Archives For Luke Ridnour

Uh oh. Looks like Jonny Flynn and my grandma have something in common – a bad hip.

So Jonny is going to be sidelined for quite some time. If the early prognosis from Dr. Spears and his sources is correct then a surgery next week and a three to four-month recovery time would have Flynn missing the first month of the NBA season and maybe more.

While this bodes well for the playing time of newly signed Luke Ridnour, it puts a big question mark at the backup point guard position for the Wolves.

The question isn’t who will pick up the backup point guard position. That will go to the newly reacquired Sebastian Telfair.

I’m more curious about what Bassy can bring back to this team after having a very underwhelming six seasons to start his NBA career. The curious thing about Telfair is he’s only 25 years old. If some Wolves fans are going to give Darko a pass all day because he’s still just 25 years old, I guess we have to give the benefit of the doubt to the kid from Coney Island who is just 11 days older than the Serbian Gangster.

When Bassy was repping ‘Sota, he actually wasn’t all that bad. He had his two best seasons of his career (assuming we don’t consider his four games with the Cavs last year as a complete entity… sorry, John Krolik) at the Target Center when he started the majority of the games he played as a Wolf and distributed the ball very well. The problem with Bassy is the lightning quickness with the ball that made him a YouTube and mixtape sensation doesn’t really work in the NBA. Watch this video:

Fun, right?

Well how many times do you see listless defense with players in the wrong spot and not reacting properly to ball movement in the NBA? I mean other than what the Wolves did last season.

That’s the problem with Sebastian Telfair. He’s great against mediocre competition. Put him in the league with guys that are as quick as him (or quick enough to use their size advantage to neutralize his first step) and he’s all of a sudden at a big disadvantage. The way you can change this and open up the floor for him is by putting Bassy in an up-tempo system that allows him to get into big spaces and get creative with the basketball.

Telfair has never really played for a fast team before. The fastest paced team he’s ever really played for was the ’06-’07 Boston Celtics. That tanking Celtics team was 12th in the league in pace at 92 possessions per game (last year’s Clippers team averaged 92.6 possessions per game but he never really got consistent minutes with them). Last year’s Wolves were third in the NBA in pace with a staggering 96.1 possessions per. That’s something that should be somewhat alluring for this current situation.

The Wolves aren’t going to need his services consistently for the majority of the season if Flynn can come back healthy. They just need him to be a steady hand that creates for his teammates during the initial months of the regular season. They need him to back up Ridnour (there’s something I never thought I’d say about this team) for roughly 20-25 minutes per game and not screw things up worse than they already are.

Yes, it would be nice to have Ramon Sessions as the backup to Luke Ridnour to start the season but that trade to send him and Hollins packing for Telfair and 1/9 of Delonte West’s unguaranteed contract was something that needed to get done. Instead, the Wolves get to be a little thinner in the backcourt to start the season but set up better for the future.

For now let’s start making Get Well Soon cards for Jonny Flynn and hope his hip heals better than my grandma’s did.

March 14, 2010: Ramon Sessions of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the game between the Sacramento Kings and the Minnesota Timberwolves at Arco Arena in Sacramento, CA. Ben Munn/CSM.

A lot of people are not going to believe this but David Kahn did something I like.

Meat And Potatoes Of The Trade

T’Wolves trade Ramon Sessions (3 years, $12.7m), Ryan Hollins (2 years, $4.8 m) and a future second round pick.
Cavaliers trade Sebastian Telfair (1 year, $2.7m) and Delonte West (1 year, $4.5m)

Ryan Hollins and Ramon Sessions both have player options for the final years of their contracts while Delonte West’s contract is only guaranteed for $500,000 if he’s waived by August 5th. According to Yahoo! Sports, the Wolves will waive Delonte West and save themselves the $4 million this year.

So what does this mean for Minnesota?

When Luke Ridnour signed with the Wolves for the exact same contract Ramon Sessions autographed last summer, the writing was on the wall that Sessions would be moved to a new team. I never understood the Sessions signing last summer. I had no problem with him joining the Wolves. But considering Minnesota had just drafted Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn, signing another point guard for four years just didn’t make a lot of sense.

