David Kahn at the NBA Draft Lottery. (The fun begins around 2:15) Will Kahn be around for this season’s Lottery?
[This is Part 2 of a multipart season review series. This post looks ahead to the future--mostly next season--and what it might look like. A subsequent post will look at the team's longer term prognosis.]
1. What Should The Team’s #1 Off-Season Priority Be?
Patrick J: Re-signing Pekovic.
You’ve gotta retain a high-quality big who is dominant at times and keeps adding dimensions to his game each season. That’s priority number one, hands down. A second important priority, though, is getting a legitimate shooting guard. This dead horse been beaten elsewhere, so I won’t focus on it here. And the Adelman situation might be more important than both for the Wolves’ long-term outlook. Is he a coach, a GM, or a retiree? More on that below.
Andy G: Ditto. You’ve gotta match Pek.
They’ve gotta re-sign Pek, or match whatever offer sheet he signs. They can’t let a good starting center walk. The team won’t have any options in free agency that could offset losing The Godfather. (If Kirilenko opts in and they re-sign Budinger, they won’t really have any cap space at all.) There aren’t any trade ideas that I can see that could offset losing The Godfather. This is entirely within the team’s control and it’s imperative that they retain a foundational player that happens to be in his prime.
2. How much can a rookie – any rookie, take your pick – actually help the Wolves win next season? Can you parlay that into win-column improvements that are meaningful for contention next?
[This is Part 1 of a season review series. This post looks back in time at the season that was. A subsequent post (or two!) will use what we learned this season to take a prospective look ahead at what the Timberwolves should look like in 2013-14 and beyond.]
1. Season Highlight?
Andy G: Win over the Thunder, December 20, 2012
I’ll kick this thing off. The highlight moment of the season is an easy choice for me: the win over OKC on Thursday Night TNT. It was December 20th, Christmas time. Spirits were high with the Wolves moving to 2 games over .500 (the last point in the season in which this was the case) with a 13-11 record. All of Alexey Shved (the lead guard for the Rubio-less portion of the season), Kevin Love, and Nikola Pekovic were dominant. Pek was pick-and-rolling bigger and stronger than the top team in the West could handle. Love spread the floor with three-point bombs, scoring 28 points along with 11 boards and 7 assists (career high?). He was awesome and looked the part of an MVP candidate. And young Alexey Shved was the orchestrator of everything. Pre-ROOKIE WALL Shved was something to behold and legit reason for Timberwolves optimism. His skillset was on display in that win over Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. Shved had a whopping 12 assists that night. Oh yeah, and JJ was GREAT JJ. He killed it during #WinningTime. All in all, that was a major highlight at a point in the season when the team had statewide interest and expectations of a playoff run.
Patrick J: Concur. OKC, December 20th, or “The Proof of Kahncept Game”
The Wolves’ victory over OKC was one the few games this season at Target Center I got to attend–I was back in Minnesota visiting family and had good tickets with Andy G & co to see what I expected to be an overmatched but spiteful Wolves squad take on the best team in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Good JJ came out in full force that night — the goodest JJ that JJ can be. The rest of the team synced that night, the Wolves snapped a long OKC winning streak. Shved was Olympics Shved, Love owned, and it was basically the team we expected to see in 2012-13, minus Rubio. Imagine the potential of that team plus Rubio. I often do, and it’s a pretty amazing highlight given the way things actually turned out.
2. Season Lowlight?
Patrick J: The K-Love/Woj interview immediately prior to Rubio return.
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor did a long interview with Ray Richardson that appeared in the Pioneer Press on Sunday. There’s a lot there, and it’s worth reading in full: Taylor talks about the status of Rick Adelman and David Kahn for next season, as well as how the Brandon Roy debacle has played out.
Yet much of the interview is cryptic, leaving one to read between the lines for meaningful subtext. My takes are below the fold.
A forgettable Target Center finale on a night when many minds were elsewhere, thinking of the victims of the marathon bombing. My only time spent in Boston was for, of all things, Pat’s wedding a couple summers ago. Thoughts are with the families of the injured and fallen.
The game tonight was not good. Utah took control early, let up a couple of times, but mostly dominated throughout. They won by 16. The closing moments had Wolves fans chanting M-V-P for Chris Johnson, in obvious jest. Al Jefferson and Mo Williams took turns dominating the low block and perimeter, respectively. The Wolves couldn’t defend Jefferson without a full double team. Another former TWolf, Randy Foye, looked much better than his opponents, chipping in 14 points.
Ricky Rubio shot the ball terribly. Derrick Williams played okay (18 points on 7-13 shooting) but didn’t dominate. He never does. Next highest in the scoring column were Dante Cunningham (12) and J.J. Barea (11) who barely hit double figures. For consistency’s sake, the Wolves shot 2 for 17 from downtown. It wasn’t pretty.
