Tag Archives: Anthony Bennett

Wolves to Buy Out Bennett, Instant Reactions

kyrie

I made a pretty simple photoshop before the 2013 Draft about who the Wizards might draft. Anthony Bennett somehow found it and instagrammed it. Then Kyrie Irving liked it. The world is a small place.

Andy G: Wolves Making a Mistake

He’s so talented in a variety of areas that we needed to just simplify what we expect of him. If he does that, the rest of it is (going to) fall into place.

—-Jay Triano, head coach of Team Canada, on Anthony Bennett

The Wolves are working on a contract buyout with Anthony Bennett, according to Woj. The report indicates that Bennett’s representatives are pushing for this so that he can find a better opportunity for playing time. Minnesota has no clear long-term option at AB’s power forward spot, but their current roster includes a lot of competition at that position and in the frontcourt as a whole. Depending on health over the course of the season, they could have Kevin Garnett, Nemanja Bjelica, Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng, Adreian Payne, Nikola Pekovic, and maybe even Shabazz Muhammad vying for frontcourt minutes.

Presumably more important to Bennett and his agent Jeff Schwartz than his immediate playing time, however, is his longer term contract situation. The Timberwolves, or whatever team holds his rights in the next few weeks, has to decide before November whether or not to exercise Bennett’s option for the 2016-17 season, which would put them on the hook for that year’s guaranteed salary ($7.3 Million) but also avail themselves of his restricted free agency matching rights, in the event that his career takes off and he eventually becomes a hotter commodity than he is now.

Clearly, the Timberwolves have already decided that they will not be picking up that option. If that was not the case, his agent would not be trying to get him out of Minnesota in such a hurry. I don’t know the exact mechanics of a buyout and what it means for Bennett’s current contract status (and since it won’t impact the Timberwolves I don’t plan on researching it) but if he can find another team that will give him some minutes and an active role in a functional offense, it probably increases the odds that he’ll sign a second NBA contract and find some stability after what has been one of the rockier starts for a high-lottery pick in league history.

This news does not reflect well on the Wolves operations. They have done a lot of things well since Flip Saunders took over for David Kahn, and they have been blessed by some long-overdue luck, but it is kind of absurd that they are letting a 22-year old forward with Bennett’s physical tools and skill set walk away for nothing. Not only would I not buy him out or trade him, but I would exercise that contract-year option and make a serious commitment to developing him like they are trying to do with Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Karl-Anthony Towns and hopefully Ricky Rubio.

While last year’s singular offensive strategy of “feed Andrew Wiggins in the post and continually challenge him to dunk on people,” seemed to work for an important-but-limited purpose (DEVELOP THE SHIT OUT OF ANDREW WIGGINS) it is probably not a good idea to spend multiple seasons with such separated, individual strategies. Next year, Karl-Anthony Towns will be the shiny new number one pick. Do they then have to isolate Towns while Wiggins takes a backseat? At some point soon, the Timberwolves need to develop a team identity where their young players learn how to play together. They need to begin to develop team basketball principles, and a successful system that most of their young talent can succeed in. And Anthony Bennett should be a part of that process, because who knows what might come of it, after all of the work, development, and competition for playing time sorts itself out?

Despite his struggles so far in 1,557 minutes of NBA basketball (for a reference point, Zach LaVine has already played 1,902) it is surprisingly easy to defend Bennett against much of the criticism that he receives from fans and pundits. Continue reading

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The Punch-Drunk Podcast, Ep. 11: The Offseason

In which we discuss Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett’s Team Canada exploits, Carmelo Anthony’s early free-agency recruitment of Kevin Durant, and offer (tongue-in-cheek) “sneaky 2015-16 predictions” for each player on the Wolves’ roster.

(Eds. Note: We had some technical difficulties during this one. ymmv.)

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INBOX: Timberwolves Season in Review Part II: The Forwards

Shabazz Muhammad and Andrew Wiggins

Shabazz Muhammad and Andrew Wiggins

Andy G and Patrick J: As the NBA Playoffs begin, we’re going to continue recapping the season that was for the Timberwolves. We’re breaking this down into general positions, with a focus on who is still on the roster — as opposed to the slew of players who were traded mid-season, like Corey Brewer and Thaddeus Young. In case you missed Part I on the guards, be sure to check that out.

Today, we’re talking forwards. Basically, there’s a lot of hope at the three and a lot of uncertainty at the four. Read on below the fold for our takes.

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Punch-Drunk Podcast: Wiggins, LaVine, and the Season

In which we discuss Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett, and Sean (Mc)Sweeney.

Check out the podcast below the fold and subscribe on iTunes!

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Saturday Jottings: Wolves Beat Suns, Anthony Bennett’s Future, Late-Game Offense

Last night’s win over the Suns was one of the season’s most fun games, for a few different reasons.

First and most obvious: It was a close game, involving a whole bunch of fourth quarter lead changes, and the home team pulled it out in the final minute. Specifically, the Wolves’ biggest basket came on a Rubio-to-Wiggins pick and roll where the next Rookie of the Year showed off his athleticism and poise by absorbing contact and finishing in traffic. Anytime the Wolves beat a decent team on a big play involving Rubio and Wiggins, the vibes will be positive.

