June 28, 2008

I Wish The Pro Basketball Team In The City I Live In Was As Smart As Other Pro Basketball Teams In Other Cities

It has happened again, as we thought it would, as we prayed it wouldn't, and as we knew it should. Kevin McHale horsed the team over once again, and this time I'm not drinking the Kool Aid. Every single move that Deadzo makes should be seen as negative, until proven otherwise. This is the United States, not Russia.

In a long list of terrible, backward-thinking moves, this one is the latest and greatest, and will no doubt take a few years to "correct", by which time hopefully every good player has left the organization and they have to start their next "3 year plan". I have watched the Timberwolves for a very long time, and there have been only 2... TWO times that they have gotten "better" as an organization before my eyes: Drafting KG, and the Sam and Spree year. These were the only two times that I ever noticed improvement in the way the team was run and the conduct on and off the court by the players and staff. Every single other season, we've seen regression. Don't believe me? The Wolves drafted KG, then Stephon (I'll lump him in with KG, being that they came so close together) and all of a sudden the Wolves were in the playoffs. But they were getting bounced in the first round. EVERY YEAR. Then Stephon left. They still got bounced from the first round. Chauncey came and went. Bounced. Rasho. Bounced. Troy, Wally, Googs, TB. Bounced, bounced, bounced. After 7 years, they had not improved at all. If anything, they had wasted that time of KG's career. The obvious improvement came in the Spree and Sam year, when they also landed The Mayor and Mad-Dog, and the rag-tag bunch went all the way to the Conference Finals. Now, that season was magical. Number one seed? Hell yeah. KG 4 MVP? Yes and Yes.

(long pause...................)

Of course we've seen how it's played out since then. Every single move, every single transaction, has been negative. They have regressed to being back to the absolute bottom of the barrel (I maintain that they were EXTREMELY lucky to win as many games as they did last year... they have virtually no talent, no effort, and a terrible coach... they should have lost 70 games), and now they dig themselves even further.

I suppose we should get into the nuts and bolts of this thing...

Having the number 3 pick in the draft is pretty special. It doesn't happen all the time. It means your number was actually drawn in the lottery, not just taking what position had been given to you, but actually, technically, winning something. That's pretty good.

If you turned on the TV or paid any attention at all to anyone who even said the word "draft" in the past two months, you would know the following to be true: There was no debate on who the top 2 players would be, only the order they would be drafted in, and the third best player in the draft was OJ Mayo. These things were not just agreed upon, they were assumed as gospel. When McHale talked about Kevin Love, it was like he was daring someone to put a hit out on him. He was truly making like Donald Rumsfeld, just pissing right into your face and daring you to do something. But everyone knew that you couldn't possibly draft Love at #3, that would be ridiculous.

Only the Wolves, REPEAT, ONLY THE WOLVES, could take the #3 pick and turn it into the #5 pick.

The other pieces swapped in this trade are a joke. There has been talk about "getting out from under" Marko's contract. Who fucking signed that? And Antoine Walker? Oh, so now he's a malcontent who brought the team down? YEAH NO SHIT EVERYONE KNOWS THAT IT'S WRITTEN IN MARKER ON HIS DUFFEL BAG. WHY DID YOU TRADE FOR HIM? Could it possibly have been the fact that his HUGE FUCKING ENORMOUS CONTRACT COMES OFF THE BOOKS THIS YEAR AND HE WOULD BE A VERY VALUABLE PIECE IN A TRADE AT THE DEADLINE TO A TEAM WANTING TO REBUILD FOR THE FUTURE??????????? COULD THAT BE IT???????????

I'm sorry to shout like this. You see what happens when I start to think about Deadzo.

Ok, if I calm down a little, I can respect getting a guy like Mike Miller, who is as consistent as Fred was, if not as good of a basketball player. Brian Cardinal is absolute garbage, with an extra year on his contract. Jason Collins is a career loser, who can't score the basketball. In short, besides Miller, the other guys the Wolves got in this trade are perfect for your Failure Fantasy team.

