Friday, June 3, 2011

Ricky Rubio: The Timberwolves Have Decisions to Make




Now that Ricky Rubio is confirmed to be coming to the NBA once the lockout is resolved, the Wolves have work to do. They have scratched only one of the many wishes off their wishlist for the offseason, they have their PG. Does anyone, including Kahn himself, know what David Kahn has on his wishlist for the rest of the off season. Predicting Kahn's next move has been as easy as predicting where a Plinko chip is going to fall on The Price is Right. In fact...maybe Kahn got a hold of a Plinko board instead of a draft board. Either way the introduction of Rubio to the TPup's roster only adds to the teams many decisions that will be made this off season. So let's go over what STOB is wondering about for the Pups this summer.


Will Rubio start?

Depends on who you ask, some think Rubio would be better suited off the bench with less pressure to perform immediately, while others think the Pups should hand him the keys to the team from day 1. Remember that the Wolves have 2 other point guards on the team currently. Jonny Flynn was drafted in 2009 one pick after Ricky Rubio. So far in his first 2 seasons Flynn has been a serious disappointment. It is widely speculated that Flynn will be first out the door this summer when the Wolves make their first trade. The other point guard is Luke Ridnour, a veteran who signed a 4 year contract with the Wolves last summer. Ridnour was also a bit of a disappointment last year but it can be argued that he has a higher trade value over Flynn.

In my opinion the Wolves should lose both Flynn and Ridnour. Ridnour was brought in last year to bring veteran leadership, it never materialized. Flynn looks lost on the court and is in need of a change of scenery. The Wolves need to look for a veteran PG that can maybe start some but understands that they are just keeping the starting spot warm until Rubio is ready to start after adjusting to the NBA. The Wolves showed serious interest in Steve Nash prior to the trade deadline this past February. I don't see Nash coming to the Wolves he will be looking to go either to a team ready to win a title or to Toronto and be in his home country. Nash doesn't currently have a no trade clause in his contract, but I see Phoenix trying their best to put Nash in a situation that he likes out of respect for a player that has done so much for their franchise.

There are rumors that Portland is looking to move up in the draft. If so the Wolves could look to gain the rights to Andre Miller by getting involved in a Portland trade while not giving up the #2 pick. Andre is a mature point guard, who doesn't play the fast paced game that Rubio is expected to play, but could put his ego aside to accept the fact he is grooming the young Spaniard. I think a player like Miller is what the Wolves will be looking for to help ease the transition to the NBA for Rubio. If one cannot be found I think the Pups should just hang onto Ridnour, but only in a back up role to Rubio who will be thrown into the fire from day 1 if that is the situation.


Will the Wolves keep the #2 pick?

The Wolves have never had luck in the NBA Draft, outside of Kevin Garnett. This year is no different. The one year in their history that they get a top 2 pick, the two players locked in as the top 2 prospects play positions that are now already filled for a team that has so many holes. Derrick Williams is on top of most team's big boards as a SF/PF hybrid. Kyrie Irving is a PG that many have as the #2 player on their big boards, but with Cleveland having the 1st pick most mock drafts have Irving going #1 to the PG starved Cavs. Either way the Timberwolves have a PG and a SF/PF hybrid in Ricky Rubio and Michael Beasley respectively.

I see the Wolves having two options. The first option is taking Enes Kanter #2. It is a bit of a stretch for the 6'11 Turkish PF/C but it is filling a need for the Wolves. The second option seems the most likely, trade the #2 pick for a lower draft pick and a veteran SG or C. If I had to pick I would have to say the Wolves should trade the pick. The best trade option I have seen or thought about would be throwing the #2 pick and a combination of players at the Phoenix Suns for Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus and the 13th pick in the draft.

Gortat is a veteran center and a solid defensive presence that the Wolves desperately need. Pietrus, a veteran SG/SF, is a defensive minded player that can help in the development of Wes Johnson. The #13 pick then can be turned into a solid player in this years draft or combined with the #20 pick to get a different 1st round pick in this year's draft and a pick in next year's also to make up for the pick the Wolves lose to the Clippers next year. In one trade the Wolves would fill or at least help 2 of their glaring holes in SG and C as well as a possibility to also add a 2012 1st rounder which is a huge issue. This trade also improves the Wolves defensively both inside and out while also adding veterans to a roster that currently is extremely young.


Will Kurt Rambis coach the Wolves next year?

