A look back at the Cherokee Parks era.
Update: this prompted a quick search for a Googs throwback mix. Enjoy.
Per a team release, the Wolves have announced a franchise-record 78 games will be televised locally/nationally this season.. This is great news for fans who, unless you dropped a cool $175 for NBA League Pass, had to miss several big games last season when the Wolves were making a January/February run. Channels are MY29, FSNN, FSN+, NBATV, TNT and ESPN. Here is the schedule in case you are desperately craving news and just want to study it closer.
The Wolves currently have 13 guaranteed contracts on the roster, leaving two roster spots available to round it out with washed-up veterans, novelty players and/or Caucasian prospects. Let's take a look at the best of what's left.
1. Nothing special. An additional big body, preferably a traditional center. But PF's who can rotate in and defend/fill a spot/simply not be a liability should be considered.
2. A reserve swingman. With Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko both being susceptible to injury, it is only a matter of time before Luke Ridnour could be playing small forward in crunch time again. And while this shockingly worked in several big games last year, such a situation is about as ideal as spending an eternity in Hell unwrapping CD cellophane wrap (the bane of human existence).
3. Not much else other than perhaps a talent consolidation via trade, but that is not the purpose of this. It's safe to say a PG is generally not needed at this point. Thus, any such player will be omitted from the remaining dudes (or dudettes in Jonny Flynn's case). Combo guards in the build of Luke Ridnour and Barea were also omitted. A guard added would ideally be able to defend the small forward position, and is more a SG/SF-type.
4. A novelty player! Lets do this!
5. A veteran, quality locker room guy.
Cash Available: None. Minimum salary exception only as the Wolves are over the cap.
Now that the filter has been placed on the list, here are some free-agent possibilities:
CLICK "READ MORE" TO SEE THE LIST
Dwight Howard will keep his beaming smile much to the chagrin of teams and fans across the league. After a year of committing some of the biggest PR blunders in NBA history, Howard has found himself in exactly the position he had hoped for- competing for a championship in a highly lucrative market. As part of a four-team trade on Friday, Howard became the newest center for the Los Angeles Lakers, continuing the team’s long tradition of acquiring All Star big men in highly expensive fashion. When one considers what past Lakers centers (Shaq, Kareem and Wilt) have done during their career in Southern California, there is reason to believe Dwight and his new teammates may pose a serious threat to the Western Conference competitors in the foreseeable future.
With Howard now on the starting roster, the Lakers are a true powerhouse in the league. By joining Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, the Lakers’ starting five will have accounted for 33 All Star appearances. If that fact alone does not give rivals cause for fear, it is also worth noting the Lakers have improved their bench considerably by adding Jodie Meeks this past week and Antawn Jamison earlier this summer. Simply put, the team is stacked. Only a few teams will have a roster that can not only handle but also compete with this talent. The Thunder will still be able to hold their own due to their speed, athleticism and any improvement from Durant, Ibaka, Harden and Westbrook this offseason. However, there is another team that might be able to shake this Lakers cage- your very own Minnesota Timberwolves.
While this prediction seems bold and arguably outrageous given the Wolves’ past shortcomings, there is reason to not only entertain this possibility but perhaps even take it seriously. Here are the factors to consider when examining these teams against each other: roster matchups, Adelman’s coaching success and looming risks for the Lakers.
1. Roster Matchups
There are only a few centers in the league that can match the strength and size of Dwight Howard. There are even fewer centers that can actually slow him down. One could argue a member of this select party is Nikolai Pekovic. In their one meeting this season, Pekovic was able to put Howard in foul trouble early and hold him to a mere 4-11 shooting. Alternatively, Pekovic was able to score 16 points and grab 13 boards, proving he was a player to be watched throughout the season.
If Howard and Pekovic are indeed the elephants of the league, then consider Rubio and Nash the respective mice. Just in the way that Nash can find more holes than Swiss cheese in a team’s defense, so can Rubio. Their craftiness and overall court vision is unrivaled amongst their peers, making them the perfect matchup for this scenario. Before his injury, Rubio barely trailed Nash in APG and quickly became the trusted leader of the Wolves squad. If Kobe does not embrace Nash’s play the way the Wolves did with Rubio, it is possible Rubio could have an edge over his elder.
