If we ever needed a turn of our attention, it’s now.
The last time we visited, the landscape was different. On all fronts. I always find it fascinating to look back and when you talk Wolves, what a wild summer it’s been.
Quite frankly, many fans, some new to the Timberwolves, are looking forward to this new team. Many of the “new” fans are fed up with football and the on-going drama and scandal enveloping the Vikings and the NFL. Many are fans who were fed up with the cloud surrounding Kevin Love at the end of last season. For many reasons, fans are getting a new look at this freshly minted team.
Since the end of last season’s disappointing finish, only the carpet looks the same in Wolves HQ @ Target Center. Some of the biggest headlines:
An unforgettable NBA Finals with San Antonio effectively ending the run of Miami “Big 3” project! The Spurs showcased that a “team” can beat a pack of Stars on most days. And for this writer, it was hands-down my favorite NBA Finals in a decade. That team is incredible and I’m excited that they’ll defend their crown with most of the winning pieces in place.
LeBron James moving from Miami to Cleveland. This time, “King” James did it right. Carefully, thoughtfully and according to fan polls, a popular way. Hard to cheer against a guy going home considering the way he left to “take his talents” to South Beach. I applaud James. Well done. But I’ll still loudly cheer against the Cavs, especially with the Wolves ingredients in that basketball hotdish.
The resolution of the sale of the LA Clippers. This had to get done and for the sake of the NBA, it is. Steve Ballmer will be a dynamic owner but I still can’t see the Clips getting past the first round of the playoffs. Is Doc Rivers the best coach in the NBA? It’s more than that and I simply believe that the Clippers have the wrong pieces . They play a glitzy, fast paced style but LAC will not get past OKC or SAntonio.
The Lynx fail to defend their WNBA Championship. It’s news to us in Minnesota but the Lynx were banged up all season and looking back, needed one more go-to player to oust upstart Phoenix. Despite the series ousting in the Western Conference finals, don’t make the mistake of counting out the Lynx. They have the best coaches in the WNBA, there is stability and a front office willing to make any move to keep them at the top of the league. The Lynx hit a pothole and will be back.
Zen meets the Big Apple. This will be one of the most compelling stories of the upcoming season. Will legendary Coach Phil Jackson be able to work his magic in the NY Knicks front office? They overpaid to keep Carmelo Anthony but kinda’ had to. The Conference will be Cleveland’s to lose for certain but how the rest of the East shakes will be a story line all season long.
The NBA Champions break barriers. When the Spurs hired WNBA stand out Becky Hammond, they once again showed how “they get it”. No more lame excuses that women can’t do this or do that in the men’s game. A brilliant and overdue move.
The Wolves overhaul. In my opinion, Flip Saunders was brilliant this summer. Respectfully, it was time for Head Coach Rick Adelman to retire. Adelman’s plate was full with personal concerns and he slowed last season. Many fans told me they thought he’d lost “that fire”. Players disagreed when I’d ask about this but with his wife’s health and family calling his name in need, it was a good time to call it a career after three seasons with the Wolves and 23 coaching seasons in the NBA.
That happened fast enough that Saunders was allowed to have the whole summer to reshape and tweek, bend and mold a new roster. A roster HE could get on the court and make hay with. Disagree all you want, but Saunders made strong roster moves. I would have loved being in his office, watching his dissect his big board with all the player names and study as he manipulates the intel on those players.
Kevin Love. Great value in the deal and it HAD to be done. Many fans are still confused by all the pre-trade talk and posturing but it was all part of Flip’s gameplan. After the bad taste that Love had created with his flapping in the wind and desire to get out of Minnesota, the Wolves needed something to excite the fans, pump up the Twin Cities and most importantly, convince players that this place is a destination, not a paycheck. Saunders has done that while trading Kevin Love.
I said it in April as Adelman was leaving and I’m glad it turned out this way. Saunders should be a strong influence to his young roster. The Wolves are in a much better place than fans might have thought as training camps open. It will be hard for people to compare this new team to the one that ended the season with a thud after a double OT loss to Utah.
Thanks for a summer of e-mails and notes during the Twins season. So, let’s get to a few of those as we always do in SimonsSays!
Eric from Forest Lake writes, I am a big hockey fan…do you think the Wolves were pressured into all these trades and moves considering how good the Wild are going to be?
Eric, thanks for your note. And while the Wolves compete with the NHL Wild for a fans dollar and attention, in no way, shape or form do the Wolves feel any heat from the hockey team. I can see how fans might think that but there’s plenty of room in this market for two winning winter teams. Remember, despite a wave of unwanted press from the Love distractions, this Wolves team is improving. In the three Adelman years, and yes, the Wolves missed the playoffs but in year 1, won 26 games, year 2 getting 31 wins and then last season, the Wolves improved again ending at 40-42.
Keith in Plymouth, as a longtime season ticket holder, I’m excited about all the changes. DO you think Flip is finished?
I said it after the Love trade that I don’t think Saunders is standing pat. Perhaps, a few more moves before the season tips. Just watch. Lots of free agents who can help still on the market.
Great to be back with you each and every week! Enjoy fall and ready or not, here comes basketball again! Keep that glass half full and keep your GameON!
SimonsSays on TV/PODcast:
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