If the Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t hit rock bottom earlier this season, well, they certainly hit it on Monday night, as they blew a 15-point lead within the final 2:05 of the fourth quarter in an overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings.
They also became the first team since NBA play-by-play stats began being recorded in 1996 to blow a 17-point lead inside of three minutes remaining.
That’s, uh, not a very nice distinction to have in the record books.
This is a franchise that has been wallowing ever since Kevin Garnett’s MVP season during the 2003-04 campaign. Yes, it has been that long.
As a matter of fact, a legitimate argument can be made that the Timberwolves, who have made just one playoff appearance since then, have been an even bigger laughing stock than the New York Knicks during that span (hey, at least the Knicks won a playoff series in 2013).
Minnesota looked to be on the upswing a few years ago when it secured both Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins on the same roster, but rumors have swirled about Towns’ potential unhappiness in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes, and Wiggins has not lived up to the expectations most had for him when he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers (and then subsequently traded to the Wolves for Kevin Love) in 2014.
While Towns deserves some criticism for his defensive deficiencies and for failing to elevate his teammates, let’s be honest: the blame falls almost entirely on the front office, because these problems were present long before Towns arrived.
Minnesota had one of the best players of all-time in Garnett for 12 years, and made it out of the first round just once. Love never made the playoffs. Towns has been there just once.
Obviously, there is a theme here, and even though front-office members have changed over the years, the culture has remained the same.
And I don’t want to hear the “small-market team” excuse. Look what the San Antonio Spurs did. Look what the Milwaukee Bucks are doing now.
Is it more difficult for a small-market franchise to succeed? Sure, I’m not denying that, but when you make just one playoff appearance in 16 years, there is a problem, regardless of where are you are playing.
I could say that Towns is still very young and is under contract for a long while and that there is plenty of time to turn things around as a result, but I feel like we have been saying this about the Timberwolves since they traded Garnett nearly a decade-and-a-half ago.
The fact of the matter is that the Wolves are going backward. They are 15-32 and have lost 10 games in a row. They don’t have much supporting talent on the roster. Ryan Saunders looks in over his head. The track record of the front office does not give us any hope that the team can rebound.
It’s all bad in Minnesota right now, and for the second time in 15 years, the Timberwolves are wasting away the peak and prime years of a historic talent.
Some things never change.