Saturday, May 24, 2008

NBA Offseason Preview - Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves
Team Record: 22-60
2008-2009 Payroll (Source: $55.1M

Draft Picks: #3, #31, #34

With the trade of Kevin Garnett last summer, the Timberwolves’ brass essentially waved the white flag for the 2007-2008 season. And wave it proudly they did. After reaching buyouts with both Troy Hudson and Juwan Howard (Fun Fact: The Wolves are still on the hook for $13.7M this year and $6.3M next year), Minnesota inked PF/C Al Jefferson to a 5-year/$65M contract. Meanwhile, Marko Jaric and Rashad McCants showed glimpses of their potential … when they were healthy.

At the point guard, Randy Foye has fallen well short of expectation to the point that Sebastian Telfair played significant minutes at times last year.

At forward, Corey Brewer struggled as a rookie, but is expected to contribute much more in Year 2. He’ll share time with Antoine Walker who is subject to a team option next year. That leaves rookie Chris Richard and whomever is re-signed among Ryan Gomes, Craig Smith and Wayne Simien.

Burning Questions: With the 3rd pick firmly in their grasp, the Wolves need to answer the following question: Do we go with the big (Brook Lopez) in order to move Al Jefferson to his natural 4 position or are we better served with a playmaker (e.g. OJ Mayo, Jerryd Bayless, Danilo Gallinari)? Since they are unlikely sign both and stay below the luxury tax, will the Wolves extend either Gomes or Smith?

Perceived Needs: C, Playmaking G or SF, Physical Presence

If I Were GM … I would take the best player available (i.e. not Brook Lopez) with the 3rd pick overall. Since Jerryd Bayless reminds me of Randy Foye minus the defensive tenacity, it’s a toss-up between the controversial OJ Mayo and the Italian Danilo Gallinari and I’d lean towards Mayo. For the #31 and #34 picks, there are a number of players who can play center to select from, such as Nathan Jawai, Nikola Pekovic and Joey Dorsey. A player with a high basketball IQ like combo guard Kyle Weaver should also be given consideration.

In terms of re-signing free agents, Ryan Gomes (12.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg) has to be the priority. Can he be signed for the mid-level exception?

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