Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
As I’ve said numerous times in numerous posts over the past few weeks, the Minnesota Timberwolves are heading into the offseason with more questions than answers. Today, I’ve decided to delve into those questions and see how many we can answer right now.
To be honest, the majority of these can’t be answered for a while, some of them are rhetorical and probably two or three I can answer at this time.
I'll be updating this post throughout the offseason with new questions & new answers all summer long. Enjoy!
1.) Will Rick Adelman return for the 2013-14 season as the Minnesota Timberwolves’ head coach?
This is one that can’t be answered right now. I don’t have an answer for this one, because Rick Adelman doesn’t even know the answer to this one, right now. Rick did say that he wouldn’t drag this situation out and would have a decision a couple weeks after the season concludes. His decision hinges entirely on the health of his wife Mary Kay. Rick missed 11 games this season to be with her while she was in the hospital. Mary Kay was having some unexplained seizures and unless the doctor gives the Adelmans some good news, there’s a VERY good chance that Rick coached his last game on Wednesday April 17th.
2.) Will David Kahn remain the President of Basketball Operations?
Glen Taylor has been non-committal with David Kahn and his future with the Minnesota Timberwolves. We’ve heard a lot of conflicting reports the past few weeks. Some that said Kahn returning was all but certain, while others had the Wolves already looking at other options (referencing, mainly that Flip Saunders report). There’s a lot of ‘bad’ when it comes to Kahn’s tenure, with a sprinkling of ‘good’ that may keep him around. The bad? Failed experiments with Michael Beasley, Darko Milicic & Anthony Randolph. Lotto picks Wesley Johnson & Jonny Flynn. The Kurt Rambis hire. The good? Getting Ricky Rubio to sign his rookie scale deal. The Rick Adelman hire. Ultimately, the bad outweighs the good. If it were up to 90% of ‘Wolves Nation’ he’d be on the outs. Glen Taylor may very well be in that 10%. I just feel that there are a lot more capable candidates out there. There are some very good GM’s in this League and for a team that already has plenty of punchlines around them, why not eliminate one and get your General Manager on the same level as your head coach?
3.) Will the Wolves (be able to) Resign Nikola Pekovic?
Rick Adelman wants him back. Glen Taylor wants him back. His teammates want him back. Nikola Pekovic ‘100%’ wants to remain in Minnesota. It’d be great for everyone to have him back. He is without a shred of doubt my favorite Timberwolf (maybe ever). In just three years he’s already established himself as one of the NBA’s best offensive centers, one of the NBA’s most physical players and the best center in Minnesota Timberwolves history. He’ll command anywhere from $9million-$14million on the open market. Unfortunately his agent is Mark Bartelstein: the same agent for Kevin Love and the same agent as Al Jefferson. Both big men that had tough negotiations with the Wolves front office. Ultimately the Wolves have had enough roster turnover since KG left town. If they let Pek walk I fear they’re going to lose another boatload of supportive fans. I’m already ‘drooling’ over more continued improvement from Pek and a Love-Pekovic duo. Love spacing the floor with his touch and Pek bruising down low. Without Kevin in the lineup, the defenses just collapsed on Pek and made life miserable for him. He still averaged 16 & 9 while going 20 & 11 to end the year! You can talk all you want about his injury history (missed 20 games this season) but as he continues to develop and adds some more finesse to his game, that should take away from a bit of that constant physical pounding he goes through in the paint night in and night out. I will honestly admit, I’ll be devastated if Nikola Pekovic isn’t a Wolf next season.
4.) Will the Wolves Resign Chase Budinger?
The answer to this question relies heavily on the answer to the first question. If Rick Adelman departs, there’s a good chance that Bud will follow suit. Chase basically came out and said that Adelman’s future in Minnesota goes hand-in-hand with his future in Minnesota. Adelman was the coach that taught Chase how to play and best use his skillset, which was magnified during his single year under Kevin McHale. Resigning Chase has been labeled as a major offseason priority. The Wolves didn’t give up the 18th pick in the 2012 Draft for a one year rental. His knee injury may take his value down slightly, but it’ll still likely cost the Wolves $3million-$5million a year. It’ll be great for Bud to have a full offseason to continue to strengthen that surgically-repaired knee and hopefully get his shooting stroke & explosiveness back. Once we know Adelman’s future, Chase’s will become much, much clearer.
