Simons Says...




Thursday, February 24, 2011

WHAT A WEEK:
The All Star gala and the drama is now all done and moving on. Finally. .

From Deron Williams moving east to the wheeling and dealing Nets for a pack of talented players to the Wizards and Hawks getting involved (among other teams. But the trade that’s been the talk of the NBA since the much talked about signing of the Miami “Big-3” has happened and the 13-players shipped from coast to coast are now in their new cities. I’ve actually enjoyed the lingering melodrama as it played out because it gave the NBA unbelievable exposure. Whether you were a fan or not, it showcased more than just Carmelo Anthony and the NBA is a winner. So is New York basketball and good ball in the city that never sleeps is good for the league.

I also believe the Knicks and Denver Nuggets are going to be interesting works in progress. And I politely disagree with Denver’s Coach George Karl. I like the pieces they got much better than the group regrouping in NYC. The Knicks scored big by landing Chauncey Billups along with ‘Melo but adding talented and improving Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton and Wilson Chandler to that Nuggets team, I see them being better than before.

Bottom line is that change is tough. Who knows that better than us, the Timberwolves fan and faithful. Especially when big pieces are shipped back and forth, teams take on new attitudes and expectations. Even teams out of the playoff chase. The pressure to make it all work is off Denver and hotter than ever in New York. I heard a few media folk muttering “beware of what you wish, going home isn’t always easy”. More than a few professional athletes have lived that nightmare.

I’m just glad all the trade talk and that “trading deadline” has its run its course. At least this addition of the player moves.

Meantime, the T’Wolves added an interesting piece as part of that megadeal. Anthony Randolph comes over from the Knicks and this 21-year old has a serious future in the league. AR has been used sparingly this season by the NYK. Folks, AR is a nice player. I’ve liked him when he was a young 19 year old first round selection in 2008. With due respect to the contribution from Corey Brewer over his three years here, Randolph will grow the position, from adding depth to a much needed contribution standpoint. No question, Randolph will give the Wolves coaches more with which to work.

And speaking of work, improve on these areas and the Wolves will win more than they lose over the seasons final two dozen games. You see, in this case, numbers don’t lie. Especially in vital areas where these lapses are found: >Stop the turnovers. You give it away and other teams normally make you pay. The Wolves have a league leading 17 turnovers per game.

>Get defensive. And as much as you want. Right now, the Wolves allow an unenviable NBA worst 107.9 points per game to the opponent. That’s gotta’ stop. Trust me, the team knows it too. Too add insult to injury, the Wolves have kept opponents below 100 points only 15 times this season (tieing Golden State and just a couple games better than Cleveland).

>The Wolves have to win the close games. In the first half, Minnesota is 0-3 in OT, 2-7 when the game is decided by 3 points and 8-21 when decided by 10.

And finally, a little love for All Star Kevin Love. He looked right at home on the world’s biggest basketball stage. Good number too, 11 minutes, 4 rebounds and 2 points. Great coverage from the talent T’Wolves webmeisters leading up to and then down in LA for the All Star festivities.

SimonsSays MAILBAG:
Bryan in Hopkins (via rod@gameontvmn.com):
“Rubio. Where does that stand?! Coming to Minnesota or not”?!
Rod: Bryan in Hopkins, that’s my kinda’ note, straight forward and to the point. Truth be told, I don’t have a clue. Does anyone but the young Euro know? I will tell you now, I’m confident R2 isn’t going to be the third cog in a BigThrapple or the BigThreeApples or whatever you want to call Amare’ Stoudamire, Melo and that player to be named later.

I predict that the Knicks will make a big effort to land Rubio but my gut tells me that David Kahn wants to prove to those skeptics that he knew exactly what he was doing when he tabbed Rubio in the draft. I haven’t talked to DK about this but just watching him work (and I’m a fan), I see that.

As this team grows and matures, Rubio will be a valuable piece. He’s young, extremely talented and despite some of the reports, has an NBA game.

I think point guards are just like good quarterbacks, invaluable. Hold on to him and let him know, if he wants to play in the NBA, he’s going to do it with a heavy winter coat and an area code with the numbers 6-1-2. You might remember a few of the old school holdouts. The NFL Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts might not have laid it down with John Elway back in the day and even San Diego with Eli Manning would up trading instead of hard lining. It should be done here. For the team, for fans (thanks for hanging in there) and for Mr. Kahn.

REMEMBER, IT COULD BE CLEVELAND (pt. 2):
For Lakers fans, what a week is right! Hours before the all star break began, the team with the NBA’s worst record scored a coast to coast eye roller. The Cavs pulled off the biggest win of their season by beating the back to back defending champions.

No matter how you slice it, the departure of LeBron James has made this a very forgettable season in Ohio. The Cavs have endured a headline grabbing and gut wrenching losing streak that spanned 26 straight games until they beat the LA Clippers and their first win since before Christmas (December 18th).

A week later, I still had to mention the Lakers loss to the Cavs. I’m just sayin’…

Check it out:
When my little family catches Wolves games, my eyes are glued to the court and chatting it up with fans. I just LOVE their feedback. It helps here in SimonsSays and during shows on GameON! But when my little daughter (5 year old Annie) shows up at Target Center, she has a few other things on her mind. Annie wants a moment with Crunch (she calls him “Crunchy”) whether it’s just a glimpse on the court, a half time autograph session or a by chance meeting around the arena.

Good news as we all get our moment to celebrate the affable mascot tomorrow when Crunch’s birthday is part of the gameday festivities. The Wolves host the New Orleans Hornets Friday and all of Crunch's mascot friends from Minnesota and the NBA will be here for the big bash. I’m told that the mascots will have a lot of entertaining things going on during the game, including a special halftime performance. All of Crunch's mascot friends will also be signing autographs in the skyway before the game. The first 5,000 fans to enter Target Center will also receive an exclusive Crunch Bobblehead doll! I’m bummed because I’ll be on the road. Can someone save me a bobblehead?!

Taj Time:
Sweet move by the Lynx signing veteran free-agent center Taj McWilliams-Franklin. She’s durable, a 12 year WNBA veteran, she’s physical inside the paint and a strong defender. Don’t forget, TMF is a six-time WNBA All-Star and scores 12 points a night with 7-rebounds and runs for 31 minutes. TMF is also 6-2.

Add TMF to a team with guard Lindsay Whalen, Simone Augustus, Candice Wiggins and the soon to be #1 pick Maya Moore (at least in my humble opinion) and then that number-4 pick too in the upcoming WNBA draft.

Don’t forget, the team's 13th season of basketball in the Twin Cities starts with its Home Opener on Sunday, June 5 at 2:30 p.m. at Target Center against the Los Angeles Sparks. Lower-level tickets are available for as little as $10 a game for the 17-game home season and can be purchased by calling 612-673-8400.

AND WATCH FOR:
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 (www.GameOnTvMn.com)