Monthly Archives: April 2013

Wolves Ownership Speculation

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.

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It’s All Over Now, David Kahn

David Kahn: Back in the saddle for at least one more season

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

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BREAKING: Kahn Out, Flip In

Plenty more to come on this.

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“Kevin Love WILL be traded.”

I hope you are enjoying the playoffs, as I am.  Opening Weekend was kind of a dud, filled with high seeds trouncing low seeds.  That changed quickly in the Game 2’s.  Chicago rallied to win at Brooklyn, splitting that series 1-1.  Golden State turned in the best playoff shooting performance since the early 90’s at Denver, evening that series as well.  Perhaps the best series “on paper” is Clippers-Grizzlies.  We couldn’t have asked for better Game 2 drama that Chris Paul versus Tony Allen at the buzzer.

The playoffs are, as always, the greatest time of the NBA year.  But they don’t involve the Timberwolves.  Covering the team isn’t so interesting in the weeks immediately following a lottery bound season.  So when Bill Simmons, the most famous sports writer in the world, writes unambiguously and emphatically that Kevin Love WILL be traded this summer or next season, I suppose that calls for a RESPONSE POST.

Here’s the full excerpt from Simmons’ Trade Value Column, where he ranked Love 20th in the NBA.

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Assessing DeMarcus Cousins’ Potential

DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins

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.

Simmons writes:

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Timberwolves Season in Review, Part 2: Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going

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?

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Timberwolves Season in Review, Part 1: A Retrospective

Bayno-Sikma 2012

[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.

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That’s All She Wrote (Wolves 108, SPURS 95)

The Wolves bested the two-seed-bound Spurs by 13 points in the season’s final game. Williams led the way again with 21 points.  He had a 360 dunk.  The team hit over 40 percent of its threes!  Even Ricky had it going from downtown, shooting 3 for 5 from distance.  It wasn’t too serious of a competition, but Popovich did play his best guys.  I didn’t expect that.  Maybe he was test driving offensive sets for the playoffs.

They reached 31 wins; the most since the 32 that Kevin Garnett and Ricky Davis piled up in 2006-07, Garnett’s last in Minnesota.  Like last season, the Wolves began surprisingly-competitive (this time the surprise was that they were winning without Rubio and Love; last year was surprising just because they were winning, period) and hit a wall.  The loss of Kevin Love for 64 of 82 games was too steep a price for the young Wolves to make a serious run at the playoffs.  Ultimately they finished either 13 or 14 behind the playing-as-I-type Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the always-tough Western Conference.

Later this week we’ll put together a season recap post that rehashes the highs and lows, surprises both pleasant and disappointing, and looks ahead to the summer and even next season.  We also plan on doing some player “report card” posts, reviewing each Timberwolves’ season in better detail.  Finally, we’ll post every few days about the happenings of the 2013 NBA Playoffs.  Can anyone stop Miami?  Or, as Denny Green might ask, should we CROWN THEIR ASS?!

Thanks again for reading this year.  The blog definitely gained readership from Year 1 to Year 2 — the readers and especially commenters are appreciated.  Tonight Jim Petersen ran through a long list of excellent contributors to Timberwolves coverage — it’s very flattering to be included in his list — and there are even more than he and Dave Benz were able to get to.  See our blog roll for a long list.  Dating back to Robson’s blog at The Rake, I’ve found blog interaction to make NBA fandom a lot more enriching and enlightening.  We’ll keep this going as long as we both feel that way.  Thanks again.

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What Did the Glen Taylor Interview Really Tell Timberwolves Fans?

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor

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.

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Forgettable Finale at Home (Jazz 96, WOLVES 80)

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.

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Nearing the End

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.

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Down Goes Kobe

Kobe

(www.hollygrimsrudart.com)

 

We interrupt our ordinary coverage of meaningless late-season Wolves games with the earthshaking news out of Los Angeles:

Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon and may never play another NBA game.

Just typing that sentence feels outlandish.

Kobe drove left on Harrison Barnes and went down in a heap.  On replay the foot plant looked innocuous.  Social media commenced a hunt for blame.  Mike D’Antoni and the NBA schedule were the chief suspects.  Kobe had some liability of his own.

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INBOX: A Warriors Wrap and a Clip Joint Preview

Klay Thompson: Not like Mych (but that's okay)

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.

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Should the Timberwolves Sign Greg Oden?

What lies ahead for Greg Oden?

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.

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1,000 wins is a time to reflect

One thousand is just one more than 999 and Rick Adelman is no better coach today than he was yesterday.  But large, even numbers serve as milestone thresholds that, when reached, afford the opportunity to reflect on all that led up to the achievement.  In the case of our coach, that period spans 22 seasons.  It includes not only the 1,000 regular season wins, but also 79 in the playoffs.  It inevitably includes many losses as well; Games 6 and 7 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals being the most memorable (infamous?) in non-Finals playoff history.  Game 6 was the night that Kobe and Shaq’s Lakers shot 27 free throws in the fourth quarter alone, and was later described by referee Tim Donaghy as fixed by a league conspiracy.  Game 7 was the night, on Sacramento’s home floor, that Adelman’s Kings were absolutely snake bit while shooting.  They were 16 of 30 from the foul line, 2 for 20 from three-point range, and still took the game to overtime when they lost to the eventual three-peat champion Lakers.

