Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
The Wolves could use an upgrade at small forward for the 2014-15 season. Corey Brewer had one of his best NBA seasons as Minnesota's starting small forward, however his energy may be better suited in a sixth man role, similar to the role he played under George Karl in Denver.
The Wolves have a busy offseason ahead of them what with finding a new coach, upgrading a lackluster second unit and convincing Kevin Love to remain in Minnesota blue.
While the Wolves have other more glaring needs within that second unit to upgrade with new talent, they shouldn't overlook their small forward position. There are some very intriguing free agents this summer: Cleveland's Luol Deng and Washington's Trevor Ariza. Deng is likely headed out of Cleveland, but his price tag just doesn't work with Minnesota's current players under contract, the same goes for Ariza, who is likely to remain in Washington after a terrific year in D.C.
Recent rumblings out of Boston say that combo forward Jeff Green is available. Green returned from heart surgery a year ago to post a career-high 16.9 points per game, however he wasn't the leader the Celtics desperately needed with Rajon Rondo out to begin the year and in and out of the lineup for the second half of the year.
The Celtics are in rebuilding mode and would trade Green for the right price. Green's salary is $9.18million for the next two seasons. That's a hefty price tag for a Minnesota team that's already paying eight figures a year to both Love & Pekovic as well as $7.5million to Martin and a couple of $5million salaries to Brewer & Budinger.
One trade that works financially is J.J. Barea and Chase Budinger for Jeff Green. That may not be enough for Danny Ainge to bite, perhaps throwing in a second-rounder or two in this year's draft would help.
Green is unlikely to land in Minnesota, though I don't doubt that the Wolves will have internal discussions about bringing the combo forward aboard.
Flip Saunders made an appearance on ESPN's "Mike & Mike" on Wednesday morning, in which he downplayed the possibility to him returning to the bench to coach the Minnesota Timberwolves now that Rick Adelman will be enjoying his retirement in Portland.
Saunders says his duties in the front office are too consuming for him to make a coaching comeback. He stopped short of saying that it definitely wouldn't happen, "You never say never".
There seem to be some conflicting reports on the type of head coach the Wolves covet. Some reports say the Wolves are looking for a college coach like Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg, Michigan State's Tom Izzo or Florida's Billy Donovan; while other reports say the Wolves are looking for a coach with NBA experience and a track record of success like George Karl, Lionel Hollins or one of the Van Gundy brothers.
The Wolves coaching gig may be a difficult sell to potential coaches with Kevin Love's future being very murky. However, taking over a team that has improved their record each of the last four seasons and won 40 games in 2013-14 as well as the Target Center renovations and new Mayo Clinic practice facility can all be seen as draws for potential hires. Add to the fact that whoever they hire will be one of just thirty NBA head coaches. It won't be that difficult a sell and there are plenty of very good candidates
Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens, Jerry Sloan, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, George Karl, Larry Brown and Rick Adelman. Eight illustrious members of the 1000 win club as an NBA head coach.
Of those eight coaches, only Adelman and Karl are not in the Hall of Fame. Karl may still coach in the NBA (as may Adelman), but when it's all said and done, they'll undoubtedly be Hall-of-Famers.
Rick Adelman's coaching career spanned 23 years and 1,791 games in which his teams went 1,042-749 (.582). Over his 23 seasons, he coached the Portland Trailblazers (1989-1994), Golden State Warriors (1996-1997), Sacramento Kings (1998-2006), Houston Rockets (2008-2011) and finally, the Minnesota Timberwolves (2011-2014).
He is the second-winningest coach in Timberwolves history with 97 wins, behind only Flip Saunders (411 wins). That speaks more to how terrible the Wolves have been than anything else.
Adelman's tenure in Minnesota ended with disappointment as he was unable to end Minnesota's now decade-long playoff drought. However, he brought respectability to a franchise that suffered mightily at the hands of Kurt Rambis and especially David Kahn.
Adelman, while not entirely satisfied with not getting the Wolves back to the postseason, is looking forward to his retirement. That means moving back to Portland, spending more time with his wife and his family and being there more for his grandchildren.
He's leaving the Wolves in good hands with Flip Saunders, but the biggest question is who will take Adelman's place courtside.
Flip Saunders is a definite possibility, though (owner) Taylor says that he'd like the GM and the head coach to be two separate entities. A coach needs to focus day-to-day, while a GM has to think both now and what's best for the future of the franchise.
While, Saunders is completely ruled out, there are a number of other names being floated around: Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg, Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Florida's Billy Donovan, former Nuggets head coach George Karl, former Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins as well as the Van Gundy brothers (Jeff or Stan).
There will be plenty more names that we'll hear and we'll have plenty of coverage on who the Wolves are interested in/interviewing, etc. Last time the Wolves went through a coaching search, the names were: Don Nelson, Rick Adelman, Bernie Bickerstaff, Sam Mitchell, Mike Woodson and Terry Porter. Needless to say, I highly doubt any of those names would be considered for the vacancy now.
