August 31st. With the calendar about to flip to September, it’s soon time to start getting focused on the season to come. Timberwolves President and Coach Tom Thibodeau has re-emerged, of course, at the Minnesota State Fair, cause that’s how we do:
A snippet of my chat with #Twolves coach/POBO Thibs from yesterday. By the way, second year big Justin Patton has been working out with/vs. free agent Cole Aldrich. pic.twitter.com/EtbYSqFHSF— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) August 28, 2018
It would be nice if Patton was in fact ready for training camp, if only because I would like to actually see him playing basketball, but I’m not holding my breath.
Meanwhile, news breaks last night: The Rockets have traded Ryan Anderson and De’Anthony Melton to the Suns for Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss. The deal saves the Rockets a couple of million this season, and depending on what they do with Chriss, perhaps more in 2019--20. I’m not sure what the Suns plan to do, if anything, with Anderson, especially if they are still trying to develop Dragan Bender. If they are high on Melton, a steal of a second round pick, it makes some sense.
Three of the guys did a three-man weave the other day. I wasn’t involved, but I was intrigued enough to give my answers to Kyle’s questions:
Grade the Wolves off-season: The guys were all in the “B” range, but since I’m a pessimistic bastard, I’ll give them a “C+.” While I agree that most of the things they actually did—drafting Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop, signing Anthony Tolliver and James Nunally—were positives, it’s the things they didn’t do that will likely come back to haunt. They didn’t shake up the roster, they are still stuck with that massive Wiggins contract, Thibs is still in charge of everything. Glen Taylor is still the owner and nobody likes each other.
A friend of mine suggested that what Glen should have done is find the best available assistant GM (Mike Zarren?), tell him: “Look, we’ve got Karl-Anthony Towns for the next six years (presumably.) I don’t care about anything else. Just build a winner around him. I’ll pay up to the tax and maybe over it for a contender. Make it happen.”
He’s probably right. Waiting another year to do that (if he ever does that) is probably a waste.
Still, it wasn’t a bad off-season. Except Derrick Rose.
Will any of the new additions average 15 minutes per game? Probably at least one of them will; I suppose my bet would be on Tolliver. None of them might average that in games they come off the bench, but inevitably there will be injuries that force someone into the starting lineup for enough games to push their numbers up. If Jimmy Butler misses his usual 15 games or so, it will be interesting to see who gets slotted in.
Off-Court Stuff: It isn’t good. Thibs is a non-communicator, everyone is frustrated with everyone else, and I don’t think they had much fun last season despite making the playoffs and winning 47 games. Of course, winning can change things, and if they perform well this season, a lot of that stuff will be mitigated. But there’s a fun tax in having Thibs in charge which both fans and players have to pay. I love Butler, and he’s impatient and was often unhappy with Wiggins and sometimes Towns last season. Towns will eventually sign his extension, but he’s not exactly thrilled with things either.
Over/Under 44.5: That’s a good number. Things might be even tougher in the West this season. It really depends on health. Yes, Butler missed 23 games last season, which was a real problem, but otherwise they were remarkably healthy. If they stay reasonably healthy, I’ll take the over.
Butler still on the squad next season: My bet is no. This season will determine a ton about what the future holds, but my guess is he goes elsewhere to team up with another star or two, unless the Wolves take a major step forward into something resembling contention this year.
Both semi-final best of fives resume tonight. The scene shifts to Washington for game three of the Mystics-Dream series that is even at one game apiece. This has been compelling basketball, and hopefully Mystics star Elena Delle Donne will be able to go after suffering a bone bruise to her knee in game two. She has been dominating in this series so far, and her absence down the stretch hurt the Mystics in their game two loss.
The Storm head to Phoenix with a two-zero advantage over the Mercury. Game two was an overtime classic that featured a terrific battle between all-time great Diana Taurasi, and this year’s MVP Breanna Stewart. So much terrific star talent in this series, and not so much defense that it really gets in the way.
Meanwhile, they held the WNBA draft lottery, and Las Vegas will have the top pick for the third straight year. After grabbing star-in-the-making A’ja Wilson last draft, Vegas has the chance to add another piece of a young, interesting team.
The Lynx are slated to draft sixth, higher than they have in years. Given their needs (and the need to reconfigure relatively quickly) it will be interesting to see what GM Cheryl Reeve does with that pick, and whether the Lynx wind up using it for themselves or in a trade.
What’s on your mind today?