The Moonball Blog

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Team Darko

Two games in & Stop-N-Pop at Canis Hoopus has already declared that the good part of the Wolves (the group that can actually win games and somehow now includes Corey Brewer) shall be known as Team Darko. As will the CeeWolves next year (sorry TVDave - I just called Dibs).

I know he's going back to Europe next year but it would be so unbelievably awesome if Darko really did turn out to be part of that great mythical monster (aka The Next Good Twolves Team).

Monday, February 22, 2010

Darko is Light?

Minnesotans love Darko.

When Darko took the floor yesterday for his first minutes as a Timberwolf, he received more applause than I've heard since LeBron was here. Cue and repeat for Darko's first rebound and Darko's first points. I was surprised to see that anyone was paying that much attention to this club.

Minnesotans need Darko.

In a season of artificially-inflated expectation, when people somehow believed that Kahn's moves to clear cap space and put his own stamp on the team would actually make the Wolves win 30-40 games, Darko instantly belongs here. We've been kicked when we're down enough times that we know one of our own. At worst, he's a that's got to be more impactful than the bald man who was being paid $6.7 million to hustle and provide a veteran locker room presence. Instead of a backup to Sasha Pavlovic, we now have the big center we've always dreamed of, and a No. 2 pick to boot! Haven't seen such a high pick in Minnesota since trying to resurrect Olowokandi. And that is what we've bought -- not a bust, but a chance at resurrection.

So much has been made of how Darko is not Carmelo or DWade. That's ancient history. All Darko has to do is be better than Ryan Hollins, and he's got it made here. And in his debut, he did just that.

The Wolves need Darko.

Kevin Love and Big Al are really good, sure. But they've already been split into starter and bench player because neither is big enough or a good enough defender to make them tenable as a starting duo. So the Wolves have been going with Ryan Hollins, with Love first off the bench...and that's been working OK. Both Al and Love get starters minutes, but it allows the Wolves to distribute their size vulnerability. The best I've seen was how it allowed the Wolves to take advantage of the Knicks size in front. But at its worst, the shorthanded Bulls killed the Wolves in the paint Friday night on the shoulders of big, bad Brad Miller and newcomer Hakim Warrick. Ugh. The Wolves need a defensive presence at the 5 as well as offense, and Ryan Hollins has not been much of an answer.

I was hesitant to believe Darko could do much, just because of that Knicks game. I mean, David Lee could've used some help up front this year. If they weren't able to use him, why should we? But I guess that's not the D'Antoni way.

Last night, when Darko came off the bench to relieve Big Al, the crowd started cheering...and I thought it was a little much. But although he seemed briefly mixed up, and hesitant to shoot, Darko showed a propensity for rebounding, putbacks off the glass, and passing -- cross-court inbounds, and sly, controlled, big-man bounce passes that showed he could contribute. Perhaps the biggest shocker was Darko's team best +/- of +35 (compared to Big Al's -37). Of course that was mostly against OKC's bench big men Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison. Still, Rambis wasn't afraid to cave into the crowd and put Darko on the floor for clutch minutes. And Darko rewarded him.

For a rusty player, he played well. It's only been one game -- and I seem to recall that Mark Blount's first game as a Timberwolf was exceptional, and now we're paying him to stay away. But Darko showed enough promise, that it's conceivable that he has an NBA level game, maybe even above the bottom third of the league's players.

Does Darko need the Wolves?

It certainly must've felt good for Darko to get a little love from the Minnesota crowd. But is it too little, too late? Of course Darko has been through the ringer in Detroit and the national media. He's failed to establish himself as anything more than a blip on the radar, and will never live up to where he was picked. In a self-fulfilling cycle of disappointment, Darko hasn't gotten the playing time from some of his coaches, and has thus failed to improve. He's a bust. And now he says he just wants to finish out his NBA contract and go back to Europe to play. The grass must seem a whole lot greener there, where he would probably get big minutes and play in peace, leaving the disappointment over the ocean.

Is the NBA all-and-all, enough that a player (other than Rubio and Childress) would choose to stay under such conditions?

That's where the hope ends, Minnesota. Most likely, it will be a big tease. Darko would leave. I find it hard to believe that a) he's good enough, b) he views the NBA as a worthwhile place to play given the painful reception he's received, c) he'd be willing to accept whatever minimum salary the Wolves would pay him in order to salvage his NBA career after making over $7 million this year to do nothing, d) if he does stay in the NBA, that he'd choose to stay in Minnesota instead of taking another offer. However, the fans here cheering and accepting him shows we're willing to take him on whatever merits he brings. And if Darko wants love, he may have found it here in the frozen north.

For now, it's an entertaining side show when the main event is a big rebuilding project, so we'll try it. The Timberwolves are taking a play from the Obama campaign -- hope sells. The realization may be the tricky part. Hope is one of the only commodities that they've got. But hope, at this point, is much better than the alternative.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Situational Thinking at its Best

"I have a problem with that," Rivers said before Thursday's Lakers-Celtics game at Staples Center. "I loved it three years ago when we did it with Gary Payton if you remember, but now I think it sucks. I think it's a terrible deal."

Referring to the catch-and-release trade in which Big-Z will be back to the Cavs in time for the playoffs.

I love Rivers' self-awareness.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rent a Camby

I know they are thin up front and Camby will help tremendously. But does this work for the Blazers? Are they competing for a championship this year -- and if not, why do this?

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Monday, February 15, 2010


With the kind outflow of donations to Haiti and many more in need, I'd like to take this moment to acknowledge some of the most generous people out there - NBA Owners.

Not only has Jerry Reindorf brough me wonderful seasons, games and the central organizing elements for some of my best friendships, he is doing it out of the generosity of his heart.

This level of charity is uncommon in the world and deserves our thanks.

I am glad to hear Michael Jordan is looking to increase his contribution to the greater good.

As a side note, I do think the proposed 50% guarantee on contracts is a good idea.

Friday, February 12, 2010

MidSeason Check-in

Hey all! Right in time for the mid-season Moonball draft, I've finally gotten around to posting the transcript of the 2009 Moonball draft. If you want to look back and see where it all went wrong, have fun, and enjoy moments such as:

[9:08:57] Ironwood Flash: Who took Gil at what pick?
[9:08:56] Celtic Green: Carl Landry
[9:09:11] Celtic Green: Me at 31
[9:09:47] Ironwood Flash: Gil and Carl Landry might put you in the money.
[9:10:08] Celtic Green: Oh, I am in the money

Enjoy the All Star weekend, and I hope the trade deadline brings your NBA team many good things!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Saturday Night - Hold the Mayo

Lev and Dave help Wolves win 4th in a row with mad clapping, howling, moonball talk in win over Memphis.