It was two weeks ago that an emotional Karl-Anthony Towns took to Instagram to announce his mother was on a respirator and in a medically induced coma as she battled COVID-19.
There was no word of an update on how Towns’ mom, Jacqueline Cruz, had been doing since then until Monday, when John Calipari, Towns’ college coach at Kentucky, said she is still in the hospital.
Calipari held a Facebook Live chat and said he has been getting updates from Towns’ father, Karl Sr., on Cruz’s condition in a New Jersey hospital.
“She’s fighting. She’s there …” Calipari said. “Keep praying for her. Send her unbelievably positive thoughts, and I just can’t wait until she gets out of that hospital.”
On Tuesday, the Wolves held their first media session with Twin Cities reporters since the NBA season was halted via Zoom video conference. On the call, coach Ryan Saunders and President Gersson Rosas didn’t elaborate on Cruz’s condition but offered the organization’s thoughts and prayers while praising Towns for the courage with which he has handled his mother’s battle.
“The strength that he’s shown for his teammates — and him being able to share is not just admirable,” Saunders said, “but it’s something that he should be commended for. He was able to bring attention — bring more attention to safe practices and social distancing and doing the right things right now [that are] ultimately part of a solution.”
Rosas declined to comment on the state of Towns’ fractured left wrist, which had kept him out for the past 12 games the Wolves played. The Wolves were hoping rest and treatment would heal Towns’ wrist and that he would not need surgery.
“We want to be respectful of those individuals as they deal with things that are very personal and important,” Rosas said. “At the proper time, we’ll address that accordingly.”
Rosas added that the Wolves have been trying to support Towns and all their players through this difficult time. Rosas said about two-thirds of the roster has remained in Minnesota and some are isolated from their families as they try to maintain a sense of normalcy while the NBA is on hold. Some have moved into apartments with gyms or hoops they can use. The Wolves have provided meals and workout plans for them as they wait for word on how the NBA will resume this season, if at all.
Commissioner Adam Silver told TNT that the league office likely won’t be in a position to make any decisions on resuming play until May 1. The league also has looked at the viability of having rapid testing available in the future to ensure players’ safety, ESPN reported.
The Wolves were in 14th place in the Western Conference when the season stopped, and they’re hopeful that any return-to-play scenario includes at least a few regular-season games to further evaluate a roster that was remade at the trade deadline in early February. For instance, Towns got to play in only one game with D’Angelo Russell, and the Wolves have decisions to make on players such as restricted free agents Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez, though Rosas said he made the trade for them with the intent of keeping them long term.
“The fact that we were able to see how some of those new players would fit in our spacing scheme, our defensive coverages, our system, you do feel good about that,” Saunders said. “But we’re a group that we miss basketball.”
Not to mention the offseason calendar could change with the time frame for free agency, the draft and summer league all in the air. Specifically, the draft time frame especially is significant for the Wolves since they are likely to have two first-round picks. ESPN reported teams are prohibited from having in-person workouts with prospects until further notice but can hold virtual interviews for up to four hours with players.
“The [league] is looking at every and any avenue to continue this season,” Rosas said. “I… We’re all understanding of the realities that we’re living day in and day out, that a typical standard schedule, or a typical start and end of season has changed for all of us and has changed into the future. I know all the efforts, all the resources are [going into] finishing this season in some shape or form.”