We saw in yesterday’s Olympic final that Love was desperately needed to battle Pau Gasol throughout the third and fourth quarter. Love was able to quickly limit Gasol's output and secure key rebounds to help lead the US to victory. Like Gasol, Love was incredibly valuable to his Olympic team in generating extra possessions from his size and work on the boards. But consider this stat per Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune- Pau Gasol & Kevin Love grabbed 61 rebounds each (most in Olympics). The difference- their minutes on the court: Gasol (228) & Love (138). Love is considered by many to be the best power forward in the game right now. While he might not be as strong defensively as Gasol, he is arguably the more valuable commodity due to his three point shooting and rebounding skills.
Bryant and Roy may not appear comparable in the slightest; however, even they own some distinct similarities. Both are recovering from the same blood-spinning procedure they took on this past year. Their success hinges on whether their knees can continue to battle the swelling and soreness as they play on. Bryant has proven he can still compete at a high level, inspiring Roy to pursue the same goal. Over the course of the next season, we will see if this surgery is truly revolutionary or simply a band-aid for greater ailments. On a side note, one can also not deny that before Roy went out he was one of the best closers in the game, a role that he and Bryant will likely take upon themselves even as they battle injuries.
2. Rick Adelman’s Past Success
Think back to the ‘Sacramento Queens,’ labeled as such by Shaquille O’Neal when he proclaimed “We ain’t scared of the Sacramento Queens” during the 2002 Western Conference Finals. This Sacramento Kings squad, coached by Rick Adelman, was desperately close to reaching the NBA Finals and making Shaq and his fellow Lakers the butt of their own joke. The Kings nearly defeated the mighty Lakers if not for some timely whistles, still highly controversial to this day. This hard fought series became the heart of the Donaghy allegations and its egregious calls still leaves a lasting stain on basketball a decade later. Spectators across the league were left to ask “What if?”, wondering if Adelman’s Kings were robbed for a chance at basketball glory.
Fast-forward to today and you’ll notice the 2012 Timberwolves seem to mirror that 2002 Kings squad with each team built around supreme foreign talent (Rubio, Kirilenko, Pekovic/ Turkoglu, Stojakovic and Divac) and players capable of knocking down corner threes (Budinger, Shved, Roy/ Jackson, Christie, Stojakovic) and effectively cutting to the basket. Add a once-in-a-generation forward/center hybrid in Love and Webber and one can dream these Wolves may go just as deep into the playoffs. The one person that will be able to shape this team into a strong playoff competitor is Rick Adelman. His unique ability to manage game lineups and draw the most from young talent could very well take these Wolves further than most expect.
3. Looming Risks for Lakers
Adelman is largely considered one of the best coaches in the league; the same cannot be said for Lakers coach Mike Brown. Many wondered if Brown would even return to coach the Lakers after losing to the Thunder in last year’s playoffs. Back for another shot, it will be championship or bust for Brown. Unlike Adelman, Brown is not nearly as effective at toying with lineups and tapping into his players’ innate talents. This fault leaves room for other teams to exploit the Lakers, forcing mismatches upon them and changing the tempo of the game.
The Lakers may also be forced to learn once again that the first time isn’t always a charm. We have seen multiple times throughout NBA history that chemistry doesn’t always develop within one season. Even after securing Shaq, Kareem and Wilt, the Lakers were never able to make the championship their first year. With nagging injuries plaguing Nash, Howard and Bryant, this season may be an even greater test for how quickly this team can mesh together. Wolves should view this situation as an excellent opportunity to not only make a splash in the playoffs but also threaten the Lakers if they ever see each other in the postseason.
