Archives For Flip Saunders

Andrew Wiggins be dunking

President-coach-owner Flip Saunders has been under fire since his comments in Portland about not wanting 3-point shots to be a “main part” of Andrew Wiggins’ game. It’s led to yet another dissection of what Flip can mean for the ceiling of this latest rebuilding project for the Minnesota Timberwolves and the potential pitfalls of this organization and Flip as both shopper and cook when it comes to the grocery list. With a team that dropped to 47 games under .500 in their loss to the Lakers Friday night, development and future is all Wolves fans have to look forward to right now.

Wiggins is the biggest part of that hope for the future because he’s going to be a superstar in this league. If only one thing has been certain with this team in the 2014-15 campaign, it’s that the Wolves acquired one of the future stars of this league back in August (really July but the trade had to wait). The Canadian via Kansas has been a revelation most nights and you can see the confidence building, the skill set getting more diverse, and the approach to the game being one of the more impressive things you can imagine from a 19/20-year old player in the NBA.

I’ve written about Wiggins’ development this season and Steve McPherson had a great Q&A with David Thorpe on Thursday diving into making him the star he needs to become. In looking at what happened with the Wolves’ loss and more importantly Wiggins’ incredible play at Staples Center Friday night, it’s made me look at Flip’s comments in a new light. First, let’s take a look at the full quote, via Ben Golliver of SI.comContinue Reading…

KawhiSoSerious

Typically, when the Minnesota Timberwolves look like they’re going to get blown out in a game and I’m on recap duty, I start thinking of tangents and topics outside of basketball I can explore in my writing. There’s no real sense in figuring out why a bad team got destroyed by a good team. This is the nature of the business and while you hope to be competitive in match-ups like that, the talent often overrides the Disney story and nature versus nurture takes over. Heading into last night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs, the Wolves were missing Ricky Rubio (ankle), Gary Neal (ankle), Nikola Pekovic (ankle), Kevin Garnett (knee), Anthony Bennett (ankle), Robbie Hummel (hand), and Shabazz Muhammad (hand).

The Spurs were at full strength and they’ve been clicking as of late. They had won six of their last seven games by a margin of nearly 16 points with their only loss happening in overtime thanks to Kyrie Irving’s 57 points. The Wolves hung tough with them in the first quarter and even kept it relatively close in the second quarter until a late push by San Antonio pushed the halftime deficit to double digits for Minnesota. When the third quarter opened, “hell broke Luce” (as Tom Waits would say) and the game was officially going the way of nature for the Spurs. Normally, I would have been gathering my thoughts about recent movies I had seen, like Foxcatcher or St. Vincent. Instead, I had basketball on my mind, which was surprising to me.

I had three thoughts kicking around in my head:  Continue Reading…

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In somewhat of a surprise flurry of moves, Timberwolves jack of all trades Flip Saunders made the first splash in the NBA’s annual February trade season. Let’s start by looking at what exactly went down:

Deal 1:

Charlotte receives: Mo Williams, Troy Daniels

Minnesota receives: Gary Neal, 2nd round pick

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Deal 2:

Atlanta receives: 2017 1st round pick (Lottery-protected from 2017-2020)

Minnesota receives: Adreian Payne

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There were actually two more or less completely distinct things going on at Target Center last night: the return of Kevin Love to Minneapolis and a game between the Timberwolves and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Leading up to the game, it seemed as if these things were inextricable, but as the game unfolded, they became more and more distinct from each other.

Prior to the game, Love met with the media and, when asked about whether he wishes things had ended on a better note with the Wolves, he responded, “I mean, sure. It’s only human nature to want it to always be sunshine and blue skies, but that’s just not the case.”

Few would argue against the latter, but there’s also an issue with the former, and it’s something brought to the fore both by Love and the Wolves themselves. Per usual, Love seemed to face the media’s attention with a bit of a grimace. His annoyance with the media doesn’t seem to come from a place of not wanting attention, though, but rather not getting the kind of attention he thinks he should get. He has long embodied some particularly jagged contradictions: a tireless worker who turned himself from a doughy rebounder into a rangy shooter but still can’t really be bothered to “get” defense; a guy who wanted to be “the man,” to carry the team, but who also didn’t hesitate to throw some guys under the bus; a purported team-first player who only talks about wins, never numbers, yet whose greatest accomplishments come from stats and not the intangibles.

But aren’t Wolves fans themselves a bit like this? Is sunshine and blue skies really the goal for longtime Wolves fans? If that’s what they wanted, they could go follow a team that rewards them far better, yet there’s a persistent distaste for bandwagon fans, and way too much wallowing in how bad the team is, followed by insisting that they’re done, finished, never paying attention to this team again. And then they’re back again a couple weeks or months later.

Do we really want sunshine and blue skies? Or do we just think that’s what we’re supposed to want? Continue Reading…

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Throughout the season, Flip Saunders has told stories to players and media about his early years with the Timberwolves, specifically his memories developing a young, untapped 19-year-old named Kevin Garnett.

