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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Posts about Wolves draft news

It's been 45 days...

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: May 27, 2011 - 10:03 AM

No rush, David. You've already embarrassed your entire organization, if that's possible, by letting Rambis dangle for so long in employment limbo that he showed up, uninvited, to your pre-draft workouts.

I'll have more on that subject in the Sunday paper.

For today, let me ask this question:

How are American sports fans going to feel if LeBron James wins it all?

He's widely hated for ``The Decision,'' but it's increasingly clear that he made the right decision, and that he's eminently capable of doing the two things that we doubted he could do:

-Win a championship.

-Win a championship while becoming a great closer, taking and making almost all of the big shots.

James was brilliant last night, as he has been throughout the playoffs. If we could ignore his tone-deaf off-the-court comments, what we would see is a superior defender, an unselfish distributor, a guy who (other than that elimination game with the Cavaliers) seems to always play hard, and now a superior clutch player.

He is the best player in basketball, and the NBA finals matchup pitting him against Dirk Nowitzki will provide a compelling end to a compelling playoffs.

-With the Twins facing the Angels this weekend at Target Field, I'm reminded of the time that Torii Hunter took a swing at Justin Morneau, and accidentally hit Nick Punto.

Now, I'm not advocating violence, but right about now I wouldn't mind seeing a prominent Twin taking a swing at a teammate. OK, I guess I am advocating violence.

The Twins need an intimidating presence in their clubhouse, and since none of these players seem capable of playing that role, they may have to adjust their coaching staff this winter to add a former player who can get after malingerers and whiners.

Paul Molitor? Dan Gladden? Tom Brunansky? I'd take any of them. Molitor is the smartest player I ever covered. Gladden has just the right personality to be a clubhouse enforcer, and has the cache of two World Series titles with the franchise. Brunansky is on the fast track through the Twins' minor-league organization.

I like the current staff, and they've been part of a lot of winning teams, but when a season starts to go south this team needs someone who can play enforcer. My information is that manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson are the only two members of the big-league staff who can and will upbraid a lax player.

-Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn from 3-6 today, working with Reusse from 3-4, then running Garage Logic from 4-6. Sunday, Tom Pelissero and I will run the Gardenhire Show from 9:30-10, then Sunday Morning Sports Talk from 10-noon.

My twitter name is @Souhanstrib.

Wednesday afternoon SORT

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: May 25, 2011 - 12:59 PM

A doctor has diagnosed Kevin Slowey with an acute stomach muscle strain. Or, as I heard it, a ``cute'' muscle strain.

One more note on Slowey: He's a young, promising starter in the prime of his career known for control. Yet he's never pitched more than 160 innings in a season in professional baseball.

-The Lakers are about to hire Mike Brown, proving that the Timberwolves aren't the only basketball organization that makes silly mistakes.

Brown is a defensive coach who ran an inefficient offense in Cleveland. He's not the right guy to handle Kobe Bryant at the end of his career, or a veteran, skilled team that was just embarrassed in the playoffs.

The Lakers need a big name and big personality who can get Bryant to play for him and handle the attention that goes with one of the premier jobs in sports. Brown has his strengths, but his strengths don't correspond to the Lakers' needs.

-Monday, Kurt Rambis and David Kahn were in the same gym. Tuesday, they were in the same row of seats, although their body language was that of a divorced couple's. Today, I believe they're going to communicate via Post-It notes on the break-room refrigerator.

-Just finished Michael Lewis' ``The Big Short.'' You ever wonder how so many mistakes get made by so many apparently intelligent and successful people in the world of sports? Read ``The Big Short,'' and see how many apparently intelligent and successful people on and around Wall Street destroyed our economy.

-One problem in the Twins' clubhouse, I keep hearing from my best baseball sources, is that there are no hardball leaders who can accost a teammate or inspire a team when the going is tough.

The best players, including Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and Joe Nathan, are nice guys who are either injured or struggling. This team needs someone like Dan Gladden to put malingerers and whiners on notice.

-Talking with Reusse in the press box, we were remembering just how spoiled we have been at various junctures of Twins history by exceptional infielders, and how poorly this team has played in the field.

Gaetti, Gagne, Lombardozzi/Knoblauch and Hrbek were brilliant together, and Al Newman was a wonderful utility infielder.

