The Minnesota Timberwolves haven't had the most successful of histories, and that's putting it lightly. So when somebody comes out and says that this current Timberwolves squad is THE worst ever, that's a pretty big claim. After all, if this season continues on it's current pace, you're going to need a third hand to count the number of times that Minnesota failed to win 30 games, and this is the team's 21st season. Below is an edited transcript of an ongoing conversation in our TWolves Blog forum. It's a place that's pretty much visited by only the most die-hard of die-hards, but I felt that it was a conversation that was worth sharing with the NBA blogging community to let them know what's really going on with the Wolves and where the collective psyche of their fans currently resides. Here we go...
TWolf2324: I know it is way too early but I have this terrible feeling that this is the worst Timberwolves team ever. It makes the Laettner-Rider teams from mid-90's look respectable. Heck, it even makes the Tony Campbell-Pooh Richardson teams look better. I don't know why but I easily became a David Kahn believer, but now I realize all what he did is a big garage sale and sold average players (Foye, Telfair) for nickels. Look at this: He moved Telfair (a nice backup PG. Pretty much at the same level as sessions) and a fan favorite (Mad dog) for Q-rich. Then he moved Q-Rich (who is much better than any SG we have right now) for Mark Blount and some leftovers. He traded Ty Lawson (a great player to be in my opinion) for a future draft pick, and absolutley wasted the 2nd round picks. He did a terrible job by picking both Rubio and Flynn and then not trading one of them (If he had combined Rubio and the 18th pick wouldn't Sacramento agree to give us Evans?).
I don't think Kahn is stupid. I think he's a liar. He thinks he should tank a season or two to get very high lottery picks and clear the entire roster. The problem is that you cannot sell tickets when admitting something like that. So he tells the media and the fans stupid stories like Flynn and Rubio can make a great backcourt when playing together.
Another big problem is coach Rambis. Here in the Euroleague a coach (especially a rookie coach) shapes his strategy according to the players he has, especially his stars. Rambis is ignoring the fact that his best player is Big Al, a half court, undersized center who can do magic around the paint. Instead he decides to install a "run and gun" system alongside the triangle offense. The only problem is that for these systems you need to have players who can actually shoot from mid-range at least. Aside of Gomes and Pavlovic he has no shooters on this team, and Pavlovic is way too streaky. By combining the current players with this strategy you get a team that is beaten by 20 points on a night to night basis like we have right now. Yay!!
Oh, and one last thing. Everybody says that Big Al is not 100% YET. Who knows if he ever gonna be? Most guys never return to the same level after such injury. Plus, this diet he's doing (with the sandwiches or whatever) can actually hurt his game. He needs his mass. This is why they call him "Big" I guess. "Lean Al" is just not the same player.
Too bad, but this is probably the worst Twolves team ever.
czaras: I disagree. The team personnel-wise is not the worst ever. Heck, we missed our two best players in the last game! It's the triangle that makes us look stinky. Our players are not good in the triangle. Remember how we went on a run with the same crappy team when McHale took over from Wittman? Wittman was too play-heavy and wanted to control everything. McFail just went in and said "Play the game!" Pacino-style.
That's what Rambis needs to do. Cut into the lane Jonny. Catch and shoot Sasha. Hustle Hollins. Feed Al and Love and get into position at the three line folks. Pass out of doubles Kevin. etc. etc. SIMPLE stuff. We have classic post players. We have a classic fast & smallish PG. We have classic "can't shoot" C's. Why not play classic ball? Instead, he installs a system that does not UTILIZE THE PLAYERS ADVANTAGES. And those are too few to risk that!
chmick: Agreed. It's the classic Inflexible Rookie Coach Mistake. "I've Got a SYSTEM", happens in the NFL as well. Whereas experienced coaches adapt to their personnel. It's all well and good to plea for patience and the old adage "we didn't expect to win this year" (I swear Glen Taylor has a patent on that phase and collects royalties every time someone says it) What is it going to do to the young players (Flynn, Ellington, Hollins, Love) to be setting records for margins of defeat?
roundhouse: Kahn deserves more time before you judge his body of work. Do you not remember Mchale? How easy to forget how terrible and lazy he was at his job. As bad as the trade was w/ the Clippers giving away Bassy & Rhino for nothing, the trade w/ the Hornets was almost equally as good. We actually got a team to take Songaila's $5 million next year for an expiring contract.
College Wolf: Oh, and the Wolves are the worst in the league in point per game differential. We are currently an ASTONISHING -14 points per game. Think about that... On average, we lose every game by 14 points. That is insane.
Fat: TRIANGLE SUCKS! You could not pick a worse offense to run. My top reasons (some stated already by others):
-Too complex for a young team
-Not just one, but TWO point guards who are dribble-penetration guys
-Jefferson is not a passer and plays better in the low post than high
I agree that Rambis is beating a dead horse with this system. When you run triangle with a team that has NONE of the required strengths, you lose by 14 a night. I'm hoping, per Khan's letter, that if the losing continues, they move to a classic style pick and role motion offense. I can only hope they do, because this shit is terrible, and it's because the coach is too stubborn.
pants: The triangle is getting ripped handily these days. I feel like this team is getting better shots and having better offensive possessions than it was the last 2 years. There isn't any system than can makeup for the huge talent differential we have.
