Timberwolves 103, Suns 104: “Tear It Down”

Steve McPherson —  January 9, 2014 — 37 Comments

 SunsWolves

Note: The title of this post should not be construed as a statement that it’s time to blow up the team. Just read this poem by Jack Gilbert called “Tear It Down.”

Man, what happened? I mean, let’s be honest: The Wolves — in spite of getting Ronny Turiaf and Chase Budinger back, in spite of being on their home court, in spite of facing a team playing on the second night of a back-to-back after losing in Chicago and only two games into a five-game road trip, and at the beginning of a long road trip — never grabbed this one away from the Phoenix Suns. Their biggest lead? Nine points, while the Suns’ biggest lead was eight.

On the macro level, it begins with poor shooting. The Wolves’ three main scoring options — Kevin Martin, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic — ended the night just 16-52. Love was 4-20 and though Pek got it going a bit in the third quarter, he was 1-8 in the first half. Kevin Martin started torchingly, scoring 7 points in the first 2:11 of the game, a pace that would have yielded roughly 168 points, had he kept it up. Sadly, he did not.

The shooting woes early on were exacerbated by some dubious calls from the officials and — more significantly — the Wolves’ churlish reaction to said calls. It should be instructive that at the end of the first half, the Wolves had been called for eight fouls while the Suns had been called for nearly double, yet it was the Wolves who seemed off their game and pouty because of it. By the end of the game, Phoenix had been called for 30, Minnesota for 18. I’m about as forgiving of a basketball fan as you could find, more interested in the human nuances and dynamics of the game than straight wins and losses, but when it comes to this persecution complex the Wolves have, they just have to grow up. Refs gonna ref. Get over it.

But let’s just fast forward to the last 2:44 of the game, because that’s where the wheels completely came off. It was a strange moment, because when Miles Plumlee fouled Pek and Pek’s free throws gave the Wolves a 7 point lead, I thought maybe this was where they would seal the deal. It was Plumlee’s sixth foul and he was gone, plus Plumlee had played Pek about as tough as I’ve seen anyone play him this year. With Plumlee gone, the Suns ran out Channing Frye and Markieff Morris in the frontcourt — not an awe-inspiringly physical tandem.

But Gerald Green — who was just 4-10 at the time — curled off a simple downscreen and caught Corey Brewer scrambling, leading to a lazy foul by Brewer, who hit him on the top of the head from behind on a long-ish midrange jumper. Green’s free throws cut it to five.

With the comparatively willowy Morris on him (Pek outweighs him by 45 lbs), Pek should have had a big physical advantage in the post, but on the next possession, P.J. Tucker’s smart double off Brewer flustered Pek and Frye corralled the rebound. Green missed an ill-advised pull-up 3-pointer, but there was Tucker to grab the offensive rebound. And just an aside: What’s not to love about P.J. Tucker? Dude’s built like a tank, a throwback small forward who never stops working in spite of being 6’5”.

After a Suns timeout, a high pick and roll with Goran Dragic and Frye got busted up by Pek dropping down to cover Dragic’s drive until Rubio caught back up to double and force a turnover. A trademark crazy foray to the rim by Brewer led to free throws, with Brewer making 1 of 2. The Wolves held a 6-point lead, but this stretch, just before it started going downhill, sowed the seeds. This time should have been an opportunity to put it away, but instead the Wolves seemed stuck in neutral.

Then, they went into the ditch. After a missed Dragic 3-pointer, there was Tucker again, getting his hands on another rebound and getting fouled by Love, then hitting his free throws. 4-point game. Love missed an at best optimistic long hook shot and Dragic took it back to Eurostep it in. The Dragic layup was troubling for two reasons: 1.) It’s really cool to watch a point guard who can finish confidently on the break at the rim, where he shoots 68.5% and 2.) Even though Tucker wasn’t flaring out to the wing, thus leaving no one in the corner to threaten, neither Martin nor Brewer stepped hard to Dragic to bother the shot. I know the Wolves’ lack of fouling is often touted as a good thing, but I’m beginning to get on the bandwagon that says sometimes you have to punch back on the other team. They didn’t right here. 2-point game.

The Suns’ full-court pressure bothered Rubio, but he set the play up, looking for Love in the post after Brewer was supposed to curl around and clear his man out. But Love and Brewer got weirdly tangled up, like they didn’t know exactly what they were supposed to be doing.

