Category: 2011 Offseason

ESPN goes 5-on-5 with T-Wolves

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From ESPN:

1. Fact or Fiction: Ricky Rubio will be a star.

Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: Fact. Whether he’s going to be the next Magic Johnson or the next Jason WilliamsRicky Rubio is definitely going to be a star in some way. His passing and creativity will put him all over YouTube and on SportsCenter’s top-10 list most nights. Whether he turns that stardom into being a perennial All-Star is an entirely different question.

Bret LaGree, Hoopinion: Fiction. Star is subjective. Best I can tell, Rubio’s upside is Jason Kidd and it’s a fair question if Kidd was ever truly a star. I’d love for Rubio to be a fascinating addition to the NBA but the vast majority of great passing, poor shooting point guards don’t turn out to be Jason Kidd.

Mathew Lewis, Queen City Hoops: Fiction. We all fell in love with Rubio after he burst on the scene at the 2008 Summer Olympics. The problem is he hasn’t done much since to remind us of his play in Beijing.

Benjamin Polk, A Wolf Among Wolves: Basically fact. He will not be Chris Paul. He will not beSteve Nash. But he will revel in the speed and space of the NBA game. He will do miraculous things in the open floor. He will be seriously disruptive on defense. Of course, he’ll also turn it over with abandon and miss a whole lot of layups.

Ethan Sherwood Strauss, HoopSpeak: Fiction. His 2010-11 Euro field goal percentage makesBrandon Jennings look like William Tell. Let’s tamp down expectations: Will Rubio survive a Minnesota winter?

Be sure to read on for much, much more!

Beasley's Rough Summer Continues

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At some point, you need to just chalk it up to bad luck, right?

From NBC Sports Pro Basketball Talk:

According to a report from (Tom’s note: I’d include a link, but it’s like heiroglyphics over there), one roughly translated through the marvel that is Google translate, it seems as if Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley injured his left wrist, perhaps fracturing it, while attempting a few dunks in the wake of an exhibition in China alongside Celtics forward Paul Pierce.

Beasley has made a few bad decisions so far this summer. Ok, maybe more than a few. But if he injured his wrist throwing down a few dunks for the entertainment of some NBA fans overseas…this isn’t one of them. It could have just as easily happened to Derrick Williams as he punished a couple of high school kids (seriously…wow) or K-Love as he bump-set-spiked.

Actually, I’ll stop before I jinx anyone. All this to say: get well soon, B-Easy.

End to coaching search in sight?

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You never really thought Mr. Kahn could run a civilized coaching search without any major drama, did you?

Well he did. And now it could be over with.

According to Joe Schmit of KSTP-MN, the Wolves are closing in on signing Rick Adelman to be the next head coach of the Timberwolves. Details of the contract could be hammered out soon, and it’s reported that Adelman is looking for hefty payday, $5 million a year to be exact.

If this is all true and the Wolves are indeed moving in on courting Adelman, it’s time to prepare for a celebration. Not only would Adelman be the biggest name to pace the Wolves’ sidelines in their short history, but he couldn’t be coming at a better time.

It’s clear that the Wolves have had their fair share of problems since the end of the KG era but things are beginning to look up. Kahn has stocked the bench full of young talent but they need direction and, most of all, discipline. They need to simply learn the NBA game. Adelman should be that guy. He’s had a terrific career and even a track record for turning high-octane, offensive-oriented teams into winners.

I’ll digress right there, though, because I don’t want to get ahead of myself. But as it stands today, the Wolves’ luck may have finally turned for the better.

Kevin Love: ZINGER!

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Since Kevin Love is the only Timberwolf doing anything really noteworthy in this lock out, we’ll continue with the 3rd straight Howlin’ T-Wolf post about him.

From K-Love’s twitter:

Appreciate Jesse Rambis doing work on the beach volleyball courts this morning. Gotta say, he might be the best Rambis I’ve been coached by.

Naturally, Love clarified several minutes (and doubtless 450 billion replied tweets) later:

Haha I was being facetious people. Have nothing but love for the whole Rambis fam. You know this! #whysoserious

Definitely sounds like Kevin Love…throwing out a wicked burn that he didn’t really mean; one that went over the heads of most of his followers.

Still. My buddy and I may or may not have read that tweet, then stared at each other wide-eyed with “NO HE DIDN’T!” stares on our faces, before agreeing that it would absolutely be a mistake if I didn’t share both tweets on here. So, there you go.

Kevin Love and his Twitter account continue to entertain us all.

Kevin Love's ready for some football

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Former UCLA basketball players Kevin LoveRussell Westbrook and Baron Davis were there, along with Olympic sprint champion Maurice Green and former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson, turning UCLA’s sideline into an ESPY-like red carpet.

