Are The Timberwolves The Knicks Of The West?


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No, not really.

But let’s explore for a minute anyway, since last night’s 118-106 loss was another disappointing defeat and another dismal fourth quarter showing by the Wolves who have made a habit of disappointing losses and dismal fourth quarters.

In 2013-14, the New York Knicks…

  • Entered the season, if not title contenders, at least a lock for the playoffs and a team that could potentially advance a round. They made what looked like a dumb trade (giving up actual draft picks for Andrea freaking Bargnani), but many of us had talked ourselves into believing that he could be a contributor with Melo attracting all of the defensive attention. Plus, Tyson Chandler could cover for Bargs’ mistakes (this is important, so remember it). Given the right match-ups and a couple of injuries to opponents, they might even sneak into the Eastern Conference Finals. James Dolan’s championship or bust attitude was a pretty liberal amount of dumbass, but that’s okay.
  • Early on, the Knicks struggled, but we thought little of it. “Small sample sizes,” we told ourselves. “They’ll turn it around. It’ll be okay.”
  • As it turned out, Tyson Chandler could cover for one or two players being really bad at defense, but not every player on the team. As a result…
  • They continued struggling.
  • Knicks fans began writing some of the most incredible game recaps you can imagine, as well as some of the most thoughtful, depressing features on the internet.
  • The Knicks kept struggling.
  • For a brief stretch against bad opponents, they stopped struggling and won a few games. Everyone assumed they were going to turn it around.
  • Then they returned to struggling.
  • Their rookie is playing well, but not well enough to turn the team around.
  • They are going to miss the playoffs.
  • They might lose their star player to free agency.
  • They don’t own their draft pick.
  • They have no cap space.

Meanwhile in 2013-14, the Minnesota Timberwolves…

  • Entered the season with high hopes of making the playoffs for the first time since Kevin Garnett left the franchise. Minnesota wasn’t a title contender by any means, but the Wolves weren’t aspiring to be. Instead, they were aspiring to be a team that built through growth and addition, as Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio continued to mature and the Wolves added pieces to fix their problems (Kevin Martin and the returning Chase Budinger for 3-point shooting, Corey Brewer for defense). Minnesota’s expectations weren’t sky-high, but many prognosticators picked them to be in the playoffs.
  • They won their first three games!
  • They fell below .500.
  • They stayed below .500.
  • We began telling ourselves that everything would be okay after January. “January is an easy month,” we told ourselves. “They’ll be 4-5 games above .500 by that point.”
  • The Wolves finished January 23-23. 11 games in February, seven of which were against playoff teams, loomed.
  • Minnesota finished February 28-29.
  • Their rookie is playing well, but not well enough to turn the team around.
  • They are not going to make the playoffs.
  • They might lose their star player to free agency.
  • It’s too late to tank to improve their draft pick.
  • Their cap space is tied up (admittedly not as tightly as New York’s, but still).

Essentially, here we are. The Wolves are disappointing, to be sure, and one could certainly argue that the immediate future looks a little bleak as the “will Kevin Love leave?” saga continues.

That being said, the Wolves are not without options. If Love makes it clear he’s leaving, he can be dealt. If he departs, Minnesota has its own draft pick in 2015. The Wolves also have their own pick in 2014 if they don’t make the playoffs. There are things that could be done to quickly improve the team, or tear it down if necessary.

That doesn’t change the fact that Minnesota lost 118-106 to the most disappointing team in the NBA last night. We would be excused for being disappointed as a result.

But it could be worse.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.