With the T'wolves' lackluster play of late (going 3-15 in the last 18 games), I reluctantly admit that the team's fate this year is to be a lottery hopeful once again. Even if Kevin Love and Chase Budinger return and immediately provide positive contributions, it would be very unlikely to overtake Houston for the 8th seed, who are currently 7 games ahead of our pups. Departing from a pipe dream of the playoff-bound Wolves to recognizing the bitter truth of a lost season, I will outline my fantasy scenario.
[ Disclamer: However, I am not very knowledgeable about the legal proceedings of trades/contracts so the purpose of this post is double-pronged; one is to express my views and the second is to be informed by you fans out there. ]
I think an issue everybody is concerned about one way or another is the impending end of Nikola Pekovic's contract. He is set to become a restricted free agent, meaning the Wolves can decide to keep one of the best centers in the league (an opinion only Wolves fans seem to share) if they match the best offer for his services. One would believe Neil Olshey, the general manager of the Blazers, would be in the mix especially with K
rAzy KahN's endeavors last offseason; there will probably be other GMs jumping to take the Montenegrin Bulldozer away.
There are a few ways Wolves' front office can deal with this dilemma. The front office can match the offer, the front office can let him walk, or the front office can trade him. Although I hate to say it, but I think the Wolves should make a trade, and I think a plausible destination is Dallas before the deadline. This is under the assumption that restricted free agents stay restricted when traded. He would be an obvious upgrade to a Dallas team who is lacking interior presence, and desperately wants to make the playoffs this year with so many of their key players hitting their mid 30s (Dirk, Carter, Marion, Brand). Another part of this deal that makes sense is that Mark Cuban is not shy about spending his money. The hefty price tag that comes with Pek is not an issue with him.
With that said, what does Dallas have to offer? As aforementioned, I am unsure of what trades work out and don't, but I would like the Wolves to trade for a package around their first round pick this year. This also allows Minnesota to tank the season, resulting in a much higher seed. Now let's move on to the offseason!
In this scenario, the Timberwolves currently have 3 picks in the first round: their own, the Mavs, and the Grizzlies. For the purposes of this post, I will assume they will have the 5/6th pick, 13/14th pick, and the 24/25th pick, which I feel is most probable. Obviously it would be amazing if they ended up with the first overall pick, in which they would take Ben McLemore, but considering Minny's terrible draft luck I would not hold my breath.
With their first pick, the Twolves take Shabazz Muhammad. Yes he has terribly under-performed at UCLA, and yes he supposedly isn't the best teammate, but Twolves need more players who can create their own shots and with AK-47 possibly reaching the end of his contract, it is time to look for a replacement. He has a lot of potential and would give the Wolves much needed "star power" around Rubio and Love. Besides I feel like most stars in the NBA look somewhat underwhelming in college for some reason...
With their second pick at 13/14, Twolves select Pek's immediate replacement at the Center position and my personal man-crush of the draft, Jeff Withey. I believe the most accurate comparison to anyone in the NBA is Tyson Chandler. They both are excellent at protecting the paint, have a soft touch around the rim, are great rebounders, and can hit free throws.
I also believe this will give better chemistry in the long run than Love and Pek who have a similar problem to Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap to a lesser extent (because they are super versions of Utah's duo on all types of steroids). Besides, Rubio is going to give great passes to the centers regardless and Withey is intelligent and skilled enough around the rim to capitalize on his passing.
Honestly, I am not sure who Wolves would draft with the Grizzlies pick, but I do see it being a higher pick now because of the Gay trade they made (I know I should take it out of my vocab... sorry Kobe). Maybe just flip it for cash like they always do.
Well, I feel like this post is longer than it should be, so I'll just jot out the rest of the offseason quickly. Keep Budinger, wouldn't kill me to see AK-47 opt out and have 10 million dollars for a SG (JJ Rediculous, is that you?), amnesty Luke Ridnour (Is that even possible?), let Steamer go for Chris Johnson, let Gelabale go...
So my absolutely ridiculously implausible fantasy lineup next year (Without McLemore):
PG: Rubio, Barea/ Sexy Alexey , Some Dude
SG: JJ Redick, Sexy Alexey, Malcolm Lee
SF: Shabazz Muhammad, Budinger/Dwill
PF: K Love, Cunningham/Dwill
C: Jeff Withey/ C Johnson/ Some other dude
Yup, Dwill still sticks out like a sore thumb... I do believe if the Wolves can make the Western Conference Finals and make it somewhat interesting, K Love is eventually going to decide to re-sign. Thanks for reading! Sorry for the random bold letters, I was bored.
Jeff Withey 2012-13 Highlights (via witheyunchained)
Not a lot of videos for a guy who gets 5 blocks a game, but I'm sure they will be popping all over the place when season ends. He just needs to gain a little more muscle I think, and his demeanor will fit right in with the team.
2:43 Is this a preview of McLemore and Withey in Minny? Man if they got those two with Love and Rubio...
Here is a comparison between him this year and Anthony Davis last year... Okay I'll stop now hahah