The Minnesota Timberwolves need Andrew Wiggins to be more consistent, according to president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas.

Wiggins signed a five-year, $146.5million extension with the Timberwolves in October 2017, but the 24-year-old regressed over the last two NBA seasons. 

Rosas was asked about Wiggins – the 2015 Rookie of the Year – and his development during an appearance at the Minnesota State Fair on Thursday.

"Andrew in particular with his talent and physical abilities, the potential he's shown, we've got to get that on a more consistent basis," Rosas told the Star Tribune. 

"He's focused on it as well. In order for us to have the success we want to have, he's got to be a main contributor. He understands that, we understand that."

The Timberwolves acquired Wiggins from the Cleveland Cavaliers before his rookie season as the centrepiece of the Kevin Love trade.

Wiggins averaged 18.1 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting a career-low 41.2 per cent from the field in 2018-19.

Rosas thinks Wiggins will benefit from playing under Ryan Saunders, who was named the Timberwolves head coach after serving in an interim role to end last season. 

"To be fair to [Wiggins], he needs some continuity in terms of coaching, philosophy, strategy and style of play," Rosas said. "We think he's going to be one of the better beneficiaries of this style of play.

"His physical tools, talent and skill. We do feel there's a lot of upside for him. He's worked very hard this summer. He's been committed to everything that we've done."

The Timberwolves finished 2018-19 with a 36-46 record and missed the playoffs.

 

James Harden believes a media narrative was behind Giannis Antetokounmpo beating him to being named NBA MVP for 2018-19.

Houston Rockets guard and 2018 MVP Harden averaged 36.1 points in the regular season – the most since Michael Jordan tallied 37.1 in 1986-87 – and went on a stunning run of 32 30-point games in succession.

However, Antetokounmpo was the best player for the Milwaukee Bucks, who finished the regular season with the best record of any team. He averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game.

"[It was] one for the books. Even when I'm gone, they're going to talk about it," Harden said to 97.9 The Box of his season, before offering his thoughts on how the MVP race unfolded.

"It's out of my control. Once the media, they create a narrative about somebody from the beginning of the year, I think they just take that narrative and just run with it the entire year.

"I don't want to get into details. All I can do is control what I can do, and I went out there and did what I was supposed to do at a high level. There's only a few other seasons that anybody has ever done that before.

"People were tuned in to how many points I was going to score the next game. It was a thing. But I can't control that. The only thing I can control is coming back next year and being better than I was, and winning a championship."

The Rockets dealt Chris Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder to add 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook to their roster for 2019-20 and Harden is eager to get going.

"I'm excited. Obviously, Chris did an unbelievable job the two years that he was here. He's helped our organisation and team a tremendous amount. But we have most of the same core guys coming back, and then we add Russ," he said.

"We all know how Russ plays, and he's even a greater guy off the court. It's difficult playing against him, just because he plays with that aggression. He plays with that anger. But it's going to be better to have him on our team now.

"Now we've got him and PJ [Tucker] … crazy together. We've got a lot of guys who are return and then you add Russ, it's something special."

On potential opponents in next year's playoffs, Harden added: "It don't even matter because we focus on ourselves. We've got so much talent in that locker room, and our organisation is so great.

"We don't pay attention to other teams. We just focus on what we control, our team, and being the best we can be. Whoever we face, let's get it on."

Damian Lillard does not intend to move on from the Portland Trail Blazers to team up with other NBA stars any time soon.

The guard signed a four-year, $196million extension with the Trail Blazers and refuses to "sell out" for championship rings by leaving the city that picked him sixth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Lillard spoke with Complex on Wednesday and discussed his thoughts about super teams.

"I think people are taking control because there's no greater time to do it than now," Lillard said.

"And I don't have a problem with that, but the way I see stuff is, like, I don't prefer to go that route. Just like they're choosing to do this stuff for their career, I'm choosing to do what I want for mine, too."

This offseason was an eventful one in the NBA. Kevin Durant elected to part ways with the Golden State Warriors to join the Brooklyn Nets, Anthony Davis forced his way to the Los Angeles Lakers via trade request and Paul George leveraged his way to an ideal situation when he joined Kawhi Leonard on the Los Angeles Clippers. 

