Another NBA Season Sans-Seattle

As October begins to wind down, the NBA will soon start up again. The National Basketball Association will raise the curtain on yet another season. For the seventh year, this curtain-raising will happen without Seattle.

It’s a sad fact to realize that the NBA has spent the better part of a decade without a franchise in the Pacific Northwest. Since the Sonics left, we’ve had two different presidents (and likely a third), two popes and even a Super Bowl title courtesy of the Seattle Seahawks.

As we’ve seen the NBA continue to prosper, we’ve also seen a number of other things happen while without a men’s professional basketball team.

  • We’ve seen the number of former Sonics dwindle. Kevin Durant, Nick Collison, Reggie Evans and Jeff Green are some of the few that are left. Luke Ridnour was in that discussion, but he could retire soon.  
  • We’ve also seen potential options in terms of moving to Seattle come and go. The New Orleans Pelicans (then known as the Hornets), Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks were all linked with, or close to a move.
  • The Seattle Storm have been to the playoffs five different times, including winning the WNBA title in 2010. At least the Storm are continuing to carry the torch for professional basketball in Seattle.
  • The entire Hobbit franchise came and went

By “we,” I’m referring to the people of Washington State, and Seattle. Losing the Sonics was brutal, but the fact that it’s been so long since we’ve had a team is just as brutal.

For Sonics’ fans, the NBA has become a league of players. We obviously haven’t moved on to different teams, but we become fans of players. This isn’t to say we rush out and buy the jerseys, but we more appreciate the specific players’ skill. The NBA has also become out occasionally checking the standings and making sure that team from Oklahoma isn’t doing well. We have nothing against the players, it’s just, you know…

The NBA’s return date to Seattle is TBD, but it’s bound to happen eventually (hopefully soon). The Seattle area has a few exciting propositions on the table in both SoDo and Tukwila, so there’s hope. If all goes well, Seattle will have an NBA team soon. However, that’s obviously not going to happen this season. Thus begins another NBA season without Seattle.

Seattle Links: NBA, Michael Bennett, Seahawks, Mariners, Gonzaga

Players the Minnesota Timberwolves Could Have Drafted Instead of Wesley Johnson

The Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t a very good basketball team right now. They sit at the bottom of a mostly-bad Northwest division with a 14-48 record. They’re only winning 22.6 percent of their games. There is some light at the end of the tunnel thanks to a young core that includes franchise cornerstone Andrew Wiggins, dunker extraordinaire Zach LaVine and recent first-round draft picks Adreian Payne, Anthony Bennett, Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad.

(Related: Why Didn’t the Timberwolves Trade Away Their Veteran Players at the Trade Deadline?)

While players like LaVine, Dieng and Muhammad (who Minnesota drafted) all have bright futures with the team, the T-Wolves have had their fair share of draft picks that fail to pan out. From Johnny Flynn to Derrick Williams, there have certainly been a few, but there may not be one that stings as much as the missed opportunity in 2010 when the team drafted Wesley Johnson fourth overall.

Johnson averaged 7.7 points per game during his stint in Minnesota (which lasted all of two years). He also chipped in with 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per contest. Those are good numbers, but considering they came from the fourth overall pick, they’re not great. Even Johnson per 36 minutes stats aren’t near the level they should be for a high-lottery pick. Johnson’s per 36 minutes numbers in two seasons in Minnesota: 11.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2 assists.

Johnson and a future first-round pick were flipped to Phoenix in a three-team trade in 2010. The Timberwolves netted three future second-round draft choices. The former Syracuse standout has been with two teams since leaving Minnesota—Phoenix and his current employers, the Lakers—and is still hovering around 10 points per game (9.1 last year, 9.7 this season).

Hindsight is 20-20, but here’s a look at the players Minnesota could have drafted instead of Johnson.

DeMarcus Cousins, 5th Overall Pick. Team: Sacramento Kings.

DeMarcus Cousins has developed from a fouling machine to possibly the best all-around big man in the game.

His scoring average has steadily climbed from 14.1 in his rookie year to 23.4 this season. He has a knack for rebounding, as evidenced by his career 10.5 rebounds per game. The center shoots well from the charity stripe (80%) and blocks nearly two shots per game (1.7).

What could have been with Cousins and Kevin Love. . .

Greg Monroe, 7th Overall Pick. Team: Detroit Pistons.

