Give and Go: Wolves on the cusp of becoming relevant

RUFF: I've been writing with blind optimism about the Wolves for years, always believing they were just around the corner from leaving their outpost as one of the worst franchises in professional

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RUFF: I've been writing with blind optimism about the Wolves for years, always believing they were just around the corner from leaving their outpost as one of the worst franchises in professional sports.

But this time — this time! — I'm right. The Wolves have the most promising young talent in the NBA, a roster filled with get-along guys who actually want to be here, free-agent money to spend, a high draft pick coming, and seem on the verge of making coaching and general manager hires that will actually make sense.

This is a new frontier for starved Wolves fans. Is it really safe to say, "Let's eat!?"

BOESE: There's still plenty of ways for your favorite team to screw this up — do knuckle push-ups and David Kahn ring a bell? — but you aren't on an island anymore with your endless optimism. Adding a top-flight coach, a seasoned general manager and another top pick to the baby-faced nucleus of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine makes it easy to ignore the nightly stinkers currently being thrown up by the Twins and Wild.

For all those good vibes, I still have a sour taste in my mouth about what happened to outgoing coach Sam Mitchell. The timing and manner in which he was relieved of his duties strikes me as needlessly coarse, even though I absolutely believe it was the right move to make. Who's your pick to replace him?


RUFF: Yeah, and I was slightly warming up to the idea (didn't think I'd ever say that) of bringing Mitchell back. He's got all kinds of fight to him and he's not afraid to get in his players' faces. Some of that was a good thing. My hope is that it's Tom Thibodeau. This team still has a long ways to go defensively, and that is Thib's specialty.

But I'm not 100 percent in on him. His offensive sets are said to be archaic and he's run his starters into the ground with heavy minutes. Hopefully, if he turns out to be the Wolves' guy, he'll adjust some of those tendencies. But he was a big winner in Chicago, and that team has taken a major slide since he left. Gotta believe he's at the top of Glen Taylor's list.

BOESE: It's a big offseason for the Wolves to legitimize themselves as the next "it" team, that's for sure. But there's a lot of background noise, too. Mayo Clinic has to be considered the favorite to land the new advertising spot on Minnesota's jerseys, which was just approved by owners Thursday night. It's possible Glen Taylor's majority ownership stake will also be bought out this summer, which could pave the way for the Wolