A bit of this and that for your Friday:
If you somehow missed it, Neil covered the retirement announcement of Lindsay Whalen, who will end her playing career at the conclusion of the season. The Lynx have two regular season games left, tonight at Connecticut, and Sunday at home against the Washington Mystics, which could very well be Whalen’s last appearance as a player in Minnesota.
Neil suggests that the Minnesota basketball Mount Rushmore is George Mikan, Kevin Garnett, Kevin McHale, and Whalen. This seems right to me, but does anyone want to make an argument for anyone else? Flip Saunders and Seimone Augustus are the other two that come to mind as possibilities. If Maya Moore spends her entire career with the Lynx, she will likely need a spot. What say you?
In an interview with the Athletic, Glen Taylor had this to say about Whalen:
I’m just very happy for her. She’s such a wonderful person and I’m not just talking about basketball player. I know her and her husband and have become very close to them. With her opportunity to go over to the University, that’s great for the state. That’s great for her. She’s been so important to our history that I’m just happy to be part of that association.
It’s clear that the Lynx will have to do some rebuilding on the fly. Whalen will be on the Gophers sideline, Augustus might or might not be back, but is no longer the impact player she once was. Danielle Robinson played well for the Lynx, and will hopefully return healthy next season, but they need to revamp the back court somehow.
They also need to do so quickly. There is no shame in taking a step back after their incredible run over the last seven seasons, but when you employ Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles, you don’t have the luxury of an extended rebuild. Taking advantage of their remaining prime seasons is vitial, so the Lynx will have to be creative this off-season.
The NBA of course is in its dead period, so very little news to report or discuss. ESPN is filling space somehow, and one of the things they did was to predict where next summer’s free agents would land. Their “experts” think Jimmy Butler is almost certain to move elsewhere for the 2019-20 season.
Now, this is just summer space filling; who knows what will happen this season to change things? But I’ll say this: I agree. Right now, if I had to guess, I would say it’s significantly more likely that Butler moves on than he re-signs with the Wolves. Of course, I don’t know much about it, but I do know that the reported “bad vibes” around the Wolves really do exist. Of course, winning cures a lot of ills, so a terrific season could change everything, but I suspect another low seed, first round playoff exit will mean the end of the Butler era, and perhaps the end of the Thibs era in Minnesota.
Given that, how do you approach this season? Do you hope for that huge season that could convince Butler to re-up for five (gulp) years? Of course we all want to win, and that would be a terrific outcome for this year, and would also probably solidify Thibodeau’s role.
Do you hope that it becomes clear by the new year that Butler is unlikely to stay, and look to cash him in by the deadline? Do you approach this season with sadness as it’s likely that, as good as the Butler trade was, it’s possible the Wolves will only get two years and perhaps two playoff series’ out of it?
It’s possible that 3/5ths of their starting lineup (Butler, Teague, Gibson) plus all of their bench veterans except Gorgui Dieng (Tyus Jones, Anthony Tolliver, Derrick Rose) will be out of contract next summer.
On that note, what else ya got?