Tag: Andrew Wiggins

Why Minnesota Came To The Decision to Finally Trade Jimmy Butler

According to ESPN Insider’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, Minnesota Timberwolves’ President and Coach Tom Thibodeau came to the decision to finally trade Jimmy Butler after losing 5 straight games.

After devastating losses to the Kings, Lakers, Clippers, and Trailblazers, Thibodeau finally came to the realization that the team will accomplish nothing with Butler still present on the team. In light of everything, this trade did not help strengthen another Western Conference foe as Butler was sent to the Eastern Conference.

Butler was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers this afternoon and the Timberwolves hope to turn their ship around in hopes of reaching the playoffs with their new talent on the team.

Trade details included:

Minnesota Timberwolves Receives

Robert Covington
Dario Saric
Jerryd Bayless
2022 Second Round Pick

Philadelphia 76ers Receives

Jimmy Butler
Justin Patton

Minnesota has agreed to this deal and hopes to have everything finalized by Monday.

Philadelphia will add the 4x all-star to their core big three featuring Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Minnesota will add on two outstanding role players in Saric and Covington to build around Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

It has been a long time coming for Jimmy Butler as during the summer he has made it known around the league that he was open to being traded from Minnesota. With all the drama surrounding Butler, Andrew Wiggins, and Karl Anthony Towns, Butler was more than likely going to be traded. Rumors and speculations had Butler being traded to the Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, or the Los Angeles Clippers.

The 76ers hope to make a deep playoff push with their new additions and Butler hopes to seek out a contract extension from the 76ers during the season. Philly can offer Butler a 5-year max contract while other teams can offer only 4 years.

 

 

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Minnesota Timberwolves Feature #1: The (New) Beginning.

Utah Jazz v Minnesota Timberwolves

The season has begun, and more eyes are on the Minnesota Timberwolves this season than ever. The pressure mounted on Minnesota leading to the NBA regular season. It is possible, in fact very likely, that the Timberwolves will be making their first playoff appearance since 2004 this season. Even though the Timberwolves are part of a stacked Western Conference, Minnesota has a strong roster, with multiple players that can perform on both sides of the ball. On top of their home-brewed talent in small forward Andrew WIggins and Center Karl-Anthony Towns, the acquisitions of shooting guard Jimmy Butler, point guard Jeff Teague and shooting guard Jamal Crawford have transitioned the team from the young team with the potential to a star-studded team ready to win now.

If you did not read the previous entry to the Minnesota Timberwolves feature, you can find it here:

Minnesota Timberwolves Feature #0: The History.

Season (So Far) In Review

Aldridge and Green

The Timberwolves began the regular season with a loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are a defensive-minded team that match up extremely well with the Timberwolves. Even without San Antonio’s star small forward Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs were able to win by eight, with good performances by power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and shooting guard Danny Green.

On the Minnesota side of things, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns were at the helm for the team. Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague, and Jimmy Butler all made their presence known, but their inability to take care of the ball on offense and crash the boards on defense resulted in their loss to the Spurs.

Despite the loss, the Timberwolves still looked like a serious playoff contender, putting up a good fight against a stacked Spurs lineup. Two days later, Minnesota racked up their first win in a three-point victory over the Utah Jazz, thanks to a more even scoring distribution among their star players.

In their second huge test as a playoff team, the Timberwolves took on and defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team with three legitimate stars, headlined by point guard and reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook. This two-point victory came after Andrew Wiggins hit a three-point shot with zeroes on the clock to win the game. On top of the game-winner, the entire starting lineup scored in double figures, including forward Taj Gibson, who also had 10 rebounds, racking up his first double-double of the season. The upset win over Oklahoma City cemented Minnesota’s presence in the Western Conference as a serious playoff contender, and not just hype from big-name offseason acquisitions.

After losing Jimmy Butler to illness for two games and dropping back-to-back games to the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons, it had seemed that Minnesota had wasted the momentum of a big win against Oklahoma City. However, Butler’s return proved to be vital, as the Timberwolves defeated Oklahoma City once again, headed by Towns’ 33 points and 19 rebounds and Jimmy Butler’s first 20 point performance as a member of the Timberwolves.

Their second win against Oklahoma City was the first of five straight victories for Minnesota, bringing their record to 7-3 and among the top in the Western Conference. During this stretch, the starters and Jamal Crawford took turns dishing out big performances and contributing an overall team effort to string together important wins early on in the season.

