July 31, 2008

What A Difference A Year Makes

The re-signing of Ryan Gomes leaves the Wolves with only one free agent left. 14 players down, one to go. After taking a look here to find out what kind of deals Sebastian Telfair, Craig Smith, and Ryan Gomes were signed to, I decided to look back to about this time last season to see exactly what had changed. It's pretty amazing really. Gone are the dead weight contracts of Mark Blount, Marko Jaric, and Troy Hudson. No more Gerald Green or Trenton Hassell either for that matter. There are signs that show the Wolves may - may - be able to avoid past mistakes. They went from T-Hud's 6-year $30 million to Bassy's 3-year $7.5 millon. From Marko's 6-year $66 million to Gomes's 2-year $7.3 million. That looks, to me anyways, like appropriate amounts of money thrown at appropriately talented players. I mean sure, Rhino got a 300% raise, but $2.3 million seems reasonable for a solid, backup power forward.

Now, I've been a Wolves fan for too long to really let the bubbles of hope that we've seen this offseason get me too excited. But it's hard not to think that this team may be starting to turn this thing back around. "Dave! You almost sound like you believe in Kevin Mchale!?" Don't make that mistake. I know who's in charge of this franchise, so there's no reason to think that all these moves will end up working out. But so far, we're looking a whole lot better now than we did a year ago.

July 30, 2008

I Actually Read This Today

"There are rumors that Montegranaro may sign Vin Baker in case Shawn Kemp doesn't join the team."

Again, this may belong in the failure blog, but seriously. Your choices are a fat, washed up alcoholic or a fat, washed up, coke addict?

Boy, must be slim pickins in Italy.

July 21, 2008

The Thunder

The Thunder?

The Oklahoma City Thunder?

That is an unprecedented strike-out in franchise naming history.

July 14, 2008

You asked, and we listened!

Hey sports fans! College basketball fans! CBS Sports here. You remember us - we've been here for years and shown you everything from the Ice Bowl to Super Bowl XIV to Brent Musburger calling college baseball.

Good to see you. Now, the reason I'm writing is one you've bugged me about for a long, long time. And because we want to stay your friend, we've done something just for you! We've let Billy Packer go. Now, ok...yes, you're welcome. I knew you'd be happy. Haha, yes! Ok, thank you. Can I explain...ok, let me explain and give some history to this.

New CBS Sports exec Terry O'Neill pushed for us to take the NCAA basketball tournament contact. It was up after the 1981 season, and he thought it was a good deal for the money. And it wasn't until an NBA game of ours was doubled by The Superstars and Wide World of Sports on ABC that his boss allegedly screamed: "That's it! I want those kids, those cheerleaders. I want some fucking lung power!" Well, that's what he got. And nearly immediately it paid off for us. Now, we already had some basketball announcers, as you saw we had the NBA contract. But no one was watching junkies play (except those who know). So we wanted to see who was available. Billy was on NBC and we thought he would give good analysis. And at the start he did.

Lest we forget...yes, you've still been let go Billy. Let me finish. That was a long time ago. And by the mid-90s Billy was getting more and more bitter. It was less analysis and more opinion. In fact, I remember the last time Billy just said what was happening without his personal attitude: it was 2001, where the refs were calling the game so much for Duke (with fans booing...at a championship game no less!) he even said that it was happening. Jim "Milquetoast" Nantz wasn't too happy with that boat-rocking. Why do I remember that? I guess I should have thought of that sooner. Had I realized it had been so long he would have been let go a while ago. And my lawyers have told me I am not allowed to respond to his comments such as "since when do we let women control who gets into a mens basketball game?" or such personal comments as "This might not surprise you, but I've never really been a sports fan."

He's gone. He'll be replaced with someone who uses words like "spurtability." Now, wait a minute, hold on. If I put Kevin Harlan with John Thompson and Bill Raftery (as we did on CBS Radio) that means Bill and Verne "Early Times" Lundquist would no longer be a pair. Ah, I knew you'd see it our way. Or at least until next April.

So, remember, we're still your friends here. You didn't want him - you won't get him! Unless another channel picks him up. Then don't blame us is Musburger, hungover from another rowdy drinking night in East Lansing (what other kind of night is there in that town?) is paired with him. The door is to your right, Billy. Your relevancy was well past its prime. And hey, let's not say goodbye, let's say "so long."

July 10, 2008

2009 NBA Draft And Beyond

I know, I know. The 2008 NBA Draft just ended. Timberwolves.com had a decent article explaining the situation with all the draft picks that have been involved in various trades over the past few seasons and I thought this would be a good place to put that info.

Then I looked at nbadraft.net and saw who they have us selecting in the mock draft...

I suggest reading some of the comments on that video as well. Wow.

Big Al?

I hop off the bus home from work, wander into the apartment, and prepare to go running. Out the door, down the block, and towards lake Harriet. I hit the path running and who do I see?

