August 29, 2005

2005-06 Roster Finalized (And Everybody's Celebratin')

Ok, so the Wolves' roster has pretty much been finalized by the signing of Dwayne Jones. So I figure this is a preliminary look at our team for the coming season.


Fred Hoiberg
Sam Cassell
Ervin Johnson
Latrell Spreewell
Anthony Carter (maybe)
John Thomas (maybe)


Bracey Wright
Rashad McCants
Dwayne Jones
Marko Jaric
Lionel Chalmers
Nikolai Tskitishvili

Ok, now looking at that list, I almost hyperventilated. There are pretty significant downgrades in proven talent there. Sam Cassell for Marko Jaric, on paper, looks atrocious. But I'm not going to judge any of that until I see these guys play together. For example, does Marko Jaric try on defense? If so, he's got Sam beat by a mile. Now, he can't show you how big they are like Sam, but he gives effort, which will be an absolute must this year.

So, the depth chart looks like this:

Marko Jaric
Troy Hudson
Lionel Chalmers

Trenton Hassell
Rashad McCants

Wally Sczcerbiak
Ndudi Ebi

Jesus Harold Christ
Mark Madsen
Nikolai Tskskskssksksks

Bowl of Kandi
Eddie Griffin
Dwayne Jones

Ok, that's 13 spots, probably one of them are going to end up "pulling a leg muscle" or something at the end of training camp, which will land them on the DL. I'm gambling that Bracey Wright isn't going to make the team out of camp.

So, is it an upgrade? Are they much worse? Much better? I don't really know. I know that I'm very very glad that Spree and Sam are gone, just so that the Wolves can replace them with basketball players who try and care about playing team ball. True, Jaric may drive us insane, and he was a Clipper, so that's going to be tough to overcome. True, guys like Dwayne Jones and Nikolai are unproven and raw as hell, and might sabotage KG's ability to dominate, but I'll take my chances. I think we're in for a good season. Certainly, the NBA championship expectations have been removed for now, but I think the playoffs are well within sight. And if the defense is there, you never know. That's the miracle of KG. You just never know. I've lived through the bad times. I've seen the worst. At least that lineup above isn't this:

Terrell Brandon (hurt)
Chris Carr
Kevin Garnett
Dean Garrett
Tom Hammonds
Bobby Jackson
Reggie Jordan
Sam Mitchell
Rasho Nesterovic
Andrae Patterson
Anthony Peeler
Dennis Scott
Joe Smith
Trevor Winter

Because the Wolves have fielded that team. And it wasn't fucking pretty. Anyway, I'm pretty excited about this year. Should be a good time. I'm glad that Deadzo is not coaching the team this year. I'm glad that Kevin Garnett is still alive. I'm glad that Rashad McCants is ghetto. I'm glad that Mark Madsen is back (although the Caucasian Connection is down to just 2 members now). And you never know. With Wally shooting the lights out, McCants going to the rack with the thunder, Old Dirt Dog hustling down rebounds, Eddie blocking shots (talking about basketball here), and Kevin Garnett existing on the floor, you never know.

Let's do it.

August 19, 2005

Play It Again Sam...

It's quite fitting that Sam Cassell is now a Los Angeles Clipper. Remember last season when Sammy was upset that the Wolves weren't offering a contract extension? As a matter of fact, the Wolves said no talks until after the season. Sam didn't really like that and, in addition to his buddy Spree, helped disrupt team chemistry so much that a Western Conference Finals team of a year before missed the playoffs. Badly. Now, after being shipped out of Minnesota, he has nothing but bad things to say about his former team. Okay, whatever, he just got traded - rejected - by the Wolves, so I can understand he's a little upset, especially with the team he was sent to. Their last playoff appearance? 1997. The last time they won in the playoffs? 1994. Sam will make them better, and if he does he can tell ownership that he got them to the playoffs for the first time in 8 seasons. Great. Good for you Sam. What an accomplishment. I wonder if you even remember what it was like to damn near make the NBA Finals two years ago. Oh wait, you do. You took credit for it. You alone. Sure Sam, whatever.

