May 31, 2011

Analytical musings on why the Timberwolves won't be good until at least 2020

Ok fine, you got me.  It took me a long time to get here, and despite praising the fates of the franchise when Deadzo was finally cut loose, I now have to fully admit it...

David Kahn is as bad at being a General Manager as Deadzo was.

(almost-silent sobbing)

The reason it took me so long to get here is because the two men have such dramatically different styles.  (puts on Bill Simmons skull-cap)  You see, being with Deadzo was like dating a truly horrible woman for 10 years.  It was awful, there were some ups and downs, and when it was over, I just wanted my next girlfriend to be completely different from that woman in every- oh goddamn hell, I can't write like that.  Let's just say this:

One of the main goals of being a GM in the NBA is to evaluate players and sign, trade or draft them based on that evaluation.  You see an unsigned free agent, you determine what he's worth, you call his agent, you negotiate, you end up signing him.  Sometimes you have to call other GMs to see if certain players are available, you make offers, etc.  This evaluation is absolutely paramount in the NBA.  It drives all GMs internally, whether they care to admit it or not.

So, the next question is, how do you determine which guys are "your guys"?  What type of team do you put together, which types of players do you target, and what are your goals?  GMs have their marching orders from ownership, yes, but not really.  The NBA is wickedly cost-controlled, with both a cap and a spending floor that teams can't go beneath.  Almost every team spends up and over the cap... the only real difference is how much luxury tax the individual teams are willing to pay.  The teams that have dogshit payrolls usually have dogshit attendance (LIKE OUR WOLVES), and that too plays out accordingly. But still, this all only matters in terms of a dollar figure... it doesn't identify which players to target.  And here is my assertion:

There are various spectra upon which every GM lies.  Take for example "stats".  GMs either put a lot of emphasis on individual concrete numbers (PER, +/-, PPG, etc) or they don't, and just look at raw talent.  Then there's the "money" spectrum.... a cost-controlled GM only takes on guys for a short time and takes minimal risk, preferring to stay in the draft and develop players, whereas Isiah Thomas will just spend everything all the time because money means nothing to him.  But then there's the "value" spectrum.  This is how a GM assigns value to a player.  And, not to go all Motorcycle Maintenance on you here, but the question of "value" really does lead to a question of "quality", and that can get real deep real quick.

One one end of this spectrum is the idea that you want to go get "Ballplayers".  What the GM does is watch film (or live workouts) and judges a player based on skill and skill alone.  This is the type of GM that says things like "you can't teach height" or "he's got a long lever".  At the far extreme of this spectrum lies Kevin McHale.  His entire career in judging talent was to look at raw skills of ballplayers and judge them (because he himself was a "ballplayer") as either worth it or not.  He probably never looked at a stat or a salary in his life.  He didn't care about any of that.  Just look at the way the guy jumps, his "court vision" and "presence" and all other sorts of bullshit that means nothing.  That's how McHale ran this team.... he epitomized the dumbest aspects of Minnesota sports (which is a WHOLE OTHER ARTICLE) which basically is the "I know more than everyone else" attitude.

Kahn is, of course, on the complete opposite side of the spectrum.  It's almost as though he is unfamiliar with the sport of basketball.  He sees only salaries and stats.  He sees draft picks not as actual human beings, but chips in a stack.  And he sees every contract as an "asset".  He believes the number one goal of a sports team is to acquire the most assets possible.  If he could, he'd carry a roster of 40 players, and just wheel and deal all day long.  Kahn is the type of guy who will trade Jason Hart for a 2nd round pick and Alando Tucker.  "Hey, if I trade this trash for that trash, I can acquire another piece of trash!  Oh, and 2nd round picks are totally worth it and sometimes work out!"

When McFucko was fired, Kahn came in guns blazing.  And he showed that he was not afraid to make deals during his first draft, when he got us Rubio (or rather, the rights to Rubio).  That whole off-season was nothing but deal-making:  Ryan Hollins, Ramon Sessions, Sasha Pavlovic, Nathan Jawai, etc.  The roster was turning over, and everyone loved the action.  Ultimately though, look at where we are.

I'd like to try something here, and this may not work.  This is a brief retrospective on their careers (because Kahn's is going to end soon, and no, he won't surface on another team), painting some connections between the two, and the polar opposites as well.


Deadzo - Was trading KG risky?  No, not at all, because we all knew the Wolves would end up horseshit in that deal.  No, the highest risk he ever took was making the under-the-table deal with Joe Smith.  Why was it risky?  Well, even though Deadzo didn't know this at the time, if he was found out to have broken the rules, he would be hamstringing his team's drafting options for years.  If it worked out, hey great, you got Joe Smith without him testing free agency first.

