The Wolves played the Suns last night. It was a pretty typical game for us. We were down by only 1 point, 26-25, after a 1st quarter in which the Suns played some really sloppy basketball. During the break before the 2nd quarter, I imagine Suns head coach Alvin Gentry said something along the lines of, "we're a playoff team, and they're the Timberwolves. Now go handle your business so we can get the hell out of here." The Suns then proceeded to go on a 20-2 run early in the 2nd quarter. We had 8 turnovers in this quarter alone and trailed by 22 points at halftime.
If for some crazy reason you watch a lot of Wolves games like I do, halftime is the point in Wolves games when good teams are mentally already on the flight back to the city from which they came. The alternative is that these teams will go through the motions for 3 quarters and then show up just in time in the 4th quarter to put the game away. Often times we still get blown out by these teams. The Suns went with the 1st choice on this night. The Suns let us back in the game in the 3rd quarter, in which we outscored them 31-17. Big Alcoholic had 8 of his 19 points in the 3rd. Kevin Love had 8 rebounds in this quarter alone. Most importantly, Amare looked completely uninterested in playing the game of basketball at this time. You see, when Amare felt like trying, we had no answer for him to the tune of 30 points and 17 rebounds. He was able to abuse anyone in his path. He dunked on Darko, he dunked on Love, he dunked on Al, Hollins, you name it. Hell I think he even dunked on some guy sitting in the 3rd row. But like the rest of the Suns, he mentally checked out at halftime thinking he could coast the rest of the game. Uncharacteristically, we still had some fight left in us on this given night. So early in the 4th quarter, with all of the Suns starters sitting on the bench, the Wolves pulled within 1 point of the Suns led by Al and Gomes. This seemed like a pretty monumental achievement at the time, but Alvin Gentry checked his starters back into the game, Amare bent us over, and the rest is history.
With all of this out of the way, let me get to the real point of this article.
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves have brought back veteran forward Brian Cardinal.
Cardinal signed with the Wolves on Tuesday. He was traded to New York last month for center Darko Milicic (MILL'-uh-chich), but the Knicks waived Cardinal after the deal to make him a free agent. The 6-foot-8 Cardinal played in 27 games for Minnesota before the trade. He averaged only 1.7 points and 9.0 minutes per game, but he has been a popular teammate for the rebuilding Timberwolves. They first acquired Cardinal in a draft-day deal with Memphis in 2008 that sent O.J. Mayo to the Grizzlies and brought Kevin Love to Minnesota.
Tonight the Wolves can snap their 14 game losing streak against the Bobcats, who are easily having their best season in franchise history. Neat.
Charlotte made a risky trade for The Goomba from Super Mario Brothers The Movie last fall that has surprisingly paid off quite well. The Bobcats appear to be playoff contenders for the next couple of years at least, but the team's best players are approaching the inevitable decline.
With that said, the Goomba/Radmanovic trade begs the following question: is building for the long term a better approach, or is the Boston/Charlotte approach a better choice given the economy and need for immediate fan interest/$$$? While I wrote a long manifest on why i think knee-jerk trades for mediocre players are a terrible idea here, wouldn't it be outstanding to have a team like the Bobcats right now? A playoff race during March Madness and the dawn of the new Twin's Ballpark, coupled with the conclusion of what seemed to be the worst winter I can remember (since last year at least)? Could it have been any better?!
The Wolves have positioned themselves to add some nice pieces, but until Kahn actually maximizes any of his assets other than Jason Hart's non-guaranteed contract, I won't hold my breath. Think back to the 1996-1997 season when the Wolves made their first run. That was indescribable, even though I was in the 6th or 7th grade at the time and was struggling with long division and fractions. There was nothing like it. Can we wait 2-3 more years? We most likely will have to, but still.
Our team has "progressed" into a bombsquad that has won a single game since February 6th. And this is, as Kahn would put it, the "premier organization for player development?" Really? This is the team that we have developed into this season? Flynn seems to have gotten worse during his much heralded rookie season, Love seems to have quit on the team. Al just needs another summer of rehab. 1 game since 2 weeks prior to the acquisition of Darko? Is anyone on this team worth keeping, seriously?
