State of the Wolves: Offseason Edition, Volume 1

Incoherent Rambling. Let that be the theme for this post. Incoherent rambling loosely structured in bullet proof form, in a slight effort to sum up several topics surrounding the Wolves these days. In summary, we are in a complete transitional period. We have yet to find a coach, or complete our roster changes, so lets all collectively pipe down with the talk of the Wolves winning 10 games next year. We’re not done. Despite the fact that by the time I finish this write up, we could have traded another 20% of the roster for another fat, aging, three point chucker (we did get, perhaps, one of the worst three point chuckers in NBA history not named Antoine Walker (another former Wolf, ironic?), the show must go on.

Besides, it has been a few weeks since I provided material for a solid morning trip to the corner stall. Enjoy.

(NOTE: By the time I did finish this, the Wolves traded for another has-kind of-been.)

  • Current Roster

If the Wolves opened the season today, here would be our extremely talented lineup:

PG - Jonny Flynn, Chucky Atkins, Bobby Brown; SG – Quentin Richardson, Damien Wilkins, Wayne Ellington; SF - Ryan Gomes, Corey Brewer, Brian Cardinal; PF – Kevin Love, Darius Songaila, Oleksiy Pecherov; C - Al Jefferson

You can see here why many think we are going to win between 3 and 6 games next year with that doozy of a lineup. A few basketball-related points of dicsussion for early on in the season, assuming the key guys stick on the roster:

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- Whether Kevin Love and Al Jefferson make a quality starting front court duo.  This is a popular debate in Wolves-dom, and one that typically checks out like a presidential approval rating… about 54% in favor of it. While you may see Love’s rebound numbers take a hit, you will see a lot of front court scoring right away next season. Their defense leaves something to be desired, but I have maintained that Love is an underrated defender (albeit not a shot blocker), who can body up on guys quite well.

- Jonny Flynn’s ability to handle the ball and penetrate into the lane will bring back flashes of Stephon Marbury before he went completely nuts. While Sebastain Telfair’s passing ability is going to be missed, it will be offset by Flynn’s ability to penetrate and collapse the defense, ideally leaving Love open for several mid range shots next season. Think Pick and Pop with Love, Pick and Roll with Jefferson. I really see a Flynn/Love chemistry developing early on. Either way, Jonny Flynn is a solid talent and we should be excited to have him.

-Wayne Ellington is an NBA-ready contributor. Perhaps a topic for a later post, but I cannot begin to fathom why guys like Ellington are not drafted higher. The guy possesses dead-eye clutch shooting, excellent size, acceptable athleticism, leadership, NCAA tournament MVP, etc. etc. etc. Just a no-brainer pick. I just don’t understand how the draft shapes out sometimes. You know he is going to be a really solid NBA player.Why not pick him at say, 15, if you are Detroit? I guess I shouldn’t complain.

-I won’t get into the need for a defensive center or perimeter scoring, as I believe the Wolves will still address these needs in future moves this summer and beyond.

  • Current Free agents

-Guys who are likely gone: Jason Collins, Shelden Williams, Kevin Ollie. Just thinking in terms of a roster overhaul it is unlikely we will see these guys back in a Wolves uniform. With the need for a defensive Center, I actually wouldn’t be opposed to bringing back Williams for both comedic value and his slight defenive potential. I can’t imagine he is commanding much in this free agent market. The same goes for Ollie, who could be a vet PG option if we buy out Chucky Atkins. Either way, these guys are likely gone.

-The guy who might be back: Rodney Carney. Let us collectively think back to last season and imagine our favorite moments from the year. Think. I understand this is a difficult task. Don’t think of Mike Miller’s game winner against the Thunder (that shot actually cost us the #3 pick in the draft), think of the moments you actually legitimately enjoyed what you saw on your screen. Now, how many of your thoughts are currently involving Rodney Carney? Exactly why we should bring him back. While he is probably the worst half court player in the league (Corey Brewer a close 2nd…great) his hot shooting and unbelievable fast break slams bring an indispensable amount of energy to the team. His style is complimentary to Love’s outlet passing and Flynn’s uptempo style of play, and hopefully Rubio’s alley-oop passes. High character guy as well. Keep him. Who else on the roster can bring anything close to what Carney does in terms of bench energy?

