The scoop monsters attempting to give advance notice on NBA free agent deals offered suggestions that the Timberwolves were at the top of the list as a landing spot for D’Angelo Russell.
The unofficial deals started Sunday with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both landing with Brooklyn, Russell’s former team. As part of the franchise’s new look, there is speculation that Brooklyn is contemplating a nickname change from Nets to Raging Egomaniacs.
It’s a league of those guys, of course, but few can match the hypersensitive Durant and the goofball Irving. Once Durant returns from his torn Achilles, it shouldn’t take long for Kevin and Kyrie to be getting along as well as James Harden and Chris Paul now are said to be in Houston.
The anticipation was strong late Sunday afternoon as media members and Wolves fans breathlessly waited for a Russell decision. OK, it was probably three, four media people and a couple of dozen fans that actually thought Russell-to-Minnesota was pending.
The rest of us were simply bemused, knowing this from what’s now three decades of experience: If D’Angelo Russell had options other than the Memphis Grizzlies, he wasn’t coming to the Timberwolves.
And we knew this even before the Golden State Warriors entered the fray and actually wound up making the sign-and-trade deal for Russell.
If it hadn’t been the Warriors, it would have been the Lakers, or Phoenix, or even D’Angelo deciding to enjoy the buffoonery with the Knicks.
Chris Rock had a line in his comedy act years back that said “men are as faithful as their options.’’ A spinoff of that is, “Star players are as faithful to the Wolves as their options.’’
There has been one great player that was faithful to this team: Kevin Garnett. The Wolves traded him after 12 seasons.
Huge second contracts don’t put a player in the faithful category. Kevin Love signed one of those and soon wanted out. Karl-Anthony Towns is just starting one of those and we’ll see.
The Big KAT was alleged to be the chief lobbyist in trying to lure Russell. That figures to be part of his role as the rising star that other difference-making players would be anxious to join in Minnesota.
Strike one for KAT.
Meantime, Jimmy Butler, who decided to get angry last summer after his one playoff season in Minnesota because there wasn’t $155 million in new money offered as part of a four-year extension, now wants to leave Philadelphia for a four-year, $142 million deal with Miami.
The Heat has the same salary-cap misery as the Wolves, and it needs a team to take Goran Dragic off its hands to make the sign-and-trade deal happen, apparently.
What we know for sure today is that it was never about winning with Jimmy, since there was a much-better chance to continue doing so in Philadelphia than there will be with the non-contending Heat.
As for the Wolves, I haven’t been this surprised that a free agent didn’t come to Minnesota since way back on June 5, when reliever Craig Kimbrel signed with the Cubs.
The scoop monsters told us the Wolves were a leading contender for Russell. The vast of majority of veteran Wolves followers, media and fans alike, said: “Not happening. He has options.’’
The scoop monsters told us the Twins were in hot pursuit of Kimbrel. The vast majority of veteran Twins followers, media and fans alike, said: “Not happening. There will be too much competition.’’
The scoop monsters are often right, but when it comes to coveted free agents landing with the Wolves or the Twins, they can only fool a few Minnesotans some of the time, and most of us none of the time.
D’Angelo Russell to Wolves. Craig Kimbrel to Twins. Headlines and hot scoops aside, most of us were having a laugh.
*The Timberwolves reached the Western Conference finals after the 2003-04 season when basketball boss Kevin McHale acquired Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell. This gave Kevin Garnett the help he needed.
Fifteen years later, it remains evidence that there are two ways for the Wolves to get difference-making players: draft or trade. Those type of free agents don’t come here.
*Tom Thibodeau understood that reality after one season and traded for Butler in the summer of 2017. Celebration was followed by 46 wins and the only playoff appearance in what's now 15 seasons. Then came the Butler-caused chaos and everyone’s still mad at Thibodeau.
*A discussion on Russell and Minnesota free agents in my Twitter feed included a shot or two at Kirk Cousins as being an expensive Vikings’ blunder.
It’s just the opposite, of course. Anyone who watched the real Case Keenum show up in Denver last season knows the Vikings are fortunate to have Cousins, a top 10 quarterback who makes winning possible for the next two seasons (at a minimum).
And if you’re a shoulda-kept-Teddy Bridgewater person, we’re again having a laugh – this time at your expense, not the Vikings’.