Bill Simmons and Grantland Troll the Timberwolves, Part One


April 10, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic (14) dunks to score a basket against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

You knew it was coming. Eventually Bill Simmons annual Trade Value Column was going to arrive and… oh, you didn’t? You don’t watch the circus? You don’t enjoy clowns? But what do you do when you want basketball entertainment posing as informed critique?

Well, you’re here, so we’ll take that into account and move on… Simmons has an annual column wherein he posits the value of NBA players based on their age, contract and his cursory knowledge and homerism into a league-wide ranking. This year, he waited until part two (of three) to mention the Wolves, their players or their current situation…

"32. Nikola PekovicWe’re on a run of Nikolas! Pekovic becomes a restricted free agent this summer, which means anyone looking for a highly skilled offensive center/enforcer/General Zod henchman can structure an offer specifically designed to screw over the pathetic Timberwolves. For instance, let’s say Cleveland comes in and offers him $50 million for four years, thinking (rightfully so) that it’s overpaying a little to run delightfully unstoppable high screens with Pek and Kyrie Irving for the next four years. Let’s have Fake Hubie Brown break the rest of this down for us.“If you’re Minnesota, you have to match any Pekovic offer because — cover your ears, Jerry Reinsdorf — you cannot afford to lose an asset for nothing! Now, you already gave a max extension to Kevin Love, only you allowed Kevin to get out of that deal after three years, following the 2014-15 season. That was a big mistake. And you have Ricky Rubio eligible for a max contract this summer, or something close to it, and he is a magnificent basketball player as well. With those three guys, your team has tremendous upside potential. Unfortunately, you’re a small-market team and you can’t commit that much money to three players long term. You also have Love’s potential departure hanging over your heads. So if you match Pekovic, you have to dangle Kevin Love around and get as much as you possibly can. But Love is a better player than Pekovic, which means you compounded a previously bad decision with another bad decision. And, guys, this is why you haven’t won more than 35 games since Tiger Woods last won the Masters.”"

First off, don’t call him Nikola — he’s PEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!

Great stuff. Hilarious Hubie impression. The only guy Pek really went anything close to henchman enforcer on this year was Brandon Knight, but he does fit the brute bill, if you’re generalizing. So yeah, the cuddly bear brute thing works fine. But why would the Wolves sweat matching an offer from the Cavs or Portland or anybody? Especially if that offer averages 12.5 million a year? The Wolves have been sweating the possibility of a 14 million a year (or more) offer the whole season — a season, it should be noted, in which the Love-less Wolves have watched their total lack of a perimeter threat allow opposing defenses to swarm the post and pack the lane without fear of any consequence — and Pek still crushed.

The point of committing big money to 3 players would be moot if Love is packing it up and leaving — as if Love is going to stay if the Wolves were to refuse to pay the big guy? This whole point is irrelevant in signing or signing and trading Pek. This bullet point would have been better spent poring over the lack of big man value around the league, comparing the dollars to production value and the subsequent bang for your buck Pek provides — whether for the Wolves or other squads, but again, that’s why you’re a clown.

We’ll continue the clowning later.