Last week I lost one two teammates and I gained one. As I scrolled through ESPN.com last week, I saw the breaking news that Justin Reed and Mike James were being traded to Houston for Juwan Howard. I guess this is the really hard part of the business of NBA basketball. When you go to battle with the same guys every day you get close to them. I’m going to miss Mike and Justin. Clearly, Houston loves Mike James and almost signed him last summer. I think that Justin Reed is only really lacking the right opportunity. It seems like he played really well here for us, especially when he got extended minutes.
Today, I was in Rochester Minnesota giving a “Life in the NBA” talk at Rochester Athletic Club. I can’t remember how many times people asked me if Kevin Garnett was going to get traded, but it was a lot. I really think that there is not going to be any trades involving Kevin Garnett. I sure hope not. I know for a fact that Kevin loves Minnesota and he likes the guys in the locker room. But I’m also aware the realities of professional sports and that from a business standpoint, anything can happen to anyone. The thing about Kevin is that he makes everyone around him better. Three years ago, Sam Cassell had an all-star season, Sprewell had a great year and many other guys on our roster had career years. When you have someone like Kevin Garnett on your team, everyone is going to benefit.
I wanted to thank Adam for his comment (see below). His input poses a great question about our locker room dynamics. Is anyone in the lockeroom hurt from ticket’s [Kevin Garnett’s] excitement over the chance to bring in [Allen iverson]?
10:16:01 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Yeah, I can see how you might wonder what it would be like for any timberwolves players to turn on the T.V. or read ESPN.com and hear KG saying that he wants A.I. in Minnesota. Because by deduction, that means that someone (or many players) from the Timberwolves has to get shipped out.
I really don’t think there was much of an upset feeling in the locker room over it. The main thing is that this is one of those rare moments when a superstar is being shopped around the league. Allen Iverson getting traded is right up there with Shaq being traded from the Lakers to the Heat. All of us know how good A.I. is so I don’t think any of us took it as anything more than the “business side of basketball.” The other thing is that KG is such a great teammate and stand-up guy that he always speaks from his heart. He’s just as likely to tell us the same thing behind closed doors that he tells the media. That’s one of the reasons why everyone respects him so much.
I sit next to Mark Blount on the plane trips. He and I were talking about the Allen Iverson thing and Blount basically said that Allen is such a special talent that our organization really has to look at the trade scenario.
I guess the good news for us is that it really looks like Denver is going to win out on the A.I. thing. They have two draft picks in 2007 and Philly really wants those picks. The other thing is that I don’t think there is any way that the Timberwolves organization is going to trade Randy Foye or Craig Smith. That’s who Philly really wanted from us anyway. I’d like to see these two young guys filling up the Target Center for many years to come.
"That’s what happens when they go small,” Kaman said. “They get hurt in the post. Inside, they don’t (match up). They know that. They want us to match up with them. You’ve got two 3’s (small forwards) guarding a 4 (power forward) and a 5 (center).”
The Phoenix Suns are beginning to re-define the way NBA basketball is being played. Starting in 1999, the NBA was really a strength league in some ways. When I first got to the Lakers, Phil Jackson’s “Performance Enhancement Coordinator”, Chip Schaeffer, told me that in the Western Conference you had to be ready for a lot of great, tough, big men. He went down the list and named the following players: Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, Tim Duncan, Vin Baker, Chris Webber, Dirk Nowitzki, etc.
Now it seems that the Suns have completely bucked the trend. A few years ago, Boris Diaw was playing point guard for the Atlanta Hawks. Now he is starting at Center for the Suns. But the real reason why the suns can get away with going so small can be found with one person–Shawn Marion. Shawn Marion is about 6’7 or 6’8″ and skinny, but he is one of the best rebounders in the entire NBA. People around the leauge say that Shawn Marion jumps as if he’s on a pogo-stick.
If the Suns win this series, look for other teams around the league to use the draft and free agency market to find a way to get “smaller, faster and quicker”. If the Clippers win this series, all of the experts will come out of the woodwork and say “Well, once again, we see that ‘small ball’ can’t win a championship in the NBA.'”
