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Kevin Love

Why the Lakers won’t be trading for Kevin Love

Almost 20 years ago, former Lakers GM Jerry West had his eyes set on the next Lakers dynasty. The first step was clearing a massive amount of cap room, including the salaries of several veteran players, including established guys like George Lynch, Anthony Peeler and double-double threat Vlade Divac. The Serbian center had been a decent player for the Lakers through some of the leanest years in franchise history, enduring several losing seasons after the retirements of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy. Divac’s time with the Lakers was bookended by a similar beginning and ending. When he was dealt in the summer of 1996, Vlade wasn’t just a salary dump casualty: he was one of the few instances of the Los Angeles Lakers transacting a veteran player with a lottery pick. Divac was gone, sent away to the Charlotte Hornets. The 13th overall pick, Kobe Bryant, came in. Shortly thereafter, Shaquille O’Neal became a free agent addition. The Hornets never became title contenders. The Lakers, suffice to say, did.
 
Ten years later, the Lakers were on the other side of the 8-ball. This time, the Lakers and new GM Mitch Kupchak were the ones holding the promising youngster, a big man named Andrew Bynum. The target? New Jersey’s Jason Kidd. LA was in year three of rebuilding, with a prime Kobe Bryant becoming more and more frustrated with the team’s continuing mediocrity. To hasten his pursuit of his first post-Shaquille championship, the Impatient Mamba demanded that the Lakers “ship [Bynum’s] ass out” for a declining, yet still effective and established All-Star like Jason Kidd. But unlike 10 years earlier, the Lakers never consummated a deal. Bynum, a former 10th overall pick, stayed, helping lead the Lakers to two more titles. I’d argue, as would many others, that the Lakers wouldn’t have had the inside toughness and D to beat the Boston Celtics nor the Orlando Magic without even a hobbled Andrew Bynum.
 
Over the past two decades, we’ve seen two examples of how teams can solidify their future with shrewd trades based around lottery picks. We’ve also seen how not making those deals and keeping those young players can pave the road towards another dynasty.
 
Which side are the Lakers on this offseason, as it pertains to Kevin Love? Ready to sell their future for the promise of an established All-Star? Or sticking with a long-term rebuilding plan? Or option C: pursuing one of those two avenues and striking out like it’s Mark Reynolds on any given day of the week (20% of the people reading this thought that was MAD funny).
 
(Finish this bad boy up over at Silver Screen & Roll)

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With the Lakers slotted 7th in the NBA Draft, what’s the next step?

The wait is over: the massive rebuilding project of the Los Angeles Lakers has officially begun, my friends. After the worst season in LA history, the team is poised to make their first lottery selection in almost ten years, with the knowledge that this player could affect the fortunes of the franchise for the next decade.
 
Or will he?
 
The Draft order is set. What’s next for the LA front office?
 
Keeping the pick
 
The Lakers are going to pick seventh in the 2014 NBA Draft, dropping one spot below where their record slotted them at the end of the regular season. While the team had little over a 20% chance of getting in the top-3 selections, they also had an over 30% chance of slipping one spot. Aside from the incremental shots that they could have dropped to eighth or ninth in the Draft, this is the worst case scenario for the Lakers-if they’re not there already. Just for quick reference, here’s how the top-10 shook out:
 
(Peep the rest at SS&R)

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The NBA’s biggest surprises, halfway through the season–Part 1

There are only three teams over .500 in the Eastern Conference. Lance Stephenson is somehow not just a rotation player, but a…great one? I still barely know who Lance Stephenson is. The casualty list of serious injury to franchise cornerstones is higher than usual: Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Russell Wesetbrook, Chris Paul, Marc Gasol, Brook Lopez and Al Horford, amongst others. Derek Fisher is still getting major minutes for one of the best teams in the league.

It’s been a weird NBA season. Very weird.

Somehow, we’re almost at the halfway mark of the year and I’ve been astounded at every turn. Just to round up how we’ve gotten to where we are, here are some thoughts on some of the biggest surprises of the year:

The Brooklyn Nets are getting better, but have generally been pretty horrible

Pretty easy to summarize: a ton of injuries + a bad coach = a bad team.

