A nightmare season continues for Kevin Love and his fantasy owners. That “sprained” finger (X-rays were negative) is actually a broken metacarpal bone, an MRI revealed. He could miss several weeks, again.
(This is another in a series of 30 guest columns that will run in October, when optimism reigns supreme across the NBA. The theme will be “Five Reasons to Feel Positive About … ” We encourage you to follow the authors on Twitter and visit their sites. – CS)
To many NBA fans, the news of Kevin Love’s broken hand and subsequent absence of six to eight weeks came as a shock. To Minnesota Timberwolves fans, it’s just another year.
The last time there was any sense of optimism – much like there was coming into this season – was back in 2004. The Wolves had just come off a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals, but most fans were confident that the trio of Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassell and Latrell Spreewell had at least a couple years of title contention left in them. They were wrong.
To this point, Minnesota hasn’t been back to the playoffs, and a long line of injuries (Cassell, Al Jefferson) and bad personnel decisions (Brandon Roy trade, Darko Milicic contract) haven’t helped, either. Among all the bad moves made in the past few years did come some good decisions, and for the first time in a while, there is hope in Minnesota.
Yes, Love is out with a hand injury and Ricky Rubio is still recovering from a torn ACL. But both are expected to return in December, There are multiple reasons to get excited if you’re a Wolves fan, and not that “I really think this is the year Corey Brewer has a break-out year” kind of excitement.
This year, it’s the kind of excitement that comes with expectations of playing basketball in May. Here’s five reasons to feel positive about the Wolves.
1. The new old guys: Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko
Rarely does a Minnesota sports fan have reason to get excited over a free agent. The large majority of the best players from the state’s pro sports history were acquired via the draft (Kevin Garnett, Kirby Puckett, Fran Tarkenton). But this year, GM David Kahn decided to change things up and attack free agency. Along with some less-publicized trades (Chase Budinger, Dante Cunningham), Kahn decided to take chances on a couple of former All-Stars who didn’t play in the league last season.
After years of knee issues, several surgeries and time spent away from the game, Brandon Roy decided to call it quits for a while, retiring from the Portland Trail Blazers and missing the entire shortened 2011-12 season. Andrei Kirilenko decided to play a year in his home country of Russia after a rough last couple years for the Utah Jazz.
Now they are both in Minnesota, and thus far have gotten rave reviews from coach Rick Adelman as well as the rest of the staff. They solidify the shooting guard and small forward slots, problem areas for the Wolves a season ago.
The Wolves are lucky enough to have a weak start to their schedule, with their opponents having a combined .468 winning percentage from a season ago. One of the teams is the Brooklyn Nets, who are expected to improve significantly. But another is the Orlando Magic, who should be preparing for a rough season.
Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love will miss six to eight weeks with a broken hand, the team announced Wednesday.
According to a release from the team, Love fractured the third and fourth metacarpal in his right hand while working out.
The plan is for the Team USA member to travel to New York on Thursday to be examined by hand specialist Dr. Andy Weiland at the Hospital for Special Surgery.
Love’s injury could be devastating to Minnesota’s postseason hopes. A season ago, they were in the Western Conference playoff hunt when sensational rookie point guard Ricky Rubio went down with a torn ACL.
Even with Love carrying the team on his broad shoulders, the Wolves collapsed without Rubio, losing 20 of their last 25 games to miss the playoffs for the eighth straight year.
