Kahn and Rambis address media...Rambis takes blame for losing season...Big Al to work out with Olajuwon this summer...Darko returns to Serbia on Thursday...Love meets with Rambis and Kahn today
Jonah Ballow/Timberwolves site on Wednesday's end of the season press conference in which David Kahn and Kurt Rambis addressed the media:
There is no doubt this season has been difficult for members of the organization and more importantly, the loyal fan base. The young cast of players bonded together in a time of adversity, displaying camaraderie on and off the court throughout all the losses. Rambis continues to keep a level head while understanding the learning process for his squad.
"Our players held it together and they are to be commended for that. And again, I cannot reiterate enough, it was not their fault. The blame falls right here, with David and me. It is not the players fault, it is our fault. But we are going to move forward. In my mind, this is our launching point; this is where we move forward, from here." - Rambis
Even so the team has avoided the locker-room volatility and infighting that often plagues losing teams, which Kahn credited to Rambis' leadership.
"He handled it beautifully," Kahn said. "He couldn't have handled it better. He and the coaches deserve the credit for creating that kind of safe environment so the players could feel they could come back on a daily basis, apply themselves and work so that nobody was moaning about them or criticizing them."
Kahn said work on next season begins Thursday. The Wolves will have three picks in the first round of the June draft and more than $12 million in cap space to use on the free agent market or in trades.
Kahn has a pocketful of money and plenty of salary cap space. He'll also have a high pick in the draft. And we already know he is willing to make moves. Speaking Wednesday morning, he and coach Kurt Rambis were remarkably upbeat considering the living hell that was their 2009-10 NBA basketball campaign.
Kahn even mentioned that, during an exit interview, one of the players noted: "The year flew by."
I suggest that player be immediately cut from the roster on the grounds of mental instability. One thing this season did not do was fly by.
Since taking over McHale's old post in May, General Manager David Kahn has shown he's not afraid to deal. And deal. And deal again.
The Wolves signed D-league center Greg Stiemsma on Wednesday in part because they might need one more warm body with the right salary to toss into a trade this summer.
Kahn is a convincing salesman when it comes to his long-range plan, and even the players in his locker room -- the same players he's made clear could all, to a man, be chips in this high-stakes rebuilding game -- were speaking optimistically after their final confounding defeat on Wednesday.
Love will meet with Rambis and Kahn on Thursday. A three-man rotation of big men that will include Milicic or another 7-foot shot-blocking center will be discussed.
Gomes, too, will meet with Kahn and Rambis. The Wolves can avoid his $4.2 million salary next season if they decline a team option and pay him nearly $3 million for three years left on his conditional contract.
"There are so many scenarios in my situation," Gomes said. "I could be here. I could be waived. I could be traded. Whenever you lose the number of games we did, questions arise over who should be here."
Love will spend much of the offseason in Los Angeles. Milicic flies home Thursday to Serbia, where Rambis and Kahn expect to court him in May. Jefferson plans to work with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon as well as famed personal trainer Idan Ravin in an offseason he calls the most important of his career.
Jefferson, invited to the USA Basketball tryouts in the summer, said he plans to remain in the Twin Cities to do his workouts. The Wolves' leading scorer struggled through injuries and personal problems most of the season.
Jefferson led the Wolves in scoring (17.1) but admitted that his surgically repaired left knee affected his stamina and mobility. The six-year veteran also missed six games — two because of the death of his grandmother, two for a DUI arrest and two because of an ill family member.
"This is something I really want to do, to make myself a better player, to get in better shape and to get my body right," Jefferson said. "I've had this kind of workout schedule before. I know I can do it again. I want to be an all-star player in this league."
A key part of Jefferson's offseason agenda includes workout sessions in Houston with Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon, who was known for his excellent footwork in the post. Olajuwon has made himself available to work with NBA players.
From the Associated Press:
The plan is for Jonny Flynn and Ramon Sessions to remain in the Twin Cities for the next few days to work with Rambis on their jump shots. Rambis said he didn't want to tweak anything during the season and get them out of their comfort zones.
From Jonathan Abrams and Howard Beck/New York Times: Assessing the N.B.A.’s Most Improved Player
Now Brewer is showing some serious promise. He is averaging 12.8 points per game, more than doubling his output from his first two seasons. Once considered a poor shooter, he has developed a respectable jumper, converting 42.7 percent of his field goals and 34.5 percent of his 3-pointers. He has more 3-point makes this season (80) than he had attempts in his first two years (48).
The Timberwolves had a miserable season and might not be revived until (and unless) Ricky Rubio decides to leave Spain. But Brewer is a small bright spot.
Is it a coincidence the Wolves, who hold the rights to Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio, will be playing in Barcelona where he plays? Maybe, maybe not – Commissioner Stern was somewhat coy when asked.
"Well, it's an interesting twist, isn't it?" said Stern. "I can't take credit or blame for it, but I think it's interesting that the team that holds the draft rights to a very good player for Barcelona is there. Maybe Ricky will be inspired to follow the team back.
"But I don't believe that; that really wasn't the reason at all. It's just sort of an added plot twist that makes it interesting."
From Argus Leader, a Q&A with Greg Stiemsma:
Q. According to a Tweet posted by your agent, you turned down a contract offer from a playoff team to sign with Minnesota. What does that mean for your future there?
A. I'll probably work out quite a bit (in Minnesota) in the summer with their coaching staff - they have a great staff. They have some good, young bigs and, hopefully, I can just learn from there and get better and hopefully earn a spot on the Timberwolves next year.
Laimbeer said Milicic, 24, has grown into his body since his days in Detroit, and that is among many reasons for his improved play with the Timberwolves.
"I think he's at peace now in many ways with himself," Laimbeer said.
From Ball In Europe: Kahn reiterates: Rights to Rubio are untouchable
From Charles Hallman/Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder: Looks like it’s ‘bring out the bags’ time for the Wolves
From Ian Parker/Press Association Sport: LOVE PICKING UP GOOD VIBRATIONS AHEAD OF LONDON
Road games against the NBA's only Canadian franchise are the extent of Love's foreign travel in his life to this point.
For that reason, he cannot wait for the NBA Europe Live tour - which will also see the Timberwolves visit Paris - to begin.
"For me it's just extremely exciting to be getting a chance to see new countries," he said.
"It will be a humbling experience but also a shock to get out and see London and see Paris.
"It's going to be a lot of fun. Obviously we're there for basketball, but I've got to see some sights."
From Kare 11;
"I don't like it, that's what I lose sleep over," said Chris Wright, the Timberwolves Team President.
Wright admits the numbers haven't been adding up: the team has averaged only 15 thousand fans for each game in the 20-thousand-people arena. They've even turned to slashing next year's lower bowl tickets to just $10 to help buck the trend.
But Wright says the team has fared well in a tough economy, when people don't want to spend money to attend events. He said they've also done well, considering this year is a re-building one for the team.