Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
Flip Saunders came into the 2014 NBA Draft on Thursday night with the hopes of upgrading the team's athleticism.
By selecting UCLA guard Zach LaVine and Michigan forward Glenn Robinson III, the Wolves got two very gifted athletes.
The one thing this draft tells us however, is that it's more than likely they'll trade Kevin Love. You don't select a project player like Zach LaVine with the intent of having him being an integral piece of the puzzle when it comes to ending the playoff drought. At one time or another, we could very well look back at this draft and LaVine could be the "steal of the draft", however from most accounts it appears as though he's still a couple year's away.
The idea of a Rubio--LaVine backcourt is very tantalizing and would be a constant highlight reel, too. In addition to LaVine's incredible athletic skills, his ability to run in transition as well as his developing defensive game and his 6'9" wingspan are all positives for this young man. The fact that he's known as a 'gym rat' is also the kind of thing you like to hear about an up-and-coming 19-year-old. He still has a long way to go with his shooting touch and building himself an NBA body, but he has the potential to be something special in this League one day.
Robinson also addresses Saunders' desire for more athletic players. Son of 1994 #1 overall pick Glenn Robinson, GRIII is coming to Minnesota as the 40th overall pick from the University of Michigan. I think Robinson could be a legitimate "3 & D" player in this League. Whether his long-range shooting continues to develop, his biggest impact will likely come on the defensive end.
With another guard and another forward now on the roster, the Wolves currently have 14 players under contract: Rubio, Barea, LaVine, Martin, Shved, Budinger, Muhammad, Brewer, Mbah a Moute, Robinson, Love, Pekovic, Dieng & Turiaf.
It sounds as though the Wolves will push hard to trade J.J. Barea, Kevin Martin, Alexey Shved, etc. The Kevin Love trade is still hanging over the franchise, however there could be some definite movement on that front considering NBA Free Agency begins next week (July 1st).
It will be very interesting to see how the next month of the offseason goes. My bet is that the roster could look very different in a month's time.
We'll have more about LaVine & Robinson on their individual player pages found under the Player/Staff Info page under the Team Report tab. As per usual, thanks for reading HOWL and stay tuned!
The Minnesota Timberwolves are in discussions with the Golden State Warriors to send another All-Star Kevin out of the Twin Cities.
The Wolves have received 'offers' from a number of different teams: Boston (two first-rounders this year and a choice between Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk), Chicago (Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and the rights to Nikola Mirotic) and Denver (Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, 11th overall pick).
The trade proposal that seems to be getting the most attention comes from the Bay Area. The Warriors are reportedly offering David Lee & Klay Thompson to the Wolves in exchange for Kevin Love and Kevin Martin. Other versions of the deal also have the Wolves including J.J. Barea and the 13th overall pick. I love the idea of dumping Martin & Barea--two players who have shown they can be incredibly efficient contributors on good teams. However, too often last season they look as they they were "going through the motions".
The Wolves are being asked to give up a lottery pick in addition to two starter-quality players as well as a sixth man in Barea who has shown during his tenure in Dallas and sporadically in Minnesota that he can be an integral part of a team. I like the deal A LOT more without adding that lottery selection.
The Wolves would be getting back two proven players who could immediately step into the starting lineup. According to multiple reports, Flip is looking for proven talent over draft picks. Considering the Wolves haven't made the playoffs in a decade--as well as their drafting history the past few years...it's all understandable. Granted, the botched drafts of the past five years (Jonny Flynn, Wesley Johnson, Derrick Williams) have been thanks to David Kahn. Saunders' first draft since taking over the Basketball Ops was Shabazz Muhammad & Gorgui Dieng--those two could very well be contributors in their second season in Minnesota--especially since the man who drafted them a year ago will be their head coach this season.
I'm not crazy about David Lee or the fact that we'd have to pay him $15million a year for the next two years. Klay Thompson is the prized player in this proposal and even that scares me! Klay will be a free agent in 2015-16 and he's likely to command a 10-figure a year salary. Add to that, that he wouldn't be happy at all, leaving California to play in Minnesota and it sounds like a recipe for another disaster Timberwolves trade.
The biggest draw for Thompson will be the fact that he gets to share a backcourt with one of the League's premier passers. With Kevin Love gone in this trade the Wolves would have a starting lineup of Rubio, Thompson, Corey Brewer, Lee and Nikola Pekvoic. The hope is that Saunders will utilize Rubio much better than Adelman did and play to his strengths--transition opportunities, pick-and-roll and running simple set plays in which he has the ball in his hands and is asked to create open looks for his teammates.