LoveOrConfusion

Rubio picked up his dribble and then had to throw it over to Pekovic who bobbled it and eventually Morris got a hand on it and took it all the way back, forcing Rubio to foul him on the shot attempt. Morris made just 1 of 2 at the line and it was a 1-point game, 103-102.

The Wolves set up a double screen for Rubio at the top of the arc with Pek and Love, but it just didn’t work out. Dragic slid around Love and then under Pek, untroubled by the threat of Rubio pulling up, and then the Suns’ defenders built a nifty little wall around Rubio, denying him the pass to Pekovic on the roll and sagging off Brewer in the right corner, where he’s a definite liability, shooting just 26.3%.

MiniWall

Morris plays it smart the whole way, sealing off Pekovic and then catching the pass intended for Pek as Rubio fell out of bounds.

And that was basically it. The Green jumper that got Phoenix the win was not a great shot, nor was there a great possession leading up to it. Dragic drove and left his feet to pass — always a no-no — and Green was falling to his right and having a not great shooting night. You live with that look or, indeed, the look that Martin got on the other end right at the basket that wouldn’t go. Either one could have fallen or not.

Had the Wolves won this one, it would have been an emotional lift, but the problems down the stretch would have stayed problems. As it was, the air just got sucked out of the building. It seemed like people leapt to their feet to get out of there as soon as the horn sounded, unwilling to even be inside the Target Center any longer. And, as you can see right here thanks to Jon Krawczynski, things got a little chilly in the Wolves’ locker room. I’m not going to dwell on that; I’ll just say that I can see it going two ways. This kind of locker room friction could either be damaging in the short term and beneficial in the long term, if an airing of grievances is something that needs to happen to clear the air, or it could be just plain damaging. Maybe if it’s the latter, there are simply some deep-rooted problems with this team that would have kept being problems no matter what.

A lot of very smart people (including Kevin Pelton at ESPN and our own Zach Harper) are sanguine about the Wolves’ upcoming schedule, but we shouldn’t take that as meaning they’re going to win every game they’re supposed to. This was a troubling one, no doubt, but sometimes something needs to get completely broken before it can be fixed. If that’s what we’re seeing with Love and Barea/Cunningham, let’s hope it’s getting completely broken down so this team can start working on rebuilding.

Steve McPherson

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37 responses to Timberwolves 103, Suns 104: “Tear It Down”

  1. You really need to start talking about coaching, being 0-10 in close games is on the coach, you trade your young assists or not play them and end up with a team of below average players just because they fit a role in Adeleman so called “system”, that system generated lots of wins over the years and nothing to show for, RA is overrated!

  2. Having watched the entire game I think it is more than fair to say 7/10 times the Wolves win this game, Channing Frye will not hit all those threes in the and Green will not make the game winner etc. etc. So I am not too concerned and think we will turn this corner in close games! Hollinger still gives us over a 70% chance of the playoff spot and even the most negative wolves fans have to admit we look better than Denver, Pellies, Lakers, Memphis. We just need Dallas to slide/Phoenix to tank and we are in.

    Saying that,

    Some points to note are – Rubio’s complete lack of confidence scoring the ball. There were at least 2 COMPLETELY uncontested layups that he just missed, the worst one I think came at the start of the third – something has to change because he simply refused to shoot unless it was on a drive and that kills us, I would take Dragic over him all day and it hurts to say it.

    On a lighter note how fun was it to have Chase and Ronny back together making the second unit palatable. It was great to see Ronny hit some shots and the crowd really got behind Chase. These two are understandably rusty and will only get better as time goes on!

    Go Wolves

  3. Dear Wolves floppers,

    Please stop trying to trick the refs into calling fouls and learn to finish through contact. It makes it harder for the refs to call the actual fouls.

    Sincerely,
    Nikola Pekovic

  4. Thanks for the write up. I appreciate the description of the meltdown, especially the defense on the staggered screen.

    Given Zach’s obsession with the infinite sorrow of last year’s three-point shooting, maybe he should re-watch all 10 close game losses and look at both the Wolves end of game execution and how defenses play the wolves in those last few minutes. Could be heartbreaking and informative.

    For example, the Love-Brewer tangle seems like a Wolves problem not attributable to Suns defense. However, the staggered screen seems like good defensive execution to which the Wolves did not respond. Are opponents defending the staggered screen differently in the last few minutes of close games? Are the Wolves running the same plays in end-of-game situations or are they trying something different?

