Welcome to “Pretty Much Screwed,” our definitive guide to the upcoming NBA season. This team-by-team preview details why it’s probably not your favorite team’s year. Next up, a team that, if you had to name every team in the NBA, you’d forget them 90 percent of the time: The Minnesota Timberwolves.
Kevin Love is back. Ricky Rubio is back. Nikola Pekovic is back (five years, $60 million). What’s not to like?
Well, for starters, Kevin Martin and Chase Budinger are making too much money (a combined $12 million this season), and Chase Budinger might be out for the next two months. Then there’s the fact that this team hasn’t really played together at all yet. That’s right, last season, Pekovic, Rubio, and Love never once took the floor together. That’s insane. Let’s hope they have a good contingency plan if one of these guys goes down again.
Love’s backup is the serviceable Derrick Williams.
Rubio’s backup is the serviceable J.J. Berea.
Pek’s backup is Ronny Turiaf and/or rookie out of Louisville Gorgui Dieng.
But for the sake of keeping this season preview from being too pessimistic, let’s assume the Minnesota big three stay healthy all season and play to their potential. That’s an impressive, exciting team to watch. What’s to stop them from making the playoffs as an eight, or even seven or six seed?
The NBA trade deadline, that’s what.
Kevin Love is on his way out, whether you or Flip Saunders like it or not. Plain and simple. And it will probably happen this season. Why? Because their maxed out potential is as a sixth, seventh, or eighth seed in the Western Conference. Love wants to win now. Preferably somewhere warm and glamorous — like his home in Los Angeles. Not be mediocre somewhere freezing cold and off the grid.
Sorry, Minnesotans, but you’re just not capable of luring free agents like the other NBA cities can.
You’ll have to trade and draft your way to dominance — which is why Kevin Love’s contract needs to be exchanged for talent and picks.
The fact that you use those picks to trade Trey Burke for Shabazz Mohammed and Gorgui Dieng is why you’re screwed.
Let’s talk about ways you could keep Kevin Love:
– Build a giant temperature regulated bio-dome for Kevin Love to live inside of all season.
– Give Nikola Pekovic the powers he had on Krypton.
– Trade Ricky Rubio for Kate Upton.
– Pay Kevin Love an extra $30 million off the books.
– Have Elon Musk install a hyperloop train between the Target Center in Minneapolis and Palm Springs.
– Somehow develop Shabazz Mohammed into Kevin Durant.
Other than that, this year’s Minnesota Timberwovles lack the depth to keep superior teams’ second units from running amok when Love is out of the game.
Actual Season Prediction: 46-37 (if Love doesn’t leave). The team makes the playoffs as a six seed, stuns the Grizzlies, then loses in seven games to the Clippers. K-Love leaves this summer to play in Miami, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Charolette or Phoenix (lots of picks to be traded there), OKC, or, most likely, Chicago.