Blog Entry

Offseason Reviews: Northwest Division

Posted on: July 29, 2010 1:59 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2010 1:57 pm
Posted by Royce Young

The Northwest Division has become one of the best and most competitive divisions in the league. There's rising teams, star power, a traditional great and then there's the Timberwolves. Regardless, it's a fairly fascinating groups of teams that all had quite different summers.

Utah Jazz

Added : Al Jefferson (trade), Raja Bell (free agency), Gordon Hayward (draft)
Lost : Kyle Korver (free agency), Ronnie Brewer (free agency), Carlos Boozer (free agency), Wesley Matthews

Philosophy : "Keep on keepin' on."

Lose one star player, replace him with another. It's just how this Jazz train keeps on a'rollin'. Utah scored Al Jefferson for relatively nothing and he replaces the exported Carlos Boozer quite well. The Jazz love that pick and roll and Jefferson should be able to team with Deron Williams to keep it at a high level. They also signed Raja Bell who is a pesky defensive player. However, losing Wesley Matthews stings a bit just because he was a rookie last year and appears to have a promising future ahead. But Utah just didn't want to pay the price tag to keep him.

Drafting Gordon Hayward certainly helps as he'll look to fill some of the void left by Matthews and Kyle Korver who signed with Chicago. This offseason was more of just scrambling to maintain in Utah and with the Jefferson deal, it looks like it should do that. A lot depends on the progression of Hayward because he'll see meaningful minutes, but the Jazz didn't let a mass exodus to Chicago burn down their walls.

Grade : B

Denver Nuggets

Added : Al Harrington (free agency), Shelden Williams (free agency), Brian Butch (free agency), George Karl's returned good health (hopefully)
Lost : Johan Petro (free agency), Malik Allen (free agency), Joey Graham (free agency)

Philosophy : "Staying good, but not great."

Denver is a team that feels like it's a piece away. Just one player to push them over the edge from good, competitive playoff team to great, actual contender team. So they signed Al Harrington. Is he that piece? Eh...

The reality is the Nuggets will be good. Their starting five has Chauncey Billups, Arron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony, Harrington and Nene. That's pretty darn solid. Then instant offense with J.R. Smith off the bench, defense in Chris Andersen and quality players in Kenyon Martin and Ty Lawson. That's a pretty stout roster. But is that really good enough? This is clearly a 50-win team and it's destined for a top five seed in the West. But can it get to the Western Finals, which of course is the goal for a squad of this caliber? Again, eh...

Grade : C+

Portland Trail Blazers

Added : Luke Babbitt (draft), Eliot Williams (draft), Wesley Matthews (free agency), Marcus Camby (re-signed)
Lost : Martell Webster (trade), Juwan Howard (free agency), Travis Diener (free agency),

Philosophy : "Get right."

If there was a goal for the Blazers this offseason, it was simple. It wasn't to sign a big name or move up in the draft. It wasn't to restructure or make a big trade. It was just to get healthy.

Nobody dealt with the adversity Portland did last year. Greg Oden. Joel Pryzbilla. Brandon Roy. Nic Batum. Rudy Fernandez. All of those players missed at least some significant time because of an injury. And yet, the Blazers won 50 games and made the playoffs. That's... impressive.

But Portland didn't sit on its hands this summer. The Blazers re-signed Marcus Camby, who was huge for them down the stretch. The traded Martell Webster to grab Luke Babbitt, an extremely promising and gifted forward from Nevada. They inked Wesley Matthews to a big deal, who is someone that will give them a little scoring insurance and wing defender help. The turned over the front office and hopefully remedied any tense situations between ownership and management. Now there are talks they'll lose Fernandez who sees the logjam in the backcourt in Portland, but Matthews and Williams are worth replacements.

All in all, not a bad offseason for the Blazers. Is it enough to push ahead in the West? That depends on the factors that snuck up and bit them last year: health.

Grade : B+

Oklahoma City Thunder

Added : Cole Aldrich (trade/draft), Morris Peterson (trade), Royal Ivey (free agency), Daequan Cook (trade), Kevin Durant (contract extension)
Lost : Kevin Ollie (retirement), Etan Thomas (free agency), Kyle Weaver (waived)

Philosophy : "If you think it's good now, just wait until we grow up."

Most saw the Thunder's cap space and expected something. Something big. Something grand to take them from up-and-comer to favorite in the West. Maybe go grab Chris Bosh. Maybe make a run at Amar'e Stoudemire. Maybe flag down Carlos Boozer. Instead, Oklahoma City did what it does best: stuck to the plan.

Rather than blowing its extra cap room, OKC deferred to utilizing its assets to move up in the draft and fill a need from the ground up. This is a franchise that is absolutely committed to the long term and to player development. Most agreed the Thunder needed an tough, physical inside prescence to defend the paint and rebound. So what did they do? They went and got the best player at those two things in the draft in Cole Aldrich.

