Posted on: June 28, 2009 6:59 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2009 9:47 am

A new twist on the Rubio situation

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

A Letter from David Kahn...

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.

David Kahn

Category: NBA
Posted on: June 26, 2009 11:07 am

The Morning After

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.
Category: NBA
Posted on: June 23, 2009 11:24 pm

Blockbuster 1A

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.

Category: NBA
Posted on: June 21, 2009 11:00 pm

What the Wolves will/should/need to do.

MY Timberwolves BIG BOARD

1. Blake Griffin PF OKLAHOMA - Not happening, get it out of your mind.

2. Ricky Rubio PG EUROPE - As per my previous blog, I think this is more of a possibility than some think. Since I wrote about the potential trade up I haven't heard anything to contradict the claim Memphis wants out of the #2 pick. What has changed is that David Kahn has strongly implied that Kevin Love isn't going anywhere. Keep on reading to see why Rubio could still end up a Wolf despite that news.

3. Tyreke Evans SG MEMPHIS - He has moved ahead of Harden in my book. He's 6'5" with a 7 ft. wingspan and has the skills to play the 1-3. Even more, I'm loving his attitude. He has tried to work out against other shooting guards and they won't do it. James Harden won't work out against him. Neither will DeMar DeRozan. He asked the Wolves permission to take part in their mega-PG workout featuring Brandon Jennings, Jonny Flynn, Jrue Holliday, Ty Lawson and Jeff Teague just so he could show he can handle the position if needed. According to published reports, he was as good as anyone there.

4. James Harden SG ARIZONA STATE - The guy I've wanted on the Wolves roster all along is beginning to fall in my mind. He had what was described by a sports writer as "the worst workout I've ever seen" for the Grizzlies, while another writer for the Memphis Commercial (newspaper) said "He didn't make the strongest impression with orange cones as defenders." I also don't like that he refused to work out for any team below #4. Combine that with his questionable athleticism and piss poor NCAA tourney and the ammo for detractors is mounting quickly.

5. Stephen Curry PG/SG DAVIDSON What we know about Curry is that he can shoot the lights out. Pull up jumpers, spot ups, create his own or off a feed, his shot is elite. In a draft ripped for not having many star caliber players this is a guy  with an elite and essential skill. He's done enough in workouts to overcome his small school question marks and has demonstrated the physical capabilities of playing point.

6. Brandon Jennings PG EUROPE - Griffin, Rubio, Jennings. Those are the three players in this draft that I believe have megastar potential. For that reason, I like Jennings this high despite his current flaws. In the afore mentioned Wolves workout he was apparently ho hum during individual drills but when they went to a 3 on 3 mini-game to close the workout, he came alive. He was faster than anyone on the court and a defensive terror. He made several passes that drew oohs and ahhhs from the assembled press.

7. Hasheem Thabeet C UCONN Same sort of deal as Curry. We know this guy has at least one elite ability: shot blocking. It's not only a semi-rare skill but it also happens to be of particular need to the Wolves. Athletically gifted 7'3" monsters come around once in a great while. His youth, relative inexperience and physical tools suggest he has room to grow into the other aspects of his game.

8. Ty Lawson PG NORTH CAROLINA Yeah, I know I'm ranking him too high but I see very few flaws in his game. His assist to turnover ratio is historically low. He's got world class speed to match with point guard instincts. He is admittedly undersized but still has a strong frame, which will keep him from getting run over. He's my pre-draft steal of the draft.

9. Earl Clark SF/PF LOUISVILLE Lamar Odom is his unshakable comparison. As a pro I think he'd make a great wing type player with an all around game, as well as a nice compensator for the undersized Kevin Love factor. It would require a trade up into the 10s range to land him.

10. Jonny Flynn PG SYRACUSE  I'd really like this dude if paired with a great two guard. If any sort of notable offensive output is required of him I'd begin to worry. His extreme likability and great leadership is contagious and I'd be thrilled if he is somehow the Wolves 2nd pick on Thursday.


