Kevin Love to Cavs Appears Done Deal, Wiggins to Join Wolves

Well, there you have it. It appears that the trade buzzed about for weeks will finally go through. According to multiple media outlets, the Timberwolves have reached an agreement with Cleveland that will send All Star forward Kevin Love to the Cavs in exchange for No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, 2013 No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett and a protected 2015 first-round draft pick.

The deal took so long to materialize because Love vocalized hesitation to sign an extension with any team he signed with. Less than a week ago, things were not looking too ideal for the Wolves. On Aug. 1, Bob Finnan wrote the following“[Love] can get far more money if he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2015 and re-signs with the team in which he is traded. That puts considerably more risk in a trade, especially if the Cavaliers are giving up a prospect like [Andrew] Wiggins.” This is the largest reason Love did not end up in Golden State, although earlier rumors implied that a deal came close to being made. The transaction fell through when the Warriors refused to include Klay Thompson as part of the package. No team wants to risk trading 1-2 of its top players to acquire a guy who may walk after one season. 

Cleveland, however, appeared the most likely of teams to convince Love to stay. The team expressed interest in Love earlier in the offseason, but only after LeBron James announced his return to the Cavs did Love express a desire to play there as well. According to Yahoo! Sports, Love will commit to opt out of his contract in 2015 and re-sign with Cleveland next summer for five years and $120 million-plus.

(photo credit: huffington post)

(photo credit: huffington post)

As with any major NBA deal, varying opinions continue to pop up across all social media platforms. In general, though, the consensus of Minnesota seems to be a giant “thumbs up.” It’s always difficult to watch genuine talent leave one’s city for a rival squad. But in this case, Love’s attitude ate away like a cancer to the team. Bridges were burned, and it became painfully clear that the UCLA alum would opt out following this season anyway–so Wolves fans could only hope to see a trade rather than walking away empty-handed.

This is absolutely the best-case scenario.

Love and LeBron certainly hold the cards to make a championship run next season (I’m not convinced they’ll succeed, but that’s a story for another time). Cleveland is taking the instant-gratification route, while this transaction offers Minnesota a very real chance at building a team the right way.

Some fans may be concerned that Wiggins will resent being traded to the Wolves, but that is likely an inaccurate assumption. In an interview earlier this week, Wiggins told ESPN that he wants to play where he’s most desired and appreciated. “I just want to play for a team that wants me. So whichever team wants me, I’ll play for.” Wiggins has clearly known for awhile now that being moved to Minnesota was a very real possibility. AP‘s Jon Krawczynski said he was “told that [Wiggins] had his reps start lining up local endorsement opportunities.” 

While the rookie would admittedly have a better chance at a championship in Cleveland, he would be living in the shadow of much larger names. Joining the Wolves offers Wiggins a very real chance at creating a league name for himself, becoming a standout athlete in a smaller market.  ESPN’s Royce Young tweeted the following Thursday afternoon:

 

The trade should be s done deal, but nothing will be official until Aug. 23, as league rules prohibit players from being traded until 30 days after signing a new contract. Wiggins’ rookie contract was signed July 24.

Countless Minnesota fans are expressing excitement over the deal, and it looks to be a great foundation for the “rebuild” talked about for several seasons. Welcome to Minnesota, Mr. Wiggins.

Wounded Warriors Battle Wolves, Minnesota Falls Late…..Again…

Entering Monday night’s game against the Warriors, the Minnesota Timberwolves sat on the .500 hump with two games remaining in the season. Their final opponent, the Utah Jazz, will venture to Target Center and face the Wolves on fan appreciation night. Combine the sentimental night with the notion that the Jazz have no intention, nor ability to go about winning that game — if there was a moral victory to attain it would be in the Bay Area, Monday.

The Warriors were without Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut, which meant Gorgui Dieng would be the only one protecting the rim as these two, uptempo, high-scoring offenses took the floor.

First Half.

