Created: 01/04/2013 9:32 AM KSTP.com
By: Darren Wolfson
A non-playoff team for an NBA-long eight consecutive seasons, the Minnesota Timberwolves feel inclined to end that ineptitude even if it means being summarily dismissed by Oklahoma City or San Antonio in the first round.
That inclination, whether right or wrong, stems from coach Rick Adelman's short-term desire at 66 years old, president of basketball operations David Kahn operating on a one-year deal and owner Glen Taylor trying to raise the team's profile as he prepares to sell it.
This current roster -- whether it's injuries, offensive ineffectiveness, a nonchalant approach in the fourth quarter or All-Star Kevin Love simply not making open shots -- doesn't appear playoff-worthy. Close, but the Western Conference is too good this year.
One way to change that is to make a trade.
League sources maintain Kahn is tempted to wait a few more weeks to see point guard Ricky Rubio -- currently out with back spasms, but expected back Saturday against Portland -- play a sustained stretch before any drastic decisions are made.
That doesn't mean Kahn is passing on opportunities to talk with other general managers, though. Here's a decent idea of where the Wolves stand as we approach the Feb. 21 trade deadline:
The Pek problem
One team official scoffed at the notion that center Nikola Pekovic, who is a restricted free agent this summer, could command $12 million/year on the open market.
I do, too, but big men are constantly in demand, and the Blazers, in desperate need of one, will have cap space.
If Pekovic doesn't get $12 million a year, the hunch is he'll come close. That makes me wonder, if Kahn can find the right replacement, whether he'll pull the trigger.
That could be Cleveland's Anderson Varejao. According to two league sources, the Wolves and Cavaliers have had discussions, albeit brief, about Varejao.
What's not known is if Cleveland has any interest in Pekovic. And presumably, it would take a lot more than Pekovic for Kahn to pull off such a deal.
Gasol still waiting
As long as Pau Gasol is a Laker, trade rumors will percolate, and as they do, they will always include the Wolves.
The fact is Kahn and Adelman love the thought of Gasol in their offense. Adelman's recipe for success in Sacramento was due in large part to Chris Webber and Vlade Divac. The Wolves look at Love and Gasol as comparable to that duo.
Gasol is an excellent passer. Adelman loves big men who excel at that. A team source said Taylor is willing to go over the luxury tax for the 2013-14 season if the right deal presents itself. With a salary of nearly $20 million next year, Gasol fits that mold.
What about Redick?
Sources say the Wolves are big fans of Orlando's J.J. Redick.
An unrestricted free agent this summer, the indication is he's going somewhere. The Wolves are the worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA, so Redick is an obvious fit.
It'd take forward Derrick Williams, plus a future first-round pick just to get into the discussion. There will be plenty of teams after Redick.
The best bet is that Kahn does something, but it may not be until the week, or even the day of the deadline.
• Both the Wolves and Blazers are sworn to secrecy, but one team source didn't deny that the compensation the Wolves are getting for theMartell Webster compensation claim is no more than a second round pick and/or cash. It's unknown when the league will make public that the case is closed, but it is.
• The Wolves have had multiple talks with free agent Josh Childress' camp. But nothing is imminent. Childress is waiting for a full guarantee, while the Wolves' preferred route might be to sign someone to a 10-day contract. Those can be given out starting on Monday.
• With all contracts becoming guaranteed on Thursday, look for the Wolves to release forward Lazar Hayward">Lazar Hayward. It's possible they bring him back on a 10-day deal.
• Late word on Thursday night: the Wolves aren't interested in free agent shooting guard Daequan Cook.
• Wing Mickaël Gelabale, whom the Wolves have an interest in, has an NBA out in his European contract for all of January. Gelabale is not willing to come overseas for just a 10-day deal. He needs at least a 20-day guarantee. Gelable, 29, known for his defense and ability to shoot a high percentage, last played in the NBA in 2008 with Seattle.
• After three microfracture knee surgeries, free agent center Greg Oden is not a lock to ever play again. But if his comeback is complete and he signs with a team this summer, count the Wolves as interested.
