Archives For Steve McPherson

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Ah, training camp. A time when the heady mix of a long-forgotten feeling merges with the barely-glimpsed ghost of actual on-court play to create its own admixture of hope and anxiety about the future. Take that, Deadspin.

But seriously: Practice ran long yesterday, resulting in a clutch of media perched by the front window of the Taylor Center on the lovely (no, seriously, the autumn colors were lovely) campus of Mankato State University and doing things like this: Continue Reading…

The title of this post is a lie. I haven’t stopped worrying, nor have I learned to love preseason rankings. But I guess I grudgingly understand why they’re there. Because following basketball closely — and I don’t mean your favorite team, but the whole thing — through its annual cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth is a lot like breaking up with a serious girlfriend every year. Like a five-year relationship compressed and injected into nine months.

It all begins with such promise in November and you don’t really know what’s going on or where it’s going but you just want to enjoy it. So you try to relax into it, thinking how all you’ve got is time. But then it starts getting serious. You stop taking it as it comes and start wondering where it’s going. And then, just like that, it’s over. This is June. Continue Reading…

Bud

We were all having such a nice time. The weekend is almost upon us, Media Day is on Monday, training camp starts on October 1, and then the Wolves dropped this in our laps:

Hooray! Just in case you forgot, Budinger tore his meniscus in his left knee last season. Timberwolves PR added in a follow-up tweet that “Budinger to visit Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, AL early next week. An update to his status will be provided after that examination.”

Two things: 1.) This is lame. 2.) Don’t panic.

I know: I know. It’s hard not to when last season was picked over by the vultures of injury like a broken body in the desert, but you need to keep in mind that every team has players that get injured every season (well, Granger aside, not the Pacers) and that the Wolves were not going to get off scot-free just because they rang up such a huge injury surplus last season. We don’t know the extent of the injury or the exact nature of it.

So let’s talk impact: If Budinger misses some time, it likely solidifies the starting rotation as Rubio / Martin / Brewer / Love / Pek. And hey: That’s not awful. There was always the possibility that that would be the starting lineup anyways in order to provide shooting punch off the bench and defense for the starters. The Wolves’ roster is more balanced this year than last, and they can absorb some hits like this along the way. It’s important to remember that every team needs to if they’re going to be in the hunt for the postseason.

But let me also put a sympathetic arm around you. If you panicked at this news, it’s because you’re suffering from a mild form of PTSD called PTSSD (Post Timberwolves Season Stress Disorder). It’s the inverse of what happens for Heat or Lakers fans when they sign Greg Oden (who hasn’t played a minute of NBA basketball in FOUR YEARS) or Chris Kaman and then think to themselves, “You know, this … COULD WORK!” We assume the worst. We’re not just underdog fans. We’re Midwestern underdog fans. I can’t tell you not to feel the feels. But I can tell you to keep your chin up.

At the very least, keep it well away from your knees. They’re the worst.

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As noted by Phil Ervin over at Fox Sports North (as well as Kelly Dwyer, Tom Ziller and nearly everyone else involved in covering basketball—thanks, August!), Flip Saunders was recently on KFAN 100.3 saying that Ricky Rubio needs to make shots. “Being a bigger scoring threat,” he said about the goals for Rubio’s third season, “being able to knock down shots, which will make the game much more easier for him.”

This is not news for Wolves fans, and probably not even for NBA fandom at large. What was often discussed in media row last season, though, was just how much better the Wolves really need for Rubio to be at scoring the ball, whether through shooting or finishing at the rim. After all, he would of course be a better, more useful basketball player if he could shoot the ball like Steph Curry, finish like James Harden, defend like Kawhi Leonard, block shots like Anthony Davis and celebrate like Kent Bazemore, but not every player is going to be a Swiss army knife of talents, nor should we expect or need them to be. Continue Reading…

Terrible Love

Steve McPherson —  August 15, 2013 — 4 Comments

If you have not yet read Jonathan Abramsprofile of Jonny Flynn over at Grantland, I recommend you go do that instead of reading this. It’s typically superlative. Abrams does a fantastic job showing the rollercoaster that Flynn’s professional career has been, but there was one part in particular that resonated strongly with me.