So Sam's reason for being upset was clear - he wanted a contract extension and the Wolves said wait. Sam responded by not showing up ontime to training camp. Classy. Now, as the Clippers await Sams arrival and physical(we'll get back to this), once again we're talking about contracts.

"Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Cassell has no rights to force the Clippers to offer him an extension or demand another trade. He is scheduled to undergo a physical Tuesday in Los Angeles, and the Clippers have already made things clear to Cassell: No extension discussions now." - LA Times

That sounds an awful lot like what the Wolves told Sam too. The big difference between the Wolves and Clippers - management specifically - is that the Wolves are willing to spend a buck to win, whereas the Clippers are all about saving money. The Wolves may or may not have signed Sam after this season - or last season if he had behaved - but the Clippers most likely will not resign Sam. At all. They have Shaun Livingston waiting in the wings and had to move Marko Jaric because he was unhappy having to play second fiddle to thier point guard of the future. What makes Sam think he's more than just another salary off the books after the season? He's 34. His hip doesn't work right. He's historically a pouter and has been disruptive in the last two locker rooms he's spent time in (Minnesota and Milwaukee). Unless Sam is willing to take considerably less money and a backup role, the Clippers won't be interested. So we're back to square one, I wonder how Sam will react to it this time.

"Sam is a veteran and a professional who understands how this business works," General Manager Elgin Baylor said. "Both he and his representatives have been made aware of our position with regard to an extension." - LA Times

"We don't anticipate any issues, whatsoever, standing in the way of his performing at the highest level here, and being a big part of our reaching our goals this year." - LA Times

Veteran, yes, professional? Well, that's questionable. Baylor can only hope that Sam has his frustration and anger focused on the Wolves all season, because if he losses interest in them his next target will be Clipper brass and a new contract. Back when the Wolves traded Stephon Marbury away, they had considered trading for Cassell instead of Terrell Brandon, but Sam was in the middle of a contract dispute with the Nets. The Wolves saw this as a potential problem and wisely passed on him but the Clippers didn't seem to mind. It's their headache now. Thank God.

August 16, 2005

I will still wear my jersey

I was sad to read today that the Timberwolves released Fred Hoiberg under the one-time amnesty rule. I was also sad to read Glen Taylor's resoning for making the move. He claimed that it was in the interest of the player, to remove the pressures of creating a time table for his return. I feel that this was a bullshit excuse to cut salary in an attempt to stay under the salary cap, thus to avoid the luxury tax. The right thing to do would be to swallow that salary and that roster spot to show a great individual the same loyalty he showed us, by staying here for less money.

So I will continue to wear my #32 Hoiberg jersey proudly because as far as I'm concerned he's still a Minnesota Timberwolf, regardless of Glen Taylor's decision.

August 15, 2005

Makin' Moves

Finally! After waiting and waiting and waiting, the Wolves finally did something productive this offseason. In case you didn't notice, the Wolves shipped Sam Cassell to the Clippers for Marco Jaric and Lionel Chalmers. Jaric, a 6-7 combo guard, will take over as the starting point guard for the Wolves. He averaged 9.9ppg and 6.1apg last season, both career highs. Some are upset to see Cassell go. I am not. Sure, I loved what Sam did two years ago, becoming an All-Star for the first time in his career. Sure, there are few point guards I'd rather have on the floor in the fourth quarter of a close game. What I don't appreciate is his contant lip flapping about things that are not related to the team and winning. Things like his contract, or Spree's contract, or his attitude that he took the Wolves to the brink of a championship. Right Sam, whatever. Sam never thanked KG for turning him into an All-Star, where as KG thanked Sam and Spree for helping him to his MVP award. Fuck you Sam and good riddence.

As last season came to a close, the Wolves had four world class fuck ups on their squad. Spree won't be back and Sam is out. Two gone, two to go. As in the previous blog, I pray every night that Cleveland trades for Hudson. I do. I really pray for him to not be a Timberwolf next year. The other is Bowl of Candy. I know they say God is good and God is just, but I don't think the person who said that knew just how worthless Michael Olowokandi is as a basketball player. But alas, I'm off on another tangent. Back to what matters.

