Posted on: February 22, 2010 11:38 am

Let's Trade Big Al!

The title should read "Let's trade Big Al just because Darko had one good game and immediately demonstrated how much better Kevin Love is with a defensive shot blocker backing him up than an offensively oriented big man" but that wouldn't fit in the title space. Reactionary, yes, but who gives a dip?

1. Timberwolves - Nets - Lakers

In this instance, the Wolves land the #1 pick and New Jersey ends up #2. Ignoring the Wolves lottery curse, this is a plausible scenario given the team records.

  • The Wolves deal #1 and Al Jefferson to the Nets for #2, Brook Lopez and a future 1st.
  • The Nets take their franchise guy in John Wall.
  • The Wolves bank on Rubio/Flynn and grab the best wing in the draft and Brandon Roy clone, Evan Turner. They also have added cap space to sign up to a max contract free agent, such as Rudy Gay. Gay isn’t worth a max contract but they’ll probably have to overpay in order to get Memphis not to match the offer.
  • The Nets then deal Devin Harris to the Lakers for Andrew Bynum and Sasha Vujacic, who’s contract they’d very much like to get of.  


Wolves Future Lineup
PG - Ricky Rubio/Jonny Flynn
SG - Evan Turner
SF - Rudy Gay/Corey Brewer
PF - Kevin Love
C - Brook Lopez

Why the Wolves will do it: They walk away with an extremely well rounded, young and relatively inexpensive roster that will officially become their core to move forward with. A Love-Lopez front court makes a lot of sense and a couple of wings like Turner-Gay are exactly the type that would thrive in an uptempo offense, such as the one they want to initiate with Flynn-Rubio.
Why the Wolves won’t do it: This organization has waited so long to actually luck out in the lottery AND they also have a history of passing on future stars in the draft that there could be a full on mutiny if they let John Wall and the #1 overall pick slip away, regardless of how good Turner looks.

Nets Future Lineup:
PG - John Wall
SG - Courtney Lee/Chris Douglas-Roberts
SF - Terrence Williams/Yi Jianlin
PF - Al Jefferson
C - Andrew Bynum

Why the Nets will do it: It’s a no-brainer on their end. They’ve already made it clear that they’re willing to deal Harris so that’s no big loss. With the Knicks aiming to make a big splash and the possibility of coming off the all-time worst record ever, they’ll look to improve quickly. In this scenario they add two big time young players in Jefferson and Bynum but they also get the face of the franchise and the guy will turn attention away from whatever the Knicks do, John Wall.
Why the Nets won’t do it: They really like Brook Lopez. But seriously, they would do this deal in a second.

Lakers Future Lineup:
PG - Devin Harris/Shannon Brown
SG - Kobe Bryant
SF - Ron Artest/Luke Walton
PF - Lamar Odom
C - Pau Gasol

Why the Lakers will it: Bynum is young and talented but he just seems like the odd man out in LA. He’s also not the most healthy of guys. Mostly, however, there’s just too many other weapons for him to really get into a groove on. He also has some injury concerns. Derek Fisher is done and putting a guard like Harris on the court with Kobe would be incredible. He’d continually be left with favorable matchups and the ability to distribute to a virtual all-star team. They’d have the best starting five in basketball, hands down
Why the Lakers won’t do it: Contrary to this outsider’s opinion, they seem to really value Bynum. They wouldn’t deal him for Kidd a few year’s back but maybe now that they’ve seen his apparent ceiling they’d be willing to throw him out there, especially if he sucks in the playoffs. Also, Harris isn’t exactly Mr. Durable either.

That's it.

Posted on: January 26, 2010 2:39 pm

Here Is Another Trade Scenario

If you follow NBA trade rumors at all, you are well aware of the published reports, both out of Arizona and nationally, that the Suns are likely to deal Amare Stoudamire before the trade deadline, which is nearly three weeks away. Why? There’s a few reasons but the main one is because he wants a max contract and with the sun beginning to set on the Suns Steve Nash induced run, Phoenix doesn’t want to lock him up much beyond when they expect Nash to retire, which is in two years. From reading around it appears that much of the fanbase won’t exactly be sad to see him go either.

