Welcome to the Wednesday edition of The Cooler, where it’s important to remember that absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence. Let’s get to it:
*The Timberwolves were the darlings of the NBA’s annual anonymous survey of general managers a year ago.
Karl-Anthony Towns got the most votes as the player GMs would pick if they were starting a franchise from scratch and was voted most likely to have a breakout season. The Wolves as a team got a full 69 percent of votes as the team expected to be most improved.
This year’s recently released survey is notable for the far different — and less positive — predictions when it comes to the Wolves.
Towns, for instance, didn’t get a single vote as the player GMs would pick for starting a franchise. The Wolves, who got some votes last year in the question about the top four teams in the Western Conference, didn’t garner a single vote there this year.
And perhaps most telling of all: In the question about the most surprising offseason move, Jimmy Butler’s trade request ranked a distant fourth with just 6 percent of the votes — topped by DeMarcus Cousins going to the Warriors, the Kawhi Leonard trade and Paul George staying in Oklahoma City. Maybe that’s indicative of how stunning those other moves were. Maybe it’s indicative of how other GMs saw Butler’s request coming.
*Speaking of shifting expectations, only one NHL.com contributor out of 18 picked the Wild to make the playoffs this season. Minnesota has made it each of the past six years and has reached 100 points in both of Bruce Boudreau’s seasons as coach.
“I use it for motivation,’’ Boudreau said. “I don’t know if the players really care what they think. I’ve always been a guy that if you tell me I can’t do something, I want to do it.”
*In the litany of troubling Vikings-related developments of the past few months, don’t forget the saga of Mychal Kendricks, brother of Vikings LB Eric Kendricks. Mychal, also an NFL linebacker, has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL after pleading guilty to insider trading charges and recently lost his league appeal.
While Eric Kendricks has not been connected to the scandal in any way, it’s hard to imagine the fate of his brother isn’t a source of personal stress. The Vikings hosted Mychal on a free agent visit in late May, but he ended up with Seattle after being signed and released by Cleveland.
*The decision by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to fire manager Paul Molitor can be viewed as either extending or tightening their leashes, depending on how you look at it.
On one hand, they seem to be signaling that they’re going all-in on a youth movement, which theoretically gives them several years to prove they know what they’re doing.
On the other hand, they will now have their hand-picked manager in place, and any failures to develop young players will reflect poorly on everyone — including Falvey and Levine.