The Wolves jumped all-over the Warriors in the early going. When in the process of doubling-up GSW by the 7:10 mark in the game — 24-12 — Kevin Love buried four three’s, accounting for 16 of the Wolves total-points at that time. Conversely; as well as things seemed to be going, Stephen Curry’s status as an alien proved critical during the first quarter as he matched Love for each three-pointer that Wolves’ all-everything forward connected on. For the sixth time this season the Wolves scored 40+ points during the first frame. They led by 14; 42-28, heading into the second, but the Golden Curry’s had nearly caught the Minnesota Love’s, and the double-digit lead dissipated into a measly two points — Curry tallied 23 while Love racked up 26 points — during the final minutes of the first half.

Second Half.

While it felt as if Curry was going to keep the Warriors in the game, the Wolves didn’t — and haven’t really done so at all this season — to assert themselves as the team that would ultimately win the game. As I watched the Warriors broadcast during the third quarter (no offense, Dave, Jim and Alan) the phrases, such as “there’s no desire to play any defense, this isn’t basketball,” used to describe the Wolves effort outside of scoring were quite entertaining. Usually, these type of things would irritate myself, or the common fan, but when there’s very little remaining to aspire to other than winning — sometimes teams will only look to outscore their opponents.

This was certainly the case, last night.

The bright side in the Wolves, 120-130, defeat at the hands of the Warriors — Kevin Love. Love surpassed Kevin Garnett on the all-time single season scoring list, adding his name to another to the top of another list of franchise records. However, most of the story within the game was just like a majority of other outings this season; bench woes, injuries, and questionable rotations kept the Wolves from jockeying for position to pull-ahead of Golden State before the game was over. No Wolves bench player tallied a double-digit point total, Love, Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin played a majority of the third quarter (and the fourth; overuse) and the absence of a floor-stretching “Three and D[efence]” player all factored into, yet another, close loss.

Tomorrow, in Minneapolis, at Target Center the Wolves have a chance to end the season on a high-note against an abysmal opponent. There’s an uncertain future, with potentially cataclysmic possibilities in-terms of personnel restructure, but things will ultimately be O.K. The 40 win season is arguably the best the team’s had since the departure of Garnett, who was the only superstar to play for the franchise prior to the arrival of Kevin Love.

Three Stars

  • Kevin Love [man] — 40 points, 14 rebounds, and the new Timberwolves all-time single season record holder for points scored.
  • Gorgui Dieng – 14 points on 6 of 8 shooting from the field, in addition to grabbing 11 rebounds. Jim Peterson mentioned during the broadcast this point — “If you were to redraft, last summer’s draft, at the end of the year — when does Dieng go off the board? The expectations will only grow during the offseason, higher than they already are, so it’s important to remember that he’s still a young, developing player — but man — we can enjoy what he’s brought us, thus far.
  • Stephen Curry – He’s an alien that scored 32 points and dished out 15 assist. Needless to mention, he’s the only player that I will look back upon and feel sorrow in remembrance of the Wolves failing to draft the guy. Not to bring up the negative of things, but this could ultimately be one of the game’s best scoring point-guards to ever play in the NBA.

Recap: Wolves Devour Frozen Pelicans 124-112.

Wednesday the Minnesota Timberwolves (15-16) hosted the New Orleans Pelicans (14-15). These teams entered the game struggling to rise above the .500 mark with a combined record of 29-31, but one of them would have the same amount of victories as defeats at the sound of the final buzzer.

The somewhat infamous Pierre the Pelican, New Orleans mascot, did not travel with the team, preventing a certain heated exchange between the Pelican and Crunch. Maybe the Wolves can send Crunch into the Bayou later this season. I only say that because this is a mascot battle I need to see at some point in my life. The spectacle of mascots doing mascot things will always entertain me. [Read more…]

The Wolves Lost to the Spurs | 110-117

Thinking short-term goals the Wolves are 2-1 this week.

