Minnesota Timberwolves

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Minnesota Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves (also commonly referred to as the T-Wolves) are an American professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Founded in 1989, the team is currently owned by Glen Taylor. The Timberwolves played their home games in the Metrodome during its inaugural season, before moving to the Target Center in 1990.

Like most expansion teams, the Timberwolves struggled in their early years; but after the acquisition of Kevin Garnett in the 1995 NBA Draft, the team made the playoffs eight consecutive times from 1997 to 2004. Despite losing in the first round in their first seven attempts, the Timberwolves won their first division title in 2004 and advanced to the Western Conference Finals. Garnett was also named the NBA Most Valuable Player Award for that season. Since then, the Timberwolves have yet to reach to the postseason, and have been in rebuilding mode after trading Garnett to the Boston Celtics in 2007.

Contents

Franchise history

NBA expansion

NBA basketball returned to the Twin Cities in 1989 for the first time since the Minneapolis Lakers departed for Los Angeles in 1960. The NBA had granted one of its four new expansion teams on 22 April 1987 (the others being the Orlando Magic, Charlotte Hornets, and the Miami Heat) to original owners Marv Wolfenson and Harvey Ratner to begin play for the 1989–90 season. (There were two American Basketball Association franchises, the Minnesota Muskies, in 1967-68, and the Minnesota Pipers, in 1968-69.) The franchise conducted a "name the team" contest [1] and eventually selected two finalists "Timberwolves and "Polars" in December 1986. The team then asked the 842 city councils in Minnesota to select the winner as the "Timberwolves" prevailed by nearly 2 to 1.<ref>http://www.nba.com/timberwolves/media/10-11_Wolves_Media_Guide.pdf</ref> The team was officially named the "Minnesota Timberwolves" on 23 January 1987. Minnesota is home to the largest population of timberwolves in the lower 48 states.<ref>http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mammals/wolves/mgmt.html</ref>

1989–1995: Early years

The Timberwolves debuted on 3 November 1989, losing to the Seattle SuperSonics on the road 106–94. Five days later, they would make their home debut at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome losing to the Chicago Bulls 96–84. Just two nights later the Wolves would get their first win, beating the Philadelphia 76ers at home 125–118 on November 10. The Timberwolves, led by Tony Campbell with 23.2 ppg, went on to a 22–60 record, finishing in 6th place in the Midwest Division. Playing in the cavernous Metrodome, the expansion Timberwolves drew over 1 million fans<ref>http://www.apbr.org/attendance.html</ref> (an NBA record for attendance) including the third-largest crowd in NBA history at 49,551 on 17 April 1990, which saw the Timberwolves lose to the Denver Nuggets 99–88 in the final home game of the season.

The next season the team moved into their permanent home, the Target Center, and improved somewhat, finishing 29–53. However, they fired their head coach Bill Musselman. They fared far worse in the 1991–92 NBA season under Musselman's successor, ex-Celtics coach Jimmy Rodgers, finishing with an NBA-worst 15–67 record. Looking to turn the corner, the Wolves hired former Detroit Pistons general manager Jack McCloskey to the same position, but even with notable first-round selections such as Christian Laettner and Isaiah Rider, the Timberwolves were unable to duplicate McCloskey's "Detroit Bad Boys" success in the Twin Cities, finishing 19–63 and 20–62 the next two seasons. One of the few highlights from this era was when the Target Center served as host of the 1994 All-Star Game where Rider won the Slam Dunk Contest with his between-the-leg "East Bay Funk Dunk".

As winning basketball continued to elude the Wolves, Ratner and Wolfenson nearly sold the team to New Orleans interests in 1994 before NBA owners rejected the proposed move. Eventually, Glen Taylor bought the team and named Kevin McHale general manager. The Wolves finished 21–61 in 1994–95, and the future looked bleak. However, a change was on the horizon.

1995–2007: The Kevin Garnett era

In the 1995 draft, the Timberwolves selected high school standout Kevin Garnett in the first round (5th overall), and Flip Saunders was named head coach. Christian Laettner was traded along with Sean Rooks to the Atlanta Hawks for Andrew Lang and Spud Webb. Also, first-round pick Donyell Marshall was traded the previous season for Golden State Warriors' forward Tom Gugliotta. These trades paved the way for rookie Kevin Garnett to become the go-to player inside. Garnett went on to average 10.4 ppg in his rookie season as the Wolves finished in 5th place in the Midwest Division, with a 26–56 record.