As Mike, the Wolves emcee, actually said on The Target Center loudspeaker on Monday vs. Sloth from Goonies and the Raptors, "here's hoping for a good offseason."
I want the Wolves to take this one tonight, but keep in mind we want Charlotte in the playoffs since we own their draft pick this offseason. A tough call I guess.
PG - Felton vs. Flynn
SG - Brewer vs. The Goomba from Super Mario Brothers The Movie
SF - Gomes vs. Gerald "I Ruined the Dunk Contest" Wallace
I only watched the second half of the game since my DVR was working overdrive tonight (so sue me.) What happened? It was close and then POW, we = dead. Yeah yeah, I know, we "came back" towards the end... but let's not kid ourselves here. There's like a 0.000001% chance that we don't end up with the second worst record in the entire league. This tanking is getting ridiculous. I mean, we've lost 19 out of our last 20 games! We need to switch it up and get Stern off our back, maybe win a game or three at some point in the second half of the season?
And if Rambis/Kahn aren't tanking... then god help us all.
Even their own rims are betraying the Timberwolves now.
One point-blank missed layup is understandable, and two are unlucky. The Timberwolves missed five on Monday at Target Center, a critical lapse that allowed a rare winnable game to slip away. The Toronto Raptors capitalized by holding off a late Wolves' rally and claim their 12th consecutive victory against Minnesota, 106-100.
Really? Blaming the loss on the rims? Don't they know how bad we are? Did the editor miss the fact that we've lost 19 of our last 20? "Timberwolves" and "missed layups" are two of the most commonly linked clauses in the English language.
After Toronto's 106-100 victory Monday night at Target Center, which stretched the Wolves' losing streak to 13 games, Rambis didn't try to hide his admiration for a team with "talented guards, good pick-setters and big men who can shoot."
The combination reminded Rambis and his staff that the Wolves (14-57) still have trouble with their halfcourt defense — particularly against tall forwards or centers who would rather shoot jumpers than post up in the lane. And why not, when 6-foot-10 forwards Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu and 7-foot center Andrea Bargnani can make those shots?
Al Jefferson had 22 points and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have lost 19 of their last 20 games. They trailed 94-92 with 3:29 to play, but couldn't come up with any key stops down the stretch to end their skid.
Bosh broke his own franchise record with his 44th double-double of the season. It was also the 36th time this year he has had at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, the most in the league.
Had a little trouble finding something to highlight from that enlightening report.
Before Monday night's 106-100 loss to Toronto at Target Center, Rambis acknowledged that the players are "very frustrated," but he's not relaxing his demands on them or easing their routines.
"My message to the players is to continue to work hard and improve your game," Rambis said. "We still have them lifting weights and doing the things they need to do to get better. We don't want them to flush the season."
Rambis is hoping the Wolves' schedule will help them avoid complacency as the season winds down. Seven of the Wolves' remaining 11 games are against playoff-bound teams or teams in contention. Toronto, with its win Monday, moved into a tie with Charlotte for the seventh playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Well that's good to hear. I thought maybe this team had given up on the season already.
Last night, that break was a road game against the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves. It was rarely pretty, but Toronto picked up a 106-100 win. That, paired with Saturday's victory over the even-worse New Jersey Nets, puts Toronto back on the friendly side of .500.
The Raptors received the bulk of their punch from their two big men. Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani combined for 40 points on 16-for-30 shooting, grabbing 17 rebounds between them.
Or maybe they knew how easy it is to beat us. Yay, free wins for everyone!
Releasing Tucker leaves the Wolves with 13 players, the NBA minimum, on their roster. Minnesota faces Toronto tonight in Target Center.
Bummer. He had four HUGE buckets for us this year.
