And so begins Kevin McHale’s attempt to pull the Timberwolves out of the NBA cellar and back into the playoffs…
After years of rumors, Howard may finally become a T-Wolf. [image2]
[ad2] Reports coming from NBA insiders state that the Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets have agreed in principle to a trade of Mike James for Juwan Howard. All I can say is to ink that contract real quick before something happens to mess this deal up! While adding an aged vet like Howard to the roster will most likely have only a marginal affect on the team’s record and certainly not diffuse the ticking KG timebomb, the trade is definitely a step in the right direction. First of all, the Wolves are trading small for big. Given the Wolves current depth chart at the 4 and 5 spots (Garnett, Blount, Smith… Madsen), clearing up the log jam at the guard position for some bulk is definitely a step in the right direction. Secondly, you can’t beat the financial benefit of Howard’s contract which is one year shorter than James. The Wolves currently have five bad contracts that run for the next 2-4 years (Blount, Hassell, Jaric, Hudson, and James). Swapping James for Howard brings that number down to four and also gives the Wolves an expiring contract to play with next season. Thirdly, James reportedly never “fit in” with his teammates, most notably KG, so adding an established vet to maintain order and guide the youngsters will certainly help the Wolves’ chemistry.
To be honest, I see absolutely no downside to this trade. While I believe that Mike James could truly thrive in the right environment, Minnesota just isn’t it. So getting rid of a player with a bad contract who was basically “worthless” to this team for a much needed big man with a better contract is a no-brainer.
Apparently, this deal is as good as done and the two teams are just talking about including additional players. Glancing over the Rockets roster and keeping in mind who could be available, I can’t say that I see anyone who will really help the Wolves. At the same time, I can’t see the Rockets taking on another one of our bad contracts. So I haven’t the faintest idea who else could be involved.
Could Ric Adelman’s affinity for the Serbian Stojakovic prompt him to make a play for Marko Jaric? You could trade him for Bob Sura and Kirk Snyder which would be amazing for the Wolves as those contracts would be off the books in 2009 vs. 2012. That would be very financially unsound on Houston’s part. McCants and Hassell for Battier? Also very one-sided. What about Garnett and Blount for Yao and McGrady? To be honest, that’s no more ridiculous than anything else I’ve proposed. Like I said, I just don’t see where the teams can meet each other’s needs outside of a straight-up deal of James for Howard.
Hopefully, this deal will go through and it will just be the first of Kevin McHale’s many trades to set this franchise back on the right track. Because let’s face it, Juwan Howard is not keeping Garnett in Minnesota by himself. This trade is basically a baby step on the ten mile trek back to respectibility. But at least it’s a step in the right direction, something this team hasn’t experienced for nearly three years.