The 1994 Knicks were the first NBA basketball team that I can remember caring about. Born in ’82 I was 11 years old during those Playoffs. Minnesota’s team was in its fifth season and won 20 games; this after winning 19 the year before that and 15 the year before that. Kevin Garnett was still in high school, the Wolves were still irrelevant and my increasing interest in basketball — developing mostly at Williams Arena and local high school games that my dad took me to — needed a professional team to latch onto. For reasons I cannot recall, that team became the Knicks.
Derek Harper, the hand-checking, old-school, floor-general point guard, was my favorite player on the team. Again, I’m not sure why that was. His game was effective but — looking back on it, now — boring. His mustache might be considered hipster today but basically just made him look old then. He was old. Having Harper as a favorite player in ’94 would be like singling out Kirk Hinrich or Andre Miller in 2013. But for whatever reason, 11-year old me was a Derek Harper fan.
CO-AUTHORED POST — for Part I, click here.
Alright folks, we did a PART 2 of the new and exciting draft-combine interview reactions. This was the SKYPE CHAT edition wherein we live-chatted quick takes on whatever the soon-to-be rooks had to say.
Why is there a picture of Patrick Bateman and Victor Oladipo, you ask? You’ll have to click below the fold, read the post, and find out for yourself!
Trey Burke: Sewer Hero
Co-authored by Andy G and Patrick J
DraftExpress just posted a bunch of interviews with top prospects who’re possible future Wolves at the NBA combine. Below, Andy and I react to each that was published today. Assuming more are to come–possibly to include Anthony Bennett–we’ll probably hit the wheel on this a second time for comparison’s sake. Full analysis below.
Almost exactly one year ago tonight, Dwyane Wade chewed out his coach, Erik Spoelstra. Not behind the scenes away from his team or even the media, but in the middle of a blowout, Game 3 loss at Indiana in the second round of the playoffs. Chris Bosh was hurt, Wade was playing poorly, the Heat were about to fall behind in the series, and frustrations grew to a boiling point. After the buzzer sounded and tempers cooled, water was not yet under the bridge. Wade reportedly made the short drive up to Bloomington to consult Tom Crean, his college coach from Marquette (now coaching the Hoosiers). One could hardly do more to undermine or discredit the head coach than chew him out on Primetime TV and then seek guidance — COACHING — elsewhere.
Goodbye, Brandon Roy
We pretty much knew this was coming. Brandon Roy was waived by the Timberwolves. As had been widely reported, the second year of his contract was non-guaranteed. Therefore, the team chose to waive him and his $5.3 Million remaining on his deal. I’m not the right person to wax poetic on what a great player B-Roy was in Portland. I’m sure plenty of Blazers writers have already done that. His brief, somewhat-awkward T-Wolves tenure was recapped nicely by Mark Remme.
I do think it’s worth pointing out what the decision to waive Roy could mean, in a bigger picture sense. The Wolves could’ve held on to him as a trade chip. A non-guaranteed contract would have value to teams as a salary-cutting tool. But in any deal where the Wolves sent out Roy to bring in somebody else, they’d essentially be adding salary of their own. This is rife with assumptions and speculation but I take this move as a signal — however slight — that the new management is operating under a fixed budget; probably one set below the luxury tax line. I also take the move to signal a desire to retain the big free agents, Nikola Pekovic and Chase Budinger. Again, cutting Roy lowers the payroll and increases cap space and room below the tax line. Don’t be surprised if it’s not the only move in this direction.
The next Kawhi Leonard is probably not walkin’ through that door. So plan accordingly.
Many Timberwolves fans will expect the team to draft a wing player in the upcoming lottery. It’s the position of need, after all. Flip and Rick should ignore the radio callers and message boards and draft without regard for position.
Why, you ask?
Here at Punch-Drunk Wolves, we’ve lauded UNLV draft prospect Anthony Bennett’s game and NBA prospects over and over. For the uninitiated, Bennett is a bulldozing 6’8’’ forward who’s got a nice handle and a silky smooth stroke (ALLITERATION!), with range out to the three.
There are other good players in the draft, sure. See Exhibits A and B.
But suffice it to say that PDW hopes Bennett ends up in a Timberwolves uniform next season. As the months have passed and I’ve watched and read more about potential draft prospects, I’ve become more-and-more intrigued by Bennett as a possible transcendent player, one whose best-case scenario is something like a Star Child combo that’s one part Charles Barkley and one part Carmelo Anthony.
In short, I’ve come to think I might draft him 1st overall. And although that’s a minority opinion, I’m not alone in that assessment.
Here’s the thing: most draftniks currently project Bennett as the likely 3rd or 4th overall pick. That bodes poorly for the Wolves: they’re currently slotted to have the 9th pick, and would have to move up to get Bennett unless they defy the odds in this year’s Draft Lottery, not to mention the franchise’s entire history of bad Lotto luck. And why should we expect any different? After all the NBA has a habit–and I’m just going to say a “habit”–of producing some pretty incredible storylines (2:25). Storylines that tend not to center around the Wolves unexpectedly being in prime position to draft a sure-thing, no-shit, lock to become an NBA star.
Yet the prospect of the Timberwolves drafting Bennett–who, apart from Noel, is possibly the closest thing this draft has to a sure-thing, no-shit, lock to become a star–increased on Tuesday, when Bennett’s agent told ESPN that Bennett would be having surgery on his left rotator cuff on Wednesday. According to the report, Bennett will miss four months.
That’s a crucial period.
Clyde Frazier and Earl the Pearl
An outgrowth of the sports-fan aging process is the urge to no longer observe in the present, but in historical context where players compete not only against one another but against ghosts that once occupied that field or floor, or others like it. I fell victim to this — if “victim” is the right word — first with Kobe Bryant; basically, freshman dorm arguments about whether Kobe — a champion at 21 — was better than Michael Jordan at the same age. These debates drive a great deal of sports interest. Without narrative, a bunch of strangers running around to throw a sphere through a ring can lose meaning and (gulp) maybe even seem like a waste of time and money.
Well, how about that. David Kahn is out and Flip Saunders is in, and the appropriate response from sports fans from Minnesota and beyond should be a collective shoulder shrug. Plenty of others have done a better job of eulogizing/pulverizing Kahn than I ever could, and besides I have always been much more of a Kahn supporter than is welcome ‘round the internet. I think he made a bunch of 50-50 gambles on young players and lost every time, took the safe pick in the draft every time (and lost), and talked too much. On the other hand, I have stringently defended his handling of the Kevin Love situation and think he did the impossible by bringing not only Rick Adelman (the most competent coach in the entirety of Minnesota sports during my time on this earth), but also bringing in Kurt Rambis, who if you all don’t remember was *the* heir apparent to Phil Jackson, and a top coaching candidate at the time the Wolves were at rock bottom. This is to say nothing of his post-Jewish-summer-camp-like long-distance courting of a certain Spanish point guard that miraculously brought Youtubio over from Spain.