The Timberwolves enter the second half of their season this week. Here's five important questions that face them in the remaining 41 games.
1. So what's the deal with Brandon Roy?
It has been an awfully quiet month since the Wolves announced Roy is pursuing a last-gasp alternative-treatment plan for his degenerative knees. That announcement came just hours after the Target Center media room was arranged for a news conference that never occurred.
One last hope to get himself healthy enough to play again, right?
Maybe not. Maybe this alternative treatment is simply a way to bide time and keep Roy and his $5 million salary slot on the roster in case the Wolves need his contract to swing a substantial deal by the Feb. 21 trade deadline.
As soon as he retires, that salary slot goes away.
2. The Wolves will re-sign both Mickael Gelabale and Chris Johnson for the rest of the season, won't they?
They almost certainly will, but they will have to make a roster move to do so.
The Wolves used an open roster spot to sign Gelabale to a 10-day contract and are likely to resign him to another when the first one expires Tuesday.
They signed Johnson to a 10-day deal after the league granted their request for a roster exception because they had four players injured for the next two weeks or more. They could reapply for another exception Tuesday, but thereafter would have to create a roster spot for him because a player can only be signed to two 10-day deals before their contract must be guaranteed for the rest of the season.
To do so, the Wolves would have to trade a player such as Lou Amundson for a future pick or waive a player.
3. When will Rick Adelman return to coach again?
A question without an answer until doctors find a cause and treatment for his wife Mary Kay's mysterious seizures, although her improvement, if it continues, could have him back on the bench as soon as Wednesday's game against the Clippers.
4. Will Derrick Williams or Nikola Pekovic be dealt by the trade deadline?
Williams' trade value isn't what a No. 2 overall pick's should be, but he is still the best piece they have to offer in a meaningful deal by Feb. 21.
Unless, of course, management decides Pekovic isn't worth the $12 million to $14 million a year he could receive on the free-agent market next summer. If so, they will trade him now or more likely come July in a sign-and-trade deal.
The question is whether the Wolves will be buyers or sellers by the trade deadline? Will the playoffs still be enough in sight that they're still receptive to absorbing Pau Gasol's $19 million salary or believe J.J. Redick's shooting and playmaking can help them reach the playoffs for the first time since 2004?
The danger here is making a short-sighted deal in a desperate attempt to make a fleeting playoff appearance just because everybody entering this season expected one.
5. Will David Kahn survive this season to lead again?
The president of basketball operations' original four-year deal -- three years' guaranteed plus an option the team picked up for this season -- is over at season's end. Three months ago, you would have said his future is doomed if the team doesn't make the playoffs.
Will Wolves owner Glen Taylor see all the injuries this season and judge accordingly or will he consider the many draft and trade mistakes that have exposed the team's lack of depth when making his decision? If Taylor sells the team by season's end, the new owners could make the decision for him.
The much-rumored name change from the Hornets to the Pelicans last week produced many jokes elsewhere, but the folks in New Orleans and new team owner Tom Benson took it seriously.
Team executives considered hundreds of names before always coming back to a water bird that has adorned the Louisiana state seal for more than a century and represents "tradition, passion, teamwork, resiliency, resourcefulness, loyalty, pride, precision, grace, family, dignity, grandeur and charity."
"It was important that we change this name to something that represented New Orleans, Louisiana," said Benson, who also owns the NFL's Saints. "It's a symbol of our state and our resolve, too."
The Hornets will be gone by next season, with the name perhaps to be returned to the Charlotte franchise.
Funny, but an image of Michael Beasley during Thursday night's game against the Clippers led TNT's broadcast crew to opine on the AAU system that by and large produces today's NBA stars.
"I think AAU is the worst thing ever to happen to sports," TNT analyst Charles Barkley said in a special game commentary appearance alongside Reggie Miller and Kevin Harlan. "It used to be talk radio; now it's the AAU stuff."
Barkley called the system "corrupt" and suggested the nation's best teenage players should be competing against each other rather than running up the score compiled by select super teams.
Golden State coach Mark Jackson claimed it would be "criminal" if West coaches left Steph Curry out of the All-Star Game. They did, one of the inevitable snubs by league coaches that also left the surging Brooklyn Nets without a single All-Star.
Wednesday: 7 p.m. vs. L.A. Clippers (FSN)
Friday: 8:30 p.m. vs. L.A. Lakers (Ch. 29/ESPN)
Saturday: 7 p.m. vs. New Orleans (Ch. 29)
Player to watch:
Dwight Howard, Lakers
He moved from Orlando to Los Angeles, but the soad opera hasn't stopped a bit for a guy who still hasn't delivered on all his talent, even now that he's with the befuddling Lakers.
« I was hot. »
Wolves guard Ricky Rubio referring not to his sex appeal but to his state of mind after not playing at all in the fourth quarter Wednesday vs. Brooklyn.