Simons Says...

Thursday, January 20, 2010

You gotta’ be hearty to live in Minnesota during the winter. Layers, snow throwers, thick skin when it comes to complaining about the cold and winter sports. I DO have a snow machine that does all the work for me (and I even help the neighbors) and the cold doesn’t bring me down. Above or well under zero, like it is now. Nope. Not even for a minute.

There’s nothing like home cooking and the home town team knows that. The Wolves are back after a week away, going ofer-two in Portland and LA against the vastly improved Clippers. is laying out just how much Blake Griffin means to the Clippers. The kid can flat out play and this was a game that the Clips gained control early and wouldn’t relinquish.

January is still a month of possibilities for the Wolves. This coming week, three of the four games they play will be on their home turf against the Rockets, OKC and Toronto. And even though the first month of this New Year is their busiest, now is the time to turn it up.

You know the deep freeze in which we live got me thinking. The January freeze is putting it’s fritz on the NBA. It’s been a crazy week about the league. It got even nuttier last night and I’m not talking about the Wolves late game on the left coast.

Admit it. This Carmelo Anthony back and forth is now officially old and needs to end. Juuust as I was thinking that and talking about it out loud to myself, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov calls off trade discussions in a news conference. I’m watching NBA League Pass and the Nets owners’ pronouncement is a bulletin.

Do I think that ‘Melo will stay in Denver or that the Nets are no longer in search of that blockbuster that will bring the Brooklyn native back to the Tri-State area. No and No. The Knicks are not getting Anthony in this situation and, as all the players reportedly being shipped in the three way deal look, it seems to be a good deal all around.

One thing is clear about the NBA. If a player doesn’t want to be on a team or doesn’t have his heart and soul in staying loyal to the home team, they are often shipped out quickly. Anthony is not long for the Mile High City, they know it…he knows it. He’s going soon and the best the Nuggets can do is this deal.

It’s just too bad it’s dragged on so dang long. Pistons fans are being short changed by not seeing Richard “Rip” Hamilton get to play. Detroit sitting him because he is a main piece to the trade puzzle. Too bad again that Pistons brass don’t just come out and admit it instead of making up some story about “rotations” and things. Alas, they can’t admit that, I get it, but it’s still carried on far too long. Anthony is to blame. This is his LeBron moment and it’s pathetic. Just as James ego-stroke tore out the heart of his hometown team, Anthony is giving it a whack in Denver. The Nuggets will be fine. They won before Anthony arrived, they’ll do it after he leaves.

But enough already. If it’s going to happen, as they say, just do it.

It’s not even the all star break and I’m sitting watching all these games wondering this. If the season ended tonight, who’d be in the playoffs.

Forget the Eastern Conference (I’ll touch on the Miami Heat in a moment), the West would be made up of San Antonio, the Lakers, Oklahoma City, Utah, Dallas, New Orleans, Denver and Portland. It’s encouraging to me that the Wolves have played some of their best basketball this season (albeit in a losing cause) against some of the best teams in the NBA. They have given the Spurs, the Jazz, OKC and Denver fits and handed the Hornets a nice little “L” of their own. By the way, all you folks who caught SA’s act when they visited Target Center this season, this team is special. They have won seven straight games and after 42 games, own the 4th best start EVER by an NBA team. The Spurs might not be flashy but that’s how you want your team to grow up.

Feeling sorry for the Miami Heat? Yes, they are losers of four straight but the Heat and a bit of a rough stretch is not a long lasting match. Miami will get its big-4 back together again soon. When James, Wade and Bosh play together, they are very good. When that trifecta is not together, the Heat is 1-4. Regardless, Miami is a top the SE Division at 30-12.

I can’t get over the impact that Kevin Love is having on this franchise. In some regards, it’s hard to see because so much of the focus, from the fan and media perspective, is on wins and losses. I guess, that’s to be expected.

But the reality is Love is a monster on the court and off the court. If Love doesn’t get an all-star nod, the game is a sham. Love is enjoying a remarkable season on a team struggling to find its rhythm. Love leads the NBA in rebounding at nearly 16 per game; he’s scoring 21 a night which puts him among the league leaders there. Love is one of the foundation blocks on this team and is passionate about trying to help turn around the Timberwolves fortunes.

It’s stuff you see when you have the opportunity to talk to players, one on one. In my sit down interview to air on GameON! this Sunday on FOX9, Love verbalized his frustrations but not in a blame-game style. Love showed that he takes losses personally. He knows that the majority of basketball watchers in this town aren’t giving his Timberwolves much of a chance and Love, it’s clear, is determined to change that. He wears his game on his sleeve.

We should be delighted that the Wolves are building around Love. You know, championship teams need a guy like Love to win titles. A banger who does all the heavy lifting. The big guy who takes a lot of the bumps, bruises and rebounds the ball. Coach Rambis knows it because it’s like looking in the mirror. He did the same thing in LA for Abdul-Jabbar, Magic, James Worthy and all the other players that made up “Showtime”. Are the Wolves title contenders, certainly not, but as quickly as players develop and just the right pieces are added, fortunes can change. That is the hope here.

Whatever the case, Love is the real deal. He doesn’t complain, he plays his heart out and as he points out in our interview to air on GameON! You can see his frustration for sure. His day with his team is coming. Just watch.

Nice to hear from you via e-mail regarding the Wolves and SimonsSays. One quick note from the mailbag.

Thomas L. in Ramsay writes:
Before the season started, you predicted 20-to-25 wins for the Wolves this season. I don’t see that happening. Do you still believe that or will you backtrack on your bold prediction. Thanks. Love the show.

Rod: A bit of bite and a compliment. Okay. I’m sticking with 20-to-25 and here’s why. I STILL believe that, at some point, those close losses turn to wins. I don’t think that this athletic and talented team goes through the season in that fashion but instead, finds a way to finish those close games. For that to happen, plenty of things have to come together and soon. The on court issues are the same. You can never rule out a trade or two that will alter the line-up and give it a much needed jolt. 39 games remain in the season and 10-to-15 wins are needed. Am I on a bit of a limb? It’s possible. Better to be there than dwelling in the negative without any hope. And thanks Thomas for watching GameON!

AND WATCH FOR: Just announced that Lynx and WNBA star Candice Wiggins will be joining me for a live taping of GameON! on FOX9 Tuesday January 25th! Come and meet her, get autographs and have a good time in Anoka. Thanks for the e-mails and the uptick in communication from you out there. I very much enjoy getting those and next week, we’ll share some more of your FAN thoughts in our SimonsSays mailbag. Until then, keep your chin up and see you Sunday on GameON! I’d love to have you out to one of our live GameON! Tapings this next Tuesday at Courtside Bar and Grill in Anoka on Jackson Street. More details and guest listings on our redesigned show website (