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


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