Friday, June 26, 2009

A look at the 2009-2010 Timberwolves

With the completion of last nights draft, we now have a little bit clearer view of what the potential roster could look like for the '09-'10 Wolves (A quick aside - even in writing this, I said in my mind "Oh-ten", much like I have for the years '01-'09. When January first rolls around, I along with many others will be saying "Oh-ten" for months. Despite how wrong it is, it sounds right. Something about shortening it to "ten" just sounds wrong. Anyways, back to the Wolves). With the first round selections of Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, and Wayne Ellington, the Wolves have at least two and possibly three (in the case that Rubio gets out of his Euro contract) players to add to the list of players for sure on next year's roster.

Here is the Wolves current roster (In alphabetical order)-
Corey Brewer
Bobby Brown (FA)
Brian Cardinal
Rodney Carney (FA)
Jason Collins (FA)
Wayne Ellington
Jonny Flynn
Ryan Gomes
Al Jefferson
Kevin Love
Mark Madsen
Henk Norel
Kevin Ollie (FA)
Oleksiy Pecherov
Ricky Rubio
Craig Smith
Darius Songaila
Sebastian Telfair
Etan Thomas
Sheldan Williams (FA)

  • First, we can eliminate Norel. We will hold onto his rights, but he won't be here this year.
  • Next, we can safely say that certain free agents won't be back.
  1. Brown is a restricted free agent, so we have the right to match any offer for him. His return depends mainly on Rubio. If Rubio stays in Europe for the year, we may extend an offer to Brown. If Rubio signs for this season, Brown is a goner, since Telfair is already under contract and Flynn was drafted at the PG spot as well.
  2. Carney, Collins, Ollie, and Williams are all unrestricted free agents. Out of this group, only Carney should be considered to return to the team. Collins and Williams are surely goners, while Ollie has a slim hope of returning, depending on how much Kahn values veteran leadership. Carney averaged 7.2 PPG last season, and was stellar in transition. With the addition of two point guards who are great in a fast break offense, Carney could be a valuable asset to this team
Assuming they bring back Carney, the list of players is now at 15. Now, the best way to evaluate who could stay and who could go is to look at the depth chart.
  • PG- Flynn, Telfair, Rubio (if he signs) or Brown (if Rubio doesn't)
  • SG-Ellington, Gomes?, Carney?
  • SF-Gomes, Carney, Brewer
  • PF-Jefferson, Love, Smith, Songaila, Madsen, Cardinal
  • C- Thomas, Pecherov
Obviously, our strongest positions are at PG and PF. However, those strong positions are countered by an obvious deficiency at SG and C. Ellington is our only true shooting guard, and he is undersized. Carney, if re-signed, could play SG, as well as Gomes. Despite their ability to play the two, their best position is the 3.

There is no way we go into the season with 6 players at power forward. Though I have Jefferson listed as a PF, he obviously could play C like he did much of last season. Another concern is whether Big Al is even ready for the season.

Time for some guesses-
There will be at least 1 or 2 buyouts. It won't be Songaila, as he has 2 years and millions left on his deal. Thomas is in the last season of a 6 year, 36 million dollar deal. However, he could be of value to the Wolves at the center position. The Wolves can chose whether or not to pick up Pecherov's 1.55 million dollar option for this season, but I can't envision the Wolves letting a 23-year-old 7-footer leave when they only have to pay him just over 1.5 mil.

This means we are down to Craig Smith, Mark Madsen, and Brian Cardinal. Cardinal, despite playing a lot of minutes last year, would most likely take a back seat to Big Al, K-Love, Songaila, and possibly even Thomas. Cardinal is owed 6.75 million this season, the last of his contract. He either could be bought out or traded, but I don't see Cardinal remaining on the roster. Smith is a valuable role player, and could very well stick with the team. Smith is only owed 2.7 million this year, so he isn't hurting the team financially. Who knows what the team will do with Madsen. He is the only holdover from the Garnett Regime.

It is obvious we need to trade or do something to reduce our frontcourt options, as they are great in quantity but short on quality outside of Love and Jefferson. Expect Kahn to trim the fat somehow.