Disclaimer: Venting a little. This one may not be pleasant. 

The Minnesota Timberwolves lost to the San Antonio Spurs Friday; 110-117.

First Half:

The Wolves led the Spurs, 30-27, at the end of the opening quarter.

Ricky Rubio, defended by Tony Parker, scored six-points on three mid-range jumpers in the final two-and-a-half minutes. Parker defended against penetration henceforth encouraging attempts from outside; Rubio recognized, elevated, and connected from three different areas for six points.

Two of his three buckets came on pull-ups in between the free-throw and the three-point line, dribbling to his right on both of the attempts. If you want to read the shameless self-promo portion of this segment, it will remind you that he’s comfortable shooting from that area — hopefully we see this continue throughout the season.

Reminder: 30-27, end of the first. 

Nikola Pekovic was the only starter to play more than half of the second quarter. Pek roamed the floor for 10 minutes, grabbed five boards, but only scored 4 points on 2 of 4 from the field. He didn’t take one free-throw. Kevin Love managed to hit two-three’s and had 16 going into the locker room to go along with 5 rebounds, he was just getting started.

However Parker, usually by buzzing past defenders into the lane for a layup, manufactured 15 first-half points and the Spurs led at halftime; 54-62. 

  • J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved shot a combined to score 10 points on 3 of 7 from the field in addition to hitting 3 of 4 FT’s. Those were the team’s only bench points
  • Boris Diaw had 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting
  • Spurs bench points — 29 of 62
  • Wolves bench points — 10 of 54

Do I sound bitter?

The bench doesn’t score. I’m somehow going to show you what i mean in the following sentences, or bullets, or whatever format I display statistics; but only as a formality.

  • J.J Barea is averaging 6 points in 17 minutes per game over the last 12. Barea is 31 percent from the field and 25 percent from downtown. Well, this is fun. Not. He’s supposed to be instant and effortless offensive production and that’s certainly not happening
  • In the same stretch Dante Cunningham is averaging 19 minutes, but he’s even less productive on the scoreboard. Although it feels “DC Hustle” plays with unmistakable tenacity, he’s capable of greater numbers. He scored a timely eight points contributing to the Wolves comeback victory against the Philadelphia 76ers a few days back.
  • This team struggles to score making Luc Mbah a Moute a player that isn’t part of the solution, not right now.
  • Shved has been playing in the first, second and even the fourth-quarters of games recently, yet, the Russian seems non-existent and doesn’t do much.
  • Robbie Hummel excited the Target Center against the Sixers with clutch shooting, but, he missed his only attempt from downtown in the opening half.

Starters, as Pek did in the second quarter of this game (that I am recapping, by the way), are rotating turns playing with the second unit for added stretches during portions of the game. Look; Pek is two points and one rebound away from being a 20-10 center, he’s been phenomenal. Unfortunately, I’d feel pleasantly surprised if he sustained this health and production throughout the entire season. I just can’t say confidently he’s capable of doing that.

Barea or Cunningham are capable of playing better, I’ve seen them do it. Robbie Hummel is for supplementary purposes until Chase Budinger returns, but, that length of time continues to grow — he’s been gone for so long, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have him.

Second Half

I wanted to get the aforementioned opinion on the bench out of my system, pardon the negativity.

This video shows you all of the points Love scored last night, which -if you missed it- there were 42.

Note: 19 of 42 came in the third quarter.

Lov3 was seven of eight from the three point line before entering the fourth quarter. After being outscored 24-35 in the second the Wolves shook the Spurs for 35 points, limiting them to only 18.

Third Quarter Scoring

  • Wolves Starters: 35 of 35 points. That’s all the points.
  • Wolves Bench: Zero. The Wolves Starters scored all of the team’s points in the third quarter.
  • Somebody named Kevin: 24
  • Leonard: 11 of Spurs’ 18
  • Kevin Love: 19

Love hit another three that put the Wolves up, 98-91, with just over eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Thirty seconds later Parker responded with a three of his own and the Spurs proceeded to overcome the Wolves momentum and things slowly slipped out of hand.

