Powers: Timberwolves need divine intervention
By Tom Powers
St. Paul Pioneer Press
Hey Kevin Love, take a number.
There have been an awful lot of Timberwolves over the years who wished they were playing elsewhere. The organization has a long and rich history of players wanting out. Well, it’s hard to blame them. The Wolves have a tradition of being lousy, it’s not very glamorous here and the damp winters tend to tarnish the bling.
The franchise really is in the soup right now. Even by Timberwolves standards, this is a mess. They have no coach and their star player has one foot out the door and the other on a banana peel. And even before all these devilish celestial bodies became aligned, the team was coming off a disappointing season.
This organization doesn’t need a new coach or more draft choices. It needs an act of God.
On the bright side, they’re due for one.
How can anyone blame Love for seeking a better job? Love mostly has done all the right things in Minnesota, including community involvement and charity work. He doesn’t owe anybody anything. It’s understandable that he is looking forward to choosing his own work space. Let’s just say he wants to move to a cubicle that comes with brighter panels and a chance for advancement.
The result of it all is that Love will have to be moved and the compensation will not be commensurate. Getting draft choices in return means the Wolves again will ask their fans to be patient — 10 years after last having made the playoffs. Some of us aren’t getting any younger. It would be nice if the organization were more concerned with today instead of some undetermined date in the future.
(Insert sigh here.)
I thought last year was going to be the one. I bought into the concept of a young, run-and-gun, playoff-bound team. I should have known better. The day Rick Adelman was hired, I said that if he can’t turn this around, no one can. Three years later the results are in: No one can. The Wolves helped push Adelman to an early coaching retirement.
Most people consider the Love thing to be a kick in the head. Instead, they should be thanking him for having the courtesy to give the team a year’s notice and time enough to make a trade. Granted, it took Kevin Garnett longer grow weary of this place. But he was a well-paid exception. Most players get antsy to leave much quicker.
It’s in the franchise’s DNA. Pooh Richardson, the Wolves’ first-ever first-round draft choice and their first-ever player of consequence, was ready to escape after about 15 minutes. Pooh was very vocal in wanting out. It took him three years to get his wish fulfilled.
Here’s an even better one: Rick Mahorn, the first Timberwolf, never even made it onto the court. Taken No. 1 in the expansion draft, Mahorn was flown to our humble tundra and introduced as the team’s marquee player. Then Mahorn thought it over and decided he wanted to be compensated for his loss of endorsement and playoff money. After all, he was going from the NBA champion Pistons to the lowly Timberwolves.
When the Timberwolves declined to fatten his salary, Mahorn filed his retirement papers with the league and announced he would rather play in Italy than report to Minnesota. The Wolves eventually traded him to Philadelphia.
For years, the happiest and most exciting time for Timberwolves players was the trade deadline, when they became filled with hope. I’ve told this story before, but years ago the Wolves had a center named Mike Brown who was so depressed that he wasn’t traded at the deadline that he had to be sent home from practice.
From Marko Jaric to Tom Gugliotta to Stephon Marbury to lesser lights such as Sean Rooks, plenty of fellows would rather have been elsewhere. And in recent years, I’ve never heard a player say “oh damn” when getting word he had been traded from Minnesota. Not one.
I don’t know which way they are leaning in terms of a coach. Unless something really surprising throws a jolt into the team — such as hiring George Karl or Flip Saunders returning to the bench — it probably won’t matter much. Without Love, the team will be further from contention. With an uncommitted Love, well, it will be a soap opera.
I’ve been saying for the better part of a decade that the team needs divine intervention. Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong. Overall, the drafts have been awful. And no team NBA team has been out of the playoffs longer. The Timberwolves are due for some unexpected good fortune.
Maybe that act of God is just around the corner.
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