Obviously, I’ve covered sports long enough to have a feel for what’s good and what’s not. Right now, the Minnesota Timberwolves have me in limbo.
They sent All-Star guard Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia after he demanded to be traded. In exchange for the headache Butler, the organization did a nice job of getting two veteran players, Dario Saric and Robert Covington.
“We needed the patience when Jimmy said he wanted to be traded,” said owner Glen Taylor. “A lot of teams would not offer us any good deal. So, we had to wait about 10 games or so and then some teams became interested.
“This was not the only good offer we had,” Taylor continued. “We thought Covington and Saric would fit in best and it looks like we were correct on that.”
After starting 4-9, the Timberwolves are fighting back. They are deeper and stronger defensively and they rebound better with these two 6’9” veterans.
“We had that difficult start because we had that issue with Jimmy,” said Taylor. “And I think it just affected the team a lot more than we thought. But lately, since we got the new guys in, they are all getting together with teamwork and we’re seeing the results and it’s been great results.”
Though they’ve improved, they remain a work in progress. After 30 games, the 14-16 Timberwolves are next to last in the 15-team Western Conference. They are 12-4 at Target Center, 2-12 on the road, and 0-11 versus Western Conference teams. If this keeps up — winning at home while getting killed on the road — they should consider changing their name to the Jekylls, mirroring the duality of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
And, with LeBron James now in the West with the Los Angeles Lakers, the toughest conference in basketball is deeper than before. Last year, Denver missed the playoffs, finishing ninth by one game. Today, they lead the West with a 20-9 record.
There’s a long way to go — 82 games means there is time for the Timberwolves to develop the type of mental toughness and consistency to win anywhere. The puzzling thing for me is the dual personalities: strong at home and bad on the road. That has to change!
The Timberwolves made the playoffs last year and were featured on Christmas Day. Not this year; they play Dec. 26 in Chicago vs. the Bulls.
This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.