Timberwolves fans worry about. It concerns us. And it leaves us wondering why our nice things never stay. Of course I’m talking about the 3-year window created by the contracts of Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and Rick Adelman. I mean, the first half of last season was so much fun, why do we only have it for a few more years.
When the rumors of Pau Gasol to the Timberwolves came out in exchange for Derrick Williams, Michael Beasley and what would be some weak first round picks came out, many fans took exception to the notion.
The Wolves were panicking!
They’re mortgaging our future!
Pau is soft with an albatross of a contract!
While I agreed with the first two points at first, a conversation with Emile of Hardwood Hype/Forum Blue and Gold and Steve McPherson of Hardwood Paroxysm changed my mind. At some point in the conversation, my stance took a 180 and realized I had probably been looking at this thing the wrong way.
I’ll begin my first point with a question: What’s less-appealing- a team that is willing to take chances to add a top player at a position at the expense of an unproven rookie, or a team that treads lightly in fear of upsetting their core players?
I’m inclined to agree with the first point. Moving on.
Next, is Derrick Williams or Pau Gasol more likely to attract a higher quality of free agent to the Wolves?
If you said Pau, you’re finally getting it.
Finally, what do they have to lose? Can we really be concerned about the future of a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since the spring of 2004 and has the worst winning percentage in the NBA since 2007-’08?
There is the school of thought that says that if you’re not on the way up, you should blow it up since you won’t improve toiling away as the 8th or 9th seed year in and year out. However, this team isn’t even there yet. Sure, they were probably on that track until Rubio’s ACL went out, but there was no guarantee. And if a player like Pau takes you from the 8th to the 4th or even the 2nd, isn’t that better?
Then, take a look at the Western Conference. Tell me, who is the clear-cut second best team? I’ve checked, scanned rosters, and seems like the position is there for the taking. What do you think Rubio and Love will be more impressed by- the team that took three years to become the 6th seed while surrounding them with below average to good free agents or the team that made moves to make the team a potential threat to come out of the West while surrounding them with above average free agents?
As for Gasol, aside from how difficult it would be to happen now, his contract is no issue. First off, his deal is only for the next two seasons, so he won’t be taking money from potential Rubio and Love extensions. Secondly, he earned every bit of that 19 million last season finishing second in Rebounding Percentage, was an efficient scorer, and an above average defender while being marginalized in Mike Brown’s offense and playing out of position. Pau is still good, guys. Finally, his style of play should age well, too.
Anyway, my point is that playing it safe is no safer way of going about the situation than taking a few risks and chances. Who knows how Derrick Williams’ career will turn out, and those draft picks should end up in the 20’s anyway. If either of those things are enough to get a player of Gasol’s caliber is an entirely different conversation, however. Looking at the next 3 years, they may be brighter if the team doesn’t sit on their hands, afraid and hoping for all of their eggs to hatch.
The Timberwolves would be better off projecting an image of a team that is constantly looking to improve, puts their players in the best position to succeed, and does whatever it takes to win.
Who knows what happens in 2 or 3 years, but we do know that they can affect the next 12 months of Timberwolves basketball. And there will come a time to make additional moves, but as long as they can prove to Love and Rubio now that they’re a well-run organization, they will have succeeded by being able to extend them then . Not acting out of fear now may be the most ill-advised decision to make.