I wouldn't mind seeing a guy like George Karl or one of the Van Gundy brothers at the helm. I honestly wouldn't mind if it was Flip Saunders, either. Regardless of what happens, I just want the to see the Wolves play some semblance of a respectable NBA defense in 2014-15!
The Minnesota Timberwolves will hold four selections in the upcoming draft, heading into the Draft Lottery which will be held on May 20th.
The Phoenix Suns currently hold the 14th selection and Minnesota holds the 13th selection. If the Phoenix Suns move up into the Top 3 of the Draft, the Suns will send Minnesota to the 14th selection and thus, the pick will go to Phoenix.
The pick would go to Phoenix because of the Wesley Johnson deal, one of the last trades David Kahn made as the president of basketball operations. Kahn sent Johnson and a Top-13 protected first round draft pick to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for a second round pick.
The Suns have just a 0.5% chance of moving up in the Draft, while the Wolves have just a 0.6% chance of doing the same. So, the odds are highly unlikely that we'll be in the conversation for guys like Wiggins, Randle or Embiid and the same holds true for the Phoenix Suns.
In addition to that likely lottery selection. The Wolves also own three other picks in the draft, all in the second round: 40th, 44th & 53rd. The 40th pick is via New Orleans in the 2009 Antonio Daniels for Bobby Brown & Darius Songalia swap. The 44th pick is Minnesota's own and the 53rd pick is via Golden State in the Malcolm Lee and Andre Roberson trade.
The Draft Lottery will be held on Tuesday May 20th, proceeded by the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26th. Stay tuned for HOWL for all the updates and (assuming we keep that lottery pick) another series of Mock Draft 'Around the Net'.
Jeffers was with the Minnesota Timberwolves through training camp and the preseason. Ultimately, it came down to four players competing for two open roster spots.
The Wolves decided to keep A.J. Price as a security blanket for the oft-injured J.J. Barea as well as rookie Robbie Hummel. Hummel has been a pretty decent player in his rookie season, but Price was an absolute bust--though it really wasn't his fault.
J.J. Barea played inconsistent and too often entirely terrible and yet Rick Adelman continued to roll with Barea, never giving Price anything but "garbage time" minutes. When Barea did go down with an injury here a couple of weeks ago, Price himself was on the injury list after an emergency appendectomy.
The Wolves ended up waiving Price earlier last week and on Monday, the Wolves signed Othyus Jeffers to a rest-of-the-season deal.
I was definitely a fan of Jeffers' game and how he played for Minnesota in the preseason, but I believed the Wolves made the best decision by not keeping him on the team. It just didn't make much sense considering all of the Wolves wings: Corey Brewer, Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger & Shabazz Muhammad.
Jeffers was with the San Antonio Spurs on a 10-day contract, but has spent the majority of this season in the NBA Developmental League with the Iowa Energy. Jeffers played 44 games with the Energy averaging 20.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He was also a teammate of Shabazz Muhammad for those four games that Shabazz spent in the D-League.
There's a good chance that he'll be with the Minnesota Timberwolves training camp next summer, with a chance to make the team in 2014-15.
Two days after being arrested following an argument with his girlfriend of eight months.
The official report said that Cunningham and his girlfriend, whose name wasn't in the report, got into an argument with Cunningham on Thursday morning. She locked herself in the bedroom and Cunningham reportedly kicked open the door, grabbed her throat and slammed her against the wall, proceeding to choke her for 15-20 seconds in which she couldn't breathe.
Cunningham drove off shortly thereafter, but came back when the police arrived and was taken into custody. He spent all of Thursday and Friday in the Hennepin County jail. He was charged with felony domestic assault on Friday afternoon.
Police say the girlfriend didn't require any medical attention. On Saturday morning he posted bail for $40,000 and caught an early flight to Orlando to meet up with the team.
Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Cunningham cannot be disciplined by the League and the Timberwolves for the same transgression. The League is expected to wait until it had all the details before deciding on imposing any punishment.
Minnesota also can't deactivate Cunningham because that could be viewed as a form of discipline. If that happened, Cunningham could have the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) to file a grievance.
After Friday night's double overtime thriller in Miami, Kevin Love sat out Saturday's game in Orlando with back spasms. Dante Cunningham went from the County jail to the starting lineup in less than 24 hours. He turned in a good game, finishing with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 3 blocks in 34 minutes.
With Dante set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, this incident could have serious ramifications on his free agent market as well as Minnesota's interest.
With Dante Cunningham still being held without bail (as of Friday afternoon) and A.J. Price being released on Thursday afternoon, the Minnesota Timberwolves could definitely use another body.
Minnesota's frontcourt is very slim at the moment. Gorgui Dieng is back in the starting lineup after Nikola Pekovic's ankle flared up again. Ronny Turiaf just returned on Wednesday night after missing 19-straight games with a bone bruise on the knee.
Behind Kevin Love at power forward, it is very likely that rookie Robbie Hummel sees a bump in playing time as well as seldom used forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
The Wolves certainly don't need to sign anyone for the final eight games of the season. With that being said, the Wolves could still decide to bring someone up from the D-League and sign him to a rest-of-the-season deal as well as a partially guaranteed deal for next year, so that player could join Minnesota's Summer League team, with a shot at making the cut in 2014-15.
