Timberwolves Mailbag: Off-season, Mitchell, and more

Feb 8, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Sam Mitchell looks on from the sidelines during the second half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Target Center. The Pelicans won 116-102. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 8, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Sam Mitchell looks on from the sidelines during the second half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Target Center. The Pelicans won 116-102. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

As the Timberwolves head into the final stretch of the season, several questions regarding the off-season, among other things, are being posed.

We figured it was high time that we opened up a mailbag column here on Dunking With Wolves. And the week of the trade deadline seemed to be the perfect time.

So let’s get into the questions…

It’s hard for us as Wolves fans to keep our minds in the present and not on the future. Considering the Wolves only have 17 wins and are seemingly out of the playoff picture, it’s easy to look forward. Shane poses a good question that I’m sure is on a lot of Wolves fans’ minds at the moment.

Quite frankly, I think a lot of the Timberwolves’ off-season strategy hinges on what they get in the draft. If we look at what they could from a positional standpoint, they need a power forward and maybe another wing. What they do in this offseason in terms of possible free agent and trades is based on which one of these needs they decide to address.

So, we’ll look at both scenarios, let’s start by saying the Wolves draft a Ben Simmons or Dragan Bender in the draft, filling their power forward spot. If that’s the case then they would be in need of a wing player, which they could either trade for or get in free agency.

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The free agent class this summer is rich with talented wings, the most notable, and most tantalizing to Wolves fans has to be Harrison Barnes. The issue with Barnes is that he will likely command a max contract, and while I won’t speak on whether or not he deserves a max deal, he’ll be looking to get paid with the impending rise in the salary cap.

For me, a guy like Nicolas Batum is a very interesting free agent for the Wolves to look at. He is one of the more versatile players in the league, and he can shoot the three which is needed on offense. Also, I don’t think he’ll ask for a max deal, the Wolves could lock him up to maybe a three-year deal. Personally, I think Batum is a better option than Barnes.

Now, if the Wolves draft a wing like Jaylen BrownBrandon Ingram, or Buddy Hield then they’re in the market for a power forward. In terms of free agents, the Wolves would probably go for Ryan Anderson, who is unlikely to re-sign in New Orleans. Other than that, it’s kind of dry in terms of who the Wolves could sign.

That means that the Wolves would maybe look to transform Gorgui Dieng into a full-time power forward. If they don’t want to do that, then they’ll look to make a trade for a power forward. Minnesota’s most tradable assets this summer will be Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad, and I think at least one of them gets traded regardless of circumstance this offseason.

This kind of dual question, in that the first Matt is asking if the Wolves should keep Mitchell or find someone knew. The second is that if Mitchell goes, who is the new coach?

To answer the first question, no, I don’t think the Wolves should or will bring Sam Mitchell back as head coach. That being said, depending on who they choose to replace him, he could still stay on as an assistant, because he has been a valuable asset to this franchise in some capacity.

However, in the modern NBA, his offensive system will never work, as we’ve seen this season, and to some degree his “let them figure it out by themselves” philosophy seems a little lazy. Not to mention his constant shakeup of the rotations, and in most cases his rotations have been failures. I do like his commitment to defense, and I think it’s important that he is getting the team committed to defense.

It’s hard to tell who they are going to bring in to replace Mitchell however. Several names have been tossed around, and immediately I’ll rule out David Blatt, because at this point the Wolves need a proven coach in some respect, and Blatt isn’t that.

For me, it’s between Tom Thibodeau and Dave Joerger. Thibs, like Mitchell, preaches defense, and could really turn this team into a winner, like he did with the Bulls despite not having Derrick Rose for most of his tenure. The main knock on him is his apparent tendency to over-work players, which has to frighten Wolves fans, especially with a young roster.

Joeger might fit in a little better in Minnesota, but we have yet to see whether or not Memphis will let him go after this season. Joerger is also a superb defensive coach, and could relate to the younger players a little more, as he is a younger coach. It also doesn’t hurt that Joerger is Minnesota born-and-raised, and has spent time coaching in the minor leagues in the Bismarck, North Dakota area.

Other names to think about, although maybe not in the top tier of potential candidates, are Luke Walton, Kevin McHale, and even Scott Brooks, but for me, I’d like to see either Thibodeau or Joerger in this role next season.

Another great question by Mr. Nelson, especially given the trade deadline speculation of Rubio being dealt away. I’m a big supporter of Rubio, and I don’t think the Wolves should trade him, unless the price is right. So no, I don’t like the idea of trading Rubio, especially if it’s in an effort to replace him through the draft.

Don’t get me wrong, Kris Dunn is a really good player, as is Kay Felder, but I don’t think they’re worth giving up Rubio for. Keep in mind that Felder is projected to go in the second round of this year’s draft, so the Wolves could snag him with, say, the 43rd overall pick and still keep Rubio. As for Dunn, the Wolves would be wasting a possible top-five pick when there’s better players on the board.

On top of that, trading Rubio would open the door for Zach LaVine to play more point guard, which has been a colossal failure based on what we’ve seen this season. A lot of people underestimate Rubio’s value and worth to this team, but he truly is one of the more valuable players on the roster. The only way I could see them trading him is if they receive something astronomically better in return.

Next: Timberwolves Notes: On Rubio, Timeline of Ownership Change

Thank you to everyone who asked questions, it was pleasure putting this together. Stay tuned to DWW as we gear up for the Wolves match-up with Memphis on Friday!