In 1996, the Wolves added another star player in the draft, swapping Ray Allen to the Milwaukee Bucks for the rights to Stephon Marbury, the 4th overall pick. The addition of Marbury had a positive effect on the entire team, as Kevin Garnett and Tom Gugliotta became the first Wolves to be selected to the All-Star team. Gugliotta and Garnett led the Timberwolves in scoring as the team made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history with a record of 40–42. However, in the playoffs the Timberwolves made a quick exit as they were swept by the Houston Rockets in 3 straight games. The T-Wolves also decided to change their image by changing their team logo and colors, adding black to the team colors and replacing the original logo with a logo featuring a snarling wolf looming over a field of trees. It was also during the season that Minnesota began to play on a parquet floor.

In 1997, Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury established themselves as two of the brightest rising stars in the NBA. Garnett averaged 18.5 ppg and 9.6 rebounds per game, while Marbury averaged 17.7 ppg and dished out 8.6 assists per game. Despite losing leading scorer Tom Gugliotta for half the season the Timberwolves went on to post their first winning season at 45–37 making the playoffs for the 2nd straight season. After dropping Game 1 on the road to the Seattle Supersonics in the playoffs the Timberwolves earned their first postseason win in Game 2 winning in Seattle 98–93. As the series shifted to Minnesota the Timberwolves had an opportunity to pull off the upset as they won Game 3 by a score of 98–90. However, the Wolves dropped Game 4 at home as the Sonics went on to win the series in 5 games.

In 1998, a year after signing Kevin Garnett to an unprecedented 6-year, $126 million contract, the Timberwolves were used as the poster child of irresponsible spending as the NBA endured a 4-month lockout that wiped out much of the season. With an already cap-heavy payroll the Wolves were forced to let Tom Gugliotta walk away in part because they wanted to save money in order to sign Stephon Marbury to a long-term contract and in part because Tom Gugliotta did not want to play with Stephon Marbury. This move proved unsuccessful, however, as Stephon Marbury wanted to be the biggest star on a team and subsequently forced an in-season trade by refusing a contract extension. In the 3-team midseason deal that sent Marbury to the New Jersey Nets the Wolves got Terrell Brandon in return and a first round draft pick in the 1999 draft (which turned out to be the sixth pick). The Wolves made the playoffs for the 3rd straight season by finishing in 4th place with a 25–25 record. In the playoffs the Timberwolves were beaten by the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in 4 games.

1999–2004

In 1999, the Timberwolves drafted Wally Szczerbiak with the sixth pick in the draft. He had a solid season finishing 3rd on the team in scoring with 11.6 ppg. Led by Kevin Garnett, who averaged 22.9 ppg and 11.8 rebounds per game, the Timberwolves enjoyed their first 50-win season finishing in 3rd place with a solid record of 50–32. However, in the playoffs the Wolves fell in the first round again, losing to the Portland Trail Blazers in 4 games.

Guard Malik Sealy was killed in a car accident in the summer of 2000 by a drunk driver. Souksangouane Phengsene, was driving the wrong way down the freeway Sealy was driving on, causing the fatal crash in his Land Rover. Sealy's number has since been retired, with the number 2 jersey memorialized with Sealy's name on a banner hanging from the rafters of Target Center. The drunk driver was convicted of vehicular homicide and sentenced to four years in prison. He was previously arrested for drunk driving in Iowa in 1997 and has since been arrested twice more for driving while intoxicated in 2006 and 2008.<ref>"Driver convicted in Malik Sealy death arrested again for DWI", USA Today, March 30, 2008. Retrieved on May 12, 2010. </ref>

Also in that season, a free agent deal signed by Joe Smith was voided by the NBA, who ruled that the Timberwolves violated proper procedure in signing the contract. The league stripped the T-Wolves of five draft picks (first round 2001-05), it was eventually reduced to three first round picks (2001, 02, 04), fined them $3.5 million and suspended general manager Kevin McHale for one year. (Smith would eventually sign with the Detroit Pistons before re-signing with the Wolves in 2001.) Despite the trouble the Wolves made the playoffs for the 5th straight season with a 47–35 record. In the playoffs the Wolves were eliminated in the first round again by the San Antonio Spurs in 4 games in the spring of 2001.

With the arrival of newcomers Gary Trent, Loren Woods, Maurice Evans and the return of Joe Smith; the Wolves started the season on fire by winning their first six games and a franchise-best 30–10 start. One of the wins included a franchise record 53 point over Chicago in November. They would finish with a 50–32 record, their second ever 50 win season that was highlighted by another All-Star appearance by Garnett and a breakout season by Wally Szczerbiak, who earned his first All-Star appearance. Once again, Minnesota lost in the first round of the playoffs, getting swept by the Dallas Mavericks in three straight.

