Tag Archives: kevin garnett

INBOX: Over/Unders, Pek, KG

Nikola Pekovic’s injuries could force him to sit on the Wolves bench for the entire 2016-17 season

Nikola Pekovic’s injuries could force him to sit on the Wolves bench for the entire 2016-17 season

Timberwolves training camp opens on Monday with their annual Media Day. Once the players and coaches are on the floor, doing actual basketball stuff, we’ll be better equipped to carry on substantive Wolves discussion. Meanwhile, there are a couple of team issues and one gambling-related Wolves item to kick around in these final dog days of NBA offseason. 

Over/Unders

Andy G: Vegas released its NBA over/unders. That’s always a fun and interesting wrinkle to the “gearing up for the season” #process.

Let’s cut to the chase:

The gamblers set the Wolves at 41.5 wins.

They won 29 last season.

They won 15 the season before that.

Is picking 42 or more wins a crazy proposition?

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The Return (TIMBERWOLVES 97, Wizards 77)

Where to begin?

The game itself, I guess.

The game

The Wolves opened up the game with some predictable nerves. And as nerves often do in basketball, they seemed to help on defense and hurt on offense. Washington built a 13-1 lead and the Wolves did not make a field goal until a Pekovic layup with 5:27 to go in the first. While that technically broke the seal, the offensive struggles persisted through the end of the opening period. Adreian Payne committed three turnovers in short sequence, and the score was 20-11 Wizards after one.

Things turned around in the second, for two main reasons: (1) the Wolves defensive motor continued to run hot, and with appropriate rotations and discipline; and (2) Kevin Martin got hot. He had 16 points in that quarter alone (he ended with 28), mixing his crafty foul drawing skills with jumpers off the move, and an open corner three for good measure. Rubio made some uncharacteristically poor decisions, botching a contested layup on a 2-on-1 next to Wiggins, and then throwing the ball into the stands on the next possession. I did like one play he made with Garnett that was a little bit reminiscent of Celtics KG action – Garnett set a down screen like he used to for Ray Allen (I think this one was for Martin, but cannot recall specifically) and when both defenders hedged toward the cutter, he pivoted for position, and Rubio slid a bounce pass through traffic to him. He was then fouled on the layup attempt. KG’s a great screener — often accused of an illegal screener — and that action will be there with a heady point guard like Rubio surveying the floor.

The defensive effort and focus continued throughout the second quarter, and by the time Martin’s scoring work was done, the score was tied at 42s at the break.

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Some Thoughts on What the Kevin Garnett Trade Might Mean to Kevin Garnett

Prelude: Garnett’s Homecoming

What will Kevin Garnett’s return to Minnesota bring to the Wolves and the state of basketball in Minnesota? The trade still has everyone excited. Some of it is sentimentality about “The Kid” who grew up in front of our eyes. He became the franchise’s best player ever, brought the Wolves to the playoffs eight straight times and to the brink of the Finals once. He was our team’s only league MVP. A lot of the best (and a few of the worst) moments in team history are tied up in Kevin Garnett, and his time spent in a Timberwolves uniform. There’s going to be a buzz when The Kid returns to the place it all began.

There’s been some discussion of Garnett’s likely impact on the team, but little about what Garnett might be thinking about coming back to Minnesota. How does he see this affecting his legacy? What does he want to accomplish. It sounds like he wants to become an owner of this team, but why ownership? And why own the Wolves? You know he’s a student of NBA history and that he thinks about this stuff—and takes it seriously.

Garnett himself has been mum about what his end game is in Minnesota. I delve into some possible angles below the fold.

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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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KG Returns: Initial Reaction

kg

You already know the news: Kevin Garnett is coming back to Minnesota to play for the Timberwolves. In a trade-deadline deal that required Garnett’s signature to be official (he had a “no trade” clause that needed waiving) the Wolves are sending Thaddeus Young to Brooklyn for KG.

On pure basketball merits, I don’t find the trade to be particularly interesting or controversial. Young is, well, younger. He’s 26, with a future career ahead of him that could be brighter than his already-accomplished resume’ to date. But he struggled mightily for long stretches this year, and only came alive recently when his veteran teammates returned from injury. It would be disingenuous at best to say that the Wolves gave up an important long-term asset in this deal.

They didn’t. If they were in the hunt for a playoff spot this year, or had reasonable expectations for a playoff run next year, I might feel differently. But that’s not where this team is right now, with its best player in the middle of jump-shot reconstruction and its best prospect only 19 years of age.

