Wednesday, May 11, 2011

If I were GM of...the Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves confound me - every time I see Jonny Flynn on the bench and Luke Ridnour's face instead of Ricky Rubio's or Stephen Curry's, I have no idea why GM David Kahn still has a job. But then I see Michael Beasley dropping 20 a game and Kevin Love putting up a 30-30 (!) and the man he was traded for, OJ Mayo, being nearly traded for Josh McRoberts and a signed Larry Bird Jersey (an Indiana State throwback jersey though) and I think that maybe the man has a plan.

Sure he signed Darko Milicic to a 4-year deal (please watch this video, as Khan tries to compare Darko to Chris Webber...while doing live, on-air commentary with Chris Webber. I thought C-Webb might commit his first murder) and drafted two point guards that both basically don't play in the league when Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, George Hill, Roddy Beaubois and Ty Lawson were still on the board. Yeah he drafted Corey Brewer over Joakim Noah and Wesley Johnson over DeMarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe. And hey, maybe he hired one of the worst coaches in the league and signed Nikola Pekovic to a 3 year deal, guaranteed. The guy might...just might have a plan.

Wait, before you never come to this blog again, I didn't say it was a GOOD plan. I just said it was a plan. He thought that Kevin Love was a better building block than Al Jefferson (who his predecessor, Kevin McHale traded for, not Kahn) and jettisoned him (though, for 70 cents on the dollar). He knew that a guy who goes number 2 like Michael Beasley in the draft had to be worth the second round picks he was giving up for. He is praying that Rubio comes over, is better than advertised and can throw 14 lobs a game to B-Eazy and can make Darko look like Shaquille. He hopes that Wesley Johnson and Martell Webster can make more than a few corner threes. If all this happens, IF...the Wolves might be a playoff team. One day. Maybe.

Michael Beasley: 6.2 million
Martell Webster: 5.2 million
Darko: 4.77 million
Luke Ridnour: 3.68 million
Nikola Pekovic: 4.3 million
Wesley Johnson: 4 million
Kevin Love: 4.6 million
Jonny Flynn: 3.4 million
Anthony Tolliver: 2 million
Anthony Randolph: 2.9 million
Wayne Ellington: 1.15 million
Total: 42.4 million

Eddy Curry: 11.27 million
Sebastian Telfair: 2.7 million
Delonte West: 500,000

1). Save up that cap room
The Wolves are currently 15 million under the cap - conserve that room. At the end of next season, Love, Beasley and (it might be necessary) Anthony Randolph will all be eligible for extensions. I'm guessing that they will all make between 7 and 15 million annually, which will definitely munch up the rest of the cap space. I imagine that in a small market, the franchise will not want to go too far into the luxury tax, so I'd try to preserve whatever flexibility they have. I imagine that Love is an automatic extension candidate, while Beasley and Randolph have to do a little bit more this season to prove themselves worthy of that big money.

Just don't do anything rash Mr. Kahn, like signing Travis Outlaw to a 35 million dollar deal. Like anyone would do something that stupid.

2). Draft the most talented player in the draft, no matter what the position is.
In regards to young players, the Wolves are stacked at almost every position with a young "developing" player (the definition of "developing" will change depending on the player. He might have already "developed" into being mediocre or terrible):

Point: Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn
SG: Martell, Wes Johnson
SF: Beasley
PF: Love, Tony Randolph
C: Darko, Pekovic

If you look at all those guys, they have a player at every position that they are committed to for the foreseeable future because of contract concerns or lofty draft position. The Wolves are set with Beasley and Love, and if you believe that Rubio will be coming within the next couple of seasons, then you're set with him as well. Center (as I'll get to in a second) and shooting guard are of concern. Seeing as the best available shooting guard did not enter the draft (Harrison Barnes), and the Wolves will be guaranteed a top 4 pick, I would just draft the best possible prospect, whether that be Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams or Brandon Knight, and hold on to that player for a future trade for a young, promising SG.

3). ...if Wes Johnson doesn't have it

Wes Johnson had an adequate rookie season, but was pretty uninspiring for a guy who's already 23 years old. I'd give him another year to show the Wolves if he's a fit for the future or not. His role for the team doesn't have to be a guy who puts up 20 a night - that's what you have Beasley and Love for. However, you do have to be a guy that can defend on the perimeter (something Love and Beasley can't do) and knock down open shots from long consistently (something Beasley cannot do). Time is ticking Wes.

4). Trade for a center that can make some baskets
Love and especially Beasley can put up points in a hurry, but other than that, they really don't have any inside presence to speak of. Seeing as Love will be a fixture for many years to come in Minny, the only option is to try to trade for a center with little bit of a back to the basket offensive game, or at the very least someone who can keep defenses honest.

I'll say it - Darko wasn't awful this year. He was actually pretty decent for a 7-foot center. Yes, I know I just gave a backhanded compliment to David Kahn and I used "Darko" and "decent' in the same sentence, without having the word "Free" before the former. Defensively, Darko did a good job but quiet honestly the guy does not know how to take a ball and put it into the basket. From all past experience, I really wouldn't expect Darko to be calling up Hakeem and spending his summer months working hard on a post game.

Could a Wes Johnson/Pekovic swap for Chris Kaman work? Or if the Lakers needed to get an infusion of young talent, would a Bynum for Williams/Kyrie/Etc, Wes Johnson, Pekovic deal do it, especially with everything that just went down? Lot of trade possibilities with the cap room and young players the Wolves have.

4). Hire a couple of friends of mine, do some digging on Facebook, find some incriminating photos of Ricky Rubio and blackmail him
Something's gotta get that boy to leave his family, his country and beautiful Barcelona for Minneapolis, Minnestota.

The Wolves have a lot of young talent, but with the exception of Love, Darko and Martell Webster, they are mostly all still developing. I'm mostly intrigued with the development of Wes Johnson, if they can Rubio over and where they land in the draft. All the dominoes fall from there.

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