In some cases, telling such stories could be seen as pointless. There’s no way he told these stories to his title-contending Detroit Pistons squads, filled with veterans and guys who grew up playing against KG, and had already gone through the growing pains. One can only imagine what Rasheed Wallace would have thought if Saunders was reminiscing about a guy he was picked ahead of in 1995.

But this year’s Timberwolves team needs to hear these tales. Currently, the Wolves start one teenager, and have had another in and out of the starting lineup.The average age of their two leading scorers is 20 years old. They have 3 rookies on the active roster, and are at a point where guys in the range of 24-27 years old classifies you as a “seasoned veteran”.

Yes, Saunders needs to tell stories to Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, and Anthony Bennett, not just because they’re young, and not just because they’re developing. It’s also because of the way Kevin Garnett played, even when he was 19.

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Jazz 101, Wolves 89: Energy

Tim Faklis —  January 3, 2015 — 11 Comments

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Through the Wolves’ current 11-game losing streak, we’ve heard stuff like this from head coach Flip Saunders. A lot.

Considering the number of injuries the Wolves have compiled (and who, specifically, got injured), it would be easy to dismiss this season as a wash. But when a young team like the Wolves can’t even properly use what may be their biggest tool (young, fresh legs) to their advantage on a nightly basis, things are going to get bad. Losing streaks like this are going to happen. It’s what happened tonight.

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Early in Minnesota’s 102-86 loss to the Golden State Warriors, Andrew Bogut was hobbling up and down the floor. It was unclear what was wrong at the time, but it was clear he needed to be taken out. Swiftly, new Golden State head coach Steve Kerr moved to put in backup Festus Ezeli. Bogut would not return to the game.

Golden State came into to the game already a man down, having lost David Lee to a hamstring injury during the Warriors’ season opener. This was not an ideal situation for the Warriors, who have faced the consequence of injury struggles come playoff time the past couple years.

Tonight, however, the Warriors faced off against a Timberwolves team that, when fully healthy, is probably still a worse team than Golden State was short-manned. But Minnesota isn’t healthy right now.

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LivingLaVineaLoca

In two weeks, the Minnesota Timberwolves will reevaluate Ricky Rubio’s ankle. He’ll be on crutches during that time and then we’ll see how the swelling and ligaments are progressing. Optimistically, I’d say the Wolves are looking at a four-week recovery overall for the significant/high ankle sprain, and six weeks may even be the more likely scenario. That’s simply a guess based on covering injuries like this and talking to a couple of people who are smarter about it than I am.

In the next 4-8 weeks, or however long Rubio is sidelined, Zach LaVine will likely be the starting point guard. Flip Saunders is wary about playing Mo Williams more than 25 minutes a game due to advanced age in the NBA and not wanting to wear him down. When the Wolves made the decision to keep Glenn Robinson III over J.J. Barea, they knew the risk of injury at the point guard could thrust them into a situation like this. And it’s a great chance at developing LaVine in a way they probably didn’t believe was a likely scenario. Saturday night against the Heat, we saw a lot of what the process should and likely will look like during Rubio’s down time.  Continue Reading…

RubioExtension

About a month ago, maybe even a week ago, the likelihood of a contract extension for Ricky Rubio with the Minnesota Timberwolves seemed very low. Rubio’s agent was asking for a max contract, according to reports and rumors, and the Wolves were never going to pay the max in a rising salary cap situation. Committing that much money to Rubio would be an optimistic investment, considering his scoring woes, to say the least. However with the last couple hours before the extension deadline for the 2011 rookie class, the Wolves and Rubio finally came to a much more manageable compromise.

Reports have come out that Rubio and the Wolves agreed to a four-year, $55 million-plus contract extension that will keep Rubio with the Wolves through the 2018-19 season. Our friend Jon Krawcyznski of the Associated Press has the deal at 4 years and $56 million with the incentives included.

The concept of Rubio, his worth, the market for players of his status/position, and his future with the club appear to be very divisive topics, so let’s try to work this out on the page and come to a consensus on how good of a deal this is for both sides and what it means moving forward.  Continue Reading…

SWORD

“Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

-Hebrews, 4:12

I don’t often begin posts about basketball with quotes from scripture. But when thinking of the term “double-edged sword,” my mind inevitably wanders back to my Catholic education and the place I first heard it, the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews. The quote above is in reference to God’s word, and is often misinterpreted due to the presence of the term “two-edged” or “double-edged” sword. In this instance, it’s merely a noun; it could just as easily read “sharper than any axe” or “sharper than any dagger.”

“Double-edged sword” usually signifies something appearing to be a benefit that can also be a curse. The reason this interpretation applies to the 2014-15 Minnesota Timberwolves is that they have a ton of depth (good), but not nearly enough minutes to make all of the players on the roster happy (not so good). Continue Reading…