Marco Jaric. He hasn't played enough to show how good he is, but he's shown flashes of what he can do. I know Sam scored, pretty much at will, but where Sam was really bad, Marco is dramatically better. Marco can run the break. He can run an offense. He plays defense. He's long, strong, and quick. He's as good of a three point shooter as Sam was, but not quite as accurate from the field. He averages more rebounds, steals, and blocks than Sam did. And he turns it over less. Marco has improved each year in 3-point FG%, RPG, APG, SPG, and PPG. He's finally playing with a great player in KG, and has some shooters around him, so this should be a break out year for him. But of course, he did come from the Clippers, so he could be another Kandiman. I don't think he could be that bad, but again, I didn't think Kandi could be as bad as he is.

August 11, 2005

Hopes and Dreams...

There was a small blurb in the Star Tribune today that got me excited. Now before I get going it's not a great source - the Rumor section is normally filled with buckets of smelly green shit, but it still got me excited. It was a sentence of hope:

"Rumors are that Cleveland General Manager Danny Ferry has some interest in making a trade with the Wolves for point guard Troy Hudson. One player the Wolves have interest in is point guard Earl Watson of Memphis."

Wait, what? Someone's interested in Troy Hudson!? REALLY!!??

Now, I know I said it's not a very good source, but still, just the thought that someone, somewhere, would even have the thought that someone wanted T-Hud got me all excited. Then they throw in that the Wolves are interested in Earl Watson - which hasn't been a secret. I had also read some other trade rumors involving the Wolves and Memphis, so in my mind - I'm still trying to live the fantasy that Danny Ferry really wants Hudson - the foundation for trade talks is already in place between the Wolves and Grizzlies. but let's look at each of the three teams to see if there is a possibility of any deals here - you makin' deals, errr?

Who can we part ways with - or rather, who are guys I fucking hate having on my team?

Michael "Bowl of Candy" Olowokandi - Underachieving, numskull of a player, who has all the physical gifts to be a good center in the league, but was Clipperized early in his career. He's in the last year of his contract, so he's an attractive asset to a team looking to cut salary after this season.

Troy Hudson - Remember when T-Hud trashed the Lakers in the playoffs three years ago? I do. I also remember that the Wolves, desperate for a back up point guard, signed him to a rediculous contract - $36 Million over 6 years. That made me sad, especially watching him disrupt the offense and play the part of the sieve on defense for two years following that. But apparently Danny Ferry thinks otherwise - so says a bad source, BUT DON'T RUIN THIS FOR ME!!


From all the rumors that I've heard about the Cavs, the two things that keep coming up are Drew Gooden and their lack of a back up point guard. Apparently Gooden is too much of an offensive player for their system, and with the free agent signing of Donyell Marshall, Gooden looks to be expendable. They've also had a hard time locking down a backup point guard - Damon Jones heads their list, but he's kinda partial to Miami, so lets hope he goes back there.


Lorenzen Wright has demanded a trade and Earl Watson has requested a sign-and-trade deal. Okay, so they've got some flexibility, especially after signing Damon Stoudemire to run their point. Not to mention losing Stomile Swift - a power forward - to free agency.

Okay, so things look like they could be in a workable situation. We(or rather I) want to get rid of Troy Hudson and Michael Olowokandi. The Cavs need a backup point guard, and wouldn't mind parting with Drew Gooden. Neither Earl Watson or Lorensen Wright want to be in Memphis, and Jerry West seems to be trying to accomodate those two players. The stage is set.

Trade Option #1 - Resonable

The Cavs send Drew Gooden($4.6 Million) to Memphis for a newly signed Earl Watson($4 Million). Then the Wolves send Troy Hudson($5.5 Million) to Cleveland for Earl Watson.

Bam! We get rid of a headache, and get a solid backup point guard who has proven he can do the two things Troy Hudson is bad at - run an offense and play some defense. Yes! I'm happy!

Trade Option #2 - Not gonna happen, but it would be interesting

Okay, so it's the same deal as above, except Kandi($6.1 Million) goes to Memphis, along with a first round draft pick, and we get Lorenzen Wright($8 Million). Yeah. They're both in the last years of their contracts, Lorenzen wants out, and our first round pick for next years draft isn't going to be that good - but it may be good enough to entice Jerry West to bite on the deal.

