When you’re at the bottom of the standings, it’s about making progress. And nobody was really noticing that lately the Minnesota Timberwolves had been making progress.
Well, that was until they beat Dallas in Dallas then Memphis at home the next night last weekend. Then people noticed that the Wolves are .500 in their last 10 and are no longer a pushover.
Which is why General Manager David Kahn was insistent Monday that none of the team’s core — Al Jefferson, Kevin Love, Jonny Flynn and Corey Brewer — are going anywhere at the trading deadline. He made it clear that the team is not looking to deal Jefferson. At all. He was serious.
Kahn gets that rebuilding is a process, especially since the team committed to Kurt Rambis and the triangle offense. While they have let Flynn break out of it more as the season has gone on, it still remains their core offense, and anyone that has run it will tell you it takes half a season to sort of get used to it. A full season to really grasp it.
The Wolves are getting healthy at the time they are becoming more comfortable with the offense. It’s starting to come together. Maybe they do need to shake up the core, but being patient to see how all these pieces can work together over time is the prudent thing to do. There will be trades that can be made this summer or next year.
Panic-induced, quick-fix trades is how you end up with the Knicks roster. Trust us, Minnesota fans, you don’t want that.
The Detroit Pistons’ playoff dreams hinged on them being able to hang around until point guard Reggie Jackson got back from this thumb and knee injuries. They have done just that — the Pistons are 11-10 and would be the eighth seed if the playoffs started today.
And now they get Jackson back. Stan Van Gundy made the announcement Sunday at shootaround, before the team takes on the Orlando Magic.
It will take a few games to get his conditioning back, but this is huge for Detroit. Jackson running the pick-and-roll with Andre Drummond is at the heart of Detroit’s offense – the Pistons were 2.3 points per 100 possessions better with the ball in his hands. Ish Smith played well for the Pistons in his absence — 10.8 points per game, 6.4 assists, and he’s been solid. Move his playmaking to the second unit and suddenly the Pistons become a lot more dangerous.
The scouting report on Jakob Poeltl coming out of Utah said he could run the floor well and he was a good finisher around the rim.
But we didn’t expect this.
During the Raptors win Sunday against the stumbling Hawks, Poeltl filled the lane on the break, got the rock, and nobody was going to stop that finish. Least of all Tim Hardaway Jr., he just ends up in the poster.
Entering free agency last July, Hassan Whiteside said his first choice was to stay in Miami — then Pat Riley gave him 98 million reasons to stick around. While the Heat have been up and down this season, Whiteside has thrived as the franchise player in Miami.
Last July he also met with Dallas, but it turns out that was not his second choice. Here is what Whiteside told Erik Gunderson of the Miami Herald before his team fell to the Blazers on Saturday.
“Portland was my second option,” Whiteside said at the team’s Saturday shootaround in Portland. “I would have came here.”
Interesting. There were reports the Blazers chased Whiteside, but it didn’t seem that serious. Apparently, it was. If The Blazers got Whiteside, would they still have spent $70 million on Evan Turner? Probably not. And suddenly a lot of things look better in Portland.
For Blazers fans, watching their team try to outscore opponents while playing terrible defense this season — in part because of a lack of rim protection behind their undersized guards — it’s easy to imagine how much Whiteside would have changed the picture in the Northwest. But at this point, that’s just fan fiction.
JaVale McGree has become a solid contributor for the Warriors off the bench, giving them a needed shot blocking presence. He’s not getting a ton of run (seven minutes a night), but he’s efficient when he’s out there.
Still, there is his reputation as the guy most likely to end up on Shaqtin’ a Fool. He hasn’t done anything like that for a while… until Saturday night, when after a made free throw he tried to inbound the ball for the Suns for a second.
The Warriors bench was laughing under their shirts and towels.