Hello everyone, I post very infrequently but I'm a long-time CH reader and I want to share my thoughts on the moves I'm hoping the Wolves make this offseason.
1) Sign DeAndre Jordan (my estimate: 4 years, $40M)
Coming off of something of a breakout year, it looks as though DeAndre Jordan will be one of the hotter commodities on the free agent market. Honestly, what team doesn't want a super-athletic 22-year-old 7-footer who blossomed this past season into one of the league's more efficient rebounders and shot-blockers? As such, the Timberwolves will have to overpay if they want to A) sign Jordan to an offer sheet and B) pry him away from the Clippers, who have the right to match any offer he receives from another team. I'm guessing that Jordan will end up signing for close to $10M per season. So, why should the Timberwolves consider making a move for Jordan? His skill-set compliments Kevin Love perfectly; he provides the interior defensive presence the Timberwolves have been searching for from the 5 position for seemingly their entire existence; and, at only 22, he fits in perfectly on the Timberwolves youthful roster (somewhat better than, say, 26-year-old Marc Gasol).
Ultimately, this is the move I'm the least confident the Wolves FO will pull. It doesn't seem as if Kahn and Co. have figured out that Darko is not a viable long-term option as a starter for a successful team.
2) Trade for Andre Iguodala
Anthony Randolph, Nikola Pecovic, Johnny Flynn, 20th overall pick*
If there's one thing David Kahn has proven himself capable of, it's pulling off the occasional exceptional trade. This would possibly be his biggest coup yet, but I believe it's plausible for a few reasons. In talking to Philadelphia fans, it seems like the 76ers are looking for A) big men B) youth and C) salary relief. Anthony Randolph and Nikola Pecovic (primarily Randolph) are the kind of young big men that could be very appealing to the 76ers, and everyone always wants another 1st round pick. Flynn is mostly a throw-in to make the salary exchange more even, although his inclusion could be spun by the 76ers FO as a low-risk/high-reward one-year audition with the team for a backup guard role. Furthermore, the 76ers would be turning Iguodala's roughly $15M per year salary through 2013-2014 into $10.6M for 2011-2012 and as little as $4.6M for Pecovic in 2012-2013 if they don't like what they've gotten from Randolph and Flynn.**
Why would the Timberwolves make this trade? Iguodala is an all-around very good player with a high usage rate who can create his own shot. He's not an efficient spot-up shooter, but on a team that's loaded with players who
are should be efficient from behind the arc that deficiency can hopefully be mitigated. At 27 years old, he would easily be our oldest starter, but still young and dynamic enough that he wouldn't really stick out on our roster. He also instantly fills the biggest hole on our roster, while the Timberwolves would only lose expendable players in the trade.
Again, this is an ideal trade for the Wolves, but not as unrealistic as some of the ideas I've seen tossed around. And easier to understand from both team's perspectives than some trades I've seen happen in real life.
*It's possible that in order to make this trade work salary-wise we might have to draft/sign the 20th overall pick before consumating the deal with the 76ers, similarly to what we did with the Heat and Mario Chalmers (except that we did not sign Chalmers).
**These figures do not include the salary that the 20th overall pick would earn.
3a) If we (miraculously) get the 1st overall pick...
There's no doubt we draft Kyrie Irving and look to trade the rights to Ricky Rubio. I refuse to believe that Rubio's stock has dropped so low that we wouldn't be able to get an at least decent return for him from someone. Kyrie would be an ideal point guard for this team, plus he doesn't seem to have the diva attitude that Ricky has. Even if we manage to get Ricky to come over this summer, I can't see him ever signing an extension with us. Irving gives us superstar potential at the PG position, and would take some of the scoring pressure off of Iguodala/Love.
3b) If we don't win the draft lottery...
We should probably look to trade the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th overall pick and take our chances with Ricky as the starting PG. Again, the fact that he
always usually looks to pass and his crappy developing jumpshot make him less than ideal next to Iguodala, but if he's really as talented as we thought he was two years ago he should be able to make it work. Derrick Williams would fit in pretty well as the backup PF too, but that would be a bit of a waste of his talent.
4) Find an experienced head coach
I liked the Kurt Rambis signing when it happened. I really did. But it's pretty obvious that Rambis isn't going to lead this (or any other) team to the promised land any time soon, so change is needed at the top. The Wolves desperately need someone who commands respect from the players and brings a winning attitude to the team. Also, a track record of working with and developing young players seems like a necessary prerequisite. I've heard Rick Adelman's name thrown around a lot lately - perhaps someone like Larry Brown might be a good fit. I don't really have strong opinions when it comes to coaches; that sort of thing comes down to how the GM feels about the coach's ideas for the franchise's direction. Hopefully Kahn doesn't mess this up.
5) Sit back and enjoy the first competitive Wolves team since 2004-05
Not including any other free agency signings/trades, this would be our roster:
PG: Kyrie Irving/Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour
SG: Andre Iguodala, Martell Webster, Wayne Ellington
PF: Kevin Love, Anthony Tolliver
C: DeAndre Jordan, Darko Milicic
That would be a starting lineup that, at the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season, would average 23.2 years of age. They would all be under contract for 3+ years (except for Love, who we ought to be able to easily extend if we put together a roster like this), and we'd only be slightly over the salary cap before re-signing Love. Irving/Rubio, Iggy, Wes, Love, and Jordan would be a dynamic, athletic, defensively capable group equally capable of playing a high-tempo style or a half-court offense. Behind them, Ridnour, Webster, Beasley, Tolliver, and Milicic seem like an almost ideal group of backups to me: an offensively and defensively acceptable group of veterans.
Is this a playoff team next year? Maybe, maybe not. But at the very least, they should finally be able to crawl out of the basement of the West and, assuming they re-sign Love, hopefully make a championship run* in a couple of years.
*Assumptions: Kyrie Irving is as good as we think he is OR Ricky Rubio is as good as Kahn hopes he is; Iguodala stays healthy; Wes Johnson develops into an acceptable starting SF; DeAndre Jordan continues to improve and eventually becomes a DPOY candidate; the backup players (specifically Beasley and Darko) accept their role; the entire team meshes and buys into the new coach's philosophy; the world doesn't end in 2012.