My Sundays are precious; I love spending some extended time searching for interesting hoops tidbits. HoopsHype does a wonderful job of aggregating b-ball info, but I never hesitate to check with other pundits who didn't make the link list, like the NY Post's Peter Vecsey, and the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman. For your browsing pleasure, I'll give you a few links, and try to connect some Wolves dots in the process, in regards to rebuilding the team.
First off, let's start with Newsday, and Ken Berger's article about the Knicks already preparing for LBJ's free agency. What's it got to do with the Wolves? Check out this small morsel, buried in the middle of the article:
"My understanding is, he's [Lebron] out for sure," the executive said. "He'll run it out to free agency for sure, and Cleveland is definitely not the highest chance of the teams. Everyone that knows him and that he talks to privately says he wants to get out of there. Obviously, New York's been talked about, but there's going to be lots of teams with money that year, 15 or so."
One of the Wolves current strategies is to manage the salary cap for the 2010 sweepstakes. If this unnamed executive is correct, we'll be up against about half of the league competing for big names like D-Wade and James. I mentioned this awhile ago in a post about acquiring Shaun Livingston, what big names would actually be serious about coming here? There's not only the Tundra and Taxes, but serious competition from some mighty big markets. My take: I wouldn't buy any hype from the Wolves front office that they will be able to hook or lure any of the big fishes. Strike one for the club.
We don't need those top names you say? We'll find second-tier talent who can make major contributions? Check out this Draft Express post about the current exploits of Josh Childress, once in Atlanta, now in Greece. Here's an interesting quote from former Pacer PG Travis Best, who's also playing in Europe:
"First of all, in Europe the quality of life is high," Best told us. "3 or 4 years ago my decision could be considered strange, but now it's almost quite normal. Obviously, money plays a big role; top European teams can spend a lot of money without the limitation of salary cap. A lot of astonishing players prefer to come overseas and sign big guaranteed contracts instead of being content with the mid-level exception. Here they continue to play great basketball, enjoy tax advantages, and live in amazing places with perfectly organized teams".
My take: If the Europeans can continue to attract upper to mid-tier talent at attractive prices, that hurts the American small market teams. Sure we're in the NBA, but the world is changing before us. Money talks. A potential strike two against the Wolves.
So, continuing to follow the logic here, if the Wolves need more talent to continue a successful rebirth from the KG years, but we can't nail the top players, and struggle to get the next tier who could make an impact, what's the path to success? Trades and the draft? Well, here's we have some hope...maybe. Check out talking point #5 of Winderman's latest column:
5. Weighing the trade.
The draft-night blockbuster between the Timberwolves and Grizzlies figures to draw increased inspection.
Take last week, for example, when Memphis' O.J. Mayo was torching the Heat for 28 points, while Minnesota's Kevin Love was fouling out in 11 minutes against Denver and then shooting 1 of 10 against Chicago.
At the end of the day, it might be the ancillary part of the deal that saves face for the 'Wolves, with Minnesota getting Mike Miller and Memphis now stuck with Antoine Walker and Marko Jaric.
My take: Given all the failed efforts to surround KG with talent, and the resulting rebuilding from scratch, we really have only two proven players to speak of: Big Al and Mike Miller. There has been no Iron Ranger draft choice or draft day acquisition that has emerged as a solid, dependable player from the recent draft pools. True, the jury is still out on Brewer and Love, but for players like Foye and McCants, how much longer will it be before folks will say they're just decent, but flawed? If the Wolves are going to rejoin the ranks of the playoff contenders, some of these recent top ten draft picks--or the stockpiled first rounders--are going to have to emerge, big time. It's where the Wolves ultimate success or failure will be determined.
A couple of other notes...three interesting articles about former Wolves Antoine Walker, Marcus Banks, and Gerald Green. I have to feel a little sorry for Walker, who's maybe not good enough to hook on to another contender without giving up some salary. Looks like he's going to sit with the Grizz this year as well.