Diaw put Love on lockdown and made things difficult down the stretch, Love seemed gassed and Rubio, Brewer and Pekovic missed makeable buckets that became the difference in the end.

Stars

  1. Kevin Love – Lots of points, very good accuracy shooting
  2. Tony Parker – Dribble penetration ended in layups or assists on baskets made around the rim. The Wolves don’t have a presence to discourage opposing guards, and forwards, from entering the lane.
  3. Nikola Pekovic – 18 points with 11 boards on 7 of 13 FG shooting and a perfect four of four on FT’s.

I can’t imagine Budinger or Turiaf will return in December, in fact there’s no way. Budinger by Christmas was -initially- hopeful speculation, but, although he’s been shooting and dunking in practice he’s not performing basketball at full speed, yet.

Turiaf’s return will be longer than expected, he’s still dealing with an elbow fracture.

The bench needs help.

 

 

zb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Derrick Williams Traded For Luc Mbah a Moute, Pending Physical

During the second quarter of the game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Indiana Pacers, Derrick Williams -pending a physical- was traded to the Sacramento Kings for Luc Mbah a Moute.

It’s pronounced Luke, MMMM-BAH-EM-MOOT-AY, (that’s not professional, but you’ll get it soon enough)

Mbah a Moute is 27 years old and in his sixth NBA season. After spending five-years in Milwaukee with the Bucks, Mbah a Moute (WOW, THIS IS FUN TO SAY) was traded to the Kings for two-future second round picks.

He’s not very potent offensively, shooting less than 30 percent from three-point range and just under 50 percent from the field on his career. Though his field-goal percentage is deceptive, Mbah a Moute shoots 50 percent around the rim but less than 40 percent within’ the three-point-arc.

Just this morning Jonathon Santiago of Cowbell Kingdom published a piece on the swingman out of the Cameroon, who was beginning to appear in the starting lineup. Mbah a Moute started in five of nine games as a King. Sacramento’s head coach, Michael Malone, is in his first season at the helm and was warming up to having the tenacious defender in his starting-five.

 

“I wasn’t playing him a whole lot because he missed most of the preseason – six preseason games he was out,” Malone said. “He missed a lot of practice time, so once he put together a string of practices where (I could say) ‘Okay, I can see what you can do and you can do it and you can sustain that’, that gave me the confidence to put him out there and start playing him more.”

“He’s a guy that’s kind of made his name in the NBA as a defensive player,” Malone said.

He’s a hustle junkie, someone Rick Adelman is going to enjoy having very much.

@ZacharyBD grade the trade – how do you feel?

— Andy Whisney (@andywhisney) November 26, 2013

It’s somewhat saddening to see Williams depart without ever making a name for himself in Minnesota, but; this move benefits his development as an NBA player going forward. “D-Will” is going to see more playing time, in a system that isn’t Adelman’s (which he’s never been accustomed too) and the Kings are going to see this “Caged Lion,” released.

The Wolves will pay roughly two-million less over the next two seasons for Mbah a Moute, as opposed to Williams.

Mbah a Moute is a hustle junkie — he’s a perfect fit for this second unit. A lock-down defender who’s going to hustle every minute he’s on the floor, the only concern of mine is the pending physical. Not that I’m worried he’ll ‘fail’ the physical, but the fact he’s been somewhat plagued with injuries in his career.

Mbah a Moute has played all 82 games of the season only once, his rookie year, and any player that’s been injured in the past poses some -obvious- concern.

He was just beginning to gel in Sacramento and will start, another, new beginning as a member of the Timberwolves.

 

Welcome, Luc.