“That second year was my toughest year because I never went through something like that, where basketball is your main problem in life,” Flynn said. “Usually it’s your safe haven. Usually, you play basketball and you get away from everything else. But basketball being the biggest problem of my life, being a young kid, I couldn’t handle that. That was a really, really low time in my life, which it shouldn’t have been. You hear people say, ‘You’re in the NBA. You’re getting a check. You’re doing this. You can get your parents a house. Your sister’s good. Your family’s good.’ But when you love basketball, you just want to be able to play. The money is great. Once you get everything out of the way, once you take care of your family, once everything happens, it’s about basketball. During that time, it was tough.”

Most of us are never going to make a living doing what we love, and of those that do, a vanishingly small number will be paid very, very well (as the sixth pick in the 2009 draft, Flynn made just under $3 million his rookie year and just over $9 million for the life of his contract) to do something we not only love but are among the very best in the world at. I certainly don’t belong in the latter category, but judging from Flynn’s story, it seems like it can only be more fraught with distress than what I attempted, which was to be a professional musician. Continue Reading…

The Bruise Brothers

Steve McPherson —  August 14, 2013 — 1 Comment

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“We envision Pek and Kevin Love being the ‘Bruise Brothers’ and forming one of the best front courts in the NBA for a long time to come.”Flip Saunders

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In The Simpsons episode “Much Apu About Nothing” from the show’s seventh season, a docile bear wandering onto Evergreen Terrace causes an uproar that leads to the creation of a Bear Patrol. Homer (who led a mob to the mayor’s office chanting, “We’re here, we’re queer, we don’t want any more bears”) is satisfied with the result, saying, “Well, there’s not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol is sure doing its job.” Lisa then explains that this is faulty logic: “Dad, what if I were to tell you that this rock keeps away tigers.” Homer asks how it works and Lisa replies, “It doesn’t work. It’s just a stupid rock. But you don’t see any tigers around, do you?” So Homer says, “Lisa, I’d like to buy your rock.”

Right now, a lot of people are buying the rock when it comes to Shabazz Muhammad’s forced exit from the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program for “bringing a female guest into his hotel room” as initially reported by Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Muhammad was no stranger to controversy during his time at UCLA, from sulking on the court after it was Larry Drew who hit a last-second shot to beat Washington to off-court troubles with the legitimacy of his age and his father’s relentless self-promotion. If Muhammad struggles at the NBA level, this latest transgression will be remembered as a bellwether, a giant misstep as he entered the league that augured his problems. Continue Reading…

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Here’s what an NBA Summer League game can give you a clear picture of: nothing. Put together a couple of Wolves rookies (Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng), a guy who played overseas last year (Robbie Hummel), the brother of a hot-shooting Golden State Warrior (Mychel Thompson—who didn’t even see the floor), an assistant coach’s son (Luke Sikma) and a squadron of guys looking for enough burn to catch someone’s eye and you have a complete lack of what makes a team be about something. An NBA team is a conglomeration of approaches, toolsets, hopes and dreams, all angled (hopefully with some precision) towards the goal of becoming something greater than the sum of their parts. A Summer League team is the mismatched toolbox you found in the basement when you moved into the first house you bought. It might get the job done, but that’s about it. Continue Reading…

Thaddeus Young

Recently, we at A Wolf Among Wolves have provided measured yet optimistic feedback and analysis of the Wolves’ draft night and free agency signings. I expect that kind of reasoned and balanced writing to continue through future signings and trades leading up to the season.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for some wild-eyed dreams that probably won’t happen. In that spirit, I bring you Thaddeus Young on the Minnesota Timberwolves. Continue Reading…

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As Jerry Zgoda over at the Strib reports, Andrei Kirilenko has decided not to exercise his $10.2 million player option for next season and will instead become an unrestricted free agent. Kirilenko could still be back with the Wolves next year, but at this point, it doesn’t seem likely, given that he wants to get a longer three- or four-year contract to finish out his NBA career and the Wolves don’t want to commit money that far out, especially with future contract negotiations with Pekovic, Rubio and Love looming.  Continue Reading…