As you all know by now, the Wolves became the third wheel in last night’s mega Melo-deal, which sent superstar Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks in exchange for every last bit of New York’s young, upcoming talent. The kicker, also known as the Wolves’ involvement, of the whole deal is having to say goodbye to the dearest Corey Brewer. He may not have been the most entertaining or productive players on the court, but the once longest-tenured Wolf had a way of energizing the crowd with his kamikaze-like style and stout defense.
Now, as you sob harshly into your palms over the loss of Brewer, consider what we got in return. First off, in order to facilitate the deal with the Knicks, the Wolves had to endure Eddy Curry’s obese contract — and body. It’s more than likely that he will just be bought out, thus justifying the $3 mil New York sent our way in the deal as well. Clearly this deal was made, and based, on David Kahn’s peculiar fixation on Anthony Randolph. Although picking another one of D’Antoni’s bench pieces may not be that peculiar at all. Randolph was a lottery pick back in 2008 — selected 14th by the Golden State Warriors. He has the physical talents to become a Lamar Odom-like player in the right system — which is exactly why I feel Kahn and Kurt Rambis fell in love with him. He has an aggressive instinct on the defensive end with a special ability to block shots to boot. His offensive game needs refining, but his outstanding ability to handle the basketball with a 7-foot-3 wingspan is impressive. He really is a young Lamar Odom with a stronger emphasis on the defensive end.
The real downfall to Randolph’s game is his shooting ability. Odom has the special gift of being able to hit open three’s and possesses an above-average mid-range jumper as well. Randolph’s arsenal of shots is severely limited, giving the Wolves a lesser chance of seeing production on offense out of him.
I like Brewer, but I’d trade him for Randolph in a heartbeat. Brewer is a solid role player who plays great defense but can’t shoot or dribble. That type of player has his uses, but that’s all Brewer will ever be. Helpful, yes, but fungible too.
Randolph has a lower floor but a much higher ceiling. He can’t shoot, he weighs 11 pounds and he’s a head case. On the other hand, he has rare shot-blocking talent, handles the ball unusually well for a player of his size, and is an elite athlete. He’s a potential game-changer at the defensive end and, if the light bulb ever comes on, he’s going to provide a very potent complement to Kevin Love’s skills in the Minnesota frontcourt.
The price of that trade was just swallowing Curry’s expiring contract, but because of the difference in salary between Brewer and Randolph and the $3 million coming from New York, it’s pretty much a wash financially. Basically it amounts to a free talent upgrade for Minnesota just for loaning out their cap space to get the Nuggets under the luxury tax.
You have to give credit to everything Hollinger says. Aside from his opinion of doing this deal in a heartbeat — I’m sure Kahn had to think twice on this one, maybe even thrice! — Hollinger hits some good points. As much as we all love Brewer, the reality of his situation was that he’ll never be the offensively sound player a serious contender needs. And although I am convinced he’ll be a tremendous role player for a winning squad, his game just didn’t coincide with Kahn and Rambis’ vision. Randolph, on the other hand, comes in with the skills to thrive in the triangle offense. And with his aggressive demeanor on defense, he could just be exactly what the Wolves need to improve on defense.
But where I really see this move going downhill is when you put all the pieces together. Some analysts, such as Hollinger, believe Randolph could be the perfect spouse next to Kevin Love on the floor. He’s big, athletic and extremely active on the defensive end. But what about offense? Sure, Brewer never succeeded much on offense either, but picturing a lumbering Love next to another fundamentally weak post player in Randolph could spell disaster for our offense. I wouldn’t be surprised if our offense finds itself in drastic lulls even with the starters in. Now, if Randolph somehow magically finds a shooting stroke up to par with that of Odom’s, that’s a different story entirely because then Randolph could space the floor accordingly and give Love more room to bash underneath for rebounds. But as of now, he doesn’t have it and I can foresee some weaknesses on the offensive side with those two in the ballgame.
Ultimately what I think this trade does is show that Kahn has faith in this team. For the past week Kahn has said that the major pieces are already in place — Love, Beasley, Rubio (If he ever gets here, that is) — and that just a few more tweaks should be enough. This week Kahn personally called out Beasley saying he needs to have a giant end to the season. Same goes for Love, despite his All-Star efforts of the first half of the season. Randolph isn’t going to change games but his presence is going to force guys like Beasley, Love and Darko to step up and produce like they should be. Because as we know it, this team is capable of bigger and better things. You can’t lose as many close games as they have without having competitive, professional athletes who care about their job. Now it’s just time to start pushing harder and desiring more. It’s all about heart and determination now, and although Brewer looked like he possessed it more than anyone on the court, Randolph could very well have a resurrection period — similar to Darko’s — and prove himself to be the player both Kahn and Rambis believe he can be.
Overall: It was a good trade for the Wolves and Nuggets, while the Knicks now have some work to do. Three teams already have shown it takes a big 3 to win in the East, so two superstars could very well not be enough to hoist them to the top. But although I’m happy to see an active and aggressive front office from our Wolves, who are desperately crying for help, it’s bittersweet to see Corey go and you can’t help but wish the best for him in his future endeavors.