Expect a shooting guard signed this offseason, or one to arrive through trade. We need a big shooting guard, one who can guard the bigger and more talented shooting guards in the league. This could come if we are forced into dealing one of our new PGs, or it could easily come through free agency, since we have some money to spend. Ben Gordon is the best SG on the market, but won't come to the Wolves. Allen Iverson is available also, but again won't want in on the Minnesota situation. Maybe Keith Bogans is an option? Maybe Kyle Korver? Who knows, but the Wolves need help at shooting guard and standing pat is NOT an option.

Regardless of moves made, it is obvious that the Wolves are in for a rough ride this season. They have some talented pieces, but the talent is pretty shallow. We don't have the traditional role players that help make good teams great, and lack some of the talent that at the very least makes bad teams good. Whatever happens, at least there is some interest back in this team following the drafting of Rubio and Flynn

Timberwolves Draft 2009

Suffice it to say that I, like many other devout T-Wolves fans, was utterly surprised at numerous things during the draft last night. Most obviously surprising was the fact that the Timberwolves selected back to back point guards with their lottery picks.

Surprising enough by itself, the fact that Ricky Rubio dropped into their hands at number five was pretty astounding. Rubio was considered the second best player in the draft by some. Rubio ended up dropping with the selection of Hasheem Thabeet, James Harden, and Tyreke Evans above him. Rubio has the chance to be a special talent, but whether we see him in a Wolves uniform is yet to be seen. Getting out of his current contract is tricky enough, but now it is compounded by the fact that he really doesn't have any desire to leave Spain for Minnesota. Ultimately, I expect Rubio to either be here this season, or the following. I don't believe that a multi-year holdout in Spain or a trade is a possibility.

Point guard Jonny Flynn was taken with the Wolves second pick. This was an utter surprise, as most everyone expected a shooting guard or at the very least a combo guard selected in this spot. Instead, GM David Kahn selected Flynn, an energetic, tiny point guard who is NBA-ready. The pick was almost universally torn apart by most, however I do believe that the Timberwolves made a smart pick. It is possible that Flynn was the best player left on the Timberwolves board at pick 6, and with a team in this much need of talent, they should be in best-player-available mode.

The selection of both Flynn and Rubio allows for a few different things to happen. First off, if Rubio does hold out for the season to take another in Spain, the Wolves will be able to start Flynn at the point. This reduces Rubio's negotiating power (not that he has much to begin with, with the slotted contracts in the NBA). With Flynn, they can more easily absorb the blow of not having their number 5 pick immediately. Second off, if Flynn doesn't succeed while Rubio is in Spain, we have a new PG ready to step in. Third, if Flynn does succeed, and Rubio remains in Spain, we now have a potential trade chip in an NBA caliber point guard, as we won't need two.

The fourth, and best-case scenario, is that both Flynn and Rubio play for the Wolves next season. Despite both playing the same position, there is definitely enough minutes for both of them next season. Flynn is ready now, and Rubio would be able to play a little bit less as he learns the NBA game. Plus, in the instances with both Flynn and Rubio on the floor at the same time, the Wolves could have one of the most exciting fast break offenses in the league.

Finally, we took shooting guard Wayne Ellington with the 28th pick in the first round. With the jettison of both Mike Miller and Randy Foye, the Wolves were suddenly extremely thin at the shooting guard position. Ellington is NBA ready after playing for the National Champion UNC Tarheels this season, and could very well step into a starting role for this team. To find a starting caliber shooting guard at this point in the draft makes this another solid pick for Kahn. Ellington, though undersized, just became the best outside shooter on an NBA team.

(All above pictures were photoshopped by the Court's Sports team)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Timberwolves draft predictions 1.0

With the news today that the Timberwolves have traded away Randy Foye and Mike Miller for Etan Thomas, Oleksiy Pecherov, Darius Songaila, and the number 5 pick in the 2009 draft, Wolves GM David Kahn has added yet another pick for Thursday's draft. The Wolves now hold the number 5, 6, 18, and 28 picks in the draft (courtesy of the Wizards, Heat, and Celtics). What begs to question is what to do with all these picks? Here is a likely scenario for Thursday's draft, and who I believe the Wolves should take in the event that the Wolves stand pat with their current picks.

Picks 1 through 4-
Obviously Blake Griffin is the top pick. This is not even a question at this point in time. While the next three picks may be jumbled around, I think it is safe to say that center Hasheem Thabeet, point guard Ricky Rubio, and shooting guard James Harden will be the next three players taken. These three could be in any order, but they should be the players taken leading up to the Wolves number 5 pick. In the case that Thabeet, Rubio, or Harden drop, they WILL be the Timberwolves selection at number 5.

