Posted on: July 27, 2009 5:17 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2009 5:41 pm
The Wolves continue to wheel and deal talent at a video game like pace. Today, they sent Etan Thomas, a 2010 2nd Round Pick and a conditional 2010 2nd Round Pick to Oklahoma City for Chucky Atkins and Damien Wilkins. At first, one sees the involved players and most likely yawns. But for a moment, consider the deeper implications. For the fanatics and capologists and capologist wanna-bes out there there's more to this trade than meets the eyes. Why else would either team do it?
For the Zombie Sonics I assume they felt that with their glut of guards and need for a big man the trade made sense. Everyone involved is playing in the final year of their contract so there's no financial obligation beyond this upcoming season. They also probably felt like they were able to condense their roster a bit. Plus, they got a couple of 2nd Round Picks. All valid reasons to make the trade. For the Wolves, they balance a roster short on guards. But that, I suspect, is merely a bi-product. My gut instinct, which is based on Kahn's short but spastic history, tells me this is just another piece to the puzzle. Sure, Chucky Atkins could provide veteran PG council to Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio without demanding many minutes. And sure, Damien Wilkins is a very solid all-around wing player, who on a side note, I've been a big fan of for years. Those things make sense but in the end this trade, just like the Q-Rich deal, will be exposed as another cog in the wheel, another link in the chain, another anal in the analogy.
Consider this, Etan Thomas is slated to make 7.9 mil in 2009-10. Chucky Atkins will make 3.48 mil and Damien Wilkins 3.4, together totaling 6.88 million. Also, only $748,00 of Atkins' salary is guaranteed. Bust a little math, round some stuff for simplicity sake, and you learn that the Wolves are only on the hook for 4.2 million between these two players next year. That means in this trade alone they saved 3.7 million. Given that every rational NBA mind won't try to justify Etan, Chucky or Dominique's Nephew as relevant, the Wolves essentially just sold one or maybe two 2nd Round Picks for 3.7 million buckarooss. The Zombies no doubt have their reasons, but I gotta appreciate the savy by David Kahn on this one.
Sure, the average fan will say "Who cares about Glen "Billionaire" Taylor saving a few dollars. Why don't they trade for some real talent instead of lining their pockets?" At any other point throughout the last ten seasons I probably would have agreed with them. But these are different times. The ill-conceived, penny pinching, blind leading the blind, mediocrity inducing ways of McHale/Taylor are officially dead. This is the Kahn/Taylor Era and we can all plainly see who wears the pants in this relationship. To his credit, Taylor recognized he had completely lost touch with modern day basketball and did what he had to do to fix that. Also to his credit, he went with the guy he liked and not who the fans were clamouring for (David Kahn never would have been hired had the fans had any say). A third and final credit to Taylor, he has stayed completely out of the way. Hardly a peep from the guy since Kahn was hired. Kahn still has a lot to prove as a talent evaluator, but as I've said over and over again, it's at the very least refreshing to be under leadership that you trust is making things happen and not just accepting what comes to them.
FUN FACT: Including the two most recent acquisitions today and the inevitable hiring of a new head coach, over the past 5 seasons (2004 - present) the Wolves have acquired the rights or hired 72 different players and head coaches. I repeat, 72 players/head coaches since 2004. Definitely not the trademark of a winning franchise, but amazing nonetheless. That's roughly the equivalent of six complete roster revolutions. Don't believe me, check this link:
(Seriously, check it out. It'll be a trip down memory lane, with unfortunately too many bad memories).
THE WOLVES WILL BE THE WORST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE NEXT YEAR AND IT WONT EVEN BE CLOSE
This is a common sentiment I've been hearing and reading lately and I'd like to take a brief moment to refute it. I've got no illusions of a playoff berth or even a +.500 record, but I see no reason why this team won't exceed last year's win total. Leaving Rubio and Rodney Carney out of the equation for the moment as their situations are currently unresolved, the only main contributors they lost are Randy Foye, Mike Miller and Sebastian Telfair. On the flip, they've added Jonny Flynn, Wayne Ellington and Quentin Richardson. Foye lost the team more games than he helped win. That's a fact. Miller was an enigma and I wouldn't at all be surprised if Wayne Ellington proves more valuable. At the very least, Q-Rich will match his production. I really believe that Jonny Flynn will be in the top three for Rookie of the Year if Rubio doesn't come over and substantially better than Telfair in every facet of the game. And most importantly, Al Jefferson missed half of last season. If he doesn't do that this year I see no reason why this team is not only way more entertaining, but also just flat out better.