But I suppose it all makes sense, because Deadzo "rid himself of the bad contracts". Don't believe the hype. Marko didn't make max money, he could've sat on the bench while the other real live NBA players performed on the court. You didn't have to absolutely dump him right then. Hey, I hate his face as much as anyone, and lord knows Wittless can't help himself when he's on the bench and crying, but you don't need to trade a bad contract for a bad contract. Good franchises eat their mistakes, and make up for them by doing other good things. Not overreacting like a dumb child and trading shit for shit. "Hey, Blount is just as bad as Kandi, let's make a swap so that I can continue to decompose! Sure, throw Ricky in for Wally!!!!!!! Why the hell not!!!!" And Walker, as discussed, was a pretty large asset that could've, nay SHOULD'VE been moved by himself, to a team looking to make a fresh start next year. They would've given up something a lot better than Brian Goddamned Cardinal.

And then there's the issue of Mayo for Love.

I happen to think that OJ Mayo is a preening prick-ass who will likely fall apart and settle in being a poor-man's Vince Carter, all offense and nothing else. He has never had a strong coach in his life, and now he's in the NBA, where coaches are as strong as the refs. Whatever team he ends up on (because Christ knows it's not going to be Memphis for longer than 4 years) will cater to him as this giant star and he will drag them down with his spotty effort (Oh please let it be the Knicks!). HOWEVER. He is a legitimate offensive threat, something that Wolves lack entirely. He demands attention, right now, even as a rookie. That sure would make things on a struggling offense run a bit less stressful, wouldn't it? We thought McCants would provide that. Wrong. McCAN'TANDWON'TTRY. Mayo would at least create his own offense, which would possibly free up others to do other things... assuming that Wittless doesn't tell them to run into each other and fall down because it would amuse him.

The underlying aspect in all of this, the thing that nobody wants to say or talk about, is of course, race, but I don't want to pull that card out right now. It's too much to get into, so let's just make like the last 200 years and pretend it doesn't exist.

The TRUE underlying aspect is that the Wolves traded a guy who was a legitimate #3 pick in the draft for a guy who was the #5 pick. You and everyone you know can sit here all day and try to make that make sense. It won't.

It's all justification, all blame transfer and heading off possible criticism, and we've all bought into it, instead of just calling McHale what he truly is. A loser. A goddamned loser who has made enough good moves in his tenure as GM to count on two fingers. And he's made enough mistakes to keep the Target Center at half capacity for the next decade.

I'm glad. Because I don't like this team anymore. And I don't like KG, or Boston, or any of it. I don't like basketball as much as I used to. It's his fault. I want him to go away.

Sorry, but inevitably, every post is going to end this way.

June 27, 2008

The Draft is Done, But Are The Wolves?

The Deal

Ovinton J'Anthony Mayo, Antoine Walker, Marko Jaric, and Greg Buckner


Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, and Jason Collins

Frankly, I'm a pretty big fan of this deal so far. While I like OJ Mayo's potential more than I like Kevin Love's, I like the combo of Love's potential, Mike Miller's skills, and the loss of Marko's contract more than Mayo's potential. That and is OJ Mayo really going to want to stay in Minnesota long-term? No, not a chance. He's been pimped since he was in 7th grade, played college ball at USC in media-frenzied Los Angeles, and just signed a four-year deal with Nike. He's not a midwest personality. Kevin Love and Mike Miller are. Brian Cardinal is an overpaid combination of Mark Madsen and Pat Garrity in almost every sense of the combo. He shoots the three and makes up for his lack of skill with aggressive, high energy play. I would guess he's not a good dancer either.

The Rest of the Draft

Marion Chalmers for two future second-round picks and cash.

This doesn't make any sense to me. We need a point guard, we draft a point guard, but we don't keep the point guard? He's better than anything else we have on our roster (no, Randy is not a point guard). Seems silly to me.