Another big who would have played esthetically pleasing basketball with Love, Monroe is a highly-skilled big who is adept at both scoring and passing. He’s not too bad of a rebounder either with a 9.2 per game average that isn’t far behind Cousins.

Instead of a Love/Monroe frontline, Minnesota are stuck with watching Monroe team with Andre Drummond to form one of the most complete front courts in the league.

Since his rookie year, Monroe has averaged 15.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest while shooting 49.9% from the field and 70% from the line.

Gordon Hayward, 9th Overall Pick. Team: Utah Jazz.

Former Butler standout Gordon Hayward has developed into the face of the Utah Jazz.

After a rookie campaign in which he only averaged 5.4 points per contest, Hayward has improved every year since, culminating this season with 19.5 points per game to go along with 4.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists.

While Cousins and Monroe represent what could have been at different positions, Hayward plays the same position as Johnson. Hayward’s all-around game and output is likely what Minnesota expected out of Johnson. Hayward recently signed a long-term contract extension with Utah.

Paul George, 10th Overall Pick. Team: Indiana Pacers.

Paul George has developed into one of the best players in the league. The swingman eventually unseated Danny Granger as the face of the Pacers and hasn’t looked back.

He averaged 21.7 points per game last season and is currently recovering from injury. Worst case scenario, he’s back at full strength next season when the Pacers will likely be amongst the East’s elite.

Like so many others on this list, seeing George play with Love and Ricky Rubio would have been something.

Eric Bledsoe, 18th Overall Pick. Team: Los Angeles Clippers.

One of the most athletic players in the league, Bledsoe moved out of Chris Paul’s shadow in LA and into the starting lineup in Phoenix where he has flourished.

The point guard does it all for the Suns with 17.1 points, 6.0 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game.

Ricky Rubio is a flashy, above-average point guard, but Bledsoe surely would have been an upgrade over the Spaniard.

(Related: Why the Suns Were One of the Losers of the NBA Trade Deadline)

Avery Bradley, 19th Overall Pick. Team: Boston Celtics.

You may have heard about the amount of press Tacoma has received since Avery Bradley was joined by fellow Tacoma-native Isaiah Thomas on the Boston Celtics. It’s fantastic that the two are playing on the same team after growing up in the same city, but since the trade, everyone suddenly knows where Tacoma is, and refer to it on its own without the usual “WA” tag that follows. People are treating it like its Seattle in terms of recognizability. Look, I’m all for press for Tacoma, but if you’re from outside of Washington state (at least before the trade) you have no idea where Tacoma is. Absolutely no clue. Zero.

Anywho, Bradley has steadily improved his game and is now one of the core pieces of a young Celtics squad expected to contend in the near future. The former McDonald’s All-American has poured in 14.4 points per game this season and is a solid defender.

Other Notable Players Who Minnesota Could Have Taken: Larry Sanders (15th), Grevis Vasquez (28th), Hassan Whiteside (33rd) and Lance Stephenson (40th).

All stats courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

Where are They Now: Players the Minnesota Timberwolves Acquired for Kevin Garnett

With Kevin Garnett once again a fixture in Minnesota sports thanks to a deadline trade that sent him from Brooklyn to Minnesota for Thaddeus Young (you can check out what I thought of the trade here) it’s time to look back at the players Minnesota received from the Celtics when they traded away Garnett eight years ago.

The Trade:  Minnesota Acquires: Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, a 2009 first-round pick (Wayne Ellington) and a 2009 first-round pick (Johnny Flynn).

Boston Acquires: Kevin Garnett.

The Players:

Ryan Gomes

Combo forward Ryan Gomes would have some solid years in Minnesota after coming over in the trade. He averaged 12.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game during his tenure with the Timberwolves.

Minnesota traded him and Luke Babbitt to Portland for Martell Webster. Gomes was soon waived by the Blazers and caught on with the Clippers, where he spent two seasons, averaging 5.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists per contest in a reduced role. He played five games with Kevin Durant’s team last year and has not appeared in an NBA game this season.

Gerald Green

Gerald Green bounced around after leaving Boston. He only spent 29 games with Minnesota before moving on to Houston. He also had stops in Dallas, New Jersey and Indiana before winding up with Phoenix where he currently fills the role of “bench scorer”. The former Celtic is averaging 14.1 points per contest since joining the Suns.

