FINALLY! One of the best days of the year. How can you not absolutely love it? A saturation of roster moves, new faces and players, and Flip Saunders will make his first player acquisitions as President of Basketball Operations. I can't wait. For better of worse. My colleague TCSnyder and I have been fired up for days now and recently took some time throughout the past week or so to check in with eachother to see where we were at in regards to the draft and early free agency. Rather than post another mock draft that is "slightly different" than the mocks at DraftExpress.com in some futile effort to pretend we're different, or recycle the obvious revelation that the Wolves will pick KCP, Zeller or McCollum, I'll post our exchange of opinions on the draft as well as what may occur with the Wolves here in the next week or so as free agency begins.
Mike: Okay Tim, I hope you are frying your tail off in Arizona as I am in Dallas. It feels nice to have a fellow remote Wolves fan to banter with. Now that the courtesies are behind me, I have a serious bone to pick with you. In your "players I like part 2" column, which was an intriguing write-up, you went on a lengthy exposition about how you felt Shabazz Muhammed would be one of your top picks at #9. While reading, I was waiting for the point where you broke out an "April Fools" or "Just Kidding," but like waiting for David Kahn to make a meaningful roster move, that moment never came. As you may be aware, this is a very controversial opinion, as just about every draft "expert" is basically waving a 2009 Kevin Love-sized red flag about the kid and every advanced analytic model I have read suggests he is one of the worse prospects not only in the lottery, but in the entire draft. Explain yourself while I go look at YouTube highlights and read some more about him so I can pretend to be a draft expert like most other fans.
Tim: Yes, the summer weather in the Phoenix area has arrived. I am frying...oh look, Michael Beasley just spontaneously combusted into flames...it is that hot.
Defending Shabazz has become a part-time job for me. My analysis always favors guys who have an elite skill. Shabazz can score. It isn't always pretty but the guy plays hard and can shoot the 3 (40%+ from Hoiberg Range). I also think he has the temperament to be a good player. He THINKS he is THAT GOOD. Warning! Warning! IRRATIONAL CONFIDENCE GUY! Never afraid of any moment, he could carry your team for stretches at a time. An equally likely outcome is he comes into the game, starts chucking a la JR Smith in Denver, but never realizes that the shot is not falling that night. The two guys that he reminds me most of right now are Lance Stephenson (slightly underwhelming at Cincy, massive HS hoops prospect, 6-6 combo guard, score first guy in college and HS) and JR Smith (score, score, score, and asker of meaningful questions (you trying to get the pipe?)) Lastly, this is a guy who is a pro already. In a crummy draft, I think you get a guy who is, at minimum, a bench player, with the upside of being a capable 3rd scorer on a good team. There's no reason he couldn't nail his feet down in the NBA next to Rubio and hit 40% from 3 at minimum. He can create his own shot too, giving you options with Rubio/K Love/Pek on the bench. I think Kentavious is probably a better Wolves fit, but if I needed to declare someone outside of Oladipo, Noel, McLemore that will be in the league 8 years from now Shabazz is one of my first options.
Let's switch gears; what can we expect from the new front office? What's the strategy look like? I heard Kahn is being considered as a special consultant on cash considerations for late first and early 2nd picks...can you KAHN-firm or dis-KAHN-firm?
Mike: How much does a part time job of defending Shabazz pay? You make a fair point. By the way, if Kahn were still around, is there not a 100% chance he takes Shabazz at #9? It is for this reason alone that I think he is destined for a Michael Beasley-like career at BEST. He might put up 15 points a game for a sub-10 win team....on 25 shots per game while generally being uncoachable. We shall see, although given his imminent Perry Jones III-like drop in the draft I think it is highly likely he ends up on a non-lotto-team and leads rookies in one category: Did Not Play-Coaches Decisions. Shabazz is only talked about because he was once ranked #1, before he set foot on a college court and proved to be a chucker, and was a high school phenom. Nothing more.
As for the strategy itself, the Wolves have 4 picks and nary a Kahn in sight. I have no bloody clue what the Wolves are going to do, but I suspect we will make a few roster transactions to balance things that night, while dumping the 2nds off. I think we will see one of Ridnour, JJ Barea, or even Shved (least likely) traded on draft night or shortly after. Which one of those 3 do you trade if you are Flip? What do you think you can get in trade for, say, Ridnour and the #26 (or whatever scenario).
