Posts Tagged ‘David Kahn’

Bobcats and Timberwolves … Rising?




HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Don’t rub your eyes. It’s real. As of this morning, the Charlotte Bobcats and Minnesota Timberwolves are both doing the unthinkable for two teams that have served as league-wide punching bags in recent seasons.

All the fun we’ve had at the expense of Bobcats owner Michael Jordan and Timberwolves boss David Kahn has been silenced by the winning ways, so far, of their respective teams. They are both 5-4 and battling their way to respectability while shaking off whatever adversity comes their way.

For all of the early-season shockers around the league, both good and bad, these two winning outfits have to rank at or near the top of the list of biggest surprises.

One of the better games of this young season was the 89-87 thriller they played against each other last week, the one where Kemba Walker‘s buzzer-beater gave the Bobcats their third straight win.

Last night’s comeback win over the Milwaukee Bucks was another quality notch for Bobcats belt this season. They’re digging out of that ugly hole from last season in the only way possible: with their heads down, their defensive style looking legitimate and contributions from up and down the roster.

It’s more than most of us expected from a team with a new coach (Mike Dunlap), a new star (rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) and plenty of other new faces added to the mix and continue to defy the odds. Jordan probably didn’t see this coming, not this soon. They didn’t win their fifth game during last year’s lockout-shortened season until March 12, just so we’re clear about how much progress has been made.

The Timberwolves are thriving on the other side of the conference divide without the services of their biggest stars. All-Star power forward Kevin Love (broken hand) and Ricky Rubio (recovering from torn ACL in left knee) have yet to suit up this season. Brandon Roy‘s comeback has been derailed by yet another knee procedure (he’s expected to miss at least a month) and Chase Budinger is out three months after knee surgery).

But Rick Adelman, as he often does, has found a way to cobble together enough healthy bodies to make the Timberwolves a factor every night. Andre Kirilenko‘s return to the NBA has been a huge boost. He leads the team in rebounds (8.3) and blocks (2.2). Fellow Russian Alexey Shved has also made an impression during his first few weeks of NBA action, showing signs that he’ll be a more than competent backup to Rubio, who, according to Jon Krawcynski of the Associated Press, has already started light practice workouts.

“Just having them five-on-(none) gives you a sense that when you get them back we’ll be pretty good,” Adelman said of having both Love and Rubio on the practice court. “We can’t wait for them. We have to go out there and play. But it gives us a sense.”

Love is expected back at the start of December and Rubio potentially a couple of weeks later, which couldn’t come at a better time. After winning five of their first seven games, the Timberwolves have dropped two straight.

Getting by with a shorthanded roster can last for only so long. Nikola Pekovic, not exactly a household name, leads the team in scoring (15.3), with Kirilenko (14.1), Luke Ridnour (11.4), Shved (10.4) and Derrick Williams (10.4) the only other healthy players scoring in that range.

If they can manage for another few weeks or so, at least until the first wave of reinforcements arrive, both the Bobcats and Timberwolves might remain among the teams boasting .500 or better records around Christmas, too.

Rubio’s knee, not timetable, matters

 

They waited two years for him after spending the No. 5 pick in the 2009 draft on a worth-the-gamble move. What’s the big deal if the Minnesota Timberwolves have to wait another three months? Or even four?

Ricky Rubio wants to be ready when he’s ready.

Only days shy of a training camp he’ll experience mostly as a bystander, Rubio continued his rehabilitation from knee surgery at the team’s practice facility. He is one of several NBA guards (Derrick Rose, Eric Maynor, Iman Schumpert) fighting back from torn ligaments, each on a timetable dictated less by the date of his injury than his body’s reaction to the repair.

Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune caught up with Rubio Thursday:

Back running on his surgically repaired knee for the third week now, … Rubio stopped long enough Thursday at Target Center to show off three scars that stripe his left leg and said he could play his next NBA game by December, nine months after he tore two ligaments there.

“I don’t know, they say December, but it could be January,” he said. “I don’t want to say a time because I don’t want to rush it. I want to be ready when I am ready.” (more…)

Love Liking Wolves’ Summer Moves

 

Not so long ago, Kevin Love didn’t seem like the happiest of campers regarding his whereabouts, present or future, with the Timberwolves of Minnesota.

Nothing against the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but Love was weary of playing for the Franchise of 10,000 Mistakes

In his five NBA seasons, Minnesota had lost nearly 74 percent of its games (104-290). He was the only member of Team USA this summer (newbie Anthony Davis excepted) who never has tasted the playoffs. The Wolves roster last season still looked like a halfway house for players of doomed potential. And Love wasn’t thrilled when owner Glen Taylor and basketball president David Kahn played hardball and held fast to a four- rather than five-year contract extension. That early-out after three years started looking good almost immediately.