Rumors are abound that David Kahn is absolutely intent on making a splash in this years draft. For one, to put his own stamp on this team. Secondly, because as he says, this team has failed to win more than 25 games for two years in a row. Changes are needed. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the fan base needs proof that the perceived half-assed incompetency of the past is gone before they will come back and support the team.

Some fans are taken a back by his brashness. It's too much change, too quickly for them. Some are so jaded by the McHale era and its many failed dealings that they assume any trade we are apart of is a bad trade. "How are we getting fleeced?" or "How are we gonna get laughed at for this one?" or in the rare event of something positive "Wait, is this actually...a good thing for us?".

It is inevitable that short of a Pau Gasol-like fleecing fans are going to be divided on any given trade. Sadly, snake bitten T-Wolves fans will immediately turn to a "Here we go again..." end of all times sort of attitude. The fact is, McHale is gone. Kahn is here. Kahn has no recent track record and to react to any transaction he makes as though it were an extension of the past is plainly unfair. If Kahn makes a move I happen to dislike, I can dislike it but I cannot hate him for it. At least not until he establishes a pattern of bad moves. If the move is a risky one but at the same time makes sense and is well conceived, I can't be mad if it doesn't go our way. What can't be tolerated is a lack of preparation that allows the Timberwolves to look foolish down the road. Basically, what I'm saying is give the guy a chance.


I've read from about five different reputable sources that the Timberwolves are very much trying to trade up to not only land another lottery pick, but specifically a top 5 pick. There are two schools of thought on their alleged motive for doing so. Then there's a third thing I just added on for giggles.

1. They want to draft the two best guards available and completely overhaul their starting back court. For this option Washington is the best option. The Bullets have been very open in their willingness to unload the pick. They want vets and cap relief, not a high paid rookie. The Wolves have several solid options in Mike Miller (expiring), Randy Foye (expiring), Craig Smith (expiring) and Brian Cardinal (expiring). Furthermore, they have picks #18, #28, #45 and #48 to sweeten the deal. The Knicks might spoil this deal by offering up #8 and Wilson Chandler in order to jump up and grab Stephen Curry. IDEAL OUTCOME: Tyreke Evans/James Harden and Brandon Jennings/Hasheem Thabeet

2. They want to jump up to #2 and take Ricky Rubio. My earlier post involved Kevin Love but that looks increasingly unlikely. A second avenue to this deal would be to acquire Washington's pick, as discussed in #1, and package it with their 6th pick. Word is Memphis would almost certainly take this deal. Of course, in that event the asking price would be a steep one. Potentially, #6, Foye and Miller for Ricky Rubio. But, if they really believe Rubio is going to be a star then it's worth it. This gets back to taking a calculated risk. Is it worth it? I think so. If you do this trade (after and only after getting 100% confirmation Rubio is willing and wanting to play in Minnesota) you have three cogs around which to build. Rubio-Love-Jefferson. Slot some shooters and a shot blocker in there and they might have something. IDEAL OUTCOME: Um...Ricky Rubio.

3. If neither #1 or #2 happens I expect there is a good possibility they will move up from #18 into the 10-14 range. Charlotte at #12 is a strong possibility. IDEAL OUTCOME: Tyreke Evans/James Harden and Ty Lawson/Jonny Flynn

Category: NBA
Posted on: June 16, 2009 8:37 pm

A new scenario to mark the birth of the Kahn era

1. A lot of people, myself included, were underwhelmed by the hiring off David Kahn as GM of the Wolves, the details of which can be found in one of my earlier posts titled "Kahn Air". Get it, like as in "Con Air". What if I told you insane was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldn't you consider that to be insane? Anywho, to his credit Kahn has basically said everything right since then. He sounds to be the the polar opposite of McHale. Sort of like the movie Face Off when John Travolta and Nicolas Cage are morally opposite but then find themselves quite literally transported into eachother's shoes. If I were to send you flowers where would I... no, let me rephrase that. If I were to let you suck my tongue, would you be grateful?

1A. The problem of course is that he has yet to turn any of his big talk into action, for which I am not at all upset about. The draft, however, will be his first chance to deliver. If he does something big and for once makes this organization look intelligent on draft night he will quickly endear himself to many jaded fans.