    On a related point, am I wrong or is that team generally not converting out of time outs? I have a sense that they don’t score well out of time outs. If this occurs throughout the game, poor execution at the end of games (where it’s all time outs) is expected. If it only occurs at the end of games, it seems like nerves.

  5. Something happened to me after Rubio missed the 2nd free throw with 3:17 left, I immediately thought the Wolves would lose the game. I truly believed it, it was not a passing thought that went away. That is incredibly frustrating for me, I think I have been very optimistic about everything wolves related that was not JJ Barea. So to be in a spot where the team has a decent lead and have 0 faith that they can finish sucks.

    I try to take solace in the fact that the games are entertaining, but I really don’t find anything entertaining about lack of execution when there is any kind of pressure. In all of the years that I have been old enough to really follow basketball this is the first team that has turned me indifferent to the basketball season. I love basketball and I feel like this team is killing that.

  6. I’m with Jordan in that I expected the Wolves to lose due to the lack of proper execution down the stretch and that is very frustrating to me. Even with a 7 point lead towards the end I felt it coming. The “European” layups by Dragic and such at the end were particularly frustrating to go along with the patented “jump and throw” junk that Rubio tried at the end of the game. I love Rubio but I think going with a PG that doesn’t do that sort of dribble penetration that Rubio does would help tremendously. That is where I miss someone like Ridnour. Ridnour would stay calm and wouldn’t run into two defenders and leave his feet to pass. For the record I wouldn’t trust Barea or *gulp* Shved in that case either. The worst part is the lack of awareness at the end of games is now an ongoing trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Who cares about stats when you’re blowing close games. Playoff games come down to the wire more often than not so unless they figure out how to execute a simple transition play or set play down the stretch making the playoffs isn’t going to mean jack.

  7. Blow this team up, fire Adelman, trade everyone. 5 months ago I thought we were keeping Love. At this point I assume there is absolutely no way he stays, and why would he?

    I love to play the imagine game, just to feel worse I suppose. Imagine if we’d taken Curry instead of Flynn. Imagine if we’d kept Burke instead of trading him. Right now we could be trading Rubio and someone else for a competent player. I have stuck with the Wolves through every season, watching all the Wolves games on my computer when I lived in Colorado from 2006 – 2011. This is the most frustrated I have been. With those teams, I always thought to myself, “Just wait, in a few years we will be great, we have to be.”

    Well here we are, a team that makes me upset more than I enjoy the games. We aren’t going to magically get better. Ricky Rubio is looking at potentially being the worst finisher near the rim in NBA history. Kevin Martin is getting worse. Pek can’t make a layup in the last few minutes of the game to save his life. When Love has an off game, the team will lose, simple as that. We just lost to the Thunder at home without Westbrook. The same team we killed earlier this season. We just lost to the Suns at home without Bledsoe. Why does Channing Frye always do so well against the Wolves!?

    It is embarrassing and painful to say, but honestly unless something changes in the next 20 games as Budinger and Turiaf get back into rotation (which honestly shouldn’t factor that much of a difference, except Chase’s scoring off the bench), I say trade everyone and start over. Pek and Love don’t work together. JJ Barea would be amazing against the Wolves because we let anyone drive to the basket or shoot the 3. There is nobody on this team that I seriously like at this point, except Turiaf.

    Our next 6 home games: Charlotte, Sacramento, Utah, New Orleans, Memphis, and the Lakers.

    That SHOULD be 6 wins. Any playoff team would look at that as 6 wins. I see 4-2. 3 blowouts, 2 embarrassing losses, and 1 come from behind win by 7 or so. Our next 13 games we could/should go 10-3. As the pessimist I have become, I see a 7-6 stretch. Hopefully I eat my own words and feel really stupid for having written this rant in a few weeks when the wolves are sitting at 27-21, but something tells me I won’t. That something is the history of being a Minnesota sports fan.

  8. Some may view my post as a result of frustration, and it may be, but I feel like this needs to be said; ultimately having Rick Adelman as coach is hurting the team. With Adelman as coach (and his age), it seems that we are hurriedly trying to construct a contender on a team that really ought to be focused on developing young talent and gathering assets. Right now the Wolves would be lucky to get into the playoffs and in all likelihood are looking at picking late in the lottery or a first round exit. Why is this position desirable? it’s not and it’s not as if the team in the next couple of years is going to turn a corner and true contenders will be developed.

