SALT LAKE CITY – Now that next month’s All-Star Game starters and reserves have been named, Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine is prepping to defend his Saturday slam-dunk title. Even if he still claims he hasn’t decided whether he will, at least not until the NBA confirms he’ll be back.
“Officially, I have not decided,” he said. “Personally? I don’t know.”
LaVine’s resounding victory in Brooklyn last year brought him endorsement deals as well as worldwide fame, which he discovered when he made a lunchtime public appearance at a park in China last spring.
“I knew I had a lot of fans, a lot of followers,” he said. “There were like 2,500 people there. They said I had more fans than Kevin Durant did.”
LaVine performed contest-worthy dunks after practice Tuesday, even calling General Manager Milt Newton over to watch.
“I have a couple of them that might be, I still have some tricks under my sleeve,” LaVine said. “I have to start practicing again.”
He has tried to persuade teammate Andrew Wiggins to join him, particularly since All-Star weekend is coming to Wiggins’ hometown of Toronto. Wiggins repeatedly has expressed no interest.
“He said he lost a dunk contest in high school and he was disappointed they didn’t give him the right scores so he’s not doing it again,” LaVine said. “He has some dunks that will beat anybody. I’ve seen them. We were just messing around one day and I was like, ‘I can’t do that,’ and ‘I can’t do that.’ He’d be big-time competition.”
Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns followed Monday’s career-high four assists at Cleveland by recording five Wednesday against Oklahoma City. He was asked if six more were coming Friday at Utah.
“I’m hoping one day to get 10,” he said. “I’ll try to chase [Ricky] Rubio in assist totals. … I’m just trying to be a better passer”
Towns settled for one assist Friday, but he scored 32 points.
• Just how young are these Wolves? So young that LaVine, Towns, Wiggins and Tyus Jones were turned away from a Salt Lake City bar/restaurant when the team’s traveling party went out for dinner Thursday. None of them is 21 yet. “We just wanted to eat,” LaVine said. “We couldn’t even get a burger.”
• Kevin Garnett (sore knee) and Kevin Martin (sore right wrist) each missed his third consecutive game on Friday.
• Towns is expected to join fellow big men DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Draymond Green in All-Star weekend’s skills competition, which primarily has consisted of guards in recent years.