• The Twins never made free agent pitcher Brett Myers an offer. They had numerous discussions with his agent, but allowed the Indians to swoop in for one year and $7 million.
• Twins pitcher Rich Harden, who signed a minor-league deal, has an out date of July 31. That means the Twins can send him to Triple-A Rochester for a long stretch before deciding whether to add him to the 25-man roster if need be.
• The Twins will have a scout in Mexico on Saturday to watch Cuban prospects Dariel Alvarez (24-year-old outfielder) and Aledmys Diaz (22-year-old shortstop). The Twins had heavy interest in Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler before he signed with the Cubs in June. They also were interested in Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes before he signed with the A's last winter.
• The Twins have had brief talks with free agent outfielder Ryan Sweeney's representative. The same goes with free agent outfielder Scott Podsednik's representative.
• The Twins have had talks about signing free agent utility man Brent Lillibridge, but the best bet is that he signs with a different team. The same goes for free agent infielder Yuniesky Betancourt.
• Brandon Inge is another infielder on the Twins' radar.
• The Indians have 10 days to trade or release pitcher Jeanmar Gomez. During this time, his camp his being proactive in reaching out to teams they think that make sense. Yes, the Twins are one of those teams. It's unknown if there's reciprocal interest.
• Gophers associate athletic director Mike Ellis said he doesn't expect football coach Jerry Kill to lose any assistants to promotions this offseason. If anyone were to go, it would be secondary coach Jay Sawvel. He's solid with Xs and Os and is said to be an excellent recruiter. That interview with Ellis will air on 1500 ESPN's "This Week in Golden Gopher Sports" at 7 a.m. Sunday.
Rashad Vaughn Q&A:
Vaughn, a junior at Robbinsdale Cooper who the Gophers want badly, is a top-10 2014 recruit. I caught with him on Wednesday afternoon.
How was Monday at the Gophers-Spartans game?
It was an exciting game. The Gophers got a big win. The atmosphere was amazing.
Did you catch up with any of the other recruits there?
I talked with Reid (Travis) and Tyus (Jones). We all caught up.
Where are you at in this college process?
I'm still open, but I'm looking to narrow my list soon. I'm not sure of exactly when.
Weren't you supposed to do that two weeks ago?
My dad told me to wait and to focus on this high school season. We'll narrow it down in the middle (of the season).
Safe to say that much like with Tyus Jones, the Gophers will be on that list?
Yes. The Gophers should be on that list.
You can start your official visits now, right?
You had to take the ACT first. I took it.
Have you gotten the results back yet?
No. It'll still be a couple weeks.
Feel good about how the test went?
Yeah. They made me take it on the first game day, so it was hard to sit in the seat. But I think I did good.
You take an official visit to Minnesota?
Probably not just because I can go there anytime.
You had 51 points in a game recently. What was that like?
North Carolina was there. Everything was clicking.
Who are all your offers because I know it changes all the time like with Florida coming in recently?
Florida, Baylor, Texas, the Gophers, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville, Kansas, North Carolina, Florida State. That's all I can think of.
It's hard to remember all of them, I bet?
Yeah, it's hard. It's a lot.
Any visits soon?
I was going to go down to the Kentucky-Louisville game, but we played the night before.
Is all this overwhelming?
I'm enjoying it. Just staying close to the people close to me.
Who is that?
My parents, coaches (including AAU coach Marquise Watts), and my brothers.
Is it hard to maintain that circle of trust with many trying to break in?
I have people go through my dad.
Hear that Travis got an offer from Michigan State and Tom Izzo on Monday morning?
That would be a good fit for him. Wait, he got one for football?
Well, he has options, but that was basketball…
I went and watched when he played Cooper in the section semifinals (in football). He's nice at that quarterback position.
He better at hoops or football?
I can't tell you. He's nice at both.
How often do you talk to Gophers coaches?
I talk to (assistant) Vince (Taylor) a lot.
What about Tubby?
Yeah, every now-and-then. But mostly Vince.
Any recent talks with Tyus Jones about a tag-team duo?
We talked before. But we really didn't elaborate and haven't yet. But we'll talk, I bet, in the near future. We haven't talked (about that) recently.