It’s difficult for me not to dwell on those losses because I came to appreciate Rick Adelman the Coach during his time in Sacramento.  I was cheering for the Kings in that series about as hard as I can remember for any Minnesota team.  I even attended Game 3 at Staples Center; a game the Kings won, going away.  Why the attachment to a team so far away — at a time when the Wolves were in the middle of the Kevin Garnett Era?

Let me count the reasons.

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Saturday Scribbles

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.

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PREVIEW: Gunning for 1,000

Rick Adelman has 999 career wins. Tonight against the Toronto Raptors, he goes for 1,000.

The hopeful headline in tomorrow’s paper will be that Wolves coach Rick Adelman reached the 1,000-win mark.  A win over the Raptors would vault Adelman’s already-legend status into another tier, joining the likes of Pat Riley, George Karl and Lenny Wilkins in an exclusive club of longtime winners.  Adelman has not had an easy go of it this season due to health problems of his players and, much more importantly, his wife Mary Kay.  Whether it happens tonight or some other night soon, it will be a nice moment when he earns his thousandth victory from the sidelines.  For more on his impending feat, read Mark Remme’s feature story.

In the game itself you’ll find two similarly situated teams.  Both have 28 wins.  The Raptors’ 47 losses are one more than the Wolves’ 46.  Neither team is particularly good, or terrible, on either end of the floor.  Both are just “below average.”  Aside from Kevin Love, the key players for each team should be suited up.  Not any egregious tanking going on, in other words.  The Raps just beat the Wizards by 10 in a showing of winning effort.  Jonas Valanciunas is probably their most interesting player (when Kyle Lowry isn’t in his occasional MVP mode, anyway).  JONAS! had 24 points on 7 shots against the Wizards.  He was drafted a couple picks behind Derrick Williams, if you’re into revisiting those sorts of things.  The two might guard each other for a few possessions in tonight’s game.

Hmm, what else?  Check out Britt Robson’s case for keeping Chase Budinger at MinnPost.  The guys at Howlin’ TWolf are profiling draft prospects.  Derek James has a nice one on Ben McLemore who would look mighty fine running the floor and turning Rubio passes into triples.  John over at timberpups.com dug up some George Mikan footage.  What sticks out, among other things, is how “hands off” the post play is.  Incredibly different today.  Zach Harper recapped the win over Milwaukee, noting signs of improvement in Ricky’s perimeter jumper.  I’ve made my feelings known on that subject (I think it needs major reconstructive surgery, preferably by an expert like Wolves’ assistant coach and shooting legend Shawn Respert) but Zach makes good observations about Ricky being ready to fire and getting enough trajectory on his threes.

That’s about it.  I’ll be catching this one in my living room with the benefit of hearing the great Jim Petersen offer his insights throughout.  Wolves fans and League Pass viewers are lucky to have such excellent coverage on TV, the web, and radio with Alan Horton calling games.

Let’s go get Number 1,000.

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“Practice?!”: Why Ricky & the Wolves should copy Kermit Washington

Spring is here (no really, it began two weeks ago), which means summer is coming.  For the Wolves, as is often the case, it also means the off-season is coming.  Most off-season discussion, here and elsewhere, will focus on free agency and the draft.  But what about the players we already have?  What will they be doing?  More importantly, will any of them improve at playing professional basketball?

During next training camp, there will inevitably be pieces written in the local press about the amazing dedication that Timberwolf X/Y/Z showed in his off-season workout regimen.  We’ll read about how he improved his diet and is working with a trainer and nutritionist.  We’ll read about what famous veteran players he played daily pickup ball with in Los Angeles, or another major coastal metropolis that is nowhere near Target Center.  We’ll read a few puffy quotes from the coaching staff — likely answering the most leading of questions — about how the player looks improved, how the team really needs him and how everybody is expecting big things.  I’m a sucker for those pieces and I already know that I’ll be GUZZLING that Kool-Aid.

But will any of it actually matter?  Will it make a bit of difference, relative to the work that every NBA player does in 2013?  Every NBA player, these days, works out hard.  Most of them eat pretty well.  Some party hard, but they’re young enough to combine late [summer] nights with elite conditioning and professional dedication to their craft.  The thing I wonder — not working or having worked with a pro team — is how much of that off-season work is devoted to basic skill development.  I know that I saw video of Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose working on their jumpers.  It looked intense and productive and — it seems to me, anyway — it helped each guy become a greater shooting threat and all-around player.  I’m sure other players work with trainers and coaches in similar fashion to remove weaknesses and improve as players.

I’m almost done with Breaks of the Game and I have to share parts of the Kermit Washington story.  Washington was a bench player on his high school team, miraculously convinced a scout at an all-star showcase (that he wasn’t actually invited to) to offer him a scholarship (based entirely on his incredible hustle for rebounds and loose balls), and befriended a former military friend at American University to help train him into becoming a beastly specimen and outstanding college player that was drafted to the NBA.

But Washington struggled like hell in his first NBA seasons, lacking the skill polish required to play forward at a professional level.  As in his high school and college careers before, Washington needed to outwork his peers, and he needed to do it in the off-season.

Halberstam described how the NBA schedule did Washington no favors:

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The Implications Of Picking Up David Kahn’s Option

David Kahn: Back in the saddle for at least one more season

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.

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