#31 Nikola Pekovic

Why? Have we not learned that we do not have the ability to appropriately judge foreing talent? Two names: Igor Rakocevic. Stoiko Vrankovic. Enough said. This pick is especially bothersome because CDR and Bill Walker were both on the board. We could use a scoring guard as an additional excuse to rid our backcourt of a stiff (more on that below). I've seen footage of Pekovic. He's slow, lumbering, and doesn't look very athletic. I don't get paid to scout players, but even I can tell when a guy is going to be a total slouch (see: Felton Spencer).

Overall I can't complain about this years draft too much. I feel much more comfortable at this point this season than I have in either of the last four drafts. We have an actuall small forward - the first since Spree. We've got a very solid tandem up front even if they're a little undersized. Collins will provide depth (read: fouls) against teams that are giant up front and Cardinal could prove to be an asset off the bench because he plays hard and can shoot the ball - not holding my breath though. The skeptic in me is waiting for the perverbial "other shoe" to drop - Kevin Love is a crackhead or Mike Miller is broken.

A Couple Extras

I'd really like to see the Wolves re-sign Kirk Snyder. He's big, he's athletic, and he can play a little defense.

If you're going to give Corey Brewer more minutes and probably re-sign Craig Smith, it's hard to see where there are enough minutes to keep Ryan Gomes happy, which is sad to me. If I had my choice, I'd keep Gomes and let Smith go. He can play both the SF and PF, can score a little, shoot, rebound, and defend some too. Gomes would give the Wolves more flexibility off the bench, if that's a role he'd be willing to accept.

I would also like to see the Wolves rid themselves of Rashad McCants, although I don't know how likely that is since everyone knows what kind of player he is.

June 26, 2008

Coffee Beans. Everywhere.

No, Michael Beasely isn't going to drop into our lap.

Yes, O.J. Mayo is more talented than any wing player currently on our roster.

Yes, Brook Lopez is second coming of Felton Longley Grant

No, the automatic coffee maker isn't working.


This draft is one that's ripe with the potential to fail. Our team just won't be able to get this one right. There isn't one chance in a million they make the correct decision. Not one.

Now, before you start throwing rocks with Wolves logos on them, let me explain the extreme negativity. I'm trying to take the Sports Guy Angle on this draft - the reverse jinx if you will. I want nothing more than for this franchise to fall ass-backwards into the best player they can. I want them to steal another gem out of the draft a la Kevin Garnett. Unfortunately, I believe the best case scenario is that they draft the next Len Bias. They need some draft sympathy points from David Stern's office - they did orchestrate the perfect NBA Finals so maybe they could ensure that the Wolves land the next sure thing in a future draft.

They really like Love, but not at #3. They're not totally sold on Mayo, not to mention the glut of wing players already on the rosters. Brook Lopez, who's slipping down the draft board, sounds like Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs. No, seriously, he really does.

It places the ball in the basket...


An option that I could get behind would be swapping picks with the Clippers(#7), take Kevin Love, and get Al Thornton out of the deal as well. This would give us two very complimentary bigs in Love and Jefferson plus it would fill a glaring need at the small forward position. If we could throw McCants into the deal I would be an even bigger fan.

June 24, 2008

Even the Strib is having fun

McHale not sure if Wolves will keep pick or trade it

Do read the comments.

Also, I noticed in the article a gentleman by the name of Longar Longar. Played his senior year at Rochester John Marshall. That is right here in MN if you didn't know. Consensus top 75 national player out of high school. That would have been nice to have.

June 18, 2008

What's Up With KG?

Was it just me, or did he sound like a total retard last night? I mean, I realize how much winning means to him, but what was with the babbling beginning to the Tafoya interview? And yelling 'Anything is possible' and giving shout out to cities? It was kind of embarassing.