However, what’s most surprising is how none of us saw this coming. Even this prestigious blog predicted the Nets would finish third in the Eastern Conference. I would have locked that in knowing just how completely barren they are of competent teams east of the Mississippi. Most of us figured that adding the defensive monstrosity of Kevin Garnett, the late game shot making of Paul Pierce and adding pieces like Jason Terry and Andre Kirilenko to the bench would make this one of the toughest, most physical teams in the league.… Read more...

It’s All About Health: Minnesota Timberwolves Season Preview

 

Starting Five: PG Ricky Rubio, SG Kevin Martin, SF Corey Brewer, PF Kevin Love, C Nikola Pekovic
 
Key Bench Players: PG Alexey Shved, G JJ Barea, G-F Chase Budinger (eventually?), F Derrick Williams, PF Dante Cunningham
 
Notable offseason additions: G Shabazz Muhammad (14th pick), F-C Gorgui Deng (21st pick), G Kevin Martin, G-F Corey Brewer, G-F Chase Budinger
 
Notable offseason subtractions: F Andrei Kirilenko, PG Luke Ridnour
 
FACT OR FICTION: The Timberwolves are under real pressure to make the playoffs this year.
 
FACT. I’m as surprised to write this as to be honest. I fully expected to be writing that the Timberwolves were an up-and-comer that just needed 82 games of mostly healthy basketball to announce themselves in the Western Conference playoff picture. There’s lot of reasons for optimism and lots of excuses for the past. But here’s the case that went through my head:… Read more...

Waiting for Ricky — Minnesota Timberwolves Season Preview

Starting Five:  PG Luke Ridnour, SG Brandon Roy, SF Andrei Kirilenko, PF Kevin Love, C Nikola Pekovic

Key Bench Players:  PG Ricky Rubio (out until December-January), F Derrick Williams, SF Chase Budinger, G J.J. Barea, G Alexey Shved, C Greg Stiemsma, PF Louis Amundson

Notable Offseason Additions: SG Brandon Roy, SF Andrei Kirilenko, SF Chase Budinger, G Alexey Shved, C Greg Stiemsma

Offseason Losses:  SF Michael Beasley, C Brad Miller, SG Wayne Ellington, F Anthony Randolph



The Minnesota T’Wolves were one of the biggest surprises in the NBA last year.  A team most considered to be bound for the Lottery were actually a .500 team thanks largely to a new coach and the emergence of two players, Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.

A 6-foot-10-inch power forward brute, Love blossomed in his fourth season as a legitimate MVP candidate, a consistent 26 point/13 rebound low-post beast who had added a lethal step-back 3 to his offensive repertoire.  Love also spent the Lockout playing beach volleyball and eating a “Zen diet,” which helped him lost 25 pounds, enabling a previously plodding forward to move around on the court with much more ease and addressing what had been one of his major weaknesses: conditioning. 

While Love’s trimmed-down physique was a revelation, the T’Wolves became must-see TV thanks to a rookie, wunderkind Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio.  Rubio had been touted since age 15 as a Spanish Pistol Pete, a tall guard with floppy hair and an absolute wizard with the ball.  Most American fans saw him for the first time in the 2008 Olympics, when, as a baby-faced 17-year old, he more than held his own in the Gold Medal Game in the 2008 Olympics. 

Drafted in 5th overall in 2009, Minnesota fans had to wait two long years as Rubio played out his contract in Spain.  Rubio’s first two games were ho-hum, but he was frontpage news by the third game of the season with his 12-point, 12-assist, 6-rebound effort against the Miami Heat in a narrow 103-101 loss.  In January, Rubio averaged 12-points, 9-assists, 5-rebounds, and over 2-steals per game, and pleasing fans across the country with the complete package of passes: no look, through the legs, line drives through the defense.  In February, Rubio’s numbers dropped slightly, to 10-points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, and over 2-steals per game, but the Wolves kept fighting and were winning as much as they were losing, with the other players embracing Rubio’s willingness to share the ball and hit the open man.  Minnesota was Must See TV for any hoop head.




On March 7th Minnesota were 21-19, in the playoff hunt and looked like a young team finding its footing and poised to have a strong finish to the season.  Then, late in 4th quarter, Rubio’s knee buckled and he went down in a heap, taking the T’Wolves playoff chances with him.  It was a torn ACL for Rubio, and he is scheduled to return sometime in December or January.  The Wolves went 5-20 the rest of the way, and to add insult to injury, owed their first-round pick (10th overall) to the New Orleans Hornets.