David Kahn spent most of last week in Spain meeting with Rubio and his people. Everyone has been really quiet since then, which could either be a good thing or a bad thing. David Stern is sending a team of league salary cap officers over this week to iron some more stuff. Again, could be good, could be bad.
Down to three, according to most sources. There may be an announcement by the end of this week. The next Wolves head coach will most likely be Kurt Rambis (Lakers Assistant), Mark Jackson (Analyst) or Elston Turner (Rockets Assistant). All three have pros and I'd have a hard time criticizing any of them right off the bat, as I don't know enough about them. I have heard that Kahn's philosophy on head coaches is to get a guy the players like and will play for, which explains the Rambis and Jackson factors. Assistants can handle the technicalities but a head coach needs to get through to the players over the course of an 82 game schedule.
Posted on: July 21, 2009 12:05 am
Edited on: July 21, 2009 12:18 am
Mandatory Rubio Allotment
David Kahn is currently in Spain doing God knows what to convince DKV to free Rubio. For that to happen they'll need to lower their buyout demands. I continue to predict, as I have all along, that Ricky Rubio will play for the Timberwolves this season. I base this prediction on info I've pulled from various sources that has successfully passed my common sense filter. A week or so ago Chad Ford (ESPN toolbox/douche bag hybrid) had to swallow his pride and go back on all of his erroneous 'Rubio wants to play in New York' reporting and break the verified news that Rubio's camp has no problem whatsoever playing in Minnesota. In fact, they were very open to the idea. The problem from the beginning was that when Rubio fell to #5 he lost out on contract money that would have helped with the buyout.
The course of events over the past two weeks has made it look increasingly clear that Rubio is on his way. First, Dan Fegan, Rubio's agent, flew to Las Vegas to meet with Kahn and Glen Taylor. Then Kahn announced he was flying to Spain to meet with Rubio and his people. Then Rubio dropped his lawsuit against his Spainish team, DKV (this was a stipulation before they would agree to negotiate his buyout). You could even look at today's trade of Sebastian Telfair as further evidence the Timberwolves are clearing a path for the kid's arrival.
The word is Kahn went to Spain loaded with creative "solutions" in order to accelerate the process. One such solution is the Timberwolves organization becoming long term business affiliates with DKV. This would be in the form of publicity, annual scrimmages, off-season camps and other money generating arrangements. In theory, this partnership would effectively be worth a few million dollars and placate DKV enough to lower Rubio's buyout and at the same time get by the NBA's limit on buyout money, which is a measley $500,000. Now before visions of Joe Smith dance into your head, rest assured that this is totally legal and has been done before. The Houston Rockets, for example, poured all sorts of money into Yao Ming's Chinese team in a similar fashion.
One theory I like is centered around the drafting of 2nd round pick, Henk Norel. Who, you ask? Exactly. He's some marginal talent who shockingly no draft expert had going in the actual draft this year. Yet the Wolves mysteriously took him in the 2nd round. During the McHale era one could have simply shrugged this off as another McHale blunder but what we're coming to realize in the current era is that Kahn actually plots and schemes and plans stuff out in advance. A novel concept. Norel happens to also play for DKV and is a good friend of Rubio. Not only could the prospect of playing with a friend ease the transition to the NBA for an 18 year old kid but the Wolves could also buyout Norel for the max $500,000 although he's probably worth more like $500. That way DKV gets a cool million towards the buyout effort even though the money technically came from two different buyouts. Stay tuned.
Still ongoing. Rumors have the pool down to former point guard and current analyst, Mark Jackson (makes sense because of his connections to Kahn when they were both with Indiana and hiring a former PG to mentor Rubio and Flynn would be ideal), current Rockets assistant Elston Turner who is partially credited for Houston's potent offense, and current Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis (check it - http://thesportshernia.typepad.com/
Four relevant players partook in this year's Summer League for the Wolves, Jonny Flynn, Wayne Ellington, Corey Brewer and Oleksy Pecherov. Flynn was incredible. Faster than anyone on the court. Great vision. Under the Foye/Cassell years at PG I forgot how awesome a true point guard is. They put a mic on him one game and the rumors of his oncourt leadership appear to be completely true. Most impressively, he not only got to the rim at will but also displayed the strength to take contact and finish. His physical appearance and movement on the court reminds me of Chris Paul. Wayne Ellington was shakey to start but calmed down and did exactly what the Wolves need him to do: score. He can flat out shoot and I saw him getting a lot of praise from league execs in interviews. Brewer was a trainwreck in three of the games, didn't play in one and looked really good in the finale. It was his first basketball since tearing his ACL so you've got to cut him some slack, but he showed enougn to confirm my suspicions: the team won't be able to count on him for anything heading into this year. Anything they get from Brewer will be a bonus. Pecherov is a legit 7 footer with a legit 3 point shot. I don't know if he's much of a post player but he can definitely shoot and that should be a nice compliment to the down low games of Jefferson and Love.
