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Incoming NBA commissioner Adam Silver talked about tanking during All-Star weekend. Here was the money quote, as found by commenter Clarence Swamptown:
“My understanding of tanking would be losing games on purpose,” Silver said. “And there’s absolutely no evidence that any team in the NBA has ever lost a single game, or certainly in any time that I’ve been in the league, on purpose. And, to me, what you’re referring to I think is rebuilding. And I’m not sure it’s just a function of the collective bargaining agreement; I think there’s a balance with any team of the need to look out to the future and at the same time put a competitive product on the floor.”
And here is from the Star Tribune game story the night Mark Madsen hoisted seven three-point attempts -- all in overtime -- when the Wolves lost to the Grizzlies in the 2006 finale.
Farce. Mockery. Circus. Travesty.
Call the Timberwolves' 102-92 two-overtime loss to Memphis on Wednesday night all of the above and more, and you would not be incorrect. Or unduly harsh.
When offensively challenged, backup big man Mark Madsen is allowed to aim seven three-point shots at the rim, ostensibly, in the two extra sessions, it's pretty clear that the Wolves' season is over and their minds are on things other than winning. Such as draft picks, Ping Pong balls, a history of lousy lottery luck and, allegedly, some old-fashioned fun.
From that narrow perspective, then, mission accomplished.
Maybe Silver forgot about that game?
A Yahoo report suggests the Wolves and Grizzlies are discussing a trade in which the principal players involved would be J.J. Barea and Chase Budinger leaving the Wolves and Tayshaun Prince plus Tony Allen joining them.
Two words: Do it.
If you are the Wolves, you need to shake things up. And while this deal isn't perfect for a number of reasons, it isn't bad, either.
You'd be losing a three-point shooter in Budinger. You'd be losing "good" Barea, the guy who can still score in bunches off the bench. And you'd be taking on two less-than-perfect contracts (Prince is owed $7.7 million next season, the final year of his deal, and Allen still has THREE years remaining after this one at about $5 million per year). Prince will be 34 in a couple weeks. Allen is 32. This trade could lock the Wolves into the same salary cap madness cycle they went through with Kevin McHale.
Wait, why should the Wolves do this again?
Plain and simple, they need a shakeup. It's going to be tough to overhaul the roster in any other way than a trade since they are already up against it cap-wise and historically it's been tough to get big-time free agents to come here anyway. The roster, as currently constructed, is missing something -- and the main component just might be defensive toughness/chemsitry in the fourth quarter. Prince and Allen would solve that immediately. A crunch time lineup with those two, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic would have the right balance of scoring and toughness. The Wolves could play offense-defense substitution with Kevin Martin and Allen as needed, too.
They would miss Budinger's three-point shooting, but Prince actually has a higher career mark from long distance (36.8 percent vs. 35.9) than Budinger. They would be handing the backup point guard role to A.J. Price, unless they made another corresponding move for a backup point guard, but that wouldn't be the worst thing, either. It's time for Rubio to sink or swim, and playing 38 minutes a game is the only way to do that.
In short, you lose some scoring and flexibility, but you gain toughness and the potential to get better. If you're all-in on Kevin Love, this improves you in the short term. Maybe it's too much of a shortcut, but the status quo isn't cutting it and the chance to improve otherwise will be tough.
If the deal is really there, the Wolves should make it.
Though nothing official is forthcoming from the Timberwolves, USA Today is reporting Kevin Martin will miss at least two more weeks with the broken thumb on his left hand suffered Friday in a loss to the Pelicans.
More specifically, the report says Martin will be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks, so we would imagine the timetable for his return will easily stretch into March.
That's a blow for the Wolves, who have lost six of their last seven heading into Wednesday's game against Denver, their final contest before the All-Star break.
Martin has been their best perimeter scorer this season, making a team-high 40 percent of his three-pointers while averaging 19 points, second-best behind Kevin Love.
Timberwolves fans couldn't wait to get rid of Kevin McHale in 2009, after he had first stopped being the team's personnel boss and then the team's head coach when Kurt Rambis was hired. The reasons, at the time, were certainly valid.
While McHale presided over the most successful era in Wolves history, which was directly related to his drafting of Kevin Garnett, he had also failed to build a championship-caliber team around Garnett during almost all of his prime and then squandered the final few years of KG's time here by putting the Wolves in salary cap jail through a series of questionable moves. And let's not, of course, forget about Joe Smith.
That said, here we are five years since McHale left, and this is the Wolves' reality: their two best players -- at the very least the two players the organization was heavily promoting for the All-Star game -- were acquired by McHale in the very last draft he presided over with the Wolves in 2008. He nabbed Kevin Love in a draft-night swap of rookies, then took Nikola Pekovic early in the second round.
The man who replaced McHale as personnel boss, David Kahn, can take credit in the draft for Ricky Rubio and very little else. He was good at bottoming the team out and creating cap space, things McHale did not do. He was really not good at all at using that space, flexibility and draft picks to build a winning roster.
The man who replaced McHale as head coach, Rambis, won 32 games in two seasons -- fewer than McHale won as Wolves coach in parts of two interim seasons (39).
The man who essentially swapped places with McHale in 2011 -- Rick Adelman had been coaching the Rockets, where McHale started coaching at the same time Adelman came here -- has directed the Wolves to 81 victories and zero playoff appearances in those two-and-a-half seasons. McHale has led the Rockets to 114 wins, one playoff appearance, and has another almost certainly on the way this year after his Houston squad trounced the Wolves at Target Center on Monday night to improve to 35-17.
Long story short: McHale needed to go in 2009, for the sanity of fans and for the sake of starting over. But five years later, it is clear that he is getting the last laugh -- coaching a better team, while his old team is still trying to build around the players he nabbed in 2008.
LeBron can still dunk, fyi:
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