The balance of power has shifted in the NBA because of these moves, but Lillard wants to stay put and win it all on his own terms.

"To leave, what did I invest all this time for just to leave, you know?" Lillard said. "If I go play with three other stars, I don't think that many people would doubt that I could win it. We would win it, but what is the challenge or the fun in that?"

Lillard, a four-time All-Star, has consistently been one of the best guards in the NBA in recent years. He has career averages of 23.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists and has developed a reputation for knocking down clutch shots – like the signature dagger that eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder from the 2018-19 playoffs.

"I wanna be the one, the star that wants to be here [in Portland]," Lillard said. "I wanna be the one that embodies all of those things and then be a part of the rise from 'we haven't won since '77, and now we won, and Dame's everything to our city'. I just am who I am, and that fits here."

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward hopes Kyrie Irving is successful with the Brooklyn Nets.

Irving left Boston and inked a four-year, $140.6million contract with Brooklyn this offseason.

Hayward was asked about Irving's departure when he met with reporters on Tuesday. 

"The interesting part of the league is the drama that happens every offseason," Hayward said, via NBC Sports Boston. "I don't know if there's any league like that, where you have major guys moving teams.

"I wish [Irving] the best of luck as he goes to Brooklyn."

The Celtics also lost Al Horford (Philadelphia 76ers) and Marcus Morris (New York Knicks) in free agency.

But, they signed three-time All-Star Kemba Walker and added center Enes Kanter.

"As a team, we're excited about who we have coming in," Hayward said. "I'm more than excited to welcome Kemba and Enes, and all the other guys that are new for us."

Hayward was inconsistent last season after he missed almost all of 2017-18 with a devastating leg injury. He averaged 11.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 25.9 minutes per game while shooting 33.3 per cent from three-point range. 

Hayward said he has spent the offseason focusing on bouncing back.

"More than anything, just building back some confidence; being able to do everything that I'm used to doing," Hayward said. "Reps is what gives you confidence, being able to do things over and over and over and not worry about how my ankle is feeling or having to be cautious with it, has been really good for my confidence.

"That has felt really nice, being able to train how I'm used to training. Not having to worry about doing stuff for only 10 minutes, only doing a certain amount of reps. It's been really good from that standpoint."

The Celtics entered 2018-19 as the favourites to win the East but finished with a 49-33 record and were eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the conference semifinals.

Zion Williamson's fellow NBA rookies do not expect him to have the best career of the players in his draft class, with Cam Reddish coming out on top in the league's annual rookie survey.

Only five per cent of respondents in the survey believe Williamson will have the best career of the 2019 draftees.

Atlanta Hawks guard Reddish, meanwhile, received 19 per cent of the vote for the question.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (16 per cent) and Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter (11 per cent) also ranked higher than Williamson.

Three other players – Jaxson Hayes, who will play alongside Williamson for the New Orleans Pelicans, RJ Barrett and Coby White matched the small forward at five per cent.

Reddish, who was selected at number 10 by the Hawks, and Williamson were team-mates at Duke Blue Devils.

Williamson was the story of college basketball last season and averaged 22.6 points, along with 8.9 rebounds, while shooting 68 per cent from the field.

He was the consensus top prospect in the 2019 draft and the Pelicans chose him with the number one pick.

However, Williamson is favoured to win the Rookie of the Year among members of his draft class, as 35 per cent of respondents in the survey predicted he would take home the award.

Victor Oladipo believes the Indiana Pacers have a "chance to be really special" as they prepare for the 2019-20 NBA season.

The Pacers finished 2018-19 with a 48-34 record and were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs after star Oladipo ruptured a quad tendon in his right knee.

Indiana lost some key pieces from that team — including Thaddeus Young, Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collision and Cory Joseph. But, the Pacers replaced them with the likes of Jeremy Lamb, T.J. Warren, T.J. McConnell, Justin Holiday and JaKarr Sampson.

The Pacers made multiple moves this offseason and two-time All-Star Oladipo said Indiana will "definitely" make the playoffs.

"I feel like we got some great additions," Oladipo said, via the Indianapolis Star. "We got a chance to be really special. I feel like the league is wide open."

