Taking Stock Of Where They're At

Greg Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Sick day = computer day.

The less we say about last night's game, the better. Also, the less attention we pay to the ongoing radio and columnist melt-down over not being in Norwood Teague's inner whisper circle, the better. (BTW: Ameila Rayno should get a) a raise and b) a class at the U's J-School for showing everyone how curious sports reporting can still be accomplished in an era of access and radio money for columnists.)

Anywho...

Depleted Celtics squad or not, the Wolves knocked off Boston for the first time in 6 years, changing their last-time-they-beat-em list to the following:

Prior to last night's victory, the Wolves last beat the Boston Celtics on February 7, 2007, or 2153 days ago.

Oh what a week this could have been, with opportunities to beat the Lakers, Celtics, and Griz. To top it off, the Wolves even get a crack at one of their 2+ year droughters, Toronto, in the next few days. That, along with their run at the worst 3p% shooting mark in league history for teams averaging over 15 3pg (i.e. modern NBA basketball) is what I will be paying attention to for the remainder of the season.

In order for the Wolves to remain the worst modern 3 point shooting team in league history, they will need to finish below .308, which is the number put up by the 1998/99 Sacramento Kings squad. The Wolves are currently shooting .300 from the great beyond on 392-1308 shooting. They average 17.9 attempts per game. Let's call it an even 18. With 9 games to go our hypothetical Wolves could end up with 162 more 3 point attempts. This would leave them with 1470 attempts for the season. In order to beat the Kings' .308 mark, the Wolves would need to end the season at 454-1470, or .309. This means they would need to go 62-162 in the last 9 games, or .382. Can they do it? It will be quite a heavy lift. A very heavy lift.

In terms of remaining games where the Wolves could do well, Phoenix (opposing teams shoot .393) and Utah (.374-2 games remaining) offer up the best chances, although neither team is in the top half of the league in opponent attempts.

The Wolves also don't want to sink below the .295 mark posted by last year's Charlotte Bobcat squad. Charlotte averaged 13.5 3pa last year in their march to the worst record in league history. If we lower the per game attempts to 10, the Wolves are 1 of 7 teams in league history to shoot .300 or worse from the most important shot in the game.

Also, I'd like to bring attention to a recent comment made by Madison Dan, as it pretty much mirrors the off-season wish list post I have in the draft box:

1. Re-sign Pek.
2. Trade Barea or Ridnour (preferably Barea because of contract length) and Williams. I’d trade them both for as little as future picks, and not particularly good ones. I don’t want to pay to make them go away. I also don’t want a bad contract back. If they can fetch better than that, it’s all gravy to me.
3. Re-sign Bud, but don’t pay too much (again, I’m thinking Danny Green money is realistic, and perhaps generous).
4. Sign Korver, Dunleavy, or someone else who can shoot.
5. Convince Adelman to stay / hope his wife is healthy.
6. Convince Kirilenko to play out his contract (this might be wishful thinking).
7. Don’t suck at the draft (this could be a problem as well). Get a wing early. Get a center at 25-ish. Get Kazemi in the second round.
8. Keep Johnson and Gelabale unless a better use of the roster spot comes up. They’re somewhat competent and as cheap as it gets.
9. Only keep Stiemsma as a last resort. He doesn’t need to go, but I won’t miss him if he’s gone.

That pretty much nails it. They have a wonderful opportunity to take a healthy squad into next season that could really do some damage in the Western Conference. They are also sitting on 2 picks in a draft that could give them a decent long term wing and backup big. Their core is still very young and no matter what happens with Adelman, a grouping of Kevin Love (24), Ricky Rubio (22), and Nikola Pekovic (27) can be built around for the better part of half a decade. With the new CBA draft picks (and drafting well) are an absolute necessity. Yeah, it's the Wolves, but these picks are more important than ever, especially if they are going to pay their big 3 a lot of money.

My own personal preference would be that they make a bet on a bad team and trade Williams and Barea for the best unprotected future pick (or protected if they want to extend the bad team bet) possible. Whatever the case, if Taylor is willing to shell out some coin for the 2-3 years it would take to keep AK on the team, they are a playoff menace. Not just a squeaky-just-get-in sort of bit, but a menace. Here's how my dream off-season would play out (in no particular order):

  • Sign AK to a 3 year deal matching the last 3 years of Gerald Wallace's current contract (3/30ish)
  • Sign Pek to JaVale McGee's deal. If he doesn't sign it, immediately call the Denver Nuggets to work on a sign and trade.
  • Hope for Oladipo, Porter, KCP, Smart, MCW, or Burke with the 9th pick. Be amazed if Kelly Olynyk is available.
  • Give Chase Budinger the Danny Green deal and hope he takes it.
  • Buy out Stiemer (UPDATE: The Wolves have a team option on his contract. They should not exercise it unless they absolutely have to.)
  • Make sure Brandon Roy and his $5,000,000 dead weight deal isn't around.
  • Take the best available future pick + immediate buyouts for Williams + Barea.
  • Sign Johnson and Gelabale to league minimum 1-year deals.Take the best available big with the early 20s pick. Mike Muscala should be available. If they can trade down to get Dieng, great. Don't get cute. It's a low salary for a backup big and Muscala should be a) good enough and b) a good local interest story. His dad is already a Wolves fan.

This gives the Wolves the following lineup;
  1. Rubio/Ridnour/Shved/Lee
  2. Bud/(Dunleavy/Korver)/(1st draft pick)/Shved
  3. AK/(Dunleavy/Korver)/(1st draft pick)/Bud/Gelebale/Shved
  4. Love/Ham/Johnson/(20ish pick)/AK
  5. Pek/Love/Johnson/(20ish pick)

It really is amazing that for all the assets David Kahn used on PGs, that Ridnour is the only good backup at the position.

If the Wolves can get to this position they will have 14 guaranteed deals and enough room to bring over two time Euro League Rising Star Nikola Mirotic. Oh, wait.

Anywho...

The one thing I don't want to hear this off season is that the team can't afford to keep the core group of players in place. I also don't want to hear that they have to sell off their draft picks for win-now players. They have win-now players (when healthy). Amazingly, after all the David Kahn boobery, and after all the Taylor-esque ownership, the team is still in amazing shape for putting together an extended run. The team I put together up above comes in under the 2012/13 luxury tax level of $70,307,000 and is in no danger of hitting any tax threshold penalty levels.

They can keep everybody, use their draft picks, win now, and still build for the future. All that it will take is for Papa Glen to open up his wallet as close to the luxury tax level as he's done in a long, long time. They don't need to change much on this team. The biggest change would be swapping out Barea and Williams for Korver/Dunleavy and the top pick. That's the biggest change. The rest is basically window dressing and paying AK and Pek what they deserve.

What say you?

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