Simons Says | April 24, 2014

  Boy does time fly.

  Last week at this time, I needed extra time to catch my breath and now I’m watching as the real work begins.

  One visit to downtown Minneapolis, specifically Block E across the street from Target Center, shows much work and big renovation work. I guess a hard hat is needed, along with sneaks, to get the Wolves back on track.

By now you know that coach Rick Adelman is calling it a career. The Wolves bench boss is done after three seasons with the Wolves and 23 coaching teams in the NBA.

Adelman will be missed, no doubt about it.  But the Wolves need something to excite the fans, pump up the Twin Cities and most importantly, convince players that this place is a destination, not a paycheck.

  Finding “it”…that something special isn’t easy and it’s guaranteed for no team looking to replace a legendary coach.  I’ve been hammered this week with questions from all around asking just “what” will the Wolves do.  Well, I do know this team has options. They are plenty. And Flip Saunders is making the call.

  We know ‘em too.

a.)      Does Flip return to the bench? Does he have to coach? In his blood, does it “Define” him, is coaching and Flip one in the same?

b.)     Do the Wolves turn to Adelman’s pack of assistants?

c.)      Do the Wolves reach out to an experience NBA coaching veteran, a Mike Woodson (just let go in NY), a Nate McMillan (assistant in Indiana), a Jeff Van Gundy (former NBA coach now TV insider)

d.)     Or do the Wolves find a standout college coach? A Tom Izzo (unlikely), Billy Donovan (unlikely) or even Fred Hoiberg (is he ready and willing to leave Iowa State with all they give him and the success he’s building?).

e.)     Or do the Wolves, namely Flip, find that coach waiting for his shot. The coach who Flip knows, perhaps has groomed, and has “it” while none of us know much about him?

I’m betting that E is going to be the ticket to the Timberwolves next coach. It’s believed that Flip will have to give back much of the power he has to step back to the bench. Owner Glen Taylor wants his Basketball Operations exec to manage and guide the team, not coach them.  This franchise needs both. Adelman and Flip, while very powerful personalities for sure, at least gave the impression they worked well together.  The basketball moves were strong from my vantage point. The players didn’t execute. That’s not on Flip or Adelman.

The Wolves are in a good place as the playoffs roll on and their off-season begins. It’s going to be busy, there will be movement and nervousness in some stretches.  But after ending the season with a thud after a double OT loss to Utah, determining the teams direction quickly with the Adelman decision, it gives a clear picture of what lies ahead and what needs to be done

So, for the second straight week, I’m getting to my overstuffed mailbag with two interesting notes, one from the other side of the globe. And let’s check the temperature of fans:

Adrian, a Timberwolves fan from Jakarta, Indonesia, writes,  I am disappointed that the Timberwolves failed to clinch a playoff spot despite all the hype, and to be honest they did not fall short. But looking at a whole season, I think this is the only season that they should have clinched the playoff spot and they needed that "should have" season to build up. Anyway, I have a question for you. I have seen a lot of fans behind the ring trying to distract the opponent when they are shooting free throws, but I have to say a lot of them were not quite effective. Why don't they just make some annoying sound that the players would not stand? For example, they can just scratch their nails to blackboards together. I think it's more effective than dancing or wearing strange clothes. Is there any NBA rule that prevents that action? If there isn't any, I think we can arrange for the fans to do it altogether. (have you ever heard blackboard scratching btw? it is so annoying you'll cringe).

Adrian, thanks for the note.  I like the fact that the Wolves improved every year under Adelman and yes, they missed the playoffs but they did get better.  From 26 wins in year one to 31 wins and then this year, disappointing but still better at 40-42.  As for the annoying sound and nails to the blackboard, well. Not going to happen.  The NBA’s drill with fans is pretty standard and there is only so far fans can go to disrupt the game, or in this case, the players concentration.  Interesting thought though. NEXT!

Amy in Ellsworth, WI knows her basketball and writes:

Just want to say that I went to the last game, as a true fan. Paid full price for an expensive lower bowl center court seat and was surrounded by a bunch of old rich geezers and workaholic yuppies who had a hard time even attempting to clap for the team. One couple in front of me was obviously annoyed when I howled with the Howl-o-meter. I mean - REALLY?!? Are these the fans who are whining about us not getting into the playoffs?

Yes, I am disappointed we are not continuing this season, but whether the Wolves won or lost, they were fun to watch. And they DID improve and they DID break record after record. And I for one, want the Timberwolves team to know that they were appreciated for the entertainment they provided this year, despite not making the playoffs (which in another conference they very well would have) and I personally, would enjoy having Coach Adelman back. He did make improvements with this team and is obviously a coach the players respect and appreciate - Hall of Fame material, what more do you want? If he wants to leave, that’s one thing, but it would be nice if the media would stop pushing him towards the door beforehand.

So let’s say thanks where thanks are due and look to the future and how we can build on this talented team which has great potential. And let’s find a way to get some real fans into Target Center, closer to the court where they can fire up the crowd - like the Barn Yard at Williams Arena - because honey, those pom-pom girls sure as hell can’t do it. They are just there to make fat cats twist in their seats.  From a true fan, one who will howl and clap and cheer LOUDLY, despite who is sitting next to me. Just maybe I’ll wake someone up.

Amy, thanks for your note and great observations. There will be more to cheer with the coming season.  Let’s not forget that the Wolves play in the tougher conference and had they not lost so many back-to-backs and close games, they’d still be in the NBA playoffs.

   I know you love your hoops…keep up the good work and keep in touch!  

   I said it last week and have to again since I’m still on the mend as my hoops healing continues. We’ll continue to talk Wolves and within the next few weeks, welcome in the Lynx as they prepare to defend their title in less than a month!  We’ll be back with updates as team moves and transactions take center stage. Enjoy spring, keep that glass half full and keep your GameON!

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As we have for years, we talk Wolves.  Every day.  High’s & lows.  We’re there because we are fans, just like you! Keep your GameON! See you soon!

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