It’s not a great time to be a Minnesota Timberwolves fan. The team went 15-67 last season. #6 overall pick Jonny Flynn didn’t look like he deserved to be picked ahead of Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson, or Darren Collison. Al Jefferson is a member of the Jazz, and the Timberwolves didn’t get much back for him. Ricky Rubio is still in Spain. The role of “Manna from Heaven” is currently being played by Darko Milicic. David Kahn may or may not be a worse executive than an avocado
One of the few pieces of Timberwolves-related good news last season was the emergence of sophomore power forward Kevin Love. Love averaged a double-double, made huge strides on the offensive end, and has established himself as one of the best rebounders in the NBA.
Sports Illustrated’s Paul Forrester sat down with Love
, who had some interesting things to say about the Timberwolves’ plan for improvement (he’s not exactly sure what it is), how Al Jefferson’s departure is both disappointing and an opportunity for him to step up, and how he plans to improve next season:
SI.com: Speaking of your development, what have you been working on this summer?
Love: Coach Rambis and I talked about trying to get more consistent from distance, especially on three-point shots. He wants me to be able to shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the three-point line and 85 percent from the free-throw line. That’s a realistic goal after last year. And on the defensive end, he wants me to take a lot more charges and be a lot more team-defense-oriented.
SI.com: Offense can improve with shooting drills. How do you improve defensively, especially in a team-oriented way?
Love: It’s all a mind-set. You also can play three-on-three, two-on-two, one-on-one — those type of situations always make you better. And being with Team USA has really helped me on the defensive end as well.
Love also had some interesting thoughts the upcoming CBA negociations:
SI.com: You may not have much time if the players’ association and the league don’t agree on a new CBA. What is the outlook on that as you understand it now?
Love: I’ve heard that the owners are going to try to negotiate the contracts down of the guys who signed this year, which I don’t see happening. But they’ll probably try to get into fewer years with contracts, and obviously the cap will go down a little bit. But I don’t think it will be as dramatic as people think. At least, I hope not. The owners want to make their money, the players want to make their money, but in the end, this is a players’ game, and we bring the fans out.
The [players’ union] has been trying to tell us to save our money. Every e-mail ends with a reminder that “If you haven’t started saving your money, start saving now.” People are being smart, and if they’re not smart, they’re going to find out real quick. If [a work stoppage] comes, whether it’s half a year or a year, hopefully it won’t be too tough on any of us, especially the players.
I encourage you to click through and read the rest of the interview, because there’s a lot of good stuff in there. Hopefully Kevin Love can continue improving next year, because his team is counting on him in a major way.
Phil Jackson asked Carmelo Anthony whether the star forward wanted to remain with the Knicks.
Apparently, what Anthony said publicly over and over and over and over and over was true.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:
This further proves Anthony’s loyalty to New York.
A trade could’ve sent him to a better team with a more-desirable boss and netted him a $10 million trade bonus. But Anthony enjoys living and playing in New York, even with the tumult – including Jackson – that follows.
Now, it’s on Jackson to improve the roster around Anthony, repair player-coach relations and create a culture where the starting point guard doesn’t go AWOL.
Carmelo Anthony finally got his desired meeting with Knicks president Phil Jackson.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
At turn after turn after turn after turn after turn, Anthony has stated his loyalty to the Knicks. What has he done since to indicate he wants to leave New York?
Jackson, not Anthony, has fostered all this recent controversy.
Jackson built a crummy roster that faced a difficult path to the playoffs. Jackson used the code word “posse.” Jackson publicly critiqued Anthony for being a ball hog. Jackson mouthpiece Charley Rosen wrote “Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York.”
Anthony just wants to play basketball for a good team in the world’s biggest market – not work under a black cloud. Jackson is making it impossible for Anthony to get all his wishes, though.
So, the question falls to Anthony: Would he rather keep playing for the Knicks – and all that comes with it – or waive his no-trade clause to join another team?
For years, he has unequivocally answered that question publicly with devotion to New York. But the act of Jackson asking might invite a different response.
LeBron James said Warriors-Cavaliers isn’t a rivalry.
After Golden State beat Cleveland last night, Draymond Green interrupted a reporter’s question in his urgency to disagree.
Green, via CSN Bay Area:
Yeah, I think it’s a rivalry. So, yeah. Just me, though.
It’s definitely fun, you know? A team that you beat, that’s beat you – it’s definitely fun. I think, if you look at the last two years and this year, we’ve been the top two teams in the league each year. So, I look at it as a rivalry, and it’s definitely a fun game to play in.
But I don’t really care if anyone else see the game the game the way I see it. I see it how I see it, and they can see it how they do. I don’t really care. It’s fun, though.
This is a competitive game, a fun game to play in. And regardless of Bron thinks this a rivalry or not, I know he wants to beat us – and we want to beat them. And that’s enough in itself.
Of course, Warriors-Cavaliers is a rivalry. Green and LeBron have personally fueled it.
Maybe Green was just trying to knock some sense into LeBron last night.
Months into his first and only season with the Kings, Rajon Rondo declared himself to be the first veteran teammate ever respected by DeMarcus Cousins.
As he deals with new problems with the Bulls, Rondo is again trashing his former Sacramento teammates.
Rondo, via David Aldridge of NBA.com:
“It’s just, maybe, the personnel in this situation,” Rondo says in response. “I mean, last year — I hate to keep talking about last year — but you couldn’t name three people on my team, the Sacramento Kings, and I led the league in assists. You know? I don’t know. I believe so (that his skill set still has value), given the right personnel and the flow of the game.”
Rondo is right: Playing with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade is not ideal, and his passing was an asset to the Kings.
He’s also proving his critics right: He’s too often a jerk.
Rondo has declined significantly overall, particularly on defense. His plus passing is barely enough to make him rotation-worthy. It’s not enough for teams cast aside his hardheadedness.
But is Rondo right that you can’t name three members of the 2015-16 Kings? Take this quiz to find out: