CLEVELAND – The NBA moved its annual trade deadline ahead two weeks this year so a blockbuster trade such as last season’s DeMarcus Cousins deal woudn’t overshadow All-Star Game weekend.
It arrives at 2 p.m. Thursday with the Timberwolves pledging again they’re always receptive and Cleveland superstar LeBron James promising he’s going nowhere.
The Wolves and Cavaliers played Wednesday night in Cleveland with the Cavs much more likely to shake things up after they had lost nine of previous 13 games.
The Wolves might be looking to improve their three-point shooting and perimeter defense. A rugged shot-blocker and rebounder to put alongside Karl-Anthony Towns wouldn’t hurt, either.
Forward Shabazz Muhammad wants to be sent to a team where he’ll get playing time, but he doesn’t have much trade value.
The approaching deadline already produced trades big (Blake Griffin to Detroit), medium (Nikola Mirotic to New Orleans) and small (Minnesota’s own Rashad Vaughn to Brooklyn) long before the final hours tick away.
“Before any trade deadline, there’s always a lot of talk, but usually not a lot gets done,” Wolves coach/president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau said. “There will be some moves, I would expect. That’s normal at this time of year.”
James made it clear after Tuesday’s careening loss in Orlando that he’s not going anywhere this season. A free agent this summer if he so decides, James was asked if he’d waive his no-trade clause.
“No,” James told reporters. “I’m here for the long haul. I’m here for this season right now, to try to figure out ways we can still compete. I couldn’t give up on my teammates like that. I just can’t do that. … Win, lose or draw, at the end of the day we’re all brothers and we understand that, so I owe it to my teammates to finish this season out, no matter how it ends up. I would never waive my no-trade clause.”
Cleveland’s Tyronn Lue coached Wednesday after he left Tuesday’s game in Orlando in the second quarter too ill to continue.
“You always worry about it,” Thibodeau said of a coach’s health in a stress-filled profession. “We saw what happened with [Charlotte coach] Steve Clifford, who thankfully is doing well [headaches]. I think Ty’s taking care of himself. That’s the important thing, his health. … You’re always concerned about that.”
Super Bowl memories
Wolves star Jimmy Butler bought a turf suite for Sunday’s Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium for himself and teammates, a list that included Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague and Cole Aldrich, among others.
“It’s something I’ll never forget,” Aldrich said. “It was cool he would do that for us.”
• Wolves swingman Marcus Georges-Hunt was scratched from the lineup because of illness. Cavaliers guard Dwyane Wade (rest) and Iman Shumpert (foot) didn’t play, either.
• Wolves center and Philadelphia Eagles fan Karl-Anthony Towns wore sneakers Wednesday that proclaimed “SB LII Champs” on one side and “Fly Eagles Fly” on the other.
• Thibodeau when asked about Towns roaming the Super Bowl sidelines Sunday as a credentialed photographer for the Players Tribune: “Sounds like something he would do. He has a lot of different issues. I guess it’s his way of having fun. It’s who he is.”
• New England-raised, Thibodeau when asked how much Towns has rubbed in his team’s victory: “He’s actually handled it well, so far.”