The Works: Letter to Wolves Fans, Part II
The Wolves took out a full-page ad in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune Monday in order to present a cloying message to fans of the struggling team. It wasn't so much a "thank you for sticking with this" or "sorry for being terrible" -- full-page ads typically fall into one of those categories, "thank you" or "sorry" -- as it was a plea of continued trust. Typically, a plea for continued trust would thank fans for sticking around through the bad times or apologize for wasting fans' time and money. But this letter is too busy being absurdly saccharine to do any of that.
Luckily, the Timberwolves have followed up their original open letter with a second open letter, to cover what they missed the first time. Wolves GM David Kahn decided to consult with noted open letter stylist Dan Gilbert before finalizing this edition. (Note: this is made-up, something we, not the Timberwolves, wrote just now, as satire.)
Dear Wolves Fans,
The time for talk isn't actually over, as we stated in our first open letter on Monday. We just said that because that makes it sound like we're actually doing something, instead of talking about stuff that's been done. We figured that if we said there will be lots more talking and not so much actual action until February or even next July -- heck, maybe 2012, who knows? -- we figured if we were honest you'd light your Sam Mitchell jersey on fire and renounce the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise, and we really don't want you to do that. Please don't do that.
The admission in the paragraph above is part of the transparency we talked about in the first letter. Unfortunately, we didn't give you much honesty or transparency in the first letter, despite promising a NEW ERA of transparency. You're going to have to cut us some slack while we learn the ropes. As a part of that learning process, we need to amend the first letter with fuller information on where we've been and where we're going.
In the first letter, we said we will probably not challenge for the NBA championship this year, despite improving our depth and athleticism at every position. That was an honest, heartfelt statement. We will probably not challenge for the NBA championship this year. But it would likely be a bit more realistic to say we will not challenge for the NBA championship in the foreseeable future, barring a few miracles and an outbreak of bubonic plague in Los Angeles and Miami. (You never know ...)
We also will probably not challenge for a playoff position this year, or in the foreseeable future. It takes about 50 wins to make the playoffs in the Western Conference, and we have not won 50 games in the past two years combined. In fact, we've only won 61 games over the past three seasons, which is 10 fewer than any other team, said "any other team" being the Clippers. In the interest of transparency, we say this: we have been the worst team in the NBA over the past three seasons, winning fewer than one out of every four games, and it is not likely we will be much better in the next couple years. There it is. We suck, and we will probably continue to suck, barring miracles or a national outbreak of bubonic plague that avoids the great state of Minnesota.
We told you we had improved our roster this summer by re-signing Darko Milicic, signing Nikola Pekovic and Luke Ridnour, trading for Martell Webster and Michael Beasley, and drafting Wesley Johnson and Lazar Hayward. We also forgot to mention other changes that will help move the Wolves into the next era of supramediocrity: we traded Al Jefferson for draft picks and Ramon Sessions and Ryan Hollins for Sebastian Telfair. Jefferson, who averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds in his first two seasons in Minnesota -- those that predated the David Kahn/Kurt Rambis era -- just didn't fit our plan going forward.
Now this may sound weird, so stay with us: he was too good for our blueprint. He was messing it all up. Frankly, we blame it on that idiot Kevin McHale. He traded for Kevin Love when he already had Jefferson! What a maroon! Coach Rambis didn't really try to make a Jefferson-Love frontcourt work, and we overreacted based on the team's overall play and ended the experiment quickly. We thought we could get an actual player to help us for Jefferson, but the market for a potential 20/10 power forward with smooth as marble post moves seemed to dry up as soon as it become known publicly that we'd be trading him. We're not quite sure why that happened, but have launched a full investigation to see whether the Wolves organization has a mole embedded within. We will not rest until we find out why Jefferson's value tanked so badly we could only get two future draft picks for him.
Meanwhile, we think Kevin Love's outlet passing will replace Jefferson's post scoring and rebounding. That's a joke -- a nod to the fact that we severely understated Love's immense talents in our first open letter. After touting Darko, who as we've previously noted was like "manna from Heaven" upon his arrival in Minnesota last season, and Pekovic, we noted that Love will help our transition game with his outlet passing. We neglected to mention that he's also one of the greatest offensive rebounders the league has ever seen, and a skilled scorer in the halfcourt. We said we were going to be honest, so let's be honest: We tout Darko much more than we tout Love because Love is a holdover from the pre-blueprint team. He cannot be "manna from Heaven" because we did not acquire him, that idiot McHale did. This is a tough business, and Kevin understands that, and he doesn't mind the fact that we puff up Darko, one of the worst NBA players of his generation by nearly all measures, at his expense. Kevin showed in his time with Team USA that he has a strong will and a real ability to deal with a--hole coaches who bench him for no good reason. If anything, Kevin will come back from winning the Timberwolves a gold medal better able to deal with the disrespect he understands this franchise will give him.
Speaking of disrespect, we would also like to take this opportunity to provide some transparency and honesty regarding Jonny Flynn. Many have felt our personnel decisions have served to insult Jonny or suggest we don't see him as a rising NBA star. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. When we picked Ricky Rubio in addition to Jonny in the 2009 draft, it was because we thought Rubio, the best passer of his generation and a kid with a jumper so broken it makes Chuck Hayes laugh out loud, could play off the ball next to Jonny. Double point guard lineups have been very successful in the NBA, going back to the great Speedy Claxton-Chris Paul teams of the mid-2000s and the Dennis Johnson-Gus Williams Sonics of the late 1970s. That team won a championship, and that's what we hope Ricky and Jonny can do together in a double point guard lineup: win a championship.
We know that Jonny's best attributes are running a team and leadership. That said, we think he could use some help running a team and providing leadership. That's why we brought in Luke Ridnour as a free agent. Some critics have wondered why we signing Luke when we already had Ramon Sessions to back-up Jonny, having signed Ramon last summer. We felt that while Ramon is perhaps better than Luke, and was factually younger and "a better deal" than Luke, we could not pass up the opportunity to scoop up a veteran to help take this team to the next level (which is "better than a .250 team"). With Luke, Jonny can continue to feel that pressure behind him, which will only help him get better in the long-run.
Other point guards in Jonny's class -- like Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings -- were just given starting roles with their young, rising teams. Their front offices didn't do anything to put pressure on them, and as such didn't push the point guards to succeed. We feel you strengthen the spirit of young players by keeping them on a short leash and making them feel expendable. By giving them too many minutes too soon, you spoil them, and they'll begin to expect minutes and respect for the rest of their careers. That's simply not tenable in today's NBA. We feel we have done a superior job making Jonny not take minutes or respect for granted.
Ok, that's enough talk this time. Oh Christ, we forgot to talk about Rubio again! Darn it. Next time, we promise we'll explain how we plan to bring Ricky to the Wolves for the 2011-12 season despite the fact it makes no financial sense whatsoever for Ricky to buy out his Barcelona contract in the face of an NBA lockout OR come to the NBA before he escapes the rookie scale in July 2012. We have the answer, we promise. You can trust us, because this is the new era of transparency and honesty in Minneapolis. And because we have a plan. Promise.
Your Minnesota Timberwolves
The Works is a daily column written by Bethlehem Shoals (@freedarko) and Tom Ziller (@teamziller). Their Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History will be available this October.