What Lies in the Shadow of the Statue…
This time of year is always tough for me as a Wolves follower. The past few summers have led me to become more of a spectator than a speculator. I’ve found it easier-and far less frustrating-to analyze the developments at hand rather than agonize over the possibilities. There are simply too many loose ends to commit to any particular line of thinking. At the risk of a Simmonsesque analogy, watching the Wolves off season calendar is much like watching Lost, another pastime of mine that ultimately ended in disappointment. Far too often I’ve rationalized story arcs and envisioned positive developments, only to realize that I’m not in control, just subject to the whims of another. Alas, Locke is never redeemed, Ben never receives his comeuppance and Kate never learns a goddamn thing.
Spoiler alert: This summer could be disastrous for the Minnesota Timberwolves. But here I am, speculating anyway, with the faint hope that my imagination aligns with the script. As Ben noted in the previous post, Ricky Rubio has become more comfortable with the idea of Wolfdom, but is also well aware of the teams developmental needs. What lies between the lines of his apparent change of heart is essentially an ultimatum: You have one year left to get your sh*t together. While some may scoff at the hubris of an unproven teenager, I fully support management’s relentless pursuit of Rubio. I don’t consider him a franchise player, however I do consider him a franchise changing player. Given the right pieces of course, which is why I’ve changed my mind completely about the Wolves pursuit of Rudy Gay.
I like Minnesota. The winters are harsh, but the summers are grand, the arts/music scene is robust and the people are…um,”nice”. It’s perfect for a poor and angsty person like myself who enjoys his days outside. But if I were a millionaire with my choice of locales, I probably wouldn’t be here. Apparently this is a sentiment I share with much of the league’s vaunted crop of free agents, which is why Gay is probably the Wolves best shot; a talented, yet middling player looking for a big payday. This is normally the type of scenario that submarines rebuilding franchises, but the fact of the matter is that such moves are made by GM’s who must do something to establish a foundation and appease a dwindling fan base. It’s the lesser of two evils, the other being the use of cap space to absorb another team’s blunder, specifically Elton Brand. Given the increasing possibility that Evan Turner-much like Rubio-may fall into our lap and allow us to keep Al Jefferson, Gay may be the final piece to a respectable basketball team.
There’s been talk of trading our stalwart post presence bceause he and Kevin Love can’t coexist, but maybe this tandem deserves another chance. Maybe they couldn’t work together because of a barren perimeter that didn’t keep opposing defenses honest. Perhaps the floor would open up with the acquisition of two quality wingmen and a prodigious point guard. The 2011-12 Minnesota Timberwolves could consist of Ricky Rubio, Evan Turner, Rudy Gay, Kevin Love & Al Jefferson. It could return Corey Brewer, Ramon Sessions, Ryan Gomes and Ryan Hollins to their natural roles of contributing bench players who can provide an effective 15 minutes rather than be exposed over the course of 35. It could turn us into a playoff team. It really could happen.
Or this could be like the time I thought the skeletons in the cave were Jack & Kate, who sacrificed themselves to save the island from imminent peril. I was wrong.