After five days off that included a Mexican vacation and postponement of a Spurs matchup, the Timberwolves return to action tonight at Target Center. They face the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. The Wolves will be without Kevin Love, who is home with family mourning the loss of his grandmother. (Eds note: Best wishes to Love and family.)
The Heat has lost two consecutive games; the latter being a 20-point drumming by the Roseless Bulls on TNT. They’ve been without Dwyane Wade, but the reports on Twitter indicate he’s shooting around and might play tonight. That’s not good news for a Wolves team trying to get back to .500 without its own best player. In any event, it will be a fun game to watch because… well, LeBron James.
But we’re less interested in the MVP or his All-Star teammates than we are a former Timberwolf returning to Target Center with career-best numbers and a renewed sense of basketball purpose. That’s right, we’re talking about the one and only Supercool Mike Beasley, a longtime PDW favorite.
Beasley is only playing 17.6 minutes per game, but that’s 17.6 more than just about anybody expected after his famous regression from prized draft prospect and promising young talent to inefficient chucker who didn’t play defense but did get himself into off-court troubles. Beas isn’t just playing in Erik Spoelstra’s rotation. He’s playing REALLY well. His 23.2 points per 36 minutes is a career high. So is his 54.6 field goal percentage, which is downright ridiculous for a combo forward like himself.
Beas has always had obvious talent and it appears he’s finally begun to tap into it in a way that helps an NBA team win games. The Heat are playing 12.9 points better than opponents, per 100 possessions, with Beasley on the floor. Suffice it to say this is a sharp change from his recent seasons in Phoenix and Minnesota. It’s also way better than LeBron and the other Heat starters, which is probably unsustainable but nevertheless a reflection of how well he’s been playing.
For more on Supercool Mike’s improvement, check out Tom Haberstroh’s espn.com feature (Insider, sorry).
We thought it appropriate to preview tonight’s matchup by recalling our favorite Beasley stories.
Without further ado…
#10 – The Kevin Love 30/30 Game…in which Beas dropped 35 (Andy G)
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.
From Darren Wolfson on Twitter:
Wolfson has more to say on his conversation with Glen Taylor here.
The Wolves ownership situation is important for a few reasons. It was reported on Friday that David Kahn will be let go as President of Basketball Operations. But then the team, Kahn himself, and the reported successor, Flip Saunders, all denied that a final decision had been made. It seems likely that this reported development on the ownership front will have implications for Kahn.
You must leave now, take what you need, you think will last
But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast
Yonder stands your orphan with his gun
Crying like a fire in the sun
Look out the saints are comin’ through
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue.
Steve Aschburner broke the story this Friday morning on Twitter:
David Kahn is out. Flip Saunders is [probably] in. (Flip went on ESPN later today and explained that no deal was finalized.) But the big news — the part that sent much of Timberwolves Twitter into hysteria — was unequivocal: The Kahn Era is complete. Done. No more draft picks and no more press conferences. No more “Show of hands?” and no more “Michael smoked too much marijuana.” No more Syracuse. Praise God, no more Syracuse. No matter who takes over the job, the David Kahn reign as President of Timberwolves Basketball can be gravestoned 2009-2013. Continue reading
Bill Simmons’ ever-intriguing “Trade Value” series of columns has begun over at Grantland. He has lots of provocative, interesting opinions, whether or not you agree with any/many of them. Simmons, tongue-in-cheek as can ever, also talks a lot of sense from angles that matter: player potential and history, team cap situation, and team need. It makes for a good read.
There are a bunch of guys I’d flag as worth checking out to see if Simmons’ idiosyncratic ratings comport with your own. But none more than DeMarcus Cousins, the almost-Wolf who was passed over in favor of Wesley Johnson.
I found what Simmons had to say – both the goods and the bads – remain revealing about what a team might be getting in Cousins. This isn’t directly Wolves’ related except insofar as he easily could’ve been a Wolf and probably still would be had we drafted him at #4 instead of Wes Johnson, but Simmons makes a fairly credible case both about what’s wrong (and right) with Cousins, what’s wrong in SAC, and how we might come to see this behemoth talent realize at least a good part of its massive potential.
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.
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.
