The Wolves’ record dropped to 8-25 after Wednesday night’s 119-113 loss to the Denver Nuggets. But throughout the season they have shown that they may be just a move or two away from becoming a playoff contender for the 2011-12 season.
Over the past 24 hours a whirlwind of rumors have surrounded the Minnesota Timberwolves, and as Wednesday as an indicator, the Wolves may in fact be close to making these moves happen.
Bill Ingram of HOOPSWORLD wrote that, “the Timberwolves grow more confident by the day that Rubio will finally come over from Europe.”
That sentiment has been stated throughout the last two seasons in the aftermath of the 2009 NBA Draft. But even stronger evidence in support of the Timberwolves theory has come to fruition.
Rubio has apparently let his intentions known to his FC Barcelona teammates that he plans to join the NBA next season.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that, “according to a person familiar the situation [Rubio] has given team officials his word that he will join the Wolves next season.”
Berger continues, “the buyout that Minnesota must pay PC Barcelona is down to $1 million.”
Adding Rubio next season would be a huge addition for a Timberwolves team that is in desperate need of an electrifying player that will put fans in the Target Center seats.
Rubio being all but a lock to come to Minnesota next season wasn’t the only rumor gaining steam on Wednesday.
A former Wolves draftee may be on his way to Minnesota.
Berger states that, “CBSSports.com has learned that the Wolves plan to make a push to acquire [O.J.] Mayo.” Berger continues, “The Wolves envision Mayo playing in the backcourt next season alongside Ricky Rubio.
The Wolves drafted O.J. Mayo with the 3rd overall selection in the 2008 NBA Draft, but later traded his rights to Memphis in return for a package based around the current NBA leader in rebounds per game, Kevin Love.
That trade received negative feedback in Minnesota, but has now turned out to be Kevin McHale’s glory trade.
Mayo is currently the 6th man in Memphis and has become disgruntled with his new, diminishing role. To date, Mayo is averaging 13.1 points per game and 1.8 assists per game while shooting .387 from three-point range this season in only 28.8 minutes per night.
Those numbers are down from the 18.5 points per game Mayo averaged in 2008-09, and the 17.5 points per game Mayo averaged in 2009-10.
The potential addition of Mayo would bode well for a Timberwolves team that could use a recognizable name on their young, up-and-coming roster.
David Kahn has been known to try and revitalize careers of former high draft picks. Just on the current roster alone the Timberwolves have gambled on previously labeled “busts” such as Darko Milic (2nd overall in 2003), Martell Webster (6th overall in 2005), and Michael Beasley (2nd overall in 2008).
Mayo would be another low-risk, high-reward gamble that we have grown to expect out of Kahn.
In order to receive Mayo, the Timberwolves would have to give up a decent package. A potential trade that I would support would be offering Corey Brewer along with sending back the Grizzlies 2011 first round pick (acquired from Jazz via the Al Jefferson trade), in return for Mayo.
At some point the Timberwolves need get past hoarding draft picks, and start moving forward in adding players who have had success in the NBA. Baring an unexpected run late in the season, the Wolves will receive their 2011 draft pick that is owed to the Clippers, which is top 10 protected this season.
As a result the Wolves will not have their first round pick in 2012, but at that point in the rebuilding process I would hope that that pick isn’t a lottery selection.
Before this season began, many believed that General Manager David Kahn had no route in place with the Timberwolves franchise. As the season has went on Love and Beasley have proven to be close to elite status in the NBA. And Webster and rookie Wes Johnson are growing into athletic outside shooters who can be vital in a 2011-12 playoff run.
All indications are that Rubio will make the journey from Barcelona to Minneapolis next season. And although no trade discussions have been reported at this time regarding Mayo and the Timberwolves, it does seem logical, and very possible, that the Wolves will make a trade for O.J. Mayo before February’s trading deadline.
Timberwolves fans have waited for signs of this day to come. It is beginning to appear that there is in fact light at the end of the tunnel that is David Kahn’s rebuilding process.
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