Ed Note: This is a contribution from Nick Robinson that I am posting on his behalf. You can follow Nick on Twitter at @RobinsoNick2013
Minnesota Timberwolves fans: it’s been a rough tenure since Kevin
Garnett has left. Almost 7 years after The Big Ticket’s departure, there’s another crisis on our hands. Kevin Love is unhappy. But what’s new? Who is happy when it comes to Minnesota basketball? Things heated up this past season, when the Wolves, who put their best roster together since the KG-era, fell short in the loaded Western Conference. Publicly, Love kept quiet during the season. However, we’ve seen a lot of Love this offseason; pictures of him in Boston, appearing on ESPN and national talk shows whining and complaining about not winning.
“It hurts my heart”, he told ESPN.
Take a step back Mr. Love. Sure, David Kahn screwed you over, but who didn’t he screw over? It’s a new time, with new management. Flip Saunders was brought in to right a ship that has been sailing South for over 10 years.
If Love wants to know what ‘a hurt heart’ is, ask any Timberwolves
fan. 10 years without a sniff of postseason action. There was one crack at the postseason with this regime. One crack. He’s ready to quit after one shot with the players on this team? Glen Taylor and Saunders have vowed to keep improving this roster until the time comes for Target Center to be packed in late April.
Taylor has invested millions into Target Center and a new practice facility that Love even helped design.
Many teams have called the Wolves offering trade packages to Minnesota: Golden State, Chicago, Boston, Denver, LA Lakers, Cleveland, Sacramento and Houston. The only trade potential trade that excites me right now is for Cleveland’s number one pick and Dion Waiter/filler for Love and Martin. But, that’s a pipe dream. But who knows, maybe Dan Gilbert will take the risk.
ESPN 1500’s Darren Wolfson thinks Golden State is the ideal landing spot in a trade. But why would you want Klay Thompson given he is due a massive contract extension? I like David Lee, but if the marquee player in the deal has to be “pulled from the ledge” to come here, Minnesota doesn’t need that. Those other teams have seemingly offered picks and role players. Realistically, when you trade a star, you want a star back. Jared Sullinger? Taj Gibson? That’s a joke unless there are other major pieces involved. And though there are a few can’t-miss prospects at the top of this draft, late first round are unlikely to offer a major return.
This may hurt, but the best bet for Wolves Nation is to stay the course and continue to improve with a team that finished 40-42. Cut the fat from this squad. Try hard to get rid of JJ Barea, Luc Mbah a Moute, Budinger, among other unproductive bench pieces. Make a play for some real basketball players. Try to pick up some veterans to bolster the bench, such as Danny Granger or Nick Young. Maybe even try to orchestrate a move for Chandler Parsons, however unlikely that is.
Winning cures all. It’s not too far-fetched to think that Minnesota could make a rise like Portland did last season. Rubio is ideally set to make a big leap this year, and with Saunder’s new offense, watch for him to become a bigger focal point in the offense and improve from there. Dieng and Shabazz may blossom into established NBA players given more opportunities. Kevin Martin will get you points from the perimeter, and Pek will continue to bruise in the paint. This team isn’t far off. Not to mention, there’s a #13 pick in the draft that could be a key piece next season. It may be a big risk, but keeping Kevin Love is the best option. Making the playoffs and winning changes opinions quickly.