 

 

Man Your Post: Wolves Lacking Low Block Presence

The Minnesota Timberwolves are missing a dominant post-presence, to put it kindly. The harsh reality is Kevin Love isn’t there yet and Nikola Pekovic hasn’t been the answer, either. The Wolves miss Ronny Turiaf — plain and simple.

Pek’s averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds per game but in back-to-back losses against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors he’s struggled, in particular, scoring around the basket. Thanks to the new SportVU player tracking system on NBA.com, we’re able to find some data that may pinpoint the issue.

  • Pek ranks eighth in the league in Close Shot PTS Per Game (Points that are scored by a player on any touch that starts within 12 feet of the basket, excluding drives) with 5.4 points per game. However; he’s 181st in Close Field Goal Percentage (Field Goal Percentage on shots taken by a player on any touch that starts within 12 feet of the basket, excluding drives.) shooting
  • This signifies that although Pek is getting his points but isn’t finishing around the rim efficiently.

Here’s his shot chart (NBA.com)

Shotchart_1383856294228

 

It’s not because he’s not getting his touches, either. Pek leads the league in ‘Close Touches’ are touches that originate within 12 feet of the basket, excluding drives with 7.8 close touches per game. However; he’s not making the most of these — only averaging .42 Points Per Half Court Touch (The amount of points a player scores per half court touch.)

This isn’t all Big Pek’s fault. Prior to the season SB Nation’s Mike Prada wrote a piece explaining what makes Pek such a load offensively. On of the constants in Prada’s piece is that every time Pek is fed the ball — ball movement and spacing has been on-point. This hasn’t been the case this season. After signing such a large contract in the offseason opponents have taken notice to the type of threat he provides, making it difficult for him to score after touching the ball.

The defender can afford to leave Corey Brewer space on the weak side, Brewer is not a premier or even average three-point shooter.

The defender can afford to leave Corey Brewer space on the weak side, Brewer is not a premier, or even an average, three-point shooter. His man is essentially fronting Pek.

Rubio looks to feed the beast, however, fellow Montenegrin Nikola Vucevic does a good job of bodying Pek and the perimeter defender is still lurking.

Rubio looks to feed the beast, however, fellow Montenegrin Nikola Vucevic does a good job of bodying Pek and the perimeter defender is still lurking.

Rubio passes to Brewer on the wing because of the help defense preventing the pass to Pek on the inside.

Rubio passes to Brewer on the wing because of the help defense preventing the pass to Pek on the inside.

He manages to get the ball on the inside, only it's further away from the basket than Pek would like it -- forcing him to take a dribble, rather than keeping the ball high and laying it in off the backboard.

He manages to get the ball on the inside, only it’s further away from the basket than Pek would like it — forcing him to take a dribble, rather than keeping the ball high and laying it in off the backboard.

The Gig is UP! Pek is doubled by the Magic's Jason Maxiell and Pek makes a bad pass out of this doubleteam resulting in a turnover.

The Gig is UP! Pek is doubled by the Magic’s Jason Maxiell and Pek makes a bad pass out of this double-team resulting in a turnover.

It’s this type of defense opponents are throwing at the Wolves center making it difficult for him to score. Pek is not the best passer, so far this season he’s averaging one assists per game but his NBA lifetime career assist average is less than one assist per game.

He’s going to need to learn to either spot up from the 10-12ft range and shoot over the recovering defender before the double arrives, OR, keep his composure and pass away from the double team. Pekovic is an essential part of this team’s game plan offensively.

By comparison, Love is more efficient than Pek in close shot percentage (53%) but doesn’t take many looks within the 12ft area — he’s only averaged 3.8 close shot points per game. K-Love’s strong suit is shooting facing the basket or following up an offensive rebound; not the post-game. Here’s his shot chart.

Shotchart_1383860227399

Notice the area to the left of the basket — this is where Love, LOVES to post-up, however, he hasn’t been successful through five games this season.