2. My absolute favorite NBA rumor and draft site is DraftExpress.com. They are my favorite because they have insightful articles, rumors that tend to come to life and historically have had accurate mock drafts. Today Jon Givony (very solid writer/source) wrote the following...

"No GM in the NBA is apparently more active right now than Minnesota’s David Kahn, as he’s apparently set on “making a big splash in his first draft” according to one NBA executive, and is “talking to everyone” at the moment. One rumor that is making the rounds has Minnesota sending Memphis Kevin Love in exchange for the #2 pick (and filler). Minnesota would then draft Ricky Rubio , which could help them significantly with their ticket sales, and still have the #6 pick at their disposal, which they could use to take someone like Jordan Hill ."

I love Kevin Love. I'd miss him. I'd help him pack if he needed it.

This one got me excited because on a few other occassions I've seen rumors that are totally reinforced by this one. Here is the alternate take I have heard and the one I'd like to see go down on draft night.

Minnesota trades Kevin Love and #6 to Memphis for Rudy Gay and #2 (the closest we'll probably get to Gay Love, right Knap?)

That exact scenario is posted on the Grizzlies forum on ESPN.com and has about 65-70% approval based on user comments.

Why Memphis does it: Ricky Rubio does not want to play for them. He has made that known. Furthermore, they don't really want him. They are commited to Michael Conley, which was made evident by the tradings of Jarvaris Crittenton and fan favorite, Kyle Lowery. What they need is a post presence. Kevin Love, if he were in this draft, would be the consensus #2 pick and perhaps even the #1. He's perfect for them. They lose Gay, who is made redundant next to shot happy OJ Mayo, but pick up the #6 pick for him. They promptly use that to draft Tyreke Evans, who is very much a hometown favorite for his Memphis Tigers connection.

Why Minnesota does it: They add a star potential player in Rubio. He is a position and personality of dire need. Is he a sure thing? No. Could he technically turn out to be the 3rd or 4th or even 5th best PG in this draft? Yes. Is he the sort of aggressive acquisition that could give both the organization and fanbase the massive boost it needs? Fuck yes. As a fan, this, like any other trade could backfire but no sound individual could really be mad at them for taking a shot on a move that appears to have all the upside in the world. They also add Rudy Gay. Some would rather have the #6 pick instead of Gay and I see where they are coming from. Concerns about Gay's on court IQ and hustle are legit. But in this case I'd take the player over the pick, especially when this player is still very young at 23 years old, fits a need at the wing and is capable of scoring 20 points a game. Plus, he's the kind of leaper that could thrive with a passer like Rubio. Kevin Love is a beast and a heck of a person but he's also the only piece they can give up to make this sort of move happen. To get, they must give.

* If it took an exchange of contracts such as the Wolves sending them Brian Cardinal's expiring and in return taking back Marko Jaric's bloated joke, I would still do it. If it took an expiring toss in like Craig Smith, I would still do it.

Minnesota turns around and makes another move to acquire some size. Sam Dalembert and Tyson Chandler are known to be available for expiring contracts. Maybe throw in #18, #28 or either of their 2nd rounders to make it happen.

PG - Ricky Rubio
SG - Mike Miller
SF - Rudy Gay
PF - Al Jefferson
C - Samuel Dalembert

Key Reserves - Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Corey Brewer

Without considering other possible trades or free agent moves I think you are looking at a playoff team before long. Jefferson and Gay are the one-two offensive punch. Foye comes in as an all-purpose guard 6th man and is able to play pressure free against second units. Miller melds back into the role of shooter. Dalembert protects the rim. And Ricky Rubio orchestrates the whole thing.

Memphis, by the way, walks away with a Mayo-Love-Evans-Conley-Gasol core. Not too shabby.

The Grizzlies win. The Wolves win. Small markets everywhere win. The fans win. Make it happen.