If there was a limbo competition and Kurt Rambis was a competitor, I probably would not put any money on the 6'8 former Laker and current(?) Wolves coach. He may not be good at limboing but ever since the 2010-2011 Timberwolves season came to an end 6 weeks ago, Rambis has been in limbo. Maybe it is due to the pending lockout, maybe it's due to owner Glenn Taylor not wanting to pay 2 coaches at once if Rambis is fired, or maybe Kahn lost his Plinko chips and until he finds them he won't be able to make a decision on Rambis' future. Whatever the case, this decision more than any may decide the future of the Wolves after this summer. Kahn needs to stop being mum on this decision and have the coaching position resolved prior to the draft. Unfortunately it does not look like Kahn will accomplish that and the Wolves maybe heading to a draft without an answer for who is coaching them for the 2nd year in Kahn's 3 year reign as GM.

If you ask me, Rambis needs to be done as coach of the Wolves. In Kurt's two seasons at the helm of the Wolves they have only won 32 games. Kurt took a promising PG and turned him into a confused player and possible bust in Jonny Flynn. Kurt hasn't shown any tendency towards being flexible with a young developing team that needs flexibility more than most NBA teams. All of this adds up to me thinking Rambis should be replaced.

Ricky Rubio shouldn't be catered to as if he is already a NBA superstar, I understand that. Yet, Rubio maybe the only player on the roster now that has superstar potential. With Rambis already showing that he can crush PG's with his meticulous offensive scheme, including the non PG centered triangle offense, with Jonny Flynn you'd hate to have Rambis also crush the potential filled Rubio as well. Rubio needs to be in a scheme that plays to his strengths and as previously mentioned, Rambis doesn't seem to have the ability to adjust and create that scheme.

Also what should be on Kahn's mind is that Kevin Love is currently the best player for the Wolves and has admittedly had some dust ups with Rambis. It looks like the Wolves are going to build around Kevin Love and are hoping to sign him to an extension once the lockout is resolved. Minnesota already has many other factors working against them in the goal of signing Love, if you can remove the coach that Love isn't high on it seems like a good idea.

If the Wolves follow my advice the roster will look like this in the 2011-2012 season.

PG - Ricky Rubio, Andre Miller
SG - Wes Johnson, Marshon Brooks (taken in draft with either #13 from PHX or #20 pick)
SF - Michael Beasley, Mickael Pietrus
PF - Kevin Love, Anthony Randolph
C - Marcin Gortat, Darko Milicic (if not in trade to PHX), Nikola Pekovic

Coach: Mark Jackson (Showed interest 2 years ago, former PG can work with Rubio, has been begging for a head coaching positions for years, still young and can relate to a very young team, also not going to be cemented into a coaching style and unable to adjust like Rambis)

Are there more questions that need to be answered for the Timberwolves? Yes, for example, "When will Ricky Rubio want to be called 'Rick', to seem more mature?". I assume that STOB will get to all of the remaining questions prior to the start of the season. The questions I have answered are the questions that are burning in my brain as we approach the NBA Draft. If the Wolves can answer the questions above this off season with good answers, they could finally start to show improvement.

Tell us your thoughts on these questions and bring up some of your own either in the comments section or at sportstearsinourbeers@yahoo.com.

2 comments :

  1. it would be foolhardy to trade the number two pick and miss out on Williams.

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  2. Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading.

    In response to your comment though, I totally understand why you and others like Williams.

    In my opinion though I think Beasley, who plays the same position and does much of the same things, has a higher upside physically over Williams. The only thing about Beasley that worries me is his mentality. There have been plenty of physically gifted and talented players who haven't had the right mentality to be great. The mental approach to the game I would give the edge to Williams, but pretty much every other aspect of the game I'd give to Beasley.

    Add that to the fact that the Wolves have flipped the roster 2 times (atleast) under Kahn and I think Beasley should also be kept to keep continuity within the team that has had none in the past 2-3 years.

    On your side though Derrick Williams is a great player. I wouldn't be upset at all if the Wolves decided to instead package Beasley for some veteran SG/C help instead of the #2 pick. Then opening up a spot for Williams to be selected #2 (assuming Cleveland doesn't select Williams #1).

    Either option is fine but I think it woudld be, to use your words, "foolhardy" to try to work with both Beasley and Williams.

    Thanks again for the comment and for reading. Keep em coming!

    Ben

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