WASHINGTON – The NBA has begun its review of the Joel Embiid vs. Karl-Anthony Towns fight that resulted in ejections for both, with a source telling the Star Tribune the league hopes to wrap up its inquiry no later than Friday and could have it resolved by Thursday.
The Wolves have communicated to the league their issues with the role of a third player in the fight – 76ers guard Ben Simmons.
Simmons can be seen trying to pry Towns away from Embiid while the latter two are in a headlock. Moments later, with Towns on the ground, video showed Simmons with his arm around Towns’ neck. Referee crew chief Mark Ayotte told a pool reporter they didn’t think Simmons meant any harm.
“We deemed him a peacemaker,” Ayotte said of Simmons.
But the Wolves are contesting that designation in conversations they have had with the league, a source confirmed.
The Wolves have been in communication with the league, saying Simmons was attempting to cause harm by appearing to have Towns engaged in a chokehold or stranglehold.
ESPN first reported that dialogue between the Wolves and the league.
After the game, Towns didn't say much about the fight, only alluding to the game as "competitive."
"It was competitive," Towns said. "Competitive basketball being played.”
That was a theme President Gersson Rosas echoed in his first public comments about the incident to the Star Tribune on Thursday.
"Two teams playing well early in the season, there’s a lot of competition and a lot of emotions flowing," Rosas said. "You understand it. You don’t ever want to see it. I think at the end of the day, we’re going to be an organization that we have to work and earn the right to be successful in this league, and last night was a step in that direction."
Rosas said he didn't think Towns was specifically trying to send a message by getting into it with Embiid, but if it did, it fits with the overall tone of the what the Wolves are trying to accomplish.
"I think the message we’re sending is we’re going to compete and fight for everything that we deserve in this league," Rosas said. "Sometimes you have to defend yourself and last night was an example of that."