Well... we all know how that turned out.

There are a lot of reactions that we as fans have in looking back at that absolute shit-for-brains move, but the one that I always come back to is "JOE SMITH?!!?!?"  If you go under the table for Kobe, or LeBron, or KG, hey great.  Go out and git some.  But Joe Smith?  This is so obviously a McHale move.... he had "his guy", and he loved the way he did the up and unders and took charges so much that he would do anything to keep him.  Including forfeit half a decade of draft picks.

Kahn - Trading Randy Foye and Mike Miller for the draft rights to Ricky Rubio.  This one is still playing out, and the risk actually wasn't that huge.  Foye is a dog, and Mike Miller shoots really well when he plays with 3 all-stars.  Rubio may never come here, true, but it was a calculated risk.  And what was it calculated on?  That's right... value.  Kahn ran the numbers of both Miller and Foye, and - probably without thinking how any of the pieces fit together - calculated that a #5 draft pick is "worth more" than those two players.


Deadzo - Drafting KG.  No doubt about this one.  The famous story goes that Deadzo and Flip went to go see KG play a high school game with the specific intention of hyping up the player so someone else would draft him high and they'd have a better pick fall to them at #5.  They saw KG play, and on the flight home said "We're not telling ANYBODY about this guy".  I'm sure that story isn't true, because Deadzo's a goddamned liar, but it clearly was one of the rare times that Deadzo saw a "ballplayer" who was actually better than what people said about him, and he reached out and grabbed him.  He just happened to have turned into a hall of famer.

Kahn - Umm.... trading Al Jeff?  I guess that could work here.  He looked at the current contract of Al (which was massive for someone who doesn't believe in defense) and decided to dump him for draft picks.  That usually doesn't work (because draft picks hardly ever work out, especially here) but it kind of made sense... at least to Kahn.  Hey, what can you say, the man loves his picks.  I think he sometimes has dreams that he has acquired every pick in each round of the NBA draft, and he just goes up there and names 60-odd players all at once.


Deadzo - Long list here.  Let's go with Doody.

McFail reached out and grabbed Doody with the 26th pick overall in 2003, and he played like he should've been drafted 2,600th.  Clearly still buzzed off picking KG out of high school, McFail lined up the pins and shot the bowling ball right into the gutter on this one.  He clearly had seen Doody win the high school dunk contest and decided that THAT was the man he was going to pair with KG someday for Western Conference dominance.

Kahn - Drafting Jonny Flynn one pick after drafting Ricky Rubio.  I'm still not sure if Kahn understands "positions" in the game of basketball.  I'm serious.  I think he thinks every player is about the same height and they all do relatively the same thing.  What other explanation is there for drafting a point guard and then turning around the very next pick and drafting a point guard?  And don't tell me "it was an insurance option".  Bullshit, Kahn came out the next day and said he envisioned them playing together.  He drafted Flynn because he thought he could some day trade him for another first-rounder.  That's how he thinks... assets.


Deadzo - (cracks knuckles, furrows brow) Let's start with trading KG for absolute fucking worthless garbage.  Continue with keeping Wally well past his prime and not dumping him for Baron Davis years earlier.  We already mentioned Doody, but what about Skita?  Signing Troy Hudson to a 6 year deal after he broke his ankle.  Drafting Will Avery.  Exchanging Sam Cassell for Marko JaricRicky DavisMarcus Banks.  Finding an absolute steal in Mario Chalmers... then trading him ON FUCKING DRAFT NIGHT to Miami for 2 future second rounders.  Drafting Foye instead of Brandon Roy, which is like me choosing to eat grass clippings instead of egg rolls.  Did I mention trading KG?

Kahn - They aren't abject failures... because he hasn't had much to work with in the first place.  But really, haven't we been told from day one that Kahn was saving up all these pieces to eventually make that big move for one or two guys?  And what has happened?  He signed Ramon Sessions, and that was awesome, but then he traded him and Ryan Hollins for Delonte West and Sebastian Telfair.  Then he waived Delonte.  And that guy, Jason Hart (who I have never heard of before today)?  He traded him away, then requested waivers on him.  JUST PUT TOGETHER PACKAGES TO LAND BETTER PLAYERS.  Kahn is playing a game without an end.... nobody is ever going to come up to him and offer him the Spree and Sam deal.  He's going to keep trading away Bassy and signing him a year later.  He's going to keep trading one 2nd round pick for 2 more the next year.  He's going to draft a guy who has potential, then he's going to trade him for cash.  And why?  Because it all makes sense upstairs for David.  If he wins, everything works.