SH Blog: Timberwolves to acquire AK47 after helping facilitate Robin Lopez trade, Howard could end up in Dallas
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been very active thus far in the offseason as they remodel their roster to satisfy the needs of their franchise power forward Kevin Love. They have already gotten some “bad blood” out of the locker room with players such as Darko “Mana from Heaven” Milicic and Michael “Tito Jackson” Beasley, while acquiring a great player and character in Brandon Roy. The team loaded itself with another major piece today, as you will see in today’s news below, along with – get this – a Dwight Howard update and more:
- The Timberwolves have been active in the news today, as they finalize on a deal for forward Andrei Kirilenko, while being involved in a three-team deal that helped send Robin Lopez to the Hornets, according to Adrian Wojnarowski: “The Minnesota Timberwolves are finalizing a two-year, $20 million contract with free-agent forward Andrei Kirilenko after helping facilitate a three-team trade that sent Phoenix’s Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick to the New Orleans Hornets, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Lopez agreed to a three-year, $15.3 million contract in a sign-and-trade agreement with the Hornets, league sources told Y! Sports. The second year of Kirilenko’s contract will be a player option. The rest of the deal included the Timberwolves sending small forward Wesley Johnson and a lottery-protected first-round draft pick to the Suns, sources said. Brad Miller’s expiring contract goes to the Suns, while the T’wolves receive Jerome Dyson and two future second-round draft picks from New Orleans.”
- Woj also had some update on Dwight Howard’s possible destination if the Magic kept him around until the summer of 2013: “If Howard gets to free agency in ’13 without having been traded to Nets or Lakers, Dallas is overwhelming favorite to sign him, sources say. Howard’s camp has consistently warned Houston not to trade for him, that he’d march right into Dallas’ cap space next summer. Orlando officials have repeatedly told people they want the kind of knockout package Denver received for Anthony, but will it present self?”
- Minnesota also acquired Dante Cunningham for Wayne Ellington, from the Memphis Commercial Appeal: “The Grizzlies continued to shuffle their roster Tuesday with a relatively small deal they hope will pay big dividends. As expected, the Griz traded forward Dante Cunningham to the Minnesota Timberwolves for guard Wayne Ellington. The acquisition of Ellington is another move in the team’s off-season push to improve its backcourt.”
- Newly acquired Nets backup point guard C.J. Watson expressed his respect for Deron Williams, calling him the best point guard in the league, from Tim Bontemps: “C.J. Watson spent the past two seasons playing behind Derrick Rose in Chicago. But even after seeing the NBA’s 2011 MVP up close on a daily basis for the past two seasons, Watson said he thinks his new teammate, Deron Williams, is the league’s premier point guard. “I always thought Deron was the best point guard in the league,” Watson said yesterday during his introductory press conference at the Nets’ practice facility. “When everyone asks me who is the toughest point guard, I always say him. “Between him and D-Rose, it’s pick your poison.”
- Antawn Jamison officially became a part of the Los Angeles Lakers today. Here is part 1 and part 2 videos of his press conference.
- The Lakers discussed on a contract extension with Andrew Bynum’s agent today, from Kevin Ding:
- Derrick Williams had a disappointing rookie season and is well aware of that fact, from Adam Kennedy: “Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams didn’t have a typical rookie season. Because Williams made his NBA debut during the lockout-shortened season, the 21-year-old had a difficult transition and was forced to learn on the fly. Summer league was canceled, training camp was shortened and practice time was limited. Despite these strange circumstances, the second overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft still managed to emerge as a significant contributor for the Timberwolves, playing in all 66 games and averaging 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds. However, Williams was disappointed in his rookie campaign. Now, entering his second season, he’s hoping to be more effective and take on a bigger role with the Timberwolves.”
- After hitting his head on the rim following a dunk during an exhibition game, Kevin Durant had a fan throw shoes at him in hopes of getting them signed by the friendly superstar, via TBJ’s Trey Kerby.
- Gilbert Arenas is looking to sell his expensive house that includes a shark tank, from Kelly Dwyer: “When former Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas signed a gigantic $111 million contract extension back in the summer of 2008, we sharply disagreed with the move, while giving a knowing nod to Arenas’ reputation as the NBA’s lovable goofball prince. Undeterred, Arenas set to spending that money and enhancing that reputation by beginning construction on a massive D.C.-area mansion complete with a grotto, an infamous shark tank (that cost $5,000 a month in maintenance bills), seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and a couple of “sitting rooms” that sit between bedrooms and bathrooms that Gilbert clearly didn’t use much as his knees (and reputation) fell apart over the years since.”
