Game One: Orlando Magic Preview

For the season opener against the Orlando Magic, Timberpups welcomes Zach Oliver! Oliver is a good friend of mine who covers the Magic for www.BallerMindFrame.com. The link to his author profile is here (http://www.ballermindframe.com/author/zoliver8812/) and you can follow him on Twitter for more Magic News, NBA chatter and some of the finest nonsense on the internet today — his handle is @ZOliver8812   .

 

Zach, hope all is well — I have a few questions about tonight’s game.

First, there was lots of hope and little speculation the Wolves would trade up to try and land guard Victor Oladipo out of Indiana University, how is he doing?

 

Oladipo just picked up playing point guard in the Orlando Summer League, after playing mostly the two guard spot throughout college at Indiana. His game is better suited playing off-ball guard but he’s developing ball handling skills and won’t hurt the current rebuilding process in Orlando. If he works out, great! We’ll have the point guard for the future and If not — he’ll be a fine secondary ball handler and continue growth as a two-guard.

How’d he play last night? How did the Magic perform in games played on back-to-back nights last season?

 

In his debut last night, Victor Oladipo looked good. While his stat line may not be something that makes you say “wow,” he was very solid. He struggled some with his shot, but he looked comfortable out there. Kid’s going to be special, he brings such high energy and physicality to the game each time he steps on court. Once he finds his niche, and a comfort level, he’ll be stuffing the stat sheets and growing in Magic fans hearts night in and night out.

 

As for back-to-backs… It wasn’t pretty for the Magic last season. They went an abysmal 3-9 in the second game of back-to-backs. The team opened up last night in Indiana against a tough Pacers squad, so thing’s could be rough early on. Remember, the Magic made their sole trip to Minnesota early last season on the second night of a back-to-back and lost 90-75.

 

What matchups will you be watching closely?

There’s two different matchups that I’ll be watching closely tonight. The Magic have a lot of intriguing young players who will be challenged night-in and night-out. The two I’ll be watching closely tonight is the battles at power forward, and when the aforementioned Oladipo is on court.

 

Kevin Love vs Enter Magic Power Forward

 

With Glen Davis out, the Magic have a question as to who will be the starting power forward throughout the season. Tobias Harris finished last season as the starter after he was acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks at the trade deadline. Harris showcased his scoring ability and versatility in his short time with the team. While it’s hard to not start your best scorer, it might be the best for the team to bring him off the bench in a backup role at both forward positions.

Last years first round pick, Andrew Nicholson, showed some promise on the offensive end last season. However, he struggled mightely on the defensive side, and is a below average rebounder. While center Nikola Vucevic can help mask his poor rebounding numbers, there will be times when Love gets away from him and is able feast on the boards. Love would be a matchup nightmare for the youngster, so he might be best suited in the second unit.

 

Possibly the best matchup and healthy defender at the position for the team, Jason Maxiell, could slide in and grab the start. The team brought him in to add toughness to the teams soft interior defense, and while he might be better off coming off the bench, he’d be the best one to bang down low with Love.

 

The final candidate to see some minutes at the four would be second year big Kyle O’Quinn. The team experimented with him starting at the four next to Vucevic, but it’s less than ideal to start both together. O’Quinn is not afraid to go down low and bang his body around, but he has a problem with fouls, and he’s really the best option to play center with the second unit.

 

Victor Oladipo vs Ricky Rubio

 

Two exciting young guys going head-to-head. How could you not want to watch this!? Rubio could be the best passer that Oladipo is forced to guard this season, and it’s an early matchup for the possible defensive stopper. He’s got a good IQ while out there and is possibly the team’s best perimeter defender also. Will Oladipo take advantage of his size and take Rubio into the post more and try to score with his back to the basket or will he try to take him off the dribble more? There’s a lot of intriguing storylines to watch with this matchup.

 

Now, Zach, I have some questions about you and your Timberwolves.

How important is it for the Timberwolves to get a win tonight?