Ha HA! We would get rid of both our headaches, all three if you count Spree, and we upgrade at both positions as well. Sure, we lose a draft pick, but seriously, we haven't had them in so long, what's one more year? I realize it wouldn't actually happen but - fingers crossed - it could and would be fabulous if it did.

So I've taken you on this ride all based on a far fetched, one sentence blurb from a crappy source, in a weak sports paper. But I can still hope that someone, somewhere thought enough about it that they mentioned the possibility THAT SOMEONE WANTS TROY HUDSON!

And as some character in a movie I watched recently said: Sometimes hope is all you have.

Hope. I still have hope.

August 4, 2005

Stephon being Stephon

"You know, they want me to get traded now because things are getting good. Same things that happened at every other team I was on. As soon as everybody started being players, then I get the boot. But I got somebody that's on my side now. And I think people, they can't deal with that, knowing that Isiah and I are close." - Stephon Marbury

Seriously. Every time something doesn't go right for Marbury, he's blaming someone else. When he wanted to be the number one guy in Minnesota, it was McHale's fault. When they didn't win in New Jersey, it was the owners fault. Even when they didn't win in Phoenix, the other players were to blame. Shit, he was even whining last season in New York because he didn't think the coaches were using him correctly.

Okay, really? I think that maybe if that many teams suck with you on them, then maybe it's not their fault. Maybe it's you. Maybe it's because you are such a selfish player. Maybe it's because you're a bad teammate. Maybe it's because your head is so big that you can't see the big picture. Or, maybe it's everyone elses fault.

It's no suprise to me why Stephon thinks he and Isaiah get along so well. They're very similar people. Both are extremely competitive, hard nosed, and selfish. Isaiah was not selfish as a player, but his inability to be compared on equal terms with Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird, have turned him insanely competitive - stupidly so. So they're a match made in heaven. Big headed, hardnosed, selfish, stupid.

So Steph thinks Isaiah will stay on his side? I doubt that. Since he's been in management, when has Isaiah been loyal? Toronto? No, not really. Indiana? Maybe, but Larry Bird knew he was stupid and was going to ruin the franchise, so the dumped him before he could screw them. He's already shown that he doesn't give a shit about New York, what with all the rediculous moves he's made there. Eventually he'll turn on Stephon, or Stephon on him and they'll show how stupid they both are. Especially together.

I'm sorry that 80% of my blogs end up in me calling Isaiah Thomas stupid, but I can't help it, he's the pinnacle of stupid and an easy comparison for me much of the time. I promise, in the future, to try better to leave Isaiah out my blogs. God is he stupid!

August 3, 2005

Trading Twins To Timberwolves

See, I just don't get it.

Is there something inherently wrong with sports in this state? I don't mean to whine or complain that we're abused, but I just want a piece of the pie. I just want to feel that '91 Twins feeling again. I just want to be proud.

The Wolves have once again sat on their hands in the free agency scramble. I'm not saying there have been a lot of big moves (yesterday's huge trade not withstanding), but they haven't done one thing yet. Free agents are settling in their places, and the Wolves are missing opportunities to get better. I mean, we resigned Mark Madsen, and that's really cool, but something else has to happen. We can't just go from Spree to McCants and hope that it's a major upgrade. Because that team sucked last year. And I didn't like watching them play basketball.

I believe the Wolves can be a good team. With what they have right now, and a good coach, they can go back to the playoffs. Last year, the problem was that they seemed to think just by lacing up the sneaks that they were guaranteed to win the game. The apathy just spread throughout the team, and guys like Eddie Griffin cannot be energy guys. Madsen and Fred were hurt for extended periods of time, and those are the true energy guys. So, they failed - horribly. And now? They've basically just re-tread the team from last year, subtracting Spree (we can hope) and adding McCants. Somehow, I doubt Nikolai T------vili or Bracey Wright are going to make a big impact this year. They will be good, and lord knows that if their attitude is in the right place, that will improve the team by leaps and bounds, but they won't be MV3 good. Those days are over.

