GH And Petey's Timberwolves Blog

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Not Dead Yet

So despite losing to the pathetic Warriors, the Wolves pull off an inspirational win against the Bucks on Friday, then follow up with another impressive win today against Boston to climb back to .500. The Wolves have a home game Tuesday against Charlotte and then their next five look like this:

@San Antonio

Normally, coming down the stretch run, a schedule like this would terrify me. This year though, things are different.

If the Wolves get slaughtered, then so be. Then, we can call it a season, start resting KG and get ready for next year. On the other hand, if the Wolves are going anywhere in the playoffs, they need to start figuring out how to beat good teams and this is the perfect opportunity to do it. A 5-0 or 4-1 record over those games would be amazing. It would probably put the Wolves into the eight spot (at least temporarily) and get us set for a playoff push. This would possibly be made even easier if The Big Muppet stays injured.

In fact, I think the worst possible record we could have over this stretch would be 2-3. We'd still have a shot at the playoffs, but we won't have shown that we are really capable of beating an elite team, especially if those two wins happen to come against a struggling Dallas team. 1-4 might be enough to kill our playoff dreams, but wouldn't be as good as 0-5.

As Promised to SBG

I strongly feel that much of the Wolves problems this season stem from the fact that our nucleus didn't produce the way we expected it to. You can point to all sorts of specifics like defense, lack of scoring, etc. that contributed to our lackluster season, but when you break it down, it comes down to the fact that we were depending on Sam and Spree heavily this season and they've let us down. Spree has been mediocre most of the season. Sam has been injured for a large part of the season and hasn't been as effective as usually when he's been in. Both of them have been clubhouse distractions throughout the season.

When you look at how amazing our bench has been for most of the season and think about what we would have looked like had we gotten the production we had expected from our starters?

When we start rebuilding next season, we need a strong core group of players to surround KG. It's gotta start with getting rid of Spree, and dumping Cassell if possible and trying to replace them with young energetic bodies. Petey mentioned about how much of a shame it is that we didn't trade Spree, and I agree. Dumping him for anything would have been greatly beneficial to our team. To be honest, I'm not sure McHale would have made a deal unless it would benefit the team this season. Rumors have it that he's gone if the Wolves don't get past the first round of the playoffs. Thus, trading Spree could be detrimental to his career if we didn't get immediate value. I'm not saying this came into play at all, but it certainly could have affected his thinking process when considering possible trade options.

Petey also mentioned something about a sign-and-trade, but I doubt that will happen either. For starters, the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires at the end of this season, so rules about free agents are likely to change drastically. Secondly, if things don't change, any contract we'd offer him would be way under the max, so a sign-and-trade might not be all that beneficial to him.

Dealing with Cassell is going to be another issue entirely. We're probably going to need to cut back on his minutes or he'll spend most of the season on the IR. Trading him might be an issue, but wouldn't be as bad as Spree because he's got a much more reasonable contract. Still, I highly doubt we'd be able to get a deal done during the offseason, so Cassell will likely have to assume a backup role of some sort.

We then will probably need to take some risks as we start rebuilding. We're not going to be able to afford any high priced free agents, so trying to get somebody youthful with a lot of upside will probably be necessary. Also, I'm pretty sure that we get a first-round pick next year now. I would expect us to try and draft a point guard to replace Cassell. Of course, the way AC is playing right now, he could easily replace Sam. He's playing with so much confidence right now, and has been making some amazing passes. If only he had a jumpshot...

One good thing that McHale has already been doing for this team is to try and focus on improving our defense and getting us more inside scoring. I think we should really make both of these things a priority next year. Winning becomes so much easier when you only need to score 90 instead of 100. Scoring becomes much easier when you're 5-feet from the basket and not 20.

Before Kandi got hurt, he was actually playing really well. He could potentially provide a big inside presence next year that the Wolves have been severely lacking. I know it seems sort of weird to have me speaking this way of him, but I was actually becoming optimistic right before he got hurt. We will also likely have the option of resigning Eddie which could be nice, especially if we can convince him to do something other than shooting threes.

Before the season started, I wrote about how it was a good thing that the Wolves didn't make many off-season moves. This season will be completely the opposite. I think that they will likely be good in a couple years no matter what (Hey, how bad can we be if we've got KG?), but in terms of competing for a title, we'll need to make some amazing moves and probably get a little bit lucky.