 

For those in attendance tonight, including myself — it’s very important. The Timberpups have high expectations this season, not only here in Minnesota, but around the league. If this club wants to a be a threat to make the postseason, they’ll need to beat the weaker teams in both conferences — tonight’s a chance to take care of business against a weaker Eastern Conference foe playing the tail end of back-to-back road games.

 

What can we expect out of the small forward position with Chase Budinger out for the foreseeable future?

 

Derrick Williams, Robbie Hummel and Dante Cunningham started the final three preseason games at the 3 spot, respectively, for the Wolves. Tonight’s the first chance any of us will get to see how Adelman addresses the SF position. Provided coach doesn’t go completely unorthodox, Corey Brewer will get the nod and will be relieved by Williams, Cunningham and maybe rookie 14th overall draft pick -Shabazz Muhammad- gets out there tonight. There’s so many groups of five that we could see, tonight’s game may tell us a lot about the Wolves future regarding the SF position.

 

How does Budinger fit in with the team once he returns?

 

If and when ‘Bud’ returns he’ll be eased back into the lineup, slowly, because that’s how basketball injuries go. It’s a tough question to answer simply because he had his knee repaired but during training camp, things started swelling again, leaving us with the question — did he ever really recover? Dr. James Andrews removed around 75 percent of the meniscus and a hopeful timetable for Budinger’s return would be Christmas, but I’m just unsure. He’ll be part of the small forward by committee with Brewer, Williams and Muhammad and Adelman will use him where he thinks is best.

 

In terms of matchups, Zach, you’ve hit it right on the head. I’m going to keep an eye on Oladipo because of the speculation and the ambitious thought that he could have ended up in Minnesota. Whether he’s up against Kevin Martin or Rubio, he’s got his hands full defensively. Rubio will give him more fits on the offensive side of the ball than Martin will, ‘K-Mart’ will be less to handle defensively for V.O., Ricky might shred him up, if he’s not up to the task.

 

What’s your expectations from Ricky Rubio, not only tonight, but going forward this season?

 

Numbers wise, I hope he can average 15 points and 10 assists per game but I’m not big on predictions. If he’s healthy, he’s a threat to lead the league in assists, steals and possibly the non-existent ‘comeback player of the year award’ — that’s if Love doesn’t steal away all the spotlight from the Spanish Unicorn.

Production wise, Ricky’s going to do what it takes to win basketball games. He’s not afraid to take the big shot, as we saw last year against the Clippers when he tied the game with less than a minute remaining after hitting a corner-three, he’s a relentless defender and, half, of the face of this Timberwolves franchise. He needs to stay healthy, more than anything — that’s the key. (edit reminder)

 

Zach, this has been fun, do the Magic and the Wolves play any more times this season?

 

Yes, Saturday April 5th in Orlando.

 

The game will be aired at 7:00PM CST on FSNorth and 830AM WCCO Wolves Radio. Follow @TimberpupsBlog for live-tweets but JUST COMMENT IN THE FORUM BECAUSE IT’S GOING TO BE FUN.

Phew, sorry.

Wolves are going to win tonight, not only on the court — but which one would you rather have? Seriously?

 

Timberpups Preseason — The Opener

The Timberpups begin the preseason tonight, in the Target Center, at 7:00 CST vs. CSKA Moscow.

Dante Cunningham (ill) and JJ Barea (personal reasons) both questionable for tonight’s contest vs. CSKA Moscow.

— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) October 7, 2013

Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer and Nikola Pekovic are the expected starters this season and also for tonight’s game. How many minutes will they play? I presume no more than 10-minutes, but, it’s ultimately up to Coach Rick Adelman.

After the starters sit, Alexey Shved is likely to see plenty of minutes against his former team. These quotes are from a piece written by Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

‘Adelman just wants Shved to become more “engaged” when he’s playing off the ball.

“If Alexey smiles, everything else takes care of itself,” Ronnie Turiaf said. “If he doesn’t smile, he’s a different player.”

