Take a good look at that roster. Those were your 2008-09 Minnesota Timberwolves -- the last season of the Kevin McHale era. Soak in the assembled players. Take in this quote from McHale after he was officially let go from the organization a couple months after the end of the 24-win season.
"I think we have a good, young group of guys. I think these kids can play. I think they can do a lot of good stuff together. And I thought we were on the verge of moving up. When you're on a rebuilding program like that, it takes a little bit of time. It's disappointing not to be able to see that through."
Wrong. There were a bunch of OK parts that didn't fit together particularly well save for one stretch of that season. There was no way that roster, even if it gelled to perfection and added a couple of draft picks, was every going to do anything more than surprise people with a 40-win season.
And that is why, regardless of what you think of every specific move new boss David Kahn has made in a little over one year, you really have to admire this: assuming Al Jefferson is on his way out -- and again, we can quibble over exactly what is coming back in return, but if it includes a first-round pick and a young player, or a couple of first-round picks, or better yet a third piece, we can probably live with it -- there will be exactly two players left from that 2008-09 roster. Yes, Corey Brewer and Kevin Love are it.
Now think about the roster as it could be assembled if picks are coming back from Utah for Jefferson:
Jonny Flynn; Ramon Sessions; Wayne Ellington; Martell Webster; Brewer; Wesley Johnson; Lazar Hayward; Michael Beasley; Love; Darko Milicic; Nikola Pekovic. Think about Ricky Rubio still in Spain but in the mix. Think about the possibility of adding guard Luke Ridnour to the roster and dispatching Sessions -- adding a more up-tempo PG who can shoot three-pointers to the mix. Far more athletic. Far more versatile. Better defensively.
That is a group worthy of McHale's quote. They might not get all the way there. Parts might fizzle out. But this a group that actually has the talent to be interesting immediately and dangerous in the future. No matter what kind of beating Kahn takes from punchline seekers around the country, he has to get credit for remaking this team into something with potential.