More on Darko and his future with the Wolves from the Detroit Free Press.com:
“Yeah, I’d come back. That’s what I’m looking for,” the 7-footer said only a month after being rescued from exile on the Knicks’ bench. “Minnesota came up and they kind of trust me. They gave me a chance, and I like it.”
It’s the first time that Milicic, who had to be talked into even reporting to Minnesota after the Feb. 18 trade for Brian Cardinal, has softened his stated intention to sign with a European team this summer.
And it’s the first sign that the Timberwolves’ nothing-to-lose strategy of trading for the unused big man, giving him ample playing time and letting him warm up to the franchise might pay off.
I don't see how we can guarantee him minutes. It would just be setting a bad precendent...
When Hidayet "Hedo" Turkoglu signed a 5-year $53 million dollar contract this summer with the Toronto Raptors, Canadians everywhere were stunned to find out that he was actually Sloth from the 1985 Richard Donner epic "The Goonies," also starring Hollywood Q-lister Sean Astin. While Sloth's hairstyle has improved with the times, the above photo should indeed put this heated debate aside one and for all.
Battling Sloth and his 2nd in command Chris Bosh tonight is going to be a tough one for Darko Milicic and crew. The Wolves have thrown away an epic-fail level 13-games in a row in the month of March, making a winless final full month an even more likely hilarity to appease the cynics. And the sad thing is, I don't even think we are tanking. We don't even have to tank any more to be honest. As we discuss in the forums, here is a draft watch update, understanding that me posting this publicly has all but guaranteed us a shot at the 4th pick and Al-Farouq Aminu.
1st Pick - New Jersey, 2nd pick - Wolves and what now is a 5.5 game differential between: 3rd pick - Golden State. So, things are looking good in guaranteeing a top 5 pick. I must say that sounds tasty and in a twisted way, worth this miserable season.
Back to tonight's contest. The Raptors have the fortune of coming off a game against New Jersey the other night and have hit a bit of a slump themselves the last 15 games. One would say this one is winnable, but I think Sloth and Bosh will take this one.
PG - Jose Calderon Vs. Jonny Flynn
SG - DeMar "ProActive Anyone?" DeRozan Vs. Corey Brewer
SF - Sloth from Goonies Vs. Ryan Gomes
PF - Chris Bosh Vs. Jack Daniels Jefferson
C - Andrea "I have a woman's name" Bargnani Vs. Darko Milcic
Might I also get anecdotal here for a moment. When the Raptors came for the pre-season I had the fortune of sitting courtside next to the Raptors' bench. Aside from it being an extremely awkward, yet interesting experience, I was sitting with a friend of a friend who had a young child around 3 years old. While it was a warm-hearted experience watching the little kid yell at the players, trying feverishly to get attention, one player in particular was not warm to the idea. While many ignored, Reggie Evans actually turned and scoffed at the kid. What did former Wolf Rasho Nesterovic do? Brought out a pair of signed sneakers after the game. Class vs. Ass people.
Darko Milicic had a rather startling answer after practice this morning when Phil Miller asked him whether he'd return to the Timberwolves next season if the team guaranteed him a starting job and 30 to 35 minutes a game.
He said yes.
Now, he also said the team would have to make off-season moves that proves things are bound to get better. He was very clear this 0-4 road trip from which the team returned Saturday was truly miserable. He finished the trip with a 16-point, 12-rebound game Friday in L.A. He missed the final five minutes because of back spasms he attributed to conditioning issues.
But he also indicated the right environment where he can grow and develop as a player -- not money, destination or other factors -- is most important to him.
"I just want to play next year. I'm not trying to show people I deserve to be second pick. I just want to see the best I can be," Milicic said. "This is the best league in the world. I want to get a real chance."
It sounds like he still wants to live the NBA dream, but without having to live up to the expectations of the guy drafted ahead of Camelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
He said he doubts any other NBA team would make him such a guarantee, so "if it doesn't happen here, it's not going to happen anywhere else. If I don't make a deal with these guys here, it's going to be in Europe. But who knows?"