Fast forward a year and they’ve signed another point guard to a four-year contract that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me if they have the intention of having Rubio and Flynn running the point for the future of this franchise. Luke Ridnour is the newest floor general signed by David Kahn in what has been a running joke of him trying to acquire all of the point guards in the league. But for once, the running joke against Kahn is a little unfair.

Ridnour is possibly a better point guard than Ramon Sessions in the traditional sense. Sessions is a fantasy basketball legend. He does a nice job of distributing the ball at a high level in the final weeks of the season when the effort is gone in meaningless games. That’s not to belittle what Sessions can do on a basketball court. He is a willing passer and that’s something that can be overlooked in today’s NBA. He doesn’t take a lot of bad shots and rarely will hijack a possession.

But Ramon Sessions was such a liability on defense last year that it’s hard to truly know if he could fit in with this team. Ramon was bad at closing out on shooters and defending guys when isolated. He didn’t fight through screens well or make sure to rotate properly in help. He also doesn’t have great vision for a point guard despite being good at racking up assists. He can miss the obvious play far too much for my liking and with a pass-first point, that’s sort of a problem.

Instead, the Wolves bring in a more veteran and steady presence with Ridnour while bolstering the depth with this trade. Ridnour will be better in the triangle system with a whole lot of tempo than Sessions could have been and a lot of that has to do with his three-point shooting. It’s hard to believe a career 34.7% shooter (career-high 38.1% last season) from long range can be a huge upgrade. However, Ridnour does make the defense have to account for him on the perimeter. Sessions and his 10 career three-point makes do accomplish that whatsoever.

With West already gone, it’s essentially a swap of Sessions and Hollins for Sebastian Telfair. Is this a little one-sided? Absolutely. But is this trade good for the franchise? I believe it is.

A team in the process of rebuilding doesn’t need four potential point guards. Let’s play Make Believe and trick ourselves into thinking Rubio will willingly come to this franchise in the 2011-12 season. Then you’ve got Rubio signed for four years, Flynn signed to two more years (assuming the Wolves pick up his two team options), Sessions signed for two more years (assuming he picks up his player option) and Luke Ridnour to three more seasons. That is way too much salary and time wrapped up into the same one-dimensional position.

Cutting bait with Sessions before the contract became an albatross was the way to go. And at the same time, they got rid of a horrible big man option by jettisoning Ryan Hollins. Hollins was another big man in this league that owed a big portion of his contract to Jason Kidd. He played with Kidd in Dallas for a portion of the ’08-’09 season and he looked much better than he actually is because of it. He wasn’t given a ridiculous three-year contract like Mikki Moore got with the Kings a couple of years ago after playing with Kidd but he still got a three-year contract that didn’t make any sense.

But now? The Wolves no longer have to worry about that.

They’ve been able to rid themselves of two contracts that don’t fit and don’t make sense. This is a key when rebuilding with some sense of fiscal responsibility. Being able to get rid of superfluous and unnecessary contracts before they become a burden is huge. It allows contracts like Darko’s signing and Luke Ridnour’s signing to be much easier to digest as a bitter fan base.

The Wolves have carved out even more cap space without sacrificing legitimate building blocks to do so. Even though I’m a firm believer that Kahn should be criticized for the majority of the decisions he’s made in his 14 months on the job, for once he’s making a move that makes short and long-term sense.

Enter Ridnour

Benjamin Polk —  July 22, 2010 — 7 Comments

Photo by Express Monorail

Here in Minnesota, we love ourselves some point guards. In the last two years, Jonny Flynn, Ricky Rubio, Nick Calathes, Ty Lawson, Mario Chalmers, Kevin Ollie, Sebastian Telfair, Randy Foye and Ramon Sessions  have all, at least momentarily, sported the hometown blue-ish and green-ish (and black, plus a little silver).

