Archives For Anthony Randolph

A funny thing happened on the way to Nikola Pekovic’s contract year: Kevin Love broke his hand and gave Pek the chance to show just how much he’s worth.

The timing of this injury — in line with Pek’s last season before restricted free agency — couldn’t have been more perfect for the third-year center. In fact, it’s a complete win-win for him. If he plays well and helps carry the team for the first month or more, he probably guarantees himself a max offer in restricted free agency, just to put pressure on the organization to match (I see you, Paul Allen). If he doesn’t play well and help carry the team, nobody would fault him at all for not being up for the task.

Pekovic came into this season with the preseason buzz phrase “best shape of his life.” He looked like a lean pitbull, ready to patrol the dog run without a glimmer of fear. With eight-ish pounds shed off his immense frame, Pek has not only taken the pressure off his surgically repaired ankle, but he’s allowed himself to move a lot freer than before. And somehow he even got stronger.  Continue Reading…

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.

 


Our friend Darren Wolfson at ESPN 1500 has reported that the Wolves are going to offer Brandon Roy a two-year contract and that the money is not known.

I don’t even know if I’m ready to deal with the idea of Roy’s knees actually being healthy enough to be a serviceable player in the NBA. It’s not even like he had a catastrophic injury that left him in deep Shaun Livingston type of territory. He had injuries that were manageable (relatively speaking of course) and the wear-and-tear-and-more-tear just deteriorated the situation in his middle-leg-joints (medical term) past the point of no return.

But there apparently is a return in sight. With that return, it means the Wolves have to woo him with money over those proposed two years in order to convince him Minnesota is more attractive than a more instant title contender. So how much money do they have?

For committed salary heading into next year (courtesy of Sham Sports), the Wolves currently stand at $52,874,151. That is with the understanding that Brad Miller’s retirement paperwork has all of the Ts crossed and the lower case Js dotted. But that number can be deceiving.  Continue Reading…

This is Anthony Randolph with his shirt on backwards.

Not to get into the habit of quoting myself, but this is what I had to say about Anthony Randolph last fall:

It’s hard to tell what will become of this strange dude. But here’s my best guess: with his blank, far-away demeanor, Anthony Randolph falls into that vast category of NBA player with overwhelming talent but a temperament that prevents that talent from ever fully flowering.

Sad to say, but I don’t think that’s changed much over the ensuing season. There was hope, of course, as there was for every Timberwolf, that Ricky Rubio could manage to invigorate Randolph’s career, could teach him to play, as it were, as Steve Nash and Jason Kidd have done for so many of their teammates. There were glimmers, early on, that this might actually be possible: the incredible back door alley-oop that Rubio gifted to Randolph was a sign that, just maybe, AR’s immense talents had found a home.

But, just as it did for Darko Milicic, precedent willed out. Rick Adelman soon grew tired of Randolph’s bipolar effort and his finesse-at-all-costs approach to the game. By midseason it appeared that Adelman would have preferred to forfeit a game than hand Randolph meaningful minutes. But then everybody got hurt. Adelman was forced to choose between Randolph and Milicic as his big man of last resort; Randolph began to log his first serious minutes of the season.

And the results were pretty much what you would have expected them to be. Randolph had his requisite share of fine games–28 points on 11-16 shooting against the Nuggets, 22 and 11 three nights later in Oklahoma City. And he had his share of stinkers–a combined 2-15 from the field in the two games following his OKC triumph. For a man playing the majority of his minutes at center, he still takes in inordinate amount of jumpers (58% of his shots, as it happens) without making enough of them (38.3%) to justify that volume.

He boasts a true shooting rate (.532) and rebound rate (13.2) that are decidedly below average for his position. (A very curious thing: Randolph’s rebounding stats–both his per-minute numbers as well as his rebounding percentage–have steadily declined every year since he entered the league. That really is not good.) His PER (17.6) is rescued only by the sheer volume of shots that he takes which, for a a player of such mediocre efficiency, is no real rescue at all.

And we haven’t even gotten to the worst of it. 82games.com estimates that Randolph’s opponents averaged a PER of 21.8 when they played against him this year, the worst such number on the team. Estimates like that are clearly not an exact science, but they correspond with what we saw. We saw a player with only intermittent focus and energy, particularly on the defensive end. We saw a player reluctant to do the hard yeoman’s labor necessary for good post defense. Randolph was surely one of the players that J.J. Barea had in mind when he assailed his teammates effort, commitment and just basic level of caring. This off-season, the Wolves can either make Randolph a one-year qualifying offer or sign him to a multi-year deal. Don’t expect them to do either.

