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Tag:Minnesota TImberwolves
Posted on: March 7, 2012 4:10 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 4:43 pm
 

Vegas oddsmaker: expect busy NBA trade deadline

Dwight Howard could determine whether or not this is a busy NBA trade deadline. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver   

Will we see two hectic NBA trade deadline days in a row? Las Vegas seems to think so.

The 2011 trade season was crazy, but the biggest deals -- Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks and Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets -- were both completed in advance of the Feb. 24 deadline. Even so, Gerald Wallace, Kendrick Perkins, Baron Davis, Shane Battier, Aaron Brooks and Jeff Green were just some of the names that moved on the final day of the trade season.

This year, Vegas oddsmaker Bovada anticipates a similar level of activity. On Wednesday, the site set the over/under on trades that will happen on the March 15th deadline at 6.5. Of course, this number is for entertainment purposes only.

It goes without saying that the biggest potential trade chips are Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol. Both are listed at even odds if you want to bet "yes" on them moving. 

So will we see seven trades? Given the slow run-up of rumors it looks a little bleak right now. Let's take a look from both sides.

If this does wind up being a quiet trade season, you can bet on the following factors emerging as explanations after the fact.

Howard's uncertainty

Teams with top-tier assets are on hold as they wait for the Howard situation to clear up. If it gets closer to the deadline and he winds up staying in Orlando, rival GMs will have the choice of scrambling to execute a back-up plan or simply holding their cards until the offseason. It's essentially the same thing if he winds up moving late. For teams not in the transaction, they won't have days to weigh their options as they did following the Anthony and Williams trades last year.

Lockout schedule

The delayed start to the 2011-2012 season also pushed back the trade deadline. With six weeks until the playoffs, the temptation to fold the tent and wait until Draft season could be strong for teams that either aren't true contenders or have already dropped out of the playoff chase. It's much easier to write-off a 66-game season than it is an 82-game season. A number of teams have tanked hard since the beginning of the season using the same logic.

Established dominance in the East

In the East, Chicago and Miami have separated themselves so far from the pack that GMs may have trouble selling their owners on a win-now move that requires taking on salary. Why stock up only to get cut down by two truly elite teams? That train of thought is compounded by what is expected to be a strong free agency class. Taking on salary now means less flexibility later.

If, on the other hand, we do see a flurry of deals, here are a few factors that might trigger them. 

Wide open West

If there's activity for basketball reasons, there's a good chance it happens out West given the possibility that 4.5 games separate seeds 3 through 11. If someone wants to pay to make a push, they will be able to do so.  The Clippers, Lakers, Mavericks, Rockets and Timberwolves would all seem to have interest in making their team better for a little postseason fun.

Luxury tax  

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, high payroll teams are set to be hit with major fines for going over -- and eventually, for staying over -- the luxury tax line. Already, we saw one high-profile salary dump for tax purposes, when the Lakers moved Lamar Odom to the Mavericks.  It doesn't have to be big names or big salary numbers that move, though. Simply shipping an extraneous smaller-salary (over multiple years) guy to a team with cap space for oblique future Draft considerations could wind up saving a taxpayer real money when everything is added up down the line.

Danny Ainge 

The Boston Celtics are always active and this year they have assets galore plus plenty of motivation to move them given the uncertain direction going forward. Last year, Ainge made trades both big (Kendrick Perkins) and small (Luke Harangody). It's difficult to imagine he could sit on his hands with Boston limping along as the No. 7 seed.
Posted on: March 7, 2012 11:56 am
 

Report: Wolves want league to be nicer to Rubio

Ricky Rubio is getting a lot of body from defenders. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore

When Ricky Rubio was drafted, the questions were about how he would deal with the tougher defense of the NBA. Not in terms of acumen, the Euro leagues provide plenty of defense. But the players are so much bigger, so much more toned, so much stronger, that his wispy frame was considered an issue. Then he came over and lit the league on fire and it wasn't considered an issue. But it's gotten tougher and tougher as the season has gone on, and now the Wolves have decided to pull the "mom who finds out her son is being bullied and goes to the principle" approach. 
Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn said the team has sent video to the NBA , seeking to call attention to what Kahn and the team's coaches believe are opponents being overly physical with rookie guard Ricky Rubio.