***None of this goes down without absolute confirmation that Rubio is cool with playing in Minnesota. I shudder the thought of the nuclear event, which shall not be detailed here.
Category: NBA
Posted on: June 16, 2009 12:03 am

Mock Lottery V4.0 - 10 Days Til Lift Off

Here's my take on a wild card scenario that may be developing amongst the top few picks. Note that I don't believe it will go down this way, only that according to some reputable draft heads there may be more truth to these possibilities than meets the eye. Also, I only did the top 10 picks because my remaining 20 haven't changed enough since my last mock. So, let's say the damn thing goes crazy...

1. Clippers - Blake Griffin PF OKLAHOMA This is the pick, they can't screw it up...right?

2. Grizzlies - Hasheem Thabeet C UCONN The riot starts here. They reportedly love Thabeet and are put off by Rubio (more on that later). They could try to trade down a couple of spots, which at this point their fanbase appears to favor doing, but they won't risk the Thunder grabbing him with #3.

3. Thunder - Stephen Curry PG/SG DAVIDSON What's in your head, in your head, zombie zombie zombie, hey hey hey oh oh oh. With the Westbrook pick last year the Thundonics proved they will stir it up and take the guy they want regardless of popular opinion. They worked Curry out at length and are just arrogant enough to think a Westbrook/Curry backcourt will work. I personally hate the idea of that duo but I think Curry is legit and I won't wince at all if a certain Wolves team takes him at #6. Rib on.

4. Kings - Johnny Flynn PG SYRACUS He had an amazingly good workout in Sac on Monday and I think they are intent on taking a PG. His off the court interviews were apparently as good as his on court performance, in both of which he clearly came off as better than Holliday and Jennings.

5. Wizards - James Harden SG ARIZONA STATE No brainer at this point. Arenas, Butler, Harden and Jamison should be good for 100+ points a night and a reentry to the top half of the Eastern Conference playoff seeds.

6. Timberwolves - Ricky Rubio PG EUROPE At this point you're all shaking your head, I know. But remember, this isn't exactly how I think it will happen but it's also maybe not as unlikely as you might think. First and foremost, he isn't working out in the US. Out of sight, out of mind. Plain and simple, his stock is falling. Scouts are really starting to question if he can guard other PGs or consistently hit a jumpe shot. The Clips won't take him. Rubio's agent has flat out said he's not interested in playing or working out for Memphis or Washington, citing playing opportunites as the reason, while emphasizing it has nothing to do with market size in Memphis' case. The logic being that his appeal will be on an international level so whatever US city he happens to play in doesn't really matter. His agent also says he is very willing to workout and play for Oklahoma City and Sacramento. The problem: they may not want him. I've heard repeatedly that the Thunder view Westbrook as thier PG of the future and are very much enamored with Curry and Harden. Kings GM, Geoff Petri, has flat out said them taking Rubio is by no means a lock. Their recent raves about Flynn and Tyreke Evans may lend merit to this. Neither OKC or Sac is thrilled that Rubio isn't over here working out and I've heard it strongly suggested there is a chance he will fall here. So if the claim that Rubio doesn't care about the market size and really just wants to be the sure thing starter then Minnesota is a good spot for him. He could also pull some bullshit and try to force his hand to Golden State or New York, in which case the Wolves would be left in a Yi Jianlin situation. Would they call his bluff? Who knows. If I were Kahn I'd be on the phone with his agent seeing if Minnesota is a place he'd be will to set up. If so, I'd be pushing strongly for a trade. I read a rumor in a Memphis paper of Kevin Love, #6 and Brian Cardinal (expiring) for Rudy Gay, #2 and Marko Jaric (not expiring).

7. Warriors - Brandon Jennings PG EUROPE Like Flynn, he smoked his workout in Golden State. The Kings and Wolves could be possible destinations but I'd almost bet my left nut at this point that Jennings ends up here.
8. Knicks - DeMar DeRozan SG USC Knicks get scorned on their top three choices (Curry, Flynn, Jennings). They go for the next biggest shot at a star. New York should offer up this pick and David Lee to Memphis to move up and get Rubio.

9. Raptors - Tyreke Evans SG MEMPHIS They want DeRozan but Evans is a good consolation prize. Truthfully, he's probably better.

