Tag: Shabazz Muhammad

Boston Celtics v Minnesota Timberwolves

Report: Timberwolves sign Tayshaun Prince


The Timberwolves re-signed Kevin Garnett and signed Andre Miller.

Enough veteran leadership on the young team?

Not for Flip Saunders.

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

Saunders coached Tayshaun Prince on the Pistons, but that was a long time ago. Prince, 35, is an even more methodical player and no longer an elite wing defender.

Still, his length and intelligence make him a capable defender. He can make jumpers, too, and he’s a solid passer for his position (though he bogs down the offense with the ball in his hands).

Prince played reasonably well for the Celtics and Pistons last season after the Grizzlies traded him, so he might have a little juice left. He was in over his head in Memphis, often starting for a fringe contender.

That shouldn’t be the case in Minnesota. He’ll fill a limited role, provide a good example for the team’s younger players and sometimes take minutes that slow the development of Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett and Nemanja Bjelica. (Andrew Wiggins is getting the same playing time regardless.)

There’s an outside but realistic chance the Timberwolves can compete for a playoff spot. For that reason, signing Prince makes sense. Minnesota wouldn’t want to find out later it was a veteran on the wing away from the postseason. If the Timberwolves fall from the race, Saunders can always turn more toward developing younger players.

Prince gives Minnesota 17 players – two more than the regular-season roster limit. The most likely cuts are Lorenzo Brown ($75,000 guaranteed) and Damjan Rudez (acquired in the Chase Budinger salary dump). Perhaps, the Timberwolves can trade Rudez and get something for him or deal another player in a more significant move. But they have to do something to trim the roster.

Ricky Rubio on Timberwolves: ‘I have to go pull this team in the playoffs’

Minnesota Timberwolves v Toronto Raptors

Kevin Garnett is the Timberwolves’ most-accomplished player.

Andre Miller is their oldest player.

Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns are their most-important players.

But on any team, leadership naturally falls to the starting point guard and highest-paid player. Ricky Rubio, who fills both titles in Minnesota, is embracing that role.

Rubio, via Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:

“We know we’re young and we’re building,” Rubio told SI.com in a phone interview. “At the same time, I think we’re ready to win games. Last season we only won 16 games but it didn’t feel like we were a losing team at all. We were just lacking some things. Me personally, I have to go pull this team in the playoffs. I know it’s a big challenge, but I think we have the right assets, the right weapons to get it. I know we’re in the West side, it’s really tough, but I think we can make it happen. I have big expectations for next season.”

I don’t think it’s completely outlandish to suggest the Timberwolves could make the playoffs. They’re loaded with talent at every position:

  • Point guard: Rubio, Miller, Tyus Jones
  • Shooting guard: Kevin Martin, Zach LaVine
  • Small forward: Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Nemanja Bjelica
  • Power forward: Kevin Garnett, Gorgui Dieng, Adreian Payne, Anthony Bennett
  • Center: Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Pekovic

That is one heck of the depth chart.

But there are three major reasons Minnesota won’t make the playoffs:

1. Youth. As talented as those players are, many of them are still very young. They’ll probably need more time to develop and learn how to do the little things necessary to win.

2. Fit. Too many Timberwolves prefer to operate in the same areas of the court. They just don’t have enough floor spacers.

3.  Western Conference. It’s darn good.

Rubio could help, though. He’s reaching the age where he should take the next step. And a nifty passer, he could mitigate Minnesota’s spacing issues. He’ll have no shortage of talented players to throw passes. He’s the crux.

The Timberwolves probably won’t reach the postseason, but if they do, it very well could be because Rubio pulled them there.

Timberwolves coach Flip Sauders returns to Twitter to say he loves three pointers

Flip Saunders

The last time Timberwolves coach and GM Flip Saunders was on Twitter, he was setting the record straight that Kevin Love had in no way told him he was opting out or wanted to be traded. Six months later, Love was traded.

Now Saunders is back on Twitter after a long hiatus to again set the record straight.

Saunders doesn’t like the idea that he is considered a dinosaur, an old-school guy who doesn’t have an obsession with getting clean three-point looks like everyone else in the NBA.

Unlike the Love situation, I fully believe Saunders here. Look at what he told Zach Lowe of Grantland in a recent interview.

Do we need to make 3s? No question. I think Andrew will become an adequate 3-point shooter. The bottom line is, you have what you have. If your best players aren’t 3-point shooters, you can’t just make them 3-point shooters. We need to build around them and get some other players who can stretch the floor…

The reason teams don’t post up is that nobody can do it anymore. Teams would like to do it. The post-up is conducive to small ball. If a guy can score down there, the defense has to trap, and you can get open 3s. And that’s what we’re all trying to get — open 3s.

Saunders is also a realist. He may want to shoot threes, but he also sees his roster (the one he built) and knows these are not the Warriors. He’s going to often have the ball in the hands of Ricky Rubio (25.5 percent from three last season) and Andrew Wiggins (31 percent), followed by Zach LaVine (34.1 percent) and sometimes rookie Tyus Jones (25 percent at Summer League). He doesn’t have stretch bigs with Kevin Garnett (14 percent last season), Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Pekovic and Gorgui Dieng. There are a couple good three-point shooters on the roster in Shabazz Muhammad (who Saunders will use as a stretch four at times) and Kevin Martin (if he can stay healthy), but this team needs guys who can space the floor.

All of that could lead to spacing issues for the Timberwolves next season.

But don’t confuse that with a guy who doesn’t want to shoot the three. Saunders took to Twitter to clear that part up.