As I was, as you were, J.J. Barea was mightily displeased by his teammates’ second-half effort last night. Here is what he told reporters after the game (via Tom Powers at the Pioneer Press):

We’ve got problems here. We just got a lot of guys that don’t care. When a basketball team got a bunch of players that don’t care, it’s tough to win games. It’s going to happen until we get players in that care: care about winning, care about the team, care about the fans…

I’ve been noticing it. But today you can really notice it. It was a brutal second half. Nobody fighting, nobody getting mad at nobody. After a game like that you got to have problems. You got to argue with your teammates. But nobody cares so we’ve got to change that.

I have three thoughts about this. First: I’m guessing that this is probably the kind of talk that prompted Kevin Love to get all up in J.J.’s grill during their loss to the Kings.

Second: he’s totally right and you can’t really blame him for being frustrated. And it takes some real ballz to essentially call out loud for the dismissal of dudes who are literally sitting feet away from you at that very moment. You have to kind of admire that.

Third: I wonder who he’s talking about. Michael Beasley’s vacant performances seem to me less about a lack of caring and more about his flaky personality. It just seems really hard for the guy to find focus and absorption in what he’s doing. Anthony Randolph seems to possess some of Darko’s melancholia: when things aren’t going well his shoulders slump, he wanders around like a lost child, he looks sad in the face. And Wes Johnson? Wes just seems happy to be there. Suffice it to say, none of the above qualities make for terribly competitive basketball players.

"Kerze," Gerhard Richter

Well this was surely one of the strangest games I’ve ever seen. It has been a little bit horrifying to see how, during this rough April, the Wolves have slowly morphed into a pre-Adelman version of their defensive selves. The first half of tonight’s game was easily the apex of that nauseating transformation. Like the Rambis-era Wolves, this crew has showed execrable perimeter defense. Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Andre Miller, Danilo Gallinari…and really whoever else felt like penetrating the Wolves’ defense in the first half was more than free to do so.

Almost worse than that, though, and possibly even more redolent of their old selves, has been the team’s incompetence away from the ball. When, in a given defensive possession, the time comes to negotiate an off-the-ball screen, or make a decisive rotation, or give weakside help, the Wolves have reacted indecisively–and defensive indecision is an excellent way to give up points again and again. It was not so much a matter of lack of effort–although the Wolves’ first half was not exactly a paragon of energetic basketball–as of lack of awareness and anticipation.

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Things almost got out of hand. In fact, they did get out of hand. Yet once again, we came barreling back.

We still lost though.

Much of this season will be spent articulating the subtle differences between last year’s uptempo collapses and the developments currently unfolding before us. Yet for all the excitement surrounding our fair ball club, for all the strides we’ve seemingly taken, that first quarter against Chicago was the unfriendliest reminder of our lot in life.

You see, no matter the personnel, there is still some truth to be squeezed from that old cliche: With solid fundamentals, proper teamwork and an unyielding effort, any team can compete in this league. However in order to actually win, a team needs someone that defies the rules. Someone a step faster, a foot taller, a leap higher, capable of seizing control. Someone who simply can’t be stopped.

Enter Derrick Rose.

He skips through the narrowest of gaps before a defense even recognizes them. Even when expertly defended, he’s liable to score anyway. There isn’t anyone he can’t jump over and no three men he can’t weave himself around. Plainly put, Rose is an unprecedented package of size, speed and skill, complete with a competitive streak that would make even Chicago’s most celebrated sociopath nod in admiration.

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I don’t want to take anything from the Raptors because they outplayed the Wolves last night. However, I can’t help but feel like Minnesota just gave this game away.

The perimeter defense was spotty, they allowed too many trips to the free throw line, and finished just 12/30 at the rim. Raptors blocked nine shots. The Wolves weren’t strong with the ball around the basket and let Toronto be the aggressor with more energy on both ends of the floor. Execution continues to be a problem for most of the units the Wolves put out there. There are stretches in which the offense is running like a machine. But these stretches need to be extended from minutes to entire quarters.

With that brief little expulsion, here are my grades for last night’s game: Continue Reading…

Friends, the longest night of the year has come and gone. The lockout is now, miraculously, a bitter memory. Ricky Rubio, Rick Adelman, Derrick Williams, the svelte, newly athletic Kevin Love and all of the rest of your Wolves will soon take the floor for an actual, certified NBA game. So how’s this gonna go? This year’s Wolves are a strange amalgamation of moving parts and oddly shaped puzzle pieces.  Although we’re hopeful that something new and great is about to begin, there are still scads of unanswered questions hanging in the air. Zach, Myles and I have no better idea than the rest of you how this will all play out, but here’s our best shot untangling some of the riddles that will inform the Wolves’ season. All that’s left to do is play basketball. Read on…

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BREAKING NEWS: Sources say, Wolves went 2-0 in the preseason against the Bucks.

So as we prepare for the Preseason Playoff series against the 2-0 Clippers, I thought I would share some notes I made on Wolves players from the two games we just witnessed.
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