Monday, February 14, 2005

Players Win, Coaches Lose?

I recently read this one-liner somewhere and instantly liked it, so there I go, can't help it. But in the case of the Minnesota Timberwolves, this seems to fit to a T! Only last year, the T-Wolves had the best record in the Western Conference and second best in the NBA, enjoying a break-out season behind KG's MVP season with Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell providing much needed depth. Just half a season later, Flip Saunders find himself "reassigned" to a front office position, with his friend Kevin McHale taking over. McHale is the vice-president of basketball operations and has been instrumental in taking this franchise to its current status and has impeccable basketball credentials, but by all accounts it is a stop gap arrangement. Going back to 'Flip', one gets a feeling that he got the rough end of the stick, since there wasn't much McHale and the front office could do about the players who haven't delivered. KG and Wally Szczerbiak have been the only consistent performers. It's also hard to see how Minnesota can get out of some of the contract situations they're in before the season is history (it's already slipping away). There're two kinds of 'untradable' players in the NBA - ones who are looked up to as franchise players (KG, Duncan, Shaq et al - Shaq was traded for reasons other than basketball) and ones whose contracts are not compatible with their on court accomplishments, making them somewhat unattractive in the market. It may sound harsh, but perhaps Michael Olowokandi falls in the second category. Unless the Kandi-man and the bench deliver, there's nothing any coach can do. - NK

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