The Minnesota Timberwolves will finish their nightmare season tonight when they travel to San Antonio to face the Spurs. In a year that was marred by injuries, the team won 30 games for the first time since the 2006-2007 season. Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of the last time the team made the playoffs. History will tell you that was the year the team finished tops in the Midwest division and advanced all the way to the Western Conference Finals, losing to Los Angeles 4-2.
All totaled, 346 games were missed due to injury with only Luke Ridnour playing in and starting all 81 games to date. Not exactly the way to break the playoff drought.
Kevin Love broke his hand while doing knuckle pushups in October, then re-broke his hand requiring surgery just 18 games into his comeback. Love's lost season was a microcosm of the entire campaign for the team.
Brandon Roy retired due to knee issues but came back complete with a five million dollar contract. He played five games before the knee issues resurfaced.
Chase Budinger had one of the more memorable moments of the 2012-2013 season in the Wolves 96-94 win over Indiana. His back cut and layup at the buzzer had fans thinking playoffs. He tore his meniscus the next night in Chicago and was lost for over four months. At the time Buginger went out, the team was 4-2.
The misfortune wasn't just limited to players either. Head coach Rick Adelman was forced to miss games in the middle of the season to tend to his wife Kay who was working through a medical condition. Adelman has not stated one way or another if he plans to return next season, but won't wait long to let the team know of his plans.
For a team that didn't play with its full roster, the fact that they won 30 games is rather remarkable. The team has big questions from top to bottom in the off season.
Five off season questions:
1. Will Rick Adelman return as head coach?
This is the number one question. Everything else that transpires in the off season will take a back seat. Adelman is the perfect fit for this franchise and he believes if this team had been healthy, he has a playoff team. That question should be answered fairly quickly.
2. Will David Kahn remain as the team General Manager?
With whispers of Flip Saunders taking over, really the answer to the first question will determine if Kahn is still with the team next season. If Adelman stays, Kahn most likely does as well. If Adelman goes, it opens the door for Flip to become GM and potentially coach as well.
3. Will the team re-sign center Nikola Pekovic?
The biggest question on the court will come here. Pekovic has battled injury during his tenure in Minnesota, but is there anyone out there who would be better? The price tag will likely be around 10 million per season, but would not be shocked at all if a team came in at 12 million forcing the Wolves hand.
4. Who will we select with our first round draft pick?
We know for sure a shooting guard is on the list of needs and while Pekovic's status is in a bit of flux, the team has a 2.6 million dollar option on back-up Greg Stiemsma so the possibility of bringing in another center isn't out of the question.
5. Will Andrei Kirilenko return?
There are 10,219,420 reasons why Kirlienko will exercise his player option and return.
How great will the Wolves look next year fully healthy with a staring five that looks like this:
PG- Ricky Rubio
SF- Andrei Kirilenko
PF- Kevin Love
C- Nikola Pekovic
Derrick Williams; Budinger; Shved; Ridnour or Barea