5.) Will Barea/Ridnour/Williams all be on the team, Opening Day?
When it comes to Minnesota Timberwolves trade rumors, look no further than the above three names. Some of the more fickle fans may want to add Kevin Love to that mix, but I’m not even going to dignify that with any more words. We’ve heard the last two seasons that there’s a good chance the Wolves could thin out some of that point guard depth. That means either J.J. Barea or Luke Ridnour could depart via trade. We’ve seen Rick Adelman’s small ball lineups work beautifully, while at other times we’ve cringed as Kobe Bryant or Joe Johnson post up Luke Ridnour for the 100th time in a single game. I’m in the group that believes the Wolves need to lose on of these two point guards. I don’t think I could choose one to trade, however. You love J.J. when he’s ‘on’ and despise him when he’s ‘off’. Ridnour was the only player to play in every game and is a consummate professional. I’d love him as a point guard running the second unit, but I’ve hated him as the starting shooting guard—that’s good in a pinch, but not for the majority of the season! I’d miss those 15-point quarters that J.J. can produce, but if I HAD to make a choice, I’d offer up Barea in trade talks. As far as Derrick Williams goes… D-Will was awful filling in for Love the first time he broke his hand. After 18 games of Love at power forward and a number of DNP-CDs for DWill, Love snapped the hand again and Williams was given another chance. One that he took advantage of. While his play was up and down for night to night, I feel like he’s a player that’s only going to continue to improve. Not every player that comes into the League is going to have an immediate impact. Williams is no Derrick Rose, LeBron James or Kyrie Irving. Give him a couple of years and he’ll continue to show you why he’s worthy of a #2 pick. Does he fit into the Wolves’ long-term plans though? Being a number two pick he does make a pretty good ‘chunk of change’ and for a player that remains pretty inconsistent that’s ultimately seen as a negative. Add to that, his position is pretty much power forward and the fact that he’s playing behind one of the NBA’s best power forwards. With Kevin Love playing 40 minutes a night, where is Derrick going to get the PT that he needs to continue to develop? I was pleasantly surprised at Derrick Williams after the all-star break, but I think the Wolves need to move him this summer and address other needs. Minnesota is in dire need of a genuine shooting guard and they need to have the money to resign Budinger & Pekovic. I don’t know that Derrick will be on the move this summer, but I do know that it’s something the front office is going to take a good, long, hard look at.
6.) Will the Wolves finally address their Shooting Guard Problem(s)?
When was the last time the Wolves had a real shooting guard on the roster? For the past two seasons the Wolves have had to pair Luke Ridnour with Ricky Rubio in the backcourt. While Ricky was out with the knee injury, Wesley Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Brandon Roy, Malcolm Lee & Alexey Shved all saw time as the team’s starting shooting guard the past two seasons. As I talked about before, sometimes that small ball lineup can work, but it isn’t something you should be relying on night in and night out. So, how can the Wolves FINALLY go about addressing their glaring need at shooting guard? The NBA Draft offers up some intriguing prospects: Ben McLemore, Victor Olapido, Tim Hardaway Jr. etc. However, from everything I’ve heard it sounds as though the Wolves will instead decide to try and obtain a veteran shooting guard, whether that be via trade or free agency. I really like Victor Olapido and would love for the Wolves to draft him, however I understand the need for an immediate upgrade and immediate results from that two-spot. With a lot of the free agency money going to Pekovic & Budinger, I’d say a trade is on the horizon.
7.) Where will the Wolves be picking in the 2013 NBA Draft? Will they trade their picks?
