NBA Free Agency, Player Analysis

Wolves Sign Luke Ridnour: See You in June, Miami Heat

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After trading Al Jefferson to the Utah Jazz for two first-rounders, a newfound $25 million or so in cap room, and a chance to give Michael Beasley some serious burn (by the way, Kevin Love says, B-Easy or no, he’s not feeling another year of sixth-man limbo–anybody know how this is gonna work?) David Kahn strongly hinted that the party was not over. “We’re only about halfway through this exercise,” he said on the eve of the Jefferson deal. Apparently an essential facet of the exercise was signing Luke Ridnour.  AP’s John Krawczynski reports on that:

With so many baby-faced players on a roster that is in the middle of a massive overhaul, team president David Kahn put a priority on adding some experience to help the young Minnesota Timberwolves grow together.

The first veteran addition didn’t come cheap. The Timberwolves agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal with free agent point guard Luke Ridnour, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

This probably also tells us that Ramon Sessions, the Wolves current backup point guard, is on his way to a (hopefully) happier place. Krawczynski continues:

The deal likely means that Sessions, who signed a contract nearly identical to Ridnour’s last summer, will be traded. Sessions’ agent told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he has heard about discussions with several teams, but a deal has yet to be completed.

Let me tell you what this makes me wonder. Over their careers, Ridnour’s and Sessions’s stats are awfully similar (Ridnour’s sample size, of course, being quite a bit bigger than Ramon’s). Sessions boasts a career PER of 15.6 to Ridnour’s 14.5 Sessions’s true shooting percentage is .519, while Ridnour’s is .512. Dimes? Sessions’s assist rate is 31% while Ridnour’s is 29.7%. Turnover rate? 15.9% for Sessions, 15.5 for Ridnour. Even defensively, the two players’ profiles are remarkably similar.

So what’s this about? As mentioned above, veteran leadership was something sorely lacking from the Wolves’ lineup last year; Ridnour certainly provides that–although Sessions, despite his relative youth, offered a quiet, steady contrast to Jonny Flynn’s exuberant vocal stylee. I certainly hope this isn’t an overreaction to Sessions’s disappointing stats last season and Ridnour’s career year (Luke’s PER and true shooting percentage were significantly higher last year than in any of his previous six seasons–which suggests that they’re more than likely an aberration).

Because if anyone got a rotten deal last year, it wasn’t Jefferson or Kevin Love, but Sessions.  For an entire season, he watched from the sidelines as Flynn received on-the-job training from the Wolves’ starting unit. Ramon, meanwhile, had to make do with the truly impressive cast D-Leaguers and Eurostars on the Wolves’ bench–and I’ll tell you, that crew could suck the life out of anybody’s game. Over and over, Sessions found himself the most competent scorer on the floor, forced to shoulder the man’s share of the offensive burden.

Suffice to say, this did not play to his strengths. Watching Sessions’s game slowly deteriorate after thousands of minutes spent next to Ryan Hollins and Sasha Pavlovic was one of the least appetizing facets of the Wolves long, grisly season. I’m pretty sure that Ramon Sessions is an awfully good basketball player. He doesn’t deserve what he got (and what, it seems, he’s getting) here in Minneapolis.

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0 thoughts on “Wolves Sign Luke Ridnour: See You in June, Miami Heat

  1. Can’t say I’m surprised seeing as how this has been rumored for a while, but really, Luke Ridnour? Yes, I suppose he is a steady veteran and a good locker room presence but seeing as how this team shipped out Ryan Gomes two weeks ago because he was too old and lacked upside at 27 and Kahn said this team doesn’t need guys like that, I’m not quite sure how the Ridnour signing gels with that logic.

    Here’s what Hollinger said about Sessions before this season:

    “Sessions established himself as one of the league’s best young point guards, building on his strong finish to his rookie campaign by ranking eighth in pure point rating with solid supporting numbers. At times it seemed the Bucks were the last ones to notice this, as he played behind the obviously inferior Luke Ridnour for much of the year and averaged fewer minutes on the season.”

    Apparently the Bucks were the second to last to notice.

    Methinks the real problem is that Ramon Sessions was too close to Flynn in terms of age and production, and that the players preferred playing with Sessions, who is more of a true point guard (99% of players, if the PG is mediocre anyway, would prefer to play with the mediocre PG who passes them the ball). Kahn thought Flynn would be a lot better and so he’d have a star and a very solid backup, instead he ended up with no pecking order at all. So now he assumes he is fixing the mistake by signing Ridnour, who theoretically is too old and too mediocre to threaten Jonny as the starter. So along with Al, another addition by subtraction I guess. One question – exactly how many times can a 15-win team add by subtracting?

  2. Couldn’t agree more with this take on Sessions – he got a raw deal this year. One thing Ridnour brings is better long-range shooting, but I’d really rather give Ramon another try. I think he was one of the wolves few good players who needed a little more talent around him to show off his skills. He’s probably a good complementary piece, but not when the wolves were so awful.

    I’m guessing if we did keep him around this year he would’ve bounced back statistically (somewhat), but the coaching staff probably doesn’t want to bench Jonny Flynn in his second year. I like Ramon’s game, but it seems like he’s definitely on his way out. Bummer.

