It’s Hard to Focus on Basketball with the NBA’s COVID Issues

Photo Credit: David Berding (USA TODAY Sports)

It feels weird to focus on basketball given where we’re at with this season.

On Friday, Karl-Anthony Towns announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 which is absolutely devastating given what he’s been through already.

Towns joins forward Juancho Hernangomez as players for the Wolves who have tested positive, and Ricky Rubio has been held out due to the league’s health protocols.

You have to wonder when the league will consider pause the season. Unfortunately, I think the answer is that they won’t. There’s a lot of money at stake, but when three games a week are getting postponed because players are testing positive or they’ve been exposed, well, that just doesn’t seem sustainable, and it seems pretty clear what the league values. After how successful the bubble was in Orlando, this season has been the exact opposite.

As for the Wolves in particular, about everything is going wrong this season, and we’re only 12 games in. There’s the COVID-19 situation, but even before that Towns hurt his wrist and Josh Okogie hurt his hamstring. We’ve seen the ultimate roller coaster from Jarrett Culver, who looked like he was coming out of his shell and now it seems as if he’s instead just hunkered down in it instead.

After Monday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks, they are 3-9. That’s only 3.5 games back from the eighth seed, so that’s me being optimistic. But the Wolves are also just a 0.5 game back from having the worst record in the entire league. It seems pretty likely this team finishes as one of the bottom-five teams instead of a top-20 team.

The Wolves have the Orlando Magic, Hawks, New Orleans Pelicans and Golden State Warriors (twice) over the next eight days. Sadly, it feels like winning just one of those games would be a boost for this team. That’s kind of where we’re at.

Should the Wolves Go After Kevin Porter Jr.?

It was reported on Monday that the Cleveland Cavaliers would cut or release second-year guard Kevin Porter Jr. after a locker room blow up. It came after Porter found out that his locker was given to Taurean Prince, who the team just traded for.

My take: If Porter threw a temper tantrum, that’s obviously not good and hints to the immaturity that clouded over him during the draft process. But also if you’re the Cavaliers, you know this guy. You know that he’s not always logical. There were problems during his freshman year at USC. So like, I don’t know, maybe don’t just give his locker away without talking to him?

As a rookie last year, Porter looked solid for the Cavaliers, averaging 10 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 44.2% from the field and 33.5% from the 3-point line. There’s a reason why Porter fell to 30th in the draft, though, and that’s what we’re seeing now.

He has yet to play in a game this season after he was in a single-car accident in November. Police found a loaded handgun and marijuana in Porter’s car.

I talked with Porter in Chicago at the Combine prior to the 2019 draft. He seemed optimistic that he could change the public opinion of himself.

“I think I can contribute to multiple teams,” he said. “I feel like I just need to show my character and show they can trust me as a player and off the court.”

Less than two years after that quote, that all seems like lip service.

There’s been some fan talk about whether the Wolves should go after Porter. Normally, I’m all for bringing in young talent when you’re the worst team in the West. This time, however, it’s probably best to stay away from him. You’ve already dealt with the Malik Beasley situation this offseason (we’re still not sure where that will end up) and bringing in another wing would only slow down the development for Culver and No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards. Culver might be a lost cause, but Edwards should be on the court more.

Now, if someone like Marvin Bagley III becomes available, that’s a player who the Wolves should go after.

Our New Podcast

Hey! Our new podcast is here. Twice a week, Julian Andrews and I will be breaking down the Wolves on our new 10,000 Layups Podcast. In our last pod, we chat about how the sports card market has returned! You can listen on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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