Archives For 2012 Offseason

When I saw there was a Ricky Rubio rehab video, I expected it to be something like this.

Alas, it is not so. Wolves put together a nice look at the work Ricky has been doing to get his knee back to strength after the tear against the Lakers. It’s one thing to see the workouts that are bringing him back, but I enjoyed hearing Rubio’s mental state with the process and how hard it is to think about when you’re back playing. I also really found Wolves’ physical trainer Andre Deloya’s thoughts about how making things goal-oriented for Ricky fascinating.

Instead of getting back to playing regular season games as the big goal, breaking it down into much smaller goals that come right away definitely help with the mental fatigue that can set in from this rehab process.

Now please stop showing the actual injury itself.

(H/T – The Basketball Post)

 

Danny Chau has been driving the Alexey Shved bandwagon for as long as I’ve known Danny. He writes for Hardwood Paroxysm and has a fantastic knowledge of everything that is Alexey Shved on a basketball court. I asked him to give a brief scouting report on Shved so Wolves fans can get more familiar with his game. You can follow Danny on Twitter here

I just got through finishing a couple victory laps around my house. Russian guard Alexey Shved has agreed to a deal with the Wolves. Get excited.

Shved has become a more familiar name this summer thanks to the interest from several NBA teams, but scouts have been gawking at Shved’s potential for more than half a decade. It wasn’t that long ago that he was dominating Europe’s youth circuit and thought of as a potential lottery pick in the NBA draft. The Wolves are looking at a legit 6’6” combo guard with dynamite athleticism and creating ability. Something of a revelation last season was Shved’s fantastic 3-point percentage in the Euroleague (50 percent). This probably won’t translate directly (especially considering the difference in distance between the NBA/FIBA 3-point lines), something Shved himself admitted to in an interview with Euroleague.net:

“I don’t think that the shot is my strongest asset! I like best to be in pick-and-roll situations; I like to pass the ball. It just happened that I have good shooting percentages in the Euroleague. If you look at my stats in other tournaments, I am not shooting as well. I can just say that it’s great that I am making 50% of my shots.”  Continue Reading…


He has so many arms!*

This morning, we had this tweet from @sportsruenglish, a Russian sports website saying that Alexey Shved was going to become a member of the Wolves:

Then, I sent out our field reporter Andrew Renschen (@infraren) retroactively (or you know… he was tweeting with the agent of Shved on his own before a lot of this even broke… believe whichever version you’d like) to see if he could extract any information from Shved’s agent Obrad Fimic.  Continue Reading…

Unusually for a famous professional athlete, Kevin Love mostly tells you what he’s thinking. And even when he’s attempting to mask his feelings on an issue, that masking is so halfhearted and unconvincing that we nevertheless walk away with a pretty good impression of what’s under the surface. So here are his feelings on the Wolves progress to the playoffs, as reported to Yahoo! Sports (via ESPN.com):

My patience is not high. Would yours be, especially when I’m a big proponent of greatness surrounding itself with greatness? All these [Team USA] guys seem to have great players around them. It’s tough seeing all these guys that are young and older who have all played in the playoffs. When they start talking about that, I have nothing to talk about. If I don’t make the playoffs next year, I don’t know what will happen.

These seem like Revealing Comments from a Famous Basketball Player. But lets take a step back and ask ourselves whether these comments are even a little surprising. Would any of us like to watch, let alone play for, a team as hapless as the Wolves have been since Love arrived? Are any of us feeling particularly patient with the Wolves’ progress? When Love signed his extension, we all knew that the Wolves were gambling that, in three years’ time, they would become good enough to keep him around. Does Love’s recent remarks change that equation in the slightest? The reality is clear, as it always has been: the Wolves need to improve dramatically over the next two seasons. If they don’t, they might find themselves starting over from scratch.

Update: Read Zach’s excellent take on Love’s comments in Truehoop today. Here’s an excerpt:

By saying the team needs to make the playoffs or changes need to happen in the days before you may or may not acquire Batum just seems like horrendous timing. The Wolves had only a glimmer of hope to get away with acquiring Batum outright if Portland decided not to match. Now Portland can be open to a sign-and-trade, knowing they can demand any and all assets Minnesota has at its disposal…Love could have applied pressure to the Timberwolves in private, but now the rest of the league has been put on alert — things in the Twin Cities are bumpy. That doesn’t help you keep future contract negotiations and trade discussions in your team’s favor. It takes away any potential for possessing the upper-hand when transforming your roster.