The order for the NBA Draft will be decided on May 21st at the annual NBA Draft Lottery. As of right now, the Wolves hold two first round picks (theirs & Memphis’) and two second round picks (Brooklyn’s & Oklahoma City’s). Memphis’ pick is 26th overall, Brooklyn’s is 52nd overall and Oklahoma City’s is 58th overall. Because Minnesota’s will be a lottery selection, they won’t know for sure where they’re picking until May 21st. Record-wise the Wolves own the 9th overall selection with a 1.7% chance of winning the lottery. Chances are VERY good that we’ll be picking #9. So, will the Wolves keep that pick? I honestly have no idea, but if I had to venture to guess, I’d say that they probably don’t want another young rookie on the roster and instead want veteran players that know their strengths and weaknesses and can contribute a lot, immediately. Does that mean the Wolves are going to trade all four of their picks? Doubtful. Will we see a draft night trade that involves the Wolves? Probable.
8.) Will Andrei Kirilenko ‘pick up’ his $9.7million player option for 2013-14?
On one hand I can’t see Kirilenko leaving $10million on the table by declining his player option. On the other hand, I can understand him declining that option and seeking a deal that has guaranteed money in a multi-year deal. Kirilenko opting for free agency and resigning with the Wolves for $5million-$7million a year helps them by freeing up cap space to ensure that Pekovic & Budinger are both on the roster next season, but you also run the risk of paying the injury prone AK big money for a number of years. His injury history is a concern, but his talent can’t be argued. Kirilenko was asked to do A LOT this season. With the injuries to Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic & Ricky Rubio. Kirilenko was asked to carry more of a load offensively, while continuing to be Minnesota’s defensive anchor. Assuming all the key pieces are back next season, Kirilenko will go back to be a third or fourth option on offense behind Love, Pek & hopefully a great shooting guard. I was REALLY excited about the Kirilenko-Love-Pek frontcourt coming into last season, but we really didn’t get to see much of that and because when Love did play it was quite ugly, we haven’t seen this group at its full potential. Add a healthy Ricky Rubio and a capable shooter and…is it October yet?!?!
9.) Will Mickael Gelabale & Chris Johnson be on the roster next season?
When Gelly & Johnson signed rest-of-the-season deals following the second 10-day contracts. It turns out the contracts they sign included a non-guaranteed deal for 2013-14. Adelman said during the final weeks of the season that they’ve liked what they saw out of Mickael & Chris—they have some work to do this summer, but they’ll definitely have a chance to make the roster. I definitely liked what I saw from them both this season and I felt the reason they didn’t get a lot of time in the latter part of the season, just because Adelman trusted guys like Budinger & Stiemsma more. There’s a maximum of 15 players to a roster, it’ll just come down to whether or not the Wolves have room after their other offseason moves. I’d say there’s a good chance that if they don’t make Minnesota’s final roster, they may be able to find a home elsewhere in the NBA.
10.) Both Dante Cunningham & Greg Stiemsma have Team Options for 2013-14, Will Minnesota ‘pick them up’?
There was a report from 1500 ESPN Twin Cities that the Wolves intend to pick up both of their contracts. That story broke shortly after the All-Star break. I definitely want Dante Cunningham back and I definitely don’t want Greg Stiemsma back. Stiemsma is one of my least favorite Timberwolfs ever. I just don’t understand paying Stiemer almost $3million for six fouls a block and multiple blown layups in 12 minutes of play. You could pay Jason Collins the veteran’s minimum and get the same production! Stiemsma did have some better games down the stretch while Pek battled injuries, but I adamantly believe there are other big men out there they could sign who could contribute more. Nonetheless, they’ll both likely be back in 2013-14.
11.) Will Glen Taylor still be the majority team owner next season?
It’s been rumored for quite some time now that Glen Taylor is looking to sell part of the team and slowly bring along that person or group as minority owners and then eventually sell his majority stake to said person/group after an agreed upon time. A big part of Taylor’s requirements are that the person/group he sells to agrees to keep the team in Minnesota (among other requirements). Because he hasn’t been able to find anyone who fits all those requirements, there have been little talks about selling the team. There’s not a doubt in my mind that Glen Taylor will still be the owner in 2013-14.
Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
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