So here is the deal. Try to read the whole thing before criticizing it. Also, approach it with the current state of the NBA in mind. A lot of people react to these trade scenarios like it’s a video game or fantasy league and anything short of LeBron for Kobe and a 2nd Round Pick is unfair. Admittedly, this is just for fun and entirely hypothetical, but getting inside a team’s true motive and circumstance, in my opinion, is what makes it worth reading.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Gives: Jeff Green, James Harden, 1st Round Pick (Lottery Protected)
Gets: Amare Stoudemire, Ryan Gomes

Minnesota Timberwolves
Gives: Ricky Rubio, Ryan Gomes, Corey Brewer, Damien Wilkins, Mark Blount
Gets: Jeff Green, James Harden

Phoenix Suns
Gives: Amare Stoudemire
Gets: Ricky Rubio, Corey Brewer, Damien Wilkins, Mark Blount, OKC 1st Pick (Lottery Protected)

OKC Rationale:
The Thunder do this because (1) Sam Presti loves to trade and (2) their glaring weakness is a quality big man. A three-headed monster of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Amare Stoudemire would be truly electric. There’s also little downside on their end. Upgrading Jeff Green to Stoudemire is an absolute no brainer. Sure, Harden was the #3 pick overall less than a year ago but I still contend that they didn’t really want to make that pick, but rather did so because there just wasn’t anyone better available, in their mind. Westbrook and Harden are redundant and besides, a player like Stoudemire is infinitely more rare than a player like Harden. They also land Gomes, who though admittedly worse, is more or less the same sort of player as Green. They have to throw in the 1st Round Pick but it is Lottery Protected, hence avoiding any serious risk. Finally, some fans may disapprove because they feel this deal leaves the team with little depth, but keep in mind that they’d still have the bulky expiring contracts of Etan Thomas and Matt Harpring on hand to make one more noteworthy move in order to shore things up.

OKC Post-Trade Lineup:
PG - Russell Westbrook
SG - Kevin Durant
SF - Ryan Gomes
PF - Amare Stoudemire
C - Nenad Kristic

Key Reserves: Nick Collison, Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka
Analysis: A dynamic young team poised to make a playoff run now with assets still available to improve the team.

Minnesota Rationale:
Whether or not you like this trade from a Minnesota perspective probably depends on how you feel about Rubio. David Kahn contends he isn’t on the table. Whether or not that’s true, he’s still potentially their biggest trade asset. This deal allows the Wolves to add two young pieces to their core in Green and Harden and still have a high lottery pick in the 2010 draft, as well as the cap flexibility to sign a big name free agent. Losing Gomes means nothing because they have an option to void his contract after this year and they’ll probably do so anyways. Blount and Wilkins and their expiring contracts are in the deal for no other reason than to balance the salaries and provide Phoenix with some cap relief. Some Minnesota fans will flinch at giving up Brewer, given how well he has played this season, but ultimately you’ve got to go with the more proven commodity in Jeff Green. In the end, this will all come down to the Rubio question. If Kahn really believes that Rubio will be part of the Wolves future then this deal never gets off the ground. On the other hand, if Kahn believes Rubio will drag his feet in Spain until he gets out of Minnesota then this may be the best deal they can get.

Minnesota Post-Trade Lineup:
PG - Jonny Flynn
SG - James Harden
SF - Jeff Green
PF - Kevin Love
C - Al Jefferson

Key Reserves: Ramon Sessions, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Hollins
Analysis: Good to great young group with plenty of flexibility to get better through the draft and free agency.