Other Summer League news: Blake Griffin was a manchild. Simply dominant. Brandon Jennings was better than expected. Tyreke Evans was a mini-Blake Griffin. Stephen Curry averaged 33 minutes a game and shot 33% from the field. Yikes. Hasheem Thabeet was every bit as akward and weak as his detractors predicted he would be. James Harden was forgettable. Non rookie, Anthony Randolph (27 PPG, 9 REBS, 3 BLKS) was freakishly good. Calm yourself, Randy Foye won Vegas Summer League MVP one year.
By all reports he is well ahead of schedule and expected to be fully ready to go at the start of training camp.
As you've probably heard, the Wolves traded Craig Smith, Sebastian Telfair and Mark Madsen to the Clippers for Quentin Richardson. In terms of cap room, the Wolves won. In terms of likability, the Clippers won in a landslide. This move is all about money. The Wolves will shave another 3 million off their total salary next, making them a stronger player in free agency. Reports that the Wolve have found their future shooting guard with this trade are dead wrong. He'll get minutes because by default they only have one other 2 guard on roster but I'll be stunned if he survives on this team past the trade deadline. Q-Rich Fun Fact: Over the last month he has been traded three times (New York to Memphis, Memphis to LA, LA to Minnesota).
On the real, Smith, Telfair and Mad Dog are by all accounts cool guys. Telfair, in particular, seems like grounded person and I believe will have a long career in the NBA. I hope to see Madsen on the bench wearing a suit as an assistant the second he retires. As a fan, I appreciate their time on this team.
Posted on: July 20, 2009 3:17 am
In an interview with KJR Radio in Seattle on Friday, Brandon Roy said he's frustrated and disappointed with the Trail Blazers handling of his contract extension negotiations.
"I sit back and think about all the hard work I've put into my dream, excited about the opportunity to provide for my family," said Roy. "I go in knowing that I've come into the league and I've done everything I can do to get a max contract."
Roy was then asked how he felt about the negotiations.
"It's 50-50 right now. I'd love for something to get done so I can move forward and meet free agents."
So let's say that the Blazers decide they don't want to pay Roy the max. Let's also say that Roy feels he deserves the max and the situation gets a little ugly. David Kahn, being from Portland, offers up this deal
Al Jefferson (assume he's totally healthy) and Ricky Rubio to Portland for Brandon Roy (who resigns for a max contract prior to the trade) and Joel Pryzbilla.
Also figure that various draft picks, expiring contracts and players could be thrown in as sweeteners. The question is: would you do the trade? If not, which team would reject the deal? Why? What would it take to get it done?
Portland's Post-Trade Starting Lineup (with 3 key reserves)
PG - Ricky Rubio - Steve Blake
SG - Rudy Fernandez
SF - Travis Outlaw - Martell Webster
PF - Al Jefferson - LaMarcus Aldridge
C - Greg Oden
Portland gets a star in return who does not make max money in Jefferson. He's also the offensive post presence they sorely lack. Rubio brings the star power and forms an interesting backcourt with fellow Spainard, Fernandez. The front court gets a little crowded with Jefferson, Aldridge and Oden but with Aldridge's pending free agency and Oden's chronic injuries that would probably be a good problem to have. Plus, Jefferson and Aldridge have different games and wouldn't be redundant to eachother.
Minnesota's Post-Trade Starting Lineup (with 3 key reserves)
PG - Jonny Flynn - Sebastian Telfair
SG - Brandon Roy - Wayne Ellington
SF - Ryan Gomes - Corey Brewer
PF - Kevin Love
C - Joel Pryzbilla
Minnesota forms a dominant young backcourt with Roy and Flynn. Flynn's terrific Summer League performance and endearing personality has already won over a lot of fans. Pairing him with Roy would be exciting, to say the least. Clearing out Jefferson opens the door for Love to hold down the PF position. Pryz provides the defensive shot blocking presence to compliment Love's game. This team would be lacking big man depth and perhaps a wing depending on what happens with Brewer, but if those were their only long-term needs they'd be in good shape.
