Tag:new york knicks
Posted on: November 13, 2009 2:08 pm

Fix the Wolves

The Timberwolves are sucking hard right now but no one with honest expectations should be all that surprised by it. Rookie head coach, rookie point guard, two key players coming off devastating injuries, second best player currently injured, a completely overhauled roster with very little chemistry, and of course, a low level of overall talent.

So to pass the time until this team can improve I thought about three REALISTIC trades that could be done in order to reshape the Wolves outlook.

You can play, too! Here's how. Pick any NBA team, even the Wolves, and come up with three or fewer trades that could improve the team substantially.  YOU MUST BE ABLE TO JUSTIFY THE TRADES, although your explanations don't need to be nearly as detailed as mine. For a challenge, make the trades work under the cap. You can do that under the Trade Checker at www.realgm.com.

MY PLAN FOR THE TIMBERWOLVES: It seems there are two types of successful teams in the NBA. Those that win on star power (Boston, LA, Cleveland, Miami) and those that win on the system (Houston, Phoenix, Atlanta, Chicago). That's not to say that star powered teams don't have a good system or that good system teams don't have stars, only that there are teams like the Lakers that could play under any system and still win and teams like Phoenix that can seemingly slot any player into their run-and-gun system and still be successful.
The Wolves need to become a system team. I think that's what they are going for anyways. Sitting around and waiting for a Dwight Howard or LeBron James to fall into their laps isn't going to work, especially for this cursed franchise. So the plan becomes to get as many skilled/talented players that fit what they are going for, a primarily up-tempo team that can transition in and out of the triangle offense when needed. Behold...

Trade #1
Al Jefferson TO ATLANTA FOR Josh Smith. Before this trade could happen Al Jefferson would need to return to full strength and prove that he is who he used to be. I believe Atlanta would do the trade because when at full strength, Jefferson is one of the top three low post scorers in the league. Josh Smith, though more diverse, is a non-traditional big in that he doesn't play particularly well with his back to the basket. It was well publicized last year that they were irritated with how many threes he was taking and wanted him to get in the paint more. Also, the fact that they almost let him walk away in free agency two off-seasons ago leads me to believe that they hold other players in higher esteem. After a year in which he declined in every statistical category (in my opinion, due to a more balanced attack) I doubt his value got any higher with the team. Conversely, the "flaws" Josh Smith has in Atlanta would be pros for the Wolves and their desired up-tempo style. He's only 6'9" but plays like the 7' shot blocker that would so perfectly compliment Kevin Love. He's also a much better transition player than Jefferson and wouldn't require the ball in his hands so much in order to be effective. Contractually the players are almost identical and are both under the age of 25. Sweeteners (non-lottery picks and/or expiring contracts) could be thrown in on either end in order to make this happen.

Trade #2
Ricky Rubio AND Ryan Gomes TO NEW YORK FOR Wilson Chandler AND Jordan Hill. Before, during and immediately after the draft I would have never done this trade. But since that time Rubio has made himself unavailable to the Wolves for at least two seasons, and possibly three. I'm not a fan of waiting that long. The Knicks were more than willing to do this exact trade during the draft. Given that Jordan Hill does not play at all and that the Knicks probably regretted the pick within two minutes of making it, I think there is about a 99% chance they still would do the trade, especially considering that Donnie Walsh to this day spouts off about acquiring Rubio. My hunch is that the Knicks would believe once they acquired the rights to Rubio they could start swinging their big New York dicks around and get him over here early. I'm sure there is some kind of loop hole that would allow them to bend Barcelona over In Big Apple fashion. Losing Chandler is offset by adding Gomes, who doesn't pack the upside but is enough compensation in the meantime. The Wolves actual force Gomes into this deal in order to offset the addition of two non-expiring contracts. For the Wolves, they add a young and dynamic wing, something they desperately need. Chandler’s relatively low stat production this season is mostly due to him having to default on offense to David Lee, Al Harrington, Larry Hughes and Danilo Gallinari. In other words, he’s better than his stats show and the fact that he’s being underutilized could mean he’s undervalued.  Picking up Hill adds depth and some upside.