The problem?  They have won 32 goddamned games in the last two years combined.  And next year looks even worse.  Nothing I can write here can argue with the facts, and those are that the Wolves are not close now, nor will they be in a few years, nor will they ever with David Kahn as GM.


Clearly the solution to all this madness is to just find a competent GM who isn't one way or another on the spectrum.  Just a guy who assigns values to players, but also constructs a team.  A guy who understands that in the NBA, one position is very important, and the guys that are on your roster all have to fit a role.  You can't just throw 12 guys together... not because they're all "gamers", and not because they are all pieces of some goddamned trade you promise to make in 3 years.  You construct it slowly and carefully, and you don't give up 3 months in because you made one bad move.  You don't hire a coach to run a sophisticated offense, give him shit players to deal with for 2 years, and then fire him because nobody wants to try on defense.

From Deadzo to Kahn, the pain keeps coming.  United we run... away from the basketball and success.

May 26, 2011

Hey, Didn't You Used to...

What is it About Ex-Wolves?

As the Conference Finals wind down and I find myself drawn to the rosters of the teams that will be competing for the NBA Championship, something jumped out at me about those squads. Assuming Chicago doesn’t do what I want them to do, there will be at least one ex-Wolf guaranteed to get themselves a shiny, new ring. Brian Cardinal, Corey Brewer, and Mike Miller all spent at least one full season playing basketball for our squad. That got me thinking about other ex-Wolves that went onto earn some flashy jewelry.

Some more deserving than others…

Scott Brooks, 1994 Houston Rockets
It only took Scotty two years away from the Wolves to grab himself a ring. Teaming with future-Wolves player Sam Cassell, Brooks helped provide the Rockets with the punch off the bench they needed to win the championship. If OKC had been able to get by Dallas, he could’ve become the first ex-Wolves player to coach a team to a title.

Luc Longley, 1996-1998 Chicago Bulls
Talk about a 180. Luc spent the first 2½ seasons with the worst team in the NBA and then got traded to one of the greatest teams of all-time. Do you think he noticed the difference playing with Michael Jordan versus Doug West? What about Tony Cambell? Gerald Glass?

Isaiah “JR” Rider, 2001 Los Angeles Lakers
This is one of those players that, much like Darko, fell ass-backwards into a ring. At least, in Darko’s case, you can’t say he didn’t deserve a title, at least not yet – although he just auctioned off his ring so maybe it doesn’t count? I digress. But man, to go from dunk contest champion and freaky athletic talent to pregnant-girl-kicking psychopath, to NBA champion, is quite the roller coaster ride for JR. Of course he may not have remembered much of it because he was busy selling stolen cell phones and smoking weed out of a pop can. What are the odds he still has that ring? I bet he didn’t auction it off for charity like Darko did.

Chauncey Billups, 2004 Detroit Pistons
When he was a young pup – pun fully intended – Flip didn’t think he was a starting point guard in the NBA, so Chauncey left for greener pastures. Much like Brooks, it only took Billups two years away from Minnesota to grab himself – and Darko – a ring. Flip was a healthy Sam Cassell away from facing Billups in the NBA Finals that year but the Lakers saved us from being embarrassed by the Pistons that year. And a couple years later, Flip was coaching Billups in Detroit. Go figure.

Rasho Nesterovic, 2005 San Antonio Spurs
Sadly, the discussion for who the best Wolves center ever, starts with Randy Breuer and ends with Rasho. Darko may enter that conversation in a couple of years, but talking about the Wolves best center is like arguing about what gives you a worse hang over, Mad Dog or Nighttrain. It’s almost not worth finding out. Almost. Rasho was a solid contributor on a playoff team, but then again, I may have had too much Nighttrain to remember it that well.

Sam Cassell, 2008 Boston Celtics
He was here just long enough to endear himself to us Wolves fans and stayed just long enough to piss us all off. The what-if conversations about The Season begin and end with Cassell’s back. Even though he could hardly walk the Wolves still almost beat the Lakers. What might’ve been...