More on Young: not only is he a “tweener” whose most natural position of small forward (and the one he was playing recently, with better results) is the same as Andrew Wiggins’, but he has the option of becoming a free agent at the end of this season and the Wolves certainly had a better understanding of his intentions in that regard than the fans do. For all we know, Young was planning on leaving the team this summer and signing somewhere else.

So the cost was not very significant, in my view.

The return, on the merits, was also fairly insignificant.

Don’t get me wrong, Garnett is one of the greatest forwards to ever play. He’s an MVP, a champion, and a future first-ballot hall of famer. If this franchise EVER has a better player than KG we’ll be seeing a short-list “Greatest of All Time” candidate.

But KG isn’t The Big Ticket anymore. He’s 38. He turns 39 in May. He can still play a little bit — he’s posting very close to league averages in advanced stats like PER and win shares — but his potential value to this T-Wolves team is not in his statistics or his in-game production. We don’t think “league averages” when we think of KG, and especially not in the 20 minutes he is playing, per game this year. He’s not going to make an impact in games, on the floor. Not anymore.

So yeah, the boring side of this trade is the basketball part. Thad wasn’t a particularly important piece of the Flip Saunders puzzle, and neither will Garnett be.

I like the trade for two basic reasons, and I dislike it for one. I’ll start with the part I don’t like, and keep it short.

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The Ascent of Wiggins & Thinking Back to Good Times

It is often said that the Timberwolves playoff run to the Western Conference Finals in 2004 was the franchise’s apex, and the moment listed by most fans as their favorite in team history. While technically true that it was the most successful season in history and the closest – in a direct sense – the team came to a championship, I personally disagree with the notion that this was the best time to be a Timberwolves fan.

To me, the best times were in the two seasons when Kevin Garnett was paired with Stephon Marbury to form the most exciting young core in basketball. In the 1996-97 season (Marbury’s first and Garnett’s second) the Wolves won 40 games and made the playoffs for the first time ever.

KG was just two years removed from high school. So was Steph. Along with Tom Gugliotta, they were the best players on the team.

In the franchise’s first seven years of existence leading up to this, the Timberwolves hadn’t ever won even 30 games. This marked a 14-win improvement from the season prior — KG’s rookie year — and it was immediately obvious that the explosive playmaker guard was a perfect match for the do-it-all seven footer. The following year the Wolves won 45 games, Garnett became a perennial All-Star, and the Wolves took the Payton-and-Kemp Supersonics to a fifth game in their best-of-five opening playoff series.

Watching Marbury and Garnett for those couple of years was not unlike what Thunder fans probably experienced when Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant blossomed and quickly became a playoff powerhouse. When you consider just how rapidly the Wolves young core was developing — these guys were barely removed from high school — it was fair to wonder if they might win multiple championships as they led the Timberwolves for the next dozen years.

If you need a reminder of how crazy-exciting they were, just check out the highlights on this weird music video I found on Youtube:

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Why Kevin Garnett should finish his career in Minnesota

After a more-than-week-long roller coaster of reports involving Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and the LA Clippers, it seems that a deal has finally been struck.  Rivers will coach the Clippers next season.  Assuming he isn’t fired or doesn’t force another trade (!) he’ll also coach the Clips for the two seasons after that.  The Celtics receive a first-round pick in 2015 and the financial relief of paying a cheaper coach to lead what looks to be a rebuilding team.

Perhaps more interesting is the part of the deal that has not — and probably will not — happen: Kevin Garnett won’t be joining his coach, as was originally hoped for and expected.  Howard Beck reported in Friday’s Times that David Stern was skeptical that the teams could arrange transactions including both coach and players that pass muster under the collective bargaining agreement.  Today, after the Rivers announcement, Paul Flannery reiterates that the league views the Rivers/KG situation as “either/or” for the Clippers, and that in light of today’s news, Garnett for DeAndre Jordan is off the table.  Flannery notes Garnett’s no-trade clause and finds it likely that KG will remain a Celtic.

In the internet spirit of KNEE-JERK REACTION I thought I’d pay a quick visit to espn.com — specifically, the Trade Machine — and come up with an unlikely plausible trade proposal that brings Garnett back home to Minneapolis, where he spent his prime seasons as the greatest ever Timberwolf.

Screen Shot 2013-06-23 at 6.24.22 PM

Why the Wolves do it:

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Garnett [still] Got Game (CELTICS 104, Wolves 94)

KG played like his prime years tonight, albeit in fewer minutes.