 

After shooting performances like Love’s 10 for 25 last night — team’s are going to focus on stopping Pek first and encourage K-Love to beat them shooting jumpers. Last night against the Warriors the Wolves shot a horrid 38 percent from the field and, an even worse, 25 percent from three-point range.

There’s still no timetable for Turiaf’s return, so until then, it’s uncertain how the Wolves are going to fix the problems scoring in the post, BUT, keep in mind these are small sample sizes and Rick Adelman’s team will make adjustments accordingly to address these issues.

 

 

Zach.

 

Cavaliers Conquer Invading Wolves: 93-92

The Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t stick around the Big Apple after the victory over the New York Knicks, the team arrived in Cleveland early Monday Morning. Yesterday, jumpers and free-throws fell short throughout the game and the Wolves were unable to overcome an early deficit, falling to the Cavaliers despite making a run late in the fourth quarter, 92-93.

Rick Adelman started Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love and the Cavs countered with Tristin Thompson, Earl Clark, Dion Waiters, Anderson Varejeo and Kyrie Irving — both teams youthful and poised for a postseason run in their respective conferences.

Kevin Martin continued his three-point shooting streak carrying over from Friday and kept things close, but the Prince of Cleveland stole the show during the opening quarter. Uncle Drew wasn’t going to let his old friend Wes get the best of him on his home floor. Irving looked well on the way to a triple-double, scoring seven points, four assists and snatching three rebounds. Kevin Love failed to hit on two attempts from downtown and shot two of five from the field, scoring only four points in the first. Martin was three of four from distance and hit two FT’s on his way to 13 of the Wolves 23 points.

Irving finished with 15 points and 6 assists

Irving finished with 15 points and 6 assists

Cavs swingman C.J. Miles played as well as he did with the Utah Jazz when he scored 40 against the Wolves in a game during the second half of the 2010-2011 season. He came off the bench and scored 12 points on six shots despite never shooting a free throw during the second quarter.

The Wolves were flat and looking Adelman searched for solutions involved with the problem of losing backup center Ronnie Turiaf. Against the Knicks Minnesota went small with lineups of Dante Cunningham and Derrick Williams at the power forward and Love at the five. After the game he insinuated Gorgui Dieng would see minutes in relief of Pek, who won’t be able to play for 40 minutes as he did in New York. The rookie was not up to his enormous task and committed three fouls in less than three minutes, Andrew Bynum imposed his will on Dieng. Varejeo took advantage by dropping in a few “bunnies” around the rim on his way to 10 first half points.

The Wolves trailed at halftime 38-55.

Both teams appeared cold coming out of the locker room at halftime and the Wolves managed to outscore the Cavs 23-21, trading baskets but failing to cut the deficit to a manageable number. Irving continued to show why he’s been called Cleveland’s savior and significantly out performed Rubio, the 23 year old from Spain had five assists but was zero for seven shooting and had only scored four points.

Minnesota cut the lead shorter and shorter throughout the fourth quarter. Spark plug J.J. Barea and Derrick Williams scored a combined 13 and narrowed what had been a 23 point lead all the way down to one, Adelman called a timeout with 11 seconds remaining to run a final play hoping escape Quicken Loans Arena with a victory despite never having the lead during the game.

Williams had 13 points in Monday's loss

Williams had 13 points in Monday’s loss

Barea caught the ball at the top of the key, nearly lost possession going around a screen to his left and passed the ball to Love — who stood in the same place where he hit a game tying three against the Orlando Magic that eventually forced overtime in the Wolves season opener. This time, he was not-so-clutch.

Coming away 2-1 against the Thunder, Knicks and Cavs isn’t something to team, or it’s fans, should hang their heads in shame for — through the first four games, the Wolves have played considerably well.

Tomorrow Target Center hosts the Golden State Warriors, the game should make for lots of scoring excitement but it’s another tough test early in the season.

The team has a well-deserved day off today, we’ll see if they can bounce back at home Wednesday night.

Zach.

 

 

 

(Photos from MinnesotaTimberwolves.com)