The team sent many examples of what it deems are fouls never called against defenders who have decided the best way to play the skinny rookie is to muscle him.

"All our young guys are learning that, Ricky especially," coach Rick Adelman said about opposing defenses adjusting to stop the Wolves' offense. "They're putting bigger guys on him...They’re beating the hell out of him right now. The league has figured out you have to be physical with him. And he’s kind of learning on the fly.’’
via Wolves send Rubio footage to league, looking for some protection | StarTribune.com.

Thing is, that's what parents should do. Will it bring more Heat on the kid in the short term? Sure. But in the long-run it's better to establish an awareness of the issue. They should notify school officials. It's certainly true that kids have to stand up for themselves, but to make sure situations don't become dangerous, they need to give the school a heads up it's a problem. 

That said, this is just part of it for Rubio. It's not like it's significantly impacted his game, and he's still producing, the Wolvesare still winning. But he's going to see more and more of this. He's made a name for himself, and teams will target ways to stop that. The easiest way is to attack him physically. Rubio won't get special treatment, but it may help in cutting off excessively hard fouls that could cause injury.
Posted on: March 6, 2012 5:33 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 5:45 pm
 

Podcast: Kevin Harlan on Wolves and March Madness

Kevin Harlan of CBS Sports and TNT discusses the Timberwolves' resurgence. (Getty Images)


By Matt Moore

Kevin Harlan is a staple of NBA life for fans. He's been calling NBA games for 23 years. So his perspective on ridiculous condensed season is pretty insightful given how connected he is to the league and its players. So we talked to him on the CBSSports.com NBA podcast. We also touch on the Timberwolves who he was play-by-play for for many years, and about Kevin Love being "the best power forward in the NBA" in Harlan's eyes, and we look forward to March Madness, which you can see on CBS and the Turner Sports family of networks this month. 

You can download the podcast here, and it's available on iTunes as well, so be sure to subscribe. Click here to pop out the podcastinto its own window and continue surfing the information superhighway.  

Posted on: March 6, 2012 4:57 am
 

Blake Griffin gets technical; was it dirty?

Posted by Ben Golliver 

You won't see this one replayed in a goofy Kia commercial. And, hopefully, someone gets through to Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin to let him know this type of play isn't OK, it's borderline dirty.

During the fourth quarter of a tightly contested game between the Clippers and the Timberwolves at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Griffin pulled down Luke Ridnour from behind after the Minnesota guard he broke up a transition pass from Chris Paul to Griffin. 

L.A.'s All-Star forward came barrelling down the key and, after the ball was already out of bounds, pulled Ridnour back towards him by yanking on his shoulder as the two crashed into the baseline. Thankfully, Ridnour's legs somehow managed not to get caught underneath him or he could have been looking at a broken bone or ruptured ligaments. His right foot did briefly catch on the court but pulled free quickly, ensuring that he narrowly avoided what could have been an ugly knee injury.

"What is that?" the FSWolves broadcaster noted in disgust. "Ridiculous."

The Timberwolves players, to their credit, immediately appealed to the officials in Ridnour's defense. The Timberwolves fans, to their credit, immediately and loudly lit into Griffin with boos over his action. The referees, to their credit, hit Griffin with a technical foul.

Minnesota went on to win the game, 95-94. Appropriately, the winning margin was equal to Ridnour's made technical foul shot, so at least there was some justice here.

In Griffin's defense, he plays all out, all the time. He gets into more than his fair share of mix-ups and melees. He's clearly a target around the league. This one, though, was inexcusable. 

Here's the video of Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin's technical foul and scary hit on Minnesota Timberwolves guard Luke Ridnour. 


Posted on: March 5, 2012 2:28 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 3:31 pm
 

Reports: Jamal Crawford draws trade interest

Jamal Crawford could be headed out of Portland just months after he arrived. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver  

The Portland Trail Blazers signed guard Jamal Crawford in December and, by NBA rules, he became trade eligible on March 1. Less than 72 hours later, the rumor mill was already swirling with talk that he could be headed out of town.

SI.com reports that Crawford is "available."
With the Blazers (18-18) underachieving and the 12-year veteran having struggled to fit in this season, sources say he's available. Crawford signed a two-year, $10 million deal on Dec. 15, but the second season is a player option and he plans to opt out this summer to retest the free agent market.

