After the Timberwolves' morning shootaround Saturday, Kevin Garnett spoke on a number of issues. On some, including the growth of rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns in particular and the state of the younger players in general, he was rather effusive. On others, not so much.
For example, when asked whether interim coach Sam Mitchell was the guy to lead the team going forward, Garnett responded, "Next question."
Fans probably shouldn't read too much into the response. Garnett often declines to answer questions he perceives as negative. And Garnett is close to his coach; Mitchell was Garnett's mentor when KG was a Wolves rookie and stepped aside willingly when Garnett was ready to move into the starting lineup.
Garnett was more talkative on other subjects, including:
• Towns' growth in the wake of a 27-point, 17-rebound, six-block outing Wednesday at Dallas. "I thought he was reacting, playing without thinking," Garnett said. "He was into the game, wasn't thinking a lot. He had a great game."
Garnett said Towns is a quick learner and has advanced more, perhaps, than Garnett had expected by midseason. "He's very smart. He has a high IQ," Garnett said. But he couldn't resist a little dig: "Sometimes it's a little difficult teaching him because he is so smart. I guess that's a young thing."
• On his message to a young team not yet getting a lot of wins. "Winning is a process," he said. "You don't just wake up, put your clothes on and ta-da! You come in, you work at it. It's new guys learning each other's game, understanding new schemes from a new coach, new situations. Then you build off that. We're teaching these guys to communicate, share the ball, how to stay positive, to accept each other with their flaws, because we all have them. That's the message I'm trying to instill in these guys every day."
After playing nine minutes in the first half vs. Memphis, Garnett didn't play in the second half due to a sore knee.
To dunk or not to dunk?
Zach LaVine was asked if he was planning on defending his NBA slam dunk title.
"Oh, yeah," LaVine started. Then: "I don't know. It's still a little bit of a surprise, still. It's more in the maybe."
Right. It appears there will be some sort of higher-profile announcement coming soon. The Wolves guard will almost certainly be in Toronto trying to become the fourth back-to-back winner in the contest's history. Last year as a rookie, he dominated the field while winning; some felt his performance revived an event that had gotten somewhat stale.
That said, has he practiced yet? "I'll start soon," he said, "if it does happen. But, you know, I think I have enough dunks saved up to where I know I can go out and put on a good show."
Has LaVine tried to persuade Andrew Wiggins to join in? "He doesn't want to," LaVine said. "Maybe he doesn't want to lose."
It was no surprise the LaVine bobblehead given away Saturday has him going up for a dunk. "I need to get a couple of them," LaVine said. "They're giving out 5,000 free ones and I haven't gotten one yet."