Don't get me wrong I love KG. I love the fact that the first shout out he gave was 'Sota and NOT Boston. I'm glad that he got what he's always wanted and that he is indeed on 'top of the world' as he so vehemently put it. He just sounded like kind of a moron, which is not normally how KG and his extreme emotions come off.

Anyways, enough with the negativity.

Congrats KG, welcome to history son, welcome to history.

June 17, 2008

No, see, he already does have a ring . . . I mean two

I was sitting at a bar watching Game 5 with a friend of mine. We were talking about how it would only be correct if KG won a Ring. I then said,

"I guess Sam, too."

I was quickly corrected and told Sam I Am already is a champion.

"Yeah, with the Rockets."
" . . . Jesus, I guess he did win one."
"No, two."


June 5, 2008

NBA Officials

They're already "setting the tone" in the Finals by getting in the way. They've been terrible the entire playoffs and are continuing to hamper the game with their inability to make the correct call at the correct time.

David Stern needs to look at the officiating crews this offseason and figure something out for the playoffs next year because it's been almost unwatchable this season.

Coffee On My Mind

In a perfect world, trades and drafts are easy to do. Of course, in reality, they’re extremely difficult to pull off. In the vacuum of a perfect world, this is what I try to do as the Wolves GM.

Step 1: Movin on up, err down.

Marko, McCants, #3, #31, #34 to New Jersey for: Richard Jefferson, #10, #21.

We dump Marko
He whines, he complains, he still thinks he’s a PG
We dump Buckets 2.0
He can shoot, but that’s about all he cares about
We turn two second round picks into another first round pick
We’ve got a lot of 2nd round picks signed from the past couple years, so the available roster spots are somewhat of a concern.
We get a proven NBA player with star ability and marketability
Jefferson can get his own shot, shoot the three, and isn’t a complete liability on defense. That and any way we can use the show The Jefferson’s to market this franchise is a good thing. Moooovin’ on up!
We take care of a glaring need
RJ gives us a true SF so we don’t have to rely on Brewer to play a ton of minutes

We take on a bigger contract
Instead of 3 years 21 million, it’s 3 years 42 million
We take on an injury concern
Jefferson suffered a pretty severe ankle injury that took him a year and a half to come back to 100% from. When it comes to feet and ankles, all I think about is Terrell Brandon and Michael Williams.
We give up a really high draft pick
#3 is a guaranteed star, #10 may not be.

Where does that leave us?

Well, for starters….

G Foye
F Jefferson
F Jefferson

So we still need a C and either a PG or a SG. Okay, so let’s move on.

Step 2: The Draft

#10 options

D.J. Augustin - he’s a true, pass first PG. He’s small, but makes up for that with his quickness. He’s like a more controlled, slightly slower, version of TJ Ford. He’s a good leader and a solid character. Oh, and he beat cancer, so both of our starting guards will have overcome something physical.

Brook Lopez - Word is, he’s slipping down the draft, which may make it more paletable for us fans if the braintrust loves him as much as everyone thinks. He’s a true NBA-ready body who can score in the post and step out and hit some mid-range jumpers. He’s an underachiever on the glass but an underrated defender.

DeAndre Jordan – He’s big, strong, and physically gifted. He’s a true center and, when he wants to, can rebound and play defense with anyone. But that’s the question mark with him – will he work hard all the time? Tough to say, but at #10, he may be worth the risk.

Chase Budinger – He’s an Arizona grad in the mold of Luke Walton. He can score, he can pass, he can shoot, he can rebound. He doesn’t do anything spectacularly, but he’s a fairly skilled all around player. He is seen as a defensive liability, but so is every rookie 2-guard coming into the NBA. He also has a tendency to disappear for stretches in games, which could be a concern. He’s a prototypical NBA SG though. 10 might be a stretch, but he’d make up for Foye’s lack of size in the backcourt.

