Tag Archives: flip saunders

Thinning the Herd (The Field of Dreams Edition)

A lot has changed in Timberwolves Land since mid-May. It was then that the organization was informed that Kevin Love planned to opt out and leave the franchise — per his contractual rights — in the summer of 2015. From that point through August 23, Flip Saunders was scrambling. Not only did he have multiple picks in the June draft, but he was also charged with the task of trading a superstar player.

Rather than re-hash the process and results for the umpteenth time, it’s sufficient to say that Flip got ‘er done. For Love, he got back Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young. If either Wiggins or Bennett reaches his potential (or, gasp, if both do) it could go down as the greatest ever return in this “departing/disgruntled star wants out” trade scenario. Plus, Thad Young is already a good player who might fit nicely in a front court that already includes Gorgui Dieng and Nikola Pekovic at the center position.

But there is one little problem with this Timberwolves roster, as currently constructed:

There are too many guys. (Eds. Note: For more on this, see, inter alia, excellent posts here and here.)

More specifically, there are too many guys that will expect — and *should* expect — some playing time. And that brings us to positional battles, and the possibility that some Timberwolves players will need to spend time in the D-League — playing for the Iowa Energy (technically this is the Memphis Grizzlies affiliate, but that’s where they sent Shabazz last year because the Wolves don’t have their own team). Saunders has extensive experience in minor league basketball, coaching in the old CBA, and is a firm believer in it as a developing environment for certain players. It seems inevitable that, at some point this season, a Wolf or two will be sent down for some game reps.

For a young basketball player, the NBA — even on the Minnesota Timberwolves — must feel a bit like heaven on Earth. There are the big crowds, the SportsCenter highlights, the glitz and glamor, and the competition against players that were considered celebrity heroes just a short time ago. The whole thing must be a real trip for a new player entering the league.

The D-League… well, the D-League probably feels a bit more like Iowa.

So we thought it worthwhile to run through the candidates for D-League Duty, and predict which guys might end up playing some minor league ball in 2014-15.

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Welcome to Minnesota, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins

Anthony Bennett

New Timberwolves forward, Anthony Bennett, as a freshman at UNLV. He gained a lot of weight after shoulder surgery before his rookie NBA season, but appeared better conditioned this summer in the Vegas League.

Patrick J: So Flip Saunders went and did the impossible, turning a depressing Kevin Love trade situation into an extremely exciting one that netted the Wolves the last two number one overall picks in the NBA Draft, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett.

It was inevitable that the Wolves would have to trade Love. He wasn’t re-signing in Minnesota and the Wolves couldn’t let him walk away and get nothing in return. It was not inevitable that the Wolves’ take from a Love trade would be a good one. The Warriors offered David Lee and Harrison Barnes, but refused to include Klay Thompson in any trade for Love. The Bulls reportedly offered Nikola Mirotic and reserve defensive stopper Taj Gibson for Love. Those would’ve been pretty terrible deals for Minnesota.

Getting a prospect with as much realizable potential as Andrew Wiggins at least gives the Wolves a chance at recouping the value they were going to lose anyway when Love departed Minnesota.

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Will Wiggins be a Wolf? Wolves-Cavs Trade Possibilities

 

Dion Waiters: Eerily reminiscent of J.R. Rider

Dion Waiters: Eerily reminiscent of J.R. Rider. Future Timberwolf?

Andy G: So, LeBron made another Decision. He’s going home to Cleveland; a decision that many in the media began to expect a few days ago. He wrote a great letter explaining everything, published by Sports Illustrated yesterday.

It did not take long after the announcement for the conversation to turn toward the Timberwolves. Specifically, it was previously reported (by Adrian Woj, no less) that the Cavaliers had been pursuing a trade for Kevin Love that would be contingent on them signing James. So, now that they signed James, everyone is wondering about that Love deal…

The obvious player that the Wolves covet is Andrew Wiggins, the number one pick in the most recent draft. So far, the Cavs are reportedly not willing to part with Wiggins. Instead, they’re only willing to go as far as (something along the lines of) Anthony Bennett (LAST year’s top pick) and maybe Dion Waiters and one more guy to make the salaries match up. Maybe they’d throw in a future draft pick or two.

The Wolves, by all reports to date, will not trade Love for the Bennett-Waiters package. They need Wiggins.

So here we are, waiting for Dan Gilbert (or Flip Saunders) to blink.

Let’s start with the big question:

Do the Wolves end up with Wiggins?

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Filed under Free Agency, INBOX, NBA Draft, Timberwolves

The Kevin Love Trade: How Bad Does Flip Wanna Be?

badasflipwannabe

Patrick J: There has been a lot happening around the Wolves over the past week. First, we got word that Kevin Love was likely going to use his early-termination option to explore free agency after the 2014-15 season.

At the same time, there were murmurs that the Wolves were looking closely at former Timberwolves player and Raptors coach Sam Mitchell as Rick Adelman’s replacement as Twolves head coach.

When we last wrote, both of these stories had an air of uncertainty around it. Woj had broken the Love story in one of his “should-I-really-believe-this” megaexclusives. And the Mitchell news crept upon us out of nowhere and felt like a shock to the system.

