T-wolves offseason moves make team competitivePublished 9:37am Thursday, July 18, 2013
Over the past decade, Timberwolves fans have become accustomed to ingesting the team’s offseason shenanigans with a dose of Prozac. The highlights of these moves have generally consisted of dumping off a lottery pick bust to another unlucky team for spare parts, only to see him be replaced by another ineffective lottery pick.
In spite of that vicious cycle, which has been the essence of the team’s “rebuilding” efforts in recent years, the 2013 offseason has taken a positively refreshing twist, with new GM Flip Saunders injecting an assortment of new impact players into the team via the draft and free agency.
One of the marquee free agent signings has been defensive wingman Corey Brewer, who was inked to a three-year $15 million deal last week. Brewer was, ironically, one of the aforementioned lottery pick busts sold off for scrap, having been dealt to the Knicks in 2011 and then waived a week later.
As fate might have it, leaving the dysfunctional Wolves turned out to be the catalyst needed to kick-start his career. He landed with the Dallas Mavericks that same year and won a championship before being traded to Denver, where he put together two solid seasons.
Brewer, a beneficiary of the team’s unique strategy of outsourcing player development to other teams, will likely round out what appears to be a playoff-caliber starting line-up.
On paper, this is the best Wolves rosters since what nostalgic folk refer to as the “Glory Days” – the 2003-04 season when the team, led by Kevin Garnett, Latrell Sprewell and Sam Casell lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
To complement Brewer’s addition, shooting guard Kevin Martin was also signed away from Oklahoma City, and two potential contributors, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng, were added in a bizarre draft that left many observers scratching their heads.
Muhammad was the guy nobody wanted to touch in the first round, mainly due to a myriad of character concerns. But his immense talent prevented him from falling out of the lottery, and the Wolves – who were forced to trade down – had no choice but to scoop him up. If he can keep his head on straight, Muhammad should provide a nice scoring boost coming off the bench until he matures into a more complete player.
The draft’s other consolation prize came in the form of Gorgui Dieng, a big man who helped Louisville win a national title. He figures to bring an Emeka Okafor-esque contribution to the table – blocking shots, playing defense and fouling people – but one probably shouldn’t expect much more than that out of him.
Also not to be overlooked is Nikola Pekovic signing a long term deal.
Though dominant big men are becoming passé in the league, keeping him on board gives the team a powerful presence down low.
While none of these pickups can be considered star caliber players, their additions will supplement the franchise cornerstones – Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio – and bring a new level of talent and competitiveness to a team that is as close to playoff run as its been since the “Glory Days”.