#21 options

Ty Lawson – He’s regarded as the #2 PG available in the draft. He’s a proven floor leader who knows how to run a team. He can score and has the ability to take over games and would be a good fit for the system the Wolves claim they’re trying to run. He’s also a little undersized and he’s not as quick as Augustin, but he’s crafty in the mold of Sam Cassell, just without the killer mid-range game. Yet.

Chris Douglas-Roberts – He can score. It’s not always pretty or conventional, but he knows how to put the ball in the basket. He likes to go to the basket and gets to the free throw line, something the Wolves have ALWAYS lacked. He’d be a nice fit next to Foye if they didn’t draft Augustin with #10, and he’d be a great 6th man if they did.

Brandon Rush – He’s probably one of my favorite players in the draft. He’s a long 2-guard who can shoot, slash, and defend. Sound like someone else in recent Wolves lore? Think Latrell Sprewell, just not crazy. He’s not as developed offensively as Spree was, but he’s got the potential to be a very similar player. If he hadn’t had the knee injury he’d probably be a top-10 pick.

Robin Lopez – Yes, I’m sad to include BOTH the Lopez twins in this post, but it’s unavoidable. Unlike his brother, Robin has been rumored to be moving up the draft boards. He’s the defensive, hustle version of Brook. He’s a very active defender, with a true NBA body, and he can rebound. The guy he’s mostly compared to is Anderson Varajao from Clevelend. He’s even got the hair.

What I Would Do:

I’d grab Lopez if he’s still there, otherwise I’d take Augustin at #10. I put Lopez ahead of Augustin only because quality bigs are hard to come by in free agency and there’s still an outside shot the Wolves bring back Bassy. I would then take Rush with #21 if he’s still there. CDR if he’s not. Ty Lawson if CDR’s not.

Here’s what we’d be left with.

PG Randy Foye
SG Brandon Rush
SF Richard Jefferson
PF Al Jefferson
C Brook Lopez

The bench is a total crap shoot at this point, what with all the free agents we’ve got outstanding. Corey Brewer, Mark Madsen, and Greg Buckner are the only guys with contracts. Kirk Snyder and Sebastian Telfair both have the option of taking a qualifying offer from the Wolves but Gomes, Smith, and Richard are all restricted free agents.

Clearly I’m just a blog-rube with an annoying tendency to overanalyze these things, but that’s why you keep reading, right? Good luck, and enjoy watching the Braintrust drowns in coffee beans up to, and after, June 26

June 4, 2008

I Ain't Got Nothin' On My Mind, But Gettin' In Some Trouble

The firing of another coach reminds me just how short-sighted the NBA can be, but it also provides me an opportunity to look back upon one career defined by failure to get over the hump, and situations where-in coaching changes are actually warranted, even in successful environments.

And I suppose there will be 2pac lyrics, too.

"They call my name out and niggaz run / Best prepare for the outlaws, here we come"

We'll start with the firing of Flip, the league's best proponent of the motion offense. His style of coaching always seemed a bit more cerebral to me than most coaches (which explains why guys like Kandi would often look out of place). In so many words, Flip's offense moved the ball. The passing was paramount, and everyone on the floor needed to be able to identify and execute "shows" (my word, not Flip's, meaning someone popping out looking for a pass). Over the Wolves years, nobody ever did it better than KG, but there were other examples of players who seemed to play well within that system. The list is long - Marc Jackson, Oliver Miller, Big Swerve, Spree, Sam, Chauncey, Rasho, Fred Hoiberg, etc. These are all guys who passed well, and had good court intelligence when it came to moving the ball. To simplify this even more, they complete antithesis of this system is Stockton-Malone, or Wade-Shaq. Flip's style got all 5 guys playing different roles, moving the rock inside and out, and never passing up an open teammate. Most of the guys on that list above raised their games when they played for the Wolves... it seemed as though certain strengths that they had were accentuated by the Flipster. And, finally, it was within that system of offense that KG developed his game, one that is endlessly derided as being "unclutch" and "unselfish". He never learned to score in large numbers. Flip's system does not allow for that kind of thing.