Twolves Warriors

The winning streak came to an end in Minnesota’s first matchup against the defending champion Golden State Warriors, where the Timberwolves lost in a blowout. This came as no surprise, given that it is early in the season for the Timberwolves, and asking them to defeat the Warriors in their first meeting with a new team is a tall order. However, an eight-point defeat to the struggling Phoenix Suns had shown a gaping hole in Minnesota’s game that was pointed out by Jimmy Butler: defense. The Timberwolves had let up 35 points to both Devin Booker and TJ Warren, players who are by no means superstars, especially Warren. This comes as a shock when looking at the fact that this Minnesota squad is coached by Tom Thibodeau, one of the better defensive minded coaches in the game today. This loss will presumably serve as a wake-up call for Minnesota, and hopefully, help them get back on track defensively in order to truly contend come playoff time.

Where Were they This Point in 2003-04?

TWolves 2004

Through 12 games, the Minnesota Timberwolves were in the same spot as this team is now. The team was 7-5, led by their homegrown star forward Kevin Garnett and newly acquired guard/forward Latrell Sprewell, very similar to the success of Karl-Anthony Towns, a homegrown forward and newly acquired guard Jimmy Butler.  Unlike this year’s team, the Timberwolves found themselves in the seventh seed, which slightly more uncomfortable than the sixth seed the Timberwolves presently reside.

What’s in Store for Next Week?

The Timberwolves have four games slated for next week, highlighted by their second matchup against the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday and a game against the surprisingly hot Detroit Pistons on Sunday. From a Minnesota perspective, it would be desirable to win half of the games they have this week, preferably to have one of those come against the Spurs or Pistons. This week will be a true test for a struggling Minnesota defense, and at least a pair of stellar defensive performances can convince fans that this team is truly scary.

Minnesota Timberwolves Feature #0: The History.

Minnesota’s Basketball Beginnings

It is 1947. The United States is two years removed from a second world war victory. Harry Truman is the president. The daily newspaper cost four cents. In the sports world, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball. 1947 was also the first year that Minneapolis, Minnesota had a professional basketball team.

George Mikan

In the time spanning between 1947 and 1960, Minneapolis was in possession of a successful franchise. The team had made 11 playoff appearances, culminating in five NBA championships. The team also had the NBA’s first true star: George Mikan. Ranking in the top 25 all-time in career scoring average with 23.13 points per game and 13.4 rebounds per game, what would be 10th all time, Mikan was an all-around star that couldn’t be stopped. After his success faded and Mikan retired, the team’s success also faded. Hopes weren’t very high in Minneapolis, and the franchise would move out west, where the team has thus far won 11 more championships. This team is, of course, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Though the move proved to be extremely worthwhile for the Lakers, it left Minnesota without a truly successful sports dynasty. Sure, the Minnesota Twins would come along and win two World Series titles, but to be able to have five championships in a 13 year span? It hasn’t been duplicated to this date in Minnesota.

The Second Coming

Despite the absence of a dynasty, Minnesota had relative success with other sports in the area. So in 1989, Minnesota got another crack at an NBA team. The team held a vote for its name, and ‘Timberwolves’ had won. The other finalist for the team name was ‘Polars’, which was more applicable to the Timberwolves’ performance in their first season. Playing in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, the same place where the Twins had won their first World Series championship in baseball two years earlier, the Timberwolves finished their first season with a 22-60 record. While that record is usually expected for an expansion franchise, it’s a tough pill to swallow when comparing it to the Lakers’ first NBA season in Minneapolis, when the Lakers finished with a 51-17 record and won a championship.

T-Wolves Metrodome.jpg

Despite their play, it is important to note that Timberwolves fans set NBA attendance records, being able to pull in over a million fans to their home games that season, highlighted by close to 50,000 spectators at the Timberwolves’ final home game of the season, where, to no surprise, the team suffered an 11 point loss to the Denver Nuggets.

The next couple of years would be a lot of the same for the new franchise, struggling to find an identity. The team’s misfortunes brought a lot of high draft picks, highlighted by the drafting of college basketball legend and 1992 Olympic “Dream Team” member Christian Laettner. His legend status playing for Duke didn’t translate to success in the NBA, and the Timberwolves kept racking up losses, and the future looked grim for the franchise. Then he came.

After finishing 21-61 in the 1994-95 season, the Minnesota Timberwolves took advantage of the fifth pick of the NBA draft to select a high school standout. This forward dominated at the Farragut Career Academy in Chicago, and was the player that the Timberwolves were in dire need of. His name was Kevin Garnett.

A Taste of Success

Kevin Garnett 1995

Garnett didn’t break out right away as a star, and the Timberwolves’ struggles continued, going 26-56 in Garnett’s rookie year. In the 1996-97 season, however, Garnett broke out, scoring 17 points per game and averaging eight rebounds. Garnett, along with teammate and forward Tom Gugliotta were selected to the Western Conference All-Star team that season, and the Timberwolves finished with a 40-42 record, making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Despite being swept by the Houston Rockets in the first round, making the playoffs was progress for this, up to this point, unsuccessful franchise.

