ATLANTA – There were some conflicted feelings between some members of the Timberwolves and Hawks on Monday night.
Wolves guard Mike Conley and center Rudy Gobert were on the opposite bench from Quin Snyder, their coach with the Utah Jazz who recently took the job with Atlanta, and it brought back some memories for all involved.
"It'll probably hit me when I go out there," Snyder said before the game. "Those two guys obviously meant so much to me in our time together. Want to see them have as much success as possible."
Gobert played for Snyder in all but one of his seasons in Utah while Conley played under Snyder from 2019 to '22. In that time, the Jazz made three playoff appearances and finished as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference during the 2020-21 season. Conley said he will always remember the time the Jazz were in the NBA's Florida bubble together as COVID-19 affected the end of the 2020 season. That's when the team's relationship as a whole became stronger.
"We were so tight because of that. A lot going on in the world and we all had to grow together," Conley said. "[Then 2021] was a year a lot of us will probably never forget. You don't get that opportunity very often. You think of what could've been a lot, too. We had a lot of injuries down the stretch in the playoffs, but he was the rock through it all and really appreciate everything he's taught me and our friendship today."
Snyder took the Hawks job in place of Nate McMillan, who was fired when the team was 29-30 this season. Conley said Snyder was "a genius" when it comes to X's and O's and demands a lot out of his players.
"Demands a lot out of you as far as your attention to detail and your mentality toward the game," Conley said. "He's unique in that way and I think that's what makes him great."
When it came to Conley, Snyder said he was "really lucky" to build the relationship he did with him.
"I was really appreciative of his willingness to trust me in some things and we spent time together," Snyder said. "A lot of times we weren't talking about basketball. He's a great player and a better person."
The Wolves have experienced what it's like to have Gobert on their team this season, and how unique his skill set can be to play with on both ends of the floor. Nobody knows how that process can go for new players better than Snyder, who said adjusting to Gobert's style can take time, but the time is worth it in the end.
"That's the case when you have a unique player," Snyder said. "... It does take time and it's something that's a good thing. You can see him progress, make whatever adjustments are necessary. Players develop a chemistry together and it happens gradually, or it can happen quickly."
Karl-Anthony Towns was in his practice uniform and putting up shots at the end of the team's shootaround Monday morning.
Wolves coach Chris Finch said Towns hasn't begun doing full team activities but is still doing individual work. Last week, Finch said Towns was working in some of those drills without a defense. He has since been doing "a little bit more," according to Finch, and added a defender in some drills.
Naz Reid was a late scratch before Monday's game because of left calf soreness.