So I repeat, if the Roy contract situation came to a head, would you pull the trigger on this one? Feel free to elaborate.
Posted on: July 6, 2009 5:33 pm
The Rubio 10
If I had to make a prediction right now I would say that Ricky Rubio will play for the Minnesota Timberwolves this season. Here are 10 reasons why.
NBA Free Agency & Trades
Quick hits and shit.
Ben Gordon to Detroit - He's a nice player but I'm really starting to question if Detroit knows what they are doing.
Charlie Villanueva to Detroit - Unfrozen caveman lawyer. Just Google Image search it if you don't know what I mean.
Kobe Bryant stays in Los Angeles - No surprise here.
Hedo Turkoglu to Toronto - Total mercenary move on his part, but nice attempt by the Velociraptors to keep Bosh in the mix.
Vince Carter traded to Orlando - Nice consolation prize for Turkoglu but it's ultimately a downgrade and I doubt Orlando will get anywhere near the finals next year.
Ron Artest to Los Angeles - If they keep Odom they have a virtual All-Star team for their starting lineup.
Shaquille O'Neal traded to Cleveland - Considering they gave up nothing, this move is all upside. Of course, if they would have been willing to give up Wally Sczcerbiak's expiring contract for him at the trade deadline last year they could very well be champions right now. But hey, on the bright side they made some money off Wally's contract.
Trevor Ariza to Houston - They must be paying him a lot because I'm not sure what would attract him to a team that currently features Yao "My Career is Over" Ming and Tracy "My Career is Over" McGrady.
Carlos Boozer stays with Utah - I bet the Jazz are pissed he picked up his option, as they will now have a difficult time matching any serious offers made on restricted free agent Paul Milisap, a player they much prefer to Boozer's punk ass.
Jason Kidd stays in Dallas - I liked when he pretended as though was going to sign with New York. That was funny.
Rasheed Wallace to Boston - KG, Pierce, Allen and now Sheed are all in their mid-30s. Talk about a closing window.
Zach Randolph traded to Memphis - Memphis stuns me. They bring in Randolph, perhaps the league's biggest cancer and most overpaid player, and introduce him to a locker room of young players like OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay, two players who have had the 'character concern' label in their past but have so far avoided it in their short careers. They could have signed David Lee outright for less money. Astounding.
Posted on: June 28, 2009 6:59 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2009 9:47 am
In Ricky Rubio the Timberwolves drafted a player with more potential than any player they've acquired since Kevin Garnett. Not only does he have the ability to become a star talent, but also a star personality. He has the makings of someone who would not just generate wins, but also generate national and international interest in this team. He has the intangibles to once again put Minnesota on the map, not just as a legitimate franchise, but as an innovative force to be reckoned with throughout the NBA. Before any of that can *possibly* happen, the matter of his 6 million dollar buy out will need to be resolved.
A quick digression: Fuck all of the New York elitists and ESPN gossip girls that go against the very mission set forth in the United States Constitution and its assurance that all sports franchises are created equal, with their assertion that Rubio is entitled to play in the beloved Big Apple and should by force of David Stern, if necessary, be saved from the lowly fly over depths of the Minne Apple. The people of New York deserve Ricky Rubio, they would have you believe, while the people of Minnesota apparently deserve someone far less talented and charismatic. Us simple minded Mid-Westerners should happily accept whatever bucket of bolts they are willing to offer up in exchange for Rubio. And if you look at New York's roster you will see that I'm not far off in my comparison. My advice, should Donnie Walsh ever read this blog, is that the Knicks should try to suck harder than they usually do. You see by overpaying for marginal talent they manage to win just enough games to not totally suck but not nearly enough games to actually be good either. So they are always stuck in the lower-middle part of the draft taking guys like Jordan Hill, Danilo Gallinari, Renaldo Balkman, Channing Frye and Michael Sweetney. If they'd only lose a few more games they could legitimately draft the Ricky Rubios of the the world instead of trying to pry them away from other franchises based on their self-fulfilling divine right..