2002–03 seemed to look up for the Wolves. Kevin Garnett had a great season, finishing second in MVP voting while averaging a solid 23.0 ppg and 13.4 rebounds per game as the Timberwolves finish in 3rd place with a 51–31 record. As a result, they were awarded home court advantage for the first time when facing the three-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. After being blown out at home in Game 1, the Timberwolves had a chance to take a 3–1 series lead as they led heading into the 4th quarter of Game 4 in Los Angeles. However, the Lakers came back to win the game on the way to winning the series in six games, and the Timberwolves were eliminated in the first round for the 7th straight year.

In 2003, the Timberwolves made two strong offseason moves, trading away forward Joe Smith and injured guard Terrell Brandon in a multi-player deal for Ervin Johnson, Sam Cassell and embattled guard Latrell Sprewell.

During the 2003–04 NBA season, the Timberwolves became the team to beat in the Western Conference. They finished the season as the top seed in the Western Conference with a record of 58–24, and beat the Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings in the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs. Kevin Garnett leapt upon the scorer's table upon the completion of Game 7 in the Sacremento series, one of the more defining moments in franchise playoff history. Unfortunately, the Timberwolves' run ended in the Western Conference finals as the team lost to the Lakers, the previous Minnesota franchise. Due to an injured hip, Sam Cassell played only sparingly during the series with the Lakers. Kevin Garnett finally earned his first MVP award with 24.2 points, 13.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.

2004–2007

In the 2004–05 season, the Wolves kept the same team from the previous season. The team was plagued with contract disputes and the complaining of key players Latrell Sprewell, Sam Cassell, and Troy Hudson. Coach Flip Saunders was replaced in midseason by GM Kevin McHale, who took over the team for the rest of the season. The Timberwolves finished 44–38, and missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years. They missed the playoffs by 1 game, to the Memphis Grizzlies.

During the 2005 offseason, Kevin McHale and the Wolves started their search for a head coach. McHale interviewed Seattle assistant coach Dwane Casey, San Antonio Spurs assistant P.J. Carlesimo, former coach John Lucas and Wolves assistants Randy Wittman, Sidney Lowe and Jerry Sichting, among others.

On 17 June 2005, the Timberwolves hired Dwane Casey as the new head coach. This was Casey's first head coaching job. He was the Wolves' 7th head coach in their 16-year history.

In the 2005 Draft, the Timberwolves selected Rashad McCants, a shooting guard from North Carolina with the 14th overall pick of the 1st round. The Timberwolves also selected Bracey Wright, a guard from Indiana with the 17th pick of the 2nd round (47th overall).

During the offseason, they traded All-Star Sam Cassell and a protected future first-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Clippers for Marko Jaric and Lionel Chalmers. They also signed free agent Nikoloz Tskitishvili.

On 26 January 2006, the Wolves traded forward Wally Szczerbiak, centers Dwayne Jones and Michael Olowokandi, and a future first-round draft pick to the Boston Celtics. In return, they received forward/guard Ricky Davis, center Mark Blount, forward Justin Reed, guard Marcus Banks, and two second-round draft picks. In a separate trade on the same day, the Timberwolves traded Nikoloz Tskitishvili to the Phoenix Suns for a 2006 second-round draft pick. The Timberwolves finished 33–49, missing the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

In the 2006 NBA draft, the Timberwolves selected future Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy with the 6th overall pick, Craig Smith with the 36th pick, Bobby Jones with the 37th pick and center Loukas Mavrokefalidis with the 57th pick. The Timberwolves traded Brandon Roy to the Portland Trail Blazers for Randy Foye and cash considerations. The Timberwolves then traded forward Bobby Jones to the Philadelphia 76ers for a 2007 second-round pick and cash.

On January 23, GM Kevin McHale fired head coach Dwane Casey and replaced him with Randy Wittman. McHale explained in a news conference that it was inconsistency by Casey that led to the firing. Casey had compiled an overall record of 53–69. They finished the 2006–07 season with a record of 32–50, allowing them to keep their 2007 first-round pick.

2007–present: Trading Garnett and rebuilding

On 31 July 2007, the Minnesota Timberwolves reached a deal to trade All-Star Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics for Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Ryan Gomes, two first-round draft picks, and cash considerations. This is the largest combination of players and picks ever traded for a single player in NBA history. Garnett and the Celtics went on to win the 2008 NBA Finals in six games over the Los Angeles Lakers.