    Frankly, a team that relies on Dante Cunningham and Ronny Turiaf as their frontcourt bench and, on a good night their combined twelve points, should not breed much optimism. A team that relies on Kevin Martin to be their second scoring option, when Kevin Martin has never shown that he can be a reliable scorer throughout and an entire season and in the playoffs (not to mention his defense) is only hoping that they can become true contender. Finally, a team that relies on a starting point guard that is literally one of the worst shooters in the league cannot contend for a championship. And it is not as if all of these issues are going to suddenly change; Rubio is not going to develop a reliable jumper, Kevin Martin won’t give you plus defense and cannot be relied upon to consistently score against some of the best defenses in the league and this bench can’t be relied on to carry us deep into the playoffs. All of this said, why are we trying to construct a contender out of a team that is clearly not ready? It’s because Adelman only has a few years coaching left and he wants to win now. When really nothing this team has shown (or the players on this team have shown in the past) ought to breed optimism about our status has developing into a true contender.

  9. The Timberwolves have taken the notion of the power play from hockey and applied it to themselves. Because everyone knows that Rubio cannot take a shot in the last 5 minutes of the game, they have 5 players to cover 4. In basketball that is a huge advantage. RR may just well be the worst shooting point guard in the history of the NBA. He is historically bad.

  10. Comments like these are the worst part of being a Wolves fan. Any level-headed, reasonable takes are drowned out by the defeatists and “glass half empty” ones. At least the irrational fans of other teams are irrationally positive about their team. News flash: you don’t get a badge of honor for going along with the self-hating MN sports culture that says our teams are chokers or doomed, that pessimistic predictions always come true, that you know better than the coach and/or GM, that other players only do great against this team (I’ve looked these up enough to know it’s usually false), or that opposing players are better than the ones on this team even though the stats say otherwise.

  11. Felt the exact same way Jordan, was just waiting to see how we’d lose it. Awful feeling..

  12. What a frustrating loss. What a frustrating year. What a frustrating “era”. What a frustrating franchise. One of the most incompetent franchises in sports. I bought season tickets three years ago mainly to see the rest of the nba, to see all those teams with talented players who didn’t have crappy rosters and GMs like the wolves perenially do.

    Then Rubio showed up, and Love started beasting, and that huge russian guy actually became a player (pek) and I did the worst thing a wolves fan could ever do; I got excited about this team and its future. I wasn’t just a season ticket holder to see everyone else in the nba, I was a season ticket holder to cheer on the wolves, too. I’ve now seen every player and every team in the nba play multiple times, my initial desire for season tickets has been satisfied, and sadly it’s become clear that it’s a waste of time to root for the wolves. Unless things change dramatically before the season ends, no more Target Center for me.

    Rubio was transcendant in his rookie year, but he can’t shoot and he never will be able to shoot. Hes’ been working on his shot since he turned pro at the age of 14, it’s not happening.

    Kevin is a fantastic player, but he can’t create his own shot reliably and our offense tightens up at the end of games because of it. Same goes for Pek, who seems to get the yips at the end of games. And Kevin Martin is the player we all feared he’d be (stat stuffing scorer, minus defender who doesn’t make much of a difference in the outcome of gamesm, even though he’s paid a big chunk of change).

    Finally, Rick Adelman isn’t the same coach, and his offense isn’t the same juggernaut when you don’t geature two historically great passing big men and a historically great shooter like he had in Sacramento. I only played basketball through high school so maybe I’m just to dim to see it, but Adelman’s system doesn’t seem that special to me. Watching Carlisle’s Mavericks with that beautiful offense was sobering.

    I’ve tried to remain level-headed in everything I’ve said above. But this last point? Not so much…

    HOW DO YOU HAVE RICKY RUBIO ON YOUR ROSTER, BUT NOT HAVE A SINGLE ABOVE-THE-RIM ATHLETE HE CAN THROW ALLEY OOPS TO!?

  13. gjk: I am not a negative fan for the wolves at all. You can look through any of these articles and I am often defending wolves players or draft choices(except Barea, I just don’t like that guy). To say I am not enjoying watching the games this year is fair I think. My support has not waned at all, and I still see positives in the future. I just expressed my frustration at the way the team closes out in games. Being a fan of the team is not blindly accepting everything about what is happening, and considering how the wolves have performed at the end of games to date being frustrated with it is not “glass half empty”.

