Where Do We Go From Here?

The unthinkable happened. The Minnesota Timberwolves traded their heart and soul, Kevin Garnett. I knew it could happen, I just didn’t think this time would finally come. After 12 wonderful years, Garnett is gone. Our KG is now the Boston Celtic’s KG. What do we do now?

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Post KG: Where do the T-Wolves go from here? [image2]

For one, I don’t think we can dwell on the past and allow this trade to tear the fabric of us Wolves fans apart. We need to rally around and support our young squad. In time we will grow with and cherish our new Wolves. It will be rough going for a few years, no one is disputing that. The losses will pileup, but they will be the necessary experiences and tribulations that our new youngsters will need to go through to fully mature and realize their potential. Maybe even someday we will develop another special relationship or two, like we all did with KG. We’ve got some good character youngsters on the new look Wolves, and some guys that I think we all will really be able to throw ourselves behind and support, while watching them grow and mature into future NBA stars.  

 

I’m not gonna talk ad nauseum about how much I miss KG and the trade and how sad I am. There is plenty of coverage on the net already, and it would be just beating a dead horse at this point. Also, DeRok’s tribute was amazing and I’ll leave it at that. Do I miss KG? Yes. Was it sad to see him go? Yes. Was it a good move for the future of our franchise? Hell yes. Will I still cheer for KG? Definitely Yes. The silver lining in the trade is that the Celtics have been my second favorite team for a few years now, so that’s cool that KG will be playing for them. That excites me. Also, Ryan Gomes was my favorite “Non-TWolf” in the entire league… and now he’s playing for my favorite team! That’s frickin pretty dang cool if you ask me.

I was a fan of the Timberwolves before we had Kevin Garnett and I will continue to be a fan now that he is gone. It wasn’t KG that nutured my fandom of the Wolves. For that reason, I will always be a fan of the Timberwolves Franchise, and continue to support them. It all begin back when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I wasn’t a huge basketball fan at that point (probably because the Wolves were so bad, and didn’t have any stars.) Still, for some reason I started following them and watching more and more of the games on TV. Yes, they were a bad team, but I found myself enjoying watching them because they tried hard and I always thought they just needed a few lucky breaks. My diehard support comes from the bond that was fostered watching the Wolves during those early years. Most often I’d go down in our basement to watch them by myself. This wasn’t a nice finished basement either… we lived out in the country and our basement was like a dungeon. Imagine going down the uncarpeted wooden steps. The walls were bare cement, as was the floor. It was dark, except for a lightbulb you turned on by pulling a string. We mostly stored junk down there, as well as housing the washer, dryer, and furnace (which often made really scary noises to an 8 year old.) In one corner, we had a patch of carpet and an old couch. There was a workbench with a really old TV on top of it. It was so old that we didn’t have a remote. To change the channel you had to flip open a little panel, and each channel had it’s own button to press. However, it was my humble abode, where I could watch the Timberwolves without distraction. I would watch the games down there in the dark, and become entralled. For those reasons I’ll always be a fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves. I don’t think I couldn’t be even if I wanted. I’ll also still always be a Kevin Garnett fan. I wish him well on the Celtics and will obviously still follow and support the rest of his career.

As I said, I’m also an ardent follower of the Celtics (not as closely as the Wolves though) so I believe I have some pertinent insight into the players we got in “The Trade.” As for the trade itself, the problem isn’t who we just got for KG. The problem is that there were multiple trades offered the past two years that would have brought us a far larger bounty. Deep down I never wanted to trade KG, but I thought that if it was going to happen there were some pretty good trades that we could have accepted. I was pining for “the Bulls trade” at the deadline two years ago. The gist of the trade was Luol Deng, Tyson Chandler, the Bulls #2 pick (they took Tyrus Thomas), the Knicks future #1 (they took Joakim Noah) plus salary filler (Which would have been easier to match because KG got paid less back then.) He was also rumored to Phoenix earlier this year, with the highlights being Amare Stoudamire and the Atlanta Hawk’s unprotected first round pick next season. Both of those potential trades probably would have been better for our franchise than this Boston trade. But whatever, that’s beyond my control. However, I am excited he ended up in Boston…so it’s not all bad.

With that said, I firmly believe that this Boston deal is the best deal that we possibly could have gotten for KG at this point in the game. It’s the best deal I could have even hoped for. In fact, I think we were lucky to get what we did. If any of you were familiar with the rumors surrounding the completion of the trade, the thing supposedly holding up the deal was Gomes and the number of first rounders we were supposed to get in return. Gomes is a stud and very underrated. The draftpicks are icing on the cake. Granted, we shouldn’t have had to trade back for our pick (because we should have never traded it last year to the Celtics in the first place,) but it has value for two reasons. One: We will be a bad team. Two: As stupid as this may sound, we can now use it as a trade chip for more potential trades. I know everyone gets mad at McHale for throwing draft picks into trades, but if he would just be smart about his trades, it wouldn’t be too bad. Personally, I would use the draft pick of ours that we got back to try and dump either Blount or Marko. I know it sucks to give away first round picks, but we have no room on our roster as is, and it is imperative that we move Blount before the start of next season. No one is going to take Blount or Marko off our hands for players even up, unless we get an absolutely terrible contract back in return. I’d do our future first round pick (with full lottery protection) plus Blount or Marko just to move them. I don’t know of too many potential trades out there for Blount or Marko, but then again I’m not an NBA GM. That’s McHale’s job, and he should be on the phone 3 days ago trying to clear some dead wood from our roster. We NEED them and their attitudes away from our young roster. The Celtics 2009 pick will probably be in the low 20’s. But you never know. If one (or two) of their big three goes down, Boston could falter badly. Also, they have no bench whatsoever and their margin for error is very small. That Boston 09 pick could end up being a decent pick if we are lucky. I’m not counting on it being a good draft pick, but you never know. With that said, I would have still done this KG deal at this point without getting draft picks back, as they are just icing on the cake.

Here’s a rundown of our new roster additions:”Big Al” Jefferson – He’s a stud. I’m sorry, but anyone that says otherwise is just plain ignorant. I watched around a dozen Celtics games last season, and I’ve followed almost every game they’ve played the past two or three years. It’s your own fault if you sleep on this guy. He’s only 22 and already possessed some of the best post moves in the game. He had a terrible ankle injury his first season, and didn’t quite let it heal. That caused him to be cautious and ineffective the remainder of his first year. Last season, he had a fluke appendectimy, which sidelined him for 7 games, I believe. Also, the Celtics were terrible and he was ROUTINELY double and triple teamed in the post. When Pierce went down for those 20 something games, Big Al was the man on offense, despite the fact that every team they played game planned against him. Clifford Ray came on the Celtics last season and mentored Big Al and it made a night and day difference from the previous two years. You don’t think McHale can’t teach him a thing or two about playing in the low post? He would have been in this past draft class if he went to college, and would have been the hands down #3 (or maybe #2) overall pick. Big Al is part of the new future of this team (if he gives MN a chance ,and we sign him.) It is known that he didn’t want to leave Boston, saying that if he got traded last year for Allen Iverson, he would “chain himself to the bus” to stay in Beantown.”Big Al” Jefferson – He’s a stud. I’m sorry, but anyone that says otherwise is just plain ignorant. I watched around a dozen Celtics games last season, and I’ve followed almost every game they’ve played the past two or three years. It’s your own fault if you sleep on this guy. He’s only 22 and already possessed some of the best post moves in the game. He had a terrible ankle injury his first season, and didn’t quite let it heal. That caused him to be cautious and ineffective the remainder of his first year. Last season, he had a fluke appendectimy, which sidelined him for 7 games, I believe. Also, the Celtics were terrible and he was ROUTINELY double and triple teamed in the post. When Pierce went down for those 20 something games, Big Al was the man on offense, despite the fact that every team they played game planned against him. Clifford Ray came on the Celtics last season and mentored Big Al and it made a night and day difference from the previous two years. You don’t think McHale can’t teach him a thing or two about playing in the low post? He would have been in this past draft class if he went to college, and would have been the hands down #3 (or maybe #2) overall pick. Big Al is part of the new future of this team (if he gives MN a chance ,and we sign him.) It is known that he didn’t want to leave Boston, saying that if he got traded last year for Allen Iverson, he would “chain himself to the bus” to stay in Beantown.Gerald Green – The kid has game. The problem is he’s dumb as a rock and can’t play defense. He had a terrible summer league outing, which probably helped us by lowering his perceived trade value. He has potential to be really good, but he’s still young and learning. He just needs time (and all McCants minutes.) What he can do is shoot. From anywhere on the court. He’s got one of the sweetest shots I’ve seen, and he’s nearly unblockable because of how high he jumps on the release. You would think he’d be deadly slashing to the rim, but he seems either incapable of doing it… or just doesn’t know how. I’d go with the latter, because he’s a terrible dribbler. So, he needs to improve his defense, handle, and BBall IQ. IF all that can happen, we’ll have a future star on our hands. I wanted us to draft him (among 4 others) in that 2005 draft over McCants anyways… so I’m glad we got him.