That summer, the Timberwolves traded Mike James and Justin Reed to the Houston Rockets for Juwan Howard.<ref name="MikeJamestraded">Marc Stein (2007-06-14). Rockets, Wolves finalize swap of Howard, James.. ESPN.</ref> In October of the same year, the Timberwolves waived Howard after reaching a contractual buyout agreement, worth $10 million of roughly $14.25 million which Minnesota would have owed him. The team also traded Ricky Davis and Mark Blount to the Miami Heat in exchange for the Heat's Antoine Walker, Michael Doleac, Wayne Simien, and a 2008 protected first-round draft pick.

In the 2007 NBA Draft the Timberwolves selected Corey Brewer and Chris Richard from the two-time NCAA national champion Florida Gators.

Minnesota began the NBA preseason with two games in London and Istanbul, as part of NBA Europe Live 2007. On October 10, The Wolves lost to Kevin Garnett and the revamped Boston Celtics 92–81. To start the season, the Wolves began 0–5 before finally ending the drought with a home win over Sacramento. That drought also brought about speculation of the possible dismissal of current coach Randy Wittman. The youngest team in the NBA began adjusting to life after trading franchise star Kevin Garnett to Boston, meanwhile playing without budding talent Randy Foye for the first half of the season. Guards Sebastian Telfair and Marko Jaric were deputized as starting point guards during Foye's injury absence. The Timberwolves finished the season 22–60.<ref>ESPN - NBA Standings, Pro Basketball Standings, NBA Team Records</ref> On a handful of occasions during the season, the team showed flashes of its potential in wins or very close contests with top-tier teams.

In the 2008 NBA Draft, the Timberwolves selected O.J. Mayo out of Southern California with the third overall pick. When the draft concluded, the Timberwolves traded Mayo, Antoine Walker, Greg Buckner, and Marko Jaric to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for the 5th overall pick Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Jason Collins, and Brian Cardinal in a move that Jim Stack called, "a deal we couldn’t pass up.”

In 2008, in celebration of the franchise's twentieth anniversary, the team unveiled a new logo and uniforms. The new designs first appeared in the first preseason game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center on October 14, 2008. They also refurbished the floor at Target Center, returning to the traditional floor pattern and added touches of varnish while exposing most of the hardwood.

On 8 December 2008, after a 23-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers that dropped the team to 4–15, the Timberwolves fired head coach Randy Wittman and Kevin McHale took over. McHale also relinquished his vice president of basketball operations duties. It was unclear whether McHale's future with the team was dependent on the success or progress of the team which he had put together over the previous four years.

Those questions seemed to be answered when the Timberwolves went 10-4 for the month of January, giving McHale the coach of the month honors. But on February 8, 2009, the team's main star Al Jefferson tore his ACL in his right knee in a game at New Orleans, sidelining him for the rest of the season. At the time of the injury, Jefferson was having his best season to date, averaging 23 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks. Without Jefferson and Corey Brewer (who also suffered a season-ending injury), the Wolves sputtered, to finish with a 24-58 record.

On 17 June 2009, new president of basketball operations David Kahn announced that McHale would not be returning to the team as head coach. Kahn did not give a specific reason for McHale's dismissal only saying "this is going to be a transition period." For his part, McHale said he wanted to come back but was not offered a contract. Later, in August, the Timberwolves announced the signing of Kurt Rambis, then an assistant for the Los Angeles Lakers, to a four-year, $8 million contract to be their new head coach. With Kurt Rambis, the team stumbled to the second worst record in the League, behind the New Jersey Nets. The Timberwolves yielded only 15 victories.

On 12 July 2010, Minnesota traded for Miami Heat forward Michael Beasley the second pick from the 2008 NBA Draft.<ref>Sources: Heat clear space, deal Beasley. ESPN (July 9, 2010). Retrieved on July 9, 2010.</ref> In a locally untelevised game on November 12, 2010, Kevin Love grabbed an astounding franchise-record 31 rebounds and scored 31 points, the NBA's first 30-30 game in 28 years.<ref name="KevinLove30-30">Associated Press (2010-11-12). Kevin Love posts NBA's 1st 30-30 game in 28 years as Knicks fade in 4th. ESPN.</ref>

Love was later named an All Star for the 2010-2011 NBA season, the franchise's first All Star selection since Kevin Garnett in 2007. Love would later break Garnett's team record of 37 straight double-doubles on 8 February 2011 in a win over the Houston Rockets. On 8 March 2011, Love acquired his 52nd straight double-double, surpassing the mark of Moses Malone for the most consecutive double-doubles since the NBA/ABA merger in a win over the Indiana Pacers.

