Three thoughts from the weekend, conjured up while blissfully ignoring any and all Super Bowl pregame coverage:
Thanks, but no tanks
As much as they look to have some key pieces in place to be better in the future, the Timberwolves are obviously nowhere close to being a finished product.
After two consecutive victories, though, they’ve won as many games (16) as last year’s team — a group that made losing an art form and facilitated the landing of the No. 1 overall pick and eventual drafting of excellent rookie Karl-Anthony Towns.
With the Wolves again almost certainly lottery-bound, there might be an inclination to wonder: Should Minnesota be hoping to pile up as many losses as possible to enhance its odds of again finding lottery luck (and perhaps nabbing the deadeye shooter to fill a gaping roster hole).
At this point (and at any point, really), the answer is no. If losing happens organically, as it has for much of the Wolves’ season-to-date, so be it. But young players also need to learn how to win. Otherwise hopelessness — not to mention bad habits — takes hold.
The Wolves should be able to win enough in the final 30 games of the season to feel good about themselves but still lose enough to get another impact player in the draft.
The Star Tribune’s Michael Russo reported that before the Wild’s most recent loss Saturday at St. Louis, GM Chuck Fletcher gave head coach Mike Yeo a vote of confidence and said his job was safe.
So treat this as nothing but a history lesson.
The Wild, of course, has only had three head coaches in its existence and never has fired a head coach midseason. The Vikings have made two high-profile midyear firings since 2000, but in both cases (Dennis Green in 2001 and Brad Childress in 2010), the season was pretty well lost by the time it happened.
But the Timberwolves have fired coaches in the past 15 years with a playoff spot still realistically attainable. And they did it twice — offering contrasting results.
The first was Flip Saunders in the 2004-05 season when the Wolves were 25-26, a season after they went to the Western Conference finals and in a year that closely mirrors what has happened to the Wild. Kevin McHale took over and the Wolves went 19-12 under him but missed the postseason.
The second was Dwane Casey in 2006-07. He was fired when the Wolves were 20-20. Randy Wittman went 12-30 the rest of the way as the Wolves faded quickly.
More to come
First, the news came out that Lions great Calvin Johnson likely will retire. Now it’s being reported that running back Marshawn Lynch — who turns 30 in April — is also planning to call it quits.
Combine the fact that many top players will be set for life after one big contract with all the recent news of physical and mental problems several ex-NFL players are having later in life, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see early retirement become more prevalent.