Since the Garnett trade, Green has been involved in trades for Kirk Snyder (Houston) and was dealt to Phoenix with Miles Plumlee and a future first-round draft pick for Luis Scola.

Al Jefferson

Possibly the most accomplished player on this list, Jefferson certainly had the scoring touch while he was in Minnesota. Big Al averaged 20.1 points per game as a Timberwolves player, including a career best 23.1 points per outing in 2008/2009. He was later dealt to Utah for Kosta Koufos and two future first-round picks (Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones were later selected).

Jefferson spent three seasons in Utah before departing via free agency for Charlotte where he has elevated the now-Hornets to playoff contender status.

Theo Ratliff

Theo Ratliff lasted only 10 games with Minnesota before being waived and signing with Detroit. Ratliff would later play for Philadelphia, San Antonio, Charlotte and the Lakers before playing his final NBA game in the 2010/2011 season.

He averaged 6.3 points per contest as a member of the Timberwolves.

Sebastian Telfair

After two seasons of receiving the lion’s share of starts in Minnesota, Telfair spent 2009/2010 with the Clippers and Cavaliers, before returning to the Twin Cities the next season.

“Bassy” Telfair has bounced around in the NBA, along with Boston and Minnesota, he’s suited up for Portland, Los Angeles (Clippers), Cleveland, Phoenix, Toronto and Kevin Durant’s team. He was Durant’s teammate up until November 26th of last year, but was waived.

For his career, Telfair averages 7.4 points per game, 3.5 assists per contest and 1.6 rebounds a game. He also commits 2.1 fouls per contest.

Wayne Ellington

Fun fact: Wayne Ellington has been involved in two salary-dump trades in his career. He was shipped, along with Josh Selby, Marreese Speights and a future first-round pick, to Cleveland for the considerably cheaper Jon Leuer.

Later on in his career, he’d be on the other side of the trade being acquired in exchange for a large salary. The Knicks acquired him from Dallas with Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin and two 2014 second-round draft pick (Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Cleanthony Early) for Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton.

He would eventually end up with the Lakers where he is averaging 9.6 points per contest in 52 appearances (27 starts).

Johnny Flynn

After a somewhat promising rookie campaign in which Flynn posted 13.5 points, 4.4 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game, he struggled to find consistent playing time.

The point guard only started eight games in his second season after starting 81 in his rookie year. He averaged 5.3 points per outing in his sophomore campaign and was out of Minnesota soon after that.

Flynn split his third season between the Rockets and Trail Blazers, and has been out of the NBA ever since. He signed a contract with Pistons in 2012 but was unable to make the team.

All stats courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

Complete NBA Trade Deadline Winners & Losers Series: Celtics, Pistons, Heat, Bucks, 76ers, Lakers, Nuggets, Suns & T-Wolves




NBA Trade Deadline Losers: LA Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns & Minnesota Timberwolves


NBA Trade Deadline Losers: Minnesota Timberwolves

Meet another one of the NBA’s most puzzling teams, the Minnesota Timberwolves!

While Denver actually moved some pieces for future assets, Minnesota did not. In fact, they dealt a younger player with the potential to bring in a somewhat sizable return (Thaddeus Young) to the Nets for Kevin Garnett.

While I like the team dealing for Garnett in terms of what he brings to the team, Young was too much of a valued commodity to ship out for an aging veteran. Granted Garnett can still contribute, plus, he’ll fill seats and will be a mentor to Minnesota’s young players. Still, Young was too much of an asset to give up for KG.

That wasn’t Minnesota’s only trade activity this season, they also traded Mo Williams and Troy Daniels to Charlotte for Gary Neal and a second-round pick in 2019. While dealing Williams was the right move, dealing him and a young player for Neal and a second-round pick in four years is puzzling. Neal is on an expiring contract and is still with the team, meaning they didn’t trade him for more assets.

Including Neal, here is a list of veteran players Minnesota should have traded, but didn’t.

  • Nikola Pekovic,
  • Kevin Martin
  • Chase Budinger
  • Neal

You could also make the case for Ricky Rubio being dealt, but at only 24-years-old, he may yet be part of the Timberwolves next contending team (while still in his prime).

