All of the details of these transactions are not yet clear, but my understanding is that the Wolves will in fact engage in a sign and trade for Kevin Martin, with Luke Ridnour going to Milwaukee and the Thunder receiving a TPE. Doing this allows the Wolves to use cap space (or the MLE, which is what I believe is happening) to sign Corey Brewer for 3 years and $15M.
For all intents and purposes, what happened here was the Wolves traded Luke Ridnour for Corey Brewer.
First, let's say goodbye to Luke.
Luke is not without his weaknesses. The Ridnover was always something we cringed at, and his shooting came and went. But he was durable for the Wolves and never complained about his role. He was forced to play out of position at the shooting guard spot for most of the last two years, and worked as hard as he could at it.
He also gave us this fantastic moment:
So thanks Luke Ridnour, for being a good Wolf.
There are a lot of ways to look at what happened today, and indeed what has happened since July 1st, but let's start simply: The Wolves traded the better player (Ridnour) on an expiring contract for the lesser player (Brewer) on a more expensive, longer term contract.
That is not a win.
The Wolves were, by all accounts, prepared to outright sign Kevin Martin this morning, before they engaged in another round of sign and trade talks that brought us to this point. Unfortunately, despite various rumors that they were shopping one of their point guards, and that Ridnour had interest around the league, they wound up with a deal in which they are overpaying a player who is perhaps marginally above average as a defender, but below average on offense.
There were other options. Given that Milwaukee clearly wanted Ridnour, an exchange for Udoh, as was rumored around draft time, would have been better value. Milwaukee also just traded Luc Mbah a Moute, a much better wing defender than Brewer for a 2nd round pick. Luke and a second for Mbah a Moute would have been much better, had the Wolves found a way to engage in talks before it was too late.
As vjl110 pointed out on Twitter a bit earlier, Corey Brewer is set to make the same money per year as the best perimeter defender of the generation, Tony Allen. Al-Farouq Aminu signed a one year, $3.7M contract. It remains unclear how much more Andrei Kirilenko will get. And yet, at some point in this process, the Wolves front office became enamored of Corey Brewer, and wound up spending too much, both in trade and in money to acquire him.
None of this means Corey Brewer is without value. He's a creator of havoc, though almost as often for his own team as for the opponents. He is disruptive defensively, though his complete defensive package is not much better then average. He has cut down on his turnovers the last couple of years in Denver, a trend that I hope survives, as much as I hope his tendency to hoist way too many three pointers that he doesn't make is a trend he leaves behind. As a change of pace backup on the wing, I wouldn't mind having him at a much lower cost.
There are a ton of questions that we will have all summer to consider: do we have someone we are comfortable with as the starting small forward? Is $10M combined on Budinger and Brewer better then finding a way to keep AK? Did the Wolves in fact get the wrong Brewer?
But here's the thing: it's getting harder and harder to have any confidence in Flip Saunders' ability to do this job effectively. There was little reason for confidence at the time of the hiring, and since then we've had the draft night debacle, in which it is now clear that they fumbled the ball and wound up with a player they didn't even want, and now the free agency period.
Good organizations find little edges. They get a guy cheap. They find an extra asset. They grab another pick. The Wolves don't. They pay full freight for everything. The Kings grabbed a great defensive wing owed about 2/10 for a 2nd round pick, the Wolves trade their best asset and pay 3/15 for a lesser defensive wing.
Our own Ratty tweeted Flip's methods earlier today:
The Flip Way: 1- Do something crazy, 2- Text Dan at KFAN for something, something, 3- Radio word salad, 4- When challenged pull out the...
The Flip Way: 1- Do something crazy, 2- Text Dan at KFAN for something, something, 3- Radio word salad, 4- When challenged pull out the...— Wrath of Zod (@raftsandmonkeys) July 10, 2013
..."Well, are YOU a player personnel director" card, 5- Profit.
..."Well, are YOU a player personnel director" card, 5- Profit.— Wrath of Zod (@raftsandmonkeys) July 10, 2013
And that appears to be the playbook.
The truth is this: the Wolves will be better this year because they will be healthier. This team is largely reliant on Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and Nikola Pekovic. The rest of it matters, but only in that they are now pretty locked in to this roster, and there is a pretty clear ceiling for it. They have basically run out of assets and certainly out of cap room, so the team is pretty set for the next couple of seasons. And that's OK, because it could be a fun and reasonably successful team.
The Wolves aren't good enough as an organization to be a championship level franchise. That much has been clear for a while, and I'm OK with that. They aren't serious enough about it, and that won't change with Glen Taylor in charge. I just want good basketball, and I have a reasonable chance to get it over the next couple of years.
I hope Corey Brewer is a successful part of it, even if he's getting paid too much.
Welcome back Corey.