As I mentioned during my game recap on Wednesday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves have a tendency to zig while other franchise zag. That’s not a compliment, either.
While countless teams outside of the playoff picture have strategically shut down their star players for injuries that wouldn’t even slow down a 7-year old, the Wolves have instead focused the last month on featuring their two max players as much as possible.
In this same breath of zigging vs. zagging, a handful of these same teams not factoring into the playoff picture are franchises facing monumental decisions this summer at key leadership positions, most notably General Manager. While I’m no Larry Coon, I don’t believe it says anywhere in the CBA when a team can and should start looking to fill vital positions. If the person in charge isn’t doing their job, competent teams usually fire them and immediately start looking for their replacement.
Take New Orleans for example. After the colossal mess of the Anthony Davis trade saga, the Pelicans fired GM Dell Demps on February 15. They immediately began laying the groundwork for a comprehensive search for his new successor after the move. Since then, the Pelicans have interviewed countless quality candidates, including David Griffin (formerly of the Cleveland Cavaliers), Larry Harris (Golden State Warriors), Trajan Langdon (Brooklyn Nets), and Gersson Rosas (Houston Rockets).
Think about that for a few seconds before your blood starts to boil. A franchise in disarray is still getting top notch candidates to interview for their open GM position, despite the fact that the first order of business for that new GM will be trading away Anthony bleeping Davis for cents on the dollar.
What about the Washington Wizards? While the Wolves have been rightfully bashed for years about how Glen Taylor oversees the franchise, it’s not like the Wizards have been the embodiment of class, professionalism, and sustained success. Washington finally pulled the plug on the 16-year reign of former GM Ernie Grunfield and in two short days since, big names like Griffin, Marc Eversley (Philadelphia 76ers), Troy Weaver (Oklahoma City Thunder), and Tim Connelly (Denver Nuggets) have all been linked as interested candidates for the vacant job.
My point here in referencing both the Pelicans and Wizards is this: regardless of how frustrated you are with the Wolves, there’s no real argument to be made that either of these franchises can offer a better job than the Wolves. The Pelicans are being forced to trade a once in a generation talent and embark on a massive rebuild, while the Wizards have multiple issues themselves, including the one contract in the NBA that is definitely worse than Andrew Wiggins’ deal (John Wall).
And yet, these maligned franchises have surprisingly been proactive as of late, getting a jump on their selection process because, at least from an outsider’s perspective, they realize just how important finding the right GM truly is. A lot of people can win NBA Coach of the Year — hell, Mike Brown, Byron Scott, and Avery Johnson all did. But NBA Executive of the Year? That list is far more exclusive, with premier names like R.C. Buford, Bob Myers, and Masai Ujiri dominating the award over the last decade.
So, how do the Wolves factor back into all of this? Well, as it currently stands, the local franchise continues to do what they do best: zig while others zag. While many NBA reporters, including Jon Krawczynski and Marc Stein, have gone on the record for months now stating Scott Layden is not likely to return next season, that hasn’t stopped the current GM of the franchise from overseeing the latest trade deadline and signing players like Cam Reynolds to contracts that add future money to the books.
If Layden is the guy going forward, that’s one thing. But as many insiders much more plugged in than you or I have reported, he’s clearly not the long-term solution for Minnesota, and if that’s the case, what the hell are we doing here? Once the trade deadline wraps up, the job responsibilities of a GM, especially one overseeing a rebuild, is to immediately begin focusing on the draft and free agency. Countless execs around the league at this very moment are meeting with scouts, compiling information on college players, and navigating a plan for the moment the clock strikes midnight on July 1.
If Scott Layden isn’t part of the plan going forward, aren’t these days and weeks leading up to the draft being completely wasted?
The devil’s advocate play here is that Glen is indeed working behind the scenes to locate his next lead decision maker for the franchise, to which my response to that would be “Lol right.” Unless Glen plans on hiring Dirk Nowitzki as his next GM, I’m fairly dubious that he has been putting in the necessary man hours as of late. (The Taylor’s gave Dirk a nice goodbye gift in Dallas on Wednesday night.)
As with many things in Wolvesdom, I guess we’ll see. The team has one more week of basketball before it’s “1-2-3-Cancun!” Will Glen finally pull the trigger next Thursday? Friday? Sometime in May? Whenever the decision on Layden is officially made, it’ll be up to the next commander in chief to navigate this franchise yet again out of the dungeons of the Western Conference. The problem is, with how this process has currently been botched, that GM will likely already be weeks behind their peers.
The balls in your court, Glen.