  • Current Draft Picks

We have a lot of draft picks to look forward to in the next few drafts. Here is a breakdown with a collection of senseless bantering to follow:

-Our own First Rounder. We have this pick until the 2012 draft, which is when it loses its Top 10 protection. Here’s looking at you, Marko Jaric. Key fact about trading our own future first round pick: Until we learn our draft position each year, we cannot trade it, as the Clippers technically own our pick. Additionally, should we decide to trade our own future first rounder, the receiving team will not get our selection until 2 years after we give our pick to the Clippers.

-Charlotte’s 2010 First rounder. Acquired for Ty Lawson (pick from Miami) on draft night 2009, and thus continuing what may be one of the best trades in Wolves history: The Mark Blount/Antoine Walker trade of 2007, aka “the trade that keeps on giving.” This pick suddenly got interesting the second Charlotte traded Emeka Okafor to New Orleans. It is unlikely we see this pick any time soon given the step back Charlotte has taken, but if anything will offset losing our pick to the Clippers, this is it. Protection: Top 12 in 2010, Top 10 in 2011, top 8 in 2012, and here is where it gets good: Top 3 protected in 2013 and unprotected in 2014. There is a good chance this pick could turn out to be quite high because the Bobcats are going to be on the fringe of mediocrity for years to come.

-Utah’s 2010 First Rounder: Acquired with Rodney Carney last summer. This was another solid trade. Protection: Top 17 in 2010, top 15 in 2011, top 16 in 2012 and 2013, and changes to a 2nd rounder in 2014.

2nd rounders:

We owe 2 of our 3 2010 2nd rounders to OKC for the blockbuster trade that occurred recently. As it stands, we will end giving up our own pick, and the worst of Houston’s pick (Gerald Green trade), or Dallas’ pick (Calathes trade).

  • Payroll and Trading With Dollars

Time to note and discuss our assets from a money standpoint. First of all, we have a lot of expiring contracts/short term deals and are in great shape as far as the salary cap is concerned. However, as fun as it is speculating  packages of our expiring deals for a big piece, unfortunately I am taking a wet blanket approach. We will definitely make a deal or sorts, but like any team in rough financial shape, it is highly likely we are going to let at least 2/3 of our expiring assets…well…. expire. And while I am not a huge supporter of the Wolves likely futile attempt at free agency in 2010, we can always make trades that absorb salary next offseason. But, next offseason will get plenty of coverage as times goes on. Anyhow:

Current up-to date salary breakdown (Thanks to poster Younggunsmn from RealGM.com for the numbers and idea).

Al Jefferson – $12,000,000
Quentin Richardson - $8,700,000
Brian Cardinal – $6,750,000
Darius Songaila – $4,526,000
Ryan Gomes – $4,017,500
Kevin Love 3- $,401,040
Damien Wilkins  -$3,795,000 (15% trade kicker)
Jonny Flynn – $2,969,280
Corey Brewer – $2,916,120
Oleksiy “Big Money” Pecherov – $1,547,640
Wayne Ellington - $1,003,560
Bobby Brown – $736,420
Ricky Rubio – $2,724,300 (cap hold,  which doesn’t carry over into the regular season)
Chucky Atkins – $3,480,000
Chucky Atkins – (if we waive him) - $760,000
Current Salary Cap: $57.7 Million
Wolves payroll assuming we keep Atkins and get Rubio - $58,566,860
Wolves payroll assuming we waive Atkins and get Rubio - $55,846,860 (About $1.853 million in cap room).
Max possible cap room – No Rubio or Atkins - $53,122,560 ($4,577,440 in cap room)

Now, below is a non-generous 2010 outline, keeping in mind many minor things could be done to increase the final number :

Al Jefferson – $13,000,000
Darius Songalia - $4,818,000
Corey Brewer – $3,703,472
Kevin Love – $3,638,280
Ricky Rubio – $3,514,320
Jonny Flynn – $3,192,000
Wayne Ellington – $1,078,800
First Rounder A, B, C – ~$7,500,000 (Cap Hold, contract, expect a lower number)
Ryan Gomes - $4,385,000 (Only $1,000,000 of his salary is guaranteed)
Total: $44,829,872 – $12,170,128 in Cap Room*

Note – Oleksiy Pecherov has a $2,380,270 team option but I am guessing it won’t be picked up. Place your bets now.
* Solid chance my math has a mild error or two in it.

