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2010-11 Timberwolves Preview: They'll Still Suck

If the Pistons are the Has Beens, the Timberwolves are the Never Weres. (And don’t confuse that “were” for being something cool with like a Were-Timberwolf. Although even if you did, it would still apply, since – with one exception – all the guys on the roster will not be and have never been mistaken for Were-Timberwolves) The thing is, I think the Wolves management is doing it on purpose…

I’m not sure if there’s a team that’s made more questionable decisions, and not just this summer, but through their entire existence. If you look at HoopsHype’s salary page, it’s like they’re actively trying to avoid actually paying anyone more than $5M a year. What I’m wondering is if they’re even bringing in enough revenue to afford that? Does Kahn realize that if he paid good players and had a good team, he might be able to afford to pay the good guys? I mean, if no one wants to watch your team or buy your merchandise then I suppose there are only two routes: 1) Save every penny and spend your time shining them and swimming in a pool of pennies or 2) spend more money and make up for the higher contracts with increased revenues.

Clearly we’re swimming in pennies, here, though… Witness the cheapery at work: Exhibit A: Ryan Gomes for Martell Webster. Usually when a good player is traded for someone who is not as good, there’s some salary stuff going on, and in this case it looks like the combo of Luke Babbitt and Ryan Gomes are making about $1M more than Webster is due. Take it to the bank!

Exhibit B: Trading a PG with some upside potential named Ramon Sessions for a guy you’re going to waive and a PG with no potential named Sebastian Telfair, and then signing another PG with a pretty proven record of mediocrity named Luke Ridnour for the same amount you would have paid Sessions. In this case, we’re talking about a savings of maybe barely $1M while and now you owe Ridnour an extra year over Sessions’ remaining contract. Well, you can probably trade Ridnour’s expiring contract as part of deal for more draft picks. Clearly management worried that Sessions would actually turn out to be good and then want to be paid like a good player. Yeah, can’t have any of those guys on our team.

Exhibit C: Trading the best player on your team, Al Jefferson, for a $1M backup and then signing Darko to replace Jefferson. Savings: Nearly $8M a year! That’s a lot of pennies!! I know what you’re asking: Why would you sign Darko for something like $4-5M / year, when you have a perfectly serviceable Center in Kostas Koufos? Well, you may not know it, but the NBA has secret rules about making it look like you might actually be trying. I mean, look at the Clippers. Those guys are masters of looking like they might be putting together a decent team while never actually doing it.

Exhibit D: Traded future draft picks (maybe the ones that came with Kostas Koufos for Al Jefferson) for Michael Beasley. Wait, what? That doesn’t save any money! I’m pretty sure David Stern called up David Kahn and was like: Yo, Kahn. You’re out in the middle of the wilderness, how’s about you stash this pot smoking kid out there for a while and see if he gets any better. If he does, you can trade him to a good team, and if he doesn’t, he’ll just fade away into obscurity.

So, while Miami rolls around the league with 3 guys making more than $14M a year, let’s take a look at the Minnesota depth chart…

Depth Chart
PG: Jonny Flynn, Luke Ridnour, Sebastian Telfair
SG: Corey Brewer, Wayne Ellington
SF: Wesley Johnson, Martell Webster
PF: Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Anthony Tolliver
C: Darko Milicic, Nikola Pekovic, Kosta Koufos

Here’s the high point: Kevin Love. He’s already pretty much a double-double machine, and now that he’s up front with Darko and the Guys Who Should Not Be Freed, well, actually his ranking will stay about the same. He’ll still be a double-double machine, but I can’t see his FG% increasing a whole lot now that defenses don’t have to actually pay attention to anyone else on the court. I mean, Darko is the only guy who has consistently shot better than Love, so if I were an opposing coach, I’d be doubling or tripling Love every time and letting everyone else shoot their 40% jump shots. That said, Love will still get more opportunities and so his scoring will increase, despite no change in the FG%. His FT% should remain excellent, especially for someone who is eligible for Center. He’ll probably have an increase in Turnovers since he’ll have the ball a lot more, but there’s the possibility of his three-pointers offsetting that and making him into a nearly perfect Small Ball Center.

The next highest player according to our 2010 Fantasy Basketball Rankings is Michael Beasley. I’m not sure why we even have him that high, now that he’s backing up Love, and I guess Wesley Johnson and Martell Webster. Unless he can get ahead of them on the depth chart… and then be moved somewhere else next season for a draft pick.

I have to believe that the talent Anthony Tolliver showed in Golden State will get him enough playing time to get him close to his ranking from last season. Patrick and Erik are clearly not so confident… but, looking at the Depth Chart is certainly enough to raise questions, so I can understand.

Luke Ridnour – he who turned Ducks into Bucks (you can download Wale’s mixtape here) – is the last guy who makes the rankings. So, there you go…

Kevin Love – 5th round (if you’re looking at a Small Ball team, you can bump him as high as late 4th, but that is a definite reach)
Michael Beasley – 9th round
Anthony Tolliver – 9th round
Luke Ridnour – Last round if you still need a backup PG… maybe you have some injury prone PGs?

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