It’s a big game for Shved, we’ve talked about him playing minutes behind Rubio at point guard this season — tonight will be a chance to see him in that role. He’ll will share minutes with Lorenzo Brown and A.J. Price, because of Barea’s absence. It’s important for Shved to play well, not only for himself, but to show the team he can change the face and be happy — there’s also two guys fighting to make the roster  playing behind him tonight.

Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press wrote a captivating story about Othyus Jeffers, quoting Flip Saunders’ opinion of the 28-year old from Chicago.

“What he’s been through is how he plays,” said Saunders, who coached Jeffers in Washington. “He’s hard-nosed, kind of a mad dog that just gets after it and really competes. He basically goes at it where he understands that nothing’s given to him.”

Here’s a little bit on the ‘Pups opponent this evening.

CSKA is coached by an Italian, Ettora Messina, who spent time with the Lakers as a technical advisor to Mike Brown in Los Angeles. Prior to L.A. Messina was head coach of Real Madrid of Spain 2009-2011, he’s on contract with CSKA for $44-million and may choose to opt-out if he’s offered a head coaching opportunity in the NBA. “However, Messina figures this to be unlikely — he’s 53 and it’s late to try and pick up the game. Read more about Coach Messina here -thanks Manuel!  (@itaTimberwolves)

The club is run similar to an NBA Franchise and is without question the powerhouse of the Russian League. CSKA has been the Russian League Champion every season dating back to 2003, in addition to winning Euroleague titles in 2006 and 2008. Shved and former Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko were two main components of the 2008 squad. In 2010, Shved helped CSKA attain the first victory on American ground by a European team in a preseason game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“It’s a good check-up for us. It’s good to see where we are and to find our game before our real season starts,” Nenad Krstic explained. “For some of our players, it’s their first time playing against an NBA team; it’s a new experience. And Minnesota has a talented team.”

Kristic is a two-time all Euroleague Center from Serbia who has played in the NBA with the Boston Celtics, New Jersey Nets and Oklahoma City Thunder. Averaging just over 15-points in Eurobasket, he’s one of the players the Wolves must focus on defending against CSKA tonight.

Shved’s intensity isn’t necessarily in question, but the team would like to see more of it. I wouldn’t expect a lackluster effort for the second-year NBA Player tonight.

“I went over to the hotel to meet with my friends and former coaches. I am happy see them here. I’m always happy to see my guys.” He also summed up how both teams feel about the contest. “They want to show that they can beat an NBA team and NBA teams don’t want to lose. Everybody is ready for this game.”

Click here for more European perspective on tonight’s matchup.

CSKA will look to slow the ball down and playing a majority of the game in the halfcourt, hoping to slow down the Wolves’ potentially potent transition offense. If the game gets wild, it’s an advantage for the home team. Hopefully the Wolves can run away with this one, without any injuries, of course. I know, I know, it’s only the preseason but we’ve waited too long and the team has worked to hard to be defeated by a weaker opponent. Look for Shved to play-with-purpose, the training camp invites to make the most of their chances and most importantly — a Timberpups victory.

 

The next preseason game is Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors, more on that soon.

 

 

Changes in the Twolves Staff

Back in charge ... (Photo credit: Star Tribune)

Back in charge …
(Photo credit: Star Tribune)

To say this offseason has been a busy one for the Timberwolves would be a bit of an understatement.  However, it hasn’t just been the roster and the guys that will taking to the Target Center floor in a few weeks.  The Pups front office and coaching staff has also seen a bevy of changes take place, all starting with the firing of David Kahn and the hiring (and return) of Flip Saunders as the team’s new President of Basketball Operations.

Since the return of Flip, the news hasn’t really slowed down.  Days after being hired in May, Flip fired Pete Philo, the Wolves international scouting coordinator, along with Curtis Crawford and Will Conroy.  Conroy, of course, was Brandon Roy’s best friend that David Kahn gave a contract to prior to last season.  Crawford was an actual scout for the team.