Indiana's biggest acquisition was Malcolm Brogdon, who they landed in a sign-and-trade with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Brogdon, who averaged 15.6 points and shot 42.6 per cent from three-point range last season, then signed a four-year, $85million deal with the Pacers.

"We added a lot of fire power offensively, but we always wanted a team on a good timeline," Indiana president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard told reporters in early July.

"We feel we have a young team, a very vibrant up-and-coming team that's willing to get better. We like guys who love the game. You can always tell when guys love the game, they have these incremental improvements every year."

Oladipo said he was excited to play with Brogdon.

"I know what type of player he is, the level that he plays on and has been playing on the last couple of years from Milwaukee," Oladipo said. "To have him as an addition is pretty big for us."

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey believes James Harden is a better scoring than NBA and Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan.

Harden is fresh off the best offensive season of his career after averaging 36.1 point and 7.5 assists in 78 appearances for a Rockets team who were dependent on his ability to draw fouls and crafty shot making.

The 2017-18 MVP led the NBA in scoring last season and tallied the league's highest points per game average since Jordan averaged 37.1 points during the 1986-87 season.

Most basketball fans agree that Jordan is the greatest of all time, but Morey would argue Harden has a leg up on the sport's most iconic player in one area.

"It's just factual that James Harden is a better scorer than Michael Jordan," Morey said on the 'Selfmade with Nadeshot' podcast.

Morey is the creator of Houston's analytics-based offensive system known as "Moreyball" and says statistics make him ranking Harden above Jordan logical.

"Based on literally, like you give James Harden the ball and before you're giving up the ball how many points do you generate? Which is how you should measure offense. James Harden is by far number one in NBA history," Morey said.

Harden has been an All-Star in each of his seven seasons with the Rockets, has led the league in possessions per game for the last three campaigns and has won the last two scoring titles. 

The argument for Jordan being the better offensive player stems from the fact that basketball has evolved. The game is faster, players shoot more and scoring is up. But Morey is holding onto his beliefs.

"The counterargument is reasonable," Morey said. "They say if you put Michael Jordan on a team now he would do more than James Harden. That's possible. But if you're just saying: 'NBA history, if you give this guy the ball, how much does his team score after you give him the ball before the other team gets the ball?' It's James Harden. And I know that makes people mad, but it's literally a fact."

The Rockets have had plenty of success in the regular season with Harden as the centrepiece but have yet to reach the NBA Finals during his time in Houston.

But the Rockets shipped off Chris Paul and an assortment of future draft picks to bring in the 2016-17 MVP in Russell Westbrook.

The Rockets have two elite, high-usage guards on their team, and Morey believes Harden alongside a triple-double machine like Westbrook can get Houston over the hump.

Billionaire Joseph Tsai has finalised a deal that makes him the sole owner of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, the team announced on Friday.

Tsai, 55, already owned 49 per cent of the Nets, which he bought for $1billion last year.

Reports this week said he is buying the remaining 51 per cent from Mikhail Prokhorov for $1.35billion, valuing the franchise at $2.35billion.

The deal must be approved by the NBA's board of governors and is expected to be completed by the end of September, the franchise said.

"I've had the opportunity to witness up close the Brooklyn Nets rebuild that Mikhail started a few years ago," Tsai - worth an estimated $9.7billion according to Forbes - said in a statement.

"He hired a front office and coaching staff focused on player development, he supported the organisation with all his resources, and he refused to tank.

"I will be the beneficiary of Mikhail's vision, which put the Nets in a great position to compete, and for which I am incredibly grateful."

Tsai's deal for the Nets would represent the largest price paid for a United States sports team in history, surpassing the $2.2billion purchases of the Carolina Panthers and the Houston Rockets.

Last season, Brooklyn finished with a 42-40 record but have renewed hope because of huge off-season acquisitions of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Durant signed a four-year, $164million deal with the team, while Irving signed a four-year, $141m deal.

The Indianapolis Colts are in wait and see mode with Andrew Luck.

The Los Angeles Lakers are in the same position but in a different way with DeMarcus Cousins.

Meanwhile, in Dallas, the Cowboys have not come to an agreement with any of their three players currently looking for new deals.