The T’Wolves biggest area of weakness last year was the perimeter, with Minnesota getting almost no production out of the shooting guard and small forward position.  GM David Kahn addressed that this offseason, acquiring Chase Budinger from Houston for a first-round pick, signing former Blazer Brandon Roy and former Utah Jazz swingman Andrei Kirilenko, as well as Russian guard Alexey Shved.
Former Blazer guard Brandon Roy briefly retired from the professional basketball due to a nagging knee injury, and will attempt a comeback this year.  Early report
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Generationally Defective: Why We Hate LeBron and Melo, but Admire Rose and Durant

LeBron James is a coward. The self-anointed Chosen One has led a NBA career with varying highs and lows, astounding us along the way with a dazzling combination of size, speed, grace and strength. Never before had we ever seen an athlete that drew comparisons to a Transformer; a burning locomotive train that could change into a blackbird jet at any given moment. LeBron’s promise to his consumers has been that indeed, he would be the one to bring basketball to heights never before seen – we are all witnesses, afterall. However, in a folly of hubris fit only for a King, James has yet to deliver on his various pledges; while he has amazed, he has yet to conquer. The progenitor of the South Beach Theory, a situation where in trying to add value to your own personal “brand”, you actually diminish it,  LeBron has somehow become the most despised player in the league. We should be thankful that he spends his time bestowing his gifts and otherworldly play upon us, and yet, we’ve come to resent the cowardice from a man who has shown a reluctance to walk the self-instituted path we’ve lined the streets of, waiting for ascendance. LeBron James was drafted in 2003.
Dwight Howard is a indecisive lout. Thought to be the next in the lineage of the great NBA centers of all-time, Dwight has ostensibly strayed from his labeled ancestry that Kareem, Ewing, Hakeem, the Admiral and Shaquille occupied. Though each of those men were laden with early to mid-career blunders, Howard’s value in his eighth season seems lower than ever. At this point, Howard is best known for three things : 1) his all-world defense, 2) his noteworthy physical features, which range from his goliath-like shoulders to smile nearly broader than his countenance, and 3) an unbelievable hesitancy to be decisive. For nearly a year, the daily rumor mill has been rife with buzz of where Howard will continue his career. In a media storm that would embarrass a drunk Jose Conseco, Dwight managed to throw his coach, general manager, team and unwittingly, himself, under the bus. Though committed to the Orlando Magic for the 2012-2013 season, Howard continues to leave his team in managerial purgatory, not knowing whether he’ll sign an extension to stay or leave for nothing. Oddly enough, Howard’s unwillingness to make a decision regarding his contract future is mirrored by the lack of progress in his basketball repertoire. He is largely the same offensive and defensive player he was 4 years ago. Regardless of how you feel about LeBron as a person or a salesman, you have to admire that at least he’s attempted to improve his game. Orlando’s center has not. Dwight Howard was drafted in 2004.

Carmelo Anthony is a selfish ball-stopper. I suppose there’s a decent reason for that; he is one of the deadliest scorers in the league. Gifted with a powerful 6’8″ frame and a quickness that betrays that build, Anthony can score from any space on the floor. Facing up, in the post, out on the perimeter, back to the basket, on the fast break, cutting to the rack, mid-range, free throw line, multiple-defenders – the situation matters not. Carmelo Anthony can put the ball in the hoop. However, the Knicks All-Star forward has an all-around game that he rarely shows on the court. In flashes, Melo unveils his alter-ego; the black Larry Bird. His ability to rebound, defend and pass are often overlooked – because he infrequently displays them. With his strength, size and speed, there’s not rebound Melo can’t Read more...

White American NBA Player Power Rankings, v. 3.0

If you’re a white American player in the NBA, it seems to me that you’re going to be one of two things: 1) a hustling banger big man down low who fights for rebounds, and gets most of his points through put-backs or dunks in transition or 2) a designated shooter who’s best strength is to move ever so slightly, catch the ball and shoot it from no closer than 25 feet.