  14. gjk: but being blindly optimistic about a Wolves franchise that has been horrible for almost a decade is what makes you a real fan? Get out of here. As a fan you are allowed to be upset. I go to a ton of the Wolves home games every year as a season ticket holder, yet you will never hear me boo the team. That being said, as a rational person, you are allowed to see the mistakes the team has made and be upset at the missed opportunities.

    Oh, and Channing Frye’s last games against Minnesota:
    8-17 (5-10 3pts) Suns win
    4-5 (1-1 3pts) Suns win
    7-11 (4-6 3pts) Suns lose
    5-10 (2-3 3pts) Suns win
    12-18 (9-14 3pts) Suns win – Frye set a franchise record 9 3 pointers.
    0-4 Suns win
    7-17 (7-12 3pts) Suns win
    6-12 (5-10 3pts) Suns win
    4-7 (4-6 3pts) Suns win
    3-4 (2-3 3pts) Suns win
    8-12 (6-10 3pts) Suns win

    How much farther would you like me to go back?

  15. That is 45-79 from deep = 57%, only slightly better than his career 39.5% 3pt average…

  16. Gjk- I agree with you that some of these comments are over-reactionary. There is no badge of honor for wallowing in the history of gut-punching losses by MN sports franchises and jumping off the bandwagon or staying on so you can say I told you so when the wheels fall off again.
    But truth be told, I felt the exact same way as Jordan. With equal parts certainty and disbelief I could see and feel this loss coming even as there were two minutes left on the clock and still a comfortable lead.
    If your a stats guy, you say games like this and the Clippers game are anomalies- 95% of the time teams in the wolves position pull it out. It takes a perfect storm of ineptitude by the team with the lead and cold-blooded clutch playmaking by the team that’s down to pull it out. But from the eye test, it seems like the Wolves are ill-equipped to close out games with three guys on the floor that are unreliable in hitting shots more than 8ft from the basket. 0-10 in close games is a pattern. They won’t stay winless in close games, but there is pattern of problems.
    Rick Adelman is a fantastic coach and doesn’t deserve calls for his head. But he does need to call for adjustments better. 90% of the time, I agree that you stick to what you do best and things will turn out for the best . But smart teams will copy PHO’s strategy of blowing up the handoffs, getting frisking with our guards, keeping Love and Pek uncomfortably far off the block, and only seriously guarding Martin and Love when the game is on the line. Adelman needs to employ some counter-sets and tinker with his “we need a dagger” lineup (Love, DC, Chase, Martin, and Barea anyone?)

  17. My thought is shake it up at the end of the game (last 3 or 4 minutes of close games)…given their record in close games, what is there to lose…Put in Turioff to protect the rim (sit Pek)….I know it’s not attractive but put either JJ or Shved in for Rubio and Buddinger in for Brewer…might lose some defense, but its not like they have a stellar defense. They can’t score the ball late in games.

  18. I wonder if at this point the fact that the team has a huge hurdle to over come at the end of close games is the problem. This team is still very young and they seem to be easily flustered at the end of these 10 loses. There doesn’t seem to be anyone that says climb on my back, I got this. Even Love for all he has done this season falls apart in the last few minutes of these types of games. It might all be psychological and they are bound to cough up these close ones until the team decides it has to stop and someone goes out and leads them to a win. It looks like they are waiting for a missed shot or foul called instead just rising up and taking it, which is what try champions do. But I have a feeling as soon as they learn that they are going to be one of the better teams in an all ready loaded West.

  19. That poem is freaky.

    It’s not just Frye that shoots lots of threes against wolves. A lot of players do. Why? cause we can’t defend the 3. We’re no different this year in that aspect. We are a predictable team. We’ve been scouted thoroughly and everyone knows how to play against us. I think yesterday that a lot of the time they managed to isolate and trap whoever on the wolves had the ball. Love didn’t get many good looks. Pek got more physical coverage than ever before and could just bully his way. Rubio was predictable in his movement. He has to score more, not because we need the points, but because he needs to have his opponents guessing. Barea did his usual driving against 4 defender and turn it over. On the defensive end we could get a stop for the life of it in the 4th. You can’t let the opponents score every time and expect to win.