Of course, the Wolves don't seem willing to guarantee Kevin Love a starting job and 30 to 35 minutes a game, so...
If Darko is your long-term starter, would that have to mean Love or Al Jefferson gets traded this summer? I can't see Love -- and certainly not Big Al -- being happy as a sixth man permanently.
Wonder what it will take to convince Darko that things will indeed get better here.
My initial reaction to this is... whoa whoa WHOA, wait a second here. I mean, really? Is this something the Front Office Brass is already prepared to do? I mean, let's not jump the gun here fellas. Yeah, I have been liking Darko's passing and legitimate big man defense as much as anyone, but let's get real. Also, I know that (cough cough) another Wolves site out there thinks that Darko is the second coming of JC and all, but talk about getting ahead of yourself here.
I like Darko for the fact that he's a legitimate seven footer, and the team has played better and more cohesively with him on the court. I don't like his conditioning (fatty Mcfatterson), but I guess he hasn't been perpetually out of shape during his career. And he is just 25, after all. He's probably better right now than any center we could draft (Aldrich, Cousins, Udoh, Favors, etc), although those guys probably have as much (or likely, more) upside.
And what would it cost to resign him? Has anyone thought about this at all? He's making the MLE now. So he'll come back and play for us for the minimum, despite the fact that he could easily get $5+ million per in Europe (taxfree bitches!) We'll have $10-12 or so milion in cap space this summer without Darko, and we want to use up $5 million of that on Darko freakin Miliillic? Uhhhhh, pass.
And I haven't even mentioned the guaranteed minutes yet. The Kahn-man and Rambis can't even guarantee one of our best players (Love) consistent minutes, but Darko will get a minimum of 30 per game? Not sure how that will work out. And with Darko back playing 30 minutes per game, that means we MUST trade Big Al, right? Granted, I'm all for trading Jefferson, but if this happened Mr. Sourly would, I imagine, be pretty pissed off. It might lower his trade value, but then again I'm not sure how much lower his trade value can get right now.
If we can move Jefferson for value (a wing player and another nice draft pick), then yeah, I guess let's resign Darko. They'd have to be high to give him more than $5 million per year, but even if he got that and we traded Jefferson it would still save us $8 or so million. That $8 million would be eaten up by the players we got in return for Al and the draft pick, but I think Darko + stud wing + another lottery pick is probably a decent way to spend that cash.
I like Darko, but let's not overpay him or react too quickly here.
This is it - the dawn of a new era. TWB has been reborn and is now in its third incarnation. The blog started humbly on Wordpress and built up a modest following. Then came the trade that rocked Minnesota and uprooted the foundation of the franchise. With KG on the move, Wolves Nation was in turmoil and so the three leading Timberwolves blogs at the time merged into one, creating a beacon of hope for our fellow fans. That was TWB 2.0, a powerhouse of Minnesota basketball coverage, that for a time, was the most-visited Timberwolves destination on the entire web. However, the problem with being at the top is that there's only one direction to go from there. For better or for worse, work, kids, pirates (yup, you read that right), and even Bloguin itself got a bit in the way. As a result, TWolves Blog wasn't able to provide the top-tier coverage we once did. We still had big chunks of Daily News thanks to Sonia and a great forum community, but things just weren't as good as they used to be. The giant had fallen asleep for a bit.
Then this happened...
You see, there was this other Wolves blog out there, you may have heard of them, called Canis Hoopus. Anyway, they had started up their own Wolves blog sometime around when the TWB 2.0 merger occurred. They wrote some good stuff, and we helped their site gain notoriety by throwing them tons of links in our daily updates. They participated in our forum discussions, and things were pretty congenial. All in all, it was a good friendship. They provided Wolves fans with tons of statistics, and we provided them with daily news and a forum. It was a good yin and yang type setup for Wolves fans.
But it wasn't a good setup for Canis, apparently. You see, they wanted the stats AND the news. Like HBK, they had to have it all to themselves. So while Dave and I were busy building a blog network and assisting hundreds of other bloggers to do what they love, the Hoopus boys decided to blindside us with some Sweet Chin Music and throw us head-first through a window. For those of you who need more elaboration on that analogy, they basically snuck in and stole away TWB's bread and butter, our leading content contributor, Sonia.