The NBA is a league of favorites. Spectators and fans alike are more prone to make guarantees than to consider upsets and favor underdogs. More opinions will state with confidence that the Lakers are going to the Championship than the Wolves will make it past the first round of the playoffs. Let’s say the Lakers secure the #1 or 2 playoff seed and the Wolves land in the 7th or 8th spot. Who’s to say there isn’t a fighting chance for the team with more lakes than celebrities? Maybe there isn’t enough supporting evidence to make an argument for this case and this article is just a shot in the dark. One way or another, there is always room for hope and the potential for history to be made.no comments
Sanyarin, a valued forum member, has taken time out of his day to translate a recent Andrei Kirilenko Interview originally posted on a German sports portal. I am working to find the source material to credit the original author as I am not familiar with German sports websites. For now, enjoy this contribution he made in our forums. Thanks, Sanyarin!
Greetings fellow pupsters!
Haven’t been around for one or two eternities, I guess, and I’m not sure that’s about to change soon. But I just stumbled upon this interview with Andrei Kirilenko, conducted by one of Germany’s most popular (not necessarily best) sport portals and published yesterday. And as I have the rare day off, I thought it might be of some interest to you guys altough there's not much information to be gained from it. Nonetheless, you'll hopefully enjoy it. I might have been absent, but haven’t forgotten about you all.
Sadly, my English has gotten a little bit rusty over time and it never was the best to begin with, so you’ll have to make well with my cumbersome translation from German into English … whith the interview probably being conducted in English and translated into German afterwards. There and back again …
The translation is also probably not the most consistent one as I kinda switch between trying to translate 1:1 and trying to grasp more of the sense than the pure wording. On the occasion that words are put in [brackets], those are (maybe) closer to the true translation than the words I chose to use but sounded sort of weid to my ear … just as will this whole translation to yours. But enough of that, here we go:
Question: Congratulations on reaching the semi-finals. Your very close to winning a medal now. The perfect farewell, considering you are leaving Europe for the NBA?
Kirilenko: *laughs* Oh yes! I want that medal bad! We have a great team right now, not necessarily playing the best basketball, but fighting till we drop. We are like mean [small, little] dogs, biting and fighting for every ball. I really enjoy seeing the way the Russian team has taken shape over the last years. We never give up.
Question: Is it this feature that makes the Russian Team so strong?
Kirilenko: I think our Coach David Blatt manages to build a tremendous spirit within the team [gives us team spirit]. He says: We don't have superior scorers, but we do have superior team defense. Thus, we must play to our strengths [play that way]. This works very well. And we're a great collective off the court as well. There are no loners among us. When one guy wants to do [undertake] something, normally everybody joins him.
Question: Now you're facing Spain and therefore old companions [acquiatances].
Kirilenko: *laughs* Very old companions. I played with Pau Gasol, Jose Calderon and Juan Carlos Navarro as early as when we were in junior [youth] teams. I know them for 15 years for sure. This will be a real hoot. We know each other in and out. It will be decisive who, on this day, in this game, brings his A game [will be in better form].
Question: Which European is the Number 1 right now?
Kirilenko: It changes from season to season. Sometimes one guy has a strong year and another is going through a slump [has problems]. But it comes down to the well-known names: Dirk Nowitzki, although he's a little bit older than the others, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker.
Question: Do we get to see the best AK47 of all times during these Olympics?
Kirilenko: I don't want to judge that myself. I have never been a big time scorer, but I'm more of a team player who's helping his team by doing all those little things on offense as well as on defense.
Question: This year in Russia, did it make you a better player because you know both worlds now, the NBA and European basketball [Europe]?
Kirilenko: It made me more versatile, I believe, because it's [they play] a completely different kind of Basketball in the USA and in Europe. I really don't want to say which one is the better, but they can't really be compared to one another anyway. The Spaniards, for instance, employ [work with] an unbelievably fast passing game while with the US boys it's mostly all about athletics. The South Americans are really tough as well. The Asians, on the other hand, run and shoot most of the time and now and then, you don’t understand what their game plan is [what they do on the court]. That is so interesting about watching Olympic basketball.
Question: Certainly you have watched the Dream Team. Is it even possible to beat the USA?
