What's been the reaction to Shabazz Muhammad being sent down to the D-League for a few games?
We weren't particularly happy about that draft pick to begin with, and Muhammad did not look good in either summer league or preseason. It was clear he wasn't going to play at all once the real games started; he just doesn't do enough to warrant playing time. It seems like the right thing to do to send him to the D-league and let him get some game action for a while. It seems like he has a good attitude about it, and about practice in general, as far as we can tell, so perhaps he'll improve and earn some playing time in Minnesota at some point, but it isn't going to be this year.
Derrick Williams has finally moved on from Minnesota after seemingly being in every trade rumor since draft day. What was the initial feeling on that trade and how has it worked out so far?
Williams had to be traded. Frankly, it should have happened in the summer before the team had to commit to guaranteeing his contract for 2014-15, but I think they didn't want to give up on him without another shot. But things didn't go any better at the start of this season. He just hasn't gotten any better since his rookie year, he was stuck behind the best power forward in the league, and things just weren't going to work out for him in Minnesota. We were pretty happy to get a rotation level guy for him that makes a bit less money. Luc Mbah a Moute has been helpful; he's a good defensive player. We could have used more of a scorer off the bench, but that wasn't available.
The Wolves find themselves just out of the playoffs right now, although in the East they would be sitting pretty. What needs to happen for this team to make a push towards the post-season this year?
Well, you ask about it below, but the short answer is they have to win some of their close games. They have a great point differential--that of a team that should be 22-13 or something, but they have lost every close game they have played. It's killing them: the pattern is blowout win (I believe they lead the league in wins of 20+ points, which is incredible for a .500 team), then a close loss. Blowout win, close loss. They have the talent to be in the playoffs, but so far, they can't get over the hump.
Superstar Kevin Love called out some of his teammates after a loss to Phoenix this week. Obviously there is plenty of time before the end of next season when he can opt out, but is there worry he could be gone unless significant changes take place?
Absolutely. We are well aware that he could be gone after next season (or sooner if the front office thinks they can't keep him). He's pretty frustrated right now because of what I said above--so many close losses. Also, the bench has not been very successful this year, and it's cost them. Not much we can do about it--just have to keep trying to win. I'm not a huge fan of some of the things Flip Saunders did this off-season, but there is enough talent there to be pretty good, but it's been an incredibly frustrating season so far.
What has Ricky Rubio done to step his game up since he entered the league and what does he need to continue to improve?
The biggest thing is the shooting, right? If he could improve around the rim it would help a lot, he misses a lot of close shots and layups. He's a good orchestrator and defender, but his struggles to score really hurt.
Close games have not always gone well for the Wolves this season. Is there any particular reason Minnesota hasn't been able to close out wins?
Not so far as I can tell. 0-10 in games decided by 4 points or less, and I can't point to any one thing and say it's the reason. They've had shots made against them late, they've turned the ball over at inopportune times, they've missed good looks late, and they've missed free throws. It's been brutal to watch, and pretty unprecedented. As I said above, they have a terrific point differential, but just can't win the close ones. At all. I wish I had the answer, but I don't.