Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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Tidbits following the Wolves' 108-103 victory over Atlanta at Target Center on Tuesday night:
-16-15 matches the Wolves' best record after 31 games since they were 16-15 in 2006-07
-The Wolves had lost 11 straight to the Hawks.
-The Wolves are 8-0 this season when scoring 100.
-Nikola Pekovic had 25 points and 18 rebounds, helping the Wolves dominate the scoring in the paint, 50-38.
-Ricky Rubio finished with eight assists. He didn't drive the lane often, but he was deft in finding teammates open for jump shots.
-Derrick Williams matched a career-high by hitting three three-pointers. He's shooting 45.2 percent on 3s in his last 31 shots.
-Andrei Kirilenko, the lovable Russian, had 21 points, six rebounds and five assists. He reached 2,0000 career assists. He needs one steal to become the 15th player in NBA history to reach 2,000 assists, 1,000 steals and 1,000 blocks.
Wrote my column on the Wolves' injury woes and the admirable way they've overcome them. I invoke the name of Joey Two Steps.
I'll be on 1500espn from 9-noon all week with Judd Zulgad. I believe we'll have Wolves coach Bill Bayno on at some point tomorrow.
Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Who would have imagined a few months ago that our most prominent winter sports teams would add Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko?
The Wild, one of the most boring teams in the NHL the past two seasons, should now be entertaining, and should make the playoffs.
The Wolves now feature a starting lineup that, when the knees of Roy and Ricky Rubio are willing, will look something like this: Rubio, Roy, Kirilenko, Love, Pekovic. With a bench of Budinger, Ridnour, Barea, Stiemsma and Derrick Williams.
In short, the Wolves have added depth and talent without sacrificing Williams or trading away first-round draft picks. Kirilenko will add length to the Wolves' defense, and can score and get to the line without hogging the ball. He should mesh well in Adelman's offense.
The Wolves could have made a bigger splash, by trading for Pau Gasol or Nic Batum. But they would have had to sacrifice valuable assets to get those players. They may be better off, long-term, by adding Kirilenko as a free-agent and helping Williams develop into either a starter or a more valuable trade chip.
The Wolves will also be improved because they won't be relying on Wes Johnson, Mike Beasley, Anthony Randolph and Darko to play important minutes. This is the definition of addition by subtraction.
Could we see the Wolves and the Wild in the playoffs? I think so. Especially if Rubio recovers well and Roy can play valuable minutes.
I hope to watch the Russian team with Kirilenko and Alexey Schved on Sunday, and get Kirilenko's thoughts on playing for the Wolves.
I don't often envy athletes. Those who are great successes lead great lives, but most wind up frustrated, broke and without a real career at the age of 35.
Here's a guy I envy: Kurt Rambis.
Rambis will be paid $4 million to not work for David Kahn and Glen Taylor.
Yes, I'm jealous.
-Now that the Rambis fiasco is over, where will Kahn turn for his next coach?
Strib Wolves beat wrtier Jerry Zgoda listed some potential candidates. Rick Adelman would be a grand slam, a fine coach who deals well with players, emphasizes ball movement and can play fast enough to satisfy Kahn.
Don Nelson would be a an act of desperation, another example of Kahn reaching for a proven name, even though the proven name was kicked out of his last two jobs and is 71.
Sam Mitchell still interests me, but I keep hearing that he has no shot at this job.
Know what name I like on Zgoda's list? Dave Joerger. I like coaches who commit to being a head coach early in their career, rather than riding coattails like Rambis did with Phil Jackson. I like guys who learn how to win at lower levels before they climb to the big time. And I like guys, like Joerger and Dwane Casey and Tom Thibodeau, who are given responsibility for an NBA team's defense and succeed.
Joerger helped the Grizzlies make the playoffs and beat the Spurs. He'd be hungry and driven. I don't know if he'd be the right guy, but he has the right kind of resume for my tastes.
-It's amazing. Every scout and baseball person and even baseball writer I speak with tells me they expect the Twins to win the AL Central. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised by that, but I fear fans are assuming it's going to be easy, and the Twins will still have to play at a remarkable pace to make it to 85 victories, which is probably the fewest number of victories that would win the division. (That's just my guess.)
The Twins are 41-48. Can they really go 44-29 with this bullpen?