Kevin Garnett, 2008 Boston Celtics
This one is so bitter-sweet for Wolves fans. Nobody in the whole world wanted KG to win a title more than ‘Sota fans. But to have to watch him do it in another jersey was painful. We were all so mad about the trade and while much of that anger was directed at Deadzo, there was still plenty left over for Danny Ainge and the C’s. I think I speak for most Wolves fans when I say that I’m glad that they won it right away, because having to “cheer” for the Boston Celtics any longer than I had to would’ve been more torturous than the trade itself. Fucking Celtics.

May 25, 2011

Buried Treasure!

Recently, while cleaning out the office, I was going through a box of books from when I was a wee little misfit.  Most of the time when you’re cleaning out boxes of your old things, it just results in a lot of extra trash that needs to be taken out. You tend to discover that you kept so much crap that it often times blows the mind. It’s not that those things weren’t important at one time, but it was probably a long time ago and, frankly, you didn’t have a great idea about what was important and what was not. Obviously.

Sometimes however, you discover that subconsciously you were a genius. Sometimes you find gold.

Pure. Solid. Gold.

Exhibit A

Yeah, that’s from 90-91. I’m not totally sure how it ended up in a box full of Disney and Nursery Rhyme books, but hey, I must’ve realized the importance of this document back then and made sure to stash it away. Keep it secret. Keep it safe.
You’ll notice I made some creative “additions” to the artwork.
Bulls Vs…..Magic? Bulls?

Also, while my contribution to the art makes it hard to read, this “book” is a sticker album - Yeah! Stickers!

Each page in this glorious album is dedicated to an NBA team, holding the sticker-player-cards of 6 members of each squad.  Oh boy. 

Here you go…

Yeah, here’s our coach. How was growing up in Cupertino?

Here’s the “good” version of Rambis. It just makes me want to see the double-pump jam from behind the arc!

The Kings were nice enough to fail more than the Wolves that year and with “plays” like this, it’s not a surprise. 

What is he doing anyway, football, errr?

One. Word. Needed.


Before cocaine – well, probably after too…


22-60 that year – only 5 games better than they were THIS year. It’s sad when a team led by Pooh Richardson and Randy Breuer has more success than a team led by Kevin Love and Mike Beasley.

Apparently talent doesn’t always fair better.

I think Randy may have put on Tod Murphy’s shorts, but the skyhook makes up for it!

Trip, this one is for you. Kelly is “flashing” his midrange game.

Probably on his way to a mid-life crisis.

I wanted to show you the glory that was this team. And by ‘glory’ I mean ‘stupid looking.’




God, Greg.

Big Gregg?



(Heavy breathing)

“Hi, I don’t sweat!”

I think someone should make a documentary about Mike Gminski. Only because Will Farrell could play him…

Oh wait, they already made that movie. Minus Gminski. I got a fever and the only prescription is more Gminski!

The precursor to Vlade.

Fucking Vlade.

Fucking Rony.

Wait, I didn’t realize Greg Oden was around back in….

ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Exhibit B

Overall this one doesn’t meet the gold standard that was set by the basketball sticker album however there were two items that may melt your mind.

Awwww, look, a family full of athletes.  Sorry Darrell, a couple years as a catcher for the Angels during their “hey day” doesn’t really equate to the Hall of Fame. But hey, good try!

And finally…

I had wished there was a way for me to hide this until you’ve read what I wanted to write about this gem but then I realized there are no words that I can put together that would do it any justice at all. The best thing I came up with was a picture of John Justice and Master Mel hugging and that’s not really words – nor does it express much related to the following image, other than awesomeness and the fact that neither have anything to do with basketball.

So, enjoy with caution…

May 20, 2011

NBA Draft, Huh?

Immediate Impressions

I know I'm not the only one who feels like the draft was fixed this year. No, it's not because the Wolves didn't get the first pick - they were lucky to only move down one pick in the draft. And frankly, I'm happy they didn't get the first pick

So Cleveland, less than one year removed from losing the only athelete to ever don a Cavs jersey - sorry Daughtery and Ehlo - and they end up with the first pick in the draft? Oh, and to top it off, it was the Clippers pick that did it. 2.8% chance. You guys gonna take Penny, errrrr?

Not sold yet?

So instead of showing up himself, Dan Gilbert sends his 14-year old child who, sadly, has a neurological disorder that causes tumors to grow wherever and whenever in his body? And the kid steals the show?


I can't really get any further into it because it makes me so mad. I cannot express how happy I am for Cleveland and their fans - and Nick Gilbert - but this "turn of events" that David Stern is in the middle of orchestrating is so blatantly obvious that I can't sit back and just watch any more. It's too picture "perfect" for me.

