By: Andy Weise
The first thing you try to do is at least establish that the guy had to be on the team for two full seasons. Not necessarily that he played all two full seasons but that was on the roster for at least two years. So good-bye Ricky Davis, you probably would have gotten a nod for the second team. It’s amazing how much turnover there constantly is within this franchise.
Coach: Flip Saunders – Fired when he supposedly lost the team, he went on to find success with an already built for winning team in Detroit and now has landed with the Washington Wizards. Saunders really developed a great relationship with Kevin Garnett as they grew together in the NBA from the mid 90’s until 2005. Saunders is the only coach to this date that has taken the Wolves into the playoffs.
PG: Sam Cassell – Cassell only spent two years in Minnesota but his first year in 2003-2004 helped Minnesota not only past the first round of the playoffs but also into the Western Conference Finals. As an all-star that year, he had the highest average of points per game during his career and gave the Wolves the deadly clutch shooter that had always needed. While the Wolves have had good point guard names in Marbury, Brandon and Billups, Cassell achieved the most success in his short stint. The other hard part about Cassell is he’ll be remembered as part of the Marko Jaric trade, one of the worst in franchise history.
SG: Latrell Sprewell – Like Cassell, Sprewell only had two seasons in Minnesota. The Wolves made a huge splash the summer of 2003 trading for Sam and Latrell. It gave the Wolves the “Big Three” and the best year of the franchise. Sprewell gave the Wolves the most athletic swingman in franchise history but after getting offered a 3 year, 21 million extension the summer of 2004, Sprewell declined saying it wasn’t enough to feed his family. Sprewell had the worst season of his career in 2005 and was out of the league after.
SF: Wally Szczerbiak – Wally spent most of his career in Minnesota. A one-time all-star consistently played second fiddle next to Kevin Garnett though most would agree Wally would have been better off as a third option. He’s only behind Garnett and Sam Mitchell as the all-time scorers in Wolves history. Not too decorated but Wally was a well-liked player by fans in Minnesota.
PF: Kevin Garnett – Best player in franchise history and you might be safe when you say there will never be another player on the Timberwolves as good as Garnett. A future hall-of-famer who worked his tail off and eventually was traded when the Wolves acquired too many bad contracts they couldn’t do anything else. The knock on Garnett was he couldn’t deliver the clutch shots and when he went to Boston he was surrounded by people who could — the result: a championship. #21 will never be worn by another Timberwolves player.
C: Al Jefferson – The center point of the Kevin Garnett trade, Jefferson has developed into a very good NBA player. Before a season-ending injury last year, he was on the brink of becoming an all-star delivering a 20-10 (points-rebounds) season. He hasn’t been the same player this year and now there is even talk of how he will fit into the running style offense that new coach Kurt Rambis wants to play. Al is a classic low post player who uses his foot speed to get around bigger defenders. While he was a good piece to get after Garnett, ultimately for those who never wanted Garnett traded, Al will never live up to expectations. For now the Wolves will try to continue to build with him, not necessarily around him.
Coach: Kevin McHale – The other choices here are Dwane Casey, Randy Wittman and Kurt Rambis. The situation here is that in 2005 when McHale fired his friend Saunders, he took over for the remainder of the year and should have remained the coach after that. His front office duties should have been stripped
G: Troy Hudson – Hudson was the replacement for Chauncey Billups in 2002 after Billups was not promised the starting point guard position in Minnesota. Terrell Brandon was the starter who at the time actually offered to become a bench player (second highest paid player on the team on the bench, don’t think so). Hudson held down his spot in 2002-03 but was hurt off and on the year Cassell joined the team. The very next year, cassell was hurt and Hudson was put back into the spotlight. T-Hud or Thud (as Wolves fans used to call him), spent his last couple years with the Wolves as an overpaid backup and occasional spot highlight reel. He’d come in, drop three 3’s and then launch another 10 that clanked off the backboard. His departure via buyout was welcomed by many.
G: Randy Foye – Plenty will criticize this decision instead of taking a guy like Chauncey Billups but I’ll try to defend my decision the best I can. Foye looked solid his rookie year, sure there was inconsistency but he looked like he might have a good career ahead of him. The biggest problem was one that not he created but McHale created: He was traded straight up for Brandon Roy. Foye averaged 16 a game his final year with the Wolves but his shooting percentage continued to lower each season.
C: Rasho Nesterovic – Some have labeled him the best center the Wolves ever had. Aside from the hard to watch but dependable Ervin Johnson, Rasho was soft but could hit an outside jumper. He didn’t have to grab many boards because Garnett was always there but eventually Rasho left the Wolves for a rival: the Spurs, where he won a ring playing next to Tim Duncan, not Kevin Garnett.
F: Ryan Gomes – Gomes is in his third year with the Wolves right now and when he was part of the deal that sent Garnett to the Celtics, Danny Ainge called him one of the best people in basketball. Gomes is very good role player who sometimes is forced to do a lot more than he should have to do. On a very good team, he’s your 7th or 8th guy who can give you 20-25 minutes and knock down open jump shots.
F: Trenton Hassell – The fourth of the five starters for the most successful team in Wolves history (2003-04). Hassell was the lock down defender who after that season was signed to an expensive offer sheet by Portland. The Wolves matched and Hassell spent three more seasons on the roster but never became any better. He’s one of those guys where if you put anyone in the lineup with KG, Cassell and Sprewell, you’re bound to look good. Hassell hasn’t looked good since he got traded in 2007.
Five guards who might have appeared had they not been traded or let go:
G: OJ Mayo
G: Brandon Roy
G: Ray Allen
G: Chauncey Billups
G: Mario Chalmers
Five Wolves whose departures were celebrated with block parties:
G: Marko Jaric
G: Mike James
F: Ricky Avis (his D was taken away since he doesn’t play any)
F: Antoine Walker
C: Michael Olowokandi