Step 1: Sign Chuck Hayes to play center for us. He's an unrestricted FA, only 28, he knows Adelman's system, and he's a great defensive presence at center. He has a career WS/48 of .140 - his worst season he had WS/48 of .092, aka better than Darko's best season.
Because let's be realistic here - the Wolves are not going to sign Chandler, they are probably not going to sign DeAndre Jordan (although maybe a trade could be worked out). Glen said recently in an interview with Jerry Z that he didn't think the team was going to be very active in FA because they have a lot of young guys and they want to see what Adelman can do with them. Furthermore, with an extension due Love yesterday this team is not going to lock itself into any sort of contracts that are going to limit what they can do for Love.
Chuck Hayes is a known defensive presence at center. He knows when to shoot and when not to (career 10.9 USG%), has nearly three times the WS as Darko in nearly the identical amount of minutes. Combined with Darko (because I don't believe we'll amnesty Darko nor do I think we'll be able to trade him), a Hayes/Darko center rotation would be surprisingly effective. Hayes starts, Darko plays with the second team. Both are solid defensively. Darko has good size for when we need it, and a little offense. Hayes will make the starting five better - and he's gettable for what the Wolves have to spend.
Step 2: Find a shooting guard who can create his own shot, knock down open threes, convert alley-oops from Rubio, and play defense. Oh, and not break our limited budget. This player would be required to have good BBIQ as well, and preferably a pretty decent passing touch. This is by far the toughest need for the Wolves to fill. Fortunately there might already be a guy on the roster who can at least make this position average, and no, it is not Malcolm Lee.
I'm talking about Wes Johnson, of course. I know most people on this site think he's a huge bust and a terrible player. Let us go through his season a little bit last year. First, Rambis. Can we agree that Rambis was not good for player development? Has anyone ever noticed that for the most part players did what they always did under Rambis, unless they were eager beaver coach pleasers? Love did his thing, on his own terms, and played damn well (which I believe he would no matter who he played with). Ellington and Lazar continued to just jack up shots. Luke played exactly as advertised, not too great, not too bad. AntRand was amazing one game and completely invisible the next three. Beasley tried and tried and tried. Tolliver bled 'want-to' and heart all over the court every night. Jonny Flynn and Wes, in my opinion, suffered from vast misuse by Rambis.
Seriously, you're going to take a scoring, ball dominant PG and try to make him into Ricky Rubio? Limiting a young player to only working on his weaknesses without giving him a chance to showcase his strengths? How did this guy ever get a coaching contract? Put it down here - Jonny Flynn will look significantly better in Houston than he ever did here because McHale will simply let him be the player he is. And ESPN and Bill Simmons will stumble all over themselves proclaiming that Morey had done it again! Wes Johnson suffered similar coaching inanity last year. "Hey, I've got a great idea! Let's take our super athletic wing and just have him stand in the corner and attempt threes! It'll be great for his development, and other teams will have to account for him! Yay!!"
To remind us what he is...
Wesley Johnson Syracuse Highlights (via lambomb222)
Is he a perfect solution for us? Absolutely not. Is he a good enough solution right now given our other salary constraints? Oh hell yes. Consider another first year Ade
lman wing scorer. Do I believe Wes will be another Peja? No, but I do believe that this level of improvement between first and second years is not only possible but probable with Wes. Reducing Wes' offensive role as a three point only guy (seriously, 42.4% of his FGAs were from three last year. That is way too high) to a more well rounded offensive presence will lead to better shot attempts and greater efficiency. I'm not arguing that Wes will ever be a 20 ppg, but on a team featuring Williams, Love, and Beasley as scorers he doesn't need to be. He's another smart option for Rubio to pass to, a legit three point threat as well as at the rim alley oop converter. Oh, and he was the team's best perimeter defender last year after Brewer left.
Step 3: Thin the roster.
As I figure it, the Wolves' roster would now look like this:
G - Rubio, Ridnour, Wes, Webster, Malcolm Lee
F - Love, Beasley, Williams, AntRand, Tolliver, Lazar
C - Hayes, Darko, Brad Miller
These young guys need playing time. We have enough guys who are tweeners at SG/SF, SF/PF, and PF/C that we will be better served letting them all play than to try and lock so many into specific roles.
Step 4: Sign Shane Battier.
I think we need a veteran locker room guy - a guy to play 4th quarters/settle the team down when they lose focus, and Battier is one of the best. I know there's not much tread left on those tires, but 15-20 mpg from him combined with his leadership both on and off the court could make a huge difference for these young guys. He knows Adelman's system, he has the longevity in the league to command respect, and he knows how
to win. I think he's the kind of guy that Love, Williams, Rubio, Wes, and others would really respond well too.
Because I know everyone loves these kind of things, my starting lineup after 20 games: