Apr 7, 2014, 9:26 PM EDT
The 38-38 Minnesota Timberwolves have already been eliminated from the playoff race. Heck, they can’t even finish ninth in the Western Conference.
On one hand, going .500 in a tough conference is a noble accomplishment. It’s their best record in nine years.
On the other hand, with Kevin Love’s free agency rapidly approaching, relative-but-modest achievements don’t mean much. Minnesota needs to get good and get good quickly to have any chance of retaining its star forward.
The Timberwolves will have a lot to address this offseason. In the meantime? I dunno, I guess they have to play these final games, but it really seems like a waste of time.
Budinger sprained his ankle in the first minute of play against Orlando on Saturday night and Muhammad sprained the MCL in his right knee on Friday night against Miami.
These injuries don’t even carry any tanking upside. Minnesota will get the No. 13 seed in the lottery, with only the slightest mathematical possibility of splitting the 12/13 odds with the Nuggets.
The shutdowns are just a reminder of how many opportunities the Timberwolves have squandered.
In two seasons with Minnesota – both set back by injury – Budinger has failed to approach the 3-point percentage during his final season with the Rockets (40.2) that convinced the Timberwolves to trade a No. 18 pick for him. He’s shot 32.1 and 35.0 percent from beyond the arc in Minnesota, below-average marks that hardly provide coveted floor spacing.
Muhammad, the No. 14 pick in last year’s draft, has averaged just 3.9 points per game – and scoring is what he does best. There were plenty of pre-draft questions about Muhammad, and he answered none of them this season. It’s unlikely he develops into a quality NBA contributor.
If Budinger and Muhammad come back healthy next season, it’s possible they could help Minnesota. For now, these injuries are – while less harmful than the Timberwolves’ bigger problems – just more disappointment
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