MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The attorney for Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards said his client will “vigorously defend” himself against misdemeanor third-degree assault charges for allegedly swinging a folding chair and injuring two Denver arena employees after the series-ending loss to the Nuggets.
Harvey Steinberg, the attorney for Edwards, issued a statement Thursday through the Timberwolves that criticized the Denver Police Department’s decision to “inexplicably” charge Edwards after Game 5.
“With the game over, Anthony’s exit from the court was partially obstructed by a chair, which he moved and set down three steps later. As video of the incident confirms, Anthony did not swing the chair at anyone and of course did not intend to hurt anyone,” Steinberg said. “Anthony intends to vigorously defend against these baseless charges.”
Several videos posted to social media by fans at Ball Arena for Denver’s 112-109 win Tuesday appear to support Steinberg’s claim that the alleged contact with the staffers that was caused by the chair was inadvertent on Edwards’ part after he missed the tying 3-point attempt at the buzzer and jogged off the court in frustration. The floor seats are particularly close to the pathway to the tunnel that leads to the locker room.
The injuries reported by the employees were not serious, Denver police spokesman Jay Casillas said. Edwards was cited for two misdemeanor counts of third-degree assault, defined as “knowingly or recklessly” causing bodily injury. He is scheduled for a court appearance on June 9.
Edwards did not participate in the season-ending news conferences Thursday at team headquarters. General manager Tim Connelly and head coach Chris Finch declined to comment on the incident.
The 21-year-old Edwards, who was the first overall pick in the 2020 draft, was an injury replacement selection for the All-Star Game earlier this season. He is eligible this summer for a five-year rookie-scale contract extension that would be in the $200 million range.
Edwards had 158 points in the five games against Denver, the fifth-most in a playoff series in NBA history for a player under age 22. The other four who scored more — LeBron James (214 in six games in the first round and 186 in seven games in the second round in 2006), Luka Doncic (186 in six games in the first round in 2019) and Donovan Mitchell (171 in six games in the first round in 2017) — all played in more games. Still, Edwards was disappointed by his performance.
“I’ve just got to play better,” Edwards said in Denver after Game 5. “Getting off the ball, making shots. I was 0 for 6 from 3. That stank. I stunk it up.”