Pick 5-
The likely target, assuming that the players listed above are off the board, is Tyreke Evans. By all accounts, Evans had the best workout for the Timberwolves during Pointguardapalooza that happened over the weekend at the Target Center. Evans would fill the role of point guard that is now in more need than ever for the Wolves with the departure of Foye. If Evans gets selected in the top 4, the Wolves will draft whoever drops.

Pick 6-
With the selection of Evans at 5 to play point, the Timberwolves likely will target shooting guard with this pick. Considering the three players they acquired in their trade (all three are capable of playing center), the Wolves need to acquire another guard to help to fill out their roster. The pick also will be a guard because the best players available here are all guards. There are a few players that would be considered with this pick - Jonny Flynn, DeMar DeRozen, Brandon Jennings - but ultimately I can't see them passing up Stephen Curry at this pick. The Wolves need to improve their outside shooting, and Curry is the best shooter in the draft.

Pick 18-
A few guys will be considered here as well, and its much harder to predict the tail end of the draft, but there are a few guys that have been associated with this pick. B.J. Mullens has been rumored with this pick, along with a number of other guards. Assuming that the Wolves take Evans and Curry, the Wolves will pick 6'11'' small forward Austin Daye out of Gonzaga with this pick. Daye has links to Kahn through his father, has huge upside, and has the size. They would take Daye with the hopes that he turns into a Tayshaun Prince-type player.

Pick 28-
Assuming that we keep pick 28, we would likely pick a player that we can stash in Europe for at least a year, so that we don't have 4 rookies on our roster. This will likely be either Omri Casspi or Jonas Jerebko, both of whom are small forwards.

Assuming that they keep these picks, this what the Wolves should do with their four picks. If the Wolves make another move (which I believe has a very high chance of happening) or something else changes that will affect who the Timberwolves select, check back for updates on who the Wolves should select on Thursday.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A sign of things to come?

Here are your guaranteed Minnesota Timberwolves next year, courtesy of

An odd computer glitch, yet it accurately suggests that huge changes are coming next year and that only Big Al and Corey Brewer are safe, due mainly to injuries sapping their trade value (though Big Al probably wouldn't get traded anyways). These changes will begin on Thursday, when the Timberwolves could add as many as 5 new players in the 2009 draft. They have 3 first round picks along with two second rounders, but most expect them to deal away at least one of those picks.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Getaway Day

Today is Getaway day here in the Twin Cities for the Twins afternoon game against the Indians.

The Twins bats were stymied by Cliff Lee last night and Anthony Swarzak was hit hard in his 3rd major league start as the Twins lost 10-1.

The only run came in the 7th when Carlos Gomez hit a single that scored Jason Kubel. Gomez was also involved in a little jawing with pitcher Cliff Lee.

Early in the game, Gomez bunted with 2 strikes and raced to first but the ball went foul which resulted in a strikeout for Gomez. He did the same thing last year against Lee and Lee had some words for Gomez after a fly out in the 5th.

"Why didn't you bunt that time?" was what you could read Lee saying during the replay

After the game, Gomez defended his choice to bunt with two strikes:

"He can say whatever he wants to say. This is my game. The bunt put me here, and I have to work every day to get better and keep bunting."

This was the most spark the Twins had all night.

Today's starters are Francisco Carmona (2-5) vs. Scott Baker (2-6) and the game time is 12:10 pm. All the representatives from here at Court's Sports will be at the game seats of course.

Check back tomorrow for a game recap.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Twins New Logo - update

Well, it is Saturday, so it only makes sense that the Star Tribune breaks the story that I first reported on here on Tuesday.

They have a picture of the full updated logo, and while it is still obvious to the keen observer that it is an updated logo, it is not as big of a change as I would have expected after making my initial report on the two letters shown during the broadcast.

Of course, there was no mention of this blog or the fact that it was first mentioned here on Tuesday, but oh well. LaVelle E. Neal III is a great reporter and does a great job with the Twins, and I'm sure that if he used the information on this site at all for this report, he would have mentioned it.

The full logo is below, with a comparison to the old one.