Kirilenko: They can be beat, but it’s very, very difficult. They always play fantastic, have a guy on every position who knows how to play, how to score, how to rebound, how to do the right thing at the right time [act in the decisive moment]. If you plan to squeeze out a win [want to beat them], you have to perfectly execute your own game plan without letting your attention slip for one second. The Argentineans did that brilliantly for 30 minutes in the preliminary [their group game], but then lost the decisive quarter 17:42.
Question: You will get to know one man from the Dream Team much better in the upcoming year, Kevin Love, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ star. Why did you decide to sign with the T-Wolves [change teams]?
Kirilenko: The opportunity arose for me to return to the NBA this offseason. I had watched some games of the T-Wolves last season and considered it an interesting team. They move a lot on the court, play a European style. I like that. And I love Rick Adelman. I’m a fan of him since his days with Sacramento. I thought: He’s the coach who can fit me into a system. That is a great opportunity for me. I was intrigued by other teams as well, but they played a different brand of basketball, focusing more on the individual player than team effort [team play]. But that’s exactly what I like.
Question: Along with you, you teammate Alexej Shved will join [move to] Minnesota. What’s you opinion on him?
Kirilenko: I like his game! I think, he had a break out [breakthrough] this year. The Olympics hint at him being ready to compete [play] on the highest level now. I appreciate our coach giving him more freedom and responsibility compared to the European Championships last year.
Question: Can he make it in the NBA?
Kirilenko: I hope so. Everybody sees his potential. Most of all, he has the physical tools that will make it difficult to defend him in the NBA. His ability to create plays for both himself and his teammates will be very valuable in the NBA.
Question: Kevin Love is already very valuable. Can he become an NBA MVP?
Kirilenko: Definitely. He could have already been MVP last season but it really hurt his case that his team missed the playoffs. Additionally, an injury forced him to sit out a few games. If you have a franchise player in the NBA, he needs to play all the time. Otherwise, the whole team looses its balance. The Timberwolves’ whole game was especially dependent on Kevin.
Question: Do you believe you can help the T-Wolves with you experience not to loose its balance so easily and to reach the playoffs?
Kirilenko: I will do my best. As I said, I’m not the big scorer, but I can certainly help the team in many areas.
And once again, check all this out (and more!) in our TWolves Blog Forums!
Inspired by the release of what may be the single greatest photo of all time (as seen above), we now know Kahn is on a mission. He will fool us. Hide in plain sight. He is everywhere, yet nowhere. Let us journey together to discover where David Kahn has been hiding since the Kirilenko signing. Let's play: Where's Kahn?
(Instructions in case of innate slowness: find Kahn in the photos below)
As we now know, David Kahn is a master of disguise. But he will have to do a little bit better than this lackluster, Jonny Flynn-like effort to fool us this time.
Here we see Kahn better blend in with his natural surroundings
A man among boys, Kahn will BLEND IN to any situation. A true master of disguise and deceit.
Did you find them all? Stay tuned for more Where's Kahn? adventures throughout this next season and beyond!!!
In a shocking, very quick turn of events, Kahn has finally acquired a significant player by signing Andrei Kirilenko to a 2-year, $20 million contract. Ten brief thoughts:
1. Kirilenko is a terrific player. He immediately brings a robust skillset and plenty of experience along with it. He is an excellent defender, falling into the swiss-army knife forward category. He can hit the outside shots. Brings energy, toughness, passing rebounding, defense, steals, blocks and shooting. He is about as versatile of a forward as they come. Don't let anyone tell you this isn't a very, very good addition to this roster.
2. Kirilenko was not technically "out of the league for a year." He missed the season because of the lockout. During said year, he won the Euroleague MVP. Any argument that he is "washed up" and "no team wanted him" is completely baseless.
3. Kirilenko's injury proneness is a legit concern.
4. $10 million is not much of an overpayment for a player of his skillset, experience and prestige. Look around. We are just used to Kahntracts and rookie deals. What is funny is I'll bet those against the money would be a-ok giving Gerald Wallace a similar deal. Seems hypocritical.
5. The Wolves finally look like a decent team.
6. Those of you who don't like this move can kindly enjoy your alternative universe with Wes Johnson still in it and maybe a Willie Green offseason "cherry on top."