And now, Luke Ridnour is officially a member of that distinguished group. Welcome, Luke.  I recommend swimming in lakes for a third of the year and wearing long underwear for the rest. So what’s this all about? Are we moving Ramon Sessions as has been reported and widely assumed? Are we, uh, actually hanging on to all three of these guys? Here’s what Kent Youngblood has to say about it:

Jonny Flynn, last year’s starter as a rookie, has a sore left hip. David Kahn, the Wolves’ president of basketball operations, said it’s the same injury that kept Flynn out of last season’s regular-season finale and out of summer league ball. Kahn said the team will hold onto all its point guards until Flynn’s immediate future is clear.

“We have three point guards on our roster this season, and yet another one [Ricky Rubio] overseas,” Kahn said Wednesday. “It’s not my intent, in any way, shape or form, to have three healthy point guards on the roster this year. That wouldn’t be fair to any of them. … [But] I’m not certain, as we speak today, about Jonny’s condition.”

On a different, although somewhat related note, jianfu of Canis wonders aloud whether a mid-market team like the Wolves can afford the talent necessary to run the triangle offense:

It would appear that running this style of offense demands versatility out of all its players: your bigs need to be creative passers, your wings need to be versatile, do-it-all types. Is this sustainable for a smaller-market team wishing to avoid the luxury tax? Wouldn’t it seem, assuming you found enough players that could make this thing sing, this is a less-cost-efficient strategy given these players are skilled to the point that they’re going to be awfully expensive? The Lakers have Lamar Odom coming off the bench and he’s paid 3X the Wolves’ highest-paid player, after all. Is a Utah- or Phoenix-style offense–built almost entirely around a 2-man pick-and-roll game, supplemented with role players that are more specific (as opposed to diverse) in their skillsets a more viable alternative?

This is an interesting point, I think. My personal feeling is that you don’t necessarily need a team full of spectacularly talented players to make this offense work–although it would probably be helpful to have at least one guy of Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol or Kobe Bryant’s skill level. Rather, you need smart players who are willing and able to get open and move the ball. Its also nice if they can run the floor and shoot and feel like playing defense.

Utah doesn’t run the triangle, but Jerry Sloan’s offense relies on some similar skills: overall basketball knowledge; crafty passing; smart off-the-ball movement and screen setting. The Jazz’s great talent has been to surround their stars–Stockton and Malone, Williams and Boozer–with smart, willing, modestly paid role players; there’s no reason that the Wolves can’t do this too (and in some ways, they’re already on the right track). So when do we get our Deron Williams (or Kobe or Pau)…?

Photo by Macwagon

After trading Al Jefferson to the Utah Jazz for two first-rounders, a newfound $25 million or so in cap room, and a chance to give Michael Beasley some serious burn (by the way, Kevin Love says, B-Easy or no, he’s not feeling another year of sixth-man limbo–anybody know how this is gonna work?) David Kahn strongly hinted that the party was not over. “We’re only about halfway through this exercise,” he said on the eve of the Jefferson deal. Apparently an essential facet of the exercise was signing Luke Ridnour.  AP’s John Krawczynski reports on that:

With so many baby-faced players on a roster that is in the middle of a massive overhaul, team president David Kahn put a priority on adding some experience to help the young Minnesota Timberwolves grow together.

The first veteran addition didn’t come cheap. The Timberwolves agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal with free agent point guard Luke Ridnour, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

This probably also tells us that Ramon Sessions, the Wolves current backup point guard, is on his way to a (hopefully) happier place. Krawczynski continues:

The deal likely means that Sessions, who signed a contract nearly identical to Ridnour’s last summer, will be traded. Sessions’ agent told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he has heard about discussions with several teams, but a deal has yet to be completed.

Let me tell you what this makes me wonder. Over their careers, Ridnour’s and Sessions’s stats are awfully similar (Ridnour’s sample size, of course, being quite a bit bigger than Ramon’s). Sessions boasts a career PER of 15.6 to Ridnour’s 14.5 Sessions’s true shooting percentage is .519, while Ridnour’s is .512. Dimes? Sessions’s assist rate is 31% while Ridnour’s is 29.7%. Turnover rate? 15.9% for Sessions, 15.5 for Ridnour. Even defensively, the two players’ profiles are remarkably similar.

