All of us here are Wolves fans, and, if we are here during these lean times, we are probably stuck with them. Since our team sucks, we've been having lots of conversation about how to proceed, and what we want as fans. I thought it might be fun to try a different approach to this question on a post-deadline Friday. Below the fold, I'll present you with three teams, and ask: in a world where you could choose, which would you choose to root for? Or perhaps to put it a different way: which would you like the Wolves to be today if you could choose? I picked teams that I think create interesting choices that are at different stages; I hope you find this interesting.
1. Your Minnesota Timberwolves. This team sucks, and has for several years. It's best players are flawed, and aren't leading the team to wins. It needs major retooling, and almost certainly won't see the playoffs until at least 2012. It's really no fun to watch, and hasn't been. Another desultory season is limping toward it's finish, and we're reduced to learning to cook Korean food. On the other hand, the team is close to a blank slate: none of its players are untouchable, there are no really bad contracts. They have a kid with unique skills over in Europe, multiple draft picks, and significant cap space upcoming this summer. With just a little good fortune, they could find a real upper level star in the draft, and build a team using their ample assets that could ascend the heights. In short, there is dream potential here, even if the present is pretty much a nightmare. But if the dream doesn't come to fruition...
2. The Houston Rockets. (This worked a little better before the deadline). Made the 2nd round of the playoffs last season, just out of playoff position this year. A fun team, largely because it's an overachieving team. No real stars on the current roster, but a bunch of intelligent players with very smart and progressive management. It's one true star (Yao) is hurt, but hopefully will be back next season in the last season of his contract. They made a great trade yesterday to get a scorer and a couple of potentially valuable draft picks for a guy who was never going to play for them again. Having acquired Kevin Martin, they probably won't have much cap space this summer, but a combination of a healthy Yao with Martin, Ariza, Scola, Battier and Brooks is interesting, and if Yao can't make it back and stay healthy, his contract expires after next season. That would potentially open up some cap space in summer 2011, depending on what else they do. On the other hand, this group, as interesting as it is, is probably not championship caliber. They are probably committed to this group for at least one more year, and probably longer. They look like they will be too good to strip down but not good enough to really challenge for a title. But it's a well run organization that is providing its fans with a fine product.
3. The Atlanta Hawks. One of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, with a group of very good players who are mostly in their primes. (Smith, Johnson, Horford, Williams). They got to the 2nd round of the playoffs last year, and are currently sitting 3rd in the East. The oldest player in their rotation is 31 years old (Bibby). They have most of their key players under contract for a while, and should continue to provide a winning product for at least several seasons. On the other hand, they aren't a very deep team, with only one reserve playing more than 16 minutes a game (Jamal Crawford), and only 3 reserves even in double figures in minutes. They don't have anyone who appears to be an up and coming star. And they are in a position where they will have to resign their current star, Joe Johnson, this summer, even if it means overpaying for what could be his decline years. This is going to mean at least flirting with the luxury tax, and they won't be looking at cap space for the foreseeable future. And, while they are one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, they are not the best team in the Eastern Conference, and as long as LeBron James stays in Cleveland, and Cleveland shows a commitment to winning, it's hard to see them overcoming that hurdle. They got swept out of the playoffs in the 2nd round last year by the Cavs. There should be wins and playoff games for the near future, but probably no titles and likely a relatively stable roster, without many opportunities to add talent.
What say you? Who do ya like?