Well, judging by the current state of the team and the number of DNP-CD’s that Derrick Williams has recorded this season, it’s about time to consider what will come of the former second overall pick just two summers ago. Here are some fun mock up trade ideas for the Wolves to explore as the calendar year comes to a close and the trade deadline looms:
This deal aims at fixing the depth issue at the shooting guard. Not saying that Alexey Shved hasn’t been anything but excellent but considering the Roy experiment has not turned out like most had hoped and Malcolm Lee has suffered his own knee issues, the Wolves need someone else to hold their own at the 2-spot. Thornton gives the Wolves a scoring guard who can either start or come off the bench. Either or, one thing is for sure: Dude can score. The reason the Wolves don’t do this deal is the fact that losing JJ Barea is actually a real loss. Isaiah Thomas is not what he was last season and no where near what Barea has provided so far this season.
Hmmm… It’s no secret that Chandler Parsons would be welcomed here with open arms, especially now that Chase Budinger will be out until March or even further. Andrei Kirilenko, as good as he is, has an injury-riddled past and having a true option other than Josh Howard would be reassuring. Royce White, though? Hey! Who knows?! He’s a Minnesota native, would be close to home. It could be the safe-haven he needs to jumpstart his NBA career but that’s a real wildcard. It would hurt to lose Luke Ridnour but I feel like he’d be necessary to get this deal done because the Rockets could use the depth.
Hands down my favorite deal has the ultimate cost-reward exchange for the Wolves. Larry Sanders is a monster in the paint. The Wolves are still probably one big man short of solidifying a great front court and Sanders would surely be that guy. Many might look at this and say, “Why aren’t we getting JJ Redick?” As much as we could use him, the Bucks need him to sweeten the deal on their end because they are struggling to find another shooter outside of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. For the Magic, I also threw in the Memphis 1st rounder that the Wolves own in case they’re looking continue their rebuilding through the draft. A youngster and potential powerhouse in Williams and an extra pick might be worth dodging Redick’s contract and Andrew Nicholson’s low ceiling.
Now, I want you all to come up with your own trade ideas, preferably finding a new home for Williams. Keep ‘em realistic and share on Twitter @howlintwolf
David Kahn has a special affection for Pau Gasol, doesn’t he? The Timberwolves executive has been linked to the skilled Lakers’ big man for over a year now. The reason for Kahn’s fixation beyond Gasol’s basketball expertise and high i.q. is puzzling, though. Gasol’s proved that he’s deteriorating right before the NBA’s eyes and his game is losing that touch, as Gasol’s confidence continues to drown.
The Lakers have been openly — and secretively — shopping Gasol over the past year, which coincides with Kahn’s timeline perfectly. They understand his better days are behind him and need to start putting a foot through the aging franchise’s future door. Ideally, the Lakers would be able to receive back what Gasol should’ve given them this season. But it’s not 2010 and Gasol’s knee tendenitis is not a welcoming sign that he’ll turn it around any time soon, if ever. And in a free trade market, assets lose value quickly, especially big men with little-to-no mental spark or determined attitude.
That’s what makes the latest rebuff at a Wolves’ trade offer so intriguing. Marc Stein and Ramona Shelbourne reported today that the Lakers again denied a trade from Kahn’s office, reportedly centered around Nikola Pekovic and Derrick Williams with potentially more pieces involved beyond that.
Talk about an impressive little package. Pekovic has quickly established himself as a top-10 center in the league, while Williams, the former second overall pick in 2011, has yet to prove his worth stuck behind superstar Kevin Love and madman Dante Cunningham in the rotation.
But it’s just not enough for the Lakers to pull the trigger.
But let’s pretend. Let’s say the Lakers did go all in on a deal with the Wolves on a package revolving around Gasol, Williams and Pekovic. What would that mean for the Lakers and the Wolves?