“A tight end, a wide out and a strong safety,” Neuheisel said, pointing first at Love and then at Westbrook then at Davis as the three tossed around a football.

Love, too, put out the verbal out of work sign when he chimed in with “size 18 for me.”

“A tight end, a wide out and a strong safety,” Neuheisel said, pointing first at Love and then at Westbrook then at Davis as the three tossed around a football“A tight end, a wide out and a strong safety,” Neuheisel said, pointing first at Love and then at Westbrook then at Davis as the three tossed around a football“A tight end, a wide out and a strong safety,” Neuheisel said, pointing first at Love and then at Westbrook then at Davis as the three tossed around a footbal

Kevin Love speaks out

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Sixty players attended the regional meeting on Tuesday and the consensus on the owners’ newest offer was not good.

Kevin Love speaks:

“I want to play basketball,” Love said. “I want us — the players — to sign a great deal. I want us to make a compromise with the owners but not sign what they’re proposing. We’ll play hardball if we have to. I want there to be an NBA season but it’s also apparent that we’re going to miss games.”

Beasley now losing street cred

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This via ESPN:

Michael Beasley’s offseason has been nothing short of shameful. While Kevin Love is utilizing his free time to soak up the summer fun by playing in fun, non-threatening games of volleyball that could damage his image, Beasley has had a run-in with the law and now an altercation with a fan at a streetball game.

The altercation isn’t what I would call that serious. I’ve been to these games; they all talk, and not very nicely actually. But what freaked me out was the anger in Beasley’s face as he screamed back at the fan. Beasley is usually super cool on the court, so whatever was said by the jawing fan must have set off a fuse inside Beasley that doesn’t usually get touched very often.

I continue to wonder how Kevin Durant is best friends with Beasley. As you watch the video, Durant is simply standing there and even goes and shakes fans’ hands after Beasley’s ejection! He’s one of basketball’s greatest players right now. He owns an outstanding following from these types of crowds, which only makes him that much cooler (All this streetball going on with NBA players is a real treat and Durant has been the King).

It’s just an observation, but why can’t Beasley look at himself in a mirror and realize he can do everything Durant does? Because his skill set certainly says so, but his twisted, deranged mind hasn’t allowed him to fully bud into the player he could be, and the question of “If” he even will is still a real possibility. My advice: Keep hanging with the cool-headed Durant, Beas, you’ll get it one day.

To sum this up, Beasley’s actions are starting to speak for themselves and they’re saying loud and clear that he still hasn’t matured. Perhaps he never will, which gives Derrick Williams the ultimate green light to seek out Beasley’s starting spot in the Wolves’ lineup.

The rotting state of the NBA

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Aside from all the NFL mayhem and the MLB trade deadline, the biggest news in sports has to be about NBA stars bolting to play in Europe.

It started with one of the NBA’s best point guards, Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets, openly discussing the advantages of heading overseas while the lockout is in order. Once that sprung, lower tier stars began talks of doing the same, and now we’re even to the point where Kobe Bryant is even contemplating the jump.

But perhaps the biggest name to throw his eggs into the European basket: Keyon Dooling. Yes, you read that right. Dooling is the back-up point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks, but his biggest title lies in the NBPA as Vice President. When the Vice President of the Union is abandoning hopes of a season next year to dash overseas, well, then there are some serious issues at hand that need to be addressed when the upcoming bargaining sessions resume.

The owners and the players are set to start negotiations again in the first week of August. It’s not likely that any real bargaining will take place, rather the meeting is a means of gathering together and discussing where everyone is standing.

So while the owners continue to sit on their hands, the players are arranging other jobs, which actually give them a serious upper hand when negotiations commence.

What you really have to ask yourself is: Is all this a ploy to grab the NBA owners’ attentions, frighten the owners into losing their players and an entire season, and, ultimately, no profits at all? Because if it is, it doesn’t seem very ethical on the players’ part to expedite this type of leverage at the fans’ expense.

The league — both owners and players — can’t afford this nonsense to continue. Fans are now starting to form opinions on players bolting to Europe. Is it a copout? Is it smart? It certainly doesn’t contribute to their image in any positive way. But the same goes for the owners. Fans are now starting to notice as the owners — multi upon multi millionaires in the first place — sit on the sidelines and allow these players, their players, leave their league for other opportunities abroad. It really just reveals the greediness and stubbornness on their part.

