The Timberwolves reportedly have a D’Angelo Russell problem on their hands.
Minnesota is expected to shop their point guard this offseason, according to NBA Insider Marc Stein, after his lack of production in the Timberwolves’ first-round playoff series against the Grizzlies.
Russell and Co. were eliminated in six games by Memphis on Friday — and the point guard was benched in the closing minutes of Game 6. Timberwolves coach Chris Finch replaced Russell with undrafted third-year guard Jordan McLaughlin, and Russell was apparently unhappy.
When asked if he was OK with the benching, Russell said, “No. Not at all,” during his exit interview in Minnesota on Saturday.
According to Stein, a number of rival teams expect Minnesota to try to trade the 26-year-old guard, “irrespective of Russell’s close relationship with Minnesota star Karl-Anthony Towns.”
The pair has a deep-rooted friendship that stretches back to high school, and Minnesota tried to capitalize on that when they formed a Big 3 with Russell, Towns and former first-overall pick Anthony Edwards.
Russell, who has one season left on his $31.4 million max contract, is currently eligible for an extension. But it appears unlikely that he’ll get one from the Timberwolves.
Russell scored 12 or fewer points in five of the six games in the Timberwolves-Grizzlies series, and he shot just 32.3 percent from the field. The point guard was essentially a non-factor on the defensive end as well, which contributed to Minnesota’s blown leads against the Grizzlies.
If the Timberwolves do decide to break up their Big 3, though, it could be a major headache trying to move Russell’s current salary.