Short takes

• Wolves All-Star and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Jimmy Butler is one of 35 players chosen for a U.S. men’s national team pool from which 12-man teams will be chosen for the 2019 World Cup in China and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Absent from the group is Karl-Anthony Towns.

New Jersey born and raised, he’s not eligible for U.S. team because he played for the Dominican Republic — his mother’s homeland — national team when he was 16. He said earlier this season he has no regret about doing so and doesn’t foresee himself choosing to play for U.S. teams.

 

• While discussing this season’s Sixth Man of the Year race, Denver coach Michael Malone admitted the award likely will go to a pure scorer, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Lou Williams, once again.

“A lot of times that Sixth Man is just a guy who’s a prolific scorer, Jamal Crawford obviously,” Malone said. “That award probably will be named after Jamal at some point.”

Malone was a Knicks assistant when the Wolves’ Crawford played in New York early in his career. “He’s just being nice,” said Crawford, a three-time Sixth Man winner.

 

• The NBA regular season doesn’t end until Wednesday, so there’s still time for somebody to say “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”

That cliché rubs Malone and Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau wrong.

They’re both coaching disciples of Jeff Van Gundy, who hates that phrase.

“When people would say that, he’d say, ‘Have you ever watched a marathon?’ The guys who win the marathon are sprinting the whole time,” Malone said. “The Kenyans are running sub-5-minute miles for all 26 miles.”