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Fixing the Minnesota Timberwolves

What’s next for the Minnesota Timberwolves? Here are some things that the Wolves need to address moving forward.

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The future of the Minnesota Timberwolves is up in the air, with numerous questions surrounding a couple members of the organization. Perhaps the biggest question mark of all surrounds Timberwolves center Kevin Love, who can become a free agent after next season. The team faces a tough decision on what to do with Love, a decision similar to the one the Orlando Magic had with Dwight Howard. While the Timberwolves can only hope their process with Love doesn’t end like it did with the Magic and Howard, they are still in an equally difficult position.

The Timberwolves may also be hunting for a new head coach, with Rick Adelman likely to retire after this season. The team’s coaching search will have a tremendous impact on whether Love will buy into what the organization is trying to do long-term. The Timberwolves are only a couple pieces away from being able to make a playoff run in the Western Conference, so a summer of free agency and a first-round draft pick will be critical to how the team progresses forward. Here are some things the team needs to address moving forward.

Resolve the Coaching Situation

The latest rumors surrounding Adelman are that he will likely retire following this season. Adelman has a contract option for next season, but after hearing Adelman talk before last week’s game against the Orlando Magic, it seems these may be the last couple of games for him.

“For the most part, we’re still a pretty young team and the success of this franchise going forward is who else can they add,” Adelman said.

It’s the “they” that has fans under the impression that he won’t be back. If there is any good news regarding Adelman, it is that a decision will be made rather quickly as the contract option for next season must be acted upon within two weeks of the last regular season game, by April 30.

Another critical issue that may have already swayed Adelman into retiring after this season is the health of his wife, Mary Kay. Adelman has had to step away from the team a couple of times this season to tend to her as she suffers from a seizure disorder. Last season, Adelman missed a total of 11 games to be with his wife, so Adelman may feel it’s time for him to step away permanently.

Since there have been no formal announcements on Adelman’s future, there haven’t been any names linked to the pending coaching vacancy in Minnesota. With the success that their teams have had over the last season, college coaches such as Kentucky’s John Calipari, Florida’s Billy Donovan, Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg have all been rumored to be turning pro over the past few weeks. While those are some of the hottest names out, it would likely take a perfect situation in the NBA to reel those coaches away from their great programs, and the argument can be made that Minnesota’s situation wouldn’t fit that criteria. The Timberwolves’ next head coach could likely come from someone already in the NBA. Veteran coaches like George Karl, Lionel Hollins, Stan Van Gundy and others are among the names on the market.

Wholesale Changes Aren’t Needed

The Timberwolves have been plagued by injuries and are only a few pieces away from making a playoff run, even in the Western Conference. Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin, Shabazz Muhammad and Chase Budinger have all missed time during the second half of the season. The team traded their first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns, but it is top-13 protected. The Wolves have posted quality wins as of late without some of their best scoring options, including last Friday night’s double-overtime win in Miami and Tuesday night’s win against San Antonio. Adelman even said Friday night’s win was probably their best win to date.

A player to watch going forward for the Timberwolves is Gorgui Dieng. Over the last month, Dieng has averaged 10.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 52.9 percent from the floor. He was recognized for his play in the month of March by being named the Rookie of the Month.

The Timberwolves has some key pieces in place, so they don’t need to blow up the team. They just need to find some new complementary pieces.

Figure Out What to Do Kevin Love

This upcoming summer will have a huge effect on Love’s decision. If the team makes a good coaching hire, brings in a couple of solid free agents and drafts a capable scorer then that would likely improve Love’s chances of returning. Doug McDermott could be an option for the Wolves if he’s still available when they pick.

Should they keep Love for the next season and make moves this summer in hopes that he’ll buy in long term or should they make a trade, either during this summer or at next season’s trade deadline?

It seems like, with Steve Kyler’s latest report, that the Timberwolves are perfectly fine keeping Love and seeing if his attitude changes during the course of the season. If they feel he isn’t buying in then they can make a deadline deal and try to get some sort of return, because at this point they feel as though they won’t have anything to lose by keeping him around. At the end of the day, the Timberwolves will be the team that can offer Love the most money by retaining his Bird Rights. Regardless of what ends up happening, the basketball world will surely have their eyes on Minnesota over the summer and next season.

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