The worst part about all this is that the team is being run by Deadzo (Kevin McHale). Deadzo has basically fallen ass-backwards into his "good moves". Drafting KG? Yes, that was quite a good move. As a matter of fact, KG singlehandedly has saved this franchise, has made it fun to watch, has attracted basketball to Minnesota. He is god, and nobody can question that, because when you question god, he can do whatever he wants to you, because he's god. And that's KG. But drafting Wally? Yes, I suppose that was a moderately good selection. But don't forget about the guys drafted just after Wally: Rip Hamilton, Shawn Marion, Andre Miller, and Jason Terry. But hey, at least he didn't draft Trajan Langdon. He was last seen launching 3s for the Arkansas RimRockers (go Hogs!). Getting back to the point though, what about trading for Spree and Sam? Well, he traded Joe Smith to Milwaukee for Sam and Big Swerve, which actually worked out well for both teams. Milwaukee was falling all over themselves to dump Sam, and getting Joe Smith was a big plus. I mean, he's not great, and his balls aren't nearly as big as Sam's (few are), but it still worked out well for both sides. So it's not like Deadzo really flexed any trading skills with that move. And then the Spree deal? Shit, we had Terrell Brandon, who is a salary cap's best friend, because you get him and you free up about 20 million for the next season. And Atlanta desperately wanted the cap room. And New York wanted Spree out because the owner was very stupid (even stupider than Deadzo!). So it worked out and we got Spree, but not because Deadzo did anything out of the ordinary. We were sitting on Terrell "Gold" Brandon's contract, which we could've turned into anything. Spree worked out well, but it wasn't the trade of the century.

I guess I write this mostly because the Twins just sat by and watched the trading deadline pass without making a move, which is frustrating because they know exactly what their problem is. The Wolves don't have the same financial problems as the Twins, but on the other side of that, they can't really identify their major problems. So they probably feel like it's too early to make a move. Hopefully, if things are similar to last year, they'll pull the trigger and trade away some commodities, like Sam and Kandi. And maybe they'll be able to trade Wally to New York, because I'm sure Isaiah would be willing to make that move. In fact, Isaiah is probably willing to trade one dollar for 3 shiny quarters.

(psst, he's stupid)

So here's to another inactive offseason, and hopefully, Kevin Garnett can score 50 points a game. Because that would be pretty cool.

Is Pat Riley A Genius?

In looking at the trades and signings that have happened in the two days since the moritorium ended the Miami Heat have definately been the most busy. The moves they've made all look great on paper but they also have some possibility for disaster. Let's take a look and try to answer the question: Is Pat Riley a genius?

First Move Of The Day

Signing Shaquille O'neal was absolutely necessary and anyone who says otherwise sniffs too much glue. Shaq, as we all know, took the Heat to the next level and almost single handedly took them to the Finals - no, I didn't forget about Dwayne Wade, but this is about Shaq. O'neal made $30.6 Million last season. Yeah, that's a lot. The deal the Heat signed him to was $100 Million over 5 years, coming out to roughly $20 Million per. A gentlemanly gesture to take that pay cut, although to those of us who make 1% of that, he can piss off. Sorry, the poor guy in me came out for a second. But in a world where Penny Hardaway makes $14 Million a year and Allan Houston is making $20 Million per season, getting the most dominant player of our generation at that price is definately a bargain. The question, or possible disaster I see, is the length of the contract versus the age of the player. Giving a 33 year old a 5 year contract seems a little bit of a stretch. Now, I'm not one to doubt Shaq's ability to continue playing, but I do question his ability to play at the level he's currently playing at for the length of his current contract. I also realize that it was a good gesture by the Heat to give Shaq a longer contract, so as to really make him feel apart of the organizations plans. So the question remains, will there come a day when the Heat are buried in a crippled old man's contract that takes up nearly half their payroll, or will Shaq continue to dominate as he is until he's 40? Only time will tell.