How do you solve a problem like Barea?

Okay, J.J. Barea wasn’t really a problem last year, but he also wasn’t a solution in the way we hoped he might be.

Let’s get the negative out of the way first. In his first season with the Wolves, Barea was riddled with injuries throughout a good chunk of the season and he dribbled the life out of the basketball when he was on the court. The injuries didn’t seem like anything major that should mar his future seasons with the Timberwolves. He was banged up and pulling muscles you don’t want to pull, but he wasn’t suffering knee injuries or having chronic back problems. It’s possible they just happened. It’s possible they were related to the lockout and not being prepared for the regular season. Whatever the injuries were related to, it’s nothing that alarms me as him being an injury prone player.

It seemed pretty obvious — and Barea would be the first to admit this — that he had a problem adjusting to the new team/system/teammates in his initial moments of the season. He didn’t quite seem to know how to find the balance of what he should do on offense. Instead of moving the ball when he was faced with this unfamiliarity, he dribbled. And dribbled. And dribbled. AND DRIBBLED SOME MORE. It got to the point that you wanted him to shoot or get off the pot. Continue Reading…

Regardless of whether or not Nicolas Batum ends up on the Wolves or stays in Portland, he’s going to get paid $45 million over four years (with the possibility of bonuses). Let’s just pretend the contract is going to be four years and $50 million because of the bonuses. That puts Batum’s annual salary at an average of $12.5 million per year.

Is Nicolas Batum worth $12.5 million per season?  Continue Reading…

Jason Quick of The Oregonian tweeted that Brandon Roy has come to a decision regarding his comeback.

It has since been confirmed by a lot of reporters and the figures are out. Brandon Roy is signing with the Timberwolves for two years and $10.4 million. It sounds like a lot for a player who recently retired due to his knees being unfit for court time, and possibly it is. Personally, I don’t think you can have bad contracts if they’re two years or shorter. Two year deals are a risk worth taking because the reward for a player like Roy regaining even 75% of his form for half of the time he was used to playing per game is immense.  Continue Reading…

Any of these names sound good to you: Nicolas Batum, Jordan Hill, Greg Stiemsma, Brandon Roy? That’s the shortish list of players that the Wolves are pursuing in free agency this summer. The team has reportedly offered Batum a four-year deal worth around $50 million, although Batum left Minneapolis yesterday without agreeing to a deal.

The wrinkle, of course, is that Batum is merely a restricted free agent, meaning that if Portland is dead set on retaining the lithe Frenchman, there’s not much the Wolves can do about it. On the other hand, as Jerry Zgoda points out, if Batum were committed enough to coming to Minnesota–and Portland were willing to part with him–the Wolves could conceivably land him in a sign-and-trade deal. But that’s all speculation for now.

I will say that, even if the Wolves’ do swing a deal for Pau Gasol, signing Batum would be, in my opinion, their only unequivocally great move of this off-season. Batum is a young, three-point shooting veteran with ridiculous athletic ability and alarmingly long arms. He can convincingly play a few different wing positions and has a Rubio-esque defensive impact: disrupting passing lanes; swallowing up penetrators; sowing general perimeter chaos. He’s a perfect fit for this team and fills a need that’s been aching for years now.

It appears that the decision on Anthony Ranolph and Michael Beasley has been made. From the Wolves:

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team will not extended qualifying offers to forwards Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph. With Minnesota not extending qualifying offers to Beasley and Randolph by today’s deadline, both players will become unrestricted free agents on July 1.  

Two points about this. First, the financial angle. The move frees up just over $12 million in salary for next season, enabling the Wolves to continue their pursuit of Pau Gasol or another well-salaried veteran. Second, the move reveals that, like Zach, the team has finally given up on Beasley. There’s a lot to think about here. The bursts of brilliant offensive play; the absent-minded defense; the serious lack of focus; the beautiful/ridiculous things the guy would say. Most of all: a massively talented player who just couldn’t figure it out. The right decision if you ask me, but a sad story nonetheless.