Ryan Gomes – I love this guy. My favorite player in the league is now on my favorite team. I’ll be cheering my ass off for him next year. Unlike GMoney, he’s got a GREAT BBall IQ. He will be our Shane Battier. He’s a guy that every team needs to have. He does the small things and helps the team win. He was the 50th overall pick in the draft and the only reason he got to even play his rookie season is because of injuries. Doc Rivers is such a colossal idiot that he didn’t know what he had in Gomes until he was forced to play him the last 30 or so games of the season. Gomes is a guy that you don’t have to run plays for and he’ll still contribute. I know this because he averaged 12 and 6 last year and I don’t think Doc drew up a single play for him. He does the dirty work, gets offensive boards and put backs, and has been working on his stroke like crazy. He has extended his range to the three point line, and even though he only took like 42 threes last year (all towards the end of the season) I think he made them at almost a 40% clip. He does all the intangibles as well as playing heady defense and setting screens. People have been saying he’s “like Craig Smith.” That’s wrong, first of all, he’s been in the league longer than Smith, so at the very least, Craig Smith is “like Ryan Gomes.” Also, he’s a legit 6′8″ and 250 pounds. Craig Smith doesn’t can’t say that. Gomes should be our starting SF and backup PF against small lineups… but who knows with coach Wittman running things.

Sebastion Telfailure – Purely a throw in, due to his expiring contract after this season. If we can get anything out of him I’d be surprised. Then again, you never know as he is still young. The problem is that he can’t stay out of trouble and wore out his welcome in both Boston and Portland. He struggled last year even though Doc started him the first 30 something games of the season. The problem is that he’s a cutting and slashing point guard. Doc had him dribble it up in a slow down half court offense (for what reason I’ll never know.) That’s not his forte and he struggled. Perhaps with our youngsters we can implement some sort of run and gun offense. IF that can happen, he wouldn’t be a terrible 10-15 minute per game backup to Foye. If he can get someone to mentor him, he could turn out alright. The problem is that we have no such veteran “mentor” point guard on our team. That’s why I wanted us to sign either Blake, Atkins, or Brevin Knight. I guess we could still sign Knight, but there is 0% chance Taylor pays double (because of the luxury tax) for a guy like Knight. So, with all that said, I’m sure he’ll struggle with the Wolves because of a lack of guidance. It’s too bad… he really has the skills. However, be warned that if he does play, don’t expect defense because he’s too small and can’t play any. His D is much like T-Hud, Mike James, or worse. It’s not a pretty sight. You would think someone that quick could play defense, but he just can’t.

Theo Ratliff – His contract was included as it made up the bulk of the trade moneywise. Since KG gets paid so much, Boston had no small task matching salaries. Some people are hoping he plays for us. I doubt he will. I’m not sure of the exact terms with the insurance company, but I do know that if he misses too many games, insurance pays 80% of his contract. I’m sure Glen Taylor would love that. Once again, I do not know how many games he has to miss for insurance payments to kick in. I’d keep him around (rather than buyout or cut) because he could be a good mentor to Jefferson, and to some extent Craig Smith as well.