Another underrated move from OKC was acquiring Daequan Cook from Miami. The Heat were looking to dump any contract player to anyone to make room for basketball free agency apocolypse, so the Thunder got a former 3-point champ and shooting specialist at a discount price of a single second-round pick.

Oh, and one other thing: They signed Kevin Durant to a five-year extension. I'd say in terms of what the Thunder's goals were before the summer started and how it finished, they'd say mission accomplished.

Grade : B+

Minnesota Timberwolves

Added : Darko Milicic (re-signed), Michael Beasley (trade), Luke Ridnour (free agency), Delonte West (trade), Sebastian Telfair (trade), Lazar Hayward (draft), Kosta Koufos (trade), Martell Webster (trade), Wesley Johnson (draft),
Lost : Ramon Sessions (trade), Ryan Hollins (trade), Al Jefferson (trade), Delonte West (waived), Ryan Gomes (free agency), Damien Wilkins (free agency), Sasha Pavlovic (free agency), Brian Cardinal (free agency), Alando Tucket (waived), what remaining respect David Kahn had from media and fans of the NBA

Philosophy : "..."

Honestly, you know what David Kahn reminds me of a bit? Someone that likes playing fantasy football just so he can call other players, offer up deals, trade players and sign others off waivers. Sometimes it seems like Kahn makes moves just for the sake of not getting bored.

No one can determine a real plan from here. My best guess at what he's doing is trying to put together a roster Ricky Rubio likes and then build a team around that. That's all I can figure. They have a bunch of draft picks and some cap space, but those things aren't great when the man in charge doesn't know what to do with it.

What exactly is going on there though? What's the point of signing Sessions and then signing Ridnour just to trade Sessions? I don't get it. Basically Kahn traded a player he signed for $16 million for Sebastian Telfair. Huh? Then of course the Darko deal. What? Then drafting Wesley Johnson only to bring in a player via trade in Webster that plays the same position. Come again? Then trading Al Jefferson, the face of your franchise, for a couple draft picks. Excuse me?

There's just no rhyme or reason to all this right now. I have no idea what to grade it because I have no idea what the questions even are. Did they get better? I don't know. Did they get worse? I don't really know. Did they set themselves up for the future? I have no idea.

If Sam Presti and Daryl Morey are playing chess and everyone else is playing checkers, right now it looks like everyone else is playing checkers and David Kahn is playing duck-duck-goose.

Grade : D-

Since: Apr 23, 2010
Posted on: August 12, 2010 1:14 pm

Offseason Reviews: Northwest Division

Insiders in the Jazz organization are excited because for the first time since early Malone, they will have an inside outside attack.  Malone in the last 12 years of his career and Carlos Boozer were more finesse jump shooting pfs.  This change should allow the Jazz to be an even better offensive team and I pick them to finish 1st or 2nd in the division again.

Since: Nov 26, 2007
Posted on: August 11, 2010 11:57 am

Offseason Reviews: Northwest Division

This was painful to read. Granted, Young makes some good points.  But a significant amount of grammar, structure, and spelling is horrible. It felt like reading some amateur blog post.
The NBA coverage of CBS is TERRIBLE. Berger is the only writer that's decent.
For example, look at the CBS draft grades and descriptions from the past two years:

Are you kidding me?
Those are an absolute joke. I could've done ten times better... anyone who knows even a little bit about those players could have...

Since: Jul 27, 2010
Posted on: August 9, 2010 4:05 pm

Offseason Reviews: Northwest Division

I think the Utah Jazz made a good decision by not putting so much money into re-signing Wes Mathews. Mathews was a great role player who was a pleasent surprise last year as a rookie. But he got overpayed and replacing him with Raja Bell will be fine for the time being. Bell has some gas left in the tank and will be a good backcourt mate for Deron Williams.

Since: Jan 31, 2008
Posted on: August 3, 2010 9:16 pm

Offseason Reviews: Northwest Division

Royce Young is not showing his East Coast bias.  He just graduated from a self idolizing school in the University of Oaklahoma. That is not really what one thinks of when one thinks of a "journalism school".

I don't know if being the blogger for the Daily Thunder on the Thunder really qualifies him as an expert at any thing, let alone what a team is trying to do.

Guess stories like this pass for journalism at OU, also explains why the THUNDER got the highest grade. Might have something to do with possibly getting a future paycheck???

Just some background on the blogger take it with a grain off salt.

Since: Aug 3, 2010
Posted on: August 3, 2010 3:25 pm

Offseason Reviews: Northwest Division

hey bra checks what i found by accident just now its  ill c u late man

Since: Nov 7, 2006
Posted on: August 3, 2010 1:10 pm

Offseason Reviews: Northwest Division

Sorry smushy but with exception of one point your analysis is very inaccurate.

I will grant you the Darko signing, if they saw something they like, which has been their contention they forgot that no one else did. They were bidding against themselves.