College Wolf: The Triangle Offense itself isn't the entire problem. The problem is that they determined the system AFTER they had our roster. It was a huge FAIL to wait so long to get a coach when he was going to be this strict about running his system. You need to have a system in place and then go out and get players that will fit into the system. That's the problem here. Oh, and most of our players suck. That doesn't help either.
jbird: You know your bad when you lose to the second worst team by ten.
mjohan: I always think back to my days in Boston being a pre-KG C's fan. When Ainge took over, he gutted that roster and kept only Pierce, trading players for cap space and picks, drafting wisely, and trading thos assets for better players. Problem was, even KG didn't want to go to Boston until Ray Allen convnced him to. And who's our Pierce?
My point is that Ainge saw a team that had Pierce & Antione and role players that somehow made it to the ECF and said, you know what? This team sucks, and blew it up. When done right, you end up with, at the very least, tradable, expiring deals to couple with draft picks and/or young quality players in hopes of acquiring more talent.
Wally World: My qualm, once again, was the majority of Wolves Nation riding on David Kahn's proverbial Kool-Aid covered Johnson like every move he made was pure genious. "Telfair and Smith are role players on NBA teams and thus have no value" was my favorite phrase of cognitive dissonance-covered nonsense. That trade was inexcusable, and served no purpose whatsoever, unless you factor the roster space it cleared to sign Hart and trade for Jawai. Awesome. I keep Smith/Telfair over those two any day.
The NO trade I actually really liked because clearing the $5 million for next summer was a must. The deal actually served a purpose. The Clipper/Heat trades served no bearing or purpose, as it lowered our payroll by an insignificant amount in the end and just pissed people off..
In the end, I'd like the days of "trading for nothing" to be over. The nerves are out in the open. The true question is when will Kahn cash in? These assets (expirings) DO have an expiration date attached to them. I fear that, based upon what has happened so far, a disappointing trade deadline lay ahead....
ogishkemunce: Both Kahn & Rambis, to a lesser degree, are exhibiting extreme arrogance towards the fans. As has been stated, Kahn has traded decent (not great, but better than we have) players for pennies on the dollar. His draft strategy has been undecipherable. He insists on having a running team despite the fact that our best players don't fit that idea. He belatedly hires a coach who, in turn, insists on installing a complicated offensive system for a group of people who have never played together. A system which, apparently, doesn't fit the personnel, either. A system only employed by teams which had players named Jordan & Kobe. He insists on policing his rookie point guard into mediocrity to make him a better system player, while a different point guard, considered a loose cannon and playing on a team considered almost as bad as the Wolves, explodes for 55 points, leads his team to wins and is the early leader in rookie-of-the year consideration.
Creating an entertaining or competitive team is a secondary consideration to the master plan. Losing badly creates bad habits and bad attitudes in more than just players. It has the same effect on those people who used to be called 'fans'. Again, extreme arrogance and hubris.
roundhouse: I don't care what you call it, any offense that has Corey Brewer taking the most shots on the team is wrong in so many ways. Lack of tape on Jennings is not why he scored 55 points while also getting his teammates involved and playing defense. It's because he's good. This is just making excuses. I don't care that AL isn't back and Love is out, if we can't beat GS, Grizz, and the Clippers who can we beat?
pants: Is there no level of injuries where it goes from excuses to reasons? We all thought this was a 20-odd win team coming into the year WITH Love and Jefferson as the two best players. I get really sick of coaches parroting back to interviewers that their team won't be any worse and won't make excuses about having injured guys out. Of course having less talent in a game matters.
Tobzilla: Maybe I'm an optimist but we're a month into Kahn's first year, it's too soon to bail. Honestly, who was expecting us to be good this year? I like our coaching staff. We didn't trade Foye and Miller for nickels we traded him for Rubio, a great asset and future talent. It's not Kahn's fault Rubio got cold feet and chose to delay his trip to the NBA. Of course we're bad right now our second best player (love) is injured and our best player (al) is just not himself right now.
Everyone needs to settle down. Realistic goals for this year and next:
-Draft a true game changer next year, this should be our best chance to get a top three pick. We especially need to hit on this pick because we give our 2011 pick to the Clips.
-Do something with our cap room next year. I realize we wont be in the sweepstakes for the big names but we need to add a second tier FA, (Josh Howard, Joe Johnson, Mike Redd)
-Become a borderline playoff threat next year.
czaras: You forget that almost all of the losses are blowouts. As CW mentioned, we're losing by an average of 14 points. That is a huge difference. The players are confused, and you can see that whenever you watch a Wolves game.
