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Hey, we got us another win!* Yeah, the Bobcat game was a squeaker, and not without a bit of controversy at the end, but we still won it.* And that’s the deal in the NBA.* Find some way to win and then move on.
Tonight, we move on to the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team that we can’t take lightly.
True, the Timberwolves are only 13-19.* But they’re on a road cruise and they’ve been playing better lately and actually winning. They just knocked off New Orleans and Houston and our Pacers are Number 3 on their agenda.
So what’s the key to the Wolves’ recent road success?* It’s weird and counterintuitive but it adds up to this:
Play without some of your starters and climb on the back of Kevin Love.
Yup, playing without starters*Michael Beasley (ankle),*Darko Milicic (hip) and*Luke Ridnour (personal reasons), who all could be out again Friday, Minnesota snapped a 13-game skid to the Rockets with Tuesday’s 112-108 victory. While coach Kurt Rambis has pieced together starting lineups with*Jonny Flynn, Wes Johnson and backup center*Nikola Pekovic, All-Star forward*Kevin Love has been the team’s most consistent player.
Love had 20 points and 14 rebounds Tuesday – his 38th straight double-double, breaking*Kevin Garnett‘s Minnesota team record.* It’s also the longest streak of double-doubles in the NBA since*Moses Malone had 44 in a row for Philadelphia back in 1982-83.
So, Pacers fans, it might be real interesting if some of our guys, notably Josh and Tyler, could key a bit on Love and snap that streak.
So no let up.* We need games like Minnesota to gain ground, refine our “smash mouth” and give Minnesota a figurative Conseco “moon sault”!
What’s a “moon sault” you ask?* It’s a term Big Jon, the evil Canadian wrestler from out PTOs turned me on to.* Here, for the edification of you similarly uninitiated, is a “moon sault”!!!
PTO Doings! It was pretty cold out there in the Anthem lot trying to tool up for the Bobcats.* Still, a hardy crew of polar adventurers braved the arctic conditions and kept up appearances.* PTO Prez Aaron Coleman brought the fire-pit, BPump and BigJon brought some Kroger firewood, and Indianapolis Markus spread his beer around – literally. * Duke Dynamite traveled from Bedford to partake in the fun.
I donated some ribs to the soiree, but it was so effing cold the tasty BBQ Heaven sauce froze to the exposed digits of consumers, making napkins generally unnecessary and the ribs kind of icy.
Kyle Cranfill, Pacers Chants, and Kielbeze and his wife, sister-in-law, and brood of Pacer-named kids also put in welcome appearances.* Kielbeze thoughtfully provided newpapers for Area 55 reading during Charlotte’s opening introductions and people were generally tuned into lots of current events as a result. Vikki Koontz, for example, discovered that her daughter had been eating candy at home laced with toxic waste. My particular newpaper section contained the obituaries, but I paid it no mind. *Kielbeze always means well and that’s the main thing.
Whether the happy PTO experience will be repeated immediately before the Minnesota game remains conjectural.* It’s predicted to be a balmy 21° on the Fahrenheit scale with no wind.* Accordingly, my guess is the usual bunch of enthusiastic fools will be there for more Siberian merriment. As always, if you don’t get a message to the contrary, the default locale is the Anthem lot. *If you haven’t been to a PTO, show up! *But dress warmly.
SOME MINNESOTA FUN FACTS!
Congratulations!* Gimme Five! Kevin Love may be good at double-doubles, but when it comes to giving teammate Wesley Johnson the traditional NBA touch after a free-throw he still needs work.
Funky Tattoo of the Week! This award goes to Timberwolves’ small forward Michael “Super Cool Beans” Beasley depicted here in a controversial Twitter post that left viewers (and narcotics agents) indeed twittering.* Check it out.
Who’s the Worst General Manager in the NBA? Well, there’s some that say that person just might be the Timberwolves GM David Kahn.* Why so?
Well, David Kahn’s known around the NBA for saying and doing things that just don’t seem to make any sense to anyone else other than him. ESPN’s John Hollinger has called Kahn’s tenure as GM at Minnesota “baffling.” Bill Simmons has routinely typed in an exasperated ALL CAPS whenever discussing him. Minneapolis Star-Tribune blogger Michael Rand says he is one “daffy move away from losing some people.”