Phoenix Rationale:
Suns fans are most likely to dislike this trade. That’s because they’ll want a young star in return for Stoudemire, and I don’t blame them for that, but unfortunately it’s just not the reality of the NBA. Realistically, the best they’ll be able to hope for is cap relief, draft picks and some young mid-level prospects. Compounding the already difficult nature of trading a superstar is the fact that Stoudemire is in the final year of his contract, which means if he doesn’t like where he goes he won’t re-sign. He has already said that he will only re-sign with a contender. Sure, the dregs of the league could probably offer up better picks and prospects but he would never agree to sign there meaning no team that didn’t already have a handshake agreement that he’d re-sign would ever deal anything meaningful for him.  So basically, any trade in which Phoenix receives value will have to be in some round about way like this. The one thing that contradicts this theory is a recent interview in which Stoudemire implied he’d be okay with going to the Nets, who are obviously a historically bad team. The Nets aren’t giving up Brook Lopez or Devin Harris until they know if they get John Wall. They sure as hell aren’t giving up the pick that could land them John Wall, which means the best they could offer would be some combination of Chris Douglas-Roberts, Courtney Lee, Terrence Williams and Yi Jianlin. When I think honestly about it, I’d rather have a package that includes a potentially transformational star in Ricky Rubio than a couple of guys who already appeared limited to slightly above mediocre. In fact, ESPN Insider ran a report this week about how the Suns have big time interest in Rubio as the future successor to Steve Nash. Makes sense, if you think about it. The Suns also pick up what will most likely be a mid to late 1st Round Pick and an emerging player in Corey Brewer who would fit their run and gun style well. Lastly, they clear a bunch of cap space that would make them relevant players in free agency sooner rather than later.

Phoenix Post-Trade Lineup:
PG - Steve Nash
SG - Jason Richardson
SF - Grant Hill
PF - Channing Frye
C - Robin Lopez

Key Reserves: Leandro Barbosa, Corey Brewer, Goran Dragic (Suns fans love this dude)
Analysis: Probably won’t improve this year, but this trade isn’t about that. It’s about setting them up to recover in the next two years, which this trade does do.

Okay then, rip away.


Posted on: July 27, 2009 5:17 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2009 5:41 pm

More Trades and Stuff

The Wolves continue to wheel and deal talent at a video game like pace. Today, they sent Etan Thomas, a 2010 2nd Round Pick and a conditional 2010 2nd Round Pick to Oklahoma City for Chucky Atkins and Damien Wilkins. At first, one sees the involved players and most likely yawns. But for a moment, consider the deeper implications. For the fanatics and capologists and capologist wanna-bes out there there's more to this trade than meets the eyes. Why else would either team do it?

For the Zombie Sonics I assume they felt that with their glut of guards and need for a big man the trade made sense. Everyone involved is playing in the final year of their contract so there's no financial obligation beyond this upcoming season. They also probably felt like they were able to condense their roster a bit. Plus, they got a couple of 2nd Round Picks. All valid reasons to make the trade. For the Wolves, they balance a roster short on guards. But that, I suspect, is merely a bi-product. My gut instinct, which is based on Kahn's short but spastic history, tells me this is just another piece to the puzzle. Sure, Chucky Atkins could provide veteran PG council to Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio without demanding many minutes. And sure, Damien Wilkins is a very solid all-around wing player, who on a side note, I've been a big fan of for years. Those things make sense but in the end this trade, just like the Q-Rich deal, will be exposed as another cog in the wheel, another link in the chain, another anal in the analogy.

Consider this, Etan Thomas is slated to make 7.9 mil in 2009-10. Chucky Atkins will make 3.48 mil and Damien Wilkins 3.4, together totaling 6.88 million. Also, only $748,00 of Atkins' salary is guaranteed. Bust a little math, round some stuff for simplicity sake, and you learn that the Wolves are only on the hook for 4.2 million between these two players next year. That means in this trade alone they saved 3.7 million. Given that every rational NBA mind won't try to justify Etan, Chucky or Dominique's Nephew as relevant, the Wolves essentially just sold one or maybe two 2nd Round Picks for 3.7 million buckarooss. The Zombies no doubt have their reasons, but I gotta appreciate the savy by David Kahn on this one.

Sure, the average fan will say "Who cares about Glen "Billionaire" Taylor saving a few dollars. Why don't they trade for some real talent instead of lining their pockets?" At any other point throughout the last ten seasons I probably would have agreed with them. But these are different times. The ill-conceived, penny pinching, blind leading the blind, mediocrity inducing ways of McHale/Taylor are officially dead. This is the Kahn/Taylor Era and we can all plainly see who wears the pants in this relationship. To his credit, Taylor recognized he had completely lost touch with modern day basketball and did what he had to do to fix that. Also to his credit, he went with the guy he liked and not who the fans were clamouring for (David Kahn never would have been hired had the fans had any say). A third and final credit to Taylor, he has stayed completely out of the way. Hardly a peep from the guy since Kahn was hired. Kahn still has a lot to prove as a talent evaluator, but as I've said over and over again, it's at the very least refreshing to be under leadership that you trust is making things happen and not just accepting what comes to them.