(Here's where I say thank you to Sonia for all her amazing work the past two years, that she's a wonderful friend and person, and that we will truly miss her here on TWolvesBlog.)
At this point, Dave and I were stunned and bloody, unsure of how to replace such a vital member of our team. Part of us wanted to give up. We had our lives, our regular jobs, and Bloguin. There was only so much room on our plates. But, the thing about Dave and I is we were trained in the temple of Kevin Garnett. And if there's one thing that man taught us, it's this: when things get tough, when you're defeated, when things seem impossible - that's when you dig down and push just that little bit harder. That's when you refuse to quit.
"I'm ready. I can't even describe it. I feel like it's rookie season all over again, with the energy I have. You guys have been talking all that bull, so I'm ready to prove all you wrong. I'm here. Hey, when stuff got tight, when Steph [Marbury] left, I'm here. When we went through the draft pick [forfeitures], I'm here. When we got put out six years in a row, I'm here. I'm going to be here until they don't want me anymore. I'm 'Sota, man. This is where I live, 365 days. I'm here. Life is tough. You can't run from everything."
That's a quote from a man fresh off his sixth-straight first round playoff exit. That's a quote from a man who's about run dead smack into a seventh. The man was going to war with Troy Hudson, Wally Szczerbiak, Kendall Gill, and Rasho Nesterovic, yet he refused to give anything but his all.
We may have lost the biggest asset this site has ever had. We may have lost her to our friend-turned-rival blog. We may be bruised and out of the Royal Rumble. But I can tell you this - we are not out of the fight.
Today, we launch TWB 3.0, and with it, we bring a completely new brand of Timberwolves coverage that is unlike anything else our fanbase has ever experienced. We're tired of seeing this team lose. We're tired of inept management and poor decisions. We're tired of the lame coverage that this team gets. We've all been bored and sleeping for the past five seasons and it's time to change direction. Whether they meant to or not, Hoopus woke us up with their blindside. Now that we've successfully removed the knife from our back and touched up the site, we're pulling the covers off the rest of you and kicking you out of bed.
So good morning, Wolves Nation. Here's our first piece of daily news:
We're back, we're P.O.'ed, and we're about to change everything you knew about Wolves coverage.
Oh yeah, and...
ANYTHING IS POOOOOOOSSSSSSSIIIIIIIIIBLLLLLLLLLLLLEEEE!
As you all know, the Wolves throw down with the Lakers tomorrow night. Our fearless coach is returning to his homeland, and blah blah blah. I just hope we don't lose by 50. But it's certainly not out of the question. All these terrible games lately have really soured my disposition. We've lost by something like an average of 19 points the past 7 games. I hate the Lakers and can't stand Kobe Bryant, and used to wish with every fiber of my being for the Wolves to beat them. Alas, it's not really the case as much anymore because we've just been so uncompetitive the past few seasons. (P.S. Give us our team name back!)
Enough about our ineptitude. I just enchanged some notes with Bloguin's resident Lakers blogger Don, over at With Malice. You should all already know how awesome he is, as we've collaborated together before. If not... well let's just say that he sucks a lot less is waaaaay cooler than most Lakers fans, especially since he lives in Japan. If you care to hear my responses to his questions, check out the article (and his blog) by clicking HERE. If you don't care about me, I don't blame you. If you want to see a hard-core Laker fan's thoughts on our Wolves, than click Read More below.
Please click "Read More" to see what Don has to say in response to my riveting questions...
I'm pretty sure this is the most points the Wolves have ever given up in a NBA game. But I'm too lazy to look it up because I don't care. The Wolves don't care about being a legitimate (or even average) NBA organization, so why should I care about fact-checking on their behalf?
We are joke. I can't believe I only predicted the Wolves to lose by 25 points tonight. Fail.