Goodbye, Mr. Brewer; Hello, Mr. Randolph

Anthony Randolph is coming to town

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.

John Hollinger offers a little commentary as well as a grade for the Wolves on their part of the Melo-deal (Insider):

Minnesota: B+

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.

The pot's beginning to boil

The trade deadline is nearing and only rumors and speculation swirl around the forefront. To no surprise, the deadline’s headliner is the unknown soon-to-be destination of Carmelo Anthony and which teams — if any others — will actually be involved in the mega deal that could potentially be the start of another big three forming on the East coast somewhere.

According to reports from All-Star weekend, Melo is still not interested in signing an extension with the New Jersey Nets. Chris Broussard and Marc Stein believe that the Knicks are still the front-runner to land the NBA superstar.

From reports in the past few weeks, it’s been rumored that this is where our Puppies fit in. In order to actually facilitate salary cap numbers to make a deal for Melo, the Knicks need a third party to come along and take on Eddy Curry’s fat contract — and body?With a surplus of cap space and nothing to lose, who better than the Wolves to get involved? This is where the blurred confines of this deal begin to fade even more.

The Wolves have been interested in the athletic and highly talented Anthony Randolph for quite some time, and now it seems inevitable that they end up getting him before the deadline in whichever trade actually takes shape (There have been rumors that if it doesn’t get done through the Melo deal, the Knicks will deal him to the Wolves straight up.) Randolph is an under-utilized post player with some seriously special skills. He can play either the 4 or 5 and would come in and make an immediate impact on defense. The offensive side could be a different story, which makes you contemplate whether he and Love — both average post players at best with a limited repertoire of moves down low — would actually coincide as beautifully as others make it out to be.

In order to obtain this bundle of potential, the Wolves will actually have to give something of value as well as take on Curry’s contract. The proposed value being exported is really where no details have been clear at any point in time. Some reports have us sending just Corey Brewer. Some say just a first-rounder — either the Utah or Memphis pick — is the price. Even some reports have us sending both in the deal.

In my personal opinion, Randolph’s case is awfully similar to Darko’s last season. A talented but clueless big man who never quite caught the eye of Mike D’antoni and his high-octane, offensive driven style of play. Both players remind me a lot like that kid on the school ground that neither team captain wants, so he ends up being picked last and never gets to play anyways. Where I’m going with this? Last year, we sent Brian Cardinal to the Knicks in exchange for Darko’s potential; a legitimate trade that counts as sending nothing-for-something. This year, we’re surrendering much more than just a garbage-time player. Although the late first-rounder may not be worth that much, Corey Brewer has quickly established himself as one of the better defenders in the league this year. His freakishly long limbs and endless energy physically wear down his opponents to the point of exhaustion — we’ve seen it from some of the league’s best already this year.

This trade, if both Brewer and a first-rounder are involved, are a classic example of David Kahn failing to make anything of our current resources while sending away a fan-favorite in Brewer. The TWolves Blog has something to say about this:

This is another example of Kahn’s continued demonstrated incompetence and a very questionable use of resources. Consider the perceived value and opportunity costs given up by the Wolves: 1) Worst case scenario: Brewer, a starting player on our team, a first round pick, or both. Decent value as it is and certainly more than enough value for an 11th man on a Knicks team, However, 2) We are renting all of our cap space in favor of a potentially better deal until the offseason, a time when our cap room will be in the $6-$7 million range, potentially less with the Randolph addition.  All of this so New York can: 3. Move an albatross deal that will free up enough cash so they can acquire Carmelo Anthony and 2 former Wolves point guards, one of which was a NBA Finals MVP, thus solidifyng their future and essentially making Donnie Walsh’s Knicks rebuild a staunch success. If this doesn’t get any Wolves fans left on team-Kahn to fold, then I will start to rudely question sanity.

It just doesn’t make much sense for the Wolves to be apart of any deal involving Brewer. Period.

As the week moves along, more and more details will develop. But don’t fooled! Rumors are never true until they come to fruition, so my warning to you all is not to get your panties in a bunch when you hear petty rumors about Steve Nash or Andre Iquodala here and there. Just let it all play out and we’ll converse on Thursday when the deadline passes.