I believe they'll have to find at least one more arm to go with Matt Capps, Joe Nathan and Glen Perkins. Maybe that's Chuck James. Maybe that's Carlos Gutierrez. More likely, the Twins will have to overpay to land a reliever on the trade market.
The Twins are obligated to go for it, given the continuing sellouts in Target Field. But I'm not sure their farm system can take many more hits.
Remember, one of the reasons the Twins were able to surge back into relevance in the early 2000s was because of the trades made by Terry Ryan. He got Johan Santana for nothing; Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser for a catcher who was about to be replaced by Joe Mauer (A.J. Pierzynski), and made minor deals for Jason Bartlett, Lew Ford, Alexi Casilla and others who offered value.
Those deals are hard to make. So while the Twins may find it necessary to trade for another reliever, they can't afford to give up any more top prospects.
-Upcoming: I"ll be on 1500espn at 2:40 today, then filling in for Joe Anderson tonight from 6-8. My guests will include Dave St. Peter, San Jose columnist Tim Kawakami (on the NBA, Don Nelson, Moneyball and the Giants), my personal soccer guru Dana Wessel and Lynx star Maya Moore.
Greetings from Milwaukee. It's a beautiful day here, spent the morning walking down to the lakefront, running into dozens of Twins fans wearing their gear.
Milwaukee always feels, to me, like a smaller, slower Chicago.
I've read a bunch of excerpts from the Bill Simmons interview of David Kahn. Where else would Kahn cut open a vein, but on the BS Report?
The funny thing is, if there's anyone who has criticized Kahn more than me, it's Simmons. But Kahn is desperate to appear legitimate and to defend himself, and he can't find a bigger audience than by speaking with Simmons.
What's amazing is that Kahn can change his story from minute to minute. His first year on the job, I wrote about how I didn't think the triangle offense was a good fit for his team, and particularly Jonny Flynn, and he called me to explain that the offense wasn't necessarily the triangle and...well, I dozed off after a while, so I'm not sure what else he had to say.
Now he's telling Simmons that the triangle didn't work with this team, and damaged Flynn's progress, which is exactly the point he was trying to shoot down when I made it two years ago.
Kahn also repeats the ridiculous notion that he's still making a decision on Rambis.
I've had colleagues tell me they find all of this highly entertaining. I don't. I see a guy you can't trust running a team I want to care about.
People in my business use the ``Event X will define Person X's legacy'' line way too often, but I"ll say this: Kahn's decision on his head coach could determine whether he'll have the job two years from now.
If he keeps Rambis, he's in deep trouble. If he fires Rambis and make a ridiculous move like the rumored Bernie Bickerstaff hire, he'll be on his way out. If he fires Rambis and somehow lands a legitimate, quality, NBA coach, that coach could take an interesting group of young players, improve the team's record dramatically in part because there is nowhere to go but up, and make Kahn look like he knew what he was doing all along.
For example, what if the Wolves can land Rick Adelman? He's one of the best coaches in the game. I'm not sure he wants to work for this organization or endure a rebuilding project, but if the Wolves could land him, they'd improve dramatically over the next year or two.
But would Kahn be willing to hire someone who could wind up becoming the primary personnel voice in the organization? That's the big question surrounding the Wolves right now.
-Maybe Joe Mauer and Jose Mijares sniping at each other last night means nothing. These things do happen.
Or maybe Mijares' willingness to challenge the Twins' franchise player is a sign that Mauer, in the midst of a season in which many people in the organization have become frustrated with him, no longer commands unversal respect or receives the benefit of the doubt in the clubhouse.
I've always been told by Twins people that Mauer is not an exceptional pitch-caller. But when you hit .340 and throw out runners, nobody's going to complain very loudly about that.
Now, though, Mauer is swinging weakly and throwing poorly and at least some of his teammates have privately questioned whether he's willing to play with pain or discomfort, and now a less-than-established player like Mijares is calling him out?
Does that seem like a coincidence?
There is also the question of why Mijares didn't shake off Mauer if he didn't want to throw a 3-2 fastball to Prince Fielder. That is a good question. Mijares has final say.
But before that pitch was thrown, where would you have placed your faith: In the franchise player who is a veteran catcher, or in the wildly erratic lefty? Kind of like asking whether you want Brett Favre or Bernard Berrian making a call on third-and-5.