With regards to drafting Rubio and Flynn there are some missing pieces to your thought process.  Have you considered that perhaps they were attempting to gain assests (something they sorely were lacking).  Did you consider that while Rubio stays in Europe and develops a) the Wolves don't have to pay him and b) they STILL have his rights.  So flash forward a year from now and MAYBE they will have a team that he will either have interest in playing for (as opposed to what they had) or because they still have his rights and theorically Rubio's stock won't diminish, they can flip him for something of value.  Also consider that draft, it was loaded with pg's and really nothing else.  What should they have done instead of take another pg? I want names.  Everyone talks about how taking two pg's (one that i don't think they ever intended on playing for them strait away) was horrible but no one provides alternative solutions that would have made sense at that time either.  Feel free to look back at the draft and find the glaring mistake (remembering he can't be a pg) and this with the benefit of hindsight.

All Jefferson is slow, doesn't play defense and has a huge contract.  The Wolves want to run...he is the opposite of the type of player for the type of system they want to play.  They stunk with him.  He was taking minutes from Kevin Love who will be a FAR better pro than Jefferson can be in Minnesota.  Jefferson might be fine in Utah but he wasn't fine in Minnesota.

The reason you trade for Webster is beause they had perhaps the worst two (certainly the least athletic) sf's in the league (Gomes and Wilkins) getting all the playing time.  Now they have Johnson and Webster instead of those two turds....huge upgrade and that's why you trade for him.

Fyi i've been a Washington fan since the late 70's....i just live in MN and this is the team I watch which evidently those who provide analysis of what is wrong with the wolves or wonder what they are doing probably don't do.

Since: Aug 3, 2010
Posted on: August 3, 2010 11:18 am

Offseason Reviews: Northwest Division

I am a Kahn believer as well! The roster is certainly better than last year although I expect them to lose a lot and be in the running for the top pick.  Jefferson was a bum.  Anybody who watched them often could see his minimal effort and lack of doing anything other than grabbing rebounds when they came to him and hogging the ball on the offensive end!
It is certainly not our fault that we have not moved up in the draft EVER in our 20 year history.  And it is certainly not our fault that players have no ambition to sign here simply because of the winter season.  In which they are playing ball inside and traveling half the time to other warmer locations.  To be honest the only time these players spend outside is walking into a store or a bar to spend there millions!
OKC has what every NBA teams want, a Superstar! How good would they be without Durant.  The Wolves have been 1 or 2 spots away from these types of players several times.  Not sure what the draft looks like next year but hopefully it's finally our time! 

Since: May 16, 2008
Posted on: August 3, 2010 10:41 am

Offseason Reviews: Northwest Division

There is no east coast bias here.  He likes the rest of the teams in your division.  Just not the freaking Wolves.  Seriously, watching Kahn is comical.  First he drafts two point guards in a row.  Then loses one of them to Europe for three years.   Seriously, did he ever just once think to himself, maybe drafting a PG with my 6th pick may upset my 5th pick PG, and therefore would rather just go back in play Europe and not buyout his contract.

He signs Darko Milicic to a 4 year $20mm contract.  WHAT!!!!  The guy is complete garbage.  Have we not figured this out over the last 7 years.  And was anyone even offering him more than a 2-year contract.

He trades Al Jefferson for two first round picks from the Jazz.  Not only are the Jazz in the Wolves division, but they are a good freaking team and these picks probably won't be any lower than 20.  Tearing an ACL is a two-year injury, and plenty of guys have come back from it.  Jefferson was a 20-10 guy who needed to be doubled EVERY TIME.  In the words of Rob Blagojevich, you don't just give that sh*t away for free.

And there is the draft of Wesley Johnson (fine), but then why Martell Webster.  It's not like you need to wait for Johnson to develop.  He's 23 freaking years old. 

Quit being a blind homer, and admit that your GM is a complete idiot.  This isn't an indictment on all of Minnesota.  Just David Kahn.

Since: Aug 1, 2009
Posted on: August 3, 2010 12:48 am

Offseason Reviews: Northwest Division

What a total lack of respect coming from this chump. You have a job, to review the offseason moves of the Northwest division. And what you get is a pile of steaming ****. I like how in the "Lost" section of the timberwolves he lists the remaining respect from the media and fans for David Kahn. haha not even close, Fans around Minnesota are actually quite excited by what the guy is doing, sure most all of us questioned some of his moves and thought of pulling our hair out. But Kahn is actually starting to be really liked around here, just look at some of the fans that have already defended him here. Get your head out of your A** and do your job, not be some East Coast media chump that laugh at people who may take a smaller market team serious. Being professional is a seemingly harder and harder thing to find in sports writers these days. Thanks for the reassurance, oh sorry was that too big of a word for you?

Since: Aug 2, 2010
Posted on: August 2, 2010 11:49 pm
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