Since the team’s inception in 1989, the team has struggled to be a competent NBA team
Over the course of the franchise’s history, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been the butt of many jokes. The fact that they passed up on Steph Curry twice in the same draft comes up a lot. But past any jokes there may be, the Timberwolves are draped in a general weirdness and awfulness that other teams don’t deal with. The Timberwolves are without a doubt the sloppiest and possibly worst-managed franchise in the NBA.
The Timberwolves debuted in 1989 after a 21-year long absence of professional basketball in Minnesota. Since their new arena wouldn’t be built for another year, they would have to share the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome with both the Vikings and Twins. Albeit weird in nature, the Timberwolves did set an attendance record that year, drawing over 1 million fans.
The Wolves spent the next few years in obscurity, never eclipsing 30 wins in a season and almost getting moved to New Orleans.
However, in 1995, the Wolves drafted big man Kevin Garnett, who instantly became a star in Minnesota. In the Garnett era, the Timberwolves would become a force in the West, making the playoffs eight years in a row and culminating in a Western Conference Finals appearance in 2004.
Despite all of this, the Timberwolves still managed to have things not go their way.
In 1996, the Wolves added Stephon Marbury to the team, who was traded away after just a few seasons. To make matters worse, he was acquired by trading away the draft rights to Ray Allen, a 10-time All-Star who holds the NBA record for most 3-point field goals.
In 2000, guard Malik Sealy was killed in a car crash.
In 2001, the signing of Joe Smith was voided by the NBA for violating league rules. In response, the Wolves were stripped of three first-round draft picks.
Notable players around where the Wolves would have drafted were Tony Parker (2001), Carlos Boozer (2002), and Jameer Nelson (2004).
Then, in the middle of the 2004-05 season, longtime coach Flip Saunders was fired, and the Wolves began the process of “rebuilding”.
The team traded away Garnett, Wally Szczerbiak and Brandon Roy among others for low-level players and draft picks.
For the next few years, the Timberwolves went to the bottom of the standings as bad trades crippled the team’s roster.
Then in 2014, they traded Kevin Love (the one good pick they made) to the Cavaliers for 1st-overall pick Andrew Wiggins.
They got the No. 1 pick next year, selecting Karl-Anthony Towns. And after a trade brought Jimmy Butler to Minnesota, the Wolves made the playoffs for the first time in 13 years.
The Jimmy Butler trade came back to bite them, as Butler’s trade demands turned the Wolves into a travelling circus. But the Wolves seem to have made an excellent trade, as they got two excellent players in Robert Covington and Dario Saric.
Wiggins is holding his own in the lineup, Derrick Rose has found a resurgence in his game, and Towns is a budding star in the league.
It will be interesting to see if the Timberwolves can grow on their success by making the playoffs again, or if they will again falter into the abyss of the NBA.
Feature photo courtesy of the Associated Press.