The Minnesota Timberwolves have made the playoffs eight times and advanced just once to the Western Conference Finals. Ownership lost with KG and they’ve continued to lose with KAT. When will ownership stop thinking about organizational revenue and instead start caring about winning?
The Minnesota Timberwolves joined the NBA in 1989. Since coming into the league, they have been a very poorly run organization with zero accountability from the top, the illegal Joe Smith contract, a consistently poor product on the floor, mediocre attendance, no national recognition of its star players, and a fanbase literally begging executives to demonstrate leadership and put together a winner.
Now is the time for Timberwolves ownership to do some serious soul-searching if they ever want to turn around this morbid franchise.
The T-Wolves drafted Kevin Garnett in 1996, who would go on to be one of the greatest power forwards to ever play in the NBA, but management never put complimentary pieces around The Big Ticket. They proceeded to have seven consecutive first round playoff exits during Garnett’s tenure.
When they finally did put players around Garnett (Sam Cassell, Wally Szczerbiak, Latrell Sprewell), he led the T-Wolves to the Conference Finals. Of course once the Wolves traded Garnett to the Boston Celtics, he went on to win a title in his first season in Boston
The Wolves’ franchise has had some really good players including Garnett, Wally Szczerbiak, Christian Laettner, Terrell Brandon, Stephon Marbury, Tom Gugliotta, Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, Jimmy Butler, Zach LaVine, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and the list goes on and on; yet ownership doesn’t care about winning. It seems they are more concerned about maintaining their bottom line (revenue), and not about producing a winning product.
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Chicago was never a basketball city (people cared more about the Cubs) before Michael Jordan elevated the franchise to nationally-televised games, global recognition of the Chicago Bulls’ brand, children in different parts of the country wearing Toni Kukoc jerseys, and the city reaped huge profits as the Bulls won titles. LeBron James did the same for Cleveland. Zion Williamson will likely do that for New Orleans.
But when is the T-Wolves’ ownership going to take responsibility? You have the opportunity to draft Stephen Curry and you select Jonny Flynn. You select Wesley Matthews over DeMarcus Cousins. And why was Derrick Williams picked number two overall?
Losing takes a toll on the city, fans, and players, and it scares other players away from joining the team in free agency.
We have seen perennial losing teams like the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Golden State Warriors, Juventus, and, to a lesser extent, the Los Angeles Clippers become winners in their respective sports.
Juventus signs Cristiano Ronaldo and people around the world are interested in Italy’s Serie A soccer. The Red Sox and Cubs had not won a World Series in ages but turned things around. The Warriors used to be a punchline in the 90’s and 2000’s but now have a powerhouse brand that has quadrupled in worth. Even the lowly Clippers, once owned by mad titan Donald Sterling, found a way to lure Kawhi Leonard from the champion Toronto Raptors and keep him away from the Los Angeles Lakers.
At some point fans will revolt. We are getting a glimpse of that with the New York Knicks. Hopefully T-Wolves fans will be able to have some hope that the new regime in Minnesota can finally build a consistent winner.