New-look Clippers, Wolves to meet in Minnesota

NBA Basketball

Name tags will be appropriate when the Los Angeles Clippers hit the road for a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday in Minneapolis.

Two of the biggest movers at Thursday’s trade deadline will meet, when introductions will be just as vital as play calls and defensive schemes.

The Clippers’ big catch was adding Marcus Morris from the New York Knicks to provide another perimeter threat and provide additional veteran leadership along with team stalwarts Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Lou Williams.

Morris was one of the top players available at the deadline, with the Clippers’ rival Los Angeles Lakers also rumored to be in the mix for his services. Adding the nine-year veteran might prove to be as much of a big deal as keeping him from joining another Western Conference power.

There remains a chance Morris — who averaged a career-high 19.6 points per game in 43 games in New York this season — is not ready to make his Clippers debut on Saturday, which would push it back to a game Sunday at Cleveland.

What is known is that the Clippers will be without Maurice Harkless, who was shipped to New York, and Jerome Robinson, who was traded to the Washington Wizards. Derrick Walton Jr. also was traded to the Atlanta Hawks.

Regardless, the Clippers will enter Saturday on a three-game winning streak and winners in five of their last six, and nine of their last 11.

They earned a 128-111 victory at home over the Miami Heat on Wednesday when Landry Shamet had a season-high 23 points, while making six 3-pointers. George made five 3-pointers, while Leonard and JaMychal Green made four each.

The Clippers’ 24 made 3-pointers were a franchise record. They also had a season-high 35 assists.

“In the first half, I thought I was going to go nuts because it was there and they couldn’t see it,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said, according to the Los Angeles Times, about opportunities to stretch the Heat’s defense. ” … Once they saw it, they really took advantage of it, and that was great.”

The Timberwolves will enter after significant changes to the roster in the past few days. Getting D’Angelo Russell from the Golden State Warriors for Andrew Wiggins was the big move, but there were others.

Also new to the Timberwolves are Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez and Jarred Vanderbilt from Denver, Omari Spellman and Jacob Evans from Golden State, and James Johnson from Miami. But Karl-Anthony Towns and Russell, the top two overall picks in the 2015 NBA Draft, are the core the team will rebuild around.

What combination of players will be available Saturday remains unknown.

“I have been seeing from a distance and up close the ship that Karl has been driving around here for years,” Russell said upon his arrival in Minnesota. “Players came and (went). They didn’t appreciate the situation, or whatever, but watching from a distance I knew I could help Karl.”

The changes are not likely to make the Timberwolves any worse. They will enter Saturday on a 13-game losing streak, with their last victory Jan. 9 against the Portland Trail Blazers.

In the 10 games since returning from a knee injury, all losses, Towns has scored 27.2 points per game with 8.6 rebounds. He has averaged 26.7 points on the season with 10.8 rebounds in 33 games.

–Field Level Media

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