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Tuesday Cup of Canis

Let’s catch up on some of the under the radar stories from the past week.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

After yet another long road trip, the Minnesota Timberwolves return home later tonight to host their first of two straight games at Target Center (tonight against the Hornets and then tomorrow against the Raptors). After that, it’s roughly a week off for the NBA All-Star break, which should give plenty of players on the Wolves roster a much-needed chance to recharge and refocus prior to their playoff push (did I really just type that?)

Anyway, before we recap some of the under the radar news stories from the last week, I’d like to take a moment to just give thanks and appreciate how much more enjoyable this season has been than basically any season I’ve covered over the last six years:

As the great Alan Horton showed in the tweet above, the Timberwolves have DOUBLED their win total through 57 games from last year to this year. Minnesota is now just second (behind the Cleveland Cavaliers) for most improved winning percentage from 2020-21 to 2021-22. While this season has still had it’s fair share of bad losses and frustrating story lines, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on how much worse things used to be (seriously — if you’re bored, go look at the Timberwolves’ game-by-game schedule over the last twenty years... it’s BLEAK).

My point here is pretty simple: 30-27 is 30-27.

I, too, can think of a handful of games that got away from the Wolves that could have ultimately boosted their record (the loss in Memphis comes to mind), but after firing their POBO less than a week before media day and having their biggest free agent signings be their own restricted free agents, I would have sold a kidney last September if it meant having a Timberwolves team above .500 after Valentine’s Day.

With 25 games left, there’s still a lot of work to be done and a lot of issues to clean up, but unless an asteroid hits Target Center sometime before Easter, the Wolves are going to put an end to the “always bet the under” narrative and should reward us with at least 1-2 extra games after the regular season concludes.

Rosas Returns

Amidst all the NBA Trade Deadline chaos last week was this fun little story from Marc Stein, who reported that FORMER Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas had recently been hired by the New York Knicks as a consultant. The story dropped on the Wednesday before the deadline, which may explain why it didn’t pick up as much buzz locally (or nationally), but nevertheless it’s an interesting move for all parties involved.

As you may (or may not) know, the Knicks are in Year 2 of their own Thibs Era, and it’s starting to trend in a similar direction as other Thibs eras from the past. With the front office and coaching staff in New York not seeing eye-to-eye lately, it’ll be interesting to see what role Rosas now plays in determining the future of the Knicks franchise. While Gersson’s tenure in Minnesota did end abruptly, there’s no doubt that his fingerprints were all over this franchise and this roster, so maybe this latest hiring by the Knicks is exactly what they need to get some good PR with their fanbase.

Sachin Speaks

Another somewhat interesting bit of Wolves-related news from over the weekend was the podcast that our good friend Darren “Doogie” Wolfson did with Timberwolves Executive VP of Basketball Operations Sachin Gupta. Minnesota obviously made no moves at the trade deadline, so there isn’t TOO much for Gupta to share, but it’s definitely worth a listen and includes some rather interesting nuggets about the future of guys like Patrick Beverley, Chris Finch, and D’Angelo Russell.

Bolmaro Back Down

Alright, this isn’t THAT interesting, but it is something that I simply cannot stop thinking about in terms of the Timberwolves and their long-term future. As we all know by now, Leandro Bolmaro was selected 23rd in the 2020 NBA Draft (ironically by the Knicks) before being sent to Minnesota in a draft night trade. I say this only to point out that Bolmaro was actually selected a handful of picks BEFORE Jaden McDaniels (as well as players like Immanuel Quickley and Desmond Bane).

We’re roughly 12 months removed from the 2020 NBA Draft, and while some of the players from that class have clearly popped as potential stars in this league, the book on Bolmaro is still relatively unwritten. The 21-year old from Argentina didn’t play in the NBA last season (which technically makes this season his rookie year), so expectations for him and his production should be low. No arguments there.

But... I do truly wonder what this coaching staff and this front office (sans Gersson Rosas) actually thinks about the 6’6” small forward. While he’s shown flashes down in Iowa as a great on-ball defender and playmaker, his jump shot is a serious work in progress, and I just wonder what his potential role looks like next year if the Wolves do indeed retain the services of Patrick Beverley, D’Angelo Russell, Jaylen Nowell, and Jordan McLaughlin.

Again, there’s still plenty of time for a rookie to develop and get better, but for a team looking to build upon a successful season later this summer with some aggressive moves, it’ll be fascinating to see if the Wolves lean into the Bolmaro experience or if he becomes an asset that allows Sachin Gupta (or whoever is calling the shots come July) to address more serious needs on the roster.