Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Timberwolves Continue to Make Moves, Near Coaching Decision

The Minnesota Timberwolves made a trade on Monday, acquiring PG Chucky Atkins and SG Damien Wilkins from the Oklahoma City Thunder for newly-acquired C Etan Thomas. The deal was made largely because of Atkins's contract. Although the veteran is slated to make $3.48M this season, only $760k is guaranteed, meaning the Wolves could save cap money by simply buying Atkins out or could move him in a future trade.

My thought is that the Wolves will likely buy Atkins out and cut Wilkins loose. This trade was made for cap purposes only and Thomas was a surplus piece. Basketball operations head David Kahn continues to make moves this summer which put the Wolves in a much better salary cap position than they were one year ago. The upcoming season will be painful, but with a solid young core of Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, Al Jefferson, and Kevin Love, the Wolves are in a position to be players in a rich 2010 free agent class.

Coaching Search Continues: Kahn is reportedly conducting more interviews with potential head coaches. Reports surfaced that the finalists are NBA TV analyst Mark Jackson and Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis. Houston assistant Elston Turner is also reportedly in the mix.

Sid Does it Again: Sid Hartman had a column over the weekend in the Star Tribune stating that one of his sources, an "NBA insider," judged first rounder Ricky Rubio as 'overhyped." The insider is Bill Duffy who was part of the Gopher basketball program in the 1970's and is now a successful NBA agent who apparently had the ear of former basketball operations chief and head coach Kevin McHale. Of course, if you continue reading in the fifth paragraph, you'll note that Duffy represents Brandon Jennings, who was picked by Milwaukee #10 overall in the same draft, and does not represent Rubio. Duffy mentioned in the article that the Wolves jumped too fast at Rubio at #5 when just about every ranking service had the Spanish point guard going in the top five. If he's a savvy NBA insider, than I strongly question his judgment. Duffy did offer a clarification in Tuesday's Star Tribune, backing away at the comments somewhat.

Of course Duffy will say in print that his player is better because he doesn't want to say anything negative about his client. However, the senior columnist does his readers a dis-service by passing this judgment of a savvy NBA follower as objective analysis when the evaluator has a dog in the hunt.

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