An occasional series between two remote Wolves fans where they swap e-mails over a period of several days continues, offering 100% unique perspectives and Zach Lowe-level analysis of the Timberwolves. In this series, Tim makes perhaps the most preposterous statement on record in regards to the Wiggins trade, the 2 touch on their home lives, the proper way to rebuild a team, and disagree on the spoils of the Love trade agreement. Tim closes then with a bit of wisdom all Wolves fans should consider. Note that a portion of this exchange occurred before the trade announcement was made.
Mike: Tim, I feel like it’s that time again. The NBA offseason is dead, the weather is dry and hot, and Kevin Love is still a Timberwolf. At the time of this writing, we are six full days into the “Andrew Wiggins Moratorium,” 20% in but 80% left to go. Do you think this deal gets done? Will Andrew Wiggins be the next cornerstone of the Wolves or does this thing fall apart? Your thoughts on anything pertaining. (ed note to nitpickers: yes we realize the deal has been agreed to, now please go give your dad a bath).
Tim: Regarding Kevin Love, the NBA is a crazy place. If it does happen it will be Cleveland and hopefully involving Dion late in the game because he needs to realize his future as a volume shooter on a crappy team. His time in Cleveland doesn’t count because he didn’t get along with Kyrie so he didn’t get the ball as much as he otherwise would have. Also, this would continue Kahn’s legacy for obtaining overrated Syracuse guys. Wiggins himself has potential but really what I see is a rich man’s Kawhi Leonard, which is good. That being said he will never be the best player on a championship team. There’s a good question for you: will this team EVER win a championship or is hoping for relevance what the Wolves should strive for?
Mike: Apologies for the delay in response. A weekend occurred and as “Vice President of Domestic Operations” in the household, duty called for some summer cleaning, chores and swimming. In addition, I had the HONOR of playing in a cover band that hosted “Rock Star Karaoke” in a small Dallas suburb.
I like that you are being cautious. That makes let downs easier. But the signs are too big to ignore. A dead rumor mill, tons of talking heads saying the deal is basically done, and so forth. I think it would take a lot to derail this, and on that note luckily our owner went on record to acknowledge a trade was essentially agreed to during a time when a trade involving Wiggins is illegal. I expect Stern to re-appoint himself as commissioner and forfeit the next 12 Wolves first rounders and then retire again.
To answer your question, I think that David Kahn had an opportunity to draft a team that could have very well been a top 3 seed in the Western Conference and contended for championships for YEARS to come. But, Kahn happened and here we are. Flip’s recovery process failed to generate enough momentum and it was obvious from the start. They had zero chance after Kahn made so many terrible moves that had a trickle effect leading into this summer. In order for the Wolves to ever have a chance at a championship they need two things to occur: 1. hit consecutive home runs in the draft, 2. Get a new owner, 3. Trade Love and start over and 4. The West turns over into a new era, which could take years. I think anything can happen but, you have to give yourself as many chances as possible. The Wolves are headed for a shorter rebuild and hopefully it will pay dividends. What is your take?
And, wait, how can a rich man’s Kawhi Leonard not be the best player on a championship team? Wasn’t actual Kawhi the best player on a championship team already? I’m confused.
Tim: No worries about the delay. I too am VP of Domestic Ops and, similar to Kahn, my reign of terror knows no boundaries. Unlike Kahn, more than 3-5% of my decisions turn out to be at least satisfactory and occasionally border on being good. Tip of the hat to David Kahn. It takes a special blend of arrogance, incompetence and general boobery to churn out a run like he had.
Glen Taylor further cemented his grip on the “worst NBA owner” championship belt with his statements regarding Wiggins. Similar to Kahn, if Glen happened to be the owner of a team in a big market that had more than 18 knowledgeable fans, he would be substantially more infamous. Could you imagine what life would have been like if Kahn was running the New York Knicks? The only thing that kept Kahn from being even more spectacularly bad was the fact that Glen wanted things run as cheaply as possible. Kahn/Glen might hold the record for the most picks sold in a single NBA draft. In fact, wasn’t there a new rule introduced to keep teams from doing this in the future? Anyway, Kahn + money = stupid GM overload, at least that’s what I think.
I believe that they need to blow the whole thing up. Trade the existing assets for the first fair deal you find. Trade Pek at the trade deadline this year when he’ll likely be healthy and productive. Accumulate assets.
Mike: Well, I think adding Wiggins allows the Wolves to pass a lot of the growing pains associated with a “proper rebuild.” Based on recent reports, the deal is done in principle and the Wolves are spending the rest of the Wiggins Moratorium trying to work Thaddeus Young into the mix.
I think there is a point where you should expect diminishing returns if you have too many prospects on the roster. There is a faction of Wolves fans out there who think that the Wolves keeping any veteran on the roster is “not worth preventing ‘prospect x’ from playing” and I think that is a lazy cliche’. Consider if this faction of fandom had their wish come true, and that the Wolves jettisoned all of their veterans for salary relief before the summer is out, with the exception of Rubio, and acquired Anthony Bennett:
PG – Rubio,
SG – LaVine, Shabazz
SF – Wiggins, GR 3
PF – Bennett, Hummel
C – Dieng
The Wolves could have upwards of 8 unproven prospects (Rubio debatable, no nitpicking) on the roster. How many prospects do you want or need? This is FAR MORE than enough youth at this point. You need to round out the remaining spots with veteran players who know how to play basketball and can take some pressure off of these guys, and the Wolves have that situation on a platter. I’ll mention this: Durant’s rookie year in OKC, him and Jeff Green were the only “prospects” who made major contributions. The trend continued the following year with Westbrook. The rest of the roster was filled with veterans including Earl Watson (age 28), Damien Wilkins (age 28), Wally (age 30), Kurt Thomas (35) and even Donyell Marshall, not to mention a half dozen others over 25. The OKC Model/youth movement is a total myth in that regard, and I see Philly, for example, as a dangerous end to this extreme that has a high chance to fail. On this note, what is your take on Bennett vs. Thad?
Tim: Regarding Philadelphia’s experiment, I wouldn’t be so quick to label it with a massive chance to flop. We have never seen a franchise and team so fully embrace tanking. They’re down right unapologetic. Almost as unapologetic as the Wolves were back when they were tanking and Mark Madsen was casting 3’s to lose games. I think Philly is brilliant. Their fans are in on the joke, they’re upfront and honest about tanking. I also think Sam Hinkie is a smart guy. They’re maximizing their probabilities with regard to getting a super duper star from the draft. Which, really, is the only way to acquire one 97% of the time. Really it is a no lose proposition for Philly because even if it fails and they never get their LeBron or Durant, they still have desirable/tradeable assets.
On Bennett vs Thad, give me Thad every day of the week. Bennett put up big numbers in a watered down Mtn West conference in college and doesn’t have a position in the pros, as we saw in his awful rookie year. Thad at least has a position and he would instantly become one of our best players. I will be surprised if Bennett ever becomes what Thad already is. What are your thoughts?
Mike: On Philly and their experiment, what bothers me about it is they just throw a baker’s dozen worth of young players out onto the court and expect them to spin cream. I agree with rebuilding through the draft, but this is so far into an extreme that it is hard to see how all of these young players can just “figure it out.” Though the past is not the future, the only two times where this was really attempted to this degree was the 2009 Wolves (who also had Al Jefferson and some other experienced players), and the early 2000’s Bulls. Neither of those experiments lasted very long. I’ll repeat: bias makes us forget the degree to which rebuilding teams also often have veteran players on the team. It often isn’t bad or a hindrance.
Changing gears, the Woj bomb has been dropped and so has a massive deuce on the Warriors’ championship hopes. If you were a Warriors fan wouldn’t you be beside yourself? What a terrible non-move. But, they saved Flip from himself. Personally, I LOVE the return from a present-value standpoint. Getting a prospect like Wiggins gives the franchise a completely different flavor. But, Wolves fans should never forget the ineptitude that brought them to this point and the colossal failure of the Love era as a result. I know you are a skeptic of the K-Douche package and opposing views are always good.
Tim: The basis of this trade depends entirely on your estimation of Andrew Wiggins’ ability to reach his potential. As I said before, I think at a minimum he’s going to be similar to Kawhi Leonard. The Wolves’ player development, especially with wings is simply terrible. He struggles to create his own shot and is a very streaky three point shooter. Leonard has the benefit of legitimate coaching and development in San Antonio, so maybe Wiggins never gets there. But let’s say he does become Leonard. Would you feel very good about trading K Douche for Leonard, Bennett and a first? In a vacuum I wouldn’t feel great about that. But in the circumstances (Love walking away for free) I’d feel ok. That’s how I feel right now, just ok.
Mike: Tim. Did David Kahn slip something into the water in Phoenix? Did you just say you wouldn’t get behind a trade of Love for Kawhi Leonard, Bennett and Miami’s first round pick? How does one respond to this take? I would hope Wiggins becomes something resembling Paul George down the line, but Kawhi is a solid comp. While some caution his “motor” I’ll spin that and say poise and evenness isn’t all bad, as long as it isn’t FEAR (Wes Johnson). Paul George has poise on the court. He is in control at all times and that is a quality Wiggins will have. He will have NBA range and the ability to create offense off the dribble which is something the Wolves have never had. It will take him a year or two, but I have a hard time seeing him bust.
Tim: There is no telling how far Kahn’s reign of terror spanned. So as far as I am concerned yes, he did put something in the water. But yes, I am saying that I wouldn’t get behind a trade for Leonard, Bennett and Miami’s first in a vacuum. This isn’t so much to do with Kawhi so much as I just hate Anthony Bennett. I would compare Bennett to Derrick Williams. So to me the trade is basically Kawhi, Derrick Williams and a future first. But remember, Kawhi plays for the Spurs. I don’t think I made my point clear enough that you can’t take anything the Spurs do and replicate it. Kawhi on a team where he has to create baskets would not be successful. Kawhi where he can be the third/fourth option behind three Hall-of-Famers can win Finals MVP. Don’t get me wrong, I love Kawhi, but he is the beneficiary of a one-time collision of coaching, elite players and timing.
So, much like the Wiggins trade, if you consider it in context of the existing environment (K Love walking away after next year for free) it is acceptable; not great but OK. I prefer the Wiggins deal because he has a greater chance to be a super duper star than Leonard.
Overall, I hope people/fans are truly comprehending the full scope of this trade along with how we got here. This is David Kahn’s lasting legacy on the T’wolves. The absurd decision to deny Love the mega-max deal along with his complete buffoonery as a decision maker regarding personnel has backed us into a corner. We are trading a top 10 player (maybe top 5), who is 25 years old, and about to enter his prime; what a demoralizing prospect as a small market team. The only positive to this is that as basketball fans, we should get some kind of definitive evidence as to how good Love can be. As many other MN sports stars have done before him, Love moves on to the greener pastures of “anywhere but Minneapolis”.