It’s not easy being a Minnesota Timberwolves fan.
Early-season ineptitude caused team owner Glen Taylor to finally put his foot down, make a coaching change…and replace Randy Wittman with one of the most hated men in Minnesota sports, Kevin McHale. If that wasn’t bad enough for T’Wolves fans, the team has proceeded to go 2-10 after the switch to McHale.
College Wolf of T’Wolves Blog was kind enough to sit down with MVN for an interview and tell us just how bad things have gotten in Minnesota…
Click Read More for the interview.
MVN: 1) The Randy Wittman and Kevin McHale eras have both been miserable failures in Minny — which coach on the market WOULD be a good fit for this team?
CW: You’re correct that the DimWittman (and McFale) eras have been abject failures. It will be a joyous day if/when/please god the McHale coaching era is over and Taylor FINALLY (hopefully) brings in a real coach from outside the “Country Club.” The only acceptable solution is to clean house and bring in an entire new Front Office of fresh blood. Personally, my #1 coaching dream would be Jeff Van Gundy. He’s a great coach and one of the best NBA TV commentators in the biz. I mention his TV commentating because he’s hilarious, and more importantly, his observations and analysis are spot on. He’s probably forgotten more coaching acumen than Wittman and McHale could ever hope to possess. I think a young impressionable team for him to mold would be a decent fit for him in Minnesota. We’ve got a bunch of upcoming draft picks and cap space, assuming our Front Office doesn’t screw it all up before they (hopefully) leave town. I say give JVG the keys to the ship and let him do his thing. I think he would command the attention and respect of most of our club (except maybe McCants, but who CAN coach him?)
If not JVG, we should go after an offensive minded coach along the lines of Mike D’antoni or Rick Adelman. It’s obvious that our collection of “talent” (I use the term loosely) is not capable of playing any sort of defense whatsoever, so we are going to need to outscore teams if we ever have any hope of winning.
MVN: 2. So, about that Kevin Love-for-OJ Mayo trade. I was surprised by the generally positive reaction to it among Timberwolves fans when the deal went down, but since then, the tide of public opinion has certainly shifted. What grade would you give the Great Basketball Minds at Target Center for that deal?
CW: Can I give it an “Infinity F-”? I thought it was a bad trade at the time, and now it seems even horrifically worse. I guess I can see WHY the Front Office did the trade, but it sure seemed pretty stupid (at least to me) to trade your Top Three Lottery pick for a backup to the best player on our team. Not only that, he’s an undersized and un-athletic backup. Mayo, on the other hand, had the star potential (both on and off the court), that the Wolves (and their fans) have been craving for years. The warning flags should have been everywhere for our motley crew of decision makers. I guess it’s still a bit early to be overreacting, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that honestly thinks it was a great trade for us at this point. Maybe if Mike Miller turns things around and we magically use the cap space we got from the trade, it will end up turning out alright. Or perhaps if Kevin Love decides to stop sucking. More likely, we’ll need OJ Mayo to suffer a career ending injury for it to be considered a “good” trade in our favor.
MVN: 3. You were just chosen as Minnesota’s new general manager — where on earth do you start with this team? What are the first moves you make?
CW: First off, I promise to put in more than the 20 hours per week that McHale was working during his tenure. Secondly, the biggest need for this team is another star to go with Al Jefferson. Mayo could have been that guy, but its water under the bridge now. Anyways, from what I’ve seen, I’m not so sure that Jefferson is capable of being the “Alpha Star” that can lead a team to a championship. With that in mind, we need to pair another star alongside him. I think it’s obvious that the said player would ideally be a perimeter guard, or perhaps a penetrating point guard in the mold of CP3 or Derrick Rose. The problem is that acquiring such players is much easier said then done. So assuming we don’t win the lottery anytime soon, I’d get on the phone. Actually, before I did that, I’d fire the entire coaching staff and start over from scratch. In my dream world I’d bring in Jeff Van Gundy and allow him to handpick his entire coaching staff, and allow him to give full input on any players he wants to keep (if any… ha.)
After the coaching staff is in place, then I get on the phones. I call up every team and see what they’ve got available. No BSing with them, just get down and dirty. No one on the Wolves would be untouchable, including Big Al. Granted, I wouldn’t trade him away on a whim, but if the right deal came along…
The focus of the phone calls would be to trade some of the plethora of first round picks we’ve got coming our way in the next two drafts, along with our expiring contracts and redundant pieces like Craig Smith and McCants. Mike Miller is a prime trade candidate because he has a sizable contract, doesn’t fit into our future, and could still help a contender with his outside shooting (assuming he like, actually starts taking shots.) Ideally, we could consolidate a few picks and/or players/expiring contracts for a top lottery pick to nab someone like Harden. I would be hesitant to bring in talent that hurts our cap position because the Wolves are set up to have some nice salary space in a few years (assuming they don’t blow it before I get hired.) If there is a deal that’s “too good to be true” for young, yet expensive talent like Chris Kaman or Gerald Wallace, I’d think long and hard about making that deal. The reason being is that I don’t see any of the prime free agents actually wanting to sign with the TWolves.
If we can’t swing any trades for a star, then I’d look at bringing in some cheap young talent that fills holes. Specifically talking about a Center, Point Guard, and athletic defensive minded Small Forward. I think Joakim Noah would be a perfect center to go alongside Big Al, especially since he has fallen out of favor with the Bulls. I would imagine he could be had for relatively cheap. Getting a starting caliber stud PG is slightly more difficult, but I’d look for someone young and in the mold of Rondo/Westbrook/Jameer Nelson/DJ Augustine/Rose/etc. Gerald Wallace and Kaman would be great fits as our Center and athletic defensive minded SF, but like I said, they have somewhat sizable contracts. A Trevor Ariza, Travis Outlaw, Rudy Fernandez, and/or Sergio Garcia could all be nice possible additions.
And then if none of this can possibly get worked out, I pray like hell to the basketball lottery gods as we tank away the rest of the season.
Lastly, under no circumstances would I re-sign McCants after this season is over.
MVN: 4. If you had to choose just one — which is a difficult task — what’s the biggest front office gaffe in franchise history for the T’Wolves?
CW: As you said in the question, it’s almost next to impossible to pick just ONE single gaffe. Trying to narrow down the list makes my head nearly explode. With that said, and I’m not sure if this is would be considered a ”single gaffe” or not, but it was the utter failure to surround KG with the talent to win a title. Maybe he needed a #1A type star, but whatever it was our Front Office had the time and resources to make it happen. As you can see from last season, it didn’t take KG long to prove his value en route to finally winning a ring. It was absurd that we couldn’t surround him with the right types of players in 12 years. For the most part, our Front Office should be ashamed of the miscast collection of goons and misfits they surrounded him with. Most “lesser” NBA stars would have demanded a trade years ago, yet KG always tried his hardest to make it work. In my mind, the failure of the Wolves to win a title rests almost completely on the Front Office and the way(s) they built our teams. I guess we’ll always have that one magical Western Conference Finals season, but really, is it that hard to find complements to one of the best and most versatile players in the league?
MVN: 5. Could the 2008-09 Timberwolves beat the 1989-90 Timberwolves (which was, of course, their first season in existence)?
CW: In one game on a neutral court… this year’s team could probably win. After all, as KG would say: “Annnnnnything is possssssible.” For what it’s worth, I’d have a hard time picking a team if they played a Best Of Seven series. We’re that bad this year.