  20. @gjk…I’ve always been an optimist for the Wolves and will continue to be. I stated in my comment that I was frustrated with the lack of execution and therefore I expected them to lose because nothing is changing. Not to mention, if you barely win with said ‘lack of execution’ it counts as a W but you will never go anywhere since you didn’t learn anything. I don’t see every negative comment as a “woe-is-me” Minnesota sports fan comment….some are frustration due to what is transpiring on the court (or rather NOT transpiring). I love Rubio but I would rather have an even keeled option at PG at the end of a close game. Flash won’t give you a W most generally, proper execution will. Just my opinion

  21. Many times the fans take JJBarea as sacrificial lamb. That do not correspond to reality. Look to the statistics, look to the attitudes in the game and you will notice that Mr. Barea it is not the problem with the Wolves. There is a lack of equal treatment with Barea in relation of his defensive capabilities . I have notice that when Barea is called back to the bench because they think that Rubio can defend better by his height, the contrary player makes the same shots to Rubio as well. The team has not improved in defense and has a fall in offensive capability with Mr. Rubio that it is a great player but has great problems with his shoots. Don’t bother more with Barea and look the men’s that you have on the court when the miles count.

  22. @Gjk- I can’t help but think your post voicing your frustration with pessimistic Wolves fans was, in part, prompted by my initial post decrying the direction the Wolves are headed, as currently constructed. Frankly I don’t quite understand the value of being optimistic about the team’s future when the players on the Wolves’ roster bring to the court no reason for optimism. That is to say if this team is going to compete for a championship in the near future (the point of attempting to build a contender) do you really believe the players on the roster can successfully take on that quest? It seems clear to me that the answer is no. For example, Kevin Martin (one of the team’s supposed, “stars”) in the playoffs, has averaged a little under 14 points a game in his career. And I don’t believe it is a stretch of the imagination to question whether, going up against some of the better guards in the league, if he will give up more points than he scores. Is that really the type of player you want to help lead a contender?… So why pay him like one and give him the years like one? It’s because Adelman is desperately trying to construct one last run with a contender, and this team’s future is hurting because of it.

    It might be fun to watch a team that is at the very least hovering around .500 (simply because of the team’s past) but that should have no bearing on perceptions of the ceiling of this team. So ask yourself; can this team compete for a championship? No. There are simply too many holes; poor defense, very poor bench, lack of reliable shooting from key players… So why hover around the middle of the league? The team either needs to attract/trade for legitimate star players to play with K. Love (Not a feasible option at the point), develop true stars from players on the roster (outside of the long shot that Pek develops into a top 3 center, no player on the roster should breed optimism in this regard) or admit defeat and bring a coach/gm with the mindset of developing the team into a contender for the long-term. Right now the Wolves are relying on too many, “what-if” scenarios for this team to be considered a contender now or in the near future.

  23. I’m sorry, but the two most overrated people in Minnesota sports right now are Rubio and Adelman. They just aren’t that good, period.

  24. I hate the loss, I am hopeful that Love at the end of it tried to take ownership of this team and demand a team first attitude from his bench.

    I think we have been sitting idle long enough, I am getting very restless in the job Flip is doing and has done. add the missing pieces Flip. JJ is the last hold out from the “big mistakes Kahn made” era. please purge it…..

    Also the 0-10 in close game the 0 fer in trying to get above 500. that is on the coach, I am sorry I love…….. LOVE…….. Rick Adelman but the facts are pretty clear, he is not exerting his will on the team and getting through it this stretch.

    PS

    GJK, if you honestly believe for a second that the worst part of being a Wolves fan is what those of us who have actually followed this team for the past 20+ years have to say when what we are saying is nothing more than the obvious all I can say is Welcome to Wolves Nation. Where ya been?

  25. Steve McPherson January 10, 2014 at 8:09 am

    I just want to hop in here and say that I really love the commenters here on AWAW. Sure, I don’t always see eye to eye with everyone, but that’s good and honestly, y’all are just generally thoughtful and interesting people to hear from. For commenters on a sports site, you have a keen sense of balancing your emotional reactions to the team with a more measured understanding of where the team is and what’s possible for them. It’s honestly just great, especially given the volume of asinine commentary that goes on in sports generally.

    Keep it up.

  26. ………Shut up Steve

  27. In all seriousness I love this site. I have never had a sports site where I could talk sports without comments eventually turning into insults and put downs. I love it here, and I plan to be here commenting for a long time(if I don’t get banned for telling the Writers to shut up)

  28. This is awful to say, but I honestly think unless we are sitting around 27-21 by February 20th, we need to look at trading Love (and maybe Rubio), and starting over. This years draft is supposedly filled with stars, and if we make the playoffs, we won’t even have a 1st round pick!

