Over the weekend, Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves intend to keep Kevin Garnett for the remainder of this year and through the 2016-17 season. During that period, Walters reports, Garnett and President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders are expected to try to form a group to buy the team from Glen Taylor.
The Wolves, for whom Taylor paid $88 million in 1994, were valued at $625 million last January by Forbes. Taylor, who turns 74 in April, is amenable to taking in more limited partners. But he's not interested in selling his team until he finds out what the Atlanta Hawks, who are for sale and currently are taking bids, end up going for.
It's clear, though, considering the NBA's new $24 billion, nine-year media rights deal that begins next year, that Garnett and Saunders will need considerably more wherewithal to buy the Wolves.
Garnett was acquired from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Thaddeus Young before last week's trade deadline. A few chagrined after hearing Young--acquired for a first rounder in the Kevin Love deal--was traded for Garnett--the best player in franchise history--last week because, in terms of strictly production on the court, one of these players offers significantly more than the other. Young, an undersized yet savvy, crafty 24 y/o, averaged 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 33 minutes in 48 games with Minnesota. Garnett, 38, is simply not the player he once was and is expected to average between 15-20 minutes each game for the rest of his career--he's in the midst of his 20th NBA season.
But many are excited to have Garnett back in Minnesota.
Walters' column states more than 300 deposits have been made for new season tickets in 2015-16. Hoping to see him in a Wolves uniform for the first time since the 2006-07 season, some eager fans purchased tickets to last Friday's matchup against the Phoenix Suns unaware Garnett won't play until this Wednesday against the Washington Wizards.
In addition, after All-Star Weekend, Minnesota saw a massive uptick in social media activity in terms of Facebook 'Likes', Twitter--& Instagram--followers. This publicity is thanks to Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, though, and not Garnett. (But more on that later this week.)
Minnesota needs Garnett to contribute right away as they will be shorthanded against Washington, due to injuries suffered by Shabazz Muhammad and Anthony Bennett. Bennett will miss at least two weeks with a sprained ankle; Muhammad will undergo surgery today to repair a ruptured ligament in the middle finger on his shooting (left) hand, and will miss the remainder of the season.
The absence of Bennett and Muhammad means more will be expected of recently acquired Adrian Payne. Payne, 24, was taken by Atlanta with the 15th overall selection last summer and traded to Minnesota in exchange for a conditional first round pick. He scored one point; grabbed four rebounds and blocked two shots in his debut with Minnesota last Friday, but committed five fouls in the process. Payne played hard, though, which is the encouraging part.
Still sidelined indefinitely is Robbie Hummel, who has missed the previous 11 games after suffering a fractured right hand on Jan. 25 in a loss to Atlanta.
Additionally, Gary Neal limped out of practice yesterday and is listed as questionable for tonight's contest due to a sprained right ankle. Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Muhammad's injury does not increase the likelihood Neal and Minnesota will agree to terms on a contract buyout. Neal shot 2-of-4 from the field en route to 6 points and played roughly 10 minutes in the victory over Phoenix last week.
As for tonight's opponent, the Houston Rockets have Patrick Beverley (right lower leg contusion), Joey Dorsey (mild right ankle sprain) and Terrence Jones (right knee contusion) listed as probable, while Dwight Howard (right knee edema) is out and will not play.
Tip-off between Minnesota and Houston is slotted for 7:00 PM.
Today, Andrew Wiggins Wiggins turns 20 and Flip Saunders turns 60. I had no idea they shared the same birthday. Wiggins is unquestionably the front runner to win Rookie of the Year honors, averaging 15.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game this season. He's scored an average of 15.4 and 5.2 rebounds to go with an impressive 50.8 FG% over Minnesota's previous 10 matchups.
Saunders...won't likely be winning Coach of the Year honors this season but has facilitated the development of younger players. He's also fared decently in the last two drafts by selecting Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng, Zach LaVine and Glenn Robinson III. Whether or not these player can carve out a niche and remain in the NBA for a long while remains uncertain, but they aren't yet complete busts, which is a positive thing.
Sorry, Flip, but no 'Happy Birthday' from the NBA via Twitter for you...at least not yet. Possibly later.
Not exactally metal. But I got lazy. Enjoy some Atreyu.