10. Bucks - Jeff Teague PG WAKE FOREST I have it on good word they are in love with Teague, which Teague better hope is true or he could fall into the 20s.

Category: NBA
Posted on: June 9, 2009 4:19 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2009 4:21 pm

The Players

This time of year is always great for NBA draft junkies like myself. This year, however, is even better than most because of the mass uncertainty extending all throughout the 1st round. Last year, Russ Westbrook was a curveball and no one saw Jerryd Bayless falling as far as he did, but for the most part dudes went where they were supposed to, especially in the lottery. This year will be nothing like that. Everything after the 1st overall pick (and even that isn’t a given) is up for grabs and it is exhilarating. Here is a sampling of the rumors that are abound about various prospects, collected from columns, articles, fan forums, nerps, message boards, etc…
Blake Griffin PF OKLAHOMA - Very likely to be #1 but some think there is a chance the  Clips really want Rubio and his star power to compete with the Lakers on a dollars level. Basically, they’re looking for an excuse to not take Griffin.
Ricky Rubio PG EUROPE - He has become less of a lock to go #2. For one, the Grizzlies apparently do not have good standing in Spain due to poor relations with the Gasol bros and Juan Carlos Navarro.  Two, word got out that Rubio was not interested in playing in Memphis or OKC, which draft #2 and 3 respectively. He denies this but you never know. Three, analysis of his strength and lack of consistent jump shot have intensified and become more critical. Some mocks have him falling to the Kings at #4, but I’d still bet on Memphis at #2.
Hasheem Thabeet C UCONN - Almost no buzz around this guy. Maybe that’s because there are no other centers worth a damn so he doesn’t really have any competition. Too bad Cole Aldrich didn’t come out. He could go as high as #2 to the Grizz or as low as #6 to the Wolves. The Thunder at #3 and Wizards at #5 are ideal.
James Harden SG ARIZONA STATE - Also difficult to peg. Word out of the Chicago pre-draft camp is that he raised red flags when he refused to work out against Tyreke Evans. He also apparently rubbed several teams the wrong way by refusing to personally workout for any team drafting after #4. Awfully presumptuous for a guy who had a terrible NCAA Tourney performance and is by no means a lock to go in the top 4. Rumors have him going to OKC at #3, Washington at #5 or Minnesota at #6.
Jordan Hill PF ARIZONA - The sky is sort of falling for this guy. After Griffin he is the only real lottery worthy PF in the draft, although a lot of teams think DeJuan Blair PF PITT is a better value in the mid-teens. Some reputable mocks have Hill falling to Milwuakee at #10 or possibly beyond, which I think would be a Brook Lopez-like steal. Washington should take him at #5. He’s NBA ready and fits their exact need in the post. He would also be a good fit in OKC, Golden State at #7 or Toronto  at #9 (yes, foreshadowing Bosh’s departure).
Stephen Curry PG/SG DAVIDSON - He’s skyrocketing up the charts. He impressed the hell out of a lot of GMs at the Chicago camp and apparently showcased some passing skills that have people believing he could get by as a shoot-first PG. His basketball pedigree and knowledge for the game are working for him, as well.  OKC has scheduled an all day workout for him and the word is that they have no plans to trade down. Charlotte is also very interested in moving up to snag him. I’ve seen him mentioned going to every team between #3 and #8, but never after that.
DeMar DeRozan SG USC - The most recent rumor is that DeRozan has a promise from Toronto at #9. He also fits the profile of a Golden State sort of pick. Talk of going in the early lottery has faded but some think he is still being considered by OKC and Minnesota.
Tyreke Evans SG MEMPHIS - He played PG for most of his final season in college but NBA execs apparently don’t think he can cut it as one at the next level because if they did he’d probably be projected in the top few picks. His ceiling pick is Washington at #5, but Minnesota or Toronto remain the two most likely destinations.
Johnny Flynn PG SYRACUSE - Not quite at the same rate as Curry, but he’s climbing the charts, as well. His charisma translates to leadership and his clutch ability in the NCAA tourney was the stuff of legends. He’s a true point guard with the speed, strength and tenacity to guard any point in the league.  Until now I’ve always projected him at #10 to Milwaukee but I’ve recently seen him as high as #4 to Sacramento. I’ve even heard his name whispered in a few Minnesota rumors.
Brandon Jennings PG EUROPE - When players like Curry and Flynn start to climb, someone else has got to fall. That someone in this case is Jennings. He refused to participate in the Reebok Euro Camp, which doesn’t look good for a guy trying to prove he’s hungry, and his limited workouts so far haven’t looked good. He’s got plenty of time to turn it around but at this point he’s probably a late lottery pick.
BJ Mullens C OHIO STATE - The last pick or two of the lottery is the absolute best he can hope for but he has done enough in workouts so far to salvage his draft stock. A few weeks ago he was cruising towards the bottom of the 1st round but he’s been able to showcase his natural talent enough in order to stabilize.
Jrue Holliday PG UCLA - Tougher to project than any other top prospect in the draft. If you like him, he never got a fair shot at UCLA and was used out of position. With his size and skill set he should be the second or maybe even first PG off the board, possibly to Sacramento at #4. If you don’t like him, he got thoroughly outplayed by Darren Collison at UCLA and has no business even entering this draft. He’s a total underachiever with unproven skill and if you take him higher than #20 you’re wasting your pick. That’s how differing opinions are on this kid.

