Kevin Love and Wes Johnson: The Most Awkward Handshake Ever [video]

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The state of the T-Wolves — not that bad?

ESPN named the Minnesota Timberwolves as this season’s Team Turmoil.

But Benjamin Polk says that things aren’t so bad:

It’s fashionable at the moment to ridicule Kahn as an abrasive, unqualified hack. It’s clear the man has had some awfully low moments this summer and that he and Rambis haven’t yet found that transcendent player who will give meaning to their long-suffering franchise. And it’s equally clear that the Wolves are going to lose a lot of games this season.

But if you scan this lineup — Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Wes Johnson, Martell Webster, Corey Brewer, even Darko Milicic and Michael Beasley — you’ll find a lot of young, smart, athletic, hungry players. These are players who want to learn, who want to run, who want to move the ball and play defense. Aren’t these just the type of players who would seem to fit well into Rambis’ up-tempo-and-triangle offense? And when you consider the Wolves have roughly $10 million in cap space, doesn’t the picture look a lot less ridiculous than this chaotic offseason might have suggested?

Am I just being naïve? Is it wrong for Wolves fans to hold on to even these tiny shreds of optimism? Let me tell you a story.

For the three years beginning with their six-game Western Conference finals loss to the Lakers in 2004 and ending with the Kevin Garnett trade of 2007, the Wolves slowly melted down. With very few exceptions (KG among them), the team became a nightmare of ball-hogging, extravagant contract demands, intentionally careless defense and mediocre effort. As the front office hemorrhaged draft picks, this collection of aging jump-shooters and corrosive personalities contributed to the firing of both Flip Saunders and Dwane Casey and helped hasten the KG era’s sad, pathetic end. What I’m saying is: We’ve seen turmoil and this isn’t it.

I don’t know that arguing your currently mismanaged team isn’t as bad as your previously mismanaged team really gets you anywhere. Things are bad in Minnesota, and they’re probably worse than they were in KG’s final years because at least at that point fans had a superstar to rally around.

As for Kahn, the guy is a joke right now, and seriously needs one of these moves — be it Ricky Rubio, Wes Johnson, the acquisition of Michael Beasley or the re-upping of Darko Milicic (yes, this guy is depending on Darko Freaking Milicic) — to give him some credibility in the world of NBA general managers.

No disrespect to Johnson, but if you know you’re going to move Al Jefferson, why pass up a talent like DeMarcus Cousins? He’s a true center and would have been a solid fit alongside Kevin Love on the front line. Throw in the fact that Kahn passed on Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings twice in last year’s draft (while trading away arguably the next-best PG in the draft, Ty Lawson) and this T-Wolves roster could look a lot better.

And it’s not like Kahn has kept a low profile. While sitting in with color commentator Chris Webber during one of the summer league games, he compared Milicic’s passing ability favorably to Vlade Divac and suggested that Webber’s career path was somewhat similar. When C-Webb understandably took umbrage, Kahn went on the radio a few days later and called him a schmuck. Let’s just say that the guy doesn’t seem too savvy.

Maybe Ricky Rubio will eventually come and save the day, or Beasley will suddenly fulfill his considerable potential, but until that happens, Kahn is going to have a big fat bull’s eye painted on his chest.

T-Wolves’ plan in free agency

Per the Star-Tribune

Kahn said a staff member spoke up in a draft meeting last week and expressed the same doubt.

They pulled out a list and went through the possibilities one by one. They crossed off free agents deemed too old to fit the Wolves’ rebuilding plans and came up with a short list of players the team’s staff collectively considered out of their reach.

“We counted three players we didn’t think we could get,” Kahn said. “By the way, I think you could put us in 92, 93 percent of the league.”

Three players?


That excluded short list — presumably James, Wade and Bosh — would leave the likes of Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, David Lee and Rudy Gay possible.

“I don’t want anybody here to feel like we’re some poor stepchildren,” Kahn said. “We’re not. We’re building something of great value that will be sustainable. I think we have a chance to have some serious discussions with free agents after July 1.”

If nothing else, Minnesota’s David Kahn is one of the more entertaining general managers in the NBA. Last year, he drafted three point guards in the first round — passing on Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings in the process — and traded the one that was most NBA-ready (Ty Lawson) away. He’s still waiting on the promise of Ricky Rubio to run his club.

This year, he drafted for need (Wes Johnson) and passed on arguably the best player in the draft (DeMarcus Cousins), even though he’s trying to trade away his best player (Al Jefferson). Passing on Cousins may ultimately be the right move, but centers who can score and rebound like he can don’t come around very often. There’s also a school of thought that his best chance to thrive is in a smaller city where there aren’t as many ‘distractions.’

It sounds like Jefferson is being dangled in order to acquire a top-notch center or power forward, even though the T-Wolves already have the promising Kevin Love playing that position.

The T-Wolves do have a chance to sign a quality free agent, but chances are that they’re going to have to overpay. That means a max contract for a second-tier free agent like Carlos Boozer or Rudy Gay, who may have to decide if they want to take near-max money to play in New York, New Jersey or Miami, or max money from Minnesota.

Chad Ford’s Mock 7.0

Chad Ford just released the seventh iteration of his mock draft, and he seems pretty confident in the first eight picks:

1. John Wall, Wizards
2. Evan Turner, Sixers
3. Derrick Favors, Nets
4. Wes Johnson, T-Wolves
5. DeMarcus Cousins, Kings
6. Ekpe Udoh, Warriors
7. Greg Monroe, Pistons
8. Al-Farouq Aminu, Clippers

Barring trades, which are always the toughest to predict, that sequence seems pretty reasonable. Udoh seems to be going a bit high, but Monroe apparently had a bad workout with the Warriors. Some teams place too much emphasis on a one-day workout instead of looking at a player’s overall body of work, but each team has its own method of evaluating prospects.

The mock starts to get dicey around #9 where Ford says that the Jazz have a load of options, but appear to be leaning towards UNC’s Ed Davis.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Source: Nets will draft Favors


Barring a last-minute change in thinking, the New Jersey Nets will select Georgia Tech freshman Derrick Favors over Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson with the No. 3 pick, was told Thursday morning.

According to a source with knowledge of the selection, the Nets made the decision because they are not guaranteed to get a power forward like Utah’s Carlos Boozer, Toronto’s Chris Bosh or Phoenix’s Amare Stoudemire in free agency.

The source said that Favors is also the most tradeable asset available to the Nets for a possible deal — more so than Johnson. The source said the Nets might make a deal Thursday night after selecting Favors or wait to see if one comes in July during the free-agency period. The source said if the Nets make a deal they would have to include the pick of Favors.

This is a bit of a surprise as the Nets had seemingly settled on Wes Johnson because they believed they’d be able to get a good power forward in free agency. Now they’re planning to draft Favors because they’re not sure about getting a good power forward in free agency. Hmm.

The Nets could draft Favors as insurance and move him if they are able to land a good big in July’s free agency period.

Favors has a lot of upside, but hasn’t performed very well in workouts, which has hurt his stock a bit as draft day approaches. He was the 2009 Naismith Prep Player of the Year, which has a pretty good track record of predicting success in the NBA.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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