Wolf Track – Wolves season in review: Boss promises big changes | Star Tribune

I’m going to wait until the season is “officially over” at then end of this week after the last 3 games to start breaking down everything in review and looking forward, but Phil Miller of the Star Tribune got the offseason started with David Kahn talking about a lot of change on the horizon.

Wolves season in review: Boss promises big changes | StarTribune.com.

From the beginning, Timberwolves boss David Kahn and coach Kurt Rambis called this nearly finished season one devoted to player evaluation and development, concepts that also mean few expectations and little pressure.

All that is about to change.

Still aimed at tying the worst record in franchise history, the Wolves head toward a summer in which they possess three first-round draft picks, hefty salary-cap space and a roster that includes nary a player untouchable for a trade, except perhaps the rights to European prospect Ricky Rubio.

Among the things they’ve learned during these past six months: They lack a game-saving star player and also need a traditionally sized center on a team previously built around undersized power forwards Al Jefferson and Kevin Love.

Hired 11 months ago, Kahn immediately embarked on what he called a 17-month process to transform the franchise. He started by trading away player after player last summer to improve draft positioning and clear cap space.

The maneuvering presented what he now calls an obviously incomplete team that produced the league’s second-worst record and nearly a 20 percent chance of winning the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft.

The clock is ticking.

“Those 17 months expire in September,” Kahn said. “I can assure you the ballclub will be measurably different by then. It will. Obviously, we’ll have to demonstrate some significant progress next season, whether you want to define that by wins and losses or other measurements.”

Be sure to click and read the whole thing.

What are your thoughts on Kahn’s assessment?

Wolf Track – TrueHoop: Kahn won't trade Al Jefferson, unless …

From TrueHoop: Kahn won’t trade Al Jefferson, unless…

“…someone calls up with a deal that’s so preposterously one-sided, we’d have to do it”

Those words came from the mouth of Minnesota Timberwolves general manager David Kahn, who spoke to me this morning at Madison Square Garden while the folks back home in Minneapolis were wondering why the possibility of trading Jefferson was back in the news.

So while the Amar’e Stoudemire rumors have a basis in truth — I listed the chances of him being dealt at 60-40 in yesterday’s chat — a Jefferson deal is far more unlikely. “In this league you can make some terrible decisions when you make them hastily, without full information, or letting people evolve. We won’t do that here,” Kahn said.

And what would define ‘preposterously one-sided’– the phrase Kahn himself used to describe what's it'd take for him to trade Jefferson?

“Something that even Al Jefferson would have to say, ‘David you have to do that,'” Kahn said.

David Kahn… A GM Ahead of the Curve?

As some of you probably don’t have ESPN Insider access and others may have missed it on Friday, there was some good news for Wolves fans that came from Chad Ford on his NBA Draft Blog that I thought you should see:

While 2009 may have been one of the best point guard drafts ever, the 2010 draft is shaping up to be one of the worst ever.

The drought of point guards in this year’s draft has led to some consternation among a handful of GMs. Why? Because their scouting staffs didn’t alert them to that fact before last year’s draft, which could have affected their strategy.

“I know we all say that we draft on talent, not on position, but that’s only partly true” one GM told ESPN.com. “Last year we needed to fill a number of holes and ended up passing on all of the point guards. Had we known there wouldn’t be any point guard talent in the ’10 draft, I think we would’ve done things differently this summer.”

Basically other than John Wall, who looks to be a superstar, there is only one other point guard, Willie Warren, who is ranked on Ford’s big board as a 1st rounder.

What’s this? You mean all the people who questioned what the heck David Kahn was doing when he drafted two point guards back to back and signing a third in free agency, might end up eating crow??? Imagine that. In fact if the Wolves were to, gasp, win the lottery and the John Wall jackpot, they would all of sudden find themselves fully cornering the market on young point guards.

Hopefully now you have a better idea of why David Kahn is all about acquiring “assets” in the early stages of building a contender out of our beloved T-Wolves. It may not fill a need now or help them get a W tomorrow night, but they have a very good chance of paying off quite well for the team in the future.