Rubio will make roughly $6 million over the first two years of his NBA contract. So in effect, based on salary alone, it would take him two years to pay off his buyout. Typically, European buyouts are paid off over time and not in one big shot. Before this starts to sound too unappealing you need to consider a few things. One, the exact amount of his buyout may be exaggerated. Right now, "they" are reporting $6 mil, but it will probably end up being a lot lower than that once the courts get ahold of it. Two, the big money will never come until he is playing in America. Putting the NBA off a year or two will do nothing but delay the inevitable. Three, once he is on an NBA court playing against the likes of LeBron, Kobe and Wade the endorsements will roll in. Little boys and girls in Spain, the Ukraine, Argentina and Guam aren't going to give a damn about what the weather is like in Minnesota or what the relative market size of the Twin Cities is compared to other NBA economies. They're going to buy his jersey and whatever products he endorses all the same. The money he will get from his first shoe contract will make the $6 million buyout look like chump change. Or should I say, New York change. Rubio, but more likely his agent, knows this and deep down is aware that if David Kahn and the TWolves want to play hardball, in the end, all roads to the NBA run through Minnesnowta.
A second digression: Shaq O'Neal has stated that to date he has never touched a dime from any of his NBA contracts. Instead, he lived eniterely off the money he received from various endorsement deals. From this I draw two conclusions. 1) Rubio and his family will be just fine no matter how big the buyout. 2) Shaq is very wealthy..
A new rumor adds a wrinkle to this whole affair. The theory goes that Rubio's current team in Spain (DKV Joventut) is merely posturing with the large buy out demands and that Rubio's "maybe I'll stay in Spain" thing is more of a way to call DKV's bluff than it is the Timberwolves'. DKV is effectively bankrupt and they want Rubio to leave in order to cash in on his buyout money. They know that he is going to leave eventually. If he waits out his contract, he walks and they get nothing. If he goes now, he pays and they survive.
A third and final digression: At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, I really couldn't be happier with David Kahn's first six weeks on the job. He fired who he had to, traded who he needed to, ignored the risk and drafted who any GM trying to build a legit contender would have in Rubio, and even had the balls to take the other guy he wanted in Flynn, regardless of what Dick Vitale thought. He's also been extremely upfront with the local and national media and more importantly, with the fanbase. In a short amount of time he has somewhat unbelievably created a buzz around this team that was entirely dormant in the minds of most fans. So far he's playing the Rubio situation perfectly by stating there is no pressure on Rubio to come over. Casual observers might say he's being too soft. Anyone, who doesn't get 100% of their sports news from ESPN and has paid attention to how he operates hears the translation: Go ahead and sit in Europe for as long as you want. When you want to play in the NBA, book that ticket for MSP.
Ultimately, we must remind ourselves that Rubio is 18 years old. Pause for a moment and reflect on what you were like at 18. Or I suppose what you will be like when you are 18. Though his actions might come off as disrespectful to the Timberwolves and their fans, you can't forget that he's really just a dumb kid. He'll say some stupid things, he already has. But really, he's just doing what his agent is telling him. Barring a Stephon Marbury emotional retardation sort of digression, he'll figure it out and eventually look pretty damn good in a Wolves uniform.
Posted on: June 26, 2009 1:26 pm
Dear Timberwolves Fans and Supporters:
It’s been five weeks since I arrived in Minneapolis and I hope you can feel what I feel: change.
I especially want to talk about last night’s draft and explain why we made the decisions we did.
First, from a philosophical standpoint, I believe that teams should select players in the top 10 of the NBA Draft who have the chance — and I underline the word chance — to be special later in their careers. You do not use the fifth and sixth picks to select rotation players, but only players that figure to be starters, if not out-and-out stars.
So, we were committed to taking two players who fit that description, and we were less concerned about the positions they played, assuming they were not power forwards.
There were several two-person options we would have been comfortable with at those selections.
It wasn’t until late Thursday afternoon that I thought there was a chance Ricky Rubio might be available for us at No. 5. I had actually been told by somebody who I deeply respect in the NBA that Ricky would be selected third by Oklahoma City. But we were prepared for all options nonetheless.
Ricky has one of the most tenacious, most capable agents in our sport, Dan Fegan. He cares deeply about his clients. I explained to Dan late afternoon that we were singularly motivated to build an NBA championship-contending team in Minnesota — that it might take a few years, of course — but that nobody here cared about anything other than competing for an NBA title. That we have only one life to live, and that we must spend our lives trying, as Pat Riley once taught me, to leave footprints.
