2009-10 NBA Season Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves



Written by Paul Banks of NBC Chicago and the Washington Times, and David Kay of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
All other e-mail, including advertising and link proposals, send to: wpc112@gmail.com




Minnesota Timberwolves (Last Year: 24-58)

Depth Chart:

C: Al Jefferson/Ryan Hollins/Mark Blount

PF: Kevin Love/Brian Cardinal/Oleksy Pecherov

SF: Ryan Gomes/Damien Wilkins

SG: Corey Brewer or Wayne Ellington

PG: Jonny Flynn/Ramon Sessions/Chucky Atkins/Antonio Daniels

Head Coach: Kurt Rambis (1st year)

2009-2010 Team Salary: $61.5 million

Projected 2010-2011 Team Salary: approximately $32.5 million



Off-Season Grade: Fail

At first, I was really excited when the T-Wolves dealt Randy Foye and Mike Miller, and possessed the fifth and sixth picks in the 2009 NBA Draft. Minnesota was poised to add at least three quality young players (they had four first-round picks) to their already young core. Then, Kahn shocked everybody by using his first three selections on point guards. We all know how the Rubio situation turned out so I'll leave that one alone, and to his defense, Ty Lawson was dealt for a future pick. But that draft day maneuver sparked what would be a very active and somewhat confusing offseason.

Minnesota was involved in four trades following the draft in what was ultimately Kahn jockeying for future cap flexibility while really not worrying at all about his current roster. How else can you explain dealing Quentin Richardson, who probably should have been the Wolves' starting shooting guard, for the worthless Mark Blount? Same can be said about acquiring a fourth point guard in Antonio Daniels in order to shed Darius Songaila's salary for the 2010-2011 season. By putting themselves in a better financial position, Minnesota ensured they will be one of the worst teams in the league.

Kahn made a late free-agency move by signing Ramon Sessions to a 4-year, $16 million deal in hopes of offsetting Rubio's absence. Sessions is a definite upgrade at the position, but I wonder how a 4-year deal will affect Rubio's well-known hesitancy to join the T-Wolves with two young point guards already on the roster. This Rubio situation is not going to end well in Minnesota.



2009-2010 Outlook:

Minnesota's 2008-09 season pretty much came to an end on Feb. 8, 2009 when Al Jefferson was helped off the court after tearing his ACL. A healthy Jefferson alongside second-year power forward Kevin Love gives the T-Wolves a young, talented albeit undersized frontcourt. There's nothing sexy about Ryan Gomes' game, but he is an effective fourth or fifth option in the starting lineup. Flynn should have every opportunity to run this team from the get-go and will be in the discussion for Rookie of the Year. He should add some stability to the point guard position that Foye failed to do in his time in the Twin Cities.

The real question is at the two-guard. Wayne Ellington is a pure shooter, but a rookie so you never know how his transition to the NBA will go. Corey Brewer seems to be the other option, but he is not a threat from the outside, and like Big Al, recovering from a torn ACL.



Looking Ahead to the Summer of 2010:

Besides the inevitable Ricky Rubio buyout rumors, Minnesota is sitting in a good situation for next summer. With the expected declining NBA salary cap, the T-Wolves figure to have around $20 million to spend in free agency. However, what marquee free agent is going to want to come join the re-building process in Minnesota? Kahn is better suited taking an Oklahoma City Thunder-like approach and saving the cap space to hopefully re-sign the younger players he drafts rather than overpay for mediocre free agents who will trade winning for making a buck, which is the only type of free agent they are likely to land anyway.

Timberwolves fans are hoping the team ends up with one of the top 10 picks in next year's draft to continue the youth movement. If by some miracle Minnesota ends up drafting in the teens, their pick will go to the Clippers in the brilliant Kevin McHale-executed trade that sent Sam Cassell to L.A. for Marko Jaric. (T-Wolves fans will now slam their head through a glass window.) Minnesota could potentially have three first-rounders depending on the restricted picks they have coming their way.

2009-10 NBA Power Ranking: 28th



Written by Paul Banks of NBC Chicago and the Washington Times, and David Kay of the The Sports Bank.
Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
All other e-mail, including advertising and link proposals, send to: wpc112@gmail.com




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Looking Ahead to the Summer of 2010:

Besides the inevitable Ricky Rubio buyout rumors, Minnesota is sitting in a good situation for next summer. With the expected declining NBA salary cap, the T-Wolves figure to have around $20 million to spend in free agency. However, what marquee free agent is going to want to come join the re-building process in Minnesota? Kahn is better suited taking an Oklahoma City Thunder-like approach and saving the cap space to hopefully re-sign the younger players he drafts rather than overpay for mediocre free agents who will trade winning for making a buck, which is the only type of free agent they are likely to land anyway.

Timberwolves fans are hoping the team ends up with one of the top 10 picks in next year's draft to continue the youth movement. If by some miracle Minnesota ends up drafting in the teens, their pick will go to the Clippers in the brilliant Kevin McHale-executed trade that sent Sam Cassell to L.A. for Marko Jaric. (T-Wolves fans will now slam their head through a glass window.) Minnesota could potentially have three first-rounders depending on the restricted picks they have coming their way.

2009-10 NBA Power Ranking: 28th



Written by Paul Banks of NBC Chicago and the Washington Times, and David Kay of the The Sports Bank.
Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
All other e-mail, including advertising and link proposals, send to: wpc112@gmail.com








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