The Timberwolves currently have 14 players under contract for this season and they'll have 12 players under contract for 2014-15. Rookie Robbie Hummel's league minimum contract expires at the end of this year, making him a restricted free agent and Dante Cunningham's $2.2million contract expires as well, making him an unrestricted free agent.
While the Wolves do have 12 players under contract for 2014-15 (Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved, Kevin Martin, Shabazz Muhammad, Corey Brewer, Chase Budinger, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Gorgui Dieng & Ronny Turiaf), there's a very good chance that more than one of those players could be traded this summer (ideally Barea and maybe even Shved, Budinger & Mbah a Moute).
If the Wolves do sign someone for these final handful of 2013-14 games, it would likely be one of the top prospects currently playing in the D-League. Looking through the Prospect Board on the D-League's official website, they have a number of very intriguing young players currently playing very well. You can check out the Top 30 on their official website here.
The Wolves could also be in the mix for recently waived rookie forward Erik Murphy formerly of the Chicago Bulls. Murphy is said to have a number of suitors that could be interested in the 23-year-old despite playing 24 games and averaging 0.3 points & 0.3 rebounds in just 2.6 minutes per game.
Ultimately, I'm not sure the Wolves will even sign someone and if they do, it's almost completely likely that Adelman won't play them. He's only played rookies Shabazz & Gorgui sparingly or when he's had his "arm twisted" by injuries to his veteran players.
Shortly after news of Dante Cunningham's arrest broke, the Minnesota Timberwolves announced the release of point guard A.J. Price.
According to multiple reports, the decision to release Price was made last night and wasn't as a direct result of Cunningham's current situation.
The Wolves official statement.
The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that the team has waived guard A.J. Price. The Wolves roster stands at 14.
With Cunningham being held without bail and unavailable to play in Minnesota's Friday (and likely Saturday) game(s), the Wolves will likely be looking at a number of power & combo forwards. With Adelman's (baffling) allegiance to J.J. Barea, it's unlikely that Minnesota signs another point guard.
Dante Cunningham is being held without bail in the Hennepin County Jail after being arrested on suspicion of domestic assault, early Thursday morning.
Cunningham hasn't officially been charged, though he won't be making the trip with the team to Miami for their Friday night game vs. the Heat. Dante was received into the Hennepin facility around 6:14am on Thursday morning.
The Minnesota Timberwolves released the following statement around 11am Thursday morning.
“We are aware of the matter involving Dante Cunningham and are in the process of gathering more information. Dante will not be traveling with the team to Miami this afternoon. The Minnesota Timberwolves organization takes the matter very seriously and does not condone the type of behavior that is associated with this situation. However, we need to let the legal process run its course, and will have further comment at the appropriate time.”
This isn't Cunningham's first incident with the law. In 2011, shortly after he was traded from the Portland Trailblazers to the Charlotte Bobcats, Dante was arrested in Pennsylvania when police reportedly found marijuana, a pipe and a BB gun inside his car. A Philadelphia judge ultimately dismissed the charges and order Cunningham to pay a $225 fine for "motor vehicle violations".
Cunningham is a versatile forward that can play at both the small forward and power forward, while also being able to play center in certain matchups. During his time in Minnesota, he's become a favorite of Rick Adelman's because of his hustle, energy and defensive versatility.
Cunningham is one of two Timberwolves players that have appeared in all 74 games (joining Ricky Rubio), however that will change on Friday in Miami and likely Saturday vs. the Magic in Orlando.
In 74 games Cunningham is averaging 6.0 points on .462 FG, 4.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 19.8 minutes per game. He's also started in 5 of those games for the Wolves.
However, Dante's playing time has dropped off recently. With the emergence of Gogui Dieng coupled with the returns of Nikola Pekovic & Ronny Turiaf, Cunningham hasn't been seeing his usual minutes off the bench. In his last five games he's gone over 15 minutes played just once.
The Wolves did play on Wednesday night vs. the Memphis Grizzlies. Cunningham saw just 10 minutes of action (just under 7 minutes in the second quarter and just over 3 minutes in the fourth).
Cunningham is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Wolves picked up his team option for this season, which paid him just under $2.2million for the year. This incident will more than likely have an impact on his free agency this summer.
Gorgui Dieng was was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month on Tuesday afternoon for the month of March.
Gorgui played 14 games in the month of March. He started 6 of those games. In those 6 starts, he registered 5 double-doubles highlighted by his 22-point, 21-rebound, 4-assist game vs. the Rockets on the 20th.
He averaged 8.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.8 blocks. Those averages include the 5 games he played in early March in which he played double-digits minutes just once.
Dieng's averages from March 16th on: 12.1 points on .645 FG & .725 FT, 12 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 1 block in 29.3 minutes per game.
It will be very interesting to see who is Minnesota's starting center come 2014-15.
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