- The Celtics are expecting to be without Avery Bradley at the start of next season, according to A. Sherrod Blakely: “While the exact time of his return is uncertain, the Celtics have certainly approached the offseason as though they will be without their best perimeter defender. ”We know there’s a possibility that Avery won’t be able to play the first month of the season,” Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, told CSNNE.com. “So we have to be prepared for that. You never know how these things play out; will it be a month? Or two months? I don’t think it’ll be much longer than that, or he could be back sooner. You try to build a roster where you can get by with any injury, that can sustain you through a short period of time.”
- Keyon Dooling will stay with the Celtics for another season, from Gary Washburn: “The Celtics Tuesday officially lost center Greg Stiemsma to the Timberwolves, but they did re-sign guard Keyon Dooling to a one-year contract, according to an NBA source. The Celtics were able to get Dooling back at the league minimum after there had been some initial interest in him from the Wizards, who signed former UConn standout and Pacer A.J. Price to be their backup point guard. Dooling again will be Rajon Rondo’s backup and mentor after an uneven first season in Boston that ended positively. After an injury plagued first half of last season, Dooling cemented himself as Rondo’s primary reserve and impressed coach Doc Rivers with his defensive intensity and occasional 3-point shooting. He canned 11 3-pointers in 20 postseason games and scored 10 points in a Game 4 victory over the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.”
- Mickel Pietrus will not join Dooling in returning to Boston, according to Ben Rohrbach: “Pietrus is “still open to a return,” according to his agent Bill McCandless, but the 30-year-old free agent swingman will not play for the NBA’s veteran minimum salary — which, after his nine years in the league, is $1.23 million. “MP will not play for the veteran’s minimum. Period,” said McCandless. “It’s not happening. That’s the beginning, middle and end of that. … He is not a veteran’s minimum player. There’s no chance he’ll ever sign for that.” That leaves the $1.96 million bi-annual exception as the C’s only option, but that may not be enough. While Pietrus signed for the $1.22 million minimum after being waived by the Suns in December, the French-speaking Guadeloupean has “a standing offer triple that overseas,” his agent said. They’ve also engaged in serious talks with several NBA teams, including one Monday, “and the money was much more than the veteran minimum.”
- Charles Barkley explains why he was a better player than Karl Malone, from Jack McCallum: “The player with whom Charles will march lock step into history, though, is another Dream Team mate, Karl Malone. Understand that Barkley’s comments should be prefaced by this: He and Malone are good friends. They both have complimentary things to say about each other, on and off the record, and it’s not forced. But here is Charles’ take on his talents compared to Malone’s. ”Look, I’m in the top 20 of players who ever lived,” says Charles. “When I first started out, they said, ‘He’ll never make it. Too short.’ That never even concerned me. Because you know what? I could get all my stuff on my own. ”You take Karl. Karl needed John Stockton. That’s not a knock on Karl; it’s just a fact. I could get mine any time I wanted to. So I’ll say it on the record: I was better than Karl. Nothing against Karl. He was great. But I was better. The only thing he did better than me was score, and that came down to John Stockton.” I ask Charles how much better he would’ve been had he dedicated himself to conditioning like Malone.”I always laugh when I hear that,” says Charles. “There are four guys who got 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. So I’m saying, ‘What the [expletive] else could I have done if only four guys did the [expletive] I did?’ Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem and me.”
- Kobe Bryant talked about some of the things he has done to help his body be prepared for the Olympics, from Jeremiah Tittle: “When asked about the experimental treatment he underwent to remedy his failing knees, he says: “I’ve spoken to other baseball players, other [American] football players about it. It did wonders for me. It’s not just for your knees, but anything arthritic. So, the doctors came up with this [Orthokine] procedure which can act as a replacement of cartilage. For me, the results have been astonishing. I can run. I can train. I can do everything that I wanted to do without limping, my knee getting swollen or anything of that nature.” Beyond experimental therapy, Bryant reveals how else his appearance has changed, losing 16 pounds to prepare his older body for the rigours of the Olympics followed by another run at his sixth NBA title. “With summer basketball leading directly into the season – and I’m expecting to play until next June – I have to take some load off my knees. I’ve got to shave some of this weight.”