The fact of the matter is that the Wolves need to create more minutes for their younger players. This means guys like Zach LaVine, Adreian Payne, Anthony Bennett, Glenn Robinson III and Gorgui Dieng should all be playing a high number of minutes similar to Andrew Wiggins. However, with players like Pekovic, Martin, Budinger and Neal on the roster, it becomes difficult. The easiest way to give the youngsters more minutes is to simply take the veterans off the roster. The T-Wolves should have done this at the deadline. If they did, maybe they would have gotten some decent returns to help build for the future and hoard even more assets.

Considering Aaron Afflalo and Isaiah Thomas both fetched first-round picks for their old clubs, one would think Kevin Martin could have received a similar return. Pekovic’s contract probably scared some teams away, but at 29-years-old, he’s a dependable center who can score and rebound. Budinger and Neal could have provided interested teams with wing depth and experience.

Minnesota needs to give more minutes to younger players, while stockpiling assets for the future. This is the easiest path towards evolving into a legitimate contender. The only thing standing in the way of both of those objectives? Dealing veteran players. The Timberwolves should have, but simply didn’t do this, making them one of the “losers” of the trade deadline.

Check out the rest of Know Hitter’s series on the NBA Trade Deadline Winners and Losers. The Winners: BostonDetroitMiamiPhiladelphia and Milwaukee. The “Losers”: Los Angeles (Lakers)Phoenix , Denver and Minnesota.

Updated NBA Trade Deadline Winners and Losers: Celtics, Pistons, Heat, Bucks, 76ers, Lakers, Nuggets and Suns



Coming Soon- The Minnesota Timberwolves

NBA Trade Deadline Losers: Denver Nuggets

Losers: Denver Nuggets

Introducing one the most puzzling teams in the NBA, ladies and gentlemen, the Denver Nuggets!

Puzzling, that’s certainly one way to describe the Nuggets. The team started off with some positive trades, for a rebuilding team (which Denver clearly should be given that they play in the West), then proceeded not to unload a bevy of veterans who could have brought in a return anywhere from decent to sizeable.

First with the good—the Nuggets somehow managed to extract two first-round picks from Cleveland for Timofey Mozgov (the Carmelo Anthony trade, the gift that keeps on giving) earlier in the season.

The Nuggets later traded Aaron Afflalo to Portland for a first-round pick, which is a positive. The team also acquired young players Will Barton, Victor Claver and former fifth overall pick Thomas Robinson in the deal only to waive Claver and Robinson. Essentially, they got Barton and a first-round pick for Afflalo. It’s not outstanding, but it’s not too bad either.

After that, the moves (as well as lack of moves) started to become puzzling.

Denver burned a first-round pick to rid themselves of JaVale McGee’s contract by sending the pick and the center to Philly (one of my trade deadline winners, you can read about that here). For a rebuilding team, ridding themselves of a first-round pick doesn’t make too much sense.

While losing Mozgov, Alonso and McGee would signal a tear-down rebuild in Denver, the team didn’t trade away any of its other veterans who could have fetched some sort of return.

Wilson Chandler’s name was thrown around as a potential trade candidate, but is still on Denver’s roster. Similarly, Ty Lawson could have been moved. While extremely talented, the point guard’s age (27) likely prohibits him from being part of a rebuilding process. Considering the high-returns fellow point guards Reggie Jackson and Michael-Carter Williams fetched in trades, it may have been prudent for Denver to deal the former Tar Heel if they were all-in on rebuilding.

Additionally, over-30 guards Jameer Nelson and Randy Foye could have brought in some kind of return given the pair’s respectively modest salaries.

While Denver could have traded all those players, the team didn’t. It’s as if they have one foot in rebuilding mode with the other firmly planted in the land of contending.

If anything, the fact that Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried are still on the roster, coupled with an attempt to stockpile assets and clear salary means Denver will likely try and reload for next season.

The team’s brass will have its work cut out for them in the offseason. Having major contributors like Lawson, Gallinari, Chandler and Faried in their respective primes signals an intent to win. The presence of veteran role players like Nelson and Foye only reinforce that notion. However, while half of the roster is built for contending, the other half may not be. Younger players like Jusuf Nurkic, Gary Harris and Barton need major minutes to flourish, they likely wouldn’t get major minutes on a contending team.

Check out Know Hitter’s series on the NBA Trade Deadline Winners and Losers. The Winners: BostonDetroitMiamiPhiladelphia and Milwaukee. The “Losers”: Los Angeles (Lakers), Phoenix , Denver and coming soon—Minnesota.