Like I initially guessed, the end result is an "edgier", pointier logo.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fantastic Five-Hundred

Thanks to the Boston Red Sox pitching staff doing their best pre-glasses impression of "Wild Thing" Rick Vaughn, the Twins were able to defeat the Red Sox 4-2 last night to climb back to .500.

The Twins, at 24-24 now, were able to capitalize on a MLB record 6 wild pitches and also got a strong outing out of Kevin Slowey (7-1). Slowey struck out 5 batters (all swinging) and scattered 6 hits over his 6 innings pitched.

Denard Span went 4-4 with 2 runs and a stolen base. With is 4-4 performance, Span is now batting .316 and with his speed on the bases is becoming a strong leadoff hitter for the Twins.

With his 1-3 night, Joe Mauer's batting average dropped to a mild .425. He's spoiled us all so far this year that 1-3 almost looks bad...but then we also remember that Punto would probably use all 3 wishes with a genie to have a 1-3 night.

Today's match-up is Josh Beckett (4-2, 5.01) vs. recent call-up Anthony Swarzak (1-0, 0.00) at 12:10. It will be interesting to see where Papi hits or even if he hits at all today. He went 0-4 last night to drop his BA to .193

Outside of the Dome

- Detroit RedWings defeated Chicago 2-1 in OT to win the series 4-1 and will now meet the Pens in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals. It is the first repeat finals in 25 years and pits two of the NHL's best goalies against each other. Let's hope that if Detroit wins the cup again this year, that a certain player refrains from breaking it during the summer Cup tour...

- LA Lakers defeated the Nuggets 103-94 to take the series lead 3-2. Kobe only took 13 shots and scored 22 points prompting Skip Bayless to wonder whether Kobe was sending a message to LeBron that less is more. Well when you're "less" is Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum compared to LeBron's "less" (a non-existent Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao, Wally, and "Big Z") then there really is no option for "less is more". Look for the Cavs to win tonight and the Lakers to close things out in Denver on Friday.

Thanks to those of you who enjoyed our disclosure of a possible new Twins logo coming with the new ballpark next year. If this change does indeed come about, remember where you heard it first!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Twins New Logo

There have been articles written in the local newspapers discussing whether a Twins uniform and logo overhaul should happen for next year, and if so, what it should look like. Turns out, the decision as already been made (no surprise there). During the FSN North broadcast of the Twins-Red Sox game on Tuesday, the Twins showed the logo being assembled above the new scoreboard. However, a closer look shows that the logo being put up above the scoreboard isn't their current logo, but what one must assume will be the new logo that they are adopting for next season.

Here is the new logo atop the scoreboard, courtesy of DirecTV DVR-

and here is the current Twins script logo-

A keen eye will notice that, though there are only two letters on the 'new' logo, both are different than that of the current logo. The 'S' is strikingly different and edgier, while the 'N' is similar to that of the Twins script that has been used since 1997 1987.

Basically, what this means is that those hoping for a huge overhaul, or a return to the beautiful 2009 throwback jerseys as the new home jerseys, is that the decision on the Twins script for next season has already been made. While they will market this as a huge change, all it is is simply a font change. I can picture the words now- "We wanted to update the Twins brand to 2010." While the uniforms, pinstripes and all, may still be overhauled, it looks as though the Twins will be going with a familiar script logo next season.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Should the Twins sign Crede?

Despite an extremely quiet offseason for the Twins, there is still a chance that they could make one semi-large move before the start of the 2009 season. This past week, the Twins made the first move in months, and added their first new major league player of the offseason in Luis Ayala, a righthanded relief pitcher. With Ayala, the Twins helped to shore up one of their weaknesses, which was the bullpen. However, there is still a hole at third base, and there is really only one free agent left that could fill that void – Joe Crede. Question is: should the Twins take the chance on him?