There is your salary outlook, assuming the generous draft pick signing hold. One of my major gripes with our monetary assets is that our added-value players/talent (think adding Telfair or Smith to a deal to create a better package) have pretty much been exhausted. Sadly, I don’t think a combination of Cardinal, Pecherov, Wilkins and the Utah 1st rounder is going to net us too sizable of a return, with the exception of receiving a bad contract in addition to said trade target. I would say the absolute, absolute unrealistically high end of return for our assets is a Monta Ellis (if anything, to round out our series of trades with the fellow bottom dwellers of the NBA, it’s a must-attempt trade) or Josh Smith. However, both are a large amount of wishful thinking and Josh Smith has an absurd trade kicker around $7,000,000* (see above *).

Additionally, let’s look at some recent deals to evaluate the value of expiring contracts as solo pieces in trades:

-Quentin Richardson for Zach Randolph. Randolph should just change his name to “Addition By Subtraction” and just stop beating around the bush.

-Sebastian Telfair, Craig Smith and Mark Madsen (also expirings) for Quentin Richardson

-Etan Thomas PLUS two quite decent 2nd round picks for Wilkins, Atkins and his depreciating contract.

So, looking at these examples and what we have to add to our current expiring contracts as added value, some of us may be overrating our potential rate of return. Will throwing in Pecherov and the Jazz first rounder really make Golden State say, “By Golly Monta is all yours!” Ehhh….doubtful. We may have to wait until the trading deadline to see the value of these expiring contracts fully mature. But, then again, maybe Kahn will surprise us, prove me wrong, and I will feel like a nincumpoop (sp?) for writing this. If that happened, it would be ideal for all involved.

  • State of the Staff and the Coach

I don’t think a day has gone by this month where we haven’t seen a front page news clipping saying Elston Turner, Mark Jackson and Kurt Rambis are in the final round for the Wolves Head Coaching job. We get it. Awesome. Ok, report something else. Although none of them are household names, we should all be extremely happy we aren’t going with a retread such as Mike “McDouchebag” Fratello.

I do not know enough about Elston Turner to comment, but he comes from a winning organization and has a solid reputation.

Mark Jackson has a great attitude, would fit in well with a young team, and is not a re-tread.

But I think the sleeper pick here is Kurt Rambis. With him you are getting a guy who has been mentored by the greatest basketball coach in the history of the sport, and who has been a part of the incredible, yet annoying, Lakers dynasty for the last 10 years. A constantly (not consistently…constantly) winning team. A perfect franchise who gets it right every time and knows how to create championships from instant pudding. I would love Kurt Rambis to coach the Wolves. I don’t even care if he has a slower tempo, defensive-based coaching style. To get a coach who is slated to replace Phil Jackson is the definition of a must-hire. To think some of us, including me momentarily, actually supported the idea of Bill Laimbeer as coach? Just what in the hell had gotten into us?

And on that note, it is still up in the air who is returning from the Front Office. While this is only a footnote, I wonder if Kahn still plans to clean house? Will Hoiberg be around? Stack? Toronto Rob? My take: who cares?

  • Ricky Rubio

Had to close with a bit on him, since he is pretty much the sole focal point of discussion in these parts. I concur with CW’s post a few weeks back. Just let it happen. I am tired of the soap opera. I am tired of hearing about sponsorships. And I am tired about reading the same loosely translated Tweets and Spanish Tabloid Reports (BREAKING NEWS: Ricky Rubio went to the beach, that must mean he wants to play for Real Madrid). Things will work out. Let’s get a resolution. But I am all-in on the boat that I would be irate if Rubio didn’t come over this year. That would be terrible and a major let down barring another significant deal to bring some excitement here. There really aren’t many more cliche’ adjectives to use with how upsetting that would be. So, I will leave it at that.

And there you have the current state of the Wolves, in bullet-proof form. Bring on the next fat, kind-of-has been with an expiring contract Trader Kahn!

wallyworld

About wallyworld

Mike has been writing for TWB as a hobby since the Kahn era, and currently resides in a Dallas suburb where he can often be heard loudly arguing with his neighbors about his strong dislike for JJ Barea. When not working, Mike enjoys playing the drums and pretending to like other sports.

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