Fred Hoiberg called me on my hotel phone at about 8:00 p.m. Thursday in Houston and asked, “Did you hear about the trade?” I told him that I had heard about it already, as I had just read on ESPN.com that Nikoloz Tskitishvili had been traded to the Phoenix Suns for a future second round draft choice. “There’s a lot more involved,” Fred added. “Wally Szczerbiak, Michael Olowokandi and Dwayne Jones just got traded to the Celtics!” I am going to really miss all four of them. On my personal blog, www.MarkMadsen.com, I’ve commented in a little more detail about each player and what it’s like to lose a teammate and a friend through a trade. Fred later recounted to me that he and Wally had been at dinner at a restaurant in Houston and right as they were paying for the meal, Wally’s cell phone rang. The voice on the other end was Wally’s agent who gave him the news. I know that I was shocked about the trade. Besides losing a few games on some last second shots, I really feel like Dwayne Casey has us playing good basketball. Sometimes change can be a good thing for everyone and I think the trade is going to help both teams. After just two games together, I have already gotten to know the new players a little bit and want to share some of that with you. I have always been a fan of Ricky Davis, ever since his days in Cleveland. He is a good defender, a great shooter and he has “swagger.” In our game at Houston Ricky had 26 points, but more importantly, whenever anyone on the team scored or did something good, you could hear Ricky yelling out “Great job A.C. or way to rebound Eddie!” In our loss to San Antonio there was a play where Ricky caught up to a San Antonio fast break after being starting about 30 feet behind the play. He is the fastest NBA player I have seen and he jumps out of the gym. More importantly, he’s very smart and he can shoot. Everyone calls Mark Blount “M.B.” and he has a very good post-up game. Mark is one of the few seven-foot players in the NBA that can knock down the 18-footer and get past the defender with his post-up footwork. M.B. is “long” as we like to say in NBA talk (that means tall with long arms) and he has great basketball instincts. On our flight home it was interesting to hear Kevin McHale talking footwork with Mark, knowing Mac used those skills to become a Hall-of-Famer. Justin Reed is one guy who could be playing in the either NBA or the NFL. He is 6’8,” 240 pounds and explosive. Justin played great in San Antonio going right at Tim Duncan. He scored on Tim right away and then in the fourth quarter he went into the lane to dunk over the Spurs seven-footers and was fouled. He also guarded Tony Parker who is one of the quickest players in the league. Mark Blount told me in Houston that Justin is “kind of like Ron Artest in terms of his special ability to defend.” Unfortunately, Marcus Banks just joined the team Monday morning due to a death in his family. McHale described Marcus as a great one-on-one defender and a point guard who is unbelievable going “north and south,” which means taking the ball from one end to the other on the fast break. I am always open to suggestions as to what Timberwolves fans want me to write about. If you have a topic suggestion or a question you want me to answer, please feel free to drop me a note firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great week. Have a great week. -Mark
I’m sorry that I’ve been away from the typewriter for so long……it’s been tough with losing lately and so tonight, now that we just won, I can be happy and return to the keyboard. I played our game tonight with some sort of football pad on the right, lower part of my back. It’s a little strange to play a game so strapped up, but I had really bruised my back two days ago and I needed some kind of protection. The funny thing is that the opponent knows when you are hurt from their own scouting report and from the fact that when you’re on defense, you constantly touch your man’s back to feel where he is so that you can watch the ball. Tonight on the court, Nick Collison from the Supersonics asked me how my back was during the game. He said he had watched the tape and saw me fall. He was really nice about everything as most NBA players are.
I must say that two years ago I had a hurt back (broken bone) and I was playing with the injury and someone from another team purposely hit me there. (I’m not going to give a name). By and large, most NBA players don’t try to dirty stuff like that, but there is always a few people out there who try stunts like that.
If any of you have seen our schedule, you will know that we will be in Miami on Dec. 31st. We play the Heat on Jan 1. I’m hoping the Miami Heat players really enjoy the new year and stay out as late as they want! 🙂 I’m probably going to be in the room kind of early but let me let you guys in on a little secret. I have NEVER been on an NBA team with a curfew. That’s the honest truth. I think it may be against the collective bargaining agreement of the NBA or something. Actually I think most of the guys on our team are very responsible when it comes to getting enough rest and understanding that rest is important. Most of the guys on this team don’t really go out late at night and Coach Casey and Kevin McHale let us police ourselves as we’re all grown men.
Wally Szcerbiak has been on fire lately. It’s almost 1am and I just read the ESPN.com AP story on our game against Seattle. I always like to see the media’s perception of things and then compare it to the inside. When I read the article two quotes jumped out at me. The first quote came from Wally when he said:
“My philosophy is any open look is an open look.”
Comment: Anyone who watches our games knows this is true. If wally has even one inch to shoot, then the ball is going up. Wally and Fred Hoiberg are the two best shooters I have ever seen in my entire life.
Said Casey: “Kevin and Wally are playing at an All-Star level.”
Comment: I really believe that both Wally and KG deserve to be invited to the all-star game.
I thought I would just share a quick little update on Fred Hoiberg. I played a three-on-three game with Freddie last week and the guy looked great. He may be the first player ever to play in the NBA with a pacemaker. It’s a little unusual because when he does practice he’s got this protective cover he puts over the pacemaker that looks like a little box under his uniform. I truly believe that Fred will be back in the NBA as a player if that’s what he and his wife decide on and if the doctors give their OK. I know that Fred has a very important test coming up on Jan 3rd down in Rochester so let’s all pull for him!