Wolves' rebuilding is unfinished

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 25, 2012 - 6:26 AM

The Wolves have three starters that are the core of the team. Finding the right mix to surround them is next.

hide

Timberwolves forward Kevin Love

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

These final, failing weeks have brought more than echoes of Timberwolves seasons past, when they went more than three years without winning an April game until doing so last week in Detroit.

They have clearly revealed -- particularly to coach Rick Adelman -- just how much more work needs to be done with a youthful roster that already is five years into a rebuilding process since superstar Kevin Garnett was traded.

"It really gives you an idea of the depth you have," Adelman said of a season-ending spiral in which his team has lost 12 of its past 13 games and 20 of its past 25.

Six weeks ago, the Timberwolves were 21-19 and aimed toward the playoffs for the first time since 2004, chugging toward May with Kevin Love's nightly double-doubles, Ricky Rubio's precocious playmaking and Nikola Pekovic's brawn and menacing tattoos leading the way.

Then Rubio tore up his knee and Pekovic limped toward season's end with bone spurs on his right ankle bothering him nearly every step of the way while Love's season ended eight games from the finish because of a concussion.

On Thursday, the Wolves will conclude their eighth consecutive losing season aware just how crucial the coming summer will be. The team still lacks mental toughness, not to mention a dependable shot blocker, bench depth and most noticeably players who can handle the ball, create plays and make shots from both wing positions.

Wolves owner Glen Taylor is bringing back President of Basketball Operations David Kahn for a fourth season because Taylor says he likes the job Kahn has done since he signed a three-year contract to run the team in May 2009.

Kahn drafted Rubio fifth overall a month later, then patiently waited two years until he signed him and brought him to the NBA last summer. He also patiently pursued Adelman for months last summer before signing him to replace fired Kurt Rambis, whom Kahn hired in his third month on the job.

Both moves are slam dunks on a managerial résumé that otherwise includes more than a few whiffs.

The Wolves have owned eight first-round draft picks in Kahn's three drafts, and the only one who looks like a bona-fide NBA star is Rubio. First-round picks Jonny Flynn and Lazar Hayward already are gone; considerable questions remain about top-four picks Wes Johnson and Derrick Williams; relatively low-cost gambles on Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph, Martell Webster and Darko Milicic haven't paid off; and Kahn traded Al Jefferson, now leading the Jazz into the playoffs, for nothing tangible so far.

All of it leads into a crucial summer, when the Wolves are without their own first-round pick -- traded away long ago by Kevin McHale -- but do have Utah's mid first-round pick in what is considered the deepest draft in years.

Somehow, someway, the Wolves must come away from this summer considerably improved, whether it's by developing Williams and Johnson, dealing a young player(s) and draft picks for a veteran player or signing a veteran free agent. Any of the three ways can change the complexion of a team that veteran J.J. Barea the other night said has too few players who care enough about winning.

"We have to be aggressive in all those areas," Adelman said. "We still have a really nice core group. We've got to get them healthy and we've got to add to those people."

That core group consists of Love, Rubio and Pekovic -- two of the three acquired by McHale when he was the team's top basketball executive -- and are complemented by guards Luke Ridnour and Barea, both of whom Kahn signed to free-agent contracts.

After that?

"I don't know," Adelman said. "But I've seen situations where you add two, three guys and suddenly you've really got something."

Summer of moves?

The Wolves could add Love's new $13 million salary and still clear more than $12 million for free agency if they let go Beasley, Randolph, Milicic, Webster and retiring Brad Miller. But they still would have to fill out those roster spots, and as many as six NBA teams could have $20 million or more to spend this summer when the Wolves' best options are difficult-to-sign restricted free agents -- O.J. Mayo, Eric Gordon, Nicolas Batum -- or perhaps overpaying unrestricted free agents Ray Allen or Landry Fields.

More likely is a trade for a player such as Kevin Martin, who played for Adelman twice and whose $13 million salary Houston wants to shed.

Love said he will lobby management to be "aggressive" in adding veterans. "I think we just need to make some moves," he said.

Adelman said he believes the team's young, vibrant nucleus will attract free agents.

"When you look at Kevin and you look at Ricky and the style that we're going to play, it's going to be good," Adelman said. "I think people will look at it. We have some pieces people would like to play with. I mean, this team was pretty good not long ago and let's face it, guys like to get paid. So if you can pay 'em and you have some people around? There are some positives here."

There'd be more positives if the Wolves could get more of this young talent to approach fulfilling their proverbial potential. Assistant coaches Bill Bayno and Shawn Respert will spend the summer in Los Angeles working with Williams and Johnson, among others.

"If you can't do it in free agency, if you can't do it with trades, then you you need to do it with the people you have on your team right now," Adelman said about improving the team. "Do we do that? That's what we have to evaluate and figure out. We've got some really good pieces to work with, but clearly we need to get a lot better."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 88 FINAL
Washington 101
Orlando 102 FINAL
Charlotte 94
Memphis 103 FINAL
Miami 95
Indiana 110 FINAL
Brooklyn 85
New Orleans 100 FINAL
Chicago 107
Atlanta 90 FINAL
Milwaukee 85
Philadelphia 71 FINAL
Utah 88
New York 129 FINAL
Sacramento 135
Minnesota 97 FINAL
Golden State 110
NY Islanders 3 FINAL(SO)
Buffalo 4
Detroit 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
New Jersey 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Boston 2 FINAL
Columbus 6
Winnipeg 4 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 3
Washington 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 4 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Nashville 4
Anaheim 1 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 2
Chicago 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
San Jose 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 3
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
UAB 58 FINAL
North Carolina 89
IUPUI 55 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 55 FINAL
Ohio State 100
Presbyterian 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Brescia 42 FINAL
Western Ky 89
Tennessee St 46 FINAL
Tennessee 67
Kennesaw St 45 FINAL
Illinois 93
Colorado State 58 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
Portland 61 FINAL
San Diego 58
Wayland Baptist 63 FINAL
Utah State 75
Bristol University 59 FINAL
Weber State 109
Sacramento St 74 FINAL
Utah Valley U 49
Southern Utah 45 FINAL
UNLV 79
SD Christian 50 FINAL
San Diego St 72
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
SMU 45 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 96
UCF 64 FINAL
Houston 50
BYU 62 FINAL
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 87 FINAL
Portland 65
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close