Minnesota Timberwolves

Sun, 01 Feb 2009 13:45

History of Minnesota Timberwolves

Information about NBA team Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are one of the NBA teams that played for the city of Minneapolis, the other being the Lakers which moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s. The Timberwolves were established in 1987 together with other expansion franchises such as the Orlando Magic, the Charlotte Hornets, and the Miami Heat. In 1989, the team played its first game against the Seattle Supersonics. Although they lost that match, the Minnesota Timberwolves were set on becoming a strong competitor in the Western Conference. During their first year, their star player was Tony Campbell who averaged 23.2 points per game.

The fans were very supportive of the Minnesota Timberwolves. In their last home game in their inaugural season, the Minnesota Timberwolves drew the 3rd largest crowd in NBA history with 49,551 in attendance. The following year, the Minnesota Timberwolves moved to another arena where they won 29 games. To usher changes to the team, the management fired first coach Bill Mussleman and got Jimmy Rodgers. They did not do better with Rodgers at the helm as the Minnesota Timberwolves finished with a disappointing 15-67 record during the 1991-1992 season.

College stars

The Minnesota Timberwolves were hoping to gain good offensive players by drafting Christian Laettner in 1992 and Isaiah Rider in 1993. Laettner, a star player for Duke University, also played for the 1992 US Olympic “Dream Team” alongside Michael Jordan and other NBA greats. Meanwhile, Rider was a remarkable athlete from the University of Nevada. Although talented as individuals, Laettner and Rider were unable to carry the team to victory. The Minnesota Timberwolves were still in dire need of another superstar to help them crack the NBA Playoffs.

Many fans believed their luck was about to change when they selected high school phenomenon Kevin Garnett in the 1995 NBA Draft. With his long arms and excellent shooting prowess, Garnett made an immediate impact to the team. The Minnesota Timberwolves was able to trade Laettner to the Atlanta Hawks to get Andrew Lang and Spud Webb. They would also trade their first-round pick Donyell Marshall to get Tom Gugliotta from the Golden State Warriors. Although the team had a deep roster, they were still unable to get that winning record as they finished the 1995-1996 season with 26 wins and 56 losses.

The Garnett and Marbury show

The following year, the Minnesota Timberwolves traded their draft pick Ray Allen to acquire the rights for the Milwaukee Bucks’ Stephon Marbury. With Marbury playing point guard, the Minnesota Timberwolves had a better strategy where Garnett and Gugliotta would be able to feed off the guard’s passes. Garnett and Gugliotta would then be selected for that year’s All-Star game. The Minnesota Timberwolves were also able to reach the playoffs for the first time with a 40-42 record. However, inexperience had a bad effect on them as the Minnesota Timberwolves fell to the Houston Rockets in the first round. The team knew that it was the start of a new era in Minnesota.

Garnett and Marbury formed a strong duo in the NBA. Garnett had already established himself as a strong offensive and defensive player while Marbury was among the leaders in assists in 1997. The Minnesota Timberwolves would be able to reach the NBA Playoffs for the second year in a row but they lost yet again in the first round versus the Seattle Supersonics. The management knew that Garnett would be the face of the franchise so he was signed to alucrative deal that would lock him in Minnesota for 6 years. However, due to Garnett’s salary, the team was not able to retain Gugliotta and he was able to join another ball club. The shining point for this event was that the Minnesota Timberwolves had enough salary cap space to re-sign Marbury.

Fall from grace

The Minnesota Timberwolves were poised to become a legitimate competitor in the West. However, there were internal disputes as Marbury wanted to become the team’s superstar. His attitude forced management to trade him to the New Jersey Nets. The team got Terrell Brandon and a first round draft pick in the 1999 NBA Draft. The new lineup was able to carry the team to their 3rd consecutive playoff but they lost to the San Antonio Spurs in 4 games. The Minnesota Timberwolves wanted to add an outside threat so they drafted Wally Szczerbiak in the 1999 NBA Draft. The new player made his presence known as he became the third leading scorer in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ roster.

Another trip to the playoffs in the 1999-2000 season ended in disappointment as the Minnesota Timberwolves were beaten by the Portland Trail Blazers. The team wanted to add big man help for Garnett so they tried to get Joe Smith. However, there were some violations made by the Minnesota Timberwolves so they were unable to sign Smith. They also lost some of their draft picks due to this event. Even though faced with many problems, the Minnesota Timberwolves still reached the Playoffs. Here, they were beaten by the San Antonio Spurs. The loss meant that the Minnesota Timberwolves still need good players to compete in the next level.

Before the start of the 2001-2002 season, the Minnesota Timberwolves acquired Maurice Evans, Loren Woods, and Gary Trent. They were also able to finally sign Joe Smith. Their new lineup allowed the Minnesota Timberwolves to get a 30-10 start for the season. However, they were still miserable in the post-season as they lost their match-up against the Dallas Mavericks. Despite these setbacks, Garnett continued to improve. His impact to the team was widely recognized. Thus, he had the second-most votes in the 2002-2003 MVP title. They would then face the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. Although the Minnesota Timberwolves had an impressive 51-31 record in the regular season, they were beaten easily in the playoffs.

The Minnesota Timberwolves then traded Joe Smith and Terrell Brandon to get Ervin Johnson, Sam Cassell, and Latrell Sprewell. The team now had a good offensive trio in Garnett, Casell, and Sprewell. Thus, they got the best record in the Western Conference for the 2003-2004 season. Yet, they were denied their first trip to the NBA Finals by the Los Angeles Lakers. The Minnesota Timberwolves showed signs of maturity, with Garnett finally winning MVP honors that season. However, the 2004-2005 season was very rocky as various players in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ lineup had problems with management.

Replacing the old with the new

Hinting at rebuilding their franchise, the Minnesota Timberwolves would trade some of their best players such as Sam Cassell and Wally Szczerbiak. However, they also received caliber stars such as Marko Jaric, Ricky Davis, and Marcus Banks. Garnett continued to be the team’s cornerstone but he himself got tired from missing out on championship glory. During the 2007-2008 season, various trades happened to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The team would remove many of their role players. Even Garnett was traded so that the whole rebuilding process can go on.

Garnett’s replacement on the team was former Boston Celtics’ star Al Jefferson. He has shown good court presence as well as a strong inside presence. Other players such as Randy Foye and Rashad McCants also help in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ offense. They have also added Kevin Love to help in rebounding.