The biggest problem with this trade is that we know have too many “NBA Ready” players. We will have one of the worst records next season, but we probably have one of the most “deserving” rosters, from top to bottom. One could make a case that almost all 16 of our guys deserve consistent playing time. HOW is this going to be managed? I have no faith in Wittman to manage the minutes of 12 players every game. Without a clearcut pecking order and consistent minutes, next season could be an absolute disaster. What’s gonna happen if Ricky Davis doesn’t get his 35-40 minutes a night? What’s going to happen is his attitude is going to go south and he’ll bring the rest of the team down in a hurry. What about guys like Gerald Green and McCants? Say they get 25 minutes one game, but only 5 the next? How long will they put up with stuff like that? We need to get rid of at least four or five guys from this roster before next season.

So, what do we do? If I were running things, I’d dump most of the “veterans” and go completely young. I think that at this point it’s truly our best course of action. I firmly believe that it is IMPERATIVE that we get rid of Blount and Ricky Davis before next season at all costs. We cannot allow them to stay and taint our young lineup. In Ricky’s own mind I’m sure he believes he’s the best player on this team and the new “leader.” The problem is that he couldn’t lead a fish to water. Blount… he will be a problem to get rid of, but they need to find a way. If we could get rid of Marko, that would be great. We should be in talks with Golden State, as I think they present the best chance to dump a few of these guys. Here’s one example. Keep in mind both of these moves would need to happen.

1) Blount to GS for the 10 Million Trade Exception (from their Jason Richardson trade to Charlotte.)
2) Ricky + McCants to GS for Adonal Foyle.

Why we do it: To clear roster space and get the bad attitudes off our team. Adonal Foyle has a bad contract, that is true. However, he’s a sterling character guy more of a true center than Blount wll ever be, even in his wildest dreams. Foyle rebounds and plays defense… exactly what we need next to Big Al. Getting rid of Ricky AND McCants clears up huge minutes for the rest of our youngsters and helps set the pecking order. Getting rid of Blount is a no brainer, even moreso after Stephen Litel revealed him as the “Mystery Attitude” on the Wolves, indicating that he’s just here to collect his money and doesn’t really care. I believe it, as that is the same impression I’ve gotten from him as well. In the forums, DeRok mentions that he doesn’t think we should trade McCants since we are going young anyways. He does have a valid point, but if it meant getting rid of Blount, I would trade McCants. Also, I think we have too many guys to develop as it is, and I don’t think McCants brings much to the table that our other guys don’t anyways. He can supposedly shoot, but so can Gerald Green. And GG is much taller and longer than McCants. Brewer already plays better defense than McCants can ever hope to. And he’s not a point guard. I just see him as the odd man out. If we can get rid of a few other guys, maybe we keep McCants. I don’t know. So, you could switch in a lottery protected first round pick instead of McCants for this trade, either way it’s about the same.

Why GS does it: Blount could actually be half decent in Nellie’s system. Ricky Davis could do a decent job of replacing Richardson. McCants is young and some say he has “potential.” I don’t think he does, but you all know that already. We better not wait too long to trade McCants or all the other teams will see what I already know this upcoming season. Foyle never plays for them and is terrible for Nellie’s system anyways. They’d love to get rid of his contract, even if it meant bringing in Blount. I know it’s not the greatest trade ever. I think getting rid of Blount will truly be the epitome of “addition by subtraction.” If that means taking on Foyle, so be it. He’d mesh well alongside Big Al because of his defense. We don’t need our center to score, and that’s all Blount can do for us.