Celtics and Knicks are relevant again huh? Hmm. $20 says Chris Paul ends un a Knick and Dwight Howard ends up in LA - their team is sliding a little bit now too. Oh, and not on the Clippers either, even with their luck of "winning" the lottery - nice work lottery-protecting that pick, dumbasses.

The Wolves of Woe

Did you happen to see the sports page of the Star Tribune the day the draft lottery was decided?

No? Here it is:

It's the second greatest Wolves-related sports page I've ever seen. It shows us everything we need to know about the Wolves and their draft history, excluding KG. The only way it's better is if they could've worked in a pop can full of smoked schwag and Laettner wearing a Charlie Sheen shirt. Or have Cheorkee Parks and Brian Davis high-fiving over Ndudi Ebi in the background.

So the real question that arises now, and needs to be answered before June 23, is what the hell should the Wolves do with their two pick: #2 and #20.

Let me tell you that, most of the options I came up with make me want to punch myself in the face.

#2 Pick. Trade down and take Jimmer Fredette.

I know, I want to punch both him and me in the face as hard as I can, but it makes too much sense.

The biggest question for this next season is 'Will Rubio Come?', to the Wolves I mean. If he does, we have a log jam at point guard and no shooters for him to pass to. If he doesn't, we could really use a third poing guard and, oh yeah, we still don't have any shooters - sorry Wayne, you just don't cut it. Fredette covers both scenarios for us. He's a pure shooter who really knows how to do one thing really well: Git Buckets. But in a much less only-me way than Ricardo Davis III. Plus, in a pinch, he could eat up some minutes at PG, ala Freddy Hoiberg 2004 Western Conference Finals. As much as it pains me to say it, the kid can play, and can shoot and score better than anyone else in college basketball. I know, J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison could do those things, but nothing about Jimmer says J.J. Morrison. For one, he didn't cry on the court after they lost - and then made a commercial about it. Oh, and yeah Adam, people more people did cry. They're called the Charlotte Bobcats and they cried because they drafted you. But I digress...

If they don't take Jimmer - fucking stupid name anyway - then I'd look at Michael Thompson's kid, Klay Thompson. He's a solid baller and he can shoot lights out. He's also 6'6" and apparently impressed the scouts at the combine - as much as that means.

#20 Pick - trade it down (Drew, I'm sorry in advance about this one)

And take another guy who needs five knuckles to the face. Kyle Singler. We already have two small forwards, but I'm not taking any bets on Martell Webster staying healthy for the year - Michael Williams, anyone? Singler is a very smart forward who played at Duke and, for the most part, those guys tend to stick around the league - especially when they drop in the draft.. Remember a year ago? This kid was a top-10 pick - and this is supposedly a down year for the draft. I just don't want us taking Blasikov Macgolicovickuoisludla just because he's 18 and lit it up in the Egyptian pro league in their 14-game season. Singler played a lot of games in a tough conference, under a very good - and face-punchable - coach. He'll be second round pick so, if he can't take a fist to the lips, you don't have to keep him - he's guarenteed to be better than the former Gopher KG face-punched, right?

It must not be the Rapture - the Wolves didn't get the first pick. I'm just saying.

May 16, 2011

Nice box-out

Hey Heat fans, maybe in the next 7 days, Chris Bosh will learn how to keep opponents away from the rim.


May 9, 2011

This is how I watched the Boston game tonight...

Well yeah, it's an Italian feed of NBA TV... hosted by a guy in a pink Pennsylvania shirt.

The greatest thing is that they hijack the feed and play it without commercials... just cut to these jokers in the studio who are gibbering and jabbering nonsense.  And because there's no production, they leave the announcers' mics live... which means Kevin Harlan going OFF THE SCRIPT.

May 4, 2011

See if you can find my car keys while you're down there

I don't know why, but my favorite basketball move since Vlade Divac came into the NBA and ruined the game is when a defender flops and there is no call.  For years those goddamned Mavericks and Kings teams attempted to soccer-up the league, and for the most part, Team Stern was happy to oblige.  But now there seems to be a bit of backlash, at least, towards this kind of thing.  Still though, occasionally you get a princess like Rondo who is clearly outmatched and should really just wave LeBron through like a matador, but he just HAS to try to stop him.  However, he's not nearly tall, strong or quick enough to actually stop him, so he falls to the ground - Ass over Adam's Apple - hoping the refs will blow the whistle and turn the ball over.

Sorry, but that doesn't happen, not on the road.  Instead, you crumple to the ground and get to be on a poster.

Next time, don't fucking flop.