Archives For Miscellaneous News

Oh, this lockout is making me tired. From PR Newswire:

Fed up with news of labor disputes among professional sports leagues, Jose Cuervo, the world’s largest producer of Tequila and title sponsor of the recently announced Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series, today declared to always keep beach volleyball in play.  The show of commitment to both professional beach volleyball players and sports fans alike earned the support of professional basketball player Kevin Love, who simultaneously announced he will compete in the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series.

It also appears that Love has himself landed an endorsement deal with Sr. Cuervo (evidence of which you can plainly see in the video at right.) I guess I didn’t realize that athletes endorsed alcohol anymore, although the image of Love as the bro-hawked, margarita mixing, beach guy is not far fetched at all.

Rumors of Bickerstaff

Benjamin Polk —  July 12, 2011 — 5 Comments

Photo by Markus P L

From Jerry Zgoda at the Star Tribune:

Last time we checked, Kurt Rambis still is Timberwolves’ coach but that isn’t stopping Davis Kahn from continuing his pursuit of a new coach apparently. On Monday, the Oregonian newspaper in Portland reported that the Wolves late last week asked the Trail Blazers for permission to talk to Blazers assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff about the team’s still-filled head coaching job. Bickerstaff’s contract with the Blazers expired on July 1 — which is also when the current labor lockout began — but he has been negotiating with the Blazers about a new one. The idea with hiring Bickerstaff — 67 and a head coach with four different NBA teams during his long career when he also was a president and GM — would be to sign him for a year or two while his son J.B. is groomed to take over the job when he’s ready…There’s a couple other reasons this makes sense: J.B. would work cheap and he’ll take the job in an instant.And with the way this debacle has played out, that latter quality might be getting harder and harder to come by. The Wolves’ insistence at dragging this out presumably to save money just makes the franchise from around the league look  even more mismanged, if that’s possible.

I have very little to add to this.  David Kahn has shown himself to be genuinely skilled at explaining the team’s most puzzling moves (see his long conversation with Bill Simmons). But he and Glen Taylor also seem to be unable to avoid repeatedly giving the impression that their franchise is an tumultuous wreck. And, more importantly, they seem to be blithely unaware that such impressions are almost as important as the decisions themselves. Whether or not your decision to draft Jonny Flynn one spot after Ricky Rubio, say, was actually well-reasoned, it appeared amateurish and incompetent. And those appearances matter gravely.

Depending on who you ask, marijuana isn’t particularly harmful. Sure it might lead to bouts with forgetfulness and exceeding one’s weekly calorie intake in a matter of hours, but all in all, Mary Jane isn’t regarded to be the life altering substance her powdery cousins are. However it is illegal and on the list of the NBA’s controlled substances. So Michael Beasley’s roadside encounter last week could prove to be disastrous for a fledgling career already teetering in the balance.

Though it’s still unclear whether a fines or suspension shall incur, there’s undoubtedly trouble waiting on the other end of this commercial break for the Beas. His talent and personality have carried him this far, but these repeated exhibitions of recklessness are making him a liability, whether by truth or perception. How much longer before this show is over?

 

 

 

 

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo sports is reporting that the Timberwolves have finally asked Kurt Rambis to step aside. Now, to put this in perspective: this is unconfirmed by anybody and Wojnarowski has been wrong on his scoops before (remember that midseason deal for Al Jefferson with Indiana that was as good as done?). What’s more, according to the Strib, Rambis’ agent Warren LeGarie is calling the report “inaccurate: “I haven’t gotten that information from David,” he told Jerry Zgoda on Wednesday evening, “and I just spoke with him this afternoon.”

Still, even if this information is not accurate at this exact moment, none of us should be surprised if this doesn’t come to pass in the next few days, especially given the Wolves’ reliably perverse sense of timing and the inevitability of Rambis’ demise.