All that and more this week in US Sports.

 

1. Colts still waiting on Luck to get healthy

It is 2017 all over again as the Colts continue to wait for quarterback Luck to lead the team's offense. Just two seasons after Luck thought he would start the season but ultimately missed the entire year due to injury, Indianapolis are once again in limbo while Luck deals with an injury.

Exactly what the issue is remains to be seen as it has been reported that he had a calf issue, then an ankle issue and now just a general leg issue. The only thing certain is Luck is not leading the team's offense as the season creeps closer and closer.

Coach Frank Reich told reporters this week he wants to make a decision on who will start week one by the third week of the preseason. Whether that will be Luck or backup Jacoby Brissett remains to be seen.

2. Cousins' season may be done before it started

The Lakers may have already been dealt a devastating injury. Cousins tore his anterior cruciate ligament, the center's agent Jeff Schwartz told ESPN.

Los Angeles were hoping to go with a solid big three with Cousins, Anthony Davis and LeBron James, but now they will likely have to build around Davis and James as Cousins could have just suffered his second season-ending injury in the past three years.

 

3. Cowboys no closer to deals with stars

The Cowboys continue to work to sign Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott to deals, but as far as we know, they are no closer to anything.

Jerry Jones offered a colourful illustration as to what trying to sign the three players is like this week.

"Picture you were a driver of a car and you had a wreck and your hand was almost severed off, but you didn't understand your anatomy," Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. "You look down, you're spurting blood, you open the door, and run to the woods, and either die bleeding to death or shock. The educated man looks down, knows his anatomy, squeezes and knows his best chance is to wait for help. That's because he's been there a lot and done that. So I'm squeezing and waiting for help."

Jones might be a little stressed by his current situation.

4. Pitchers starting to look fragile

It is the dog days of summer in MLB and pitchers are dropping like flies. Just this week, Philadelphia Phillies righty Jake Arrieta went on the 10-day injured list (IL) and is likely done for the season as he is considering undergoing surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow, Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole was scratched for a start with a hamstring issue and Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon underwent surgery on his elbow and then discovered he needed Tommy John surgery. He will now be out for all of 2020 as well.

At this point teams are just trying to get to the end of the year without losing a pitcher for the season but the Phillies and Pirates were unable to escape that fate.

Los Angeles Lakers' new recruit DeMarcus Cousins has suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury, his agent has confirmed.

Cousins, who battled through a quad injury during the play-offs with the Golden State Warriors last season - having already overcome a torn Achilles suffered midway through the 2017-18 campaign - signed a one-year deal worth $3.5million with the Lakers in July.

However, the Lakers look set to be without their star signing for a time, with the center's agent Jeff Schwartz confirming to ESPN that Cousins ruptured his ACL during a workout in Las Vegas.

Cousins was training on Monday when he suffered an injury which forced him off the court, and the 29-year-old underwent scans on Thursday.

After signing with the Lakers, Cousins said previous injury struggles have helped him realise how much he loves the game.

“Everything I've gone through in the past three years it just helped me realise how fast this thing can be taken away from you," Cousins told the Los Angeles Times.

"I love it that much more. I'm grateful for every opportunity. I learned the hard way."

Los Angeles Lakers' new recruit DeMarcus Cousins has suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury, according to reports.

Cousins, who battled through a quad injury during the play-offs with the Golden State Warriors last season - having already overcome a torn Achilles suffered midway through the 2017-18 campaign - signed a one-year deal worth $3.5 million with the Lakers in July.

However, the Lakers look set to be without their star signing for a time, with The Athletic reporting Cousins ruptured his ACL during a workout in Las Vegas.

Cousins is said to have been training on Monday when he suffered an injury which forced him off the court, and the 29-year-old was set to undergo scans on Thursday.

After signing with the Lakers, Cousins said previous injury struggles have helped him realise how much he loves the game.

“Everything I've gone through in the past three years it just helped me realise how fast this thing can be taken away from you," Cousins told the Los Angeles Times.

"I love it that much more. I'm grateful for every opportunity. I learned the hard way."

LeBron James wants to "destroy as many people as possible" as the Los Angeles Lakers superstar looks to silence his doubters, according to Richard Jefferson.

