This weekend, the Timberwolves made news with the announcement of layoffs as President of Basketball Operations Tom Thibodeau and General Manager Scott Layden have "cleaned house" and will likely be bringing in their own set of assistant coaches, managers, and trainers as they remake the Wolves organization under their leadership. While it has already been noted, it is off-putting to celebrate several people losing their job, especially in more complex case of Milt Newton. These decisions bring the first bit of insight on our unfamiliar Timberwolves overlords.
This illuminates one of the strange things for us to deal with this off-season, that being we really have no idea what the Timberwolves are going to do. We have educated guesses, but due to Thibs having no real track record in personnel management (which does not even bring us to counting the Timberwolves myriad of options due to the uncertain value of our draft pick, the exploding cap, and the Wolves disparate bench) it is completely up in the air on what direction the team will go.
One of the interesting things to see in this regard, which has become a somewhat divisive issue, is how the new management evaluates the current talent on the Timberwolves. There are obviously easy takeaways about the Wolves, such as how amazing Karl-Anthony Towns is and the high potential of Andrew Wiggins. However it becomes a bit more complex when we look at players who previous management had very specific opinions about, namely Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine.
Both players inspire debate due to the nature of their game. LaVine's value is likely overstated due to his flashy style of play and shooting ability, while Rubio's has been criminally underrated throughout his career due to his more visceral poor shooting. This is not meant to knock LaVine, whose own potential is sky high, but it remains to be seen if he will be able to make a defensive improvement and if his shooting can match the previous year.
The two players' perceived values are also intertwined, as LaVine is viewed as the secondary ball-handler who could potentially fill in as lead if Rubio were moved in a trade. This, as we know, is a terrible idea but it one that has persisted none-the-less, even amidst last season in the proposed trade of Rubio to the Milwaukee Bucks for Khris Middleton.
However, how these two players fit really shapes the direction of our franchise. If we move on from Rubio, especially if another young point guard is the brought in to fulfill that role, then we are banking on further developmental years and high draft picks. If LaVine gets sent back to the bench, than it would likely mean that more veteran players have been acquired in free agency and LaVine (perhaps correctly) has been slightly boxed in the "bench gunner" role.
The point being is that we still really have no idea where the new front office stands on our current Timberwolves players and that our assumptions based upon the work of the previous front office will likely be shown to be false. Thibs may decide that LaVine has no hope on defense, that Wiggins and LaVine will never be able to work together to adequately run his defensive schemes, or that he needs a more shoot-first oriented point guard on offense.
We assumed that Thibs took this job, and he has publicly said this, due to his high opinion of the roster. But it's also true that he was extremely interested in the President of Basketball operations dual position where he has substantially more decision making power than simply as a head coach. The staff layoffs were just the first step in changing the makeup of the Timberwolves to fit Thibs' future vision of the franchise and outside of a few easy decisions, all we can really do is guess for what will come next.
This Week in... Things that are Great!!!
This past weekend the movie "The Nice Guys" premiered, which is a action-comedy kind of dark noir movie starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. I haven't had a chance to check it out yet, but it is likely in the same vein as a Kiss Kiss Bang Bang which was released in 2005 by the same director, Shane Black, who has since gone on to direct Iron Man 3. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang revitalized Robert Downey Jr.'s career, now of course he is perhaps the highest paid star in Hollywood thanks to the Iron Man series and the Avengers, and also features Val Kilmer.
The movie is hilarious, in the same vein of the wry action comedies that permeate the theaters today, although Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has a darker component to it. But if you found yourself interested in The Nice Guys, give this one a shot, or watch it just to check out an often unseen classic.