For weeks we have been speculating that either Luke Ridnour or J.J. Barea would be on the move in order to fill the team’s many non-point guard related needs. We’ve also been hearing for a few days now that the Wolves were attempting to regain the services of one Corey Brewer, either by signing him outright or via a sign-and-trade.
Well, according to multiple reports, the both events have come to pass. In a nimble bit of salary cap ballet, the team orchestrated a sign-and-trade for Kevin Martin and sent Ridnour and his expiring $4.6 million deal to Milwaukee. This created the cap room needed to sign Brewer to a three-year deal reportedly in the $15 million range.
Some preliminary thoughts on this. My deep love for Corey Brewer is fairly well documented. When I watch him play, I experience a commingled sensation of exhilaration and terror and hilarity that is pretty much unique to him and that makes me really love basketball. So I’m happy that I’ll once again get to see him play every game. Especially after losing Andrei Kirilenko (sad, sad), acquiring Martin and Shabazz Muhammad and re-signing Chase Budinger, the team badly needed a high energy wing defender; Brewer is that times a trillion. Brewer’s gambling, super-caffeinated defensive style was probably most at home on George Karl’s Nuggets; he has yet to show that he is either a true shutdown two or a consistent system defender. But: he will fight his way around screens (with terrifying abandon) and he is long and ferocious enough to get all up in the face of any opposing wing unfortunate enough to draw him. No other guards on the Wolves roster can say the same.
The downside, as you probably already know, is that Brewer is not a good shooter and probably never will be. (If you could only just combine Brewer’s and Martin’s best qualities! That would be so awesome! Of course you couldn’t get him for $5 million a year either.) A backcourt pairing of Brewer and Ricky Rubio would be truly fearsome defensive spectacle–all flying limbs and bloody passion–but would also produce a lot of terrible looking shots. An offense can survive with one awful shooter on the floor. Two, as we discovered last year, is a different ballgame. (That said, I can certainly imagine lineups consisting of Rubio and Brewer along with either Martin or Budinger that could both defend and put up points.)
One last point about this deal. I, personally would have rather seen Barea get moved than Ridnour. Between Barea, Martin and Muhammad, not to mention Kevin Love, the team is now a bit short on natural ball-movers and a bit long on high-volume shooters for my tastes. Unless Adelman and Rubio can really turn up the magic, the dream of fluid, Euro-style ball-sharing may be dead. (Incidentally, Brewer is an underrated passer within the context of a half-court offense. He should really help in the offensive flow department.) Perhaps because of his incredible will to play through pain or personal trauma, or because the thankless yeoman’s labor he put in guarding vastly larger players these past two seasons, or simply because on some terrible Wolves teams he was often the only adult on the floor–I have a real soft-spot for Ridnour. I realize that his expiring deal, and the fact that he is not a 5’10” ball-stopping gunner (sorry J.J.) made him a more valuable trade asset, but I’m sad to see him go.