But Love’s spirits clearly seemed buoyed Tuesday by his experiences at the London Olympics and some time away from the Wolves’ 2011-12 grind. He met with some Twin Cities media types sporting a fancy bauble around his neck and some sincere optimism for a team that largely has been made over. Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote:

On Tuesday, he showed off his Olympic gold medal at a summer-ending Target Center news conference and declared himself pleased with management’s moves that included adding veteran Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko, Lou Amundson as well as Greg Stiemsma and Alexey Shved while letting Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph, Darko Milicic and others go.

“There’s definitely a different feel going into the locker room, definitely a different feel just being down there playing with those guys,” said Love, who arrived back in the Twin Cities from Southern California late last week. “I’m really excited, I’m really excited about this team. … I think we’ve definitely added value to this team. I think the locker room is going to be great. I think the players we have on this team can make an immediate impact.”

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Adelman Bites Darko Dog

When Timberwolves Glen Taylor mentioned in an interview for a magazine profile that coach Rick Adelman wanted underachieving center Darko Milicic – “flatlining” would be a usable adjective too – gone from the roster after last season, some corners of the blogosphere lit up.

It was, after all, precisely what the Interwebs were designed for. NBA Owner Reveals Coach Ripping Player. Go with it! Now! Then sit back and count the clicks.

Here is the pertinent passage from Twin Cities Business magazine:

But most of the Wolves-related headlines concerned [GM David] Kahn’s persistent attempts to upgrade the talent on the roster. Behind the scenes, as promised, Adelman was providing input and helping with the decisions.

“Most of the moves David is making are heavily influenced by what Rick has asked of us. But when it comes to finances, David will tell Rick no,” Taylor reveals. “At the end of the year, Rick gives me a report of what he thinks of each player. He tells me it’s the same one he gave David and that David knows he is giving it to me. Then he goes through the list. He says, ‘This is the first one I want gone’—that was [underachieving veteran center] Darko [Milicic]. ‘This is the second one I want gone. This is what I think of this player.’ “

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Ricky Rubio To Return In December, Brandon Roy Ready Now For T’Wolves

 

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Now that the Minnesota Timberwolves have a firm timetable as to when Ricky Rubio will rejoin his teammates on the court, they can move on to the business of crafting a potent attack without one of the best young point guards in the league.

Rubio’s injury and absence last season all but dashed the faint playoff hopes the Timberwolves had. They didn’t have another dynamic playmaker on the team to balance the floor as All-Star power forward (and recent gold medal winner) Kevin Love continued his assault on opposing teams and the stat sheet. But in a summer filled with twists and turns, they did come up with a player capable of not only balancing the floor but taking over games, if his knees hold up, in Brandon Roy.

No offense to Russian rookie point guard Aleksey Shved, who was something of a revelation this summer in London during the Olympics, but the Timberwolves are going to need more than what we think he can give in Rubio’s absence.

If this footage (above) is any indication, Roy appears to be ready to resume the All-Star activities he displayed in Portland, where he starred before knee injury issues forced him to retire before the start of last season.

If he can provide a spark during the first month of the season, Rubio’s return in December should be another swift punch Rick Adelman can add to the Timberwloves’ arsenal this season. The roster is as sound as it’s been in years and the optimism surrounding Rubio’s return is yet another step in a new direction for a franchise that’s been searching for an identity since the Kevin Garnett era ended.

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Roy Never Closed Door On Comeback

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Brandon Roy is back.

Just over seven months ago, Roy walked away from the game, due to his degenerative knees. At the time, he was just 27 years old and had played just five seasons in the league. Six days after the news broke, the Blazers used the amnesty clause to waive Roy, who had three years and $49 million left on his contract.

But at some point this year, Roy decided to see if he could play again. In fact, he says he never really closed the door on a comeback.

“For me, it was never that I was retired,” Roy said at his introductory news conference in Minnesota on Tuesday. “My knees were a situation that I was going to have to think about if I wanted to continue playing. After a few months of sitting out, I decided, ‘Hey, I don’t want to stop playing basketball.’ It’s something I want to continue going forward with. It’s never a situation where I said, ‘I’m done forever.’ It was more of a pause.”

After two months of working out and undergoing the regenicin procedure that Kobe Bryant had last year, Roy felt good enough to get back in the league. And now, he joins a Timberwolves team that showed some promise last season and has also added Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved this summer. (more…)

Kirilenko Could Join Wolves’ Pack

HANG TIME, Texas – You can never say that Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn lets the grass grow under his feet. If he delivers on the rumor of sending Wesley Johnson to Phoenix as part of a three-team trade that also includes New Orleans, he’ll have dealt away five first-round picks in just two years.

