Archives For Transactions

The Talented Mr. Bohl

Steve McPherson —  October 25, 2013 — 3 Comments

basketball

Ah: smell that crisp fall air. It signals the beginning of basketball season here in Minnesota, but it also signals change, and A Wolf Among Wolves is not immune. Founder and bellwether Ben Polk and his wife welcomed a brand new child into the world just recently and so for the time being he has decided to take a step back from the game-to-game work of covering the Timberwolves. Have no fear: he’ll still be writing, just maybe not as much.

We can never fill that hole in our hearts. But we can paper over it and welcome our own kind of brand new child, Mr. William Bohl of Break the Huddle. Bill (or Billy, up to him, really) has been doing fine work covering the Wolves, including an even-handed and thoughtful series of player previews that really sold me on his work. He’ll be pitching in around here, contributing his insight and view of the game. But let me get out of the way and let Bill speak for himself. — Steve McPherson

The love of basketball came to me much later than it did for most of the people who spend their time and energy covering it. For most of my life, the NBA was white noise, humming away as I paid closer attention to other sports, and girls, and trying to make it through 12 years of Catholic school.

Occasionally, clear signals emerged from the fog of the Association and registered with me. I loved Michael Jordan, who was less a player and more a childhood superhero. Since I’m from Wisconsin, I cheered when the Bucks of Allen, Robinson and Cassell pushed the Sixers to seven games in the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals. Since my hometown (Eau Claire, WI) is much closer to Minneapolis than Milwaukee, I switched allegiances when the Garnett-led Timberwolves nearly broke through in 2004.

It wasn’t until I got married and settled in the Greater Twin Cities area that basketball finally bewitched me. My brother-in-law had an extra ticket, and I saw the Wolves hang tough with the Miami Heat in Ricky Rubio’s third NBA game. It was December 30, 2011; two months later, I started a sports blog, and soon it became nothing but Timberwolves content. Finally, the nice people at A Wolf Among Wolves decided to give me a shot, and here we are.

Basketball is both a beautiful game and a vehicle to write, a means to an end and an end itself. My clumsy tautology aside, what I’m trying to say is that I’m drawn to highlight plays, the pure spectacle of the sport, but also the background movements – the statistical evolution that’s blossoming before our eyes, challenging perceptions with ever-improving data, and exploring the myriad factors determining individual and team success. Writing about basketball affords insights that extend beyond the court and into a few of the challenges of living in modern times. Feelings, or numbers? Individualism, or teamwork? How do we best measure what we see?

And while I cannot claim decades-long suffering at the hands of the oft-maligned Timberwolves franchise, the disappointments of the past two seasons have left an indelible mark on me. I’m familiar with the fatalism of many Timberwolves fans, but prefer, instead, to keep a reasonable amount of hope.

I’m humbled to be included in a group of such talented people and I’m excited for the opportunity. As the Wolves take a step forward (we hope), so will I (I hope). Maybe I’m naïve. Let’s find out together, shall we?

Derrick Williams

It’s rare that we have a lottery pick, especially a pick so high like Derrick Williams, have to worry about the fourth year of their option being picked up but with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement beginning to rear its ugly head, it’s looking more and more common for teams to take a much more cautious look when it comes to extending rookie deals to their fourth year. Factor in that Derrick Williams hasn’t exactly lit the league on fire as the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft and it makes sense that there was so much discussion as to whether or not Flip Saunders and Glen Taylor would agree to give Williams a fourth season with the Wolves.

Apparently that discussion is over though. According to Darren Wolfson and Nate Sandell of 1500 ESPN, Glen Taylor has confirmed that the Wolves will exercise the team option for $6.2 million in 2014-15 in order to keep Williams. Of course, that could also be exercising the option in order to keep their trade options with Williams open as well. Regardless of what the plan is, the Wolves have committed (for now) to pay the fourth year salary of a guy they’re struggling to find a place for in this system.  Continue Reading…

Brown and Jeffers pics by @jermcon, Hummel pic from USATSI

Brown and Jeffers pics by @jermcon, Hummel pic from USATSI

Time to do a little housecleaning with Media Day on Monday and training camp in Mankato starting on Tuesday. The team has added players to the roster for training camp purposes and three of the four names are pretty familiar to fans. The Minnesota Timberwolves announced yesterday that they signed three players. Those three players were the 2013 second round pick Lorenzo Brown, Othyus Jeffers from the summer league squad, and 2012 second round pick Robbie Hummel. From the team’s press release:  Continue Reading…

Art by Steve McPherson

Art by Steve McPherson

The Wolves have come to an agreement with restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic on a five-year deal worth a reported $60 million.

After a long and seemingly uneventful negotiating process in which the Wolves initially waited for the market to be set by an outside suitor with an offer sheet, they finally set the market themselves by offering a reported four-year, $50 million deal which Jeff Schwartz, Pek’s agent, apparently said was no good. He secured a longer contract for his client while taking less on a per season scale with the hopes that the incentives included in the deal will push Pek’s earnings beyond the $12.5 million from the Wolves reported initial offer. It’s a gamble, but it’s also a smart one. We’ll get into that in a bit.

