Archives For Ryan Gomes

Photo by Tristan Tom

We’ve publicly touted our appreciation for Ryan Gomes in these very pages, so its nice to discover that somebody else shares the opinion. ESPNLA’s Kevin Arnovitz recently wrote a nice piece on Gomes and found the new Clipper to be just as thoughtful and open as advertised:

Ask him why the Timberwolves struggled in the triangle, and he’ll tell you the specific point in the sequence when defenses anticipated the action and clamped down on the offense. Ask him how his good friend Al Jefferson will fare in Utah’s flex offense, and he’ll speak in detail about how Jefferson will flourish and which reads will prove most difficult for the big man. Ask him about the particulars of his game as an NBA small forward, and Gomes is an open book.

True that. While I’m happy that Gomes has the chance to start for a team that could make some playoff noise, I must say I’m a little bummed that it had to be the Clips.

I know that, as Wolves fans, we get used to moaning about our sometimes bewildering front office. But always remember that it could be so, so much worse. You could be a Clippers fan. I know the Clippers have a talented group this year, but they also boast probably the worst owner in sports. When Donald Sterling speaks, you can just feel the doom descend. Here’s his most recent offering, this time touching on Gomes and another old acquaintance of ours (from TJ Simers of the LA Times via Mr. Arnovitz at Truehoop):

A couple of months ago this was going to be the summer of all summers for the Clippers, a fresh start, a chance to hire a new coach, $17 million in cap space to go after LeBron or other big names like him and make a huge splash. And so they signed Randy Foye and Ryan Gomes.

Or, as Sterling put it, “If I really called the shots we wouldn’t have signed Gomes and what’s the other guy’s name? You know, they told me if we built a new practice facility we’d attract all the top players in the game,” Sterling adds. “I guess I should have doubled the size of this place.”

He’s no different than most Clippers fans.

“I swear to you, I never heard of these guys,” Sterling says, “but what if the coach says he wants them?”

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve felt the need to defend Randy Foye’s honor. While I will admit that the Clippers apparent attempt to reconstruct the 2008 Timberwolves roster (along with Foye and Gomes, Craig Smith and Bassy Telfair have all been Clips in the past year) is pretty amusing, as Arnovitz points out, this Sterling quote is pure, ignorant poison.

How would you rate the job GM David Kahn has done so far with the Timberwolves?

KL: I was hoping Ricky Rubio comes over and play… We definitely upgraded our team this summer. We re-signed Darko Milicic, we got Michael Beasley, we got a bunch of other players like Luke Ridnour, Sebastian Telfair… So we’re definitely looking better. Last year was a very tough one. As far as the job that he did, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens the next couple of years with our team.

Even better:

Would you like to become a free agent or would you rather sign an extension and get that out of the way?

KL: I’d love to sign an extension and kind of get that out of the way. I’m very comfortable in Minnesota, I like the style that Kurt Rambis has and the coaching staff as well. I want to keep getting better and better and signing an extension would be a little more sweet rather than bitter sweet.

Few know this better than Tony Ronzone, the director of international player personnel for the United States team. His years of circling the globe as an N.B.A. scout and a coach in New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and China earned him a spot on the staff. Ronzone, also an assistant general manager for the Minnesota Timberwolves, will prepare the American players for the personnel on the court and the atmosphere off it. In Europe, Ronzone said, lighters and loose change are commonly confiscated at the gate because fans have been known to heat coins before throwing them.

They heat the coins!

  • Finally, this is not Wolves-related but I command you to read this  SI piece on Hubie Brown (thanks again to Kevin Arnovitz at Truehoop) from 1983, in which Hubie expands on the need to “make [your players] cry for mercy,” his own desire for “complete control” of his team, and the fact that “Bill Russell is a terrible human being.” Paranoia, homophobia and undiluted rage abound. Maybe I’m revealing my age here, but I had no idea that Hubie was such a reactionary maniac in his younger days. How did he turn into such a nice old granddad?

Robert Gibb

On February 6th of this year, the Wolves played the Memphis Grizzlies in Minneapolis. In the first half, Ryan Gomes hit eight out of ten shots and scored 20 points, all but two of those points on jumpers. At this point, most players would, understandably, continue shooting until (and probably well beyond) they’d exhausted every last ounce of heat. But Gomes took only four shots in the second half and focused instead on playing physical, persistent defense on Rudy Gay. Asked about his second half reticence, Gomes matter-of-factly responded, “the shots just weren’t presenting themselves like they were in the first half.”

When Kurt Rambis remarked, on Friday, that “smart players don’t have a problem picking up any offense,” he was talking about players like Gomes. Gomes has never been a terribly dynamic player–by NBA standards he’s an average ballhandler and a slightly below-average athlete–but his feel for the game is almost preternatural.  None of his shots in that Memphis game came as a result of physical domination or extreme displays of skill. Instead, as he always does, Gomes allowed the game to flow to him. He found open space on the court; he made sharp, intuitive passes; he allowed the movements of the ball and the other nine players on the court to dictate his decisions. We could wish that his jumper were more consistent or that he were just a bit quicker, but the guy really knows how to play basketball.

On top of that, Gomes is an famously generous, open and friendly guy. He’s one of the only players I’ve met who seems to enjoy shooting the breeze about basketball as much as pasty nerds like me; he was routinely the last player in the locker room after a painful loss, patiently humoring reporters. Being a 5’10” white dude in an NBA locker room can be a little intimidating; discovering that there was a player willing to look you in the eye and have an actual human conversation made things feel a lot less daunting. I appreciate that.

Amazingly, he seemed able to relate to his teammates even better than he did to reporters. Over and over I saw Gomes seek out frustrated or disgruntled players and, with his funny, rapid-fire banter, bring them back into the fold. Anyone wondering why,  during three years of constant, punishing futility, the Wolves never devolved into a churning, fractious mess should look no further than Ryan Gomes.

So you can see why, on draft night, it was more than a little grating to hear David Kahn describe the trade that brought Martel Webster to the Wolves this way: “We had already made a decision internally that it was not in our interest to maintain Ryan beyond June 30…it was a benefit to us–a big benefit–for Portland to accept his contract as part of a deal. So, the trade, in effect, was for the 16th pick only.”

Ah, the less shiny side of commodification. I guess I can’t really blame Kahn for talking this way; glassy econo-speak is a dreadful commonplace in the NBA. And, as I’ve said, I’ve got no problem with the trade itself (Webster is a fine athlete and a radiantly positive guy himself). Strange as it may sound, at 28, Gomes was beginning to get a touch old for these young Puppies. And his soft skills and glue-guy role are probably better suited for a team with a full complement of veteran talent and a shot at the playoffs. But it is a little tough to see such a selfless, aware player, and such a good dude, described as an exchangeable asset, valued solely for his ability to produce savings on a balance sheet. Wesley Johnson, Lazar Hayward, welcome to the NBA.