More important, he could bounce back after losing out on the offer sheet to Nicolas Batum by bringing forward Andrei Kirilenko back to the NBA from Russia.

According to the relentless Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, there would be a sign-and-trade deal that sends Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick to the Hornets and also a lottery-protected first-round draft pick to the Suns.

The teams were still finalizing details, but sources said that Lopez, a restricted free agent, was returning soon from a vacation to take a physical for the Hornets. New Orleans had been working diligently for weeks on acquiring a center to play alongside No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis, and give Davis some inside support.

Kirilenko has a buyout in his CSKA of Moscow contract that allows him to return to the NBA. He ruled out the Brooklyn Nets and Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov on Tuesday because the Nets simply couldn’t pay him beyond the veteran’s minimum of $1.2 million, sources said. Kirilenko has been searching for a deal that would pay him in the vicinity of $8 million annually, and Minnesota could have the cap space to do so.

Minnesota is signing another Russian, point guard Alexey Shved, to a free-agent contract. The T’wolves signed Portland restricted free agent Nicolas Batum to a $45 million offer sheet, but the Trail Blazers matched the money to retain him.

Kirilenko, 31, is eight years older, but would fill many of the same needs the Timberwolves were chasing when they went after Batum. After playing 10 NBA seasons with the Jazz, Kirilenko spent last season with CSKA Moscow, where he was named Euroleague MVP.

It’s said that a two-year, $18 million offer with a player option for a third season could close the deal for Kirilenko. It’s a far cry from the $17 million he was paid by the Jazz in 2010-11, but would be money well spent for a Wolves roster that could use a defender on the front line.

Love Impatient With Wolves’ Losing





Something has to happen in Minnesota.

That sounds like an ultimatum, even though Kevin Love — the frustrated Timberwolves power forward who said it, in an interview with Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports — isn’t in the best position anymore to give one.

Love would have been, of course, had he opted to play the 2012-13 season on a one-year qualifying offer of about $6.1 million, rather than accept a four-year, $61 million contract extension in January that was frustrating in its own right to the Wolves’ leader and inside-outside punisher. If Love were 12 months away from unrestricted free agency rather than 36 (his deal has an opt-out after three years), you can bet both Minnesota management and the team’s fan base would be heeding — and probably convulsing — over every dissatisfied thing he said.

As it is, Love has no actual hammer to hold over president of basketball operations David Kahn’s and owner Glen Taylor’s heads. He’ll have to settle for the less-tangible weapons of public relations and threatened crankiness by a star player.

That’s not nothing, though. So with just a little less clout behind it, Love’s message remains the same: Something has to happen in Minnesota. (more…)

Wolves Make Push For Batum, Others





HOUSTON – It sure doesn’t look like the Timberwolves will be content to just tread water until Ricky Rubio returns from his ACL injury. The promising team that appeared headed for a playoff berth when their star point guard went down in March is aggressively attacking free agency.

The Wolves are evidently getting ready to extend a four-year, $50-million offer to Portland swingman Nic Batum. But that’s just a start in Minnesota.

After the Wolves brass of owner Glen Taylor, G.M. David Kahn and coach Rick Adelman traveled to Seattle over the weekend to meet with retired guard Brandon Roy, that visit was enough to land Minny on a list of five finalists along with Chicago, Dallas, Indiana and Golden State.

The team also has plans to meet with Lakers free agent power forward Jordan Hill and are said to be trying to put together a trade with L.A. that could land Pau Gasol. Boston center Greg Stiemsma was flown into Minneapolis for a visit on Sunday morning.

But all indications are that Batum is the one on the front burner, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: (more…)

Kahn’s Point Guard Love Paying Off





ORLANDO – Few men love point guards the way Minnesota Timberwolves general manager David Kahn does. He is, after all, the man who selected three in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft (Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn and Ty Lawson) and has taken the heat from us over the years for his fetish.

Kahn’s acquired (and traded) a few point guards during his tenure as well. And Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman routinely deploys three (Rubio, Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea) at a time late in games.

Kahn’s crazy, point guard-fueled master plan seems to be working, though. The Timberwolves head into All-Star weekend at .500 or better for the first time since the 2004-05 season, courtesy of Ridnour’s buzzer beater last night over Utah.

We’re not ready to proclaim this a playoff team, but with a bevy of options in the backcourt and All-Star Kevin Love, promising rookie Derrick Williams and surprise talent like Nikola Pekovic to flesh out the frontcourt mix, this team is well on its way to becoming a legitimate factor in the playoff race for seasons to come.

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