Still, one wonders why the Wolves have waited this long, allowing highly qualified young coaches like Dwane Casey and Mike Brown to get away without a fight. Uh, well Wojnarowski has an answer for that one too (although, this seems to me to be highly speculative):

Bernie Bickerstaff, an assistant coach with the Portland Trail Blazers, will be one of the primary focuses of the Wolves’ search, sources said. Bickerstaff’s son, J.B., had been an assistant on Rambis’ staff, and one scenario could have J.B. serving under his father as a coach-in-waiting.

Is it just me, or is this getting weirder?

null

I must confess that, for me as someone who writes about basketball, this is a difficult time of year.  One of my least favorite elements of sports journalism is the feverish rumor-mongering and scoop chasing that goes on around the draft and the trade deadline. After all, its hard to have anything substantial to say about information that is really nothing more than a whisper in the wind. If we really want to know how it turns out, all we need to do is just wait until Thursday when (nearly) everything will be illuminated.

At the same time, though, its hard to resist our own curiosity and fascination at what is probably the essential, decisive annual moment of Timberwolves fanhood. And the rumors are certainly afoot. Names like Pau Gasol, DeMar DeRozan and Javale McGee have all been floated, rescinded, revived. There has been talk of Derrick Williams (obvs), but also Kyrie Irving (should Cleveland snap up Williams), Enes Kanter (should the Wolves trade down) and others. This is a crucial moment and nobody knows whats going to happen. Its an effing mystery.

Concurrent with this is the ongoing Kurt Rambis fiasco. Its been reported that the cause for the long delay in deciding Rambis’ fate is the fact that David Kahn had asked Rambis to prepare an exhaustive report on his planned changes for next season. Well, the two have apparently finally met to discuss said report and a decision would appear to be forthcoming. In the meantime, Dwane Casey (who was my hope for Rambis’ replacement should the axe belatedly fall) is reportedly off to Toronto, Larry Brown is evidently offering his services (wow, what a terrible idea that would be) and the Wolves  once again appear heading toward a draft without a head coach. Is it just me, or is this getting kind of stupid?

Here is my one question about this: how is it that Kahn, who supposedly communicated closely with Rambis throughout the year (which, remember, is really long and offers ample evidence from which to make judgements), would not already know Rambis’ plans? If this really is all about basketball and not just a ploy to save money during the lockout, how can it possibly be this difficult to make this decision? Sigh.

Rambis floats on

Benjamin Polk —  June 5, 2011 — 3 Comments

The NBA regular season ended in the middle of April. At that same moment David Kahn hinted strongly that a coaching change is in the offing for the Wolves. Well its June now, the weather’s hot, and Kurt Rambis neither been given a vote of confidence nor put out of his misery. How’s Kurt feel about all of this? (From Jerry Zgoda at the strib):

“It’s not how I would handle it, no,” Rambis told reporters in a six-minute exchange in which he appeared annoyed but not angry about the uncertainty. “I think everybody has reasons for why they conduct their business in the way they want to conduct their business. If you’re asking me if that’s what I’d do, no. That’s not how I would handle things, but everybody’s different.”

That “everybody’s different” is rich isn’t it? It’s like, “well, if I was in charge I might try to treat my employees with respect but, y’know, everybody’s different.” In the past two months, Rambis has been handling himself like the proud guy he is–doing his job, willingly answering questions about the uncertainty with dignity and grace. It makes one wonder just what Kahn and Taylor are up to: if Rambis is going to be the coach, why not just say so? If he’s fired, why not just fire him rather than letting him twist in the wind? If they haven’t made up their minds, why can’t they make up their minds? Zgoda has an idea:

By firing one coach now and hiring another, Wolves owner Glen Taylor could pay two coaches for a season that might never be played. If Rambis’ contract calls for him to be paid a reduced salary during a lockout, it would be cheaper to pay him to stay as coach rather than fire him and pay him off now.

Very classy. Another question: does this seem like the kind of place you would want to work? 

rubio

Our long local nightmare is over. Well, almost.

As tweeted this evening by KFAN’s Dan Barreiro  and confirmed by the ubiquitous Adrian Worjanowski, Ricky Rubio did indeed sign a contract with the Wolves yesterday. As always, the details were filled in by Mr. Jerry Zgoda over at the Star Tribune.