What Jonny Flynn said today: I think it is a triangle," rookie point guard Jonny Flynn said. "If you look at the Lakers and what they do, it's almost the exact same thing. They might run it a little differently because of the players they have and they're so used to running it. You wouldn't understand how complicated it is, especially for a guy like me who's used to his whole life being a guy off the bounce."
I don't care how many % of it they;re playing. The above quote beats that point to the ground. I mean, Flynn is one of the smarter players when it comes to "plays" on the team. He played PG so I'd assume he knows what he is talking about, especially compared to our 50, 40, 30, 3746324664% claims here on an - as you said - anonymous forum.
College Wolf: The problem is the lack of effort and being blownout by 20+ in games. I mean, on average we lose by almost 15 points per game! That's absurd! How can you say there are positives and make excuses for the schedule? NO team should have a -14.5 point per game diferential after ten games. It's sick.
And I wouldn't say this is a totally anonymous forum. I know how to contact a lot of you, and I am very open for being contacted myself. It's not like we use some hidden alias. Heck, some of you have my phone number. It's not like we are just ripping your post to be assholes.
pants: I've seen this team build 20 point deficits without looking like they were slacking on effort like no Wolves team in the past decade. The talent deficit this team has is actually underrated. Looking at the GS and Clippers rosters they have both have greater talent and depth at 4 of 5 positions on most nights and those are the teams we are scoffing at.
The overall roster comparison with Memphis is debatable but that loss wasn't as bad and it was without Al. We all know what a good player Mayo is should it be a shocking that he lead a team by us?
Flash: But the last 2 matches we played even without AL and I am 1000 % sure that the Cavs without James would be on the same level as the TWolves. Just give Al some time to get his old form back.Remember how he played before the injury. Also,why are you guys so anoyed with the momental situation. Dont tell me that you were expecting a good result from our team this year or even to make the playoffs.
College Wolf: Because its ridiculous that fans should have to go into a brand new NBA season with the mindset that we are a crappy team that is only going to win 20 games. Really? What kind of message is that sending? And it's been like that for over 5 years now. It's embarrassing and ridiculous. It's hard to enjoy the NBA when you have a bottom feeder team like us that has already waved the white flag before the season even started.
chmick: Amen. Only in Minnesota would fans act like the start of this season is ok. Averaging 27 wins a year for four years. Folks spending hard earned money to go to games and buy merch, and get told it's going to be another few years before we might be good. Still not sure how this explains us giving up in losses to Milwaukee and Golden State, but there you go.
Not to be too negative towards other posters, but I'd be fine never seeing a future mock line-up including Evan Turner/John Wall. As we all know, there is a draft lottery, the Wolves finish near the bottom of that lottery, and the Wolves usually botch the draft anyways (anyone be interested in a 3 Guard line-up of Jennings & Mayo & and Roy right about now?)
Keep demanding nothing from our team, and that will be our reward
Wally World: It is just hilarious seeing this whole mentality unfold. The night and day comparison of the view on the team from fans. Kahn still did a nice job ripping to the studs....but just wait for the wrath that will ensue when Kahn does nothing significant with his expiring contracts this trade deadline.
In my opinion, the anger stems from 10% basketball product and 90% general frustration with a negative sports experience. You all know my stance on the TC atmosphere, but I think we underestimated our ability to handle another season of 20 wins (if that). More of the same, and no matter how pessimistic the comments get, it has ALWAYS been the accurate view for the last half decade. A half decade is about 25% of the teams existence might I add, thinking macro here.
I would make a strong prediction that if we were 3-8 we would be having this same exact I-told-you-so rant fest.
mmaland: I don't think Taylor, Kahn and Rambis conspired to deceive us. I think they all did their best to put together a team that could compete or at least be fun to watch. The only thing wrong is that they failed. The solution is simple. We have 3 choices:
1. Start trading for or buying better players.
2. Be patient and let the system develop in to a succesful one.
3. Give up.
(I don't think we are in the position to fire GMs or coaches just yet).
Everyone is going to form a different position around these 3 things. How can someone be too optimistic or too pessimistic?
College Wolf: I don't have a problem with that. First off, there's no way you can be too pessimistic about this crappy team. Secondly, you are confusing optimism with absurdity/delusion/etc. You are an extreme optimist, but you keep everything in perspective. I totally respect that.
It's extreme irrationality that bothers me. For example, if you try hard enough you can find people that make a ton of excuses for this team and still think we should win 35+ games. Now that's just absurd. They don't hold anyone responsible for this epic fail of a team, and it just perpetuates the problem(s).
So that's what's going on in the minds of Wolves fans. Is this actually the worst Timberwolves team? Time will tell. Regardless, it's clear that the collect spirits of Wolves fans is hovering very closely to rock-bottom. Something needs to change quickly, or there won't be anyone left to celebrate the turn-around we've all told to wait "patiently" for.
For continuation of the conversation and to fill in some of the edits, you can visit this thread in our forum.