Good morning friends. A little of this and a little of that for your morning reading.
We’ve now discussed the Luol Deng signing at some length here at the site. I’m fairly ambivalent; a minimum signing for a guy who used to be good...eh. We’ll see if he has anything left. As for the Thibs and “Timberbulls” aspects, I suppose it strikes me as not that big a deal. It’s been fairly clear for a while that Thibs is not particularly creative as a personnel man, so this comes as no surprise. Obviously Deng is a comfortable acquisition for Thibs, which has it’s pros and cons.
The wider NBA world, however, has had plenty to say, so I thought I’d throw a few links your way.
Matt Moore and Rob Perez discussed the situation at The Action Network. It covers Deng and really the whole awkwardness surrounding the Wolves. A couple of lines from Moore:
There’s this theory in social psychology called terror management. Effectively, whenever someone’s aware of their own mortality, they express their core values more strongly. That’s what we’re seeing with Tom Thibodeau.
And a bit later about the Wolves locker room:
It will smell of money and Bengay, and will operate with a very clear dichotomy of the young dudes and the old guys. Like Chicago in 2016-17 and other teams before it, creating this kind of separation between the old guys and the young dudes rarely works well. It increases division and entrenchment. Not great.
Haley O’Shaughnessy in The Ringer:
It’s as if Thibodeau fails to relate to his younger players and sees his former players as a conduit to get through to them. Or maybe it’s impossible to recruit when your team has no substantial cap space and last season’s locker room was a public disaster. Money talks and players talk; right now neither is working in Minnesota’s benefit.
Overall the piece suggests that Thibodeau’s stuff (and his old players) no longer work in today’s NBA, an argument not without merit.
Chris Herring in 538 points out that:
With four of Thibodeau’s former players on the roster, the club again sits in a second-place tie for the largest collection of former pupils that a coach has ever accumulated.
Herring suggests the Deng signing might be worthwhile if he can help defensively, but expresses (rightly) more concern about Derrick Rose, his fit, and the possibility of taking minutes from Tyus Jones.
Meanwhile, Thibs of course does not care what others think or say. In a Steve Aschburner piece on NBA.com,
“People are always going to talk about different things,” Thibodeau said during a break at the annual coaches meeting organized by the National Basketball Coaches Association. “But these aren’t decisions that are just made on a whim.”
However, it’s also clear that his experience with Deng, as with other former Bulls on the roster, matters to him.
“He’s only 33,” the Wolves coach said. “He takes great care of himself. He knows how to prepare for the season. For us, the fact that he can play [multiple spots] and he’s a veteran, it’s a long season, you like to have players like that. And he’s familiar with what we want to do.”
Thibs is quoted twice more in the piece using the word “familiar” in reference to players, and it’s clear he believes that’s a positive feature, which it may indeed be. As long as guys can still play.
Meanwhile, we inch closer to the season. The Wolves announced that media day will be September 24th, with full practices beginning the next day.
The Storm finished off their sweep of the Mystics on Wednesday night to claim the WNBA title. Season MVP Breanna Stewart had 30 in the clincher, and was named Finals MVP to go along with her regular season award.
The Storm were just too good up front for the Mystics, and a special shout out to former Lynx Natasha Howard, who was dominant up front for Seattle. She had 29 in game three, and averaged 18 per over the series. Very happy to see her get her shot and take advantage of it. She was a big factor for the Storm this season.
Meanwhile, the All-WNBA first and second teams were announced. Maya Moore was the only Lynx named, she was a second teamer this season. Frankly, Sylvia Fowles was probably better and likely deserved a spot, but positional issues came into play. The two centers named were Liz Cambage on the first team, and Brittney Griner on the second. It’s hard to argue with that (though I would have put Fowles on ahead of Griner,) but it left no room for the Lynx star.
Remember, the Women’s World Cup (formerly World Championships) take place in France beginning on September 22nd. The U.S. will be looking to defend their title.