"My homey slipped and now he paid the price, he did a drive-by"

As we all know, Flip went to the playoffs 7 straight years. And 7 of those times his team lost in the first round. Then Glen Failor and Deadzo walked ass backwards into the following set of circumstances:

1. Sam Cassell was absolutely hated in Milwaukee, both by fans and by his coach, who is overweight. They were ready to trade him for a Grainbelt T-shirt.

2. Latrell Sprewell was getting to be the epitome of "ghetto" in New York, and Terrell Brandon's huge contract was going to expire. Dumbo Dolan called McHale to initiate this one.

3. Fred Hoiberg decided he wanted to play basketball in an area that had good schools.

4. Mark Madsen wanted to sign with a team that would pay him to play basketball.

And so Owner and Mini-Owner found themselves a winner. We went hard into the Lakers in the West Finals, but Sam's back was broken and Shaq was quite fat, and we had to settle for being the 4th best team in the NBA that year.

The next year, Deadzo fired Flip because Sam and Spree stopped trying. It made perfect sense.

Flip caught on with Detroit and let them to 3 straight conference finals appearances, but no championships to show for it. He was shown the door by Joe Dumars yesterday, turning loose a man who accumulated a .715 winning percentage just because he couldn't win a championship.

"Some say the game is corrupted / Fucked in this shit"

Here's the thing about Flip... can you say that Flip is out-coached in games? I watched the great majority of his games coaching the Wolves (and ain't watched shit since) and never remember being embarrassed or frustrated with our coach. Sure, when he went up against guys like Phil or Don Nelson, you could sense a competitive edge. But Flip's guys always were ready to play, and his in-game adjustments seemed to help more than they hurt. Hell, at least he took timeouts at the right time (Doc Rivers, I'm looking at you here). Flip was a very good coach when he was here, elevating his team to the occasional surprise victory - (remember 2003 against the Lakers, game 3? GET SOME KID!) - but mostly just doing what he could with the players he was given. Was he great? Probably not. But he was solid, and sometimes, that's all you need. The name Gregg Popovich comes to mind.

Flip was fired by the Timberwolves because their management are idiots. He was fired by the Pistons because this is essentially the same team that won a championship in 2004 and went to game 7 in 2005, and Flip hasn't gotten them back there since.

I won't pretend to understand what Joe Dumars is thinking about when he fires Flip, and so the only thing I can do is put it in the context of other, similar coaching changes...

"But now that you're gone, I'm in the zone / Thinkin' I don't wanna die all alone"

The Tampa Bay Bucs fired Tony Dungy and the next season, they won the super bowl with Jon Gruden. Byron Scott was fired by the Nets after two consecutive Finals appearances. And these Detroit Pistons themselves fired Rick Carlisle after taking them to the conference finals, and replaced him with Larry Brown - y'all know the rest. I think the point here is that sometimes, sustained success isn't enough for some GMs. For whatever reason, they can see the potential there. Is Joe Dumars smart enough to see that? Does he look at this Detroit team - THIS TEAM - and think they could've won the NBA championship with a different coach? Is there someone else out there that represents a better chance at a championship both now and down the road? Apparently he thinks there is. Carlisle got them back into contention within 2 years, first to the playoffs then deep into them. He was fired and then the next year they won it all with Larry. Joe looks like a genius, not unlike Riley in Miami in 06. Nobody in Tampa even remembers Dungy.

But for every one of those moves, there are so many stupid moves made with regards to NBA coaches.

Flip's been on the stupid side of it. It remains to be seen if he'll end up on the smart side this time.

June 1, 2008

An Explaination?

David Stern, who in a moment of candor earlier this season said he was
hoping, deep down in his heart, for another Lakers-Celtics Finals.

Maybe this explains why the officiating has been so terrible in this years playoffs? Hey, Tim Donaghy.

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'