Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves selected Blake Stepp late in the second round in 2004.
Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images
2005 DRAFT SELECTIONS
No. 14, No. 47
CURRENT FREE AGENTS
Anthony Carter (unrestricted)
Eddie Griffin (unrestricted)
Ervin Johnson (unrestricted)
Mark Madsen (unrestricted)
Latrell Sprewell (unrestricted)
John Thomas (unrestricted)
RECENT DRAFT SELECTIONS
2004: 58. Blake Stepp, Gonzaga
2003: 26. Ndudi Ebi, Westbury Christian HS
55. Rick Rickert, Minnesota
2002: 52. Marcus Taylor, Mich. St.
2001: 46. Loren Woods, Ariz.
2000: 51. Igor Rakocevic, Red Star Belgrade
By Bill Evans

When the 2004-05 season began: Many were suggesting that 2005 might be the Year of the Wolf. After a trip to the Conference Finals, Minnesota looked poised to battle for the top spot in the Western Conference.

What happened? The Wolves couldn't capture a playoff spot, much less compete for the NBA title. The bad karma started in training camp, when Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell aired contract gripes. Fittingly, Sprewell amassed the lowest scoring total of his career (12.8 ppg) and Cassell's average (13.5) was his lowest since 1994-95.

By the end of the season, owner Glen Taylor was calling the acquisitions of Sprewell and Cassell “a failed experiment” despite what they accomplished the previous season.

Flip Saunders became the fall guy for his team's failures in February. He was let go after a tenure that ranked only second only to Jerry Sloan when it ended with a 411-326 mark. Kevin McHale assumed the coaching duties for the remainder of the season, so at least he had an up-close look at the players he will be evaluating when the roster gets a makeover this summer.

The only untouchable would appear to be Kevin Garnett, who started all 82 games in his 10th season with the Timberwolves. He delivered his customary 22.2 points, a league-leading 13.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.37 blocks per contest. With the retirement of Reggie Miller, Garnett more than any other player in the NBA is identified with a single team.

What now? To Minnesota's credit, they finished 16-8 down the stretch, so the players never quit on McHale. Their 44-38 record put them a game behind Memphis for the final playoff spot. The cupboard is hardly bare.

After forfeiting four first-round picks in the last five years because of the illegal Joe Smith contract, the Timberwolves will be participating this year. They own the 14th pick, and their needs correspond to the four positioned not manned by Garnett.

Sprewell is a free agent. Cassell is in the final year of his deal and may be moved before he can throw another pity party. Wally Szczerbiak is the subject of annual trade rumors and center is Michael Olowokandi is…well…he's Michael Olowokandi, which is neither insult nor compliment.