On 21 February 2011, Corey Brewer and Kosta Koufos were traded to the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets respectively for Knicks Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry (plus $3 million in cash from New York and a 2015 second-round draft pick from Denver) as part of a larger trade that sent all-star Carmelo Anthony from Denver to New York.<ref>http://www.startribune.com/sports/wolves/116706764.html</ref>

On the downside, with a 121-102 loss to the Houston Rockets, the Timberwolves fell to 17-65, finishing last in the Western Conference for the second straight year. They also clinched the 2010-11 NBA season's worst record.

Arenas

  • Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (1989–1990)
  • Target Center (1990–present)

Personnel

Current roster

Position # Nationality Name
F 8 Flag of the United States Beasley, Michael
G 19 Flag of the United States Ellington, Wayne
G 10 Flag of the United States Flynn, Jonny
F 32 Flag of the United States Hayward, Lazar
F 4 Flag of the United States Johnson, Wesley
F 42 Flag of the United States Love, Kevin
C 31 Flag of Serbia Miličić, Darko
C 14 Montenegro Peković, Nikola
PF 15 Flag of the United States Randolph, Anthony
G 13 Flag of the United States Ridnour, Luke
G 9 Flag of Spain Rubio, Ricky
G 3 Flag of the United States Telfair, Sebastian
F/C 44 Flag of the United States Telfair, Sebastian
G 5 Flag of the United States Webster, Martell

Retired numbers

  • 2 Malik Sealy, F, 1999–2000

Unassigned numbers

  • 21 Kevin Garnett, F, 1995-2007. The No. 21 has not been issued since Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics on 31 July 2007.

International rights

PG Flag of Spain Ricky Rubio 2009 NBA Draft 5th pick
F Flag of the Netherlands Henk Norel 2009 NBA Draft 47th pick
F/C Flag of Brazil Paulão Prestes 2010 NBA Draft 45th pick
F Flag of Serbia Nemanja Bjelica 2010 NBA Draft 35th pick

Individual awards

NBA MVP of the Year

  • Kevin Garnett – 2004

NBA Most Improved Player

  • Kevin Love – 2011

All-NBA First Team

  • Kevin Garnett - 2000, 2003, 2004

All-NBA Second Team

  • Kevin Garnett - 2001, 2002, 2007
  • Sam Cassell - 2004

All-NBA Third Team

  • Kevin Garnett - 1999, 2006

NBA All-Defensive First Team

  • Kevin Garnett – 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005

NBA All-Defensive Second Team

  • Kevin Garnett - 2006, 2007

NBA Rookie First Team

  • Pooh Richardson - 1990
  • Christian Laettner - 1993
  • Isaiah Rider – 1994
  • Stephon Marbury – 1997
  • Wally Szczerbiak – 2000
  • Randy Foye – 2007

NBA Rookie Second Team

  • Felton Spencer – 1991
  • Kevin Garnett – 1993
  • Craig Smith – 2007
  • Kevin Love – 2009
  • Jonny Flynn - 2010
  • Wesley Johnson – 2011

Management

Radio

The Timberwolves flagship station is KFAN 1130 AM. KFAN (known as WDGY until 1991) has been the flagship since the team's inception, except for a brief two year hiatus to KLCI BOB 106.1 FM for the 2006–07 and 2007–08 seasons. Alan Horton serves as the team's radio play-by-play announcer. WCCO-AM will become the flagship station in 2011-12 [2]

Television

Games are broadcast on WFTC My 29 and Fox Sports North. Broadcasters are Tom Hanneman and Jim Petersen.

Head coaches

No. Name Years Won Lost Win % Games Post Season
1 Bill Musselman 1989–1991 51 113 .311 164 -
2 Jimmy Rodgers 1991–1993 21 90 .189 111 -
3 Sidney Lowe 1993–1994 33 102 .244 135 -
4 Bill Blair 1994–1996 27 75 .265 102 -
5 Flip Saunders 1996–2005 411 326 .558 737 1997–2004
6 Kevin McHale 2005 19 12 .613 31 -
7 Dwane Casey 2005–2007 53 65 .449 118 -
8 Randy Wittman 2007–2008 38 105 .266 143 -
9 Kevin McHale 2008–09 20 43 .317 63 -
10 Kurt Rambis 2009–present 27 102 .206 129 -
21-year Total 1989- 700 1033 .404 1733 1997–2004

References

<references />

External links

Original Source

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