After Thursday’s NBA trade deadline came and went without the Timberwolves making a deal, some of the more relieved players on the team were not among those rumored to be on the market.

Turns out having that deadline in the rear view mirror is a good thing in any case.

Talking after Friday’s morning shoot-around, center Karl-Anthony Towns said he was glad the deadline had passed. “Yeah, just for everyone’s sake,” he said. “You don’t want anyone to be thinking about anything else but winning basketball games. For that date to be gone, now people who were hearing their names so much can really relax and enjoy their time, focus on winning games.”

That focus will be needed by a team that, though just three games out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference before Friday’s game with Dallas at Target Center, had four teams between them and No. 8 Denver.

“Now we can relax and stay focused and look forward,” Andrew Wiggins said.

Rush enjoyed ‘special day’

Brandon Rush was a little late getting back from the All Star break, spending Wednesday night on the campus of the University of Kansas having his No. 25 jersey retired. It happened at Allen Fieldhouse at halftime of the Kansas-TCU game.

Rush, a Kansas City native who hasn’t been back to the campus in Lawrence much since leaving there with a national championship under his belt, said it was a great experience.

“I was a little nervous at first, going up and speaking in front of everybody,” he said. “But it turned out to be good. It was good to have my family there, good to have a lot of friends there. It was a special day for me. I enjoyed it. Going back, it was amazing. People showed me a lot of love. I still have a lot of fans down there, and they still follow me to this day.”

Thibs is a Nowitzki fan

The deal that brought Nerlens Noel to the Mavericks — Noel didn’t play Friday but will make his debut with the Mavericks on Saturday — continued the process of making the Mavs roster younger. But one constant remains in Dirk Nowitzki, the 19-year veteran, who should be back for at least one more season after this; Nowitzki has made it clear he’d like to play a full 20 seasons with the same team.

Age has taken a bit of a toll on Nowitzki, 38. A career 21.8 points per game scorer, he is averaging 13.9 this season, though he has scored more of late.

Tom Thibodeau put Nowitzki on a par with recently retired greats Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant.

“Look at what Tim and Kevin and Kobe did, to play at the level they did for such a long time. And you can put Dirk in there. But when you look at our league, the pipeline is full. The young guys coming in are great. We have guys in the middle [of their career] now established. Each group learns from the previous group. That’s why it keeps getting better and better.”

Payne recovering

Adreian Payne, who is out indefinitely while being treated for thrombocytopenia, is improving according to Thibodeau. He’s back with the team but not yet cleared for contact. “He’s doing a lot better,” Thibodeau said.