Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) February 26, 2016
What's going on in Wolvesdom?
Let's rehash some recent news quick, and what it likely means for the squad over the last 24 games.
Nikola Pekovic is likely done for the season after the team announced he will be out indefinitely as he continues recovering from surgery on his right Achilles. Pekovic underwent a debridement and repair of his right Achilles on April 8, 2015. He tried to come back, making his return in the 36th game of the year against Denver, but only managed to grimace his way through 11 games, with two DNPs during that span.
After undergoing surgery that was viewed as a last-ditch effort to relieve the pain in his right foot, and giving it another shot, Pek is out again. While Arnie Kander, the Wolves' VP of Sports Performance, is optimistic about the Godfather's future, giant basketball players with bad feet is typically an unfavorable mix.
"He will be fine," Kander said. "He will be Nikola Pekovic again." https://t.co/lycGGG6Zro— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) February 24, 2016
Then there's Kevin Garnett, who has missed the last 13 games as he continues to deal with what the team classifies as a right knee injury.
KG might trot out onto the hardwood a few more times this season, but it's unclear at the moment. If he decides to sit out the rest of the year, it wouldn't be that surprising. Though it may tip his hand. The real question is whether or not he plans to play next season, and if he wants to sit out all of the games now with the idea that he will give it one more run with a team that, given all of the right moves in the offseason, could finally end the playoff drought in his final NBA campaign. Garnett is on the books for $8 million and in the past he consistently has gone with the "I'll listen to my body and go from there" answer when asked about his future intentions. Knowing how much he means to Towns, I am all in favor of keeping KG around if he wants to be around.
Since Pekovic and Garnett cannot be counted on through the rest of the season, the team really needs to add a body in the frontcourt. The current depth issues—escalated by Nemanja Bjelica's odd foot sprain that will keep him out until next Wednesday's home game against Washington at the earliest—forces Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng into major minutes, which isn't necessarily a bad result, but when both players aren't on the floor the team is forced to play small-ball with Shabazz Muhammad or Damjan Rudez at power forward and opposing teams responds with massive runs, often dominating the glass. One could also question how beneficial it actually is to run Towns and Dieng into the ground during another lottery-bound season anyway, and furthermore, isn't now a good time to start taking shots in the dark at available big man to see if something materializes?
The Wolves clearly shifted gears after the All-Star break, as indicated by the recent buyout of Andre Miller. The organization decided it would be wise to invest minutes into rookie Tyus Jones at backup point guard for the rest of the season instead of Miller (who wasn't playing all that often to begin with) or Zach LaVine (who should be seeing almost all of his minutes at shooting guard). Given Jones' inexperience, and his slight frame, the growing pains should be evident, though the move seems wise in the long run. These minutes will be crucial in his development and confidence heading into the offseason.
Kevin Martin will likely join The Professor on his way out of Minneapolis soon enough. Marc Stein is reporting that Martin and the team are in advanced negotiations on a contract buyout, according to league sources. Jerry Zgoda speculated on that very topic yesterday. With Martin out of the picture, everybody probably wins. His presence on the court is only taking possessions away from the youth. For a long time he made perfect sense on a roster devoid of shooters, but his time has come and gone; that's been obvious for a while now.
With KG and Pek taking up two frontcourt spots, yet adding nothing on the court for weeks now, the organization should look to sign another big man to a 10-day contract.
Different names like Jason Thompson, Jarnell Stokes, and Vince Hunter have been tossed around in the comments section here at Canis. I'm fine with giving any of those guys, or others, a test run to see if the team can find a bargain big. I would add Henry Sims to the discussion, only because I remember him (I think) beating up the Wolves when he played for the Sixers, and he's a cheap low-value option in NBA2K16 franchise mode. I can throw down dunks and swat shots with him—everybody knows 2K doesn't deceive when it comes to players.
Will any player the Wolves potentially sign to a 10-day deal even play that much? It's not likely, but remaining inactive with open roster spots is clearly not the right play either; roll the dice on somebody and see what happens. I would be looking for a defensive-minded power forward or center that can rebound, which Stokes seems to be, but then again, he might be an undersized head case if he can't stick on an NBA roster in the first place. It doesn't hurt to find out, especially at 18-40 with no depth behind Towns and Dieng.
After Miller's buyout was confirmed yesterday afternoon, the Wolves have 14 players under contract. If Martin moves on in the upcoming days, that opens up two roster spots to get an incredibly cheap look at players on the scrapheap. What the team does, or doesn't do, with these spots will be interesting to see. It seems like a good opportunity for Milt Newton to hang his hat on a savvy mid-season D-league call up or signing a guy like Thompson, who was let go from the Warriors. Isn't that what Newton should be trying to do—add success stories to his résumé?
Lastly, on an entirely different note, I recommend following Karl-Anthony Towns on Snapchat if you use the app. His story always provides brief entertainment and it's fun to get little glimpses into his daily life. Last night, Towns and Muhammad, who live in apartments next to each other in Minneapolis—often hanging out and playing video games in their spare time—enjoyed a night out together in New Orleans.
Around the League
- Steph Curry dropped 51 points last night in a 130-114 victory over the Orlando Magic, a night after ripping Miami for 42. He made 10 3-pointers. The Wolves have made 10 or more triples in a game ONCE THIS SEASON. Only one time, and that happened last Friday in the loss to Memphis when they attempted a season-high 26 treys ... funny how that works.
- Looks like Ty Lawson might be on his way out of Houston, according to Woj.
- Eric Gordon will play tomorrow against the Wolves. He's been out since Jan. 20 (broken right ring finger).
- LeBron wanted Joe Johnson in Cleveland after the veteran shooting guard was bought out by Brooklyn, but looks like he won't get his wish. Johnson is heading to South Beach.
Today's musical guests are Kanye and Ty Dolla $ign with their new(ish) track called "Real Friends."
According to Genius...
"Real Friends is an introspective look at Kanye's relationship struggles with his friends and family. As a father, husband and artist, his hectic lifestyle has caught up to him and he blames himself for not keeping up with his friends and family. Ty Dolla $igns' lyrics come from the perspective of Kanye's former friends."