There are times when, even if you want to, maintaining the illusion is very complicated. Especially when, again and again, the realities escape when they seem closer. That may be the feeling that somehow has lingered in the bodies of several Minnesota Timberwolves fans. The franchise, for the umpteenth time, has been left out of the positions of playoffs. In the last seventeen years, wolves have only howled once among real beasts, and very timidly, falling in the first round. It was in 2017, by the hand of Tom Thibodeau and a squad that, to this day, only supports one of its players. The player, to be exact: Karl-Anthony Towns. Along with him, Jimmy Butler, Justin Patton, Jamal Crawford, Andrew Wiggins, Derrick Rose … A mirage in the middle of nowhere. The golden age of the franchise, with Flip Saunders on the bench, is far behind. Between 1996 and 2004, just eight years after the organization’s birth, the team was a postseason subscriber.– Eight appearances in a row with the 2004 Conference Finals as the high point. Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassell, Latrell Sprewell, etc. If the previous names seemed far away, these …
An excessively blurred past, and empty, as if to cling to it; and a future that cannot wait any longer. Since 2007, the Wolves have been the franchise with the worst accumulated record in the competition. A martyrdom, a slab, an enormous weight that, among one thing and another, has already had to bear several generations. It will cost to get rid of it, but you could be on the way to do it. At least, that was the shared belief at the start of this season. Again, wrong, but with grays that deserve special attention. Minnesota’s campaign has been bad, very bad; but also complicated, very complicated. It was arrived with the fresh air that obtaining the number one of the Draft, with the opportunity to start a course, initially, with D’Angelo Russell and Towns, with the return of Ricky Rubio, with, with, with … And, in the end, without, without, without? Door open when closing, as almost always. In between, realities to cling to; but that, again, they have moved away. Illusion lost in eternity, where it tends to get rid of its meaning.
Victory against the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz to start. To add another two, eleven defeats in between. Like a needle in a haystack Rare avis manual, even in danger of extinction. Behind, many problems, not to sin in reductionism, but an early setback that already prevented any initial sprint attempt, to generate a positive dynamic. Something as intangible and difficult to measure as, in the end, true in any sport: winning, normally, invites you to win. Of the initial 24 games, KAT He could only play four, with two victories and two defeats, 50% in the individual locker light years from the collective. The injuries, the damn injuries. This year, less excuse than ever, for the cruel general trend, but no less remarkable for that. At the end of the season, 52 games for him, 42 for D’Lo or 37 for Malik Beasley. Along with Anthony Edwards, surely, the four most important pieces of the puzzle. Along with Jaden McDaniels, also in probable terms, the five struts of a structure under construction. To them, without going any further, Gersson Rosas, director of operations of the franchise, could refer when, at the campaign closing press conference, he pointed out that “Right now we are at five”.
Rosas, like any executive in this section of the year, has a world of decisions ahead of him. Somehow, with advance work; even more so, with what has been seen so far, in the middle of a practically unparalleled coaches dance. In February, Ryan Saunders left the bench. Away from the legacy of his father, Flip, left with only seven wins in 31 games this season and 17-25 in the previous one, after taking over from Thibodeau. The story was perfect, but the ending couldn’t be on his level. “I am very proud of my time in Minnesota, my time with this group, and being a part of this organization. Seeing their process, how they have recovered from setbacks, how Towns and Russell understand each other now that they can share minutes … it’s something I love to see“Ryan declared shortly thereafter to ACE. A job well done (valued, at least, by almost all players), many times, and against that happily extended mantra, is not always enough. Not even with such a narrative behind.
And now that? Russell, Ricky …
With Chris Finch it began to cut back in times that, facing the next course, will trap many franchises. He had the opportunity to begin to establish his mechanisms and, with them, in addition, the situation improved. His personal record was 16-25, but with a 9-7 to finish that invites optimism; especially, after the 7-24 of which it was arrived. In that period, he reached eighth place in terms of offensive efficiency and, as anticipated in the words of Saunders, players like D’Angelo and KAT were able to share time on the track that, for much of the course, setbacks had denied them. Scraps of that outfit cool, capable of turning around the desperate recent history, which was expected before the start of the season.