Great news from ESPN's Ric Bucher

The latest news this afternoon on the Ricky Rubio buyout situation came from Ric Bucher at ESPN:

Spanish star Ricky Rubio’s move to the NBA has been complicated by his sliding to fifth in the draft, but the only options he’s currently considering are playing in Minnesota or returning to DKV Joventut, sources said on Tuesday.

Had Rubio been a top three pick, he could have more easily afforded to pay Joventut to release him, a source said. But the difference in salary between third and fifth in the draft is roughly $600,000 a year. Joventut reportedly is asking for no less than $4 million for his release.

Going to another European team is not a realistic option because that team would want a long-term commitment from Rubio and his desire remains to play in the NBA, a source said. Whether he can do that next season or when his Joventut contract expires two years from now is the question.

In any case, Rubio apparently has no objections to playing in Minnesota.

“This isn’t about Minnesota,” a source said. “It’s about the buyout.”

Although the Wolves drafted another point guard in Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn on June 25, a source said Minnesota is dedicated to having Rubio on the team next season.

This to me has to be good news for Wolves fans. Obviously we have to take everything with a grain of salt in this situation and with sources but the fact that the report is only about the buyout and not cold-weather, small-market, already have Jonny Flynn at point guard, Minnesota is something all Wolves fans should be quietly doing back-flips in their rooms over. Personally I think this moves the odds in the Wolves favor to see him suiting up for us this fall in the 70-80% range mostly because the alternative for DVK Joventut for him to go back and play and not pay anything is the opposite of what they want to happen as they desperately need the money. Again this is really good poker by Rubio’s camp and the Wolves to force DKV to lower the buyout. Maybe I should have had Fegan coming up with the masterful plot when I speculated about the conversation between him and Kahn on draft night.

Fearless Howlin’ Prediction: A couple more weeks and Rubio’s camp will knock the buyout down to $3 million and he’ll be on his way to play for your Minnesota Timberwolves. Press Conference to introduce him: August 11.

Thoughts on TrueHoop's interview with David Kahn

For those who haven’t read it, please do go over to TrueHoop and read yesterday’s interview with David Kahn by Henry Abbott.

I found it very interesting and generally fascinating  for a number of reasons:

1. Henry asked all the questions that everyone (outside of MN that is)
is focusing on, basically that for the Wolves the glass is half empty
or worse in this situation as opposed to the half-full or better most Wolves fans believe.

2. Kahn gives really short answers and basically non-answers or
deflects 6 of the 10 questions. (Note: Henry does say this was some of what he said but I’m assuming this is the meat of it) For the most part the answers are the same as what he’s been saying previously.

3. I love how this whole situation basically has most Wolves fans (I’m
thinking it’s about 80/20 of Wolves “fans” in favor of Kahn but for
the die-hards its around 100% for him) forming a protective circle
around Kahn and buying into his genius. It also has every other
basketball fan saying Kahn is the worst gm ever and the Wolves will
continue to suck as a result. They also think everyone who agrees/
defends Kahn’s moves is completely smoking crack or living on another
planet. For an interesting read in the different views peruse the comments section on the interview.

4. Knicks fans apparently really think that they should get Rubio for any number
of Donnie Walsh pu pu platter variations and Kahn and Wolves fans
everywhere are completely insane for thinking they shouldn’t trade
Rubio.

5. Most importantly I just love that the Wolves a team coming off a 24
win season is being talked about just as much as any team in the
league at this point. There’s lots to talk about and argue if you’re a Wolves fan which is great imo.

Timberwolves Draft Room June 25th 6pm EST

Want to know what really went down in the Wolves war room on draft day? (I had this in an update in the latest Rubio piece but thought I’d re-post it in case some of you missed it.

Howlin’ T-Wolf got their hands on the most important conversation that happened on the night of the NBA Draft…

June 25th 6:00pm EST

David Kahn finds out that Rubio might be available at #5 for the Wolves. He scrambles around yelling for someone to find him Dan Fegan’s (Rubio’s agent) phone number. Finally a Wolves intern pops his head up, “Got it.”

“Get him on the line right now!” Kahn yells back.

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