Following the majority of movement in the vaunted summer of 2010, I wrote about what my plan would be to bring the Timberwolves into championship contention. As the season winds down I will now revisit my plan. Firstly, I will assess the difference between where the current team sits and where the team would sit if my plan were followed. Secondly, I will assess the feasibility of my plan moving forward. Finally, I will suggest alterations to my plan to bring it back in line with the reality that has unfolded over the course of the season.I. The Differences
1. The team largely avoided taking on any more salary at the trade deadline - Eddy Curry's expiring contract does not change the overall salary picture, but it does limit the ability to make trades that will be put into effect prior to July 1, 2011. However, they did take on a castoff (Anthony Randolph) from the New York Knicks in exchange for Corey Brewer and Kosta Koufos. The team has taken its lumps this season, but doesn't appear to have learned how to win in the same way the Thunder did 2 years ago.
2. The team appears on track to finish the season with an 18-64 record, which is 10 fewer wins than I had predicted. However, Utah seems firmly on the outside of the playoffs following Deron Williams, his hand still covered in blood from when he plunged the knife into Jerry Sloan's back, being traded to the New Jersey Nets. Memphis appears firmly entrenched in the playoffs. Instead of having the 6th, 18th, and 22nd picks in this draft we will more likely be looking at the 4th (assuming the kind of lottery luck to which we've become accustomed) and 18th picks.
3. As aforementioned, Corey Brewer is no longer with the team so we cannot make him a qualifying offer this summer. We will need to sign Kevin Love to an extension that will kick in after the final year of his rookie contract plays out - an extension that will be far more expensive than I previously believed.
Those are the differences between where the current team sits compared to where I believed they would sit following implementation of my plan.
4. Provided the CBA troubles get resolved, I still believe it is feasible for Ricky Rubio to arrive and be given the starting Point Guard position.
5. Given the results of this current season, I no longer think it's feasible to expect to win 40-45 games in the 2011-12 season. 30-35 wins seems much more reasonable and would still be a vast improvement.
6. While I still think something in the ballpark of $40M over 5 years is feasible for Micheal Beasley (has he actually improved at all since we acquired him?), the price tag ($45M over 5 years) I attached to Love is woefully inadequate due to his breakout season.
7. Giving up our own first round pick in the 2012 draft seems more like a certainty than ever before.
8. 45-50 wins seems feasible for the 2012-13 season given that it remains a good distance in the future.
9. Moving a relatively newly extended Beasley in exchange for an 8-10 spot upgrade in the draft (up to 12 or 14 from 20 or 22) still seems feasible.
10. Jettisoning Nikola Pekovic if he can't play defense in the NBA and waiving Darko Milicic to free up cap space in the amount of the non-guaranteed portion of his contract remain feasible. Luring Dwight Howard is not (and probably never was in the first place). But Andrew Bynum, Robin Lopez, and Tiago Splitter remain feasible targets.
11. Competing for a championship in the 2013-14 season still remains a feasible option under this scenario.
III. Bringing it Back to Reality
2 & 4. The current uncertainty regarding the next CBA between the players and the owners has most people speculating that this will be an exceptionally weak draft class and that Ricky Rubio will opt to remain in Spain for another season. With a weak draft, and the prospect of a shortened season that does not see Rubio in a Wolves uniform, it may be best to attempt to move out of this draft entirely instead of settling for the Kyle Singler's and Jimmer Fredette's that will be available. Maybe giving up our pick and Memphis' pick would be sufficient to get back our 2012 pick from the Clippers. I doubt it, but I would at least make the offer - provided that the top of this draft remains barren of elite level talent.
I would still be looking at getting either a Center or a Shooting Guard out of our top pick in this draft if we are relegated to using it ourselves. Trading picks from this draft for picks in the 2012 draft seems like a winning move at this point, considering the only prospects that are likely to declare if the CBA isn't resolved are Perry Jones, Enes Kanter, and the Euroleague contingent (Vesselly, Valanciunas, Motiejunas, etc.)
5. Without an upgrade at Point Guard and Shooting Guard, another sub-20 win season seems to be on the way. The addition of Rubio and Barnes (or Burks) would definitely make a big impact on the ability to get out of the league cellar.
6. I may actually look to move Beasley once his stock recovers, instead of paying him long-term money. I would rather see some other team attempt to coax production from his talent than sit back and rely on Rambis and Co. to do the same.
I'm not overly excited about our prospects for improvement this summer outside of what we can find in the draft - but my ear isn't to the ground regarding what players are on the block or who may be available in free agency, so that limits my outlook.