So. We'll have plenty of time to deconstruct the season over the next couple of months, but the Wolves have once again failed to make the post-season. That makes a decade. I thought this might be the year, and it very well might have been if things had gone a bit differently. But they didn't, and here we are. We'll discuss their inability to win close games, their reliance on Kevin Love's otherworldly abilities, and other on-court issues this season, but I thought I would get a jump on the off-season by laying out what seem to be the major questions for this team as we head toward another long summer.
1. Who is going to coach? There has been speculation that this will be Rick Adelman's last season at the helm of the good ship Timberwolf. He's not young, his wife has been struggling with her health, and there are hints that he's somewhat checked out. My guess is that if he wanted to stay and coach another year, he could do so--I don't think Flip or Glen Taylor would deny him that. I don't think he will. I suspect he's done, which leads to the question of who is next.
It's possible that Flip Saunders and his vaunted mid-range jumper offense takes over on the sidelines in addition to his job running the front office. That would complete the circle of country club ineptness and be what we might expect. However, it's also possible that they go another direction, and hire someone else. Would Fred "The Mayor" Hoiberg consider leaving Iowa State, where he's had great success, to return to the Wolves as head coach? Is there an assistant out there who piques your interest?
2. Whither Kevin Love? This will be the summer to move him if they are going to move him, obviously. One more guaranteed year on the contract, followed by free agency. Here's the thing: he's the entire franchise at this point. The team is barely NBA level without him on the floor, and way above average with him on the floor. I can't imagine a trade that actually makes the Wolves better, and it's hard to see anything that doesn't set them back even further. My guess is that they won't trade him; they are going to try to play this out and hope to re-sign him. I've been wrong before though. What do you think happens with Love this summer? Either way there are going to be a lot of rumors flying around.
3. What about the draft? The Wolves look to be pretty locked in to the 13th spot in the draft, a subject I know next to nothing about. Hopefully vjl110 will continue to come to my rescue on this topic, but it appears that Nate in St. Paul's theory to only draft from UC-f'in-A is workable. The Wolves, it seems to me, need better wing play (another decade long issue), and a good backup point guard. They might be in the market for a decent backup power forward as well. Whether the draft is a route to improving any of those areas...well, it's Timberwolves. Who do you like?
4. Free agency. Not much going on in free agency this summer for the Wolves. Dante Cunningham is the only player with an expiring contract on the roster, and the Wolves certainly don't have any salary cap space to use on new free agents. Dante is not a bad player to have backing up the front line for the money he makes, and a re-signing makes some sense. On the other hand, there have been some rumbles that he isn't the most popular guy in the locker room, so if that's true, it might have some effect on whether he stays or goes.
Ultimately the question is this: How do the Wolves move forward? I've felt for a while that any success they have will be more a matter of luck then design, as I have little faith in ownership, and little in the acumen running the organization. They just don't take it seriously enough to make consistently good decisions based on a good decision making process. I hope I'm wrong, but the evidence isn't good. What is the appropriate plan for moving forward from where they are now? How do they get better, become a consistent, winning team?
What are your off-season questions?