I purposely selected Ricky with the fifth pick, not the sixth, to help with his buyout situation. Ricky and his family have taken a very bold step to enter the NBA despite having two years remaining on his contract with his Spanish team. I know that they would have preferred that we try to move to the second or third pick to take him, and I respect their wishes, but my belief was that we need during these next 15 months to acquire multiple pieces to make this a championship-contending team over the next three-to-four years. The price for moving to No. 2 or 3 was far too steep.
Ricky is a proven professional who played against the USA in the Gold Medal game in the Beijing Olympics. He is a virtuoso, a rare player who may well be unique. I have long believed that he has the chance to become one of basketball’s brightest stars. You’ve seen the highlights — he is like an orchestra conductor with the basketball.
He will be our starting point guard here the moment he walks through our front door. We may have to wait a year, or even two, but he is worth the wait. We must be patient. This is a big step for he and his family.
With the sixth pick, we selected Jonny Flynn. I truly believe that Jonny is as much a scorer as a playmaker and will thrive playing off of Ricky. I also believe that, together, we will have one of the most dynamic defensive backcourts in the NBA over time. You will love Jonny Flynn. He, too, will be special.
And I also believe that there is a tendency in the NBA for all of us (myself included) to become too formulaic in our thinking. If you think of the Detroit Pistons backcourts during their championship run, with Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Vinnie Johnson, or the Celtics with their backcourt of Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson (and before Ainge there was Gerald Henderson), or the Lakers with Jerry West and Gail Goodrich, or the Knicks with Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe, there are many instances of championship success that is not so paint-by-the-numbers.
It can and will work.
At the 18th pick, we did not believe we could identify a player who would be worthy of that rookie scale slot and become part of our core nucleus, so in an attempt to further stockpile assets, we traded it for a future first-round pick with only modest lottery protection. This will prove to be valuable. We also traded one of our two second-round picks for a 2010 second-round pick.
Finally, we selected Wayne Ellington with the 28th pick, one of the stars off the North Carolina National Championship team. Wayne is a 6-foot-5 shooter who has improved dramatically this season. He will help us soon. And, last but not least, we used our remaining second-round pick to take Henk Norel, a teammate of Ricky’s in Spain, who is long and athletic. Norel has one year remaining on his contract.
What excites me most about this team is the following:
Al Jefferson, at 24, is the oldest player of our four future building blocks. Kevin Love is 20. Jonny Flynn is 20. Ricky is 18. Wayne Ellington is 21. And let’s not forget Corey Brewer is 23, Ryan Gomes is 26 and Sebastian Telfair just turned 24.
We will need a special coach who understands that we are very much in the development stage and need to be shaped and molded. I have already talked to Al Jefferson and kevin Love about the qualities they would like to see in their new coach — what kind of person we should be seeking — and will also consult with our new players. Players respect structure and discipline. They want to know where they stand. And they want to know the coach has their back. I am eager to hear from Ricky, Jonny, Wayne and some of our existing players as we prepare our list.
These are fun times, I hope, to be a Timberwolves fan as we continue on this journey. There will be bumps and bruises along the way, but I believe we are pointed in the right direction.
As always, thank you for your interest and passion. It makes our jobs easier.
Posted on: June 26, 2009 11:07 am
Come and gone, the 2009 NBA draft. As always, the Wolves refuse to do it the easy way. But whats matters is, did they do it the right way?
Entering the draft the Wolves had 6 picks at their disposal and were expected to be active, as David Kahn wanted to put his stamp on this team by "making a splash". Including the Washington (Wizards) trade, they were in fact active and made a splash that soaked every New York dipshit in the audience. They came away with...
- Ricky Rubio
- Johnny Flynn
- Wayne Ellington
- Henk Norel
- 2010 1st Round Pick
- 2010 2nd Round Pick
Of course, what you already know by now is that they took two point guards with their first two picks. It's a highly unorthodox strategy that drew frothing indictments from the likes of Chad Ford and Dick Vitale. I'll admit that when it happened and pretty much for the remainder of the night I was confused as to their motives. I still am. What's the plan? There has got to be a plan, right?
I slept a few hours, had flashbacks of waking up to the Mayo/Love trade from last year, reluctantly turned on my computer and have come to the following conclusion, at least for the time being.