Towns, again, will be the cornerstone of the project. One that, as Rosas warns, aspires to be a winner. “We want to be a winning show. We want to be a successful show. That’s not going to be an on-off switch this summer and preseason. It’s building our identity, building our culture, building our habits.”, added to the previously shared words. KAT (still 25 years old) has the potential to lead a high aspirations proposition. And he wants to do it. On many occasions, he has declared his willingness to write pages and pages in the organization. “I hope to have a career like Kobe, with a team. Like Tim (Duncan) and Kobe, with a team and trying to bring in as many championships as possible.”, has come to say. Intentions of One club man that, at all times, they are just that, as the current situation of Damian Lillard is showing, paradigmatic in every way. Currently, he has a contract until 2024, with more than 100 million until then. Except for earthquake, the man to hug.
Along with him, will be Edwards, second in the votes for the rookie of the year. He has shown himself to have the necessary conditions to become a star, at the very least, to be the compulsive scorer that he already is. In addition, with a notable improvement in their decisions, progressive with the tempo of the team. In the last 22 games of the season, he averaged 23.3 points on 17.5 shots, 58.6% in the true-shooting that places him ahead of almost 300 league players in the section. Among them, Bradley Beal, Jrue Holiday, Luka Doncic, Joe Ingles, LeBron James or Devin Booker; very confident players. A before and after in its evolution, explosive from the beginning, with two nights of 42 points and 19 over 25, but, at its start, with a price that was too high to pay. McDaniels, also in its first year, has shown, without being at that height, to be an option for the future and in which confidence is placed and Beasley, despite his multiple extra-sports problems, is another of the talents with a present and projection; the roadmap constant. From there, the paths multiply; but with several other certainties. After what was shown at Barcelona, Leandro Bolmaro will take the first steps of his NBA career in the franchise; predictably, with an important role from the bench.
In economic terms, the organization is in an excessively compromised point according to its sporting results: just $ 5.4 million below the luxury tax. In this sense, then, multiple considerations must be taken into account, as pointed out by the American journalist Bobby Marks, from ESPN. Jaylen Nowell, Naz Reid, Ed Davis, Jarred Vanderbilt and Jordan McLaughlin are not assured of their continuity in the team. In the first two cases, with unsecured contracts; in the rest, with retention options in free agency. Ricky Rubio, Juancho Hernangómez, Jake Layman and Josh Okogie, meanwhile, will enter their last year of guaranteed bonding. In Juancho’s case, with a team option for the 2022-23 season.
In total, 35 million in contracts that expire at the end of the next course. In Ricky’s case, under the umbrella of his great relationship with the franchise, inherited from his first stage in the team, it would be safeguarded from movements as desperate as those experienced in the past market. “Rubio is eligible for an extension, but it is unlikely that he will receive a new contract.”, says Marks himself. Rosas, for his part, in a recent videoconference, highlighted the value of Ricky’s figure in the team, adding that “adding more veterans will help us win sooner”. His name, however, along with Juancho’s, is associated with a possible move by Ben Simmons. In the case of the Spanish power forward, in addition, with the unknown about how they can have an impact and what the strange movements of the franchise hide regarding his presence at the Tokyo Olympics.
The map of a franchise that, although with future aspirations, must already think in the present. In all of it, Russell’s physical continuity may play a key role, with 61 million until 2023, but with the possibility of an extension of three additional seasons and up to 118 million, with a deadline until October 18 for ratification. Except for surprise, one of the five pieces, already mentioned, elementary of the project; but with a certain range of possibilities in the market, although, right now, it is on the downside. With his arrival, by the way, the first round that, now, Golden State Warriors owns, with the seventh turn on the night of the Draft. With her, Wiggins left, a member of that 2017 squad of which, to this day, only Towns remains. The man. Now with Edwards.