Second, the fans came out and the arena had new energy. This was presumably, in large part, due to the Garnett-trade news. There was a period of time between when the trade was announced and the confirmation of when KG will debut here (next Wednesday, not last night) and I can only imagine that a lot of fans bought tickets for the Friday night game hoping it might be the first one with The Big Ticket back in the lineup. Garnett is not yet back in Minnesota, but the team made sure to play a bunch of promo videos on the big screen which was the crowd’s consolation prize (well, along with the big win). But there was a bigger-than-usual turnout last night, and the fans clearly enjoyed the show that Ricky and Wiggins put on. This team is 12-42 right now, mind you. This sort of win/loss record, which is unfortunately common, has traditionally not led to good crowds in the second half of the season. Last night was an exception.

Third, and most perhaps most under-the-radar, Ricky Rubio’s minutes restriction has been lifted and he’s back in full duty. Rubio played 37 minutes of really good basketball, last night. He had the Jason Kidd-style stat line, approaching a triple double with 10 points, 14 assists and 8 rebounds. Ricky had so much control over this game. Kevin Martin was hot early, so Ricky got him the ball. When Wiggins was feeling left out, Ricky chucked a 50-foot pass up the floor, forcing the youngster to chase it down and reward himself with a layup. Later in the game, again after some Martin shots went up, Ricky made a concerted effort to get the new guy, Gary Neal, some touches. He even looked off Martin to make sure this happened. He’s got that “pure point guard” brain that calculates the flow of the game in real time and understands where the ball needs to go to keep everyone happy and — more importantly — to keep the points coming. Ricky’s plus-minus of +14 was the game’s best by a 6-point margin.

All in all, it was a good win against an undermanned, but plenty competitive Suns team.

Some other Timberwolves issues, looking ahead:

* Anthony Bennett is about to enter a two-front battle for his Timberwolves future.

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Punch-Drunk Podcast, Episode 10: Wiggins and the Rest (Plus GERALD GREEN!, Injuries and Tanking, and the NBA Draft)

Gerald Green put on a brief but amazing show on Wednesday against the Wolves.

Gerald Green put on a brief but amazing show on Wednesday against the Wolves.

In which we discuss Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young, Mo Williams, Zach LaVine, Gerald Green’s performance, injuries and tanking, and some NBA Draft prospects who intrigue us.

Check out the podcast below the fold.

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Catching Up on Timberwolves from San Francisco

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Greetings from San Francisco where I’ve been the past couple days, and will be tonight (well, technically Oakland) to watch the Timberwolves play at Oracle against the Warriors. Since I last wrote here, the Wolves have played three times, losing each game.

Last Sunday, they lost a close one at home to the Pacers. Their offense came out tentative against a good defensive team that allows very little opportunity for easy shots in the half-court. In the second half, sparked by the energy of Shabazz Muhammad, they came back and even took a 1-point lead. But poor execution in the final minutes — some by Muhammad specifically — let that one slip out of their fingers. They (Wiggins and Budinger, mostly) allowed C.J. Miles to go off for 28 points.

Next was the anticipated matchup with Kevin Love, now wearing the wine and gold Cavs uniform. The game wasn’t as exciting as the hype going into it. Flip Saunders said something about Minnesotans not forgiving Love because he turned on them, and then some people blogged about that. During the game, the Wolves just plain struggled to defend. They gave up 125 points. Love had 20 & 10 and looked good. The good news for Wolves fans was that Andrew Wiggins busted out of his slump to score 27 points on just 16 shots. He dunked really hard next to* Love, one time. (*I can’t say he dunked “on” Love, because Love still does the thing where he steps out of the way of dribble penetration instead of challenging it.) In any event, this game was not close. The Wolves lost by 21.

Last night’s game at Denver was close; more like the Pacers game. The Wolves, like always, were much smaller than their opponent. Whether it was Timofey Mozgov, Jusuf Nurkic, or J.J. Hickson, the Nuggets always had somebody down low who looked about 50 pounds heavier than Gorgui Dieng. But even with that particular disadvantage, the Wolves did enough stuff to hang in there to the final minute of the game.

Wiggins posted a line of 22 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists, building on the momentum started in Cleveland. Thad Young had one of his best games of the season, finding his touch on pick-and-roll floaters over the large Nuggets defenders. Gorgui Dieng did what he’s been doing, which is a little bit of everything. His stat line tells that story: 14 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 4 blocks. Shabazz had a solid scoring start interrupted in the third quarter when he took a Kenneth Faried finger to the eye and required courtside medical attention for a few minutes. He ended the game with 14 points on 5-14 shooting, which is below his average. He missed a couple of dunks where he thought he was fouled that would’ve made that stat line look a little prettier.

It looked like the game might really get away from the Wolves before Robbie Hummel checked in for a productive, 10-minute stint. He scored 7 points and took 2 charges. Hummel is one of the few players on this entire roster who could fit into a limited reserve role on any team in the league, including the title contenders. He knows how to play team offense, his defensive ability is better than you probably realize, and he does nothing to hinder what playmakers around him are trying to accomplish. (There, dead horse beaten. I really hope to see Hummel land in a more competitive situation so his playing time is no longer cut in the name of talent-development.)

The Nuggets game was partially decided by missed Wolves free throws in the final minutes. With 2:18 to play, Gorgui went 1 of 2 to tie the game instead of take the lead. With 1:21 to play, Thad went 1 of 2 to cut a Nuggets lead to 1 instead of tie the game. With 0:40 to play, Wiggins went 1 of 2 to cut a Nuggets lead to 2 instead of 1. With 0:18 to play, Gorgui went 1 of 2 to cut a Nuggets lead to 1 instead of tie the game.

You get the idea. The Wolves lost by 4.

That’s a summary of the past three games.

Some team issues I’m noticing:

* Anthony Bennett is getting worse. Continue reading

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