Trade #3
Brian Cardinal AND Sasha Pavlovic TO PORTLAND FOR Martell Webster, Jerryd Bayless AND Juwan Howard. Pound for pound this isn't a good trade for Portland. However, when you consider the cash money implications I think it becomes highly probable that Portland would accept. Cardinal and Pavlovic have expiring contracts. Cardinal would help with their only obvious weakness, big man depth. Sasha would add a short-term filler at the wing. Portland has a lot of ex-1st round picks on their team that within the next year or two those players are going to be demanding a lot of money. Then factor in that Webster/Bayless are playing in and around Brandon Roy, Travis Outlaw, Rudy Fernandez, Steve Blake, Andre Miller, Nicolas Batum and even Patrick Mills, and you realize not even Paul Allen can't afford to spend that much on backups. I think Webster is a really talented wing player. A good shooter with great 6'7" size. He just doesn't play in Portland. He would start in Minnesota. Bayless and Howard are in this deal purely to make the money work, although Bayless might one day prove some worth.

New Wolves Roster:
PG - Jonny Flynn, Ramon Sessions
SG - Martell Webster, Wayne Ellington
SF - Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer, Damien Wilkins
PF - Josh Smith, Jordan Hill, Oleksiy Pecherov
C - Kevin Love, Ryan Hollins, Nathan Jawai (Nicola Pekovic)

I know it's non-traditional with Love and Smith at the two big spots but I do think their playing styles compliment each other really well. Plus, Love, though not as tall as you'd like, has demonstrated the ability and bulk to guard bigger players.

This roster also isn't exactly a powerhouse as is. But there aren't any realistic scenarios in which the Wolves could add the talent necessary to do that. It is, however, a plausible start and puts several young and talented pieces in place that could truly shine in a run-and-gun/triangle hybrid offense.

Finally, this scenario leaves the Wolves with plenty of assets to improve further. They'll still have their high 2010 lottery pick, Utah's 2010 1st Round Pick and either Charlotte's 2010 or 2011 1st Round Pick. They have several expiring contracts, which they could throw into another trade or let expire and use in free agency. Another wildcard is Euro center extraordinaire, Nicola Pekovic, universally regarded as top 3 European prospect. He should be over next season.

Posted on: August 9, 2009 11:02 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2009 11:54 am

Wolves (and a little NBA) Talk in August

Kurt Rambis is the new head coach of the Timberwolves and I really, sincerely, hope he still wears the thick black frame glasses. Given that he's never been a head coach on the NBA level, no one short of maybe recent Lakers' players or coaches really has any idea how good he is. David Kahn certainly believes he's the best candidate. Going off his pedigree alone, Rambis looks like a good with the potential to be great hire.

First and foremost, he was a player for several years on championship contending and winning Laker teams (four championships, to be exact). He wasn't the greatest player but was good enough to stay in the league for fourteen seasons and play on teams that featured Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabar and James Worthy. He went on to work for the Lakers in various front office roles. Most recently, he's been an assistant under Phil Jackson for the past several years. You could argue there aren't many better people to learn from.

Maybe it's the stark contrast of this move compared to anything McHale/Taylor would have done during their reign of terror, but like the other moves made since the Kahn Era began, I'm intrigued by this one. After firing Flipnosis, McTaylor (just made that up) went to the bargain bin for their coaches. First Dwayne Casey, a nice guy but pretty much the definition of career assistant. Then Randy Wittman, literally one of the most losingest coaches in NBA history. Then Kevin McHale, which requires no elaboration whatsoever. Rambis, on the other hand, is not a bargain. He's not anyone's leftovers. It would have been easy to go with a retread like Avery Johnson or Sam Mitchell. It would have been easy to go cheap with an unproven like Mark Jackson or Elston Turner. But they didn't. The Wolves went after the most high profile assistant out there and they ponied up 8 million over 4 years to land him. Like I said, I'm intrigued.

Rambis Fun Fact: During his first year of professional basketball he played in Greece under the name Kyriakos Rambidis.

Rambis Thinking Point: A couple of months ago he turned down the Sacramento Kings offer, which was rumored to be comparable to the one he just agreed to. Why'd he do that? Is it possibly saying that he sees more hope in the Wolves situation? Is he like me and thinks the Maloofs are giant douchebags? Does he actually likes Winter?

