The last two weeks have brought a series of major changes to the Timberwolves’ roster and the franchise’s future. Tom Thibodeau is remaking the Timberwolves in his image, so what in the world does he think he’s doing?
Dear Mr. Thibodeau,
Tommy, Tommy, Tommy. Just what do you think you’re doing?
As a Timberwolves’ fan since the inaugural 1989-1990 season, I have to say that I’m a bit disappointed with the way that you’ve done your job this offseason. Your moves have been enough to make my grandmother say, “Well, that’s different.”
And when Grandma says, “Well, that’s different,” you know that you’re up to no good.
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Over the past fortnight, you’ve swapped Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, Shabazz Muhammed, valuable cap space and the seventh overall draft pick for Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Justin Patton.
Just who, exactly, do you think you are?
I know, Thibs, you coached in major sports cities like Chicago and Boston, so don’t try to bring your big city thinking to our little Timberwolves franchise.
You see, coach, it’s a well-known fact that the Wolves haven’t made the playoffs in 13 years. Are you trying to mess with that?
We Minnesota fans don’t know how to deal with competency and winning. Are you trying to stretch us out of our comfort zone? You’re a basketball coach, not our yoga teacher.
In fact, the Wolves have only won two playoff series in their 28-year history. That’s one series every 14 years. Bringing in players like Butler and Gibson to pair with Wiggins and Towns might put the Wolves in the playoffs next year. Heck, they might even win a series or two in the near future!
We downtrodden fans just won’t know how to deal with that. Point us towards the lottery and call it a day.
Don’t believe me, Thibs? Just log into Twitter and search “Timberwolves”. You’ll see the concern you’re causing us cellar dwelling fans.
First off, Rubio
How dare you trade out our floppy-haired, slick-passing point guard for someone who can hit a jumper and make a layup? Don’t you know that Rubio’s breakthrough season is just around the corner, as it has been for the past six seasons?
See, Tom, Rubio-led teams have averaged 28.8 wins a season over his six-year career in Minnesota. It’s not his fault, though. He just needs the right players around him. Forget Towns, Wiggins, and Butler; you should’ve been building around your jumper-challenged point guard. No other team is even thinking of taking that path to a championship. Take a chance. Be a pioneer!
Did you have the guts to do that? Nope.
You brought in Jeff Teague, former All-Star, and reliable average NBA point guard. Bringing in a guy like Teague, who can hit more than half of his layups, may actually create more space for the Wolves new Big Three — Towns, Wiggins, and Butler.
He’s not a huge step up from Rubio. In fact, his defense and playmaking isn’t as good as Rubio’s and he certainly won’t look as smooth running the offense or manning the fast break. Yet, Teague may fit your roster better. Plus, he’d be the fourth-best player on the court. It’s not like you’re asking Jeff Teague to lead your team.
Are you telling me, Thibs, that you’re actually more concerned about wins and losses than aesthetics?
Sheesh! We can’t control things like wins or losses as Wolves fans. Wins and losses means holding the organization accountable for the on-court product. That means fans need to see results on the court, not read them in this year’s ticket-selling slogan. You’re putting your cards on the table and something might actually go wrong, or worse yet, right.
Right and the Timberwolves are two words that so rarely go together we, as a sad sack of a fan base, don’t know how to deal. We. Can’t. Even.
The old saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”? Well, we Minnesota Timberwolves fans have a similar saying: “If it is broke, don’t fix it because it has great hair, pretty eyelashes, and makes breathtaking passes.”
Second, Win Now?
Eh-hem, Mr. Thibodeau, did you watch this year’s NBA Finals? The Golden State Warriors absolutely crushed the Cleveland Cavaliers. They are not going anywhere, sir.
So, why did you even bother to trade away the future, LaVine and Dunn, for Butler then sign another ex-player in Taj Gibson just to win now?
For instance, just take a look at the stacked Western Conference. The Pauls, George and Millsap, came into your own division, to boot. The Wolves will be lucky to make it into the playoffs as a bottom-tiered seed next season.
Wouldn’t you rather just wait it out for another year or five to see if LaVine, Towns, and Wiggins turn into the Warriors or the what-could-have-been Thunder?
That way, the three would’ve definitely not tasted the playoffs the next couple of seasons.
They would continue to get no postseason experience and continue their losing habits. That way, when their second contracts came due, you could trade them to contenders, forever keeping the Timberwolves in the lottery.
See, coach, the NBA lottery is the Timberwolves version of Cheers, it’s where everybody knows our name.
Putting a team on the court that’s ready to win, compete, contend for the playoffs, and maybe win a series is a bold new place where only few other Wolves’ teams have ventured to go.
Target Center Seating
Target Center, while you’re at it, may actually start to fill with people rather than 10,000 empty seats.
Why would you want those new seats covered with bodies? The arena is undergoing a huge renovation this summer, so don’t you want the new digs on full display this upcoming season?
Think about Thibs. How will the ESPN highlights and online videos showcase the Wolves brand new (remodeled) digs if your team is drawing in full houses every night?
Teague, Butler, Gibson, KAT, and Wiggins may actually win more games than they lose. That’ll fill those seats fast.
Say what you want about Minnesota sports fans, but we certainly are fair weather when it comes to roundball.
The roar of the crowd might replace the roar of your voice. Fans might purchase Wolves gear not just for the cool new logo but for a cool new team.
David Kahn would never do such things!
It’s all about KAT
Thibs, I know you’re a basketball junkie, so I’m sure you’ve seen how major free agents have recently behaved when their contracts come due.
Gordon Hayward, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Paul George, Kevin Love and Jimmy Butler have all either been moved or opted to sign with another team toward the end of their second contract.
In your case, Karl-Anthony Towns, will enter unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2024. What is Mr. Towns thinking right now? That you’re trying to add talent around him?
What a joke! He’s going to see that he has competent management running the show. Towns is a bright young man, so you’re certainly not pulling the wool over his eyes, even during a cold Minneapolis winter.
Your competent management may want him to stay in Minnesota longer than his first contract extension. Now that’s just crazy talk.
See, coach, Kevin Garnett couldn’t win a title here because of countless front office blunders. Those fiascos prevented him from reaching his full potential as a Timberwolf. Thus, he was shipped to the Celtics for a ring to top off his Hall of Fame career.
Furthermore, Kevin Love’s situation was poorly handled throughout his tenure in Minnesota. K-Love, too, earned a ring as part of a super team in the Eastern Conference.
We Wolves fans are used to wasting the careers of our best players.
Karl-Anthony Towns’ career should be given the same disrespect. He should follow in the footsteps of the greats that came before him.
Towns needs to suffer in Minnesota for the next six seasons because you failed to put superstar players, competent teammates, and veteran leaders around him; forcing KAT to demand a trade in the summer of 2023.
Then you and Scott Layden, or more likely some future front office, can turn him into valuable assets like lottery picks and cap space.
Cap Space and Assets, not Championship Aspirations
Hey, I have an idea! The Celtics will probably still have a treasure-trove of picks by then. I’m sure Danny Ainge would gladly take that problematic future Hall of Famer, Karl-Anthony Towns, off your hands. Maybe you can even call in Kevin McHale to ask you to help negotiate the deal?
But, no, you had to go and bring in Jimmy Butler, a second superstar to pair with KAT. Butler is the best player, by far, who has ever come to the Wolves through trade or free agency. And you got him under contract. In his prime. For cheap. You dirty rat.
Now the Wolves have arguably two of the top 15 players in the NBA, and they will for the next two to three seasons.
You didn’t have to bring in Taj Gibson, though. Do you want KAT to learn how to play defense? That will only go further into taking the Wolves out of the lottery and get Towns even more used to winning and a positive culture that may cause him to stay with the franchise long term.
Remember how great the defense was when KG was here? And the old man hardly played. His mere presence lifted the young Wolves up to heights they failed to reach in his absence.
Now, you’ve got a wing and a big that can not only teach Towns and Wiggins how to defend but guide them, show them, and tutor them as well.
On July 4th, 2024, Karl-Anthony Towns may pen an essay for The Players’ Tribune citing all the reasons why he’s decided to keep his talents in ‘Sota.
A superstar that ends up staying in Minnesota because of a strong culture, a winning team, a competent front office, and an excited fan base?
Thibs, you have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into.
Ticked Off in Target Center