Minnesota Timberwolves Suspend Rudy Gobert for One Game
Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert will serve a one-game suspension after punching a teammate in the last game of the regular season.
The Timberwolves qualified for the Western Conference Play-In Tournament after they finished the season in eighth place. On Tuesday evening, the Timberwolves will meet the Los Angeles Lakers, who finished in seventh place, to determine the #7 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
The loser of the Lakers and Timberwolves game will meet the winner of the ninth-place versus 10th-place game to determine the #8 seed on Friday evening.
The New Orleans Pelicans finished in ninth place and will host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday evening.
Gobert to Miss Play-In Tournament
Gobert and forward Kyle Anderson had a dust up in the team huddle during a time out in the second quarter against the Pelicans on Sunday.
A vocal Anderson criticized Gobert’s defense, and Gobert chastised Anderson for not rebounding. Anderson referred to Gobert as a “bitch” multiple times before Gobert swung at his teammate. Although Gobert lost his temper, he tried to pull the punch and landed a blow on Anderson’s shoulder.
Head coach Chris Finch expelled Gobert from the game, but Gobert and Anderson continued their spat in the locker room at halftime. At that point, team president Tim Connelly stepped in and asked Gobert to leave the arena and return to his home.
After the game, Gobert apologized on social media, but the Timberwolves organization still suspended him for one game. As a result, Gobert will sit out in the Play-In Tournament against the Lakers and won’t be present with the team in Los Angeles.
Rudy Gobert and Kyle Anderson had to be separated as things got heated in the Timberwolves huddle.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) April 9, 2023
Gobert Trade a Bust?
The spat with Anderson capped off a frustrating first year in Minnesota for Gobert. He averaged 13.4 points and 11.6 rebounds per game this season while shooting 63.9% from the floor. The former NBA Defensive Player of the Year wasn’t as sharp on defense as he had been during his tenure with the Utah Jazz. He also didn’t wait long before he got under the skin of teammates, which is a reputation he developed in Salt Lake City.
Although Gobert emerged as one of the top defenders in the league, he had a thorny relationship with his Jazz teammates. The abrasive Gobert divided the Jazz’s locker room last season because of a rift with former teammate Donovan Mitchell. The Jazz knew they couldn’t win a title with a fractured squad, so they traded both Mitchell and Gobert in the offseason.
Considering that the Timberwolves gave up a huge haul to acquire Gobert in a trade, he drew sharp criticism from beat writers and fans. The Timberwolves sent four first-round picks, plus five additional players to the Jazz in exchange for Gobert last summer.
In 2021-22, the Timberwolves went 46-36 and finished in seventh place in the Western Conference. They won their first game in the Play-In Tournament to secure the #7 seed, but were knocked out of the opening round by the #2 Memphis Grizzlies. The addition of Gobert was supposed to elevate the Timberwolves into a championship contender, but they finished with a worse record this season at 42-40.
Lakers a Betting Favorite Against T-Wolves
The Lakers opened as a -5.5 favorite against the Timberwolves in the Western Conference Play-In Tournament. The line jumped three points after the Timberwolves announced Gobert will miss one game due to a suspension.
The short-handed Timberwolves are missing another starter from their frontline. Forward Jaden McDaniels fractured his hand on Sunday after he punched a wall while walking to the locker room at halftime. The incident wasn’t related to the Gobert/Anderson tussle.
McDaniels, in his third season out of Washington, averaged a career-best 12.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. He also shot 39.8% from 3-point range. He evolved into a reliable “3 and D” player as one of the team’s top defenders.
McDaniels was expected to defend LeBron James in the Play-In Tournament while Gobert was supposed to keep Lakers big man Anthony Davis in check.
Veteran forward Taurean Prince and second-year forward Nathan Knight are expected to fill in for both McDaniels and Gobert in the Play-In Tournament.
The Timberwolves are +30000 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA championship, according to a recent update by DraftKings. They’re also +12000 odds to win the Western Conference title and advance to the NBA Finals.
DraftKings posted a “make the playoffs” prop bet, but the odds aren’t in the Timberwolves’ favor. They are -300 odds to miss the playoffs, and +235 odds to advance to the playoffs as either the #7 seed or #8 seed.
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