A lot needs to happen in the next month to move toward a common goal. Until progress is made, I wouldn’t be surprised if bigger names continue to flirt with the idea of playing somewhere else next season and letting the NBPA and owners fight this one out, while they’re relying on a stable paycheck and touring the world playing ball. And all while that continues to happen, the image and of the NBA — the one that improved mightily over the past few seasons — as well as the state of the actual business will continue to soil and rot in front of fan’s faces.


Coaching search catch up

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The Timberwolves’ coaching search began last week shortly after David Kahn relieved Kurt Rambis of his duties and to say it’s going swimmingly would be a bold understatement. There are actually some palatably terrific names on the docket that have already interviewed with another Hall of Fame coach in the wake.

To get you caught up on Kahn’s search, here is a list of the coaches that have been linked to the Wolves in some sort of way — an actual interview or even just a rumor — in the past few weeks.

Terry Porter: Porter was the first to interview for the job a last week, which should come as a surprise to no one. Porter has a rapport with the Timberwolves’ organization and should be popular amongst the fans.

Although Porter is a former T-Wolf and has experience in the driver’s seat of an NBA sideline, he wasn’t the top dog given his past for many fans. Once the news broke of Rambis’ ousting, former player, Sam Mitchell, had his name sprout up in every day conversations. Mitchell won the Coach of the Year award in 2007 by turning around a putrid Toronto Raptors team into a playoff contender, but then quickly faded into the dust.

Whether Mitchell is interested in the job or not, it doesn’t change the fact that Porter may be the team’s next former-player-turned-coach. Porter started his coaching career in Milwaukee. He was there for two seasons and went 71-93 before being fired in 2005. It wasn’t long before Porter snapped up the head job in Phoenix in 2008 but his luck didn’t take a turn since Milwaukee and he found his way out the door after 51 games, winning 28 of them.

So although Porter’s coaching record may be down, he’s never had a full opportunity to showcase his leadership abilities. In Minnesota, Porter would have the ability to mentor a young, talented bunch into a faster-paced, offensive-oriented game. He’s a highly respected man in the NBA and would certainly make a difference in the current inexperienced culture in the Timberwolves’ locker room.

Mike Woodson: Woodson’s name has been all over the place this summer. Just about any team with a head coaching vacancy, Woodson has been rumored to be a contender. It’s no different here in Minnesota, and rightfully so.

Woodson is known as the coach who turned the Atlanta Hawks around. Before the current day Hawks who have trouble missing out on the top 4 in the Eastern Conference, the old Hawks — From 1999-2007 — were just pitiful and were struggling staying afloat financially. They hired Mike Woodson with the future in mind and he hung in there to the best of his abilities. Once Atlanta’s front office nailed down players like Joe Johnson, Al Horford and Josh Smith, the Hawks turned their losing ways around and made the playoffs for three straight seasons. After a second round series dropped to the Orlando Magic, the Hawks announced that they would not resign Woodson for the 2010-2011 season.

And here we are. Woodson’s devotion toward changing Atlanta’s losing atmosphere showed his true passion as an NBA coach. Not to mention some serious adversity. Woodson would need the same mentality if he were to come to Minnesota. He’d have a similar situation in Atlanta where he’d have the talent to work with but would need the time and support from the front office to turn Minnesota’s ship around.

Bernie Bickerstaff: Even when Rambis was still the coach, the hottest rumor on the stove was the opportunity of bringing in Bernie to reunite him with his son, J.B., who was an assistant here under Rambis. It was a classic NCAA football “Coach-in-waiting” situation. Those never work out, to put it nicely, and neither did the Wolves’ dream. J.B. bolted for a job on the Houston Rockets’ bench under Kevin McHale. But that didn’t put the Wolves’ interest in Bernie to an end.

Although the dream of Bernie mentoring his son in the art of coaching for a few years and having him take his place at a later date didn’t last, Bernie can still be a valuable coach for the Timberwolves. He ranks 33rd in the NBA in all-time wins with a record of 414-512, coaching for an array of teams such as the Seattle SuperSonics, Denver Nuggets, Washington Bullets/Wizards and the Charlotte Bobcats, his last head coaching gig.

The experience is certainly there but a fair question to ask is: Without J.B. in the shadows, is bringing Bernie in worth the investment?

Rick Adelman: Adelman should be considered the prize of this ongoing search for a coach. After not agreeing to a new contract with the Houston Rockets, he left H-town after four seasons and 183 wins, but his legacy was constructed long before that.

Adelman has an illustrious coaching career, having coached some of basketball’s most impressive teams in recent history. It started in Portland, where Adelman was graced by Clyde Drexler’s on-court presence in his first head coaching gig. It continued on with the glory days in Sacramento, led by Chris Webber, Jason Williams and Vlade Divac.