When Kevin Love was out of the lineup, the Wolves actually played some very good basketball. When he was in the lineup he was their primary (and at times only) scorer. Without him, other teams weren't sure what the Wolves would run or who would score. The proposed starting lineup would create a much better balanced offensive attack. Any one of those players could give you 15 points a night. Pek & Lee could give you 20 and Thompson could probably give you 25+.
I'm a fan of any team that rids the Wolves of Martin & Barea. J.J. Barea has been the complete opposite of a fan favorite in his time here and in addition to his subpar play, he has a bad attitude and doesn't make a good teammate. Martin never even attempted to try on defense and on the nights where he'd pour in 20-30...so would the guy he was 'guarding'.
At this point, I don't want Kevin Love on this team. My opinion is: if you don't want to be here, we don't want you here! He believes he's bigger than the team and the city and no one player is. He'll leave Minnesota at some point in the near future and likely make the playoffs, however wherever he goes he won't be "the man". He's still just the second or third option on a championship team. If he goes to Chicago he's second to Derrick Rose, if he goes to Golden State he plays second to Stephen Curry, if he goes to Cleveland he's on Kyrie's team, if he ends up in Boston/Denver he's in the same situation he was in Minnesota.
I've never been a fan of "The Decision", "Melo-Drama Parts One (Denver) and now Part Two (New York) or "Dwight-Mare Parts One (Orlando) & Two (Lakers). I'm hoping that this is over sooner rather than later. With the NBA draft just
If there's one thing I hate about the NBA it's drama with superstar players unhappy with their current teams. I hate the "Melo-Drama" with Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets, I despised "Dwight-Mare" with Dwight Howard in Orlando and again in L.A. and I loathed "The Decision" with LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Now Minnesota is going through their own issues with their 'superstar' player in what's being dubbed, "The Love Affair"--because lord knows a cute name makes it much more fun to discuss.
If I was Flip Saunders I'd be sure that Kevin Love was no longer a member of the Timberwolves organization come the June 26th NBA Draft. Send him packing, get an established player or two and maybe even another draft pick.
I love watching Kevin Love play, I think he's undoubtedly one of the NBA's most unique players ever and one of the most impressive offensive weapons in the League...however his defense is another story (and what makes him just an All-Star and not a Superstar in my mind). That being said, it's abundantly clear that he no longer wants to call the Twin Cities home and in my opinion: if you don't want to be here, we don't want you here! Forget trying to woo him and attempting to convince him to stay. If he doesn't want to be here, I don't want him suiting up for Minnesota ever again!
If Kevin Love is traded I pray that the Wolves dump Kevin Martin, too. He'd be a perfect Jamal Crawford/J.R. Smith-type instant offense sixth man, however like those two players, he's an atrociously bad defender and thus shouldn't ever play more than 25-30 minutes a night. Paying him $7.5million a year isn't ideal, either.
With the draft less than two weeks away, it should be a very interesting next 12 days. I don't doubt that we'll hear plenty about Kevin Love, hopefully that'll be capped by the fact that he'll be playing elsewhere in 2014-15.
According to reports, former Timberwolves players Sam Mitchell & Sidney Lowe will be joining head coach Flip Saunders' staff as assistant coaches.
Lowe is not only a former Timberwolves player, but he was also an assistant coach with the Wolves from 1991-1993. He took over as head coach of the Wolves from 1993-1994. Lowe went to Cleveland shortly thereafter to be an assistant coach with the Cavs. He did return in 1999 and 2003-2005 as an assistant coach for Minnesota.
Since 2011 he has been an assistant coach with the Utah Jazz on Tyrone Corbin's staff. With Corbin's departure this summer, Lowe was without a job, though that didn't last too long.
Mitchell was the head coach of the Toronto Raptors from 2004-2008 when he was fired 17 games into the 2008-09 campaign. He was 156-189 during his tenure with the Raptors and is a former Coach of the Year winner.
It sounds as though Flip's son Ryan (Saunders) will also be joining his staff.
That leaves one opening on Flip's staff. The organization was hoping that David Blatt would fill that final slot as the associate coach (ie: head assistant coach), however it sounds as though he'll either be the head coach of the Cavaliers or the second-in-command under Steve Kerr with the Golden State Warriors.
It's is unknown at this time who will be the final assistant coach on Flip's staff. I do believe Rick's (Adelman) son David is still technically under contract, whether or not he'll be on the sidelines this season...I'm not sure, though I would assume he'll likely be placed elsewhere in the organization.
Stay tuned to HOWL for more updates on everything TWolves!