The Lakers, it certainly means getting younger. Williams, contrary to Minnesota fans, still has hope. He’s shown this season that he can connect from deep. He’s still got moves in isolation. It all comes down to his finishing ability and overall consistency. He hasn’t been able to show that due to the eight inch thick cement walls that encloses Rick Adelman’s doghouse. As for Pekovic, well, he’s a scapegoat in case Dwight Howard bails after this season. Not likely, but Pek may be a cheaper resign option, and in the mean time, help form the strongest center tandem in the league. By far.
For the Wolves, or Kahn, I should say, he welcomes the Spaniard big man with open arms. He brings a specific skillset and veteran leadership to a squad lacking both from a big man perspective that Kevin Love just doesn’t. Love’s game is more integrated than Gasol’s but his niche skill in the post and passing ability creates serious problems for defenses when defending the paint and the baseline. Love just doesn’t have the post presence and ability to score from that spot, let alone find open players with his back to the basket. Not to mention the Spanish connection he and Ricky Rubio have already and can further root from the means of playing together in Minnesota.
But with Adelman’s offense and the current makeup of the team, Gasol’s slower pace doesn’t fit the team at all. The Wolves like to run, and once Rubio returns, the pace will pick up exceptionally more. Thinking that Gasol can run with the youthful Pack at this point in his career would be blasphemous.
This is all assuming that Gasol’s knees heal up and he can return to just 80% of the form he once used to be, which is a huge if. Not to mention the heavy contractual load that Gasol brings to an already messed up cap situation that has serious financial obligations through the next three years.
All factors considered, Gasol’s fit within the current team just isn’t right. The deal that would be in place to get him here would have serious implications on the team’s chemistry down the stretch in an integral season, where the Wolves are looking to make their first legit playoff push in a long, long time. Gasol just has too much baggage — attitude, health and contract combined — to really make a positive impact on the Wolves for the rest of the season. It’s definitely a gamble, and Kahn’s a gambling man. We just have to hope he isn’t given the real opportunity to go through with rolling the dice in the first place.
ESPN Insider’s Joe Kaiser released his ideas for some trades that contender and borderline contender squads. One of them, naturally, being the Minnesota Timberwolves, struck my curiosity.
Why it works for Minnesota: Injuries to Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger have the Wolves heavily relying on guys such as Luke Ridnour, Alexey Shved and Malcolm Lee in the backcourt, at least until Ricky Rubio returns. That doesn’t exactly sound like a playoff team, now does it? Adding Thornton, who is one of the best-kept secrets in the NBA and averaged 18.7 ppg as a full-time starter last season, would immediately give the team a guy in the backcourt who can flat-out score. And he’s signed for two seasons beyond this one. Thomas, seemingly in the doghouse with Keith Smart in Sacto after a stellar rookie season, would replace Barea and provide point guard depth with Ridnour until Rubio is healthy.
Why it works for Sacramento: With Cousins, Thomas Robinson and Jason Thompson manning the center and power forward spots, perimeter-oriented Williams could thrive in his more natural role as a small forward on the Kings. The No. 2 pick of the 2011 draft already seems to have one foot out the door in his Wolves career and could use a new start. Barea, signed through 2014-15, would replace Thomas and give the Kings another short point guard alongside Aaron Brooks.
The deal, I feel, certainly sways in the favor of the Timberwolves. But if you examine closely, the Kings gain in what they lose. Tyreke Evans is slowly but surely regaining confidence in his game yet again, so he seems like he could stay with Sacramento long-term. It’s only an assumption but they’d be hardpressed to not at least entertain that option. By shipping off Thornton to the Wolves, they make more room to resign Evans. And, as Kaiser put it, Williams is in need of a change of scenary, and his perimeter-oriented game would work in Sacramento with Cousins, Thompson and Robinson clogging up the middle (I guess we haven’t seen that here but a change would do Williams some good, I believe.) And then the swap of Thomas for Barea is straightforward but, as Kaiser says, Thomas is currently in the doghouse with little wiggle room to get out. They have a deep backcourt and his demotion comes as no surprise. Barea is a more cerebral player that coach Smart would certainly celebrate having.