Opinion: Given the lack of overall success in the franchise’s draft history and ability to find many hidden gems overseas, this was a good starting point for the team.  Hopefully, Glen Taylor and Flip use the appropriate amount of resources to maximize the potential of hitting a home run in the future through the appropriate scouting channels.

In July, the Pups probably saw their biggest loss to date this offseason, when Bill Bayno decided to leave the coaching staff to become the right hand man for Dwane Casey in Toronto.

Opinion: Bayno seemed to have a real strong rapport with the roster the past two years and was always well regarded by others online and in the media.  While it is being reported that this had nothing to do with money, I wish the Wolves would have countered with … something.  I would feel much better with Bill Bayno waiting behind Rick Adelman (more on this in a bit) vs. Terry Porter and others.

A little over one week ago, Flip Saunders named Milt Newton the new General Manager of the Timberwolves.  Milt and Flip were together in Washington and seem to have a mutual respect for one another.  By most, if not all accords, the hiring of Milt puts another voice in the room for personnel decisions, but he will not have the final say on those decisions, as that will remain with Flip.

Opinion: This announcement had been rumored for weeks and I have to say that I’m a little skeptical.  There continues to be this overriding theme of staying in your respective comfort zone when Glen Taylor and Flip are doing the hiring.  It isn’t like the Wizards were the gold (or bronze) standard of the NBA during Milt’s tenure.  All of that said, this tweet from Jon Krawczynski pretty much says it all:

 

With Bayno gone, the coaching staff needed to be tinkered with and earlier this week, the Wolves made several expected moves official, naming David Adelman as an Assistant Coach and hiring Bobby Jackson as Player Development Coach.  The latter signaled the end of Shawn Respert’s tenure with the Pups in the same position.

Opinion: The official hiring of the younger Adelman wasn’t a surprise to anyone.  In fact, it makes me feel a lot better about the return of his father (still a few minutes away, patience please) to the sidelines.  David coached the Wolves Summer League team in Las Vegas.  I’m a little surprised about the shift from Shawn Respert to Bobby Jackson and have a real hard time believing this isn’t part of the aforementioned “comfort zone”.  Respert seemed to be well respected in the locker room and by the local media.  Jackson, of course, is a former Golden Gopher icon and PG for the Pups.

As hinted at several times above, there is one name missing from the official newswire and he is the most important part: Coach Rick Adelman.  While everyone assumes he will be back to lead the Wolves next season, I’m just a little anxious that it hasn’t been made official.  Adelman truly is the glue to this franchise right now.  Look at the free agent signings, they all have Adelman’s fingerprints on them.  Look at the attempt to repair the relationship with Kevin Love.  Same overarching thought.  This team needs Rick Adelman on the sidelines to maximize its potential this coming season.

Here’s to hoping that announcement comes soon.  Like, today or tomorrow.  Let’s go Wolves!

Timberwolves Ink Chase Budinger, Kevin Martin to Deals

Both Chase Budinger and Kevin Martin agreed with Minnesota on Tuesday, adding two much needed perimeter shooters to a group that ranked dead last in three-point shooting last season.

Both Chase Budinger and Kevin Martin agreed with Minnesota on Tuesday, adding two much needed perimeter shooters to a group that ranked dead last in three-point shooting last season.

Things just got very interesting for the Timberwolves only a few days into free agency. On Tuesday, Minnesota got things started by coming to terms with RFA SG/SF Chase Budinger on a three year, $16 million pact and made some noise later that day by agreeing to a four year, $28 million agreement with UFA SG Kevin Martin.

Budinger, 25, was originally acquired by the Timberwolves in a draft day trade last summer that sent Minnesota’s 18th overall pick to the Houston Rockets. The Arizona product had trouble staying on the court during his first season for the Pups, as he missed all but 23 games after tearing his meniscus just 6 games into the 2012-13 season. When healthy, he brings strong perimeter shooting and a very high competence of Rick Adelman‘s corner offense, of whom he played for in Houston for two seasons before ultimately landing in the land of 10,000 lakes. He will likely be the starter at small forward with F Derrick Williams and SF Shabazz Muhammad also seeing time at the 3. [Read more...]