 


Another year and another bundle of frustration for Michael Beasley and those that want him to be great good oh hell let’s just be adequately productive.

Michael Beasley had the excuse last year of the ankle injury that seemed to crop up every time he hit the floor. This year, he had the excuse of a lockout-hastened season, a new coach, a new system, new teammates, the sun was in his eyes, the locker room is too cold, the locker room is too hot, the arena is a little outdated, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia hasn’t been very good for the last three seasons and it’s affecting his mood, Anthony Randolph’s lack of emotion on his face is freaking him out, he has to keep an eye on Pek at all times, are they using that synthetic ball again?, and whatever else his supporters will try to figure out to throw at his detractors. That’s been the problem with Michael Beasley since he came into the league with Derrick Rose and Kevin Love, et al.; there’s always an excuse for why he isn’t better on the basketball court.

In high school and college, the competition sucks. We can pretend college basketball is the heartland of fundamentals and team basketball but the reality is college basketball is a big arena of suck. You can press against teams because the guards aren’t that good. Passes are off, dribbling is weak, shooting is off, and anybody with superior athletic ability and a pretty decent chunk of skills can pretty much show out each night. That’s what Michael Beasley did on the AAU circuit and that’s what he did at Kansas State. If he slipped up, it didn’t matter because the competition wasn’t good enough to stop him. Move to the NBA and the competition, scouting and preparation is far too good to just fake your way through the game. Anybody can end up putting up points at the NBA level but HOW do you put up points?

In 2010-11, when Beasley was battling ankle turns and jacking up shots to put up pretty points, he was doing so inefficiently. In the 3-point era (1979 to present day), 38 players have put up 20 points or fewer per game while attempting 17 or more shots per game. Michael Beasley is on that list and ranks 31st in WS/48. He’s sandwiched in between Isaiah Rider’s 2000 campaign with the Atlanta Hawks and Ron Mercer’s 2001 season with the Chicago Bulls. His PER for that season is 26th out of those 38 players, between Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in 1993 and Antoine Walker in 2005.

When this season started, Rick Adelman seemed to at least pretend to try to make it work with Beasley. He started the first seven games, averaging 12.9 points on 14.1 attempts per game. He shot just 39.4% from the field. Then he sprained his foot and missed the next 10 games. It gave Adelman an excuse not to have him in the lineup much anymore. When he came back, the team was playing pretty good basketball, figuring things out on the fly. Beasley was given the role of being the scoring sixth man off the bench. As long as they were winning, Beasley said he was fine with it. There were games in which this looked like a brilliant move. Beasley would actually attack the glass or play a little defense (not often but it happened!). Beasley would still jack up the same shots that frustrate coaches non-stop but there was intermittent effort.

As the season went on and things took a turn for the worse, Beasley never fully embraced his role as the Lamar Odom or James Harden or Jason Terry of this team. He broke off plays on the offense. If he got hot (remember the Clippers?), it all looked justified. When he wasn’t hot, it looked like Adelman was ready to try J.J. Barea at small forward instead.

Now the Wolves have to decide tomorrow whether or not a qualifying offer should be extended to Beasley. The qualifying offer would mean that (most likely) worst-case scenario for Beas is a one year, $8.2 million deal. If you’ve watched Beasley the last two years and aren’t related to him, it’s probably making you break out in cold sweats thinking about paying him $8.2 million for a year of basketball. That’s Kris Humphries money after all!

Believe it or not, I actually like Michael Beasley quite a bit. He’s fun to be around in the locker room. He’s a jovial and off-the-wall kind of guy. And MAYBE another year under Adelman and a full training camp with the coaching staff could finally right the ship that is Michael Beasley. However, at a certain point it’s no longer about the things going on around him. The things he’s choosing to do in the game of basketball are the only excuse for why he’s not playing up to his potential. He may figure it out some day and make everybody that didn’t give him a “long enough chance” look foolish.

I just don’t want the Wolves to continue to wait to see if THIS is the year he puts it together.