I feel bad for the fans that only tuned in for the second half.  After a couple competitive quarters of basketball that left the Wolves leading by 4 points, everything came unraveled for Rick Adelman’s team.  Boston turned the halftime deficit into a 7-point lead after three.  The third quarter was largely dominated by large Celtic power forward, Brandon Bass, who scored 10 points on 5-5 shooting in the period.  The Wolves second unit, that played quite well in the first half, continued the struggles in the early fourth, seeing the Celtic lead extend to 9 points when Love and Pekovic came back in.  Those subs didn’t help and the bleeding continued.  Profusely.  Boston’s lead ballooned to 15.  In the first 6:08 of the final period the Wolves managed just 3 points, blending a toxic mix of bricked jumpers, botched layups, offensive fouls and turnovers, and above all else, missed free throws.  Despite getting enough defensive stops to hold out a shred of hope through the 6-minute mark, the game was never again a close one.

Rather than harp on everything negative, I’ll start with some praise:

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Will the Wolves Ever Beat Boston?

Paul Pierce is still a potent threat for Boston

Paul Pierce is still a potent threat for Boston

Our Twolves play the Celtics tonight in Boston, my former home. I’ll be rooting for the Wolves, of course, but the Celtics are one of my favorite sideshows in the League, given not only that I lived in Boston for two years and followed the team closely, but also that they (still) have KG.

Speaking of KG: Garnett’s role remains in dispute, but still, the Celtics have beaten the Wolves pretty much ever since we dealt KG to Boston.

A bunch of tidbits below the fold:
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Orlando Trades Dwight: Did they get enough in return?

image from aol.sportingnews.com

In case ya hadn’t heard, Dwight Howard is headed to Tinseltown.  He joins Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal on the list of superstar centers acquired by the Lakers in the middle of their prime.  A player as dominant as Dwight Howard, in a league devoid of great centers, certainly has a high trade value.  (Sixth highest in the NBA according to Bill Simmons, back in March.)  Orlando must’ve gotten a haul in return for Dwight… Right? Continue reading

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The Alumni Team

As the Wolves season inches closer to its end, (we’ve been screaming ‘uncle’ for weeks now, it seems) I’ve taken a bit more interest in some of the team’s former players, many of whom are playing meaningful roles on competitive teams.  After watching Randy Foye posterize the mighty Serge Ibaka last night on national tv (more on this, below) I thought it’d be fun to scan the league for former Timberpups making various levels of noise in their respective situations.  Without further ado, here is your 2011-12 Minnesota Timberwolves Alumni Team:

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Rating the B.S. Report

Bill Simmons works for ESPN.  He’s also called “The Sports Guy.” Apparently he writes a column called “The Sports Column.” He also has a podcast called The B.S. Report, which is a free-flowing conversation that occasionally touches on mature subject matter. You know the drill.

So yesterday Simmons did a two-part podcast: Part 1 featured Kevin Love and Wi-ZARDS superfan, Joe House ( Play Download); Part 2 featured Dirk Nowitzski and Wi-ZARDS superfan Joe House (Play Download). (CAVEAT: Neither of us have had an opportunity to listen to them yet because of these niggling “day jobs” we have to do, but we’re both pretty psyched to hear them because the Simmon-House duo rules and so do Dirk and K-Love.)

In anticipation of listening to these podcasts, and without a Wolves game to discuss, we decided to look back on our favorite BS Report moments and propose who we would pay to hear on future B.S. Reports.

Andy G’s Favorites

  1. Bill Walton (Describes the genius of John Wooden in ways only Walton can.  Also, I believe this podcast holds the BS Report title for ‘most awkward ending’ when Bill S. asks some question about the late-70’s Blazers breaking up and Bill W. abruptly ends interview. Eds. note: I’m not able to find the direct link to the Walton podcast so I’m posting his general ESPN Audio link, which contains links to many sources of Walton goodness.–AG)
  2. 3-Man Weave with Mark Stein & Ric Bucher (Simmons loves the Celtics.  Stein loves the Mavericks.  Bucher loves the Lakers.  They rib each other about these allegiances in funny ways, and all three are in touch with the league.)
  3. Chuck Klosterman (Klosterman could write or speak about tax returns and make them seem interesting.  He also knows hoops (though more NCAA than NBA) and his discussions with Simmons on the BS Report are must-listen.  One that sticks out is from the week that Charlie Sheen went batshit.
  4. Jalen Rose (No surprise that BS hired him for HIS OWN podcast on the Grantland Network. He knocked his BS Report out of the park. Lots of good stuff about 90’s NBA and the Fab Five.)
  5. Steve Kerr (Knows the game, has great stories, and speaks well. He’s a perfect fit for the podcast format.)