Rubio avoided a potential disaster by taking the guaranteed wages offered under a now expired labor agreement and his million dollar buyout with Regal Barcelona will be handled by the Wolves along with an assortment of local sponsors. Any remaining skeptics should be soothed once our Spanish sensation is introduced to the public later this month.

Now before ruining the party with questions of whether he’ll perform as advertised, we may have to say goodbye to a few friends. Is this the end of Jonny Flynn’s painful saga as a Wolf? Is Michael Beasley now an intriguing complement or a questionable influence?  Is a rapport with his new point enough to stay Kurt Rambis’ execution?

Regardless, Rubio’s arrival erases a particularly bothersome smudge on David Kahn’s resume and now our taskmaster is free to pursue his vision. Earlier this season, he assured us that there will be no more roster turnover, however this development may be the beginning of more changes. Good ones, perhaps.

But who knows what the future holds? It could be quite some time before we even see professional basketball in our fair Cities again. So if only for a moment, let’s live in the moment and bask in the warming glow of relevancy.

null
Welcome to Summer everybody. As you’ve probably noticed, we here at A Wolf Among Wolves have been laying low the past few weeks: enjoying the playoffs; basking in our few, brief bursts of sun; getting a little distance on the Wolves’ long season; attending to our lives. Luckily, the Wolves have obliged us by doing very little recently. Nothing solid on Ricky Rubio; no word on Kurt Rambis. So here’s a little roundup of what’s transpired:

  • Speaking of young Ricky, David Kahn and Tony Ronzone recently traveled to Spain to check in with their European prospects. Most importantly, they reportedly met with Rubio in hopes of enticing him to sign an NBA deal “within a month.” Jerry Zgoda gives a nice summary of the visit and associated issues right here. Jerry reminds us that “the Wolves already have much invested in Rubio — he alone is the only hope to save a 2009 draft in which they had four first-round picks that so far has delivered Jonny Flynn, Wayne Ellington and Martell Webster…” True indeed.
  • If you look down at the comments of the above post, you’ll see this remark by Mr. Zgoda: “I’m fairly certain the Wolves brass consider Rubio a better prospect than Irving and no matter what they might say should they somehow get the No. 1 pick, I’d expect them to fully try to trade the pick to the highest bidder.” Don’t you just know this is the year they’ll finally get that first pick? Can’t you just feel this actually happening? (Thanks to Canis Hoopus for pointing this out.)
  • In case you didn’t notice, Wes Johnson was named to the NBA All-Rookie second team. So that’s nice for him. Maybe I’m just being a hater, but did anyone else find it strange that Wes actually managed to nab four first team votes?
  • David Berri reports that, if you replaced Kevin Love–who led the league in Berri’s Wins Produced metric–with an average power forward, the Wolves would have won three games (2.9 actually). I think this may be a case of running into the threshold of what these numbers can actually tell us, but I find this hilarious nonetheless.
  • Although he tried to finesse it every way he could, Henry Abbott lost his bet that Darko Milicic would be more productive than Shaq in 2010/2011: “…however many rebounds he may have, it’s all pretty pointless if, on average, when Milicic was on the floor, the Timberwolves suffered for his presence, while the opposite was true of O’Neal and the Celtics. In such a world, O’Neal for one minute is worth more than Milicic for 2,000, and anything that says otherwise is smoke and mirrors.” Sigh.
  • Considering all of the college players who are staying in school this year (Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes and Perry Jones among them), Oceanary of Canis thinks we ought to acquaint ourselves with the Euros who ill be filling out the first round. Included is a nice video of Jan Vesely getting stupid.