The Timberwolves split their weekend back-to-back; games 79 and 80 of this 2012-13 season that reaches its final pages this week. On Friday they narrowly lost at Utah to a Jazz team desperate for wins, one game behind the Kobe-less Lakers in the pursuit of the
opportunity to be swept by the Thunder or Spurs eighth seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. I missed that game. The box score tells me that Al Jefferson had 40 points, 16 rebounds and 6 assists. I bet that was fun to watch for Big Al fans like myself.
Klay Thompson: Not like Mych (but that’s okay)
The Timberwolves were routed 105-89 last night against the Warriors, as the Dubs clinched only their second playoff appearance in 19 (!) seasons. These late West Coast games are wildcards for Patrick J, as they usually start at 10:30 Eastern Time, which is fairly late on a school night. Which is to say, I fell asleep around 10:30 P.M. last night, just before the tip of the Wolves-Dubs game. That’s what League Pass’s game archive is for. I plan to watch the game in its entirety as soon as I satisfy all of the niggling responsibilities today at my actual job here in DC, hopefully as a prelude to staying up late to catch tonight’s Wolves-Clips game live.
Operating on more forgiving Central Time, Andy G took in all of last night’s action. In this INBOX post, he’s going to wrap last night’s game and I’m going to preview tonight’s game, both with a simple “5 things” rapid-fire approach. Enjoy.
What lies ahead for Greg Oden?
In case you missed it, ESPN reported that a Greg Oden comeback tour may be in the works. Oden, of course, had the misfortune of being selected over Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant with the top pick in the 2007 draft – the misfortune being not that Oden earned a lot of money as the #1 overall pick, but rather that he’s had to endure non-stop rants ever since about how the Blazers should’ve taken Durant and how he’s the Sam Bowie to Durant’s Michael Jordan.
That said, Oden had a pretty ridiculously successful run during that period in 2009 (wow, that really was an eternity ago…) when he was healthy. For the 21 games he played in the 2009-10 season Oden averaged just shy of 17 & 13 per 36 minutes. He also blocked 3.4 shots per 36.
I’ve always been forever enamored of Oden’s talent, soft touch around the hoop, rebounding, and, of course, his size. And I’d really like a rim protector not named Greg Stiemsma to take the backup minutes when Pek isn’t out there. (And yes, for the record, this discussion assumes the Wolves match any reasonable Pekovic deal, so we’re not looking at this as an either/or despite the potential salary cap challenges the Wolves will face.
Andy G and I took to the wheel to discuss whether the Wolves – still scarred, certainly, from last season’s free-agent acquisition of Oden’s former Portland teammate Brandon Roy – ought to take a gamble on Oden this offseason, and what they should do with him if they were to acquire him.
This’ll be a stream of consciousness post, but with headers!
Last night’s game: Ricky Choked!
Legit basketball was played last night. I’ve written recently about how this is unusual for the Timberwolves in the Spring months and how it maybe even marks a new day. It’s a thin little silver lining to a season lost by injuries. Credit goes to Toronto for winning a game that both teams seemed to be heavily invested in despite its lack of playoff implications. I hadn’t planned on attending it, but got a last-minute offer of great seats behind the visitor’s bench. It was clear from that vantage point how much the Raps players and coaches wanted that win. Kyle Lowry especially.
The high level of intensity provided background for Ricky Rubio’s two trips to the foul line with under two minutes to play. In each instance the Wolves trailed by two points. In each instance Ricky made just one out of two, leaving the Wolves behind by a point. The second instance happened with only 1 second left in the game, which meant that his miss cost the team a chance in overtime.
David Kahn: Back in the saddle for at least one more season
Ric Bucher reports the Wolves are set to extend David Kahn as POBO for at least one more season. And no, Flip Saunders didn’t turn down the Gophers coaching gig because he’s already secretly agreed to replace Kahn at 600 1st Ave:
Latest on Flip Saunders and Minnesota Timberwolves: source says David Kahn’s position as GM is secure and that the one-year option on his contract, if it has not been exercised already by the TWolves, will be shortly.
via Ric Bucher’s post on Basketball | Latest updates on Sulia.
What does this mean? More below the fold.
Dating back to 2006, the months of March and April have not been interesting ones for Minnesota Timberwolves fans. In what was first inspired by a surprising and disappointing inability to reach the playoffs and a draft-pick debt to the Clippers that was protected if the Wolves picked high enough (finished with a bad enough record) the franchise introduced its fans to the concept of intentionally losing games. “Tanking” is the commonly accepted term in NBA circles. In 2006, Kevin Garnett sat out the season’s final 6 games. The Wolves lost 5 of them. The final game — when a win would have jeopardized the team’s ability to trade away Brandon Roy a couple months later — included the most embarrasing, shameless display of tanking in league history. Mark “Mad Dog” Madsen was deployed to chuck up shots that he had no chance of making. Mad Dog was 1 for 15 from the floor (and 0-7 from downtown) and the Wolves lost in double overtime. Welcome to the Twin Cities, Randy Foye.