5. Minnesota Timberwolves
The proposed three-team trade between them, the Lakers and Blazers didn’t fall through. This trade was supposed to net them a clutch, scoring guard in Jamal Crawford to help them reach the playoffs. They woke up yesterday morning and their dream turned into a nightmare.
While it may not be their complete fault this trade didn’t occur, it is David Kahn’s fault he didn’t manage to acquire another shooting guard instead. You always need options in case the initial plan can’t happen. In a trade market that feverously opened up in the waning minutes, it’s hard to believe Kahn couldn’t catch one team off guard.
If the Clippers could traded Brian Cook, of all people, and a second-round pick for Nick Young, the Timberwolves could’ve easily completed something similar.
Once that three-teamer vanished, the Lakers pursued different alternatives. The Rockets were making trades to strengthen their playoff chances. The T’Wolves still had assets in Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams to have swung for a pretty decent shooting guard. And that’s all they would’ve needed to do, despite not having Ricky Rubio under the fold.
Standing only a game and half from the last playoff spot, Kahn may have botched this golden opportunity to show K-Love how serious he is in making this squad a serious contender.
4. Boston Celtics
The hardest thing for any fading contender to determine is when it’s time to rebuild. The San Antonio Spurs have refused in past seasons to deal any of their big three and gradually build through the draft. This model has worked for them so far, but it isn’t the blueprint for every team. The key underlying factor that both the Spurs and Celtics share is that their markets aren’t places where free agents flock to. The Spurs have acknowledged this reality in spite of their continued success. The Celtics have not.
Danny Ainge misread the market, couldn’t create one, and maintained the false hope that the C’s can contend this season. He couldn’t outplay his hand any worse. After dealing Kendrick Perkins last year, he continued to have cold feet towards blowing up the team. There were numerous rumors circulating about his activity, but none prevailed. It doesn’t matter how many calls you make, if you can’t sell your product and get the job done. How are Celtics fans going to react this summer when there wasn’t a strategic plan in place to sustain their viability going forward?
According to ESPN Boston’s Chris Forsberg, Doc Rivers and Ainge have “stressed the need to be disciplined, with a goal of not erasing the cap space they’re set to free up this offseason.”
However, the Celtics’ expected boatload of cap space doesn’t guarantee anything. The core they materialized through their own draft picks (The Truth, Perkins, and Rajon Rondo) and major trades (The Big Ticket and Jesus Shuttlesworth) didn’t voluntarily choose to come to Beantown. So why didn’t Ainge follow the same course that got them to be successful to begin with? Rondo, The Truth and Rivers as a coach are quality building blocks, but not even offering a Harvard education on top of that is going to legitimately convince cats that Boston is the place to be.
Ultimately, the Celtics decided to be stubborn and keep the cats of their recent glory days. Most of these guys won’t be with them past this season. The longer a team postpones their rebuilding phase, the longer it is to ever get back on top.