It didn’t quite rank up there with the pathetic litany of excuses David Kahn tossed out after he was let go as Minnesota Timberwolves general manager after four excruciating seasons, but Glen Taylor’s unfortunate work in Tuesday’s news conference introducing new Wolves Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young was still a little needless and mostly wrong.
For an expert summary, here is Eric Freeman’s take on Taylor’s worries about Kevin Love’s future in Cleveland. For those on the go, here’s one quick quote:
"I question Kevin if this is going to be the best deal for him because I think he's going to be the third player on a team. I don't think he's going to get a lot of credit if they do really well. I think he'll get the blame if they don't do well. He's going to have to learn to handle that.
"I think he's around a couple guys who are awful good. Now I'm not saying that Kevin's not good, but I think where maybe he got away with some stuff, not playing defense on our team, I'm not sure how that's going to work in Cleveland. So I would guess they're going to ask him to play more defense. And he's foul-prone," Taylor said.
We’ll summarily bash Taylor as this column moves along. Until then, let’s take in a bit of tact, poise and reason by way of the words of Mr. Love, who appeared on ESPN’s Mike and Mike Show on Wednesday morning to wonder where Taylor’s head was at:
"I think emotions are definitely running high right now," Love told "Mike & Mike." "For Glen to say that, I just think that he should be focusing on the players that he just received. I mean, he has two of the No. 1 picks in the last two drafts: Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. He has another guy who can really play in Thaddeus Young.
"I think he got a lot for me. So I'd be focusing even more on that. More than anything, I'm just excited to start my time in Cleveland, get to work with my new teammates, and start with this new family here."
(Cue a koan.)
How very professional and understanding of Love, especially when pointing out that emotions, indeed, are running quite high right now.
Now, let’s dive right back into the mud.
It’s true that Love remains a poor-to-average defender, but his work on that end has improved considerably in the years since he entered the NBA in 2008. Secondly, there was a reason a defensive guru like Tom Thibodeau signed off on the work of a defensive sieve like Carlos Boozer for four years in Chicago – defensive rebounds are part of the equation, and Love nearly led the NBA (finishing third, behind DeMarcus Cousins and Andrew Bogut) in defensive rebound rate last season.
That’s while he was averaging 26 points per game. The idea that Love is foul-prone, to boot, calls into question the scouting acumen of a man in Taylor, who allowed David Kahn to run his team for four seasons. Love averaged just 1.8 fouls per game last season, a ridiculously low number for a big man playing huge minutes, and right in line with his per-minute marks from the year before. He also never fouled out of a game last season, something even teammate Kevin Martin managed twice in 2013-14.
Taylor is understandably sad, angry, and defensive. After years of declining better offers in exchange for Kevin Garnett, he managed to deal him for a 20 and 10 man in Al Jefferson and cap space, only to watch as the space was frittered away and Jefferson tore an ACL. Kahn turned Jefferson into absolutely nothing, wasted draft pick after draft pick, and Flip Saunders’ win-now attempts from last summer fell flat on their face in 2013-14.
He’s 73 years old, his team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2004, and he’s now rebuilding around a 19-year-old, a player who had the worst statistical season of any top overall draft pick in generations, and a solid but misplaced scorer.
The bright side is that the 19-year-old in question is Andrew Wiggins, a player even the Cavs could acknowledge off record that could supplant LeBron James as the best player in the game some years down the line. And Anthony Bennett has lost weight, his ceiling still has All-Star potential as a versatile scoring forward, and Thaddeus Young is the type of vocal leader both can look up to. After a decade’s worth of terrible decisions, the Wolves still came out of this deal with a fabulous set of tools to rebuild with.
Focus on the tools, Mr. Taylor. Don’t take after the GM you used to employ, and act like one in front of the press.
(Hat tip: SB Nation.)
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