It's funny. When Kevin McHale and Glen Taylor were running things Taylor was always the one who came across like the more articulate and prepared of the two. Us fans turned to him for the vision of the Wolves future. Now, in the shadow of Kahn and his overhauling ways Taylor comes off like a bumbling old Grandpa who calls you by your Dad's name and makes reference to people who have been dead for ten years as though they were still living. Just another in a long line of indictments against McHale.

The Wolves signed a young center by the name of Ryan Hollins to an offer sheet. I doubt Dallas will match given that they just signed Drew Gooden and are already over the cap. Hollins is an unproven and an unknown talent and so to make a big deal out of this would be a little premature. He is, however, the type of player they need to compliment Jefferson and Love. A true seven footer, a shotblocker, a leaper, a defender. Most importantly, he won't demand a lot of minutes. The flaw I always saw in the idea of bringing in a Tyson Chandler or Sam Dalembert or in drafting a guy like Hasheem Thabeet is that it would, in effect, delegate Love into a lesser role because those guys would need minutes. Word is that Kahn thinks this kid can be the Wolves' equivilent of Chris "Birdman" Anderson, which certainly puts his planned role into perspective. Youtube Hollins. He's got some nice highlights but he looks like a walking technical foul.

I like this quote from Hollins' ESPN scouting reports: “Hollins is 7 feet tall and a plus athlete who can run the floor and jump, the type of guy who would go 12th in the draft if he was a Serbian 19-year-old.”

NEW YORK SUCKS (and everyone knows it)
Do you get the feeling that the sports media whores are the only people who actually believe that the New York Knicks are the team everyone secretly wants to play for and in 2010 they're gonna sign LeBron AND Wade AND Bosh AND Jesus Himself? Take this offseason, for example. The mighty Knicks have now been scorned by Jason Kidd and Andre Miller. Trevor Ariza would rather play for the McGrady/Ming-less Rockets. David Lee was willing to sign with Memphis instead of return to New York (but in true Grizzly form they instead opted for Zach Randolph). Nate Robinson is giving serious thought to playing in Greece as an alternative to resigning with the Knicks. Ramon Sessions is stalling in hopes that some other team besides New York will offer him a deal, even though they're the only team willing to throw the entire mid-level exception at him. The one guy who is self-serving enough to want to play there is Carlos Boozer. The Knicks would no doubt pay him whatever he wants but of couse that reveals another problem, the Knicks have nothing to trade Utah for him. What? Wilson Chandler? Eddy Curry? How about Jared Jeffries and an autographed John Starks mini-basketball? Did I mention, they're currently working out Jason Williams. Yes, the retired White Chocolate Jason Williams. Good luck in 2010, Knickerbockers.

Al Jefferson, if healthy, should be a lock for the All-Star game next season. Yao Ming is permanently broken. Shaq is in the Eastern Conference. Carlos Boozer will either be traded to the East or relegated to backing up Paul Milisap. Three open big man spots, plus everyone knows he got screwed last year and if they want to redeem themselves they'll have to vote him in. First All-Star Wolf since KG. Lock it in. It should be a fun weekend with the possibility of Jonny Flynn, Ricky Rubio, Wayne Ellington and Kevin Love in the Rookie/Sophomore game.

Have a good day and thanks for reading.

Posted on: June 28, 2009 6:59 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2009 9:47 am

A new twist on the Rubio situation

In Ricky Rubio the Timberwolves drafted a player with more potential than any player they've acquired since Kevin Garnett. Not only does he have the ability to become a star talent, but also a star personality. He has the makings of someone who would not just generate wins, but also generate national and international interest in this team. He has the intangibles to once again put Minnesota on the map, not just as a legitimate franchise, but as an innovative force to be reckoned with throughout the NBA. Before any of that can *possibly* happen, the matter of his 6 million dollar buy out will need to be resolved.

