Messrs. Taylor and Saunders:
There’s a lot going right for the Minnesota Timberwolves at the moment. Superficially, that may seem like an odd thing to say – 11 years out of the postseason, 66 losses in 2014-15, a few core guys coming off of serious injuries, yadda yadda yadda – but looking at the big picture helps.
The Courts at Mayo Clinic Square, where the team’s new practice facility and medical services are located, look gorgeous. Badly needed renovations to Target Center are in the works, and with it the enticing possibility of the NBA All-Star Game coming to the Twin Cities. The vague threat of a Seattle move has been 99.9% extinguished (thanks in large part to you, Glen).
Of course, that ancillary stuff pales in comparison to the exciting young roster y’all have assembled. 20-year-old Andrew Wiggins is one of the top young prospects in the NBA. Zach LaVine (also just 20) has a long way to go in order to develop into a good player, but the raw tools are certainly present. It’s easy to forget that Ricky Rubio, whose new four year deal kicks in at the start of the 2015-16 season, is still just 24 years old.
Flip, you didn’t exactly silence your doubters after one season on the bench, you have made some very good personnel decisions. The Trey Burke for Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng trade netted the Wolves two young rotation players (22 and 25, respectively), while Burke has struggled mightily in Utah. And tomorrow, you’re set to select the near-consensus number one pick in the NBA Draft, Karl-Anthony Towns, despite a dalliance with the idea of selecting (the very good, but slightly less enticing) Jahlil Okafor. Towns will give the Wolves an elite defensive presence on the interior and one more important piece to what’s been a helter-skelter puzzle: how does Minnesota build a playoff team in the loaded West? The picture is finally starting to take shape.
But if I may bring up just one, tiny quibble. The Timberwolves have two second-round picks, numbers 31 and 36, in tomorrow’s draft. While they’ve made the right decision regarding the most important item on the docket (taking Towns first overall), it’d be swell if you refrained from selling the 31st or 36th picks in the draft, and, uh, actually used them for something.
I mean, gosh darn it, Flip and Glen. Go ahead and trade them if you’d like – if you package them together to move up to take some other prospect, that’s fine. If you trade one for a veteran backup point guard, that’d be okay, too! But gee whiz, guys, don’t just auction them off to the highest bidder.
Seth Partnow has demonstrated rather convincingly why selling second-round picks is a terrible idea. While it’s true that many of them do not turn out to be very good NBA players, the ones that do become valuable commodities. Essentially, you have a flippin’ chance to obtain someone who could vastly outperform his modest contract. The opportunity is great, the cost is low, and there’s really no P.R. downside to missing on a second-rounder. Plus, the contract isn’t fully guaranteed! If they’re more like Jon Diebler, Deshaun Thomas, Colton Iverson or Terrico White than Draymond Green, Marc Gasol, Kyle Korver or Chandler Parsons – cut them, with little or no strings attached!
I know that $250,000, $300,000 or $400,000 ain’t exactly chump change, not even to a billionaire like you, Glen. This is a business, and the Wolves have been stuck with low attendance in a suboptimal arena for a long time, so it’s necessary to capitalize on revenue streams when you’re able. But for the love of Pete, start making some exceptions with these second round picks! Maybe take an American player who could maybe make the roster, and another a guy to stash in Europe, a la Nikola Mirotic, who the Wolves traded away in the past, or Nemanja Bjelica, who you, uh, own the rights to right now. Even if you don’t end up liking them, someone else might! And then you can trade them away! And get other players for them!
Shucks, guys. I know y’all love selling these second-rounders, and it’s probably rude of me to bring it up on the eve of a very, very exciting day for the organization, but boy, it’d sure be swell if you just passed up that money and actually used the 31st and 36th picks on players who could maybe help the team some day.
Are the chances low? Of course! And you’re going to hit a home run with the top pick; that’s the big story. But as Steve McPherson once pointed out, these are the little things you can do to help the team, too. Golly, it’d sure be neat if you considered this humble advice.
Sorry for the passive-aggressive letter. As you can tell by my huckster language, I’m trying to politely convince you to do something, but if you don’t heed my words, I’ll get over it. Wiggins, Rubio, LaVine, Bazz… AND Karl-Anthony Towns? We’re cool either way. It’s all good.