-I like the Wild's trade of Brent Burns for Devin Setoguchi for a very simple reason:
I like goals. With Burns gone and Setoguchi at forward, the Wild figure to score more, and allow more, goals, and defensive hockey bores me to tears.
Judging it more objectively, I still like it. Burns was a good guy and a real talent, but the Wild trading him when he was a year away from free agency for a talented winger who is signed for three years is exactly the kind of move the Wild needed to make.
-Still lining up guests for Sunday Morning Sports Talk. At this point I believe we'll have Derrick Williams, Chuck Fletcher and Milwaukee radio star Drew Olson. The Gardenhire Show starts at 9:30 a.m. on 1500espn followed by SMST from 10-noon.
-I'll be Twittering tonight from the Twins-Brewers game, @Souhanstrib.
I'm in Milwaukee for the Twins' series. Before the game, the Twins announced that Justin Morneau will be out until at least August. He'll undergo surgery on his neck to repair a herniated disc that is causing pain and numbness in his left arm.
We all know that the Twins have been decimated by injuries. Let's spin this story forward in two ways:
1. Gardenhire said Mauer is taking grounders in case the Twins need him to play another position with Morneau out. This can only be good. This lineup's lack of run production is catching up to it this week. Mauer needs to be in the lineup every day, one way or another. And in a National League city, with the DH not available, he should be available to play first base.
2. Once again Michael Cuddyer becomes invaluable. He's helped carry this team all month, and now he'll be needed at first, DH and in rightfield, and we know he's willing to play every day, and play with pain, and attempt to lead this team.
I didn't think there was any chance of Cuddyer re-signing with the Twins, but it's such a good marriage, both sides should strive to find a way. He's the kind of guy who should play with one franchise his entire career. He's smart enough to know the grass isn't greener elsewhere, and the Twins' entire organization values him.
And if you didn't think there was a place for him to play next year, well, the Twins can't assume Morneau is going to play 150 games at first base next season. Cuddyer would again be the perfect combination first baseman/outfielder for this team.
-Yes, I liked David Kahn's draft on Thursday night. But you knew there had to be another layer of intrigue, and here it is: There are reports (from Draftexpress.com) that Tanguy Ngombo of Qatar is 27, not 21, and is too old to be eligible for the draft.
That would be a blow to a front office that has been touting its international scouting.
What's really fascinating is that if you spell his name backwards, you get Yugnat Obmogn.
-Jose Mijares continues to be a major disappointment. Or maybe we just expected too much from him.
The guy has a career 2.73 ERA, and yet you can't trust him.
-Spoke with former Twin LaTroy Hawkins, one of my favorites, before the game. He underwent shoulder surgery last year, and has allowed just one run this season. His ERA is 0.47.
``I'm sticking around, trying to get some guys out,'' he said with a smile. ``Surgery was tough. Missing a lot of last year was tough. But I couldn't be mad. I went a long time without having surgery.
``I think the hardest part is rehab. Rehab sucks. I mean, rehab sucks. It threw mjy whole offseason out of whack.
``But you know what, you go through it and it makes you stronger and makes you appreciate your talent. It's not like I didn't take care of myself the first time, but you do take extra steps to give yourself a second chance to play the game.''
-Twins lose, 4-3. Key moment is Ron Gardenhire's decision to take Scott Baker out and have Mijares pitch to lefty Prince Fielder, one of baseball best and hottest hitters.
Fielders kills righthanders, but he also hits well against lefties.
My default position on this remains the same: I favor the Twins' starters, who have been the key to their turnaround, staying in the game as long as they can. I would much rather have Baker decide the game than Mijares. In any situation. Against any batter.
-My Milwaukee colleagues tell me that Delmon Young worked out at Miller Park for the Brewers when he was eligible for the draft in which the Rays took him first overall.
They said he put on the best power hitting display they've ever seen from an 18-year-old, bashing homers to all fields. Then the Brewers told him he could hit in the first group of batting practice, with the scrubs, and he insisted on hitting with sluggers like Richie Sexson. And he put them to shame.
Which is another reminder that Young should spend more at-bats trying to knock down a scoreboard and fewer trying to bloop a single to right.
-Upcoming: We're aiming for Wolves and Twins guests on Sunday Morning Sports Talk, 10-noon on Sunday, following the Ron Gardenhire Show at 9:30 on 1500ESPN. Also, Milwaukee radio star Drew Olson will join us to talk Brewers, Packers, Bucks, etc.
My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
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