    Obviously this is just crazy speculation, and would need Love to sign an extension, but what about Love and Rubio to the Magic for Afflalo, Glen Davis and their 2 1st round picks this year (they have the Nuggets/Knicks worse 1st round pick). The Magic would have Rubio, Oladipo, Love and Vucevic. Wolves would have 3 1st round picks, Pek, Afflalo, Kevin Martin (try to trade him too…), and Brewer. Finish out the season:
    Barea/Shved
    Martin/Afflalo
    Brewer/Budinger
    Davis/Cunningham
    Pek/Dieng

    I know that just throwing out random trade ideas never means anything, but best case scenario for this Wolves roster is a 5 seed this year and next year unless something dramatic changes. If we are getting to the trade deadline and are still at or below .500, why not look to start over?

    I am just like everyone else. It has been far too long since we’ve been in the playoffs, and wouldn’t making it feel great, even if we only won 1 game? Yes, but that is not the ultimate goal. But having 3 1st round picks, or trading 2 to move up for two top 10 picks?! Who knows, maybe we would swing and miss and draft the next Flynn/Rubio combo, but we aren’t anything better than a 1st round exit team right now, we need to start over or make major changes…

    And just imagine if we could trade and move up, and somehow get Wiggins and Marcus Smart to play along with Pek and Glen Davis? That sounds a lot more exciting to me than Love, Rubio, Martin and Pek…

  29. Mickey, I don’t know who you are, but I think this idea of your is ludicrous. Barea and Shved as our PGs would make me throw up every time I watched a game. I’m glad I didn’t just eat before reading this rubbish.

  30. Ivan –

    Read the rest of what I wrote. Marcus Smart is a point guard buddy. He would be our starting PG next year, and this year we would be basically tanking to get a better pick to trade up for Smart.

  31. Obviously it is all just a speculative idea that wouldn’t work, and I haven’t looked into the Magic’s salaries, but my point was if we haven’t made major progress given our upcoming weak schedule, we should look to start over, because this team isn’t going anywhere. (If we go 10-3 in our next 13 though, disregard everything written, and let’s go 6 seed!)

  32. I think everyone agrees that Kahn did not do an acceptable job, he made bad deals and he gave away picks for almost nothing. I am not sure you can look at the current roster and see it as complete when the Flip has had 1 year to make his changes.

    I can understand not liking the roster under its current construction, but from what I can see Saunders had 2 choices, go all in by signing Pek and try to surround the core 3 with Quality players, or let him walk and try to do something with the abundance of cap.

    The team had one established star(Love), one potential star(Rubio), and a very good Center(Pek). With those 3 I can’t blame them for trying to build for the now. Martin has outplayed his contract to this point I think and I still like the signing, he is elite at what the Wolves had been terrible at. Unfortunately Rubio did not take the step that we all hoped he would. He still might, he is only 23. I think if Rubio entered this year as a league average shooter we would be looking at the team’s construction in a completely new light.

    I still like to think that Rubio will solve his shooting issues, if he does that this team would be far more competitive, and I even think they might be a contender with some bench improvements.

  33. Wow, this got out of hand fast. To be honest, most of the comment being responded to was about the two comments above it. My main problem is that the main posts by Steve/Zach/William often bring up cool photos/stats/analysis, and they’re barely brought up in the comments. Instead, it’s a conversation dominated by tired narratives. There’s so much cool stuff on the web that brings interesting perspective to why a team wins and loses, yet many of these comments read like the Wolves version of Vikings Fan Line (except there’s no host to cut someone off).

    I’ll go through the original comment to explain further.

    “our teams are chokers or doomed”: This is related to the late-game stuff. Whatever the reason for their problems, they’re correctable with better focus and effort.

    “pessimistic predictions always come true”: I shouldn’t project that mentality onto individual commenters, but I’ve lived in MN all my life, and it’s the main way MN sports fans try to show they know what they’re talking about without actually knowing what they’re talking about. This is often applied to the Vikings, which is hilarious because the team usually just lost to better teams in these so-called “chokes.”

    “you know better than the coach and/or GM”: Adelman is not any more win-now than most players and coaches are, and the idea that trying to win is bad for a young player’s development is ludicrous (ask Rondo, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, or any young role player on a good team if the pressure to win helped or hurt their development).

