It should have been a simple question: Can this team, when healthy, make a playoff run next season? It sounded simple. Coach Rick Adelman's answer was simple, at least: "Oh, for sure, we can make a run for playoffs, I honestly feel that way." And wouldn't it be nice if it just ended there? But it doesn't, and if you've followed these Minnesota Timberwolves for even a hot second this season, you know that. You know that they're just now emerging from the cavalcade of disasters and distractions that dotted the season, that this was supposed to be the year they snapped that streak of missing the playoffs, that they were building for this, this, and only this. Now this has become that, that season that didn't pan out, that season that spun so far out of control, and yet again the Timberwolves are back – not quite to square one, but not far from it, either. First and foremost, it would be remiss to fail to acknowledge that Minnesota put significant work and funds into building its roster last summer. It wooed Andrei Kirilenko back from Russia, took a gamble on a formerly great shooting guard in Brandon Roy and swung a trade for Chase Budinger, an Adelman favorite from Houston who's the perfect fit for the coach's system. There were other moves, too, but those were the headliners, and they were supposed to pay off this year. They didn't. Of course, Kirilenko played well despite a few nagging injuries, and he showed that if he's past his prime, it's not by too much. Roy's knees, though, proved nothing more than a pipe dream, and in a less-expected twist, Budinger tore his left meniscus on Nov. 10, sidelining him until March 21. The new pieces fell, along with Kevin Love, and even when Ricky Rubio returned on Dec. 15, there was no system, no order, no go-to method. And now, the time is yet again up. That's the thing about the NBA; consistency is so fleeting – consistency of play, and in this case, consistency of roster. The one flaw in the Timberwolves' approach last offseason was that they didn't count on this implosion – how could they have? – and so they went for bigger names and shorter terms in their acquisitions. Kirilenko has a player option, worth $10.2 million for next season. Roy is gone, injured and without guaranteed money. Budinger – hardly a big name but a valuable piece – is an unrestricted free agent. Those are just the acquisitions. There's also the Nikola Pekovic situation, whereby the big man becomes a restricted free agent this offseason and by virtue of his size, skill and most of all position, a hot commodity on the NBA market. Even bigger than that are the questions of whether Adelman himself will return, whether president of basketball operations David Kahn's contract will be extended, whether owner Glen Taylor will sell the team in the near future.
Timberwolves’ roster doesn’t need overhaul
Fox Sports North | Apr 20