Andy G: New topic and one that seems to get discussed less and less often: David Kahn. You reminded me the other day about the time he gave Kurt Rambis a homework assignment. (!!!) We’ve come a long way from the days when Kahn wielded such authority over his coach. To everyone’s benefit, Kahn was later able to hire Rick Adelman; an acquisition that naturally shifted the channels of authority over at 600 1st Ave. N. But the degree to which Kahn seems less relevant is significant and poses some questions for the future of the franchise. He still holds the prominent title of P.O.B.O., which should amount to the team’s acting agent in matters such as trade discussion and free agent negotiations. We’ve got a recently drafted #2 pick that should be aggressively shopped and a star center up for restricted free agency. It’s important that the Timberwolves have a clear chain of authority on these matters, both within the ORG and to be transparent to callers from the other 29 teams.
Why is this important? Well, James Harden was dealt to Houston in a swift and covert manner that involved Sam Presti making phone calls that he certainly needed a high degree of trust would be: a) fruitful in terms of possibly ending in a big trade; and b) confidential. I doubt the Wolves had the juice to get The Beard without dishing out Love or Rubio, but we’ll never know because (by all accounts, which includes a Bill Simmons report that Presti first called Golden State and Washington, before Houston) Presti never approached the Wolves. Opportunities could potentially be lost, is what I’m saying.
1) Do you agree that it is important for the Wolves’ authority chain to be clearly defined and transparent to the league?
2) How much — for comedy’s sake — would you enjoy reading about Rick Adelman being assigned homework from Kahn?
Jrue Holiday and the Philadelphia 76ers come to Target Center tonight
Tonight it’s back to the grind. The Philadelphia 76ers come to town for a 7 PM (FSN) tilt at Target Center.
The 76ers are 22-29 on the season, 6-16 on the road. If the season ended today, the Sixers would be the 9th seed in the East. They’re sniffing the playoffs. Every game matters.
The Wolves are 19-31, and 12-13 at home. They’ve lost 16 of their last 19. The playoffs are pipe dream, but the Wolves are still trying to win now – no one’s calling in the tanks yet. A deal before Thursday’s trade deadline does not appear imminent. But you never put it past Wolves POBO David Kahn to find a way to move pieces. (We floated this on Twitter earlier today for fun, and it provoked some, errrm, “strong” reactions (here, here, here.)
What does this mean for tonight’s game? We’re not looking at a Battle of the Titans, but we are looking at a couple of relatively evenly-matched teams. Both teams have stuff to prove. It’s a winnable game. It will be fun.
So who are these 76ers I speak of? Continue reading
The last time Adrian Wojnarowski dished on the Wolves, he was using the news of Rick Adelman’s hire as an opportune time to blast President of Basketball Operations (POBO), David Kahn. Woj found an anonymous league source to tell him how much Adelman despised reporter Kahn some twenty odd years ago when they both worked in Portland.
This conversation was all Woj needed to run wild with a story that’s central premise was simple: Adelman came to Minnesota in spite of, not because of Kahn.
My initial reaction to the story was incredulous: Woj was just using common sense.
The simple facts of Rick Adelman coming out of retirement at age 65 to coach a 17-65 team in the winters of Minnesota suggested to me (naive as I may be!) that Adelman likely did not hate David Kahn. Also, while Kahn’s responsibilities over personnel decisions were almost certain to change (read: decrease) he maintained his lofty title of president. My suspicions were confirmed in the weeks after the story was published when a local reporter (I believe for the Pioneer Press, which does not seem to allow access to old stories on the internet) wrote a piece, with on-the-record quotes from Timberwolves brass crediting Kahn with the Adelman hire. Even if Adelman privately dislikes Kahn, the tenor of Woj’s story was largely discredited if you listen to the participants themselves.
This is context for yesterday’s Woj Bomb about Kevin Love’s salty feelings toward the Timberwolves organization.
But in this case, it only adds context to a limited extent.
That’s because in “Kevin Love unsure about Timberwolves’ future” Woj didn’t resort to anon sources; this time, he had Love himself right on the record. While we don’t have a recording of the entire conversation that perhaps would at least show a few important contextual layers (how were questions leaded, was there alcohol involved, etc.) some of the quotes are unmistakable.
Let’s all hope the Wolves move right past this and Love will come out with some conciliatory remarks about how he is happy with the direction of the team. But in the meantime, it’s a story worthy of at least a reaction.
Mine, then Patrick J’s.