Despite losing Gugliotta and star point guard Stephon Marbury during a lockout-shortened 1998 season, Garnett led the Timberwolves to playoff appearances every season between 1996 and 2003. Though it sounds promising, the Timberwolves faced first round exits in each of those seasons as well, despite having three 50 win seasons in that span as well.

The Timberwolves had seemed to be only a few pieces away from becoming a championship contender. In 2000, the team had two all stars in Garnett and forward Wally Szczerbiak. In trying to sign star player Joe Smith, however, the franchise had mishandled the signing, and the misconduct involved within it cost the team 3 first round draft picks and the services of General Manager Kevin McHale for an entire season. Though these circumstances are often the blame of the team’s shortcomings during the time period, one season saw Minnesota come within hand’s reach of the NBA finals.

So Close, Yet So Far

In the offseason prior to the 2003-04 season, the Timberwolves made major moves, adding guards Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell to their roster. The Timberwolves became a superpower, tearing through most of the Western Conference, winning 58 games and earning the top seed in the conference. The Timberwolves were finally able to escape the first round, defeating the Denver Nuggets in the first round and emerging victorious in a grueling seven game series against a powerful Sacramento Kings squad, led by the daunting trio of Mike Bibby, Chris Webber and Peja Stojakovic. The Timberwolves had fallen in the Western Conference Finals to a team that was very familiar to the history of Minnesota basketball: the then three-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.

T-Wolves 2004

After a season that saw the most success in Timberwolves’ history in a Conference Finals appearance and an MVP award for Kevin Garnett, the team looked poised to maintain dominance in the West, especially after the departure of Center Shaquille O’Neal from the Lakers. However, the team would crumble from within that season.

The Downfall

Contract disputes were the key issue for the Timberwolves during the 2004-05 season. Star players, headlined by Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell, were not pleased with their roles on the team, and as the next three seasons progressed, the team fell apart. The Timberwolves missed the playoffs in 2005, and they lost Sprewell and Cassell that offseason. The Timberwolves were not able to recapture the magic of that ‘04 team, missing the playoffs in 2006 and 2007. After these disappointing seasons, Minnesota traded Garnett to the Boston Celtics. In their first season without the star forward’s services, the Timberwolves finished 22-60, while Garnett and the Celtics went on to defeat the Lakers to win an NBA championship.

Kevin Love

Since that magical 2003-04 season, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been unable to make the playoffs. Since the departure of Kevin Garnett, the only bright spot the franchise had possessed was forward Kevin Love, who had dominated in both scoring and rebounding, albeit it didn’t translate to success for his team between 2010 and 2014.

The Climb Back

However, the trading of Kevin Love brought the beginning of a seed of hope for the Timberwolves to see the playoffs once again. They used the trade to acquire forward Andrew Wiggins, a player who so far has proven to be fruitful for the team on both offense and defense. In 2015, though, the Timberwolves were given the number one pick in the draft lottery. They used this pick to acquire the player whose features are very familiar to Minnesota fans.

Karl Anthony Towns is a dominant, young forward, much like Kevin Garnett. His effectiveness on the offensive side of the floor is unprecedented in the modern basketball era that lacks physical big men on the floor.

KAT and Wiggins.jpg

The breakout of Wiggins and Towns has been something to watch over the past two seasons, despite not being able to break the 13 year streak of the team not making the playoffs. The Timberwolves have slowly improved, much like the teams of 1996 and ’97 with the breakout of Kevin Garnett. Much like the offseason prior to the dominant 2003-04 season, the Timberwolves made big moves in the offseason leading to the current campaign for Minnesota. The acquisition of star defensive guard Jimmy Butler was much needed for the Timberwolves, bringing a composed presence with a couple of years under his belt playing in the NBA. To go along with Butler is household name Jeff Teague, another player that reconciles with the Timberwolves’ defensive woes. The Timberwolves also picked up a veteran and legendary sixth man in guard Jamal Crawford.

Together, this squad is the best Minnesota has had since their last playoff appearance in 2004. Their powerful lineup boasts a dominant offense in the post led by Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, while maintaining the pressure on defense with guards Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague. The Timberwolves are off to a good start, beginning the season with a 5-3 record, highlighted by boasting two victories over an imposing Oklahoma City Thunder team.

The Future

For the first time in a while, the Minnesota Timberwolves finally look like a threat in the Western Conference, and it feels great for Minnesota natives. Though an NBA championship is more than unlikely this season, there is still plenty of room for this young team to make noise in the league in the 2017-18 season. At the end of the day, all you have to do is look into the past to figure out that good things are in store for the future.

T-Wolves 2018.jpg