Minnesota Timberwolves 107, Detroit Pistons 101

Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Game Summary:

The Timberwolves hosted the Detroit Pistons at the Target Center on Saturday night with Rick Adelman receiving another opportunity to win his 1000th career victory in his 22nd season as an NBA coach. The Pups came within a few points of achieving the feat the previous night against Toronto, but ultimately fell by a score of 95-93 leaving Adelman at 999 career victories.

Detroit boasted their tough frontcourt of rising star Greg Monroe paired with rookie phenom Andre Drummond, it was no easy task for Minnesota starters Nikola Pekovic and Derrick Williams on the interior. The centers matchup of Pekovic and Drummond was sure not to disappoint, as it was a matchup of Minnesota’s polished bruiser against Detroit’s young Amar’e Stoudemire clone.

For the last time this season, it was a Spaniard vs. Spaniard PG matchup as buddies Ricky Rubio and Jose Calderon faced off for the final time of the regular season. While both are familiar from their participation on the Spanish National team, each player possesses their own unique style. The long time Raptor Calderon focuses his scoring from long mid-range jumpers stretching beyond the arc, and due to his lack of elite quickness uses precision in his movements to make plays. On the other end, Tricky Ricky as many call him threads passes through tight windows while using his eyes to lead defenses one way while he does what they least expect him to. Despite the different styles, both Rubio and Calderon have enjoyed very good campaigns in 2012-13.

Detroit got running in transition early, as they were very active at getting hands in the passing lanes and forcing turnovers. They did a nice job of pushing the ball hard down the floor following steals, but they had a difficult job of finishing at the rim with the advantage in transition.

Derrick Williams got off to a strong start as he netted 6 of the Wolves’ first 14 points as Minnesota led 14-6 with 7:36 remaining in the first quarter. Ricky had  a tough time getting penetration in the first period as Detroit showed strong resilience as a unit on the defensive end. However, the Wolves advantage in transition allowed them a 33-25 lead at the culmination of the first quarter.

Detroit got nice bench contributions from Jonas Jerebko and Rodney Stuckey in the second quarter and the Pistons and Wolves went back and forth in the second period. Coming off the bench, JJ Barea came right back and provided a great spark for the Wolves, creating off the dribble and doing a great job of mixing up pull up jumpers and shot fakes for easy buckets off of the drive. Continuing to flow the offense through their 290-pound mammoth, Minnesota headed to the locker room with a 61-55 first half lead.

The second half continued to be a dog fight as Detroit outshot the Timberwolves, but continually committed careless turnovers on the offensive end which led to some easy transition buckets for Minnesota. The Pups dug deep for their head coach and held on to a three point lead heading into the final period of play.

With six different Pistons finishing with at least 3 turnovers last night, it is easy to understand why Minnesota ultimately won the game 107-101. However, a win is a win and Rick Adelman was quick to rush over to his wife Mary Kay who awaited him in the corner of the court. Despite all the health issues that Mary Kay and Rick have fought together, they were both on the court on Saturday night to witness Rick become the eighth coach in NBA history to reach the 1,000 mark. All of the Timberwolves players joined in celebration following the home victory and fans relished in something meaningful during an anticlimactic and disappointing season. Go Rick, you deserve all the credit you get.

Notable Performances:

Alexey Shved played only 4 minutes and scored 0 points after failing to attempt a field goal. It has been a disastrous second half of the season for the 24-year-old Shved, who after lighting it up in the Rising Stars Challenge during NBA All-Star weekend has fell to near the bottom of Adelman’s rotation. It will be a crucial summer for Alexey as he needs to regain the confidence and swagger that he displayed throughout much of the first half of the season.