Combing through all 30 team’s rosters just now, I found that what I felt was true actually wasn’t very far off from reality. From now on, we’re going to use these numbers and designate them to white NBA players, when necessary. Here’s a list:

1) Josh McRoberts, Tyler Hansbrough, Greg Stiemsma, BJ Mullens, Luke Harangody, Jason Smith, Nick Collison, Joel Pryzbilla, Aaron Gray

2) Troy Murphy, JJ Redick, Steve Novak, Kyle Korver, Ryan Anderson, Matt Carroll, The Immortal Brian Cardinal, Chris Anderson, Chase Budinger, Jorts

I don’t have an official count of white Americans in the league, but suffice to say that the 19 men I just listed above illustrates my point finer than a Norman Rockwell painting. They all have one thing in common: they’re role players. They have a specifically defined role, and for the good of the team, rarely step outside of it.

We’ve reached the end of the 2011-2012 NBA season, as brief as it was, and as we here at MAMBINO HQ give out awards such as Coach of the Year, All-Rookie Teams and All-Defensive Teams, we also have to finish out the these 66 games with White American Player Power Rankings, version 3.0.

Just like any season since 1961, compiling a top 5 has been a tough task in a mostly black league, but that’s why we’re here my friends; to do the dirty work. In case you want to check them out, here’s our first rankings, and then version 2.0. Let’s get to it:

1). Kevin Love

What strikes me most about Love is that while most of his caucasian brethren are so closely ratcheted to one of the two aforementioned designations for people of their pigmentation, number 42 has managed to take both roles and combine them together into a sublime hybrid of white glory. Whereas most players only have the skill set to either be a hustling rebounder or a long range shooter, Love does both better than almost anyone. He finished off the year scoring 26 points a game, with 13 boards (2nd most in the league, with the 5th most offensive rebounds), all while shooting an amazing 37% from beyond the arc.

When he was traded to the Timberwolves in a draft day transaction with the Memphis Grizzlies, most of us thought that Love would be glorified hustle player, whose effort and determination would get him by in a profession where most make it through athleticism and natural ability. I remember thinking that, at best, Love would end up having Brad Miller’s career, who with two All-Star appearances, isn’t a bad thing.

Kevin Love is going to end up finishign in the top 5 or 6 in MVP voting. Pretty good for the winner of the Young Burt Reynolds Facsimile Contest.

2). Ryan “The Assassin” Anderson

It’s ironic that the Magic just got rid of Rashard Lewis’ $121 million dollar deal, only to hand out what will probably be a 4 year, $45 million dollar deal to Ryan Anderson this summer. Yes, you’re only paying him for half the price for the same production, but you’re still also paying money to a power forward who’s just a tall designated shooter and has zero post game. Brilliant stuff, GM Otis Smith.

Regardless, Anderson is having a fantastic year and absolutely deser… Read more...

White American NBA Player Power Rankings, v2.0

(Check out our updated version 3.0 right here!)

The response to MAMBINO’s White American NBA Player Power Rankings post was stronger than we ever could have expected. Moreso than any other trivia question in the league (best foreign players, best player ever to come out of Duke University, best second round pick, etc.), finding the highest quality white American players is tougher than you can imagine.

As we got more and more feedback, we realized that the rankings not only had to be revised, but made over almost completely. Here we go:

1. Kevin Love

Still, with a bullet. Now with a new 4-year deal in hand (with an opt-out after the third), the Wolves will be even more aggressive in trying to improve their team in order to convince what will then be a 27 year-old Kevin Love to try and stay. As Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio become more comfortable with their shots, I expect Love’s 25 ppg scoring average to go down, but for his assists to go up. Get used to the altitude Kev – you’re not leaving this power rankings perch any time soon.


2. Ryan “The Assassin” Anderson

OH YES. Just a week after I posted the inaugural rankings, I attended a Magic/Knicks game at MSG. Now, ignoring the fact that the 2012 Knicks couldn’t guard the Liberty, Ryan Anderson went absolutely bonkers in that game at the Garden – draining 7 for 12 three pointers and ending up with 30 points and 7 rebounds. He’s averaging 16.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, all while shooting 42% from beyond the arc. Anderson has become the second best player on this Magic roster, and one of the prime reasons why GM Otis Smith thinks his team is much better than they actually are. Besides Kevin Love and Joey Crawford, there’s no deadlier threat from a white American than Ryan Anderson right now.

3. David Lee

Not for lack of trying or a dip in numbers (still with 18.3 points and 10.7 rebounds a game – both higher than his career averages), but David Lee has to take a back seat to The Assassin. If you ever watch a Warriors game, a lot of Lee’s points come from spot-up jumpers, put-backs and easy baskets. He’s a fantastic rebounder, which helps him clean up on the frequent misses from the unconscionable chuckers on his squad. However, when was the last time you saw D Lee play against your team and you left the game thinking “damn, Lee really destroyed us tonight”? In his 8-year career, I don’t think I’ve ever said that. I’ve already had 3 moments like that regarding Ryan Anderson this season.

4. JJ Redick

At that very same Knicks/Magic game, I had this conversation with a friend: “Did you ever think that JJ Redick would amount to anything in the NBA?”. He laughed, and as Redick torched the Bockers for 21 points, he responded “No. Never”.

In his first two seasons, Redick got more DNP-CDs than Renaldo Balkman, playing in only 72 games. He looked so stiff on the court, as if he was parodying his nonathletic white American brethren. He largely played in garbage time of blow-outs, thus making his numbers from those seasons somewhat unreliable. Redick looked scared every single night. It seemed like he felt what we were all thinking: “You’ll be wearing a Maccabi Tel Aviv jersey in a month”.

But something happened the last 3 seasons. Redick started playing over 22 minutes a night, in ever game. He began to shoot the ball with more confidence, playing within Stan Van Gundy’s system of inside-out ball movement instead of doing nothing but hinder it. Every year, hi… Read more...

The Life and Times of Timberwolves GM David Kahn

David Kahn is the General Manager for the Minnesota Timberwolves. This is Kahn’s fourth career; he began as a sportswriter for the Oregonian newspaper in Portland, then moved on with a law degree to working for the prestigious sports law firm Proskauer Rose. After several years working as counsel for the NBA, Kahn took an opportunity to work within one of its franchises as an executive with the Indiana Pacers. I’ve read conflicting reports about Kahn’s role; some say that he worked directly under President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh as General Manager, but that he was mostly involved in the business development side of the Pacers (and their arena, Conseco Fieldhouse), rather than player acquisition or movement. Whatever the case in his somewhat murky employment history, Kahn went on to gain employment under Glen Taylor and his Minnesota Timberwolves, taking over for NBA Hall of Famer and former Wolves GM Kevin McHale.

Kahn’s 3-year stint as GM has been, to say the least, somewhat rocky. Caught in a rebuilding movement amidst the trade of franchise cornerstone Kevin Garnett, Kahn was charged with molding the team’s future starting from the ground up. Some of the incumbent Timberwolves were forwards Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes (both obtained through dealing Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics), Kevin Love, 2nd year man Corey Brewer and a bunch of other guys. Other than that, the foundation was Kahn’s to create.

Over the next few seasons, his decisions bordered between questionable, confusing and idiotic. Coupled with an arrogant attitude and a face that belongs to a villain in a Die Hard movie, Kahn and the Timberwolves have quickly became the laughingstock of the entire league. Here is a brief timeline of some of our favorite GM’s more…interesting decisions.

May 2009: Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor hires Kahn as the new President of Baskebtall Operations

Draft night, 2009: In his first public night on the job, the Timberwolves’ rebuilding movement would immediately feature Kahn’s fingerprints all over it; Minnesota had been gifted 3 first round picks that year.

With the 5th pick, Kahn raised eyebrows immediately by selecting point guard Ricky Rubio, a teenage Spanish phenom who everyone knew wouldn’t be coming overseas for at least 2 years. Moments later, with the 6th pick, he selected Jonny Flynn, a 5’11” point guard from Syracuse. 12 picks later, Kahn drew audible laughs from the room and the analysts on ESPN when he chose, yes, another point guard, Ty Lawson (later that night traded to the Nuggets for what would eventually turn out to be small forward Martell Webster from the Portland Trailblazers).

Somehow, Kahn had chosen 3 point guards, two of which were under 6′ tall and one of which that wouldn’t play until 2011. Just to compound the unintentional hilarity of his first summer on the job, he then signed another point guard, Ramon Sessions, to a 4-year, $16 million dollar deal. Even though he would have the two point guards he just drafted still on the team within the life of the deal. Yes, David. Yes.

August 9th, 2009: Kahn hires Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis to a 4-year deal for $8 million. Rambis would be fired two years later, after a 32 wins in a possible 164 games, good for a .195 winning percentage.

Draft Night, 2010: Kahn selects Wesley Johnson, a 23 year-old junior small forward from Syracuse. Left on the board were Greg Monroe, DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George, all of which have shown more progressio… Read more...