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Earlier this month, there was also a report that the Timberwolves were shopping veteran forward Chase Budinger, so the fact that Brewer is now on the market as well definitely signals that Minnesota is waiving the white flag on the season and accepting that this is going to be another year where they dwell in the cellar. Their chances of being competitive were slim to begin with after trading Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers this summer, but when Ricky Rubio went down with a severely sprained ankle that will sideline him for two months, they become virtually non-existent.
Don’t expect the Wolves’ wheeling and dealing to stop at just Budinger and Brewer. With a young core of Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng and Anthony Bennett in place to develop this year, Nikola Pekovic, Thaddeus Young, Kevin Martin and the rest of the veterans on the Timberwolves shouldn’t get too comfortable.
Typically a franchise that is as far removed from the playoffs as Minnesota is couldn’t afford to go through total rebuild again, but the promise of their young core makes it worth it, especially when you look at how brutally tough the Western Conference is anyway. There’s simply no way the Wolves are going to be able to crack the top eight, even at their max potential. The conference is just too deep. If they were in the East, which they have tried to get relocated to on a couple of different occasions, they may stand a chance, but the right move this year is to give the young guys as much playing time as possible.
By virtue of being the president and head coach, Flip Saunders doesn’t have to worry about his seat heating up as a result. Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor clearly trusts him, and with another high lottery pick the Wolves could find themselves back in the playoff mix sooner rather than later. Currently, their first-round pick is owed to the Phoenix Suns, but only if it is outside of the top 12 – another reason to start shipping off vets and letting the young guns learn under the fire.
Gay is one of the most controversial, fringe star players in the league. His talent is unquestionable, but there’s been serious questions about whether he plays a “winning” brand of basketball, dating back to his time in Memphis when the team experienced their most success while he was out with injuries and after he was traded. The same goes for the Toronto Raptors, but the Kings are currently as competitive as they have ever been and Gay is one of the big reasons why. He’s really taken his game to another level since being traded there early last season, and he believes in the franchise enough to pass on free agency and the opportunity to sign a five-year contract.
Gay’s willingness to sign an extension is also partially due to the favorable terms that give him an out when he’ll be 31 years old, still in his prime presumably, and right as there should be a big spike in the NBA’s salary cap as a result of the new TV deal. For Gay, the possibility of cashing in when there’s potentially an $80 million cap outweighed signing a five-year deal this summer when the cap is projected to just slightly increase.
The Kings’ continuity and focus should benefit from this distraction being out of the way. While it’s not a hot topic and it was clear that both sides were interested in staying together long-term even before this agreement, it was inevitably going to become a storyline later on in the season, especially if Sacramento considered trade offers for him to avoid risking losing him for nothing in the offseason. Had Gay rejected this extension, the Kings would have had to at least listen to offers and seriously question whether they’d be able to retain him.
Gordon was playing 15 minutes a game for the Magic and averaging five points and three rebounds during his spot minutes. While his production won’t be difficult to replace, this is very valuable developmental time that Gordon is going to be missing out on.
There’s no timetable for his return yet, but Gordon has already voiced a very positive attitude about the setback. He will have the opportunity to learn still, albeit in a different way.
The Magic have been playing short-handed this season as Victor Oladipo missed the first two weeks of the season and just made his sophomore debut on Friday.
In Gordon’s absence, the Magic will likely split his time between Channing Frye and Andrew Nicholson.
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