DeJuan Blair PF PITTSBURGH - An undersized banger PF in the mold of Craig Smith but with a better overall game. Would be perfect for Detroit at #15 or Chicago at #16, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he went higher to maybe New Jersey at #11.
Earl Clark SF/PF LOUISVILLE & James Johnson SF/PF WAKE FOREST - Both of these guys will probably go between picks #10 and 15. New Jersey and Phoenix seem like likely destinations for either. Both have that tweener forward game that was clearly powerful enough in college but will be difficult to project as pros.
Ty Lawson PG UNC, Eric Maynor PF VCU & Jeff Teague PG WAKE FOREST - By all accounts, these three have fallen to the back of the PG rankings for their own various deficiencies. Of the three, Lawson gets the most love but at this point they all look like they’ll go somewhere between #13 and #25.
Gerald Henderson SG DUKE, Terrance Williams SG LOUISVILLE & Marcus Thornton SG LSU - The second tier of SGs, probable will go in that order. Henderson could go as high as Charlotte at #12. Williams will probably go in the mid to late teens with Chicago at #15 being a real possibility. Thornton has Courtney Lee/Chris Douglas Roberts written all over him, meaning he’ll either be a solid late 1st round pick or a steal in the early 2nd.

Chase Budinger SF ARIZONA, Sam Young SF PITTSBURGH & Austin Daye SF GONZAGA - All wing players with uniquely different games but will probably be sought after by teams looking for similar things. I’ve seen Budinger rated the highest with Phoenix at #14 being a possibility. Sam Young could sneak into the mid teens but will more likely go somewhere in the 20s. Austin Daye is a boom or bust, freak athlete/raw talent type player all the way. He could easily slip to the early 2nd round ala DeAndre Jordan or go as high as #15 to Detroit, who has worked him out a couple of times.
Patrick Mills PG ST. MARY’S & Darren Collison PG UCLA - Safely in the third tier of PGs and looking like fringe 1st round picks. Could easily be targets of the Wolves at #28 if they don’t take a PG with either of their first two picks and/or keep the 28th pick, neither of which is likely.
Tyler Hansbrough PF UNC, Gani Lawal PF GEORGIA TECH, Taj Gibson PF USC  & Jeff Pendergraph PF LSU - The distant second and third tier PFs. Pendergraph should be a 2nd round pick for sure but I love him as a super steal. Seriously, keep your eye on him. Anyone of the other three could sneak into the late 1st round but it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see them fall into the 2nd. My sneaky call is that Hansbrough breaks the trend of college stars equals terrible pros and actually becomes a serviceable player in the NBA.

Category: NBA
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com