NBA Trade Deadline Winners and Losers: Winner- Philadelphia 76ers

The NBA trade deadline has always played second fiddle to Major League Baseball’s trade deadline. While it will always trump the NFL’s generally underwhelming trade deadline, it lived up to the annual precedence set by baseball with a bevy of moves that shocked not only based on volume in terms of but also because of the prominent players being moved like Isaiah Thomas and Goran Dragic.

(That’s three “trade deadline mentions! If this article gets six, everyone gets a free haircut at Supercuts and beef jerky from 7-Eleven!).



On the surface, Philly’s deadline deals are bizarre. They took on JaVale McGee’s $12 million salary for next season while essentially dealing cornerstone Michael Carter-Williams and promising rotation player K.J. McDaniels for Isaiah Canaan, a first-round pick and a second-round pick.

However, upon closer examination, the deals aren’t that crazy. The Sixers had the salary-cap space to absorb McGee, and essentially got him free along with a protected first-round pick in this year’s draft. If the former Denver center can regain any of the form he’s shown when full-strength, then some team might take a flier on him, leading to further assets. The fact that his contract expires after next year makes him even more appealing in a trade, possibly at some point next season. Plus, they get a first-round pick out of the deal. It’s likely a pick somewhere in the early twenties, but still… they received all this for the rights to draft-and-stash pick Cenk Akyol, a 27-year-old who’s held the “draft and stash” distinction for 11 years.

While McGee’s acquisition seemed somewhat logical, the loss of Carter-Williams and McDaniels can seem little puzzling. After all, Carter-Williams was still on his rookie deal and averaged 16 points, 6.7 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game in a season and a half in Philadelphia. McDaniels was a former second-round pick averaging 9.2 points off the bench.

So why is this a win for the Sixers if they dealt a promising young point guard and a potential long-term rotation player?

Even with Carter-Williams, the Sixers were going to stink for a while before they got better. The reality is that if he stayed in Philly he’d probably be pretty expensive salary wise by the time the team was contending again. Trading him for a first-round pick (originally the Lakers’ pick, which is top-five protected this year) allows the team draft a potential impact player, similar to what Carter-Williams would have been, only they get to paying him after his rookie contract later rather than sooner—when the Sixers will likely be contenders.

There’s also the question of how good the young point guard real is. Sure, his per-game numbers look good on paper, but how much of that had to do with how bad Philadelphia is? The tanking Sixers’ lack of comparative talent has turned Evan Turner and Tony Wroten into 17 points-per-game scorers. Both are good players, but 17 points a night? Probably not on a better team where they’d play fewer minutes. Case in point, Turner averaged only seven points a contest after being dealt to Indiana halfway through last season. That’s not to say Carter-Williams is going to be limited to seven points per outing with Milwaukee, but the extra minutes and shots garnered by Carter-Williams in Philly make it hard to truly gage his talent.

The last part of Philadelphia’s deadline dealings was shipping McDaniels to Houston for Isaiah Canaan and a second-round pick.

Again, why deal McDaniels?

Firstly because he only signed a one-year deal as his rookie contract, turning down a multi-year offer to gamble on himself in order to garner a larger contract in free agency. So far, the gamble has paid off. McDaniels averaged 9.2 points and 3.8 rebounds a game, not bad production for a second-round pick in his rookie season. He’ll likely garner a multi-million dollar, multi-year deal in the offseason, something Sixers’ GM Sam Hinkie apparently wasn’t willing to pay.

The same logic used with Carter-Williams can likely be used here. McDaniels was likely going to be somewhat costly (not as much as Carter-Williams, but still much more than what he’s making now) by the time the Sixers are in a position to contend. By dealing him now, they are able to take a flier on Canaan as Carter-Williams’ replacement while also recouping a second-round pick. That pick will come from either Minnesota or Denver, two of the worst teams in the league. Because of that, the Sixers could be looking at an early-second round draft choice. Due to the pick’s proximity to the first-round in terms of talent level, and lack of comparative financial commitment, they can be very appealing to teams.

Check back for more winners and losers of the trade deadline, including thoughts on what Phoenix and Milwaukee did, plus the lack of action on the Lakers part.

All stats courtesy of unless otherwise noted.