Tim: I don't think there's any chance Kahn would draft Shabazz. He's not from Syracuse and he doesn't suck enough. Shabazz actually has a pretty good work ethic, and no reputation of a coach killer. Recently he's been winning people over with his professionalism during the workouts. Some guys are just well suited for the League; he's one of them. Time shall tell, eh?
I wouldn't mind sending Barea and Shved packing if reasonable deals came along. They're entirely replaceable and strike me as difficult teammates. Barea is my first choice to hit the road. Shved was a darling to start the year, but the love-fest sputtered as his play and demeanor turned sour. As much ridiculing as I gave Kahn for the Ridnour deal at the time, it is arguably one of his most defensible moves during his pu-pu platter deluxe of a tenure. Frodo is a decent guard, no more, no less, but he seems like he's easy to fit into this team so I hate to send him down the road unless something sweet came along. Additionally, I think he has the least value of the three (could well be mistaken), but is probably the most valuable to the Wolves. So, to answer your question what can the Wolves get for #26 and Ridnour? For that package I believe we can obtain Mike Modano, Troy Hudson's rap album, and 1 Reese PB cup, while probably not doing anything to help cap space or acquire future assets. His deal is expiring though, so maybe he's worth more than I give him credit for. He could be worth a look for a team that is over the cap and trying to either get under, or cut their tax bill a little.
AK47 told Zgoda that he will make his decision after the draft about coming back to the Wolves. What's gonna happen there?
I specifically remember sitting in an outdoor, nautical-themed tavern in Phoenix in 2010 and arguing with you about Frodo. You hated the move at the time and I liked it. I also predicted the Wolves would make the playoffs. I then spilled a beer all over your shorts if you recall, which was an accident. Here is the thing on Frodo: isn't he an ideal backup PG in the league? He is dependable, does his job, is durable, can hit shots, and will fare much better overall playing against backups from other teams versus having to guard the likes of Kobe Bryant and James Harden as a starting SG. I go back and forth kahnstantly on who I would keep among the "3 backups" (Shved, Ridnour, Barea). Barea is one of those guys who has a winner's mentality and can be a lightning rod x-factor, but those games are usually 1 in 5, the other 4 you want to rip your hair out. With Luke you know what you get.
But in trade, as controversial as this opinion may be, I have to say I might move Shved if there is a good trade on the table to net a true 2 of sorts. He is easily replaceable and is probably the best suited guy to fetch some real value aside from Derrick Williams. It is not easy to change a person's attitude and he collapsed mentally after the rookie game. This simply isn't a good sign.
As for the draft and AK. Boy, so much could go down and trying to predict it makes my head spin. We don't yet know how Flip will behave stylistically in trade and drafting. I think we are all so used to Kahn and his pathological need to make dumb trades that it will be an adjustment period of generally fewer moves for the Wolves, all hopefully calculated, vs. the "throw poo on a wall and keep whatever sticks" philosophy Kahn used. I think the Wolves use both picks this year and keep them. They will NOT move up or trade out in the 1st round, particularly at #9. #9 will be used and kept, likely on KCP or Zeller, and we will take another shooter at #26 with little fanfare as this is a good way to add a cheap player to the roster in a summer of big salary commitments and next to no flexibility. The 2nd rounders will be traded to next year or used on foreign guys. Overall it will be pretty uneventful. Trades involving top picks just don't happen all that often, usually one trade per year if that, and are even more rare in the top 10, especially 6-10. Re: AK I just have a feeling he will stick around, but we will find out at week's end.
Alright Tim, call it now, assuming both picks are kept, who do we take at #9 and #26.
Tim: Nothing I like more than a beer in the shorts!
Agree completely with your Frodo analysis. He's the best and surest of the lot we have at the moment. I would keep him of the three but if good deals for any of them come along then they need to go, whether it is one of them or all three...wholly replaceable.
Time for a prediction: at #9 the wolves take our hero KCP if things go according to plan....however I think there is gonna be a wild card in the top 8 and for once it will benefit the Wolves. Somehow Ben McLemore will be there at 9. I think Sacramento makes us proud and does something stupid. However when this doesn't happen it will be I who is wearing beer in the shorts again. Pick 26 is a true mystery. I desperately hope for one of the many wings who can play d and shoot 3s. Jamaal Franklin is the highest on the wish list for me. He does it all and can play different styles. However, I say they take a Euro at that pick ....make it BEBE Lucas from Brazil.
Alright, sir, we will be in touch after the 9th pick.