James swapped the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Lakers in 2018-19 but he was unable to lead the storied NBA franchise to the playoffs.

The 34-year-old averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists for the Lakers, who missed the postseason for the sixth successive season.

James, who also struggled with a groin injury that limited him to 55 games, failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004-05.

Jefferson, who played alongside James for the Cavaliers from 2015-17, backed the three-time champion and four-time MVP to bounce back in a big way.

"LeBron James will be the best player in basketball next year, again," Jefferson told ESPN's 'Get Up!' on Monday.

"Now, will he be the LeBron James from '08 and chasing down blocks? No. But, he's going to do so many different things. … I think he understands the disrespect. He's felt it over the course of his career, at different levels. Now, it's like 'Oh, you're old. You're not that guy anymore'.

"But, I think, really and truly, he's more focused on proving to people that basketball is the most important thing to him. And, the only way to do that is to go and destroy as many people as possible."

The Lakers' roster should be much improved this season after they acquired Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks this offseason.

Los Angeles had cap space to add a third star next to James and Davis, but missed out on Kawhi Leonard, who joined cross-town rivals the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Lakers then signed Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Quinn Cook, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso to deals.

Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry will not be competing for the United States at the upcoming FIBA World Cup in China.

Raptors guard Lowry announced his withdrawal from Team USA on Monday, citing health reasons.

Lowry had surgery on his right thumb in July following Toronto's NBA triumph over the Golden State Warriors. He reportedly made the trip to training camp despite having a fear the injury would not allow him to play.

He was a member of the 2016 gold-medal team and still hopes to represent USA at the 2020 Olympics.

"This is a status update message regarding the 2019 FIBA World Cup," he wrote, in part, in a note posted on Instagram.

"I was hoping [to] be cleared and ready for the tournament but I was not cleared for full basketball activities...

"At the end of the day I believe the men that are playing will be great and will win the gold for our country."

Lowry was one of the 17 finalists to make the roster for the tournament, which will run from August 31 to September 15.

The news of Lowry's departure comes just a day after Marvin Bagley III also withdrew. There are now 15 players for the 12 open roster spots.

USA head coach Gregg Popovich has had to deal with the dwindling numbers.

"All I care about is who's here," Popovich said at the first day of training camp last week. "I've got a fine group of guys and we're going to get the best possible team we can.

"This is the most satisfying form of putting a bunch of guys together and them have empathy and love for each other to form the kind of team they're going to have to beat some really good European teams."

Lowry is the latest in a long list of players — including Bradley Beal, James Harden, Anthony Davis, CJ McCollum, Eric Gordon, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond, Montrezl Harrell and Bagley — who pulled their name out of consideration for the World Cup.

Zion Williamson believes RJ Barrett will thrive in the NBA.

Williamson and Barrett were team-mates at Duke and both were selected in the top three – by the New Orleans Pelicans and New York Knicks respectively – of the 2019 NBA Draft.

Williamson was asked about Barrett during a recent interview with SNY.

"[Knicks fans] can expect that they're getting a killer," Williamson said.

Barrett averaged 22.6 points per game as a freshman for the Blue Devils in 2018-19. But, he shot just 30.8 per cent from three-point range and was inconsistent during summer league last month, leading some to speculate he will struggle with New York.

"For the people that are trying to look down on him, RJ's been through worse," Williamson said.

"He knows how to battle through it and he's going to bring the city everything he's got."

The Knicks' roster underwent a major overhaul this offseason. They had reportedly been pursuing stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, however, both signed with the cross-town rival Brooklyn Nets.

New York then went on to sign Wayne Ellington, Elfrid Payton, Julius Randle, Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock, Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis.

"When it comes to everything on the court with the fan base and everything, I just feel like I went to Duke and we got a lot of attention," Barrett told reporters in late June about playing in New York.

"Being in New York there's going to be a lot more, but I've just been built this way to handle it.

"I'm a player that plays with a lot of passion, competitiveness and excitement, so to be able to go in a home arena [Madison Square Garden] that has such a great fan base like that is going to make the game so much more fun. It's going to be great."

The Knicks finished 2018-19 with a 17-65 record and missed the playoffs for a sixth straight season.

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