Al Jefferson, dragging either his trainer or a security guy around the lake. On second thought, the guy looked like Carl Winslow, so it's doubtful he was a trainer. Big Al on the otherhand, for all the flack he takes for not being an athlete, he looked pretty damn ripped. Especially for the offseason. Nice to see him in town working for next season. Gives me a little more hope.

On a side note, Al is listed at 6'10" - only an inch shorter than KG. If Big Al is indeed 6'10" - which I believe he is - then KG has got to be 7'1" atleast. Seriously.

July 9, 2008

As God as My Witness...

...I sit here typing a full-on Clippers update with all this shit going down, and then Jim Timmons does it first and better (if lacking the emotion of a fan). It could be worse - I could be Bill Plaschke. Or Hulk Hogan, trying to explain basketball to...oh, anyone.

Me? Well, I adjust the shades and continue cleaning out the cobwebs in California Gold.

Half Mast

Boy, it sure is tough to be the Clippers these days, huh? First, the face of your franchise decides to opt out of his ginormous contract, then you pull a coup and ink another big time, surprise, free agent. With word on the street that you’ve been able to retain your man as well, you settle in to accept the praise – and suspicion - from your contemporaries. Life is grand. But that’s when it all goes wrong. Two other teams swoop in and throw MORE generous offers at the face of your franchise and instead of the thank-you-but-no-thank-you response you expect him to give, he simply says “hmmm...

Oh shit. Then he’s gone.

To top it off, he takes a contract deal that is perverbial pennies more with another team. In the mean time your other big free agent has signed an agreement elsewhere because you weren’t going to have the money to sign him assuming everything went as planned. Then reports surface questioning your new free agents desire to join as well.

So now what? I guess we could sing about it.

Based on the consistently bad luck/karma of Donald Sterling, I can only assume that Baron Davis will back out of his arrangement and sign with a contender for the midlevel exception and all other free agent offers will be met with either silence or matched by another team. The rest of their team is pretty bad. Not untalented, just not good. Cuttino Mobley hasn’t been an NBA-calibur player in 5 years. Chris Kaman has the attention span and focus of a puppy on coke. Eric Gordon is a rookie. The only “shining light” they have for next season is Al Thornton, and he played college ball at Florida State. Home attendence could suck next season.

In one fell swoop, the Clippers may lose two big-time free agents and screw up signing their first All-Star caliber point guard since Mark Jackson left a decade-and-a-half ago. It may not end up that way. Maybe Baron will sign and they can sign Josh Smith away from Atlanta. But this is the Clippers we’re talking about, so I have a hard time believing anything other than worst case scenario. Of course if they had suceeded in re-signing Elton Brand he probably would've ended up like Shaun Livingston.

Just glad we could help.

July 2, 2008

Probably Belongs In The Failure Blog But...

Just read this.

I wonder if this really is just a "mistake" or if his Memphis roots will finally start to show?

Not the way to start your NBA career Mr. Rose.

Oops, I Did It Again...

I’ve discussed McFail’s trade history on this blog before, but I feel like it deserves a quick peek before going into what’s out there as far as trades this off season.

For the most part the trades that the Wolves Braintrust have made usually don’t work out, at least right off the bat. Sure, Donyell Marshall for Tom Gugliotta was a solid trade that immediately paid dividends, but it usually takes another deal to really make that deal count for something (turning down the Googs for Eddie Jones and Elden Campbell deal still hurts though). Take the Ray Allen-for-Stephon Marbury swap. It was pretty good for a couple years. It resulted in the first trip to the playoffs and first 50-win season in franchise history. Then Steph turned into Starbury and became the crazy psycho he is today. Well, then we turned Starbury into Terrell Brandon and had a solid point guard for two and a half seasons until his wheel broke, then we were stuck with MWII – that’s Michael Williams II if you didn’t catch it. But we’re not done yet. We then turned TBEC – that’s Terrell Brandon’s Expiring Contract – into Latrell Sprewell. That, with some other help, got the Wolves into the Western Conference Finals in 2004. Not bad really. Ray Allen netted us the players that got us into the playoffs for the first time and, eventually, a trip to the Conference Finals. It took nearly a decade to happen, but it happened. So trading Ray Allen was a good thing?

Now another deal is trying to make its way into that company.

Boy, remember that Joe Smith contract? Yeah, that was special, especially since we just signed him to it a year later anyways - $11 million a year, for that slug? Seems excessive for a guy who’s career is based on taking charges. So in 2003 we sent him, along with Anthony Peeler, to the Bucks for Ervin Johnson and Sam Cassell (who we almost acquired when we traded for TB). That, along with the “Ray Allen Trade” put us in the Conference Finals as we discussed above. Then, once again, the Wolves point guard situation devolved into a psychological nightmare and we shipped two s’s and two l’s to the Clip ship for MJ. No, not that one. For Marko Jaric.