Symphony #2

So with Shaq locked up, the orchestration continues for Mr. Riley. Udonis Haslem is resigned, shoring up their PF position for the next 5 years, and now it's to the fun! Helping complete the biggest trade in NBA history - strictly based on number of teams (5) and players(13) - the Heat made significant changes to their roster. Eddie Jones, Rasul Butler, and Qyntel Woods are out. Jason Williams - aka White Chocolate, James Posey, Andre Emmit, and Antoine Walker are in. Holy crap! So they dumped their starting SG and SF and replaced them with a sleu of players who can play multiple positions. I like that. I think it's always a good idea for a team to stay as versitile as they can so as to create matchup problems for their opponents. Let's break this down player by player.

Eddie Jones. At 33 Eddie is certainly past his prime, but still a serviceable player. He's a good defender, but not as good as he was 4 years ago. He's a good outside threat, but with age he's become more streaky - remember when he started the first two months of the season shooting 20%? When Miami signed him to the contract they did, he was slightly overpaid, but not too significantly so. Now the $14.6 Million is certainly an over payment, but he's nearing the end of that contract. Miami most likely doesn't harbor any ill feelings towards Jones as he has never done anything except play hard, but his continued descent to retirement and his big contract were two things that don't follow their plans for the future. I presume that Memphis was most interested in taking his salary off the cap the year after next as well as getting rid of two headaches. But we'll get to that in a moment.

Jason Williams. White Chocolate. What a nickname. J-Will is a flashy passer who can be pesky on defense and kill a team from three-point land. Which team - his or the opponent - is a coin flip on any given night. He's shown glimpses of the player he could be, a great passer who can run an offense in the full or half court and make the opposing point guard work for everything on both ends. More often though, he shows all of us how much of a headache he can be with errant passes, complaining and erratic shot selection. He and Jerry West had a rough relationship in Memphis, thus leading to his departure, so a change of scenery could certainly help him out. Wade, who's a combo guard, will most likely be moved over to the SG spot on a permenant basis, and Williams will gain the starting job - for now. On paper, that's a scary backcourt. It's even more scary in actuallity. If Willams gets his shit together, they'll kill every backcourt they play, but if he keeps to his current bag of tricks, he'll cause the Heat backcourt to implode. Again, it's a toss up, but Shaq will hopefully have some influence on his adjustment to his new team mates.

James Posey. He's a Gifted player who can play both sides of the floor, assuming he's not pouting about his playing time or role with the team. He's not going to start in Miami so it'll be interesting to see how he reacts to a similar role on a different team. Atleast he won't start in the dog house. So he's got that going for him, which is nice.

Antoine Walker. This is the one move that could make or break this team. Known as an over excited dribbler and shooter, 'Toine will have to calm himself down if he doesn't want to incur O'neals wrath, as Kobe did in LA. For his career he averages 19ppg, 9rpg, and 4apg. Pretty good numbers for a guy who plays the 3 and 4. With those stats though, comes 41.5% FGs, 32.3% 3's, 64.2% FTs, and 3.15tpg. He has the ability to take over games, both positively and negatively. Walker has been a headache everywhere he's been, mostly because he has to have the ball in his hands a lot and his shot selection is poor, at best. If he can step back and stay within the offense, he will be a very dangerous player for Miami to have, but if he can't, then they'll be really sad they traded for him.

So on paper, the new Miami roster looks incredibly dangerous.
PG Jason Williams
SG Dwayne Wade
SF Antoine Walker
PF Udonis Haslem
C Shaquille O'neal

Two superstars, two second/third teir guys, and an up-and-comer. Not bad Pat, not bad at all. Of course, as it does when any team adds new pieces - we Wolves fans know how that goes, it all comes down to how the new guys fit in, and with the guys they added, that's a big question mark for the Heat. If Van Gundy can get them all on the same page, the East will have a new champion and so could the NBA. If not, they'll still be there in the hunt, but not at the top of the heap. Van Gundy is a good coach and a guy who's coming into his own, but this will be his biggest challenge yet.

So, is Pat Riley a genius? His aggressive moves have certainly made his team better, on paper atleast. I mean, this is the guy who tricked the Lakers into trading Shaquille O'neal, so one has to think he knows what he's doing, but only time will tell as to his genius.