HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If you put your ear against the wall outside the Target Center, you can still hear the calliope music coming from inside. The Timberwolves’ merry-go-round continues.
Ricky Rubio is coming and Kurt Rambis might be going and that means the latest redevelopment project in downtown Minneapolis is back on track, assuming that general manager David Kahn doesn’t take another point guard in the Draft.
But seriously, after two years of running in a knee-deep snow with back-to-back records of 15-67 and 17-65, is it possible that Kahn’s vision for the Wolves comes from some place other than acute hypothermia?
First there is the arrival of Rubio, the Spanish phenom with the Pete Maravich haircut and flair and the Justin Bieber following, who is officially ready to join the Wolves after being the No. 5 pick in the 2009 Draft.
“It is my dream and I want to fulfill it,” he said.” After thinking about it a lot, the time has arrived.
“I am going because I feel prepared. I want to play against the best players in the world.’
“It will mean a change of mentality. Perhaps we won’t be fighting for the title, but we will have other goals. I am willing to do whatever the team needs to win as many games as possible.”
Then there is the possible departure of Rambis, whose has failed so far in his efforts to bring the magic of the triangle offense and anything resembling a competitive instinct to Minnesota. Rambis’ long-awaited meeting with Kahn and team owner Glen Taylor is imminent, and we could know where he stands — or doesn’t — as early as Friday.
That will then turn the Wolves’ attention to Thursday’s Draft, where they have the No. 2 and 20 picks. The team worked out 6-foot-11 Turkish center Enes Kanter on Thursday and assistant GM Tony Ronzone says he’s an option.
Most observers believe that when push comes to shove, Minnesota will select Arizona forward Derrick Williams with the second pick, setting up another logjam scenario on a roster that already includes versatile forwards Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph and Wesley Johnson.
Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says such a scenario could have Kahn wheeling and dealing once more on Draft night:
That situation will have the Wolves fielding offers for that No. 2 pick right up until draft night if they can get a veteran such as Lakers forward Pau Gasol or a more experienced young player such as Washington’s JaVale McGee or Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan in exchange for swapping picks with another lottery team.
On Thursday, Ronzone said that he was “happy” with that second pick, indicating the team is prepared to stay where it is now and take Williams if he indeed is there.
“You just can’t pass up on guys and get creative and try to get another guy,” Ronzone said. “He’s a talent. He can play. You look at what he did this year at Arizona and his upside. He just started to play a few years ago, and every year he just keeps getting better and better. That’s what I like about him.”
If Minnesota chooses to keep the No. 2 pick and takes Williams, it also opens the door down the line to move Beasley to shore them up at other positions.
The Wolves already have double-double machine All-Star Kevin Love at power forward and now the exciting, if young, Rubio jumping on board.
Of course, some might argue that all would have been much simpler if Minnesota had simply taken better advantage of those four first-round draft picks in 2009 and chosen four players who could have impacted the starting lineup and the standings over the past couple of seasons.
True … but where’s the fun in that? Kahn’s Byzantine maneuvering might have been more difficult to follow than a Stephen Hawking lecture, but it’s got the Wolves finally ready to howl at a bright future.