After the results of Tuesday's NBA draft lottery, we know the Wolves are going to do something this summer. They have to as here is a glimpse of the potential log-jam should they stay where they are and pick fourth.
Forward: Jefferson/Love/Favors OR Cousins OR Johnson
That simply doesn't make any sense. Wolves boss David Kahn's going to do something. We know that much. A package deal of a combination of Sessions/Hollins/Cousins is likely but its also the very minimum Kahn will do. He's all but promised that much.
Elton Brand Wolves bound?
I always liked Elton Brand in college. Yes even though he went to Duke. You know those players that you can just tell are going to be good regardless of where they go and who they are able to play with? That is how I felt about Brand. I thought he could be the next Tim Duncan, complete with all the accolades. He just never had the supporting cast Duncan has been blessed with.
Even at the age of 31, Brand quietly has career averages of 19.3ppg, 9.7 rebounds per game and 1.97 blocks. Yes, he is coming off a career low 57 games started (he was injured the previous two seasons thus the numbers are lower), but he still played in 76 total games.
Yes he is coming off career-lows of 13.1ppg, 6.1rpg, and 1.10 blocks but those numbers would have basically been fourth on the Wolves in all four categories. Why am I talking about Elton Brand and the Wolves? Because apparantly if we want the No. 2 pick and the right to draft Evan Turner, rumors have it that talks would "start" with us taking the massive Elton Brand contract off of Philadelphia's hands.
Just for fun here is another thread per ESPN.com that has their fans discussing the possible move.
Brand brings three qualities
So what would Elton Brand bring to the table as a Wolves fan?
1. Veteran, leadership and experience. Remember 2004 when the Wolves went for it all and won the division, the No. 1 seed, and made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals, in easily the best season in franchise history? Kevin McHale figured out that veteran leadership wins games. What an interesting concept. The only difference is this time, Elton Brand doesn't have a lot of playoff experience having been on a lot of bad teams at the wrong time. (see Chicago after Jordan et all left, LA Clippers, and now the Sixers).
Our best bet would be to lean on the 2005-06 Clippers who made a pretty deep run (even for them) to within one game of the Western Conference Finals (yes you read that right) before they lost to the Suns in seven games in the semi-finals. Not by coincidence, this was the year Brand averaged a career-best 24.7ppg.
If last year was any indication, the Wolves were simply too young and too inexperienced. On second thought, it was a mistake to get rid of Quentin Richardson to the Miami Heat knowing what we know now. Yeah, he only averaged 8.9ppg but he shot a career best 39.7% from the three which is essential when you run the triangle offense.
2. He allows us to trade for Evan Turner. If you really have your heart set on a player such as the Wolves (and many of their fans the one's still caring) do about the Ohio State guard, then I think you do this trade. Even if it kills your cap room you've worked so hard to get, even if you have to take on a bad contract as Brand's is $16M next year, $17M in 2011 and $18M in the final year I think you do it.
Think of it this way. Is three years of Elton Brand worth missing out on maybe 15 great years of Evan Turner (again who has indicated he actually wants to play here) in Minnesota? I don't think so, especially if that player really wants to be there.
Lets face it, the Wolves never had free agents beating the door down to sign in perceived "cold and snowy" Minnesota, and because of pop culture and all the references and stereotypes about weather and all, they never will.
So really, what good does it do if you have $15-18 million in free agent money if you can't get anyone to take it? And lets not forget, the few times we actually found someone who wanted to take itoe Smith and Michael Olowakandi, who both turned out to be busts in their own right that ended up setting the team even further back
What I am saying is, in addition to landing Turner, the player you've wanted all along, you can do a lot worse than Elton Brand in free agency.
3. He forces a break up of the Love-Jefferson log-jam at forward
We all know this trade is coming. Its just a matter of whose going, when, and for whom. The only sad/bad thing is that trade was supposed to be part of another, future trade designed to bring even more back and to fill even more holes. Now, we have to take on an additional bloated contract just to get the player we want (Turner) all along in the first place, since the lottery didn't do us any favors.
If its Jefferson, as the early speculation has Philadelphia "asking" for (I've read/heard everything and all the early rumors from) Jefferson and No. 4 for No. 2 and Brand to Jefferson, No. 4, Flynn for No. 2, Willie Green, and Brand. It goes basically along those lines.
The only good thing that Jefferson trade does is bring back some of that cap space the Wolves worked so hard to get when his $11M a year contract would now be off the books with Philadelphia on the hook. This would allow us to still try and get a second tier free agent like Rudy Gay whom many a Wolves fan (not necessarily me) have had their eyes on for over a year.
David Kahn already knows these two Love and Jefferson can't work together on the court at the same time because they do the same things and can't play defense right when paired together. Logic would suggest the more consistent Jefferson would be more appealing in a trade, and thus, easier to move, however the younger (and cheaper) Love could actually be the one to get moved).
Think of it this way. Under the early rumors, we'd still have all of our three first round picks, just in a different order, which Kahn has already hinted at won't stay the same as today, with or without this trade. Had McHale still been in charge, he'd likely have found a way to get rid of all of them when he could have had Turner for much less and kept the picks.