Koskie, Guzman, Rivas and Mientkiewicz were remarkably quick and acrobatic, and Nick Punto, Jason Bartlett, Luis Castillo and an improving Morneau were pretty good, too.

Good times. Good times.

 -Is it strange that I miss the NFL, even though nothing important would have happened in the league even if the league were in business?

-I'll be subbing for Joe Soucheray on Friday, so I'll be on 1500espn from 3-6 p.m.

-The Wild is so lucky to be in the same town as the Wolves. Otherwise we might be asking why they can't hire a coach, when all the obvious candidates are sitting there waiting to be hired.

 

 

Your Morning Jim

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: May 24, 2011 - 8:14 AM

I'm starting to suspect that this Twins team might have a few problems.

It's just a hunch.

-At least we've got Jim Thome to watch. In a season that has been dominated by abysmal play and Harmon Killebrew's passing, Thome has moved seven homers from 600. His 600th will be the highlight of the season.

-Kevin Slowey has ruined his Twins career, and he may be on his way to ruining his big-league career.

What's interesting about this guy is that when he first starting making his move through the Twins' minor-league system, everybody loved him. He was said to talk a lot, but most of those who knew him liked what he had to say. They thought he was a smart pitcher and an interesting guy.

Now he's a selfish, excuse-making malcontent. The Twins' biggest problem other than injuries is their bullpen. Slowey could have been part of the solution. He could have even become a setup man, given the failures and injuries of so many other key Twins' relievers.

Instead, a team desperate for arms is about to send a pretty good big-league pitcher to the minors (or trade him for less than full value) and everybody in the organization that I know will be thrilled to see him leave the Twin Cities.

-Only the Timberwolves. Well, OK, maybe not only the Timberwolves could be this dysfunctional. After all, the Portland Trail Blazers, a pretty good team, just fired another general manager.

But at least the Blazers win a game once in a while.

I didn't have much interest in pre-draft workouts that don't include Derrick Williams, so I wasn't at Target Center on Monday. My bad. I would have paid lots of cash to get to see Kurt Rambis and David Kahn trying to co-exist in the same space.

I don't think Rambis is much of a coach, but compared to his owner and boss - Glen Taylor and Kahn - he's Albert Einstein. I don't know what Kahn is going to decide, but I would guess that his decision will take too long, and lead to another mistake.

-I know I keep saying this, but it merits saying: The NBA is fabulous, and those Minnesotans who have lost interest in the league because of the Wolves' ineptitude are missing a great show.

Last night, Dirk Nowitzki hit the most improbable series of shots I think I've ever seen to bring Dallas back from a 15-point deficit, leading to an overtime victory over OKC.

What we see in the NBA is a compelling mixture of star power, incredible skill, incredible athletic ability and required savvy. As important as it is to have great athletes, you don't win unless you're well-coached, you play ferocious defense, and you play well together.

Dallas plays tremendous team defense. Chicago was the best defensive team in the league this season. And Miami, with LeBron James able to switch on defense and handle any offensive player on the court, might be the current best defensive team in the league.

And great defense leaves only the greatest offensive players able to score in the clutch, which is why Dallas (with Nowitzki) and Miami (with Wade, Bosh and James) will play in the finals. Because they have players who can beat great defenses.

-I never thought I'd say this, but I find radio on TV to be eerily compelling. I find myself watching Mike & Mike in the Morning and The Dan Patrick Show when I get up. And The Patrick Show works largely because he spends much of the show making fun of his four ``Dan-ettes,'' the staffers who wind up being accidental stars during the live look-ins.

I think I should suggest that to my bosses at 1500espn: Llve look-ins of Reusse and Mackey eating entire cows during the breaks.

-Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 this afternoon. My twitter name is @Souhanstrib.

Wednesday afternoon SORT

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: May 18, 2011 - 3:42 PM

You can bash David Kahn for any number of reasons, but bashing him for trying to joke about the draft lottery being fixed is to take yourselves - and his comments - way too seriously.

We tend to overanalyze everything in sports, but we shouldn't parse every public comment made by every public figure. We need to allow these people to make an attempt at humor - successfully or not - and extemporaneous speech. The alternative is living in the worst that is fast-approaching - a world of canned, processed quotes issued in press releases.