FUN FACT: Including the two most recent acquisitions today and the inevitable hiring of a new head coach, over the past 5 seasons (2004 - present) the Wolves have acquired the rights or hired 72 different players and head coaches. I repeat, 72 players/head coaches since 2004. Definitely not the trademark of a winning franchise, but amazing nonetheless. That's roughly the equivalent of six complete roster revolutions. Don't believe me, check this link:

(Seriously, check it out. It'll be a trip down memory lane, with unfortunately too many bad memories).

This is a common sentiment I've been hearing and reading lately and I'd like to take a brief moment to refute it. I've got no illusions of a playoff berth or even a +.500 record, but I see no reason why this team won't exceed last year's win total. Leaving Rubio and Rodney Carney out of the equation for the moment as their situations are currently unresolved, the only main contributors they lost are Randy Foye, Mike Miller and Sebastian Telfair. On the flip, they've added Jonny Flynn, Wayne Ellington and Quentin Richardson. Foye lost the team more games than he helped win. That's a fact. Miller was an enigma and I wouldn't at all be surprised if Wayne Ellington proves more valuable. At the very least, Q-Rich will match his production. I really believe that Jonny Flynn will be in the top three for Rookie of the Year if Rubio doesn't come over and substantially better than Telfair in every facet of the game. And most importantly, Al Jefferson missed half of last season. If he doesn't do that this year I see no reason why this team is not only way more entertaining, but also just flat out better.

David Kahn spent most of last week in Spain meeting with Rubio and his people. Everyone has been really quiet since then, which could either be a good thing or a bad thing. David Stern is sending a team of league salary cap officers over this week to iron some more stuff. Again, could be good, could be bad.

Down to three, according to most sources. There may be an announcement by the end of this week. The next Wolves head coach will most likely be Kurt Rambis (Lakers Assistant), Mark Jackson (Analyst) or Elston Turner (Rockets Assistant). All three have pros and I'd have a hard time criticizing any of them right off the bat, as I don't know enough about them. I have heard that Kahn's philosophy on head coaches is to get a guy the players like and will play for, which explains the Rambis and Jackson factors. Assistants can handle the technicalities but a head coach needs to get through to the players over the course of an 82 game schedule.

Posted on: July 21, 2009 12:05 am
Edited on: July 21, 2009 12:18 am

Wolves Update

Mandatory Rubio Allotment
David Kahn is currently in Spain doing God knows what to convince DKV to free Rubio. For that to happen they'll need to lower their buyout demands. I continue to predict, as I have all along, that Ricky Rubio will play for the Timberwolves this season. I base this prediction on info I've pulled from various sources that has successfully passed my common sense filter. A week or so ago Chad Ford (ESPN toolbox/douche bag hybrid) had to swallow his pride and go back on all of his erroneous 'Rubio wants to play in New York' reporting and break the verified news that Rubio's camp has no problem whatsoever playing in Minnesota. In fact, they were very open to the idea. The problem from the beginning was that when Rubio fell to #5 he lost out on contract money that would have helped with the buyout.

The course of events over the past two weeks has made it look increasingly clear that Rubio is on his way. First, Dan Fegan, Rubio's agent, flew to Las Vegas to meet with Kahn and Glen Taylor. Then Kahn announced he was flying to Spain to meet with Rubio and his people. Then Rubio dropped his lawsuit against his Spainish team, DKV (this was a stipulation before they would agree to negotiate his buyout). You could even look at today's trade of Sebastian Telfair as further evidence the Timberwolves are clearing a path for the kid's arrival.

