Timberwolves have announced that Lazar Hayward is no longer on the team.
They acquired Robert Vaden and two future second round picks for Hayward and then promptly waived Robert Vaden. Now the Wolves can sign JJ Barea without having to amnesty anybody and pick up a couple second round picks in the process. Not bad, I guess.
I’m going to miss Lazar. He and Wes Johnson were very jovial with each other during their Media Day appearance together. They roomed with each other this past summer during the lockout. Hopefully, this decision doesn’t keep the Wolves from securing Wes Johnson with a contract extension in three years.
Here are the highlights of Lazar Hayward that I could find on YouTube.
I’ll tell you… nobody made layups like Lazar Hayward. NOBODY! So many layups. He also had one of Jonny Flynn’s assists by the looks of the video. That’s like catching a no-hitter in baseball.
In all seriousness, I liked Lazar on the team but I wasn’t married to the idea of him having to be here. He was at a crowded position and will hopefully get a better chance to provide some scoring off the bench in OKC. Good luck, Lazar.
Our beloved Timberwolves are back in the saddle/Iditarod sled of shaping the roster and preparing for another hopeful season. And while it seems like this team is set with 13 players under contract and still two rookies (Derrick Williams and Malcolm Lee), the T’Pups remain heavily involved in the free agent sweepstakes. From what we’ve learned through various scribes (Zgoda, Spears, Stein, etc.) players like Jamal Crawford, DeAndre Jordan and Chuck Hayes are all being pursued like a canine chasing a rogue ice cream truck.
The shooting guard position for the Wolves is pretty weak. Between Wayne Ellington’s Wayne Ellington-ness, Wes Johnson’s inability to handle the ball or create off the dribble well enough to be a true shooting guard in Rick Adelman’s offense, and Martell Webster being slightly more adept at covering Wes’ offensive deficiencies, the Wolves could really use a shooting guard who can put the ball on the floor and create scoring opportunities in the halfcourt offense.
(Let’s just pretend Malcolm Lee will be brought around slowly, but I love his game and think he could eventually be an option for playing major minutes.)
Jamal Crawford does that and then some. He’s one of the best scoring 2-guards in the league. It may not be the most efficient brand of basketball. It may not be a consistent output when his shot isn’t falling. But he knows how to put the ball in the basket. Two seasons ago, Crawford had a career year, despite coming off the bench exclusively for the Hawks. He scored 18 points per game, had a true shooting percentage of 57.3%, and had the lowest turnover rate of his career at 9.9%. He was as efficient as ever. Crawford is also a human highlight reel waiting to happen.
But last year his productivity with the Hawks took a pretty dramatic dip. He wasn’t the consistent scoring threat the team saw the previous season. His shooting percentage was back toward his career rate, he was a below average 3-point shooter and he was turning the ball over a lot more while being involved less in the offense. When taking into consideration the idea of giving him a four-year contract, he’s going to be starting his twelfth season in the NBA and he’ll be 32 in March.
While it’s pretty obvious that Jamal Crawford is the sexier name of the free agent options, if the Wolves are going to find a way to work one of these guys into a pretty full roster then they need to make a concerted effort to sign DeAndre Jordan.
For lack of a better term, DeAndre Jordan was a bit spastic with the way he played his first two seasons. It was all dunks from accidentally being in the right place at the right time. He also seemed to be everywhere on defense but never in the right place. When he was around a shot, he usually tossed it in the other direction. He was active and showed determination to figure it out, but it was more awkward than anything.
However, last season DAJ broke out in a mini-spotlight next to Blake Griffin’s Epcot spotlight. He was defensively one of the best big men in the entire NBA from an individual standpoint. Jordan didn’t really have a defensive flaw last year. He played the post well, he rotated well, he played the PnR well, and he closed out on shooters well. While there were times that he was slow to see the play develop, after the first couple months of the season he was able to see things unfolding and respond quickly to it. If he has any real weakness defensively, it’s that he hasn’t completely filled out his lanky, broad frame. He could still stand to put on a few pounds of muscle while keeping his freakish athleticism.
In fact, freakish athleticism isn’t a term that does DAJ justice. When you watch him move around the court, he almost appears to be teleporting. He seems to instantly travel 10 feet at a time with his long strides. This helps him immensely when running pick-and-rolls with his point guard. As soon as he seals on the pick and turns his hips toward the basket, he’s already four-feet from where the screen was set. One step later, he’s gathered his balance and is exploding for the alley-oop.