So where does that leave us? Getting rid of Blount and Ricky Davis would be a great start. If we could somehow dump Jaric and probably Hassell (who I actually wouldn’t mind keeping for leadership) we would be looking really good. Another potential trade out there that we should be exploring is with Portland. They really want to dump Pryz and have been rumored to be trying to trade Jarret Jack. If we could somehow get those two guys, I’d love it. I’m not holding my breath though. Here’s my roster shakedown assuming those three (Blount, RD, McCants) guys are somehow gone by next year. (I won’t add in any new players because it’s too much of a crapshoot.) Assuming we keep those three guys… well then, our roster is going to be a clustered mess. I have no idea where you will find minutes for everyone on a Ricky Davis lead team. The only thing Ricky would lead this team to is another high lottery pick. Hopefully our roster looks a little something like this:

Foye/Telfailure or Jaric
Brewer/Gerald Green/Jaric
Gomes/Gerald Green/Hassell
Big AL/Craig Smith/Gomes
Howard/Madsen/Richard

IR: Mostly likely Theo Ratliff

That’s a great building block for the future. Gerald Green should get all McCants minutes anways (even if McCants stays.) Gomes SHOULD be starting at SF, it won’t be a move that is regretted. While I am not huge on Foye playing PG, we don’t have many other options, so I hope it works out. Big Al can play PF or Center, but Craig Smith isn’t a starting caliber PF in this league, so it looks like Big Al starts at PF for us. Craig Smith is good for 25-30 backup minutes per game at PF and C, but he shouldn’t be starting. We’d get killed if he does. Gomes I guess could play PF with Big Al at center against smaller lineups, that might work too. However, I just hope Howard, Richard, and Madsen can hold down the center position until we find a better alternative. We do have a lot of versatile players though, and there is really quite a combination of potential lineups that one could use with this squad. What I have above is definitely not something that should be set in stone, just a good starting point. Truly, the lineup depends on the matchups of the night and who’s playing well. We have a great group of players, but some tough decisions do need to be made about who we keep and who we jettison. Do you all see the dilemma of keeping Ricky Davis on this team? He has stated on the record that he won’t be happy if he isn’t starting. He typically plays about 40 minutes a game as well. All that would do is stunt the growth of some of our youngsters that need the minutes far more than he does. We need to figure out which players we should keep and which ones we let go. There will be some decisions that need to be made with rookie contracts ending for all these players. The only way we can evaluate who stays and who goes is to provide them with ample playing time so that their performances can be properly analyzed. This won’t happen with Ricky Davis on our team.

On the bright side, we shouldn’t have to worry about tanking games anymore. Because we should be really bad. If we somehow aren’t terrible and are winning games with our young core, that’s awesome. I’d much rather this be the year that we win games and give our pick to the Clippers, rather than either of the past two years. Winning would be nothing but positive for the youngsters. However, I don’t think we’ll need to worry about winning enough games to have better than a bottom 10 record. With that said, all our guys should be able to try as hard as they can every game… which will only make them better players in the future. (Minus Blount of course if he stays, as he doesn’t do “trying hard.”)

I could easily get behind and support a team if it’s constituted like this. That sets us up far better than any team we could have assembled with KG the next five years. And can any of you tell me with a straight face that you could justify paying him $105 million for FIVE more seasons? That’s what Boston is paying him, and it’s preposterous. Apparently he wanted a $60 million extension from Glen Taylor. For once, I am glad Glen didn’t agree to pay someone. Quite simply, KG isn’t worth that much at that stage in his career. Doesn’t he have a clue as to how much he his hindering our cap by asking for that much? No wonder we couldn’t build a team around him. I love KG and always will, but that’s just ridiculous. After having banked over $200 million during the course of his career, I have to ask “Where’s the hometown discount?”

I can’t wait to watch our young guys grow and gell before our eyes. If we keep Ricky and Blount though, I’ll be very pissed off as they could easily derail this entire rebuilding effort. Anyhow, if I were to guess our record, my guess is between 20-25 wins. Even less though if we keep Ricky and Blount.

The future starts now. We’ve got a great young core of guys like Randy Foye, Corey Brewer, Ryan Gomes, and Al Jefferson. I can’t wait to watch these guys grow and develop before our very eyes… much like KG did twelve long years ago. Hop on board, it’s gonna be a wild ride.

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