What’s his malfunction?* Well, pick one:
Mistake #1: Newly inaugurated as GM and before signing a new coach in Kurt Rambis, Kahn used the Wolves 4 first round picks in the 2009 draft to pick 3 point guards and a shooting guard. He used his Number 5 pick on Spanish player, Ricky Rubio.* He used his Number 6 to snag Johnny Flynn.* He used Number 18 on Ty Lawson. He used Number 28 to get SG Wayne Ellington.* In the second round he drafted point guard Nick Calanthes and Dutch power forward Henk Norel, Rubio’s European teammate.
For a team that needed so much other help (Minnesota had had a 20-43 2008-2009 record) this strategy was considered a bit unorthodox in NBA circles, especially so because his prize recruit, Ricky Rubio was contractually bound to his Spanish team (meaning Minnesota would have to buy him out for around $8.2 Million) and unwilling to come to Minnesota in any event.* Kahn eventually wound up trading away two of his point guards – Ty Lawson and Nick Calathes — for future draft picks.* His only keeper after the entire exercise was Johnny “Turnover” Flynn. *In the ensuing season, the Wolves went 15-67, and finished last in the Northeast Division.
Mistake #2: Kahnviewed Ramon Sessions as a $16 Million*Kevin McHale mistake.* In July, 2010, Kahn therefore dealt him, along with*bargain big man*Ryan Hollins, to Cleveland for, wait for it…Surprise! Two more point guards (Sebastian Telfair*and Delonte West)!. Telfair’s still around and now serves as Flynn’s backup.
Charles Barkley, when asked about the diminutive Kahn’s multiple point guard acquisitions, had this to say:
Who? Kahn? Oh, that guy in Minnesota?* Well, you know, he’s got point guard covered. I think he’s just trying to draft every player who’s close to him in height.
By the way, Kahn’s most recent point guard addition, Sebastian Telfair, was a former member of the old Portland Jailblazers.* In 2005 Telfair “mistakenly” brought a*loaded handgun onto the Portland team plane in a pillowcase. In 2006, he was investigated for the*shooting of the rapper Fabolous in a Manhattan club. In 2007, he was arrested for driving around in his Range Rover with a suspended license and another*loaded handgun.
Mistake #3: Remember Area 55’s old friend, Darko Polo?* Yup, Kahn’s the one that signed Darko*Milicic*for 4 years for $20 million.* In retrospect, the contract was maybe 3 years too long and*for $18.7 million too much (the NBA’s minimum salary for a veteran is $1.3 Million).* Suffice it to say, Darko didn’t really pan out.
A NBA draft bust, Milicic was taken 2nd overall in the famously talent-stacked 2003 NBA Draft, ahead of All-Stars like Carmelo Anthony (3rd), Chris Bosh (4th), Dwyane Wade (5th), David West (18th), and Josh Howard (29th). Many of these, namely Anthony, Bosh and Wade have chances of being Hall-of-Famers, and Darko was drafted before them all. Many other players in this draft were better than Darko, such as Chris Kaman, Kirk Hinrich, T.J Ford, Luke Ridnour, Dahntay Jones, Boris Diaw, Travis Outlaw, Carlos Delfino, Kendrick Perkins, LeAndro Barbosa and these are just the 1st rounders. Even a handful of 2nd-rounders are better than this Serb scrub, Jason Kapono, Luke Walton, Steve Blake, Willie Green, Zaza Pachulia, Mo Williams and Kyle Korver. So in all, that is 22.* Kahn wasn’t to blame for that gaffe.* That was the Pistons error. But Detroit was smart enough to trade him to Orlando…who dealt him to Memphis…who dealt him to the Knicks.* Kahn’s decision to pick him up under the circumstances — and especially for so much money — therefore strains credulity.
Kahn still hasn’t given up on Darko.* Just a couple of weeks ago after a game with the Celtics, he was predicting Darko would soon become a future All Star, pointing out that he was having “his best season in the NBA.”* However, here Khan exaggerates a tad.