Jordan was third in the NBA in dunks last season. Of his 234 made field goals, 158 of them were dunks. 205 of his 234 made field goals were at the rim and he only took eight shots beyond 10 feet (making none of them). This may seem like he’s extremely limited offensively, and maybe he is. But he also doesn’t try to do a whole lot on offense that isn’t in his skill set. You won’t see him posting up a lot and hold the ball on the block for long stretches of the shot clock. He knows his limitations.
The problem with acquiring DeAndre Jordan is he already turned down a five-year, $40 million deal from the Clippers and he’s a restricted free agent. With the stunning result of the Clippers already signing Caron Butler for three years and $24 million, they’re showing they’re willing to overpay players right now. With DAJ being one of Blake Griffin’s best friends, it seems they would match whatever it takes to keep this duo together.
The Wolves have roughly $5 million in cap space and 15 players under contract after they presumably sign Derrick Williams and Malcolm Lee. That doesn’t leave a lot of room to make something happen for Jordan, when he’s looking for eight figures on his contract and you have to push that to around $12 million or higher to make the Clippers blink at matching the deal. To make this happen, the Wolves would need to drop the amnesty hammer on one of their guy or trade one of the bigger contracts.
The problem is we don’t have big contracts to get rid of. Some people would say to amnesty Darko, but he’s only making $4.7 million this season and the Wolves need depth in the frontcourt. You could amnesty Brad Miller since he’s not really going to be able to contribute much after his knee injury anyway, but he makes roughly the same amount as Darko and could be a great mentor for young guys learning Adelman’s system.
So is the answer to deal Michael Beasley? Do we amnesty Martell Webster? Webster makes the second most on the team with $5.2 million hitting the salary cap. The Wolves wouldn’t be saving any money long-term because his salary for next season is only guaranteed for about $600,000 against the cap. They’d also be losing one of their few options at shooting guard.
With Beasley, it would free up a presumed headache within the organization (that could easily be saved and become an All-Star but that’s a conversation for another time), a logjam at the small forward, and about $6.2 million. That gives the Wolves a starting price tag of $11.2 million for Jordan. Would that price tag and acquiring Beasley in a sign-and-trade coupled with the suffocating guilt possessing the Wolves’ 2012 first round pick be enough for the Clippers to accept the deal?
This would be the best-case scenario for the Wolves in many ways. You free up a potential distraction by moving Beasley – as fair or unfair as that may sound. It would give the Wolves a fantastic, young interior presence around the rim on both ends of the court, and even if he doesn’t improve much past what we see now, four years and $44 million of this DAJ isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s not the best bang for your buck, but there are worse contracts for big men to have.
If it plays out this way, we’d be looking at a potential depth chart of:
PG: Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour
Wing: Martell Webster, Wayne Ellington, Malcolm Lee
Wing: Derrick Williams, Wes Johnson, Lazar Hayward
Post: Kevin Love, Anthony Randolph, Anthony Tolliver
Post: DeAndre Jordan, Darko Milicic, Nikola Pekovic, Brad Miller
There are a lot of options and versatility that comes with that depth chart. Sure, it leaves the Wolves pretty outmanned at the shooting guard position, and perimeter scoring would be a bit lacking. But Rick Adelman’s offense is designed to get different parts moving and having the ball swung to find them. This works out well for a young, athletic team like the Wolves.
It would be nice to acquire someone like Crawford or Arron Afflalo (also a restricted agent), but their asking price might be more than the Wolves should have to fork over to acquire them. I’d much rather put the money toward improving the middle of the paint and building outward.
Finally, Wolves have been in talks with Chuck Hayes as I mentioned above. Hayes is one of the best post defenders in the NBA, despite being just 6’6” soaking wet. He’s also a fantastic passer from the post and high-post. But I don’t know he’s exactly what the Wolves need, especially if they have a chance at an athletic big man like Jordan. And he’s fixed his free throw stroke so we wouldn’t get to live this roller coaster very often.
I defy you to watch this video and not fall in love with this guy.
DEFY YOU, I SAY!
Couple things I took away from this brief interview:
– Jump shot motion looks so much smoother and efficient. Now, that could completely go away when he gets into game action, but he talked about working on it and making progress. I believe him that he’s making progress because he seems incapable of lying.
– Beasley briefly caught chastising Ricky’s shoes? That was a quick shot and hilarious.
– Worries me a bit that the first three “talented” players Ricky mentioned from this off-season are Nick Young, Derek Fisher and Chauncey Billups. I’ll just blame it on being unfamiliar with the language. Maybe “Nick Young” translates to “Kevin Durant” in Spanish?
