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.
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)
Slim Shady Kevin Martin is the newest member of the Minnesota Timberwolves
Insane news about Kevin Martin. He’s a Wolf. 4 years, 28 million. Wow.*
What does the Martin deal mean for the Wolves? A bunch of things.
First, management issues.
- Slick Rick: It looks like we can’t write off Rick Adelman after all as a player in the Wolves front office. First Chase is re-signed (more obvious), and now Martin is acquired (less obvious). Adelman clearly shaped these moves, which will have implications that are likely to outlast Rick’s tenure in Minnesota.
- C2: It appears that we now have an AdelFlip in the stead of our AdelKahn. But the chain-of-command and command and control structures in the organization seem less clear than in Kahn’s last season in ‘Sota. Does anyone else smell an impending deathmatch?
Second, on Martin specifically: as with most of the least-worst choice deals you make in life, there’s both some good and some bad here.
Will OJ Mayo be making treys in ‘Sota next season?
Fresh off of the NBA Draft and the subsequent Shabazz mania, NBA free agency is upon us. Here’s what we know so far:
The Wolves have already talked with OJ Mayo’s camp. Mayo, in fact was Flip’s first stop in his free-agent shopping.
Reading the tea leaves on stuff like this is never easy, but it appears that at the very least, there may be some “there” there to the earlier RUMINT about Flip & co.’s interest in Mayo. Like it or not, Mayo is a professional, starting-caliber shooting guard who would bring veteran experience to the position that a rookie whose upside might be higher lacks (cough, C.J. McCollum, cough).
Still, given that an unhealthy Brandon Roy played in only five games last season and was replaced the rest of the way by Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea–point guards masquerading as shooting guards–it’s really tough to project how Mayo or any other traditional SG would fit into Rick’s offense.
Given what else is out there in free agency, I like Mayo the best of a bunch of imperfect possibilities to fill this area of need.
1. Grant Hill
He retired last night during the TNT pregame show. Hill is one of the most successful, post-Wooden college players. He won two national titles and was runner up for a third. He was an All-American and ACC Player of the Year. In the NBA, Hill was — for a not-insignificant period of time — on the short list of the game’s greatest players. The absolute PICTURE of “NBA Ready,” a 22-year old Grant Hill was Co-Rookie of the Year with fellow superstar, future hall of famer, and still-playing Jason Kidd. For six seasons, before injuries I don’t need to detail here, he averaged between 19.9 and 25.8 points, 6.4 and 9.8 rebounds, and 5.0 and 7.3 assists, per game.
Healthy Grant Hill is one of the best small forwards I’ve ever seen. The only one clearly better has a Game 7 tomorrow night.
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.
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.
LBJ and Dre: Two things good in the world. Still. (Photo courtesy of ESPN The Magazine.)
Heat @ Wolves. 7 PM CST. NBA-TV/CH. 29/830-AM. Yep.
Streaking to the Finish
The Heat (43-14) have won 14 straight and are on the cusp of the longest winning streak in franchise history. Miami has beaten the Wolves five consecutive times. If the Heat win tonight, it will have its third straight season sweep of the Wolves. I’ve written before on streaking. Much of that applies here.
The Wolves? Continue reading
Flip Saunders and Jan Vesely (Photo by Toni L. Sandys, Washington Post)
The news: Flip Saunders has been fired by the Washington Wizards, ESPN reports.
The big news: RANDY WITTMAN! will be replacing Saunders as Wiz coach.
Saunders clearly wasn’t able to get through to Andray Blatche, Nick Young, Jordan Crawford, and the other assorted Wiz misfits. Who could?
I wrote about this after attending a Wiz game last Friday. Bottom line is, they’re hopeless.
I can’t wait to see how they react to Wittman’s DISCIPLINARIAN schtick.
Only the Wiz. *Sigh.*