Since then, the Kevin Love news has only gotten more play, while the Sam Mitchell rumor quickly went away (Eds. Note: There has been some speculation that Mitchell could end up as an assistant on Joeger’s staff) –replaced by the rumor that current Grizzlies coach and Minnesota native Dave Joerger will be the one who succeeds Adelman on the Wolves sideline.

The Inbox below is a list of scenarios that do not seem implausible ways in which the Wolves could decide to go with whatever type of “rebuilding” strategy they will have to do, assuming that Love is traded and Joerger is hired.

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Wheelman Presents: The Punch-Drunk Podcast, Vol. 5, Part 2 (The Timberwolves Coaching Search Edition)

Andy G's mom likes Mike D'Antoni.

Andy G’s mom likes Mike D’Antoni. (Original photo from Twitter.)

The Punch-Drunk Podcast has been on hiatus for a while. But now it’s back. With more discussion of the Wolves’ vacant coaching position. (Eds. Note: Andy G’s stanky-leg Comcast internet connection cut out at the very end, so when the Comcast Gods restored connectivity, the pod was split into two parts. This is part two. Part one is here)

In this edition, we recover from Comcast-induced technical difficulties, discuss the pros and cons of some potential candidates for the Wolves’ head coaching position, and speculate that Andy G’s mom has a crush on Mike D’Antoni.

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Timberwolves Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Kemba Walker has the (second) meanest crossover in the East.

Kemba Walker has the (second) meanest crossover in the East.

Your Minnesota Timberwolves will be playing basketball tonight against the Charlotte Bobcats at Target Center.  Tip is at 7 P.M. CST. The game can be seen and heard through the usual channels.

The Wolves are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night at home. Former Wolf Gerald Green–a longtime Punch-Drunk Wolves favorite–hit the game-winner on a tough baseline jumper with seconds remaining.

One question to ponder after the Phoenix loss is whether the Wolves have chemistry problems. (Eds. Note: No, not the Breaking Bad kind of chemistry problems, at least that we know of.)

Tempers flared on Wednesday after Rick Adelman pulled J.J. Barea with 8:07 to go in the 4th quarter. Barea, a  player whose passion and intensity run so thick that they’re palpably evident even in pre-game warmups–the sideline-to-sideline defensive shuffle-suicides J.J. does each night as part of his pre-game ritual is all you really need to see–was visibly upset and stormed off the court, cursing in at least two languages. (Eds. Note: Barea was in fact cursing in three languages, if you count Spainglish.) The next thing you know, neither Barea nor Dante Cunningham joined the team huddle during a timeout.

Kevin Love, the team’s best player by orders of magnitude and an League-wide MVP candidate, didn’t appreciate Barea and Cunningham’s lack of team spirit. But Love himself was moody, and it doesn’t take a trained psychologist to deduce that Love appeared to be projecting frustration with his own sub-par performance onto Barea and Cunningham.

Love is serious about his image and is protective of his NUMB#RS. This video is by now a cliche, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t mean anything.

Kevin Love’s image took a hit on Wednesday night’s loss. In one of the Wolves’ few nationally-televised games of the season–Love played downright bad basketball and looked nothing like an MVP candidate. In fact, Love’s performance was sub-par on both ends: he shot 4-20 from the field, and got lit up by Suns three-point specialist Channing Frye after repeatedly failing to close out on Frye three-point attempts. Love’s failure to close on active shooters like Frye and Ryan Anderson is not a new phenomenon, and is one of the few aspects of his game for which he can be legitimately criticized and for which he is not called out enough by writers, many of whom give him the benefit of the doubt because they love Love for his fat stats.

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Exploring the Timberwolves 2013-14 Vulnerabilities

Ricky's Summer Camp

Ricky’s Summer Camp

We’re t-minus 10 days from the beginning of Timberwolves training camp, and it’s time to begin musing about the upcoming season.

We know the big news from the offseason:

  • Flip Saunders is now running the show, with Milt Newton riding shotgun and Bobby Jackson in the mix too. David Kahn is gone.
  • Rick Adelman and Nik Pekovic are back.
  • Love and Budinger are reportedly healthy. Word on the street is that Love is in shape. If true, this is a very good thing.
  • Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin are in.
  • Luke Ridnour is gone. So is Andrei Kirilenko. (Mikhail Prokhorov apparently made AK an offer he couldn’t refuse. Can’t really blame him.)
  • J.J. Barea’s still here, and as far as I know, he’s also still divorced. Alexey Shved is still here, and as far as I know, he’s still partying. (Eds. Note:  I actually don’t know that, I just like to think he is.)
  • Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng got drafted.
  • AJ Price might come to camp and compete for prime real estate at the end of the Wolves’ bench.
  • Ricky Rubio has been bicycling and kayaking through Europe. He took a break recently to play for Spain in Eurobasket.
  • Oh, and Derrick Williams still has a pulse. (Eds. Note: That is confirmed based on his tweets, unless someone’s ghost-tweeting from his Twitter. Whether or not he has improved his footwork to a semi-competent level remains unconfirmed.)

All in all, this year’s team has the makings of a good one….(more below the fold)

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