Sign Crede

There are numerous reasons the Twins should take a chance on Crede. First off, he is only 30 years old. Despite having back injury problems the last two seasons, Crede is still young enough that he could bounce back and still be a productive hitter. He was hobbled by a bad back during the ’07 season, but the surgery to fix it failed. He had a similar procedure after the back shut him down in ’08, and he has recently claimed that he is fully healthy. The Twins were willing to sign Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake earlier in the offseason, who was 35 and not getting any better. A healthy, 30-year-old Joe Crede is a much better option than a 35-year-old Blake.
Second, Crede would only be a one-year deal. While Crede certainly could be deserving of a multi-year contract, this offseason is one in which owners simply aren’t committing much to players (unless you are the Yankees). Crede himself is only looking for a one-year deal, so that he can go out, prove himself, and try to cash in next offseason. A player that is willing to sign a one-year deal means that he has something to prove, and usually works well two-fold for the team. First, they aren’t guaranteeing much money to the player, and second, the player feels the need to try and make his case for a big contract.
Third, Crede is relatively reasonably priced, for between five and seven million dollars. Crede made $5.1 million as an All-Star last year with the White Sox (despite an injury shortened season). He is looking for a deal with a base salary upwards of seven million dollars, with incentives that would pay him like an elite third baseman ($11-12 million in total contract value). Those who say that committing seven million dollars to Crede would be a mistake should look at what the Twins were willing to commit to Mike Lamb last season. The Twins signed Lamb, an unproven veteran, to a two-year, $6.6 million deal. He was subsequently cut, and the Twins were on the hook for all of that money, despite Lamb playing in only 81 games for the club. Crede, if he doesn’t pan out, would cost the Twins about the same as they lost with Lamb last year. The difference, however, is that Crede offers much more potential to the Twins than Lamb ever could have.
Even for the Twins, seven million dollars wouldn’t be a huge commitment this year. The Twins are currently at $60.15 million, $14 million less than two years ago with Torii Hunter and Johan Santana. At $67 million, the Twins would be done with their offseason, still below budget, and seven million dollars less than what they were willing to spend two seasons ago.
Fourth, Crede, when healthy, is actually among the top third basemen in the league. Despite playing in only 97 games last season, Crede hit 17 home runs. That total, from a clearly injured Crede, would have been good enough for third on the Twins, seven homers in front of current third place power man Delmon Young. In his last healthy season for the White Sox, Crede hit .283 with 30 home runs and 94 RBI, primarily as their six or seven hitter. If Crede were to hit for a similar average with similar power for the Twins, his RBI total would increase, mainly because he would hit directly behind Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.

Stand pat
There are some good arguments for standing pat, although they aren’t as numerous. First, there is the fact that we have two capable third basemen in Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher. The righty/lefty combo would be able to platoon and thus matchups wouldn’t be an issue. As a nearly full time player last season, Harris hit .265 with seven homers. Buscher hit .294 with four homers in 70 games. The two combined would be a respectable duo at third base, and a cheap option at that, since both are making less than $500,000
Second, Crede isn’t guaranteed to be 100 percent. Crede has had back issues the last two seasons despite having corrective surgery, so there is reason to believe that the same injury could hobble him this season. His back limited him to 144 games the last two years, and the Twins would be risking a lot in hoping that he doesn’t miss any time this season. They are especially worried that the Dome’s FieldTurf would be a catalyst to his injury.
Third, his agent is Scott Boras. Boras is a scary agent, doing anything and everything to get a top contract for his guys. Boras has stated that Crede is fully healthy despite reports of him being 75-85 percent, and that Crede would be ready to play in 10-14 days. He also stated that Crede wouldn’t be affected by what surface he plays on, a direct nod to the Twins that their turf isn’t an issue. Boras could be telling the truth, or he could be just trying to convince the Twins to sign a player that he knows is still rehabbing.

What should they do?
The Twins would be best off taking a chance on Crede. He is high risk, but he offers much greater potential than the Twins current platoon. The Twins have some flexibility with payroll, and a Crede signing would do a lot to get fans excited about the team with less than two months to the start of the season, especially after their extraordinarily quiet offseason to this point.
Crede, if healthy, would be a middle of the lineup righthanded power hitter, the exact kind that the Twins have been in search of for a few seasons now. It is obvious that Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young aren’t capable of being that guy after their recent failures, but Crede has the potential to hit 25-30 homers. He would provide good protection for Morneau and Mauer, and with Kubel hitting behind Crede, the middle of the Twins lineup would be quite scary.
Crede obviously would need to first show the Twins that he is fully healthy before they offer him a contract, but that is what pre-contract physicals are for. San Francisco has already offered a deal to Crede, so the Twins have to act fast if they want to take a chance on him. Weighing the positives and negatives, a Crede signing only makes sense.