It’s impossible to quantify, but I’d guess that Minnesota is probably the most commonly discussed 17 win team in NBA history. This year they were talked about more than any borderline playoff team and even some that made the post-season (Pacers & Sixers, specifically). That’s in no small part to Kevin Love. A great player, but probably makes more headlines than he should, since he’s the best white American NBA player since either Larry Bird or Chris Mullin (I’d go with the former, though on both coasts, they probably say since Keith Van Horn). The timing is almost perfect for Minnesota to have the 2nd overall pick, and they have a lot more to lose than they do to gain.
With Ricky Rubio finally deciding to join the lowly Timberwolves in the upcoming season, they’ve sort of been boxed into a corner with the 2nd overall pick. In what’s widely considered a two-man draft, they need the Cavs to take Kyrie Irving (which all signs suggest they will) so Williams is available to use as either trade bait or as a contributor (which they don’t seem to think is an option). Minnesota has a short history of drafting point guards, which we have discussed here before (even though I personally think the uproar was a tad overblown), that if they were to draft Irving and not immediately trade him to Utah or some other willing participant, it would cause a PR nightmare that no one in Minneapolis wants to answer for. If they think the offers are disrespectful now, wait until they have another point guard to unload.
So again, this is a tenuous position, and right now rumors are swirling, none of which sound all that pleasant if you’re a Timberwolves fan. Right now the only thing that seems to be playing in their favor is Cleveland drafting in front of them, and with that said, they’re in no way savvy enough to force Minnesota’s hand. One of the more popular rumors is they draft Derrick Williams, and ship him and Kevin Love off to the Lakers for Pau Gasol. This would be a catastrophic mistake, one that David Kahn was even quick to dismiss. If you’re Kahn and convinced that Kevin Love is leaving — and you’d be nuts to think he’s staying – then exhibit some patience and hold out for someone who’s more age appropriate and a better long-term asset.
Also, it’s counter-intuitive to trade both Love and Williams for Gasol, because if one of them is gone, then the other is imperative, and they’re both in their early 20′s. If you trade for Gasol, you get a 30 year old playing with a bunch of college-aged newbies and a guy who’s going to mail it in to end his career because Minnesota isn’t making the post-season anytime soon. With that said, that is entirely too much firepower — the best young power forward in the league and the #two overall pick — for a player whose best days are behind him, just so Rubio will have another Spaniard to play with, before he leaves for whichever glamor market will have him.
As a Timberwolves fan, you have to hope that if this is seriously being considered, it is David Kahn’s mistake and not a condition Rubio is making for his arrival. Because if it’s the latter, 1) You might prefer it if he’d stay in Barcelona in the first place, if it’s going to cost you both Williams and Love, they shouldn’t have let him get off the plane instead of treating him like Lennon. And 2) It would be embarrassing to give Rubio this much control over the fate of your team for a guy who was a bench player in Euro-ball.
The Timberwolves can’t seem to catch a break, and yet they continue to double-down on their own misfortune by repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot. Right now Kahn has collected an amalgamation of promising, yet unproven players who could really gravitate to either end of the spectrum for their career; none of whom seem to understand what their role is supposed to be. Now all of a sudden getting the second best player in the draft and just sticking him on the roster isn’t an option? Is this to protest missing the first overall pick?
If they don’t feel Williams is the right fit and they want to trade down, but are not hearing any good offers, ignore all these reportedly low-ball offers and simply draft him, and let him improve his stock on the court. Their options are limited and unlimited at the same time; depending on how much they appreciate the position they’re in. The last thing you want, given their track record, is for the T-wolves front office to over-think this move and do something unwarranted. It would be a pleasant change of pace, I’d imagine.