing $1 billion to help its fiscally troubled franchises. In December the NBA reportedly borrowed $900 million to assist its franchises.

The prep Mr. Football Award winner will be announced February 21 via Zoom. The Vikings and Minnesota Football Coaches Association sponsor the Mr. Football Award and the ten 2020 finalists are: Shea Albrecht, Orono; Joe Alt, Totino-Grace; Cameron Anderson, Blue Earth Area; Trey Feeney, Moorhead; Nick Flaskamp, Minneapolis Southwest; Marcus Hansen, Waseca; Eli Mau, Chanhassen; Jake Ratzlaff, Rosemount, Garrison Solliday, St. Thomas Academy; Adam Tonsfeldt, Barnesville.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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