For the Wolves, well, it’s an obvious upgrade at the two-guard. The only problem with bringing in a bonafide starter at that spot means that Alexey Shved’s development and minutes will likely see a decrease. The Wolves do indeed need to add some kind of depth at that spot but the player needs to be the right kind of guy — someone who doesn’t need a lot of minutes OR shots to make a difference on the court. That’s never an easy find, and I can say with certainty that Thornton is NOT that guy. I’d still be thrilled to see him in Minnesota yet it frightens me to think of the effect he could have on Shved. As for losing Barea for Thomas, I’m pretty mum. Thomas is more reactive than Barea but he still can hit threes just as efficiently, which is all the Wolves need from the backup point.
I’m a little late to the party but here’s the latest on the injury-riddled Wolves:
Howard will add depth to the injury-ravaged Wolves, who lost Chase Budinger to injury earlier this week. Forward Kevin Love, guards Ricky Rubio,J.J. Barea and Brandon Roy also are sidelined with injuries.
Howard, a nine-year veteran, will receive a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum. He is expected to fly to Minnesota for his physical Thursday.
In order to make room for the move, the Wolves had to waive guard Will Conroy. Conroy appeared in four games this season, only hitting one free throw for his only point of the season.
Back to the Howard move, it was certainly much-needed. The injury bug has bitten so badly, the depth at small forward and the front court have suffered. At one point in last night’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats, Adelman trotted a lineup of Conroy-Lee-Shved-Cunningham-Amundson. Yikes. And without Budinger now, Kirilenko has been forced to play in long stretches, which adds up quickly (He’s played 42, 44, and 44 minutes the last three games). If healthy — a big “IF” — Howard can provide Kirilenko rest more than anything. He’s not a fantastic shooter, he’s definitely lost a stop with age. All he needs to do is fill the void that Budinger left to a certain degree so that Lee or Shved don’t have to play the small forward spot ever again. Ever.
Pepsi released the Uncle Drew advertisement about five months ago, hoping to make a pretty funny video go viral, and sure enough, it totally did. Now they are back for round two, and we are happy to pass along this video, like the corporate tools that we are.
This IS pretty entertaining, although it lacks the magic of the series’ first installment. Kyrie Irving is back as Uncle Drew, but this time he has a pick and roll partner, a step-back shooting, poster-dunk slamming shelf-stocker named Wes.
I won’t ruin the “Who is Wes?” surprise, because you totally have no idea (hint: it’s not Wes Johnson). Just know that he’s one of two star power forwards in the NBA most likely to plaster themselves all over every silly marketing campaign they possibly can (the other one’s name rhymes with Glake Briffin). Also, this is a Timberwolves blog, so there’s that hint too.
Anyway, enjoy the video:
I just have three things to say:
- Kyrie’s move at 3:00 is STRAIGHT. FILTHY.
- How did they convince Bill Russell to participate in this?
- If that last dunk is how Kevin Love broke his hand, I’ll understand why he wanted to cover it up with that whole “knuckle pushups crushed my hand” thing, as opposed to “I was filming a Pepsi commercial and I dunked on some poor sap playing pick-up at the park.” Somehow the knucks sound more respectable.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.
As many of you probably know, the month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. With an assist from Larry Fitzgerald Jr., Love shaved his head completely bald to raise awareness. Breast cancer is something awfully close to me because my mother — a huge Timberwolves fan — passed away just three years ago after fighting breast cancer for nearly five years. She sure would’ve gotten a kick out of this, so I truly appreciate Love’s efforts to raise the awareness.
It’s not a surprise that Derrick Williams will be starting. We totally saw that coming, as soon as Kevin Love’s knuckles proved to be less sturdy than he thought. What IS surprising is that he won’t be starting in place of Kevin Love. Rather, he will be starting in place of Andrei Kirilenko, who will take Love’s place at power forward.
So while the lineup questions have been answered, other questions can still be reasonably asked. Questions such as “What does Rick Adelman know about Derrick Williams that we don’t?” for example.
From SBNation Minnesota:
Williams will play small forward while Love is out, with Andrei Kirilenko shifting to power forward. Adelman hopes that this will help Williams’ transition into the starting lineup.