A couple of seasons later, after returning to a life of futility, we decided to turn Walter Robert Szczerbiak and Michael Olowokandi, into Ricky Davis and Mark Blount with the hopes that they may change our fortunes. Not so much. After further burrowing into a world of hurt, the unthinkable happened (not going to mention it now), which nearly emptied the state of fans. Six months later we tricked Miami into taking out some of our trash. Buckets and Blount were kicked out of town, and Antoine Walker arrived, ready to contribute to a young and supposedly budding team. Aw, but then he spent the vast majority of the season whining about not playing and warming seats on the end of the bench. On a positive note though, the suits he wore made him look less fat than the jersey did.

Four years of keeping Marko confused and a half season of making Toine pout led us to the second worst record in the NBA (behind Miami, funny enough) and the third pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. As we know, OJ Mayo was a member of the Wolves for about 2 hours longer than Ray Allen was. Four straight seasons without a playoff appearance finally put us in a position to “complete” the “Joe Smith Trade” and the “Walter Szczerbiak Trade.” Marko, Toine, and OJ were exchanged for Mike Miller and Kevin Love. So basically we traded Wally World and Joe Smith for Mike Miller and Kevin Love (I figure OJ is part of Joe because of all the draft picks he cost us). That doesn’t sound that bad. Of course, what we don’t know is if this is the final stop for this trade or if the positives of this trade will be realized in a later deal.

With that said, let’s move onto what other deals we could start this off season.

Our needs in the trade market are pretty much identical to our needs in free agency. We need a point guard, a shooting guard, and possibly a bigger big.

There are a ton of players that have been mentioned in various trade rumors, or have said to be available. Joe Dumars ranted about his entire roster being available except for Rodney Stuckey and Jason Maxiell but we don’t have the pieces or cap room to get anything of value from them, namely Tayshaun Prince or Chauncey Billups. Not that I’d necessarily want either player’s contract. Marcus Camby and Kirk Hinrich have been mentioned a lot, although word is that they may be dealt for each other. Hinrich to Golden State for Al Harrington has been mentioned in the wake of Baron Davis’ jump to the Clip ship. Now that Corey Maggette opted out he could be had in a sign-and-trade, but there are far more attractive teams for him to join. Boris Diaw and Leandro Barbosa have both been tagged as available, although they’re expensive and we don’t have an experienced point guard to send the Suns, which they’re seeking.

There are also a handful of players who are available whom I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. Jamaal Tinsley and Shawne Williams are supposedly being shopped by Indiana. Unless you’re having a weed smoking or cap peeling contest you have nothing to gain by acquiring either of those “gentlemen.” Charlie Bell and Nate Robinson only pretend to be point guards, while Ron Artest is Ron Artest. All I can say is I pray that McHale doesn’t view any of those guys like he did Ricky Davis or Darrick Martin.

So that leaves us with a group of players that have been mentioned in other trades, or have been made “publicly” available, that may hold some value for our franchise.

Raymond Felton PG Charlotte Bobcats
He’s a pretty good player and, although a little short, he’s strong and quick. He can definitely play both ends of the floor. After drafting D.J. Augustin, word is that the Bobcats patience has worn thin with Felton and that they might be looking to move him. Of course he seems to be mentioned almost every year, so who knows how much of a reality his availability is. A future first rounder (or a number of second-rounders) and some trash may net us a starting-calibur point guard.

Luke Ridnour and Kyle Lowry have also been named in a number of trade rumors. Seattle has a bit of a point guard controversy between Ridnour and Earl Watson, with Watson being the winner last year. Before the Sonics traded Delonte West, Ridnour was battling him for third place in the pecking order. Although the Sonics seem to have settled on Watson as their starter, a recent thumb injury may dictate what they do about Ridnour. Kyle Lowry has been on the block since before the Pau Gasol trade and the talk has done nothing but heat up since they acquired Javaris Crittenton and Marko. He’s not necessarily starting quality now, but he could develop into a part-time starter or solid backup. It doesn’t hurt that he and Randy Foye played well together at Villanova.

Ronnie Brewer SG Utah Jazz
Ronnie burst onto the scene a year ago as a solid scorer, starting 76 games for the Jazz last season. He’s a 6’7” slasher who could be a Sprewell-style compliment to Mike Miller’s dead-eye shooting. Brewer averaged 12 points per game while playing just under 30 minutes a night. Utah has recently shown interest in Ryan Gomes so there could be some talks between the Jazz and the Wolves. Hopefully his name gets mentioned.