What to do with that second first round pick?
Kahn has already admitted we are "desperately thin on the wings". If that doesn't scream "Turner" I don't know what does. Still, I am an advocate of getting Xavier Henry out of Kansas with our 2nd first rounder (16) if he is still available.
Although I hate the term, he's likely a "poor man's" Turner. Remember when the Wolves briefly had Mario Chalmers out of Kansas? No, they never played together, but I see a lot of similarities in the two players. For one, they played in the same system. For two, by the same mark, they come from winning formulas, and three they played at the guard position, a position of need on this team.
True, Chalmers was really only drafted to be 'held' for the Miami Heat before he was traded there, but getting Henry out of that same program might ease what few fans actually still care about this mis-deal.
If Kahn needs to create more cap space from the devestating addition of Brand's salary, he could always trade Ryan Gomes, whose nothing more than a "nice player" but one you can't build around and one whose already reached his ceiling, to a contending team, as well as Hollins or Sessions and their $3.5 million and $4 million dollar salaries, respectively.
Defending David (Kahn) II
In my last article, I willingly came to the defense of second-year Wolves boss David Kahn as sort of a cure-all for the ridicule he's taken over the past year for the way he "botched" the 2009 Wolves draft.
Ask any basketball fan who "surprise-surprise" isn't a fan of the Timberwolves what they think of the team and immediately once they get done making fun of their records, will point to the Rubio deal.
They won't mention how the Wolves were able to get in position for that pick-trading worthless pieces Mike Miller and Randy "Ryan Gomes of the guard position" Foye for the #5 pick. That's highway robbery and if we had taken their precious Curry instead of Rubio, people would be singing a different tune. All they know is because Rubio didn't come over here, this year, its a blown pick.
"He doesn't want to come to Minnesota" they say. While that may be true, we won't know that until he flat out says it. If actions speak louder than words, by his performance actually getting better in Europe as it is, that is only going to increase his appeal as a trade chip in the future which is the worst-case scenario that not being a bad thing.
All Kahn wants to do is exhaust his resources in trying to get Rubio to come here and build a team around him. When it becomes apparant he'll never show up, Kahn isn't going to wait foreverand he shouldn't and he'll get what he can when that time comes. Until then, give him a chance to assemble that team.
Next, skeptics second criticism is the Wolves stupidly drafted four point guards. First off, they really only drafted two. North Carolina's Ty Lawson was drafted for Denver with the intention of trading him their which they did for a future first round pick in this year's deeper and stronger class. Its kind of like how we 'held' Chalmers for Miami with one of our second round picks in 2008.
If you still need further proof, remember that in this same manner, Jameer Nelson was actually drafted by Denver (20th overall) and traded immediately to Orlando.
"But Orlando drafted him-he's a young point guard they could develop something the Wolves can never do" is the argument. Again, he was drafted by Denver as a service to Orlando who developed him into the player he is today, and Denver got a 1st round pick for their trouble. Same thing, but where is the criticism for Denver?
In this same token, the Wolves drafted and 'held' Florida guard, not point guard, Nick Calathes for a team that turned out to be Dallas.
He had most of his success at shooting guard, since that is what he is —a shooter. Yes, he averaged far and away the most assists on the Gators team but at least in my eyes, he'll be remembered for his versitility and his scoring, not his play making.
I mean, come on, do you really think any GM in any sport is dumb enough to draft four players at the same position in one year and keep his job? Did Matt Millen's infatuation with wide receivers not teach us anything? I know they were different years and Kahn's was one year which is what is making him look all the worse, but still.
By this same Ty Lawson regard, I've already said the Wolves should trade their final 1st round pick (23) to a team like New Orleans for their first round pick next year. They are on the decline and if we actually would finish out of the bottom 10 in the league thanks to an actual good draft, we would owe the Los Angeles Clippers our 1st round pick for the 2007 Marko Jaric trade.
These picks generally are "throw-away picks" on foreign players and as the above link shows, the Wolves do not have a friendly history with European imports. Hopefully Pekovic can begin to change that perception.
Finally, my last objection is the idea that recently departed front office man, Fred Hoiberg was "the best thing we had in our front office". "He knew what he was doing." I want to ask you, how the hell do you know? Do you personally know him? I heard the same rumors you did and apparantly he gets a lot of the credit for some of the trades we didn't make but most of this optimism was likely due to the fact people didn't like or trust Kevin McHale which made Hoiberg appear more competent by comparison.
I really hope Kahn hits it big, whether through trade, free agency, and especially the draftwith the Wolves declared 'winners' on draft night. With 3 picks they better be, so he can say to the fans '"See i told you i knew what i was doing".
I'll be pulling for him and with so many assets, not to mention motivation, don't be suprised at anything he might do. That is what keeps me going and what makes it so exciting to be a Wolves fan despite the losses on the court. Let's not forget that he inherited a 22 win team, so despite all his "bad moves" we fell just seven games to 15 wins.
Give him some time.
Information and statistics from NBA.com, ESPN.com directly contributed to this article.
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