In the other thread, Poor Dick asked if I would share my thoughts on what to do over the next 12 months. Thought about it a lot over the weekend and decided to take the lunch hour to start writing it down (and finished during an unbelievably lousy NCAA National Championship game)
Did not do a ton of research for this – so I may be off on some details. Feel free to comments and correct me.
1 – Fire Rambis and hire this generations version of the young Jerry Solan
I do not think Kurt is a bad guy – just a bad fit for these players and this team at this time. The fastest way to respectability is by getting the team to play with passion on defense and giving them some freedom to play to their strengths on offense. I have not seen Kurt be able to do this. Kurt seems to be too cerebral and rigid, and from my perspective, way too laid back during the games, to coach such a young team. We need someone that is willing to do what Thibodeau is doing in Chicago – up off the bench, coaching his ass off during games, instilling pride on the defensive end and effort 100% of the time.
Who is the big question. It must be a career NBA person – no college coaches need apply (and that goes even for a master coach like Coach K). A bright, young coach with a lot of passion is essential. Would really prefer someone with a defensive focus. We have to understand that the Twolves head coaching job will not be a super attractive– not with the 2 premiere coaching jobs in all of basketball expected to be open this summer (Celtics and Lakers). So, our new coach is likely going to need to be someone who is “rehabbing” his career from a previous failure or someone who is getting his first chance. Personally, I prefer a rehab. I still think Casey would be a good fit. Would be willing to consider Mitchell – though I am little concerned about the rumors of locker room issues in Toronto.
My dark horse candidate is Eric Musselman (who has had a stellar year in the D-NBA again this year). Musselman lead Golden State for 2 over achieving seasons before falling out of favor. Like Rambis and the Twolves, he was simply the wrong fit in Sacremento. But he has a long record of developing players that I think is the most important attribute in our coach selection.
Go ahead and add your other choices.
2 – Sign KLove to a max contract
I am still not convinced that, based on existing NBA rules that strongly favor the slashing wing players, that KLove is an A1 player. Just don’t see him being the guy to get you that basket, mano-mano, at crunch time to win the key game. It’s possible he will develop some move that will work in that situation, but his size leads me to doubt it.
But with that said, I think KLove is one of the best A2 type players in the NBA and someone that needs to be a cornerstone player for our team. His ability to shoot the 3 has tremendously raised his stock. I see him as a top 25 player for years to come.
I also see KLove as the marketing face of the franchise for the next several years. Not unlike Mauer is for the Twins. So even if you are not exactly sure of his value, you have to pay him and secure him for that role. Selling tickets is still a huge priority for the next several years until we become contenders.
3 – Draft Irving or Barnes
The consensus is that there is no guaranteed super star player at the top of this year’s draft. (By the way – you know what that means – we will get the #1 pick this year. Guarantee it. Mark it down. Fits our luck). There will likely be 4-5 players in the top group/tier this year. We need to make sure we get one – one that does not play the 4 spot!
Irving would be my 1st choice. I think he is more than athletic enough, has a great handle, sees the floor well and has a super BBIQ. That alone will reduce our turnover rate significantly and generate a few more easy looks. For me, Irving immediately adds 6 or 8 more points per game without even scoring a bucket himself. See what that would do for our record – which is why I think Irving is the top chose for the Twolves. Not concerned at all about his size (he is big enough) or his shooting (like Rose, that will come)
Barnes is 2nd choice. I see a wing player with the size and scoring mentality necessary to be a potential A1. Potential. He is obviously not there yet – but neither was Kobe at age 19. There were times in North Carolina’s NCAA tournament run when I saw him make a play out of nothing and said – yep – he knows how to score. There is another part that I like. This kid was a Pre Season All American who looked like a deer in the headlights at the start of the year. But rather than sulk and try an live off his reputation, the kid obviously worked his tail off, kept his head on straight, took the abuse from the ACC crowds, and became an excellent player by year’s end. That is an intangible that you will never measure by stats – and something that I value highly. He might not become an A1 – but he sure is going to work at it.
The rest of the top group is going to be mostly PF and one C (Kanter). We don’t need any of that in this draft. I am not as high on Williams as I am on Barnes. Would be disappointed if he fell to us.
If we fall out of the top 4 positions in the draft, I would have to move up. We are #2 today - barring lousy ping pong ball luck. So I am feeling good about top 4. Keep KLove out - let's maximize our loses. (Let the TANKING begin!!) Hard to say what it would take until you see the draft order – but I would try very hard to be top 4.
4 – Trade Rubio to Clippers for our 2012 pick back
If we get Irving, this is a no brainer. Even if we get Barnes, I would still do it. Before I talk our side, let’s talk the Clippers side. With Baron Davis gone, they have tried to get Mo Williams to step up in that role. It is not working out as well as they hoped. Blake’s not getting as many easy looks from Mo as he did from Baron. With Eric Gordon being more of a scoring PG/SG, the Clippers need a playmaker. Rubio fits the bill – maybe too good of fit – but I think we need to take that chance (we can always fall back on Sterling f’ing it up, right?). Rubio would certainly be that playmaker and his reluctance/inability to score would not be an issue.
From a marketing perspective, Rubio is a tremendous asset for the Clippers in LA – young, flashy, Spanish speaking (in a very Hispanic town) player to steal some Hollywood lights from the aging Lakers. Plus, I think Rubio could get enough local LA endorsements to make do without needing to have an NBA paycheck. That would make it more likely he comes this year. I think we can talk the Clippers into it.
Why do the Twolves do it? Because frankly, we can’t keep waiting. I don’t see Rubio coming this fall (no need to repeat that discussion). We need to start building with players who are here, right now. Plus, I still don’t see Rubio as an A1. I see a great supporting player, but not an A1. If he were an A1, I would wait as there are so few A1’s. But I don’t, and I think we can find a strong PG elsewhere. (Could we get a do over on Lawson?)
The likely lottery pick in 2012 allows us to draft for need or package for need. Look at it this way. If you play out 2011-12, have some good improvement, see a need to take the next step, what do you have asset wise to do it? No lottery pick, no real anticipated cap space and a mess of average to below average players with expiring contracts. Not that attractive. We would be limited to trading without any decent assets. We would be stuck – and less than half way through the rebuilding. We need that pick back.
I am sure this will spark some discussion.
Both these players are on teams that have, or soon will have, salary cap issues. (I am assuming salary caps are similar in the new CBA). I don’t think the Grizzles can afford Gasol. I think they have to pay Randolph instead who, as an unrestricted FA, is going to get a big payday.
Portland has some big money already tied up in a player with a questionable outlook on his long term health. (Roy) Can they afford to tie up even more money in a 2nd one? Especially with the way Aldridge is playing?
I think the market for Gasol will be hot and we might need to get creative. Maybe some sort of trade (might they want their pick back this year? Would they accept, say Darko or Randolph or Wes in a sign and trade). I am no CBA expert – maybe other can chime in on what might be possible structure wise to get creative on Gasol.
I think the market for Oden will be lukewarm. We might have to over pay a little. But at 23, I see Oden with still lots of potential – even if he never completely recovers his form. He is big. He does not have to play above the rim to be effective. Healthy (a big if, I know) he fills that defensive presence we need. This is the type of risk you have to take to rebuild a team like ours if our 1st option (Gasol) does not work out.
6 – I would not sign Beasley to a max contract this summer
Probably the hardest decision for me as Beasley is the only potential A1 offensive player on the current roster. And it is really hard to say how much of Beasley’s development this year was hindered by the triangle and his ankle. I saw some really good things. I also saw some nights where effort was sorely lacking. I guess I am just not sure about his work ethic and that would tip the scales into not extending him. A calculated risk – if Bealsey blows up under a new coach – my guess is he would never resign with us as a FA feeling that he was slighted. If he does OK, I think we could slightly over pay and keep him. If he does not make a big step up, we move on.
This becomes even more problematic if we do get Gasol as our dollars would be spent. (No above cap / luxury tax for a team losing as much money as we are)
7 – The rest of the roster
Disappointing to say, but there is not a whole hell of a lot you are going to do with the rest of the roster. Most are under contract for 2011-12 and the few that are not (like Bassy) are readily replaced and have limited value.
My best roster going forward would be:
If we got nothing but my 2nd choices, the roster is
Ridnour/FA veteran or Memphis draft choice/Flynn
In this case, Beasley does become the 6th man, still playing 30 mpg but mainly with the 2nd unit. Also, we would be looking at Rubio or drafting the best PG available in 2012-13.
I think the best case gets us mid to upper 30’s in victories in 2011-12 (assuming a 82 game season). The worse case gets us right around 30 even.
8 – Reassign Kahn
Since I just did all his work, David can be reassigned to a job more suited for his talents – you know – like picking up the dry cleaning and grabbing sandwiches at lunch. Might as well get something for his salary.
Seriously, I am not thrilled about keeping Kahn. I would really like Papa Glen to clean house with both Rambis and Kahn leaving. I just don’t see that happening in a lock out year. So, I am splitting the difference and keeping Kahn and letting Rambis go as I think a new coach will have far more positive impact than a new GM.
But we do need to limit Kahn’s ability to act on his own. So, Papa Glen needs to institute a committee approach to player decisions with the new HC and others have a far greater say.
9 – Get all the young guys hooked up with NBA trainers for the summer
Last, all teams give their players summer training programs which, in a normal year, the players would follow up on with the coaching staff. But in a lock out, the staff will not be able to work with the players. So, I see a real need for the team to get players signed up with the David Thorpe’s of the world. Might be border line illegal, but it is something we need to do to make sure our young guys get proper training this summer (during the lock out)
Well, those are my thoughts. I think they are all reasonably doable. Will be eager to see the CH community’s comments.