Oklahoma City Thunder: Not everyone follows Presti’s lead
There is a general belief that all rebuilding teams in the NBA should use the Thunder’s blueprint. Build through the draft, shed big-money contracts of mediocre veterans, create cap space that can make trades much more advantageous. And of course, hope you get lucky in the lottery.
Some franchises talk about it. But it’s not so easy to do it. The Minnesota Timberwolves, for example.
The T-Wolves have struggled mightily since trading Kevin Garnett to Boston five years ago. But finally, optimism has returned to Minnesota. Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, rookies Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio. The Timberwolves appear to have a future, and the present isn’t so bad. A fun, entertaining team that probably won’t finish .500 but won’t be far off.
But management still matters, even after you’ve stumbled into some ballplayers.
Take Kevin Love’s contract negotiations. The power forward, in the same draft class as his UCLA roommate, Russell Westbrook, was eligible for a contract extension but had to be signed by Wednesday, else he and the team would have to wait until the summer. Derrick Rose and Westbrook, the other plums in that 2008 draft, already had signed five-year extensions.
Love asked for the same. Let me repeat. One of the NBA’s best players, a power forward who puts up video-game type numbers, told the woebegone franchise in Minneapolis that he would commit for a full five years. And the ‘Wolves said no. The Wolves said, how about four?
The biggest problem in the NBA over the last couple of years is superstars wanting to migrate to 1) rosters decked with other superstars; 2) exotic locales (LA, Miami, New York); 3) or both. And Kevin Love, an elite NBA player, says he will do exactly what his old pal Westbrook did, sign for the maximum length of contract, with a franchise in a cold-weather city, far from the lights of Broadway, even though the Timberwolves aren’t contenders and are in the dream-and-hope mode as we speak.
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