Ricky Rubio shot just 1-13 from the field, but was nonetheless a +17 on the floor while notching 6 assists, 5 steals, and 5 rebounds in 32 minutes. Games like these remind everybody watching what Ricky’s offseason priority must be: taking as many jump shots in the gym as possible.

Rodney Stuckey has come on strong in his past four games, averaging 20 points over that very span. After receiving a 5-year, $50 million deal Stuckey has fallen very short of his expectations and has become an afterthought of the common Pistons fan. Regardless of the past, the 6-foot-5 combo-guard played a solid 28 minutes and finished the night with 20 points (8-15 FG), 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 turnovers.

Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe combined for 25 points and 16 rebounds, but were unable to contain Pekovic as he recorded yet another double-double. The 22-year-old Monroe and 19-year-old Drummond together may be the most exiting future frontcourt in the NBA, and each could prove perfect compliments to the others game as the Pistons move forward in their rebuilding efforts.

Keys of the Game:

  • Free throws - Coming into the game fifth in the NBA in free throw attempts per game, the Timberwolves attempted 17 more free throws than Detroit while hitting at a similar percentage as their counterparts. However, the total trips to the line proved to be a key advantage as the Pups netted 29 of their 38 attempts compared to 15 of 21 for the Pistons.
  • Turnovers - In and out of injuries for much of the second half of the season, Andrei Kirilenko appears to be 100% as far as his health goes and it was evident tonight on the defensive end where the Russian recorded 7 of Minnesota’s 16 steals. Rubio was also able to add 5 steals of his own while Detroit only managed 10 as a team on their way to 24 Pistons turnovers to only 14 by the Pups.

Three Stars of the Game:

  1. Rick Adelman - I had to, right? Congratulations to Minnesota’s head coach who became just the eighth coach all-time to hit four digits in the wins column, and while his future surrounding his potential retirement clouds his future as the Wolves’ head coach, the Pups are very lucky to have a historic coach at the helm in the meantime.
  2. Nikola Pekovic - Boy has Pek been on a tear as of late. The Timberwolves man in the middle has flourished as the Timberwolves primary scorer with Kevin Love potentially done for the season with his broken hand, and Pek has taken full advantage of the spotlight as he auditions for a huge contract this summer. Finishing the night with 20 points (7-15 FG) and 13 rebounds while possessing a game-high +20 in 36 minutes on the floor, there is no question that Pek has been producing as a top-tier center in the NBA over the past month. The biggest question is if the oft-injured center who is in just his third NBA season will be worth spending a probable $10+ million per year contract on as he nears restricted free agency this upcoming summer. With the notoriously cheap Glen Taylor running the team, there are no guarantees that we will see our Montenegrin big man in a Timberwolves uniform next season.
  3. Brandon Knight - This was a tough decision between Rodney Stuckey and Knight as each player provided a huge impact in their own respect. I ultimately gave the nod to Knight as he was able to make a huge impact from beyond the arc as well as driving to the basket. The second year combo-guard out of Kentucky has had a somewhat difficult transition from college to the NBA, but his versatility gives him the ability to impact the game in a variety of ways. He ironically is a very similar player to his overpaid backup in Stuckey, but remains five years younger and much more consistent despite having had much less professional experience. In 41 minutes, Knight scored a game-high 25 points (9-15 FG, 3-4 3Pt) to pair with 6 assists and 2 steals.

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Los Angeles Clippers, 1/30/13

rickyrubio_blakegriffinFor the third time this season and for the second time in two weeks, the Timberwolves will be playing the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night.  The game begins a much needed, six game home stretch for the Pups as they look to right the ship that sails into the second half of the season.

The good news: it looks like Rick Adelman will be returning to the sidelines for the Pups!  The team was 2-9 during his extended absence in January to be with his ailing wife.  Let’s just say that it is good to have Coach Adelman on the sidelines.

Bonus good news: Pekovic and Shved returned to practice this week and may be available to start this stretch of home games!  Please cross your fingers.