While it's not known whether the Clippers and Blazers have discussed a deal involving Crawford, a source close to him said they showed significant interest when he was a free agent but lacked the flexibility to get a deal done.
CSNNW.com reported that both the Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves are "very interested" in Crawford's services, while HoopsWorld.com added three other teamsto that list. 
The Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves are pursuing him the strongest, but the Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks have also expressed interest. 
Crawford signed with the Blazers because of regional ties, a solid financial offer (a 2-year, $10 million deal with a player option), a chance to make a playoff push and the opportunity to play the clearly defined reserve scoring role in the absence of Brandon Roy, who was waived using the amnesty clause due to knee injuries.

But Portland's season hasn't played out to those expectations. At 18-19 entering Monday night action, the Blazers currently stand as one of the NBA's biggest letdowns. As recently as January, they touted themselves as contenders for the Western Conference title but currently sit outside the West's playoff picture with a daunting 7-game road trip beginning later this week.

With fellow guards Raymond Felton and Wesley Matthews struggling and lineups juggling as a result, Crawford has seen his minutes and shots vacillate, and he's also been asked to step into the starting point guard position, a role that clearly doesn't suit his well-established skillset. Given how poorly Felton has played, Blazers coach Nate McMillan likely felt like he had no choice to make the move, but Portland has lost three straight with Crawford as a starter and the team now plans to move Felton back into the starting lineup on Monday, according to The Oregonian. It's as messy as it sounds for all involved.

It get worse for Crawford, in particular, because McMillan has also moved forward Nicolas Batum into the starting 2-guard role, meaning that Crawford must compete with Batum and previous starter Wesley Matthews for minutes and touches there or continue to take on point guard duties in the reserve unit. Promising second-year two guard Elliot Williams is showing flashes that he deserves regular minutes in the rotation, too. On Portland's roster, this qualifies as a glut. Crawford made a lot of sense for a veteran team pushing for playoff success. On a middling team spinning its wheels with decisions to make at his position, he's extraneous. 

Clearly, something has to give. One way to fix the situation is to move forward Gerald Wallace, returning Batum to his natural three and restoring minutes for Crawford. Another, obviously, would be to ship out Crawford, whose contract and production make him one of Portland's best trade assets. With Matthews on a long-term deal, Williams starting to emerge and Batum figuring to command big dollars this summer, selling early on Crawford makes more sense than letting him walk in three months for nothing.

The Blazers and Timberwolves have been regular trade partners over the years, and a trade centered around a swap of Crawford for guard Luke Ridnour makes almost too much sense. Minnesota has a surplus of ones and a need for a solid two; Portland has a surplus of twos and a desperate need for a solid one.

Ridnour, a point guard by nature, has played out of position off the ball as rookie sensation Ricky Rubio has taken the Timberwolves by storm. Ridnour, 31, is on the books through 2013-2014, long after he will be useful for the Timberwolves. As of Monday, he represents a minor upgrade over Felton in terms of PER (he's ranked No. 41 in the league, Felton is No. 50). Portland has been looking for 3-point shooting from the point guard position to complement franchise forward LaMarcus Aldridge, and while Ridnour is shooting just 32.3 percent from deep this season, he's a career 35.9 percent shooter. Felton, meanwhile, is shooting just 24.6 percent from deep and averaging a full turnover more per game than Ridnour, in similar minutes.

Ridnour is a known commodity for Blazers coach Nate McMillan from their shared time in Seattle and could represent a low-risk transition from what has been a tumultuous time between Felton and McMillan in Portland. Felton is also set to be a free agent this summer and, if he's not moved by the deadline, would seem to have a murky (at best) future in Portland. Ridnour, then, would serve as a low-cost, reliable placeholder.

For Minnesota, Crawford plugs in at the team's weakest position, bringing his scoring and shot-creating ability to a team that can use it as it tries to make its first playoff push in years. He wouldn't be asked to carry the load or handle the ball all that much and he would find more room to work thanks to Rubio and All-Star forward Kevin Love. Recently, he spoke highly of Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman and his offense to the Star-Tribune. Whether Crawford decides to test free agency this summer would seem to be of little concern to Minnesota, as they are simply looking for better roster balance and the flexibility created by shedding Ridnour's future dollars.