The Sacramento days is what Kahn ought to pay close attention to when assessing Adelman’s comfortability in Minnesota. A lot of the pieces that Adelman had in Sacramento are here in Minnesota. It starts with the point guard, Ricky Rubio. Rubio possesses special abilities to open the court and find his teammates; just the way Jason Williams did in his heyday, utilizing his flash and glam to keep the crowd on their toes. Wes Johnson reminds me a little of Doug Christie in his deep range and quick trigger. And Derrick Williams has the ability to play an inside-out game such as Chris Webber, with even a little more finesse.

Some of the pieces are there and the Timberwolves’ roster obviously goes much deeper than those mentioned already. Kevin Love, although not a solid comparison to anybody on the old Kings team, already has a special relationship with Adelman. Love and Adelman’s son attended the same high school and were good buddies. Because of that, Adelman has been openly fond of Love’s talent and accomplishments so far in the league.

Even though the match seems like it was made in heaven, it’s not quite at that point just yet, at least in Adelman’s mind. Actually, Wolves fans should be grateful to hear the Adelman even spoke with Kahn via phone on Saturday. Typically with a coach of Adelman’s caliber, once they hit a certain age — Adelman’s already 65-years old — a front office job, something less stressful, would seem to be perfect. Or even a coaching job for a veteran-based squad would be ideal. But a coaching job for the youngest team in the league, despite the talent and potential, is a big and risky step for any veteran coach in the league.

With that said, Wolves players, fans and Kahn alike should be praying Adelman’s “interest” in the job is substantial. If it is, the Wolves may have landed the big one.

Don Nelson: It shouldn’t be surprising to hear about Don Nelson’s interest in the job. After all, his daughter and grandchildren live in Minnetonka. But the real reason is Nelson can’t get enough of young, fast and immature rosters.

Nelson dealt with a similar situation to the Timberwolves in Golden State, his last head coaching gig in 2010. His first two seasons in Oakland went well, making the playoffs in his first season, thanks to a solid season from Baron Davis and Jason Richardson. But then the downhill slide sloped ever so slightly and Nelson couldn’t prevent the fall. Heated conversations between Nelson and the front office led to confrontations between Nelson and the players, including a tiff with current Timberwolf, Anthony Randolph.

Whether Nelson is willing to part with having total control over all team operations remains to be seen, but there’s no denying Nelson’s coaching ability. He’s one of the league’s best coaches in history and has won Coach of the Year on three separate occasions. The Wolves would be honored to have Nelson pace their sideline as long as his ego doesn’t get in the way. His job here would be to teach the game to these youngsters, not change who they are. Also, the Wolves may need a few more years to prove competitive within the league. Could Don Nelsons age, 71, be a problem in the future?

Larry Brown: Brown is next up to interview for the Timberwolves. There’s an obvious trend going on here. Aside from the first two interviewees, Terry Porter and Mike Woodson, all other candidates are 60-years old or older.

Kahn is looking for experience, a perennial winner. After gambling and missing on a younger, less experienced coach in Rambis, Kahn needs to go with a sure-thing, thus the reason to call in three or more Hall of Fame coaches.

Brown, unlike Nelson, has a championship under his coaching accolades. He also won Coach of the Year in 2001 with the Philadelphia 76ers. Brown likely wouldn’t race the tempo as much as Kahn would prefer, but he would be able to settle these players down and teach them the game properly.

The biggest question around Brown, aside from his age, 70, is indeed his ability to handle younger players. In Brown’s last coaching stint in Charlotte, he struggled to manage younger players’ attitudes and egos, specifically Tyrus Thomas. Brown seemed to lose patience with young, struggling players and grew impatient with their slower learning curve. That would be a major problem in Minnesota given the state of such a young roster.

Coaching search nets two more

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This according to ESPN:

MINNEAPOLIS — Portland assistant Bernie Bickerstaff interviewed with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday and former Houston coach Rick Adelman was scheduled to come in Saturday as the team searches for a new coach.

A person with knowledge of the process told The Associated Press on Friday about the interviews. The person requested anonymity because the team is not commenting publicly on its coaching search.

If you read on, it’s interesting to see that Adelman has interest in our young Pups. Common knowledge has Adelman pegged for a job with a veteran-based squad, or even a front office job that keeps the 66-year old off the sidelines. But, even as the article has it, coaches from far and wide are drooling at the potential in this team’s roster. From Rubio to Williams to even Randolph, coaches see this team as a frightening bunch and the terror they could potentially cause the league for years to come. It’s a rather intriguing destination, even for big names like Adelman.

Didn’t think I would ever be able to call Minnesota an “intriguing destination”. Weird.