A quick digression: Fuck all of the New York elitists and ESPN gossip girls that go against the very mission set forth in the United States Constitution and its assurance that all sports franchises are created equal, with their assertion that Rubio is entitled to play in the beloved Big Apple and should by force of David Stern, if necessary, be saved from the lowly fly over depths of the Minne Apple. The people of New York deserve Ricky Rubio, they would have you believe, while the people of Minnesota apparently deserve someone far less talented and charismatic. Us simple minded Mid-Westerners should happily accept whatever bucket of bolts they are willing to offer up in exchange for Rubio. And if you look at New York's roster you will see that I'm not far off in my comparison. My advice, should Donnie Walsh ever read this blog, is that the Knicks should try to suck harder than they usually do. You see by overpaying for marginal talent they manage to win just enough games to not totally suck but not nearly enough games to actually be good either. So they are always stuck in the lower-middle part of the draft taking guys like Jordan Hill, Danilo Gallinari, Renaldo Balkman, Channing Frye and Michael Sweetney. If they'd only lose a few more games they could legitimately draft the Ricky Rubios of the the world instead of trying to pry them away from other franchises based on their self-fulfilling divine right.

Rubio will make roughly $6 million over the first two years of his NBA contract. So in effect, based on salary alone, it would take him two years to pay off his buyout. Typically, European buyouts are paid off over time and not in one big shot. Before this starts to sound too unappealing you need to consider a few things. One, the exact amount of his buyout may be exaggerated. Right now, "they" are reporting $6 mil, but it will probably end up being a lot lower than that once the courts get ahold of it. Two, the big money will never come until he is playing in America. Putting the NBA off a year or two will do nothing but delay the inevitable. Three, once he is on an NBA court playing against the likes of LeBron, Kobe and Wade the endorsements will roll in. Little boys and girls in Spain, the Ukraine, Argentina and Guam aren't going to give a damn about what the weather is like in Minnesota or what the relative market size of the Twin Cities is compared to other NBA economies. They're going to buy his jersey and whatever products he endorses all the same. The money he will get from his first shoe contract will make the $6 million buyout look like chump change. Or should I say, New York change. Rubio, but more likely his agent, knows this and deep down is aware that if David Kahn and the TWolves want to play hardball, in the end, all roads to the NBA run through Minnesnowta.

A second digression: Shaq O'Neal has stated that to date he has never touched a dime from any of his NBA contracts. Instead, he lived eniterely off the money he received from various endorsement deals. From this I draw two conclusions. 1) Rubio and his family will be just fine no matter how big the buyout. 2) Shaq is very wealthy.

A new rumor adds a wrinkle to this whole affair. The theory goes that Rubio's current team in Spain (DKV Joventut) is merely posturing with the large buy out demands and that Rubio's "maybe I'll stay in Spain" thing is more of a way to call DKV's bluff than it is the Timberwolves'. DKV is effectively bankrupt and they want Rubio to leave in order to cash in on his buyout money. They know that he is going to leave eventually. If he waits out his contract, he walks and they get nothing. If he goes now, he pays and they survive.

A third and final digression: At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, I really couldn't be happier with David Kahn's first six weeks on the job. He fired who he had to, traded who he needed to, ignored the risk and drafted who any GM trying to build a legit contender would have in Rubio, and even had the balls to take the other guy he wanted in Flynn, regardless of what Dick Vitale thought. He's also been extremely upfront with the local and national media and more importantly, with the fanbase. In a short amount of time he has somewhat unbelievably created a buzz around this team that was entirely dormant in the minds of most fans. So far he's playing the Rubio situation perfectly by stating there is no pressure on Rubio to come over. Casual observers might say he's being too soft. Anyone, who doesn't get 100% of their sports news from ESPN and has paid attention to how he operates hears the translation: Go ahead and sit in Europe for as long as you want. When you want to play in the NBA, book that ticket for MSP. 

Ultimately, we must remind ourselves that Rubio is 18 years old. Pause for a moment and reflect on what you were like at 18. Or I suppose what you will be like when you are 18. Though his actions might come off as disrespectful to the Timberwolves and their fans, you can't forget that he's really just a dumb kid. He'll say some stupid things, he already has. But really, he's just doing what his agent is telling him. Barring a Stephon Marbury emotional retardation sort of digression, he'll figure it out and eventually look pretty damn good in a Wolves uniform.

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