First of all, I like all of the players they ended up with. Most of you know my thoughts on Rubio. I love his potential and what he could do to change this course of this franchise. It took all of 30 seconds for anxious Wolves fans to fill various online communities with threads such as "Rubio to be traded?", "Rubio agent wants out!", "Rubio's mom doesn't like cold weather" and of course, "Fire Kahn". I, for one, regardless of whether or not he stays in Europe another year, believe it was the right pick. The Wolves had to take him in the same way the Bucks had to take Yi Jianlin a few years ago. Letting Rubio pass would have signaled to the fan base that they aren't really serious about assembling the best talent possible. It would have signaled to Europe and other leagues that foreign players can in fact dicate where they go based on the threat of staying over seas. It would have signaled to the major NBA markets that the mid-size markets and below aren't entiteled to the same caliber of player they are, that the stars should be in the biggest cities. It's an attitude that exists and is perpuated by the media. But that's a different rant.
Next was Jonny Flynn. I am a huge Jonny Flynn fan. I hoped he would end up in Minnesota. Of course, I assumed the other lottery pick would be a back court compliment and not another point guard. The immediate reaction was that there must surely be a pending trade. But it never came. I heard a rumor that the Wolves had a contingent deal with Sacramento of Flynn and #18 for Tyreke Evans. Such a trade would have made this draft a homerun but it never went down because the Kings would apparently only do the deal if Earl Clark, James Johnson or Austin Daye were available at #18, none of which were. Who knows if it's a true rumor but it certainly would make sense based on everything we heard leading up the draft about Sac's love of Flynn. The Wolves quickly got word out that they plan to keep both Flynn and Rubio and that they do strongly believe the pair can exist in the backcourt together in the mold of Danny Ainge/Dennis Johnson and Isaiah Thomas/Joe Dumars. Who knows if they actually mean that or if it's just talk to inflate the trade values of either player. I like the idea of a fast paced, push the tempo backcourt but concerns about the overall size of such a duo are legitimate. I do think Flynn was one of the two best picks that could have been made in that spot. It would have been too much of a stretch for DeMar DeRozan, leaving Stephen Curry has the only other option. Curry would have fit nicely as a jumpshooter but that's the only way in which is he is better than Flynn.
Wayne Ellington is a really solid player. With the 28th pick of the 1st round you're looking for a contributor and Ellington can be that, especially for a team without a true shooting guard on roster. For much of the predraft process he was ranked right behind Terrance Williams, who went #11. So nabbing Ellington 17 picks later is a good value.
I know nothing about Henk Norel other than that he is Dutch and played on Rubio's spanish team. I can't help but think this was a pick to make Rubio feel at home. An entourage pick, if you will.
Trading current picks for future picks is always sort of a buzzkill for fans but in this case it was a good idea. Coming out of the draft with six rookies would have been overkill and it sets them up to have a potential 5 picks in 2010.
It was an eventful draft and a fun one from a Wolves fan's perspective, no doubt. The overall ruling on this one will come down to how the Rubio/Flynn situation plays out. Rumors that either one of them could still be traded are already raging and will continue to do so. Personally, I wouldn't mind if they tried to rekindle the Evans discussion. We'll also get a steady dose of "Rubio: will he or won't he" talk from now through October. Even if the Wolves turn around and deal Rubio today, it was still the right pick because he was hands down the best player available. That being said, I would require an absolute ransom in return for him. And even if they keep Flynn, I won't regret it. As David Kahn has stressed over the past several weeks, this situation is not a quick fix. The Wolves eventual dynasty will not be conceived from this draft alone. It will require at least one more draft and many more savy personnel moves. Sure, it would have been traditional and cleaner to come away from this draft with a well rounded starting lineup on paper. What is more important, however, is hording talent, regardless of position. If that means two point guards, it means two point guards. If it means two power forwards, it means two power forwards. The minutes are there and the players will get every chance in the world to develop.
Posted on: June 23, 2009 11:24 pm
All the rumors so far have said Kahn was intent on doing something big leading up to and during the draft. The first shoe just dropped.
The Wolves trade Randy Foye and Mike Miller to Washington for the #5 pick in the draft, Darius Songalia, Etan Thomas and Oleksiy Pecherov.
Where to begin?
First of all, to the departed
Randy Foye - A love/hate sort of deal. I wanted Foye to succeed more than almost anyone but it just never materialized. For every glimpse of explosive talent he showed, he countered with an equally explosive showing of inconsistency and frankly, stupidity. At 25 years old he still has time to develop and I wish him the best. I believe he will thrive as a 6th man and Flipnosis has shown the ability to mold guards. The two biggest reminders of the Brandon Roy blunder, McHale and Foye, are now gone. For his own sake, I hope he leaves the "4th Quarter Foye" nickname here in Minnesota. He couldn't hit a clutch shot if his life depended on it.
