It’s not a banana sandwich, Mother, it’s a Milt Newton.
In exploring the possibility you may have reacted too harshly, it’s important to pinpoint what might have sent you through the roof. In a particularly positive reading of the Milt Newton hiring, A Wolf Among Wolves’ Zach Harper says this…
The Wizards under Saunders and Newton had no problem finding talented players, but there was a problem developing them, partially due to a lack of veteran leadership within the team that the coaching and development staffs couldn’t overcome. I’d imagine trying to show guys how to do things the correct way while a $100 million player like Gilbert Arenas is pooping in shoes and bringing guns into the locker room probably isn’t easy. It doesn’t absolve them of a failed venture with that young core, but I do imagine there’s a fair share of the blame for that situation between the lack of veteran leadership and the principles at play in the front office.
Teaming up people that believe in development as much as Saunders and Newton appear to with a coach like Rick Adelman and a coaching staff like what we’ve seen with the Wolves under Adelman seems to me like we could see the issues in Washington with their development of players could be ironed out. That’s me guessing that the problems won’t show up in the Wolves’ locker room like we saw with the Wizards, but I think that’s a pretty decent guess looking at the veterans on this team, the young core, and the coaches involved.
I think more importantly though, we’ll see a serious look at utilizing the D-League in a way that a few successful teams have done. Looking at teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, and Golden State Warriors, you’ve seen a dedicated effort in using the D-League and making it something that not only reflects on their minor league club but also a pipeline of development throughout the entire organization. The D-League isn’t something the Wolves have been very active in using in the past and with rookies like Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng, and maybe even Lorenzo Brown, it’s something that could be much needed.
Chasing D-League success stories isn’t necessarily a goal I’m going to get excited about, but the fact the Wolves have never sent a player who was languishing on the bench down to the D-League to get all the playing time he could handle and get reps in a role he otherwise would have little or no experience performing would be a huge step forward. The mentions of Shabazz and Gorgui make some sense, especially early on in the season before nagging injuries to players closer to the front lines (Chase Budinger, J.J. Barea) or on the front line (Pek) force them into active duty.
In the past Wolves fans have clamored for Derrick Williams and Malcolm Lee, amongst others, to receive this same treatment being bandied about here. I have no real hope for this to be the case or direction the Wolves could be taking, but if Newton and Bobby Jackson are indeed taking up the task of player development, it’s the kind of step Glen Taylor’s club paid lip service to not too long ago (“We’re going to lead the league in…” something something) and this could be the first real move that makes it a possibility.