After a six-week coaching search, Flip Saunders had decided that he is the best man for the job. The Wolves seemed to be close to naming Dave Joerger their head coach, however a last-minute "change of heart" kept Joerger (a Staples, MN native) in Memphis.
The coaching search also reportedly included interviews or talks with Vinny Del Negro, Lionel Hollins, Scott Skiles as well as three big-time collegiate coaches: Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg, Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Florida's Billy Donovan.
Ultimately, Saunders, with the encouragement of his buddy Jeff Van Gundy and the blessing of majority owner Glen Taylor, decided he was the best man for the job.
The news broke on Thursday afternoon and Saunders was officially introduced as the head coach in a press conference on Friday morning.
Saunders will reportedly keep his minority ownership and his President of Basketball Operations title. It's likely that he'll delegate a bit more to the GM he hired away from Washington last season; Milt Newton as well as the assistant GM Rob Babcock.
Some view Saunders' move back down to the sidelines as a last ditch effort to retain superstar forward Kevin Love. However, reports say that Love isn't so much concerned about who is coaching the team, but rather the state of the roster.
When asked during a radio interview on Friday afternoon, whether or not Love had the right to be frustrated, Saunders responded: "No". Flip added, "Should the team be frustrated? Yeah, the team can be frustrated. But I don't think any one individual should be frustrated."
Saunders also went on to tell a story about another Timberwolves superstar named Kevin,
"I tell a story about -- we were in the locker room when KG was in like his third year in the league, and Sam Mitchell was sitting in the locker room," Saunders said. "KG was in there, and we had lost a couple games, and we were all sitting there talking.
It's no secret that the Wolves had one of the best offenses in the League last season and that was thanks in large part to the play of Kevin Love. It's also no secret that the Wolves had one of the worst defenses in the NBA last season. That terrible defense was thanks to the non-existent rim protection presence of Kevin Love & Nikola Pekovic as well as the shoddy perimeter defense of Kevin Martin, the gambling play style of Ricky Rubio & Corey Brewer and one of the NBA's worst bench units.
Does Kevin Love have a right to be angry? I think a little bit, however I don't know of to many other "superstars" that make such little effort on the defensive end! In fact, you should probably only call him an All-Star, because in my opinion, a superstar is someone who is great on both ends of the court.
Ultimately I think the Wolves should trade Kevin Love. Get an established player or two and perhaps another pick in the upcoming Draft. Part of me sees Love's wanting out as betrayal while the other part of me complete understands it, considering Kahn & Taylor screwed him out of a max contract, despite the fact that we all knew he was well worth it.
Enough about Kevin Love, we'll be discussing him plenty for the next few months, I'm sure. Back to new head coach Flip Saunders...
Saunders coached the Wolves from 1996-2005 and amassed 411 wins in 737 games. He is by far the winningest coach in Timberwolves franchise history. In fact, the Wolves coach with the second-most wins is Rick Adelman during his three-year tenure in which the Wolves never had a winning season. As a matter of fact, the Wolves have only had 8 seasons in their 25-year history, that were 'winning-seasons' (.500 or better). All of which came under the leadership of Flip Saunders from 1997-2004.
Flip will reportedly put together a rather impressive assistant coaching staff that could include former Wolves Sam Mitchell, Sidney Lowe, Chauncey Billups & Sam Cassell as well as his son Ryan Saunders and Euro-coach David Blatt.
Stay tuned for more, thanks for reading HOWL!
Since the news broke that Dave Joerger would remain in Memphis and spurn the Wolves to stay with the Grizzlies, the Minnesota Timberwolves coaching search presses on.
Saunders said shortly after Rick Adelman retired, that the coaching search this summer would be a long one and the likelihood of having a coach hired before the 2014 NBA Draft was slim. With the Draft now less than a month away, the Wolves are no closer to hiring a new coach.
The Wolves have been linked to former Wolves athlete Sam Mitchell. Mitchell coached the Chris Bosh-led Raptors in the late 2000s. He is also a former Coach of the Year. Mitchell is said to be a favorite of owner Glen Taylor.
The Wolves have also been linked to former Grizz coach Lionel Hollins and former Bulls/Clips coach Vinny Del Negro.
Saunders has attempted to lure big name college coaches away from the NCAA. Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg, Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Florida's Billy Donovan; all spurned Minnesota to remain with their collegiate teams.
At this point, if it's between Del Negro, Hollins or Saunders taking the reins himself, I want Flip Saunders as the next head coach. His success in Minnesota is unquestioned. Having Flip build the roster and then put those pieces together correctly on the court, would seem ideal.
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