Get off Kahn's back.

Unless you want to pick on him for the way he does his job. Then, fire away.

-If the NBA draft lottery were fixed, the Cleveland Cavaliers would not have gotten the first and fourth picks in this draft. If the NBA draft lotterhy were fixed, the Los Angeles Clippers would be a marquee team. If the NBA draft lottery were fixed, Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard wouldn't have wound up in Orlando, and David Robinson and Tim Duncan wouldn't have wound up in San Antonio and the Knicks wouldn't have been so bad for so long.

-What's scary about Kahn landing the No. 2 draft, is it creates an opportunity for him to get creative. If he would have landed the first pick, he might have been obligated to take Kyrie Irving. If he had landed the third pick, he might have been obligated to take the best big man available, or trade the pick.

At No. 2, he should take Derrick Williams, adhering to the philosophy that a team this bad should always take the best availabel player. At No. 2, with Williams playing the same position as Kevin Love and Michael Beasley, Kahn could try to swing some 16-team trade that lands him Ralph Sampson, Hosea Crittenden, 12 second-round draft picks and lots of ``cap space'' he can use to not sign star free agents.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

-I was so happy to see that Sandy Stephens will be inducted into the college football hall of fame. This is a well-deserved honor.

-After watching the Twins this season, I will no longer be able to make fun of soccer for its lack of scoring and long periods of uninteresting play. In fact, now that I'm conditioned to watching the Twins, I'm not sure my heart would be able to bear the excitement of watching soccer.

-Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 on Thursday and Friday. Sunday morning, Tom Pelissero and I will return to the studio at 9:30 for the Ron Gardenhire Show (we'll take more calls this week; please ask a short question and withhold your stories)  followed by Sunday Morning Sports Talk. We hope to have a former Twin and an NBA analyst on.

-Belated congratulations to St. Thomas basketball coach Steve Fritz, who is retiring from the sideline to concentrate on his duties as athletic director.

 

Breaking news: Kenyan wins Boston Marathon, Mauer's legs hurt

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: April 18, 2011 - 12:01 PM

Happy Monday. I'm returning after serving my Star Tribune furlough, and thinking that there couldn't be a worst juxtaposition for the Minnesota Timberwolves than David Kahn's ``Show of hands?'' press conference, followed by a stunning beginning to the NBA playoffs.

Even if you don't like the NBA, you have to admit that this was great drama. Upsets, incredible skill, passion, defense, shot-making...pro sports don't get much better than when the best athletes on the planet play their hardest on every possession.

What's sad, though, is that Oklahoma City has the best young team and perhaps the best NBA atmosphere in the land, and Minnesota...doesn't.

That Memphis, a team that lost the Kevin Love trade with Kevin McHale and not too long ago looked just as lost as a franchise, just won Game 1 of a playoff series because of shrewd personnel moves and excellent coaching.

That New Orleans just upset the Lakers because of one great point guard and one promising coach, two entities the Wolves still lack.

Who can watch these games and think the Wolves are anywhere close to being a playoff team?

Show of hands?

-------------------------

If Tubby Smith communicates to his players the way he communicates with Star Tribune Gopher basketball beat writer Myron Medcalf in the Q&A that appeared in our paper, no wonder they always look so confused on offense.

-------------------------

I'll write about this more later in the week, but I think so many people are asking the wrong questions about Mauer.

The question isn't: Is Joe Mauer a wimp? I know how hard he works and that he wants to play.

The question isn't: Is Mauer devalued if he changes positions?

The question is: How do you get the most out of your franchise player? And the answer to that is: Eventually move him to another position, where he can play 155 games and hit .340 with pop, instead of playing 120 games and hitting .310 with little pop. That's where we're headed: His legs continue to bother him. When he was fresh, in 2009, he had the best year of his career. Other years, when his legs bother him, he becomes a beat-up guy who takes good at-bats.

Forget about the $23 million a year. He'll never be worth that, just as Alex Rodriguez will never be worth his contract. All that matters now is getting the most out of him. I'm afraid the Twins won't get the most out of him as a catcher, at least not for much longer.

-------------------------

I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 today and all week. My twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

 

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