Listen, we’ve run the numbers, we saw Williams’ performance last year, and most reasonable people have concluded that Derrick Williams should be playing power forward, as opposed to small forward. His lack of a consistent jumpshot and his turnover-prone play led most people to believe that playing on the wing isn’t where Williams is strongest, and, as Derek pointed out, the Wolves have at long last left the purgatory of “player development” and entered win-now mode, with Kevin Love’s player option hanging over their heads. So developing Williams into a 3 probably won’t work either. That means that either he won’t play small forward for Minnesota or he’s ready to do it right now. From what we’ve seen, it’s the former.
But here’s the problem: Even after running the Synergy numbers and examining the tape, even after perusing 82Games.com, Basketball-Reference.com, and NBA StatsCube and even after talking with fellow Wolves fans and analyzing Williams’ potential until we are hoarse, Rick Adelman is smarter than us. And he knows Williams better than we do. So presumably, he has a reason for playing Williams at small forward and sliding Kirilenko to the four, even though Kirilenko has, most recently, played small forward and Williams has, most successfully, played power forward.
It should also be noted that Kirilenko isn’t a concern at the four. In fact, it might suit him well, given his age and his somewhat declining athleticism. He has the size and the basketball abilities to play power forward successfully, so Williams is our main concern.
The other interesting tidbit from that article is that Adelman sees Williams eventually becoming a starter when Love returns. This would, of course, mean Kirilenko’s banishment to the second unit. When Kirilenko and Chase Budinger came aboard this offseason, most of us thought it spelled the end of the Derrick Williams era in Minnesota, but apparently, this was far from the truth.
If Adelman didn’t think Williams could play, he would be glued to the bench. Adelman showed us that he had no problem benching players who were somewhat of a fixture in Minnesota last year when he stopped playing Darko and Michael Beasley. So any concerns about Kahn putting pressure on Adelman to play his draft pick would be unwarranted.
I was one of Michael Beasley’s defenders in Minnesota, mainly because I just genuinely liked the guy. He amused me. But after he left, I found myself growing accustomed to the idea of playing efficient offensive players at small forward instead of Beas. It sounded like a nice change. Adelman MUST know something about Williams. He must be pretty sure that Williams can be efficient at the small forward. Right? Somebody tell me I’m right. Please.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.
Whether you were in bed, getting ready to watch the Gophers game, or completely forgot and missed my radio appearance on AM 1450 KNSI (St. Cloud) on Saturday morning, you can now go back and listen to it. I’d say that I joined Notch (We go back to our 612 Sports days.) and Wood on the Benchwarmers Show at 10:45 sharp, but there were some technical difficulties, so the segment is a little shorter.
Anyway, we talked knuckle pushups, Derrick Williams, the schedule without Love and Rubio, and playoff odds. And I didn’t say “er”, “um”, or stammer at all!
You can stream the segment down below by clicking on the link.
Anyway, be sure to follow Notch on Twitter (@Notch17) and check out the Benchwarmers show page.
Whelp. This put a damper on an otherwise pretty good day. Apparently Love broke his hand during his morning workout Wednesday. My initial reaction was a four-letter word, but after a deep breath I think I’m a little better. But this is still really crappy news!
Ugh. Why can’t we ever have nice things.
Anyway, I’m resisting the urge to feel too bad for myself. I mean, I’m sure the developers didn’t know that they were building the Target Center on an Indian burial ground. Ok, I’ll knock it off. Really, this means we won’t see Love and Rubio until just before Christmas, and there will be a lot of basketball to be played after that.
In the mean time, the Wolves have multiple players to platoon at the power forward including Derrick Williams (Tom will have more on this later), Dante Cunningham, and Andrei Kirilenko. This also means that wing players like Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger will have to pick up the scoring slack and stretch the floor like Love did. And of course, Nikola Pekovic will could really earn his extension if he can shoulder some of the load.
Anyway, we’ll learn a lot about the meddle of this team and how deep they really are these next 6-8 weeks. I’m curious to see how they will handle being down their top two players. At least there’s a chance they could be ok with their apparent depth.