While Milicic is, in fact, having a “career” year in Minnesota this season, that’s really not saying a lot. True, he’s averaging career highs in points, blocks and assists per game with 9.3, 2.3 and 1.9 respectively. And sure, he’s only 25 years old.* But don’t forget, Darko’s in his 8th year in the NBA.
It seems like Darko is what he is — a bust. He’s not the first high draft pick not to pan-out and won’t be the last, but he’s never really shown any signs of greatness.* Kahn’s faith in him therefore is puzzling.
In this regard, you may want to check out the following interview where former NBA star Chris Webber questioned Kahn, somewhat skeptically, about the Darko Milicic signing. In the interview, Kahn compares Darko’s game to Vlade Divac’s and Webber’s.* Webber takes decided offense!
After becoming something of a YouTube sensation for the contentious NBA TV interview with Webber, Kahn had this to say later about Webber:
“He’s kind of a schmuck, isn’t he? Methinks that he spent a lot of time on NBA TV with a former Timberwolves person and he seemed to come into the interview with an agenda. Tough questions are fine, but I felt like was a little defensive about some of the things.”
Mistake #4: Kahn traded away Al Jefferson, the Wolves’ most established and popular player and their best scorer, for*two future first-round draft picks and Kosta*Koufos’ contract. Fans recoiled.* Jefferson’s at Utah now.
Arguably Kevin Love is better and Minnesota needed to make room for Love. Jefferson wasn’t exactly a salary dump player but that’s how Kahn is treated him. Jefferson definitely had his flaws, especially as a poor passer and a questionable defender. That said, he was a 25-year-old who already had two 20-10 point / rebounding average seasons under his belt. He was a plus rebounder (vital in today’s smaller*NBA) and a crafty, high-volume scorer. Teams travel the world to find pivots like Jefferson. When you have one, you don’t just cough him up for a couple of future draft picks of dubious value. (I say “dubious value” because with Jefferson at age 25 and*Deron Williams at age 26, those*Jazz first-round picks will be in the 20s).
Mistake #5: After acquiring Michael Beasley from the Heat for next to nothing, Kahn made the mistake of publicly discussing the details of Super Cool Beans’ past drug problems with ESPN.*The NBA, NBA teams, and the National Basketball Players Association are prohibited from “publicly disclosing information regarding the testing or treatment of any NBA player in the program, except as required by the suspension or dismissal of a player in the program.”
“He’s a very young and immature kid who smoked too much marijuana,” said Kahn.
And that remark cost Kahn and the Wolves $50,000 each. It probably didn’t endear him much to Cool Beans either.
After making the above statement (and paying his fine), Kahn has now taken to declining all interview requests.* When he does choose to spout, he prefers to discuss only team or personnel matters.
For his part, Cool Beans has proven to be an erratic performer.* He’s capable of flashes of brilliance but also instances of mind-numbing mediocrity.* His play and past drug issues continue to make him a big long-term question mark for the Timberwolves.
So what’s Kahn planning now for the Wolves?* Stay tuned. *Publicly, he’s still paying lip service to his “long-range plan” to get Rubio (who is now struggling on his Spanish team in Barcelona and is reportedly only shooting 32%).
The Timberwolves organization doesn’t appear to be concerned about Rubio’s shooting struggles, however. President Kahn has said many times that the 20-year-old just needs time to develop his game and that his stay in Europe would help prepare him for the NBA. Kahn also remains optimistic Rubio will come over to join their team for the 2011-2012t season.
But whether Rubio will really join Minnesota next year is still in doubt. He has said that he will not risk missing a season if there is an NBA lockout (as many are predicting) and he has also not ruled out staying at Barcelona for yet another season. Rubio has also said if he comes to the NBA he wants to join a winning team.* With Minnesota again last in the Northwest Division, that may not be the team Ricky was talking about.* There’s yet another fly in the ointment. If Kahn’s 3-year quest for Rubio’s signing doesn’t pan out again, Minnesota’s dwindling fan base — despite reduced ticket prices — may not be around for another season.
Well, that’s it tonight 55ers.* Let’s see if we can keep Minnesota a loser and handcuff Big Love in the process.* It ought to be a good show. *Be loud and proud and suitably nasty. *Let’s propel Roy and our Pacers to another important win.