The questions here are whether Portland can locate a better point guard option than Ridnour via trade, whether someone will offer more for Crawford prior to the deadline and whether moving Wallace instead of Crawford would bring back a significantly better package. (Wallace also holds a player option for next season.) For Crawford, moving on to a place that can offer the consistency in playing time and responsibilities that he thought he was getting when he signed up in Portland makes all the sense in the world, whether that is Minnesota or somewhere else.

Both sides have tried to make it work and so far it hasn't. The long-term prospects don't look good for a turnaround, either. That rumors popped up immediately after Crawford became trade eligible says it all.
Posted on: February 29, 2012 10:02 pm
 

Kevin Love out Wednesday versus Lakers

Posted by Royce Young

Minnesota's All-Star power forward Kevin Love will miss Wednesday's game against the Lakers because of flu-like symptoms. It's expected that Derrick Williams will start in his place.

Love has also been dealing with rib and back injuries, but it's an illness that's holding him out in this one. He played against the Clippers Tuesday, but only saw 25 minutes and had an uncharacteristically unproductive game, putting up just 10 points and seven rebounds.

On the season, Love is averaging 24.5 points and 13.8 rebounds per game.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 6:13 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 6:25 pm
 

Derrick Williams, Jack fight over Dunk Contest

Jarrett Jack did not think Derrick Williams did well in the dunk contest. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver  

There's nothing better than making fun of the Dunk Contest and there's not much more exciting than athlete-on-athlete violence on Twitter, so get ready for a good time right here, right now.

On Saturday night, Minnesota Timberwolves rookie forward Derrick Williams had an up-and-down Dunk Contest. The highlight was his second attempt, a side-of-the-backboard, alley-oop assisted by Ricky Rubio. The lowlight was his third attempt, a string of misses as he tried to complete a self-toss, through-the-legs throwdown.

But it wasn't either of those dunks that set off New Orleans Hornets guard Jarrett Jack. No, it was Williams' first attempt, in which he rode in on a motorcyle with a mascot and then jumped over the bike to throw down a windmill.

On his Twitter account, @JarrettJack03, Jack objected to what he deemed a less-than-masculine scene.

"Definitely against all the man laws ever created. Dudes can't ride on the back of motorcycles," Jack opined. He later pointed out that Williams has a "cash register mouth," a reference to Williams' "underbite."

Jack went on to call the Dunk Contest the "worst... of all time" and explained that Utah Jazz forward Jeremy Evans, the eventual Slam Dunk contest winner, has "dolphin teeth."

It wasn't long before Williams, posting on his account, @realdwill7, felt the need to respond.

"Hahaa who?" Williams wrote when someone informed him of Jack's criticism, implying that he didn't know who the seventh year pro out of Georgia Tech was.

Later, he took an apparent dig at Jack's future with the Hornets, writing: "All I know is come draft night.. That team lookin for a point guard." Shortly thereafter, he realized it might be time to simmer down. "I need to chill. chill button pushed," Williams wrote.

After the extended back and forth, Jack suggested that perhaps Williams needed to be a little more self-effacing. "I hope the dude Derrick Williams aint takin it too serious they are just jokes," he wrote. "If you can't laugh at yourself, what can u really laugh at?"

So that's good. We've apparently reached a Dunk Contest detente. In case you were wondering, the next meeting between the Timberwolves and the Hornets will be on Mar. 10 in Minnesota.
Posted on: February 22, 2012 10:33 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 10:38 pm
 

Luke Ridnour game-winning buzzer-beater video

Posted by Ben Golliver

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Luke Ridnour hit a game-winning, buzzer-beating floater to defeat the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night at the Target Center.

With the score tied at 98 with seven seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Ridnour inbounded the ball to guard J.J. Barea, who eventually worked it back to Ridnour. Receiving the pass with only a few seconds left on the clock, Ridnour attacked the paint and lofted a right-handed floater over Jazz big man Al Jefferson.

The shot provided the winning margin, 100-98, and sent the Timberwolves bench into hysterics. Ridnour was mobbed by his teammates, including forward Anthony Tolliver, who lifted him into the air. Ridnour finished with 17 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds on the night. The win improved Minnesota's record to 17-17 entering the All-Star break.

Here's the video of Minnesota Timberwolves guard Luke Ridnour hitting a game-winning floater at the buzzer to defeat the Utah Jazz. 


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