Rudy Gobert warms up before the Minnesota Timberwolves’ game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Target Center on April 9, 2023.
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Sunday evening should have been a time for celebration for the Minnesota Timberwolves after cementing their spot in the NBA’s Play-In tournament.
Instead though, it was filled with questions after the team’s star center Rudy Gobert was sent home for an altercation with his teammate Kyle Anderson during Sunday’s game.
In the second quarter of Minnesota’s clash against the New Orleans Pelicans, Gobert got into an argument with Anderson during a timeout and swung at the forward.
Both were separated and Gobert was sent to the locker room. Gobert was later ruled out for the rest of the game.
Gobert apologized for his actions on social media afterwards.
“Emotions got the best of me today,” Gobert said in a Twitter post. “I should not have reacted the way I did regardless of what was said. I wanna apologize to the fans, the organization and particularly to Kyle, who is someone that I truly love and respect as a teammate.”
Team president of basketball operations Tim Connelly confirmed in a statement to CNN that Gobert was sent home and that his behavior on the bench was “unacceptable.”
“We will continue handling the situation internally,” Connelly added.
After the 113-108 win which secured the eighth seed in the Western Conference, meaning Minnesota will face the Los Angeles Lakers in the Play-In, Anderson said the situation arose because “tempers just flared.”
“Tempers flare, you’re in the middle of a game, a game we all want to win, a huge one, it is what it is,” Anderson said, according to ESPN. “You know, s**t happens. It’s not the first time something like that has happened.”
Anderson added: “We’ll move forward. We want to win games. It is what it is. We’ll keep it in house. I mean, it ain’t the first time someone has swung on me … I think our tempers just flared. That’s all. It is what it is. We’ll speak about it and move on. We’re grown men.”
Anderson heads to the locker room after the first half of the game against the Pelicans.
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After the game, Minnesota head coach Chris Finch called the situation “very frustrating” while speaking to reporters.
“Couple-blown assignments,” Finch said. “A lot on the line tonight. We are not proud of that behavior by anybody. We haven’t really dug too far into the root cause of it but guys are just frustrated. We weren’t playing well, we weren’t sharing the ball, we weren’t – we were getting beat in all little areas. We looked sluggish.”
Finch added: “Not something we condone. Veterans can get upset too. I don’t want to be too hard on him but obviously, it’s something we aren’t going to be able to tolerate here. I’m sure he’s already remorseful. I haven’t had the chance to speak to him about it.”
When asked if Gobert would play in the Play-In game and about any punishment, Finch declined and said it would be handled internally.
The drama did not stop there for Minnesota on Easter Sunday.
Heading into the locker room at halftime, Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels was seen punching the wall and immediately grabbing his hand in discomfort. Shortly after, the team ruled out McDaniels with a right-hand injury. It is unclear if that is what caused the injury.
The 22-year-old McDaniels has reportedly fractured his hand, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. CNN has reached out to the Timberwolves for details on the injury.
Finch said McDaniels punched the wall “out of frustration.”
“Out of frustration, he reacts and I guess, you know, punches the wall,” Finch said. “Not sure exactly where we stand with all that but unfortunate again.”
Finch chalked up McDaniels actions to “immaturity,” which he said is something that has plagued the team all season.
“Certainly immaturity. It’s been one of our issues all season. Been immature at the wrong times … We got to focus now on what we got and what we are moving forward with. I guess we play the Lakers so head out there,” Finch said.
Minnesota will face LeBron James and the Lakers on Tuesday in the Play-In, with the winner facing the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA playoffs and the loser playing the winner of the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans Play-In game to occupy the eighth seed and play the Denver Nuggets.
The 2023 NBA Play-In tournament runs from April 11 to April 14 and the NBA Playoffs tip-off on April 15 and conclude no later than June 18.