7. Many Wolves fans should eat crow for dessert tonight (me included). A big move finally came.
8. Trading Wes Johnson and a 1st rounder hurts. I get it. I'd rather focus on what is ahead. The Wes Johnson era is now over. The Wolves still have one extra first rounder. Wes will not be missed. Pretend it didn't happen. Consistent, good basketball is upon us for the first time since 2004.
9. What on earth is the plan for Derrick Williams? 6th man combo forward? He is going to have a hard time finding minutes. This is a negative by-product.
10. < Insert ridiculously overdone whitey joke>no comments
Often times before I post something, I will poke around on various Wolves blogs and especially message boards to get a general idea of how Wolves fans are feeling about the team, a trade, or a rumor. It's always a fun thing to read many different perspectives on the state of the team. That being said, it is safe to say that up until Portland matched the Wolves' offer sheet for Nicolas Batum, this fanbase was, generally, excited. Even some of the deeply cynical posters on this site took a temporary positive tone. Glen Taylor was finally opening his pocket books. There "was a plan B if this all fell apart" and fans were motivated, coming up with trade scenarios and good fits, debating the transactions not-to-be in a futile, yet familiar manner. "The Wolves are finally going to be a winning team," and so on and so forth. Our own macro-perceptions of what would be the Wolves' offseason were clouded by what turned out to be a complete fools' errand. An assumption marinaded in wishful thinking. And while this may sound like I am a bit late to the party, analyzing a series of Batum-related events that finally came to a close a week ago, there are still plenty of takeaways that still carry through today:
CLICK READ MORE TO CONTINUE
Big news on this fine, humid Thursday evening. Just 24 hours after the Wild shocked the hockey world, Kahn dishes out $60 million to two superb potential free agent acquisitions in a double-move designed to remodel the Wolves destitute wing positions.
According to several reports and allegedly first reported by Jason Quick of The Oregonian, the Wolves have come to an agreement with 3-time All-Star and recent retiree Brandon Roy on a 2-year contract reportedly worth just over $10 million. I mention Roy first because he is the only sure bet here to be in a Wolves uniform next season as Batum is only getting the offer sheet that Portland will likely match. Roy, as you know, was drafted by the Wolves in 2006 and quickly traded for Randy Foye in what was arguably the worst trade in franchise history. Roy had a terrific run in Portland as a multiple all-star and was forced into early retirement due to a degenerative knee condition. Now, after a year off and a series of high-profile, experimental knee treatments, Roy will give it a go again. My take: an absolute superb risk. Only the deeply cynical Wolves fans can dislike this as it involved a below average salary and a potential high return at the position the Wolves struggled mightily at. The contract will likely eat into cap space, but this is a good move to make. However, expectations must be tempered, as Roy will likely miss chunks of time over these two years. Regardless, this is a really solid signing and quality risk to take. TWB-approved.
Minutes later (and had you even attempted to run and grab something to drink you would have missed it) it was reported by the AP that the Wolves agreed to terms on an offer sheet with Nic Batum worth $45 million + bonuses and a well-reported desire for Batum to resume his career in Minnesota alongside Roy, Rubio and Darko Milicic. Just hours ago, fans were tying the noose after it was reported Portland would match any offer. Yours truly, your self-proclaimed resident Debbie Downer McWetblanket thought most hope was lost. How quickly things change. Portland is likely to match this offer, but at the very least it is a good, strong offer the Wolves shouldn't even flinch at giving. Kahn is calling Portland's bluff and bless him for doing so. Why not? What is nice about the new CBA is restricted free agent contract decisions must be made now 3-days after the offer sheet is signed vs. 7 in the previous CBA. This will help the Wolves pursue their contingency plans quicker if and when Portland decides to match the offer prior to July 14th (3 days after the moratorium period ends and Batum is likely signed). I am glad this was reported in tandem with the Roy signing. That makes the Batum offer sheet/match implications a brighter move in context.
A bad day for the Wolves turned into a great day. Hats off to David Kahn for Roy, and 45 million hats off to Kahn if we get Batum out of this.
It's about time. It feels weird writing something optimistic.no comments