The NBA is celebrating some of the most elite talent in basketball during All-Star weekend in Chicago, with Team LeBron and Team Giannis set to square off Sunday night.
Two players not partaking in the festivities—Gordon Hayward and Karl-Anthony Towns—are set to enter the final few months of the season in drastically different situations.
Hayward is playing a pivotal role for a Boston Celtics team in contention in the Eastern Conference, while Towns has had a hard time staying healthy as the Minnesota Timberwolves find themselves just one spot above the cellar in the Western Conference.
But while Towns is looking forward to a future in Minnesota that now includes D'Angelo Russell, Hayward's time in Boston is winding down, as he only has little more than one year remaining on his contract.
Here is the latest on Hayward and Towns, as well as veteran forward and buyout candidate Evan Turner.
Celtics Intent on Keeping Gordon Hayward Long Term
The Celtics signed Hayward to a four-year deal in the summer of 2017, but he has a player option worth just over $34 million for the 2020-21 season.
Given his recent injury history, Hayward is likely to accept the option because he might not be able to recoup that kind of money if he opted for free agency.
But regardless of Hayward's decision, Boston are hoping to keep him around.
Brian Robb of the Boston Sports Journal reported the Celtics have interest in working out a long-term agreement with Hayward, even as they face the eventuality of paying Jayson Tatum to go along with the max extension just handed to Jaylen Brown.
Hayward has been excellent when healthy, averaging 17.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists and shooting close to 40 percent from beyond the arc on 4.1 attempts per game.
But durability has been a slight issue for Hayward. He missed close to a month after suffering a broken left hand in November, and he has also dealt with a foot injury. However, his ability to play multiple positions and create his own shot off the dribble give the Celtics some added punch alongside Tatum, Brown and Kemba Walker.
Boston is thriving in spite of the multitude of injuries its players this year, and it seems Danny Ainge and Co. might want to keep this core intact.
Karl-Anthony Towns Expected to Miss More Time After All-Star Break
Towns has not had many reasons to smile this season. His individual brilliance has not been able to pull the Timberwolves into playoff contention, and he also had to endure weeks of trade chatter.
However, Minnesota's move for Russell showed a certain determination to land Towns a proper co-star. The Timberwolves also acquired Malik Beasley from the Denver Nuggets, giving them another young backcourt piece to build around.
But while the Timberwolves will hope Towns can build a rapport with his new teammates, they need him to get healthy first.
Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reported Towns probably will not be ready to play after the All-Star break, as he is dealing with a wrist injury that also kept him out of action Wednesday.
Towns has missed 18 games this year, with the majority of those stemming from an ankle sprain he suffered in mid-December. Towns played in all 82 games in each of the first three seasons of his career, and he made 77 appearances last season, so this year has been an aberration.
The 2015 No. 1 overall pick is averaging a career-high 26.5 points to go along with 10.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists. Towns is also shooting over 41 percent from three-point range on 7.9 attempts per game.
There is no question Towns is among the most dominant big men in the game when he is on the floor, and the Timberwolves will take precautions with his health as they look to build a future with the new group.
Evan Turner to Work Out for Clippers
The Timberwolves acquired Turner from the Atlanta Hawks as part of the trade that sent Robert Covington to the Houston Rockets. But he is not staying in Minnesota for long.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported Turner worked out for the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday and also noted he has a buyout pending.
Turner played in just 19 games with the Hawks, averaging 3.3 points, 2.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game while getting some minutes at the point guard spot.
The Clippers were reportedly one of the teams hoping to persuade Darren Collison to come out of retirement, and they have been looking for added depth in the backcourt. That process has become a little more urgent given Patrick Beverley's groin injury.
Turner can share the ball and rebound at a pretty high level, and he would give the Clippers another veteran guy with playoff experience.