The word is Kahn went to Spain loaded with creative "solutions" in order to accelerate the process. One such solution is the Timberwolves organization becoming long term business affiliates with DKV. This would be in the form of publicity, annual scrimmages, off-season camps and other money generating arrangements. In theory, this partnership would effectively be worth a few million dollars and placate DKV enough to lower Rubio's buyout and at the same time get by the NBA's limit on buyout money, which is a measley $500,000. Now before visions of Joe Smith dance into your head, rest assured that this is totally legal and has been done before. The Houston Rockets, for example, poured all sorts of money into Yao Ming's Chinese team in a similar fashion.

One theory I like is centered around the drafting of 2nd round pick, Henk Norel. Who, you ask? Exactly. He's some marginal talent who shockingly no draft expert had going in the actual draft this year. Yet the Wolves mysteriously took him in the 2nd round. During the McHale era one could have simply shrugged this off as another McHale blunder but what we're coming to realize in the current era is that Kahn actually plots and schemes and plans stuff out in advance. A novel concept. Norel happens to also play for DKV and is a good friend of Rubio. Not only could the prospect of playing with a friend ease the transition to the NBA for an 18 year old kid but the Wolves could also buyout Norel for the max $500,000 although he's probably worth more like $500. That way DKV gets a cool million towards the buyout effort even though the money technically came from two different buyouts. Stay tuned.

Coach Search
Still ongoing. Rumors have the pool down to former point guard and current analyst, Mark Jackson (makes sense because of his connections to Kahn when they were both with Indiana and hiring a former PG to mentor Rubio and Flynn would be ideal), current Rockets assistant Elston Turner who is partially credited for Houston's potent offense, and current Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis (check it - http://thesportshernia.typepad.com/

Summer League
Four relevant players partook in this year's Summer League for the Wolves, Jonny Flynn, Wayne Ellington, Corey Brewer and Oleksy Pecherov. Flynn was incredible. Faster than anyone on the court. Great vision. Under the Foye/Cassell years at PG I forgot how awesome a true point guard is. They put a mic on him one game and the rumors of his oncourt leadership appear to be completely true. Most impressively, he not only got to the rim at will but also displayed the strength to take contact and finish. His physical appearance and movement on the court reminds me of Chris Paul. Wayne Ellington was shakey to start but calmed down and did exactly what the Wolves need him to do: score. He can flat out shoot and I saw him getting a lot of praise from league execs in interviews. Brewer was a trainwreck in three of the games, didn't play in one and looked really good in the finale. It was his first basketball since tearing his ACL so you've got to cut him some slack, but he showed enougn to confirm my suspicions: the team won't be able to count on him for anything heading into this year. Anything they get from Brewer will be a bonus. Pecherov is a legit 7 footer with a legit 3 point shot. I don't know if he's much of a post player but he can definitely shoot and that should be a nice compliment to the down low games of Jefferson and Love.

Other Summer League news: Blake Griffin was a manchild. Simply dominant. Brandon Jennings was better than expected. Tyreke Evans was a mini-Blake Griffin. Stephen Curry averaged 33 minutes a game and shot 33% from the field. Yikes. Hasheem Thabeet was every bit as akward and weak as his detractors predicted he would be. James Harden was forgettable. Non rookie, Anthony Randolph (27 PPG, 9 REBS, 3 BLKS) was freakishly good. Calm yourself, Randy Foye won Vegas Summer League MVP one year.

Jefferson's Injury
By all reports he is well ahead of schedule and expected to be fully ready to go at the start of training camp.

Clippers Trade

As you've probably heard, the Wolves traded Craig Smith, Sebastian Telfair and Mark Madsen to the Clippers for Quentin Richardson. In terms of cap room, the Wolves won. In terms of likability, the Clippers won in a landslide. This move is all about money. The Wolves will shave another 3 million off their total salary next, making them a stronger player in free agency. Reports that the Wolve have found their future shooting guard with this trade are dead wrong. He'll get minutes because by default they only have one other 2 guard on roster but I'll be stunned if he survives on this team past the trade deadline. Q-Rich Fun Fact: Over the last month he has been traded three times (New York to Memphis, Memphis to LA, LA to Minnesota).

On the real, Smith, Telfair and Mad Dog are by all accounts cool guys. Telfair, in particular, seems like grounded person and I believe will have a long career in the NBA. I hope to see Madsen on the bench wearing a suit as an assistant the second he retires. As a fan, I appreciate their time on this team.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com