When your team doesn't make the playoffs, things happen very quickly. Coaching decisions are made, players start referring to their employer as "they", and Canis Hoopus adds two new (awesome) writers.
But when things happen quickly, it also can also make putting together thoughts at a reasonable speed difficult. Not all of us are superhuman, like Eric. For that reason (along with constantly working), I haven't been able to post much of anything since the season ended, and that makes me sad.
For that reason, if you'll have me, I'd like to go over a few things.
Flip back in charge
More than anything else in this post, I really wanted to post this song. Anyway,
Flip's the coach now. Okay, a couple things this means:
1. The Timberwolves have the only part-owner/team president/head coach in the NBA. Classic.
2. The Wolves have a competent head coach with a decent history. The situation is not preferable, but not because of Flip's competency as a coach. He's had more successful stints in the NBA than unsuccessful ones, and his one unsuccessful one was with a pretty iffy roster (both talent and character-wise).
3. Milt Newton will handle more of the day-to-day stuff. Whether that actually effects the culture of the front office is yet to be determined.
4. There has to be at least a sliver of a chance Rasheed Wallace, who is currently a coaching free agent, could join his old coach on the Wolves' bench.
Now, a couple things this doesn't mean:
1. Kevin Love's relationship with Flip will make a difference now that he's head coach.
2. Flip decided to coach after his numerous other viable options didn't pan out. It's unclear how many people he spoke to about the position, but it's accepted that he talked to: Tom Izzo, Dave Joerger, Billy Donovan and Fred Hoiberg. In other words, he spoke to 3 NCAA head coaches with cushy jobs, and an already-employed NBA head coach.
He may have also spoken to Lionel Hollins and Jeff Van Gundy to some capacity. It's tough to say, but the guys who were repeatedly brought up seemed too out-of-reach to be taken completely seriously, and would have been surprising hires if pulled off.
Man, he's good.
It's tough to see this happen, but just about anyone who follows the Wolves closely wasn't surprised. Whether it was the Woj interview from a couple years ago, Kahn's decision to give him the shorter max deal, or just a general sense, most assumed Love would make this move at some point.
So, instead of getting angry and trying to blame someone (Ed Malloy?), as it's not worth the energy, let's look at some of the reported trade suitors.
Golden State Warriors: David Lee, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson for Kevin Love and Chase Budinger First, let's assume Klay Thompson is in the deal, because it obviously wouldn't be a deal if he wasn't involved.The issue still remains: is David Lee's contract worth it? More importantly, is Klay Thompson's post-rookie deal contract going to be worth it? And lastly, is a Rubio/Thompson/Barnes/Lee/Pek starting 5 good enough to make any noise that's worth the money?
Probably not, but it may be the best way to get a pair of proven young assets. I look at the dollar amount on Lee's contract, and more at the remaining years. He'll have 2 years left, and on the last year, his contract can become a very valuable expiring. Not only does that give the Wolves the chance to sign Rubio/Thompson, the trade may bring in a piece to replace Lee. Or cap space. This deal isn't my favorite, but it's far from my least favorite.
No, it isn't because I'm tired of seeing Minnesota stars thrive in Boston (I generally have enjoyed their success, actually). No, it isn't because Bill Simmons won't give up on it. It's because past the #6 pick, there isn't a ton of value here. To start, these future unprotected first rounders don't do it for me. Boston, in this scenario, would have Rajon Rondo and Kevin Love in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn will still have Deron Williams, will get back Brook Lopez, and will remain in the Eastern Conference, for the foreseeable future.
Unless the #6 pick turns into something special, the Celtics wouldn't just get the better end of the trade, the deal would likely become absurdly lopsided long-term.
Note: The thought of a Pekovic/Faverani frontcourt remains amazingly intriguing.
Chicago Bulls: Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, rights to Nikola Mirotic (assuming he would come over), #16 pick, future pick- This is probably my favorite deal. Taj Gibson would fit perfectly next to Pek in the short-term as a starter while Mirotic (who I love) develops, Butler is the complimentary wing that every team wants, and then, again, Mirotic!!! No bad contracts, no guessing on the undermined value of future picks, all while acquiring assets. Seems pretty simple, but of course, none of this ever is.
Phoenix Suns: ???- Goran Dragic wouldn't really be available, would he? It seems like something Phoenix would consider, but ultimately say 'no' to. If it is an option, adding Dragic to the picture, along with picks and other pieces, would be alluring. It's tough to say how legitimate that offer is, but for me, Dragic has to be involved to interest me. For that reason, Phoenix is probably a no-go.
Dark horse team: Cleveland Cavaliers' #1 pick, Dion Waiters- I know, I know. The Cavs won't trade their #1 pick. But, bare with me, what if they will? If he-who-must-not-be-named opts out of his contract, Cleveland might be crazy enough to go all-out and make a move.
Even if they can't get Love to guarantee an extension, a Love/Irving duo with cap space is more appealing than an Embiid/Irving duo with cap space any day. It isn't being talked about much, but it's not something I'm willing to fully discount.
This is just looking at pick 13, with no look into scenarios where Kevin Love changes the Wolves' draft outlook. With my luck, this last part will become moot come draft night. To make this easy, I'll rank prospects in order from first to worst. For the record, "worst" is a relative term, and I'll be happy with any of the prospects I list. Disclaimer: I like a lot of prospects in this draft.
1. Gary Harris- He's shown that he has some ability to shoot off the dribble, and can also spot up and drain. He has a solid handle, is a decent passer, and isn't a liability on defense. He sounds, more or less, like the exact kind of wing player the Wolves need. A guy who can shoot the ball in different ways, and actually make the shot. He has a lot of offensive potential, and would fit well next to Rubio.
2. Doug McDermott- The guy has has athletic limitations, but man, can he shoot the basketball. On top of that, he has good size at the 3 (not a tweener!), and has underrated ability to get open under the hoop to compliment his soft touch. He may struggle as a starter in the NBA, but he has lots of potential to become a very useful 1st of 2nd guy off the bench. At pick #13, it isn't a bad idea to pick safe.
3. Rodney Hood- Another guy with great size who can shoot the ball very well. He probably isn't quite the shooter McDermott is, but taking Hood would give the Wolves another guy who can catch, shoot, and make the shot. Hood is also a bit better off the dribble than McDermott, though that isn't by much either. It's close between the two, but ultimately, shooting is a skill that will keep you around the league longer. For that reason, I prefer McDermott, though, I can be easily swayed.
4. Kyle Anderson- Analytics, Canis analytics in particular, love Anderson. It's easy to see why, too. He 6'8 with the passing skills of a pass-first point guard, the rebounding instincts of a power forward, and a ridiculously high basketball IQ. He has gotten the Boris Diaw comparison a lot, especially after the finals. I still question Anderson's size and speed (I'm legitimately worried about his slo-mo reputation), two things Diaw has a big advantage in. Still, Anderson is intriguing enough and skilled enough to make him a good pick at 13, if it happens.
5. Zach LaVine- It's pretty wild that UCLA had two guys 6'6+ with point guard skills at the same time. LaVine isn't anywhere near Anderson in terms of court vision and basketball IQ, but, and this may sound primitive, LaVine LOOKS more like an NBA player on the floor than Anderson does a lot of the time. He's also a freak athlete with a better shooting stroke. I prefer Anderson for his goofy array of skills, but LaVine's star potential is there.
6. Nik Stauskas- After Gary Harris, no player in the Big 10 impressed me as consistently as Nik Stauskas. He's clearly a smart, crafty offensive player, a decent athlete, and can shoot the ball. He bulked up a lot over the last offseason and it clearly paid off. I still question what his role at the next level will be, but there's something here with Stauskas.
7. Adrien Payne- Payne had been a good player for Michigan State for a long time, but it felt as though he jumped after a great start to the NCAA tournament. While I like his game, that mode of thinking has, and always will, scare me. His athleticism is there, the size is there, his heart is definitely in the right place. I'm still worried about his skill level and how it will translate at the next level. I won't complain over a choice of Adrien Payne, but it will be a nervous excitement for him.
Flip's hiring of Flip, Love's request to change situations, and the upcoming draft have kept us all busy since the Wolves' season ended. It'll also keep the week leading up to the draft about as interesting as you can get. A scenario where your GM is your coach and your star player will likely be traded in the near future, but for what it's worth, it allows writers and fans the opportunity to play pretend GM. That's always fun, right?
Happy summer, everyone.