The bad news: The Wolves have been beaten by the Clippers in each of their meetings this season, with the latter game on 1/17 being a complete dress-down for the Pups.  The only reason that game was remotely close (90-77) is because the Clippers looked like they took a few minutes off from time to time.

Player to watch:

Ricky Rubio – Rubio had his best performance of the season on Saturday night in Charlotte, finishing a game high +23 for the evening with 14 points, 8 assists, and 5 steals.  Let’s build on this!  Hopefully, Ricky is becoming more comfortable with his legs and his teammates so that we can start to see more of these types of performances much more frequently.  (Side note: the team desperately needs them.)

Match-up to watch:

Andrei Kirilenko vs. Caron Butler.  Without knowing who is in and who is out at the time of writing (Monday night) here is the match-up to watch.  Caron had a miserable performance against the Wolves back on 11/28, going 1-8 from the field for 2 points.  However, Andrei missed that game due to injury.  Two weeks ago Butler fared a little bit better with 12 points and putting in a few rebounds and assists going against AK47.  That said, Kirilenko got the better of him, finishing the game with 15 points on 7-12 shooting and adding in 5 rebounds and 4 steals.

Predictions:

With the return of Coach Adelman and the extended break between games, I say the Pups take Wednesday night’s game at home against the Clippers!

Final score prediction: Twolves 104, Clippers 97

Three stars of the game predictions:

  1. Ricky Rubio
  2. Andrei Kirilenko
  3. Blake Griffin

Let’s go Wolves!

Timberwolves Summer 2012 Recap

Since David Kahn took over as President of Basketball Operations in May 2009, we have heard the continual promotion of flexibility, youth, rebuilding, cap space, etc. etc.  Shortly after Kahn was able to convince Kevin Love to sign an extension back in January, this all changed, as Love started to provide his own thoughts to the media on how the Twolves needed to start showing improvement and to get to the playoffs.  With a decent amount of flexibility and the added pressure of appeasing one of team’s core pieces, Kahn and the rest of the front office had their work cut out for them this offseason.  To Kahn’s credit, at least he didn’t take a month off to go fishing …

Here’s my take on the Timberpups offseason.

NBA Draft

Heading into Draft week, the Twolves held the 18th and 58th picks.  Two nights before the draft, Kahn sent the 18th pick to Houston for Chase Budinger.  In general, I hate seeing trades like this.  If you have something like this lined up, why not wait until draft night?  I understand that Houston was looking for ways to get Dwight Howard, but I still hate the notion of giving up your pick so far in advance.  I would like to think there will be a time when the Twolves actually take advantage of someone else’s panic move over the course of a draft night.  When this happens, I’ll immediately drive to Shop Rite to stock up on their can-can special.

As for the trade itself, I like Budinger as a complementary wing / role player at SF.  If nothing else, he’s competent and that is more than what we can say about any wing on last year’s roster.  As an added bonus – based off of his Twitter feed – he seems to have a great personality.

With the 58th pick, the Twolves selected Robbie Hummel, who has had quite the busy summer.  Given the moves that the Wolves have made since (we’re getting there, promise), Hummel decided to sign with a team in Spain (Obradoiro).  I think that was a wise choice for Hummel given the team’s other moves and the lack of PT that would have come his way, if any at all.  More than likely, he would have wound up in the D-League.  However, since going over to join the team in Spain, Hummel has since torn his meniscus again and will be out for several weeks.

I had high hopes going into the draft; A. trading Derrick Williams and filler for MKG or Beal and B. trading Wes Johnson for Crowder / anyone worthwhile.  The DWill moves were a bit of a pipedream.  However, Kahn technically had 34 chances to find a way to get Jae Crowder and trading Wes to anyone in the late first round / early second would have been a fantastic move.  Alas, no avail.

This wasn’t the start of the offseason that I was looking for.  Beyond Ricky Rubio falling into Kahn’s lap with the fifth pick in ’09, his draft night performances have been 50 shades of abysmal.  (See what I did there?  Building your female audience 101)

My draft grade: C-
[Read more...]