Mike Miller - We hardly knew ye. How does this affect the outlook on the Mayo/Love deal? We'll have to wait and see how the #5 pick turns out, I suppose. Miller was nice in theory but he was so painfully intent on becomming a point forward that he never did what he was brought here to do: shoot. And believe it, with the South Dakota connection fans wanted to love him. Ultimately, his short lived tenure in Sota amounted to a decent, albeit frustrating campaign and to him representing the desperation from McHale to produce victories by acquiring veterans when the team wasn't really ready for that.
To the incomming
Etan Thomas: I hope your heart is healthy. Enjoy your trade kicker, enjoy your buy out.
Darius Songalia: I've always sort of liked this guy as a "Hedo Turkoglu Light". Very well rounded player, who seems to rip the Wolves in their yearly meetings. Provided they don't bring in anyone else, I think he gets decent minutes as a reserve forward.
Oleksiy Pecherov: No idea who this man is. According to RealGM.com he has two years left on his contract but at a very low salary per year.
Where the Wolves currently stand
Heading into the draft the Wolves have an incredible 6 draft picks (#5, #6, #18, #28, #45 & #47). What this means is that the they aren't done trading. There is simply no way they can walk away from this draft with six rookies. There are a few different avenues they can take.
The least sexy move will be deferring #45 and #47 for future picks. Not very fun but it's better than wasting them on nobodys.
The sexiest trade, on the other hand, will be to involve #5 OR #6 in a trade to move up. #18, #28 or either of those 2nd rounders could be used to sweeten the offer.
Expect more players to be packaged into any potential deals, as well. Craig Smith (expiring), Brian Cardinal (expiring), Mark Madsen (expiring), Bobby Brown (expiring) and even Ryan Gomes or Sebastian Telfair, who have fairly modest contracts, could end up being pawns in this sick and exhilirating game.
Keep an eye on Nikola Pekovic, the highly touted Euro they drafted with the first pick of the 2nd round last year. Kahn has said he's too much like Jefferson and Love to be part of the rotation. I could easily see him being a part of a deal.
How the draft changes
As I see it, there are two possible outcomes, both of which I speculated on in my previous post, so I'll flip the angle a bit, so as to keep it fresh. From my big board, the top 6 are Blake Griffin, Ricky Rubio, Tyreke Evans, James Harden, Stephen Curry and Hasheem Thabeet. The Wolves are guaranteed two of those guys. Watch out for darkhorses, Brandon Jennings and Jonny Flynn.
1. Keep both #5 and #6 and rebuild the back court, unless Thabeet falls. If Thabeet is there at #5 you take him. My favored guard duo would be Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry. Neither is a true point but both have above average ball handling and passing skills. As a duo, Evans would be the slasher, get to the rim, draw fouls and create shots guy. Curry would be the all around dead eye shooter and thrive off post passes from Love and Jefferson, while playing off of Evans' drives. Defensively, Evans would draw the tougher of the two guard assignments each game with Curry covering the lesser offensive player. Corey Brewer could come in and defend 2 guards if needed. Both seem like stand up people. To top it off, Curry would add a little bit of celebrity to help with the business side of things. My worry is that Sacramento or even Memphis will jump on Evans, but that would probably mean Rubio or Harden falls.
2. Deal #6 and any of the other picks/players I mentioned above to snag Memphis' #2 pick. From there they take Rubio or Thabeet. I'm more of a fan of taking Thabeet than I was 24 hours ago. With the #5 pick they can still get a good guard. I've also heard that Rubio could fall past Sacramento at #4. Dare to dream? Rubio AND Thabeet? You never know.
Bonus: Throw whatever other picks and expiring contracts are left to grab an established player. Clearly not a star, but a solid roleplayer. Maybe a Sam Dalembert type.
Other assorted NBA notes
Can someone please tell me what the hell Milwaukee is doing? I know they wanted to get out from under Richard Jefferson's contract, but they literally didn't get anything for him. What I heard is that the Jefferson to San Antonio deal opened the door for the Wolves/Wizards deal. The Wiz had been attempting to land Jefferson and when that fell through...
Kevin Love's twitter in response to the trade: "ESPN should have let me break the news...haters!!!" Dude is funny.
Fabricio Oberto gets flipped from Milwaukee to Detroit for Amir Johnson. Okie doke.
This is the funnest Wolves offseason since 03-04. I hope you are all enjoying it.