    “other players only do great against this team”: Applied to Frye, he shoots over 45% from 3 for his career against 6 teams (including 49% against the Warriors and Wizards and 52% against the Bucks); also, it should go without saying that this is the first Wolves-Suns game he’s played in (he was out all of last season) where he wasn’t on the much better team. My point was simply that some guys play well in certain arenas, but it’s never just this one arena/team.

    “opposing players are better than the ones on this team even though the stats say otherwise”: Goran Dragic is not a better all-around player than Rubio; he had a good offensive game because the Suns are an unfavorable matchup for the Wolves and Rubio’s main defensive weakness is getting around on-the-ball screens. As another example, Trey Burke is not better than any other bench player on the Wolves: per 36 minutes, he’s roughly as good as JJ (JJ averages more points and assists and shoots better from everywhere but the FT line, while having .7 more turnovers).

  34. Steve McPherson January 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Jordan,

  35. @gjk- I believe your statement that, “you know better than the coach and/or GM” was aimed at me, so I don’t believe in replying I am extending the conversation farther than it ought to go. With that being said, in my post I was not trying to highlight how the Wolves, in their win-now mode, are hampering the development of the younger players on their roster. I was more attempting to highlight the limbo the Wolves are in with their current roster construction. That is to say, it is not ludicrous to claim that the Wolves cannot compete for a championship with their current roster construction and that the roster moves made this past off-season only further cemented this fact. Signing Kevin Martin and frankly Corey Brewer seems to only hamper the flexibility the Wolves’ have in regards to making further roster adjustments whether it be through free agent signings or through the draft. So, if a team needs two or maybe three legitimate stars to contend for a title, the signings in the off-season limited our ability to attain players of star potential whether through the draft, a trade, or free-agency.

    I do think you’re right though that I may have been too hasty to blame this process of trying to speed up the Wolves to contenders on Adelman’s impending retirement. Because I frankly don’t know why these moves were made. But for whatever reason I believe it is hard to deny that because the Wolves’ currently have the roster talent of a team either in the late lottery or an early exit from the playoffs, they are not in best position to either compete for a championship or build through the draft. The contracts signed in the off-season seem to only extend this state of mediocrity.

    I frankly believe that a lot of people are hoping that players currently on this Wolves’ roster can develop into the star players needed for a championship run. And to that I ask; what reason does anyone have to believe Rubio will improve his jumpshot? That Kevin Martin will become a reliable 2nd scoring threat and at the very least a competent defender? That Pek’s and Love’s interior defense will improve?… Not to mention that the bench needs to start consistently playing better. For me, there are simply too many question marks on this team for me to have any optimism about the prospects of this team for the rest of the season and in the foreseeable future.

  36. if we traded Rubio for Dragic the Wolves would be a contender. The fact is – Rubio is an offensive liability at a position that must create shots at the end of games- not only for others, but himself and yet he is such an offensive liability- teams dare him to shoot and he ends up turning it over trying to pass. Take the shot or go sit on the end of the bench. And on D- the other night up 7 and he goes under screens leaving a wide open 3. Where is this guys head? Does he have any awareness on the basketball court of game, time and score. Very frustrating to watch Rubio play. Guarantee you if we had Dragic or another capable PG we wouldn’t be 0-10 in close games.

  37. Jonathan Cariveau January 12, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Look, I really just have to say this: I have my problems with the team’s execution in general and especially down the stretch, with Adelman’s coaching, with the sulking players and complaining team. Lord knows as a Wolves fan I have plenty of things to complain about. But there is one particular thing that transcends all else to me: I do not have a clue why we’re so invested in Ricky Rubio. It baffles me. We chased him for a long time, I get that, but it’s becoming apparent that this player is simply a draft bust. This isn’t a product of frustration from one game, it’s pent up anger at his many flaws surrounding a truly genius passing ability, flaws I have to wonder if he’s honestly working on. It’s heartbreaking, but at the same time, I would rather have Kevin Love any day. I believe that in spite of all the teams other flaws, if we had a starting point guard with half as much talent who could actually hit a damn jumpshot and finish layups, we would be contending for the fifth or sixth seeds right now. The spacing issues of having a point guard who doesn’t have to be guarded at all de facto rule us out as a playoff team, and Rubios boneheaded soul-crushing funk is only compounding the problem.

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