I think most of us are glad the Wolves retained Pek because the alternative didn’t seem great. There wasn’t much of a Plan B in terms of what to do if Pek left because I don’t really believe that was ever going to happen. They couldn’t be forced into a sign-and-trade. They couldn’t lose him if they didn’t want to. Even Pek keeping the qualifying offer and playing out next season meant the Wolves still had him and his Bird rights. It was just a matter of how much and how long.

There are concerns about the length of the deal and what it means for the Wolves moving forward. Let’s get into the things said by Flip Saunders yesterday and the realities of the deal itself.  Continue Reading…

For weeks we have been speculating that either Luke Ridnour or J.J. Barea would be on the move in order to fill the team’s many non-point guard related needs. We’ve also been hearing for a few days now that the Wolves were attempting to regain the services of one Corey Brewer, either by signing him outright or via a sign-and-trade.

Well, according to multiple reports, the both events have come to pass. In a nimble bit of salary cap ballet, the team orchestrated a sign-and-trade for Kevin Martin and sent Ridnour and his expiring $4.6 million deal to Milwaukee. This created the cap room needed to sign Brewer to a three-year deal reportedly in the $15 million range.

Continue Reading…

Pek Meat

For about a week and a half, we’ve been waiting on a team to make a big offer to Nikola Pekovic and for the Wolves to have to make a decision on just how much they love the big man.

Would he get a crazy max contract offer from someone like the Portland Trail Blazers or Cleveland Cavaliers in an attempt to put the Wolves in a precarious decision of having to overextend their cap situation to match the offer sheet? What would the market for Pek be? Was there a threshold for their confidence in spending for his services? Would the go over $10 million annually? When would the restricted free agency dance commence and conclude?

After 10 days of very little chatter about Pekovic, as the Dwight Howard domino has fallen and the Andrew Bynum rumors are starting to swell, it looks like the Timberwolves are ready to end this dance, in what can be viewed as both a savvy and risky move. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Wolves and Pek are about to agree on a four-year, $50 million contract extension for the Monster from Montenegro.  Continue Reading…

MiniMart

Now that the Timberwolves have lost out on J.J. Redick, they’ve turned their attention to Kevin Martin as the backup plan for the shooting guard position.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and Sam Amick of USA Today, the Wolves and Martin have agreed on a four-year, $28 million contract. The awkward but accurate shooting guard is incredibly familiar with Rick Adelman’s system, which he came into the league with in Sacramento and played in with the Houston Rockets for a couple of seasons.  Continue Reading…

Bud

I’ve got some good news and some bad news.

The good news is the Timberwolves verbally agreed to a deal with Chase Budinger for three years and $16 million the same day that Martell Webster and the Washington Wizards agreed to a deal for four years and $22 million. The third year for Budinger is a player option, which I think gives the Wolves great flexibility moving forward.

The bad news is J.J. Redick is officially off the market. He’s agreed to a sign-and-trade as a part of a three-team, four-player deal that will send him to the Clippers. Here is the info from the tweets: Continue Reading…

Shooters

I’ll have something later today that will delve deeper into the philosophy of what could be going on, but there’s some news surrounding the Minnesota Timberwolves and the free agent market. There’s no secret that the Wolves have needed outside shooting the past couple of years. In 2011-12, the Wolves ranked 23rd in the NBA in 3-point percentage at 33.2% but took the sixth most attempts in the league.

Last season, I tried to chronicle the historically poor shooting the Wolves had from downtown. The final damage was 30.5%, which was the lowest in the NBA. The Charlotte Bobcats of 2011-12 had a worse percentage at 29.5%, but they also attempted 4.4 fewer threes per game than the Wolves did, making the Wolves by far the worst 3-point shooting team of all time when you factor in volume. The Wolves need shooters and Flip Saunders made that abundantly clear as a priority during his introductory press conference. Continue Reading…

Love

There are going to be a lot of absurd Kevin Love trade ideas over the next few months because I’ve found that people are usually slow to hop on what’s current. Look at Twitter. Twitter was around for a couple of years before people really latched on to it and accepted it as a reality in the social media world. Now? Everybody and their grandmas seem to be tweeting, we’ve got the social media platform in video games, and there seem to be very few people that don’t understand what is going on with Twitter.

I think we’re going to be that way with the Kevin Love trade rumors/offers for a little while. With David Kahn gone, Kevin Love no longer hates the team’s management. I don’t know if he likes Flip Saunders, but I know he doesn’t have contempt for him. Saunders is showing him respect and showing him that he’s the most important part of this franchise moving forward. These were never opinions David Kahn seemed to publicly show Kevin and certainly didn’t show him when he tried to trade him multiple times and insulted him multiples times during contract negotiations over his extension. Considering Love doesn’t have this saturating animosity toward Wolves’ management anymore, it seems unlikely he’ll request a trade any time soon.

That’s not going to stop teams from trying to trade for Love and really they shouldn’t stop trying. ESPN.com’s Andy Katz is reporting that the Cavaliers offered up Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, and the No. 1 pick in the draft in exchange for Love.  Continue Reading…