J.J. Redick (for good measure) and Damien Wilkins have spent the better part of the past year complaining about their lack of playing time while being relatively unproductive when they did see action. That being said, both have some talent and a change of scenery could be what the doctor ordered. Redick would be a little redundant with Mike Miller in the mix but then again, you can never have too many great shooters. With new star Kevin Durant taking up time at shooting guard for the Sonics and the fact that the contract Wilkins is under right now was the one the Wolves offered three years ago, there may be enough mutual interest to get conversations going.

Obviously I don’t have any idea what’s going to happen, but the way the roster is built right now, something definitely needs to happen if the Wolves expect to compete at all next season.

Also, in case you forgot.

July 1, 2008

Where Do We Go From Here?

This is what the roster looks like right now. I listed the starters as I would have them start – which means very little compared to what might actually happen.

G Randy Foye
G Rashad McCants
F Mike Miller
F Kevin Love
C Al Jefferson

F Corey Brewer
F Brian Cardinal (Potsy, this is for you. It's spelled H-E-R-O)
F Mark Madsen
C Jason Collins
F Ryan Gomes*
F Craig Smith*
C Chris Richard*

* denotes restricted free agents to whom the Wolves have extended the qualifying offer.

As it stands now, there are a total of three players who could actually play the guard position – Mike Miller could be the 6th man if Wittless wanted to start Ryan Gomes at the 3 instead. They didn’t extend the qualifying offer to Sebastian Telfair or Kirk Snyder, although it sounds like they’re still trying to work out a deal with Telfair. Clearly this roster went from overloaded with wing players to overloaded with post players – most of whom are undersized at that. That means there needs to be more happening, either via trade or free agency.

Who’s out there? (Free agents)

There are a few point guards out there that could be of interest, although I’m not sure the Wolves have the means to sign them. Obviously I’d love to have Boom Dizzle but with only the mid-level exception available and no real tradable assets left, he’s not really available to us. Chris Duhon and Beno Udrih (why did we dump him again?) are both unrestricted free agents but they may end up being a bit expensive, costing most, if not all of, the mid-level. I don’t know how I feel about spending that much money on a career backup – think Troy Hudson. Carlos Arroyo could also fill a void with his ability to play both guard positions, but my faith in the Wolves ability to get much out of foreign players is very, very low. Juan Dixon is also available in a pinch. At this point, when it comes to free agents, resigning Bassy may be the best available option, assuming they can get him inked to a reasonable deal – say 2 years, $6 million, with a player/team option for a third or fourth year. It gives him a chance to get out if his value goes up and the Wolves a reasonable contract if he bottoms out.

As far as two-guards there are also a few out there who may be more easily acquired. Boston didn’t make the qualifying offer to Tony Allen, a very athletic swing man who can play defense as well as get into trouble. James Jones, a good shooter and streaky scorer ala Anthony Peeler, is unrestricted. Quintin Ross is a 6-6 guard who has given the Wolves fits on the defensive end and has shown he can shoot a little bit. Antoine Wright, from Dallas could be a good option here, although I don’t think the Mavs will let him get away cheap enough for us. Kareem Rush is also available, although who knows how much he’s got left in the tank – he plays old. Casey Jacobsen could be had on the cheap too, but he’s not Fred Hoiberg. Of course, as I’ve stated previously, I’d really like to see the Wolves resign Kirk Snyder, who played very well towards the end of the year for us. He’s athletic, can play a little defense, and has shown flashes of talent on the offensive end. Snyder would be a low risk/high reward type player who could fill a starting guard spot or offer some experience off the bench.

We don’t really need a small forward at the moment, although Corey Brewer’s off season growth – or lack thereof – may change that. Also, if Gomes gets an offer we don’t want to match that would also open up some minutes at the 3. Clearly we’re not going to end up with Corey Maggette but there are a few other options out there. The Warriors have Mickeal Pietrus and Matt Barnes although I don’t really like either of them – or think we could realistically afford them. I’d really like to have Carlos Delfino, but he’ll be too expensive for sure. Jarvis Hayes could be a good option, although he’ll be too expensive for us. So really, our best bet here would be to make sure we resign Ryan Gomes and pray Brewer found something resembling a jumper this off season.

As far as bigs go, we don’t really have much need, although depending on trades, there may be some that arise. I hate to mention his name here but depending on how low league execs are on him, Kwame Brown** may be cheap enough to qualify as a risk worth taking. As they like to say “you can’t teach size,” and Kwame is a big dude. He’s still young and maybe with another change of scenery he could develop into a poor mans Tyson Chandler. Doubtful, but maybe worth the risk at the right price. Jamaal Magloire is out there as well but he’s probably got his eyes on a contender, that and he’s had effort issues in the past as well. It would be nice to get another big who’s a little taller than our glut of 6’8” F/C. Earl Barron could be an option. He’s a 7-foot, 245lb monster who played fairly well for Miami last year.
**(reminded me of Michael Olowokandi)

Next Up: What mistakes can we make? (trades)