null

  • First order of business: an apologia. As you can probably tell, we’ve missed the boat lately. Nothing up here about the Wolves solid showing in LA, nothing about the total disaster against the Kings. Sometimes basketball loses its perch as The Most Important Thing In Our Lives; sometimes real life intervenes in ways that you can’t imagine. But these vague propositions aren’t excuses: we haven’t been holding up our end of the bargain and I apologize for that.
    • Next, and less pleasantly for Wolves fans: Jerry Zgoda reports that Kevin Love will miss (at least) this two game road trip with the same groin injury that’s been bothering him over the past few games. If that massively unpleasant fourth quarter against Sacto is any indication, this is really not a good thing. The very thin silver lining is that Anthony Randolph will see his first starter’s minutes of the year. Not that we’re expecting even a Love-caliber performance against Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler. It’s more that this is a prime opportunity to see what the newest Wolf can do in extended non-garbage time. Impress me, kid, please.
    • Last, despite some very rumor-y rumors that Kurt Rambis’ job is in jeopardy, Wolves players are getting their coaches back. Here’s Martell Webster (all of these quotes are reported by Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press): “He’s always putting the work in. He and the staff never give us the short end of the stick and just throw us out there and say, ‘Whatever happens.’ We’re the ones who have to go out there and play. As players, we can always say the right things, but the proof is how you do on the court.” And Anthony Tolliver: “He’s doing what he’s supposed to do. It’s up to us out there on the floor to execute the game plan. As players, we have to take more accountability and responsibility for our actions.” Finally, and maybe most importantly, Kevin Love: “It’s not a direct reflection on him. It’s all on us being a young, youthful team. It’s unfair. As a player, I have Kurt’s back.”

    Two observations about these sentiments. First: I realize that statements like these tend to be de rigeur for struggling teams. Rarely do players come right out and savage their coach. And it does often appear from stands and from our couches that Rambis has a somewhat detached, even fractious relationship with his players. But these statements of Webster’s et al are completely consistent with what I’ve been hearing all year. At no point has any player, to my knowledge, questioned his the coaching staff’s approach to teaching and game planning. Even Love, who is forthcoming to a fault, who expressed some serious frustration and confusion last season and who has an uneasy history with Rambis, has been unwavering in his support of his coach this year. Maybe I’m naive, but I buy it.

    Second observation: to a man, the players deflect criticism from the coach and place it squarely upon themselves. “The plan was there,” they’ll say, “we just didn’t execute it.” And I believe this wholeheartedly; it’s clear that one of the Wolves most serious problems this season has been the simple ability to enact the coaches’ strategies consistently and with the necessary effort. Surely, as both the players and coaches say, this is a sign of youth.

    But isn’t it the coach’s responsibility to not just prepare an airtight game-plan but also to teach it in such a way that the players actually execute it? If students repeatedly fail to do what they’re taught, doesn’t that partially reflect poorly on the teacher? Or at least cause the teacher to deeply interrogate their own methods?

     

    Jerry Zgoda at the STrib reports that David Kahn has called the Wolves involvement in the Carmelo Anthony deal “overstated”:

    Translated, that means an ESPN report last weekend that the Wolves would send a first-round pick and Corey Brewer to Denver to receive Knicks little-used forward Anthony Randolph and accept Eddy Curry’s huge, expiring contract is too much to give.

    Kahn also added the the Wolves have not been actively looking to trade Brewer, although he did make this strange little addendum:

    Because Corey is in the last year of his deal and because many people like Corey’s ability and upside, we receive a lot of calls on him…Players are not like cars in a garage. You can’t keep accumulating cars, you can only have so many of them. There’s a balance act there and at the wing position; we’re probably too heavy there.

    Which is basically saying that the Wolves are looking to trade him.

    Success for Kevin Love is more dependent on his shoulder strength than his vertical jump.  He uses the blade of his forearm (called his “arm bar”) to ward off other rebounders, and defensively he is able to hold players in place without using his hands (using an arm bar looks lot less like a foul than pushing or holding someone with palms).  Like a martial artist who is averting strikes from his opponent, Love is happy to be engaged in a physical confrontation high while staying low and centered.  A well-placed hip or knee leaning on the player he is engaged with prevents that player from playing above the rim, and the strength Love possesses in the upper body allows him to fight for balls he might not reach otherwise.

    • Finally, look at this duck by Isaiah Rider. You can almost see that poor dude’s soul leaving his body.