Patrick J’s Favorites

  1. David Kahn (Obviously.)
  2. Bob Ryan (Breakdown of Pierce as best Celtics scorer of all time–yes, greater than Legend; discussion of how McHale’s greatness is likely to be forgotten)
  3. Chris Herren (So much Boston here, it warmed my heart just to hear the accent. Also, penetrating discussion of LOYALTY and Rick Pitino. Verification of why Paul Pierce is great.)
  4. Joe House 2011/12 Season Preview, Part I and Part II(The 2011/12 season preview episodes is funny as hell. House says “Anus Kanter” and I believe he was being earnest about it. That NEVER happens.)
  5. Larry Bird (Actually, this one was kind of a yawner given that Legend is my all-time favorite basketball player. Bird opines on Rubio (yes, he’s great) and Kobe vs. LeBron (Both are great, Lebron might be more fun to play with, but you’re more likely to win rings if you’re on Kobe’s squad.

Worst B.S. Report

  1. Blake Griffin (He’s a more stale interview than Derrick Rose. Only sunshine here is that that hearing Simmons pulling teeth to get Griffin to talk was sort of entertaining ‘cause it was almost as hard to listen to as that scene in Swingers where Mikey keeps calling and leaving messages on that chick’s answering machine.)(Eds. note: Who am I forgetting? –PJ)
  2. (Eds. note: You are forgetting BILLY HUNTER: (ALL listeners were pissed off listening to it (an inherent truth when you cross people who care enough about league to listen to a Billy Hunter interview with outrage of same people from LOCKOUT) and Hunter had nothing interesting to add.  I took away no enjoyment from that listen.  At least when David Stern comes on, he’s going to piss you off in interesting ways.–AG)
Let’s up the ante: Who WOULD be a great BS Report guest? (Bill, are you reading?)

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The Best Power Forward in Timberwolves History

A well-known commentator writes:

“Yes, right now Love has been more effective than Kevin Garnett was here, even in his prime. Love is averaging 25.0 points and 14.6 rebounds per game during his fourth professional season. Garnett averaged 20.8 and 10.4 at the same time in his career.”

Is Sid crazy, or is Love better than KG was in his prime? Cast your vote below.

 

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Inbox #1: Kevin Garnett, Hypothetical Trade Target

Andy G writes:

Celtics got BLOWN OUT by the Gordon-less Hornets last night.

If Ainge would take Derrick Williams + every last bad Wolves contract and would send us KG (and his EXPIRING $21 million deal), would you do it?

The lineup would probably look something like:

PG – Rubio/Barea
SG – Webster (Lee until Martell gets back)
SF – Beasley
PF – Love/Tolliver
C – Garnett/Randolph

(We might have to take back a few SHITTY CELTICS players like SASHA PAVLOVIC to fill our roster.)

Thoughts?

Patrick J replies:

Probably not. KG can’t be relied on to stay healthy, and Williams has the most upside of anyone in the deal. We don’t have that many bad contracts, and besides, if the Celtics can’t even win with the Big Four, why should we expect to win with a KG/Love/Rubio core? Nix.

Andy G retorts:

Idea being that with Rubio-Love-KG and about $40 Million in CAP SPACE , we’d attract a free agent or two of notoriety.

It won’t happen….

(Eds.–I have no idea what the actual cap space would be.  But if we ditched Luke, Wes, Darko, Pekovic, and Williams, and KG expired and presumably re-signed for reasonable value, there would be a lot of it.  The 2012 free agent crop can be found here.  Looking at it now, it’s thinner than I expected after Deron and Dwight.)

Patrick J replies:

I didn’t mean to shit on it, I’d just rather stand pat. Maybe I’m just down on KG, but seeing as Brandon Bass (not David West) was their marquee free agent acquisition this year, it could still be tough to get guys here UNLESS Rubio were to attract those FAs.

(Eds.–Brandon Bass wasn’t actually acquired via free agency, but in a trade for BIG BABY DAVIS.)

Andy G replies:

You are probably right, but I wouldn’t have too much objection to a full commitment to Love-Rubio + veterans who know how to win.  Plus, KG could retire with dignity in a town that loves him.  Of course, he’s an unrestricted free agent in 2012, so the Wolves could just wait and approach him then, after their draft pick is used (and announced!) by David Stern to select Anthony Davis for the New Orleans Hornets.

Would you trade Derrick Williams and bad contracts for KG?  Would David Kahn? Would Danny Ainge sign on?

Chime in in the comments.

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