Did the T-Wolves Get This One Right?

Two years ago they made the mistake of shipping out Brandon Roy before he had ever played a game for them. They got back Randy Foye. Exactly. So when the Timberwolves took O.J. Mayo with the third pick, as we predicted here at LBS, I wasn’t too surprised. I just really couldn’t figure out what Minnesota’s plan was; they have just a group of players that play the same position, hardly a way to build a team. Well, they at least made a move that makes more sense for the team-building concept, but they might have Minnesota Timberwolves ticket holders holding their collective breath once again. The T-Wolves traded O.J. Mayo along with Antoine Walker, Greg Buckner, and Marco Jaric to the Grizzlies for Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, and Jason Collins. In essence, the T-Wolves and Grizz swapped draft picks and bad contracts, but Minnesota probably got the best player (not counting Love or Mayo) in Miller.

Like I said, I couldn’t understand why Minnesota drafted Mayo in the first place based on the structure of their team — Randy Foye, Rashad McCants, and Corey Brewer (three of their recent picks) play essentially the same position. Now it makes more sense since they leveraged their position into getting Mike Miller along with Love, whom they may have wanted all along. While I still don’t like the Timberwolves roster, the move makes more sense. As for Memphis, I still don’t like their team, but I think O.J. Mayo will sell more Memphis Grizzlies tickets than Love would have, which given their trade of Pau, is probably all they care about. Both teams may have had top five picks, but I still don’t see either team coming anywhere close to the playoffs.

The team that I think will improve the most from last year to this year will be the Heat. I like Michael Beasley a lot as an offensive player (I’m still suspect on his defense). Adding him plus having Dwyane Wade healthy and playing a full season will mean a lot more wins than last year. Yes, I realize it would be hard not to improve when you only won 15 games last year, but I’m talking an improvement where I see them returning to the playoffs and revitalizing the interest in South Beach. Maybe no longer will Pat Riley say they need to refund the fans buying Miami Heat tickets after their pathetic performances last year. I expect a big turnaround.

T-Wolves Set on O.J. Mayo?

I love the way drafts work. Anything an executive says is either the truth, or a fabrication in order to throw everyone off the scent. Such a fun mind game. But after the Timberwolves worked out O.J. Mayo, it was hard to take GM Jim Stack’s comments as anything other than telling. Simply put, seems like he’s drinking the O.J. Mayo koolaid.

“He basically told us that he didn’t do anything wrong, which I tended to buy into what he was saying,” Stack said. “He didn’t have a car, but did he get driven around quite a bit by this (Rodney) Guillory guy? Absolutely. But after some things came out, he said later on that there may be some layers behind the scenes that were going on that he wasn’t aware of. And he definitely distanced himself from those situations after he found out more information. At the end of the day, I think it really taught him some lessons about being careful with his inner circle and understanding where people are coming from.”

“I think he’s a kid that’s been on his own since he was a lot younger probably than any of us. He basically was on his own since seventh, eighth grade. He lived with his grandfather a little bit, but basically he’s been looking after himself for quite a while. So there’s a maturity level there that I think maybe some of these other kids don’t necessarily have.”

With the third pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select O.J. Mayo, USC. Either that or I’m taking the bait. With Beasley and Rose set to go 1-2, looks like the third pick is a lock now, too. I’m pretty pumped about this draft, that’s for sure. I really think this one will be able to compete with the ’03 draft in a couple years. Maybe not as many superstars as LeBron, Melo, Bosh, and Wade in the top five, but lots of good players, no doubt.

Kevin Garnett Doesn’t Deny He Tanked

One of the big stories floating around on Tuesday was the comment from Timberwolves owner, Glen Taylor, who said Kevin Garnett tanked down the stretch last season. Taylor went out of his way to specify that it wasn’t the entire team, but rather solely KG, who was tanking towards the end of the year, by not playing in the last five games. Well, obviously with his head focused squarely on the matter at hand — the Houston Rockets and their 22-game winning streak — KG wasn’t digging for NBA headlines during the day. So when he was interviewed after the game by TNT’s David Aldridge, he hadn’t heard about Taylor’s comments. When told by Aldridge what Taylor had said, here was Garnett’s response:

I’m in Boston, I care less what Glen Taylor thinks of Kevin Garnett. Right now, huge win for us. That’s nonsense. I don’t even know why he would bring that up …”

Now I’m not going to say that Garnett’s response was an indictment, but I will say I’m surprised he didn’t defend himself against the charges by Taylor. I would have expected something to the effect of: “I played there my whole career, gave it my all, took them to the playoffs … I always worked hard there.” Sure, KG was more or less ambushed by Aldridge about the matter, but I’m still surprised that he didn’t outright deny the tanking charge. That seems to me like it would have been the natural reaction if it were the case.

Minnesota Would Not Trade Garnett

It’s been a popular rumor for years, and something Tom Ziller raises at FanHouse based on a Chad Ford report. Kevin Garnett is apparently available, if you believe several Eastern Conference GMs. Of course said GMs would love to have Garnett available. What better way of trying to pry a superstar loose than by starting a rumor? Besides, most trade possibilities are floated to the public anyways to gauge fan reception. You can sense my obvious skepticism.

Garnett has been a hot name on the trade market for years, and to my knowledge, nothing has happened yet. Why not? Because the T-Wolves aren’t concerned about increasing Garnett’s chances of winning a championship. They’re concerned about running a successful business, staying true to the economical model. People scoffed when Kevin McHale was named as the best GM in sports by Forbes Magazine. The reason he was named the top GM is because he led a large turnaround by the franchise (remember how bad they used to be?), and because they run a successful business. Just because everyone around the league wants to free Kevin Garnett doesn’t mean the T-Wolves are willing and eager to. You know what I mean? Kevin Garnett isn’t going anywhere, at least, not until his existing contract expires.