So what’s this about? As mentioned above, veteran leadership was something sorely lacking from the Wolves’ lineup last year; Ridnour certainly provides that–although Sessions, despite his relative youth, offered a quiet, steady contrast to Jonny Flynn’s exuberant vocal stylee. I certainly hope this isn’t an overreaction to Sessions’s disappointing stats last season and Ridnour’s career year (Luke’s PER and true shooting percentage were significantly higher last year than in any of his previous six seasons–which suggests that they’re more than likely an aberration).

Because if anyone got a rotten deal last year, it wasn’t Jefferson or Kevin Love, but Sessions.  For an entire season, he watched from the sidelines as Flynn received on-the-job training from the Wolves’ starting unit. Ramon, meanwhile, had to make do with the truly impressive cast D-Leaguers and Eurostars on the Wolves’ bench–and I’ll tell you, that crew could suck the life out of anybody’s game. Over and over, Sessions found himself the most competent scorer on the floor, forced to shoulder the man’s share of the offensive burden.

Suffice to say, this did not play to his strengths. Watching Sessions’s game slowly deteriorate after thousands of minutes spent next to Ryan Hollins and Sasha Pavlovic was one of the least appetizing facets of the Wolves long, grisly season. I’m pretty sure that Ramon Sessions is an awfully good basketball player. He doesn’t deserve what he got (and what, it seems, he’s getting) here in Minneapolis.

Big Al on the Brink

Benjamin Polk —  July 13, 2010 — 2 Comments

Things are happening to Al Jefferson. Last night Marc Stein reported that the Wolves were still haggling with Dallas over a possible trade of Big Al for Erick Dampier, or more accurately, Dampier’s huge, non-guaranteed contract.

But because of Dallas’s desire to unload Deshawn Stevenson, Matt Carroll and their significantly less amenable contracts on whomever takes Dampier, this thing is apparently old news.

Today, all the kids are talking about Utah. Here’s what Jerry Zgoda has to say:

A league source told the Star Tribune the Wolves were approaching a deal with the Jazz that would send the remaining three years and $42 million on Jefferson’s contract to Utah for a protected first-round pick from Memphis and another unspecified piece or pieces. The Jazz would use a trade exception from losing free agent Carlos Boozer to Chicago to absorb Jefferson’s salary…That trade also could clear cap room for the team to make additional trades or signings such as that of Ridnour, the former Milwaukee Bucks combo guard who visited the Timberwolves and Target Center last week.

Friends, this is sounding just like a salary dump. Are the Wolves really looking to move Al for next to nothing in order to make room for Luke Ridnour? Is that really the best we can do? I can already envision four games of Al utterly devouring Kevin Love or Michael Beasley or Darko or whoever else the Wolves use to defend him. I realize that its shrewd to enter the season with cap room (as Oklahoma City seems to do every year), but this still feels like an ignoble end for Big Al.  I’m feeling kind of depressed.

On the subject of Beasley, ESPN says that the deal is now official:

“There should be still a tremendous amount of upside there,” Kahn said of Beasley. “We like his versatility and his athleticism. If we do trade Al, he provides some comfort there is some scoring punch in case that occurs.”

Or they could, y’know, try to trade Al for an actual player with a little “scoring punch,” but whatever.

While we’re talking about Beasley, this here’s a nice piece from a few days ago by Oceanary of Canis Hoopus about the whole power forward/small forward debate. As we briefly mentioned the other day, Beasley’s stats are significantly better when he plays the four. Oceanary elaborates on just why that is:

First, Beasley can create some absolutely nightmarish mismatches for other teams as a 4. The kind that….well, that the Timberwolves fell victim to on seemingly a nightly basis last season. Beasley’s a strong shooter with range, with the potential to get even better in that department. He’s also quick and athletic in a way few power forwards in the league are, and can handle the ball well enough to exploit that without needing to run of screens and make constant backdoor cuts. And he’s a master at creating space for himself in isolation situations, whether it be with a first step, a step back, or something more crafty. He is a shouthpaw after all….a lot of people don’t realize how much that can be exploited.