– He seems a lot more comfortable with talking to the media than we’ve seen and than what I expected from him.
Media Day is on Friday. CBA gets ratified within the next day. We’re 10 days away from preseason action.
NBA referee Bill Spooner is suing AP writer Jon Krawczynski due to a tweet during a January 24th game between our beloved Minnesota Timberwolves and the Houston Rockets.
Why is a referee suing a writer? Well, apparently Bill Spooner didn’t like a “defamatory accusation of game fixing” that came in tweet form from Krawczynski during the second quarter of the game.
At the time, Anthony Tolliver was whistled for a foul with 10:22 left in the second quarter. Kurt Rambis vehemently disagreed with Bill Spooner, who made the call, and they had a brief verbal exchange. Spooner, being the diligent referee that he is said he would review the call at halftime to see if it was correct or not. Kurt Rambis was curious how he would get those two points back.
I decided to review the tape of the game, thanks to Synergy sports.
First, here is the original Bill Spooner call that got Rambis upset.
The call is clearly egregious against Anthony Tolliver. He literally stood there while Aaron Brooks tried to use him for a boost in an attempt to change a light bulb or reach something off the top shelf or snag a third fly in Three Flies Up during some summer fun. Whatever Brooks was doing, it wasn’t drawing a foul against Anthony Tolliver.
Patrick Patterson was then called for a moving screen with 9:56 left in the second quarter. However, the call was made by Violet Palmer and not Bill Spooner.
Roughly ten seconds later, Bill Spooner whistled Patrick Patterson for another foul when he bumped Wesley Johnson coming across the lane. Here is video of the call:
This looks like a very legit call by Spooner. Patterson clearly impedes Wes’ progress in an unnatural manner and commits the obvious foul.
A few seconds later, the Wolves get another foul call in their favor. Jonny Flynn takes a bounce pass from Tolliver and drives to the basket. He gets fouled by Aaron Brooks on the play. Take a look at the video:
The two things I took from watching this play, especially with the replay at the end, were that 1) Bill Spooner made the call very far away from the play and 2) the call was correct. Brooks swipes down on Flynn and gets him in the face and on the arms. What’s odd about it is that Spooner makes the call from almost the other side of the court. Normally, the two closer officials would blow the whistle.
It actually shouldn’t matter that Spooner made the call from seemingly out of position since it was the correct call. He didn’t fabricate contact in his mind by any means.
I have no idea if what Krawczynski’s tweet is accurate or not because I wasn’t there. I’m sure Kurt Rambis could be called in as a witness or any of the people sitting in that vicinity to confirm or deny the validity of that statement.
What I know for sure is Spooner made three foul calls in the span of 40 seconds. The first one was a terrible call that hopefully he reviewed and felt embarrassed about. Then he may or may not have promised a makeup call in some way before making two more foul calls almost immediately. However, the ensuing foul calls against Patterson and Brooks seem like obvious and correct calls.
I can’t figure out if I’m on the defense or plaintiff side here (I never really watched a ton of “L.A. Law”), but regardless I rest my case.
It was nice of Luther Head to give Wes Johnson a kind greeting into the league.
After a turnover in the second quarter against the Kings, Sebastian Telfair did his Through The Fire thing by throwing a pass that probably looked better in his mind than in reality to a streaking Wesley Johnson on the break. Wes did the rest:
What kills me about the reaction to the dunk is Wes seems like the nicest guy in the world. The mean streak face he exhibits after the dunk is sort of hilarious. I love seeing a guy like that be impressed by his own athletic accomplishment.
I still contend that DeMarcus Cousins should have been the pick at #4 but I’m glad the Wolves got a guy like Wes Johnson in the draft. I don’t care if he becomes a perennial All-Star or not. He’s just the type of guy who is fun to have on your team and watch him develop, no matter what his ceiling ends up being.
It’s like Mark Madsen only with basketball skill and fun plays.
Well, they kind of have new uniforms. It’s really just last year’s unis but they’ve been altered to look less like the stuff you’d see when you move the Jacksonville Jaguars to Mexico City in Madden 11. Check out the differences from last year to this year.
I actually really like the subtle touches they’ve done here. Taking the green out is good and the numbers look much better. It looks like a Wolf no longer stenciled this stuff out.
Nice part of the unveiling was they got future (fingers crossed!) Wolves Ricky Rubio and Harrison Barnes to model the new jerseys and shorts:
I haven’t been this excited since the new phone books arrived.