  3. It’s like you people didn’t even watch the games. Amazing! Johnny Flynn is a much better point than either Sessions or Ridnour and that is why they are backups at best. Flynn and Rubio will be 2 of the better point guards the Wolves have had in a long time and I hope we keep them both for a very long time.

  4. I for one feel that this is a terrible change. Why give out a bad contract to a player we don’t need? We need a real veteran point guard. I mean a real one, not a 29 year old pup that hasn’t done much in his career. I think they want somebody to teach Flynn to play so he can be worth something if we need to trade him. Or to help Rubio if this whole thing actually pans out (hopefully he does). Either way, I don’t like the idea of handing out another 4 year contract that we don’t intend on holding on to.

    One more thing, I don’t know what the contract looks like, but it better be front loaded. That way we can have an easier time trading him later, or have his cap hit smaller when the rest of our players want their money.

  5. I think I hit the bottom again last night as a displaced Wolves fan living in Los Angeles. I was watching the summer league game against Sacramento and C-Webb was interviewing Kahn. Depressing. Kahn just comes across as an unlikeable guy. Couple that with his recent moves and the fact that nobody seems to know what he is doing, and it’s becoming increasingly hard to stick by this team. And then I’m watching Cousins demolish people in the summer league, and I’m left wondering – what do I have to look forward to? When will the bleeding stop?

  6. Grabbing Ridnour after a great year in Milwaukee smacks of us giving Mike James a contract on the back of a career year in Toronto.

    And effectively swapping him for Sessions, who has been woefully underused, is a sideways move at best.

  7. I don’t mean to turn this into another Ricky Rubio discussion… but I find it amusing that a previous commenter said “Flynn and Rubio will be 2 of the better point guards the Wolves have had in a long time…”. Let’s all be realistic. There is no way that the two of them will ever co-exist on this team. They are too similar in playing style, and neither is going to be willing to give away the starting spot. Flynn will already have 2 years under his belt, as a starter. And Rubio is already dictating who we construct our team with. Which is a joke. Not only because of the fact that he isn’t currently on the team… but more so, because he never will be. No matter how much bologna Kahn feeds us, he doesn’t want to be here. He wants to be on a competitive team. Or at the very least, be on a sub-par team that is in a decent climate. Oh… and then there is the fact that he can’t put up any kind of numbers, on a EURO team. And yes, I know that the Euro leagues have improved drastically over the past 5 to 10 years. And I know that everyone wants to point out the anomale that was Brandon Jennings, last year. But until he puts on a T-Wolves jersey, and does the things that Jennings did… he is just a pompous, arrogant, underachiever.

    As for this whole Ridnour thing… I agree with everything that has been said already. Practically identical contracts, stats, and abilities. But if I was David Kahn, and had my choice of the two (and one of the things that I keep preaching to my fans, is that we are trying to get younger and more atheletic), I think I would give Sessions the edge. I mean, besides just having youth and atheleticism on his side, he also has a year of chemistry under his belt. Love, Brewer, Ellington, and Milicic have all played extensive minutes with Ramon. Hell, they even played some two point sets… so Johnny has too.

    Don’t get me wrong… I think Luke is a great player and person. I have always liked his game. But what really is the upgrade here? We aren’t losing salary. We aren’t making an upgrade of any sort. And we aren’t getting younger or more atheletic. I just don’t get it.

    I think it boils down to the fact that the Wolves made two bad hires. Kahn, who I completely agree with our friend in L.A., is just a greasy little jerk and doesn’t seem to have an unscripted answer to anything. And Rambis. I think Kurt is a GREAT coach. I think if he had the right group of guys, he could be the next Phil Jackson. But I don’t think he was the right coach, for this team. We had decent talent. We were still a couple pieces away from being competitive. But we were on the right track. And now we have blown the team to pieces, because we are so enamored with “the Spanish Savior” and Kurt only knows how to run one offense.

    Maybe I am wrong… maybe we ARE moving in the right direction. I sure hope so. I am so tired of watching a team that doesn’t seem to know what the heck they are doing… both ON and OFF the court!

  8. The way the Wolves treat their best players is just inexplicable. You know, before last season Hollinger projected Sessions to be leading a mediocre team with 18 points and eight assists. Instead he’s been on the bench getting demotivated and having to go out for 15 minutes every night surrounded by crappy role players. Despite that, he is being diplomatic when asked about a trade, saying as far as he knows he’s a Timberwolf next season. I can’t think of too many players in the NBA getting a worse deal than that. And I didn’t even mention Kevin Love sitting for Hollins and Darko Milicic yet.

    The problem is there just does not seem to be any kind of communication or shared vision between Kahn and Rambis. I’d pin the blame for that mainly on Kahn. His so-called masterplan changes from month to month as more an more botched and ill-thought-out moves pile up on top of each other. He’s in over his head and if he eventually succeeds in getting a roster that keeps its head above water, it’ll only because he’s bashed his head against a brick wall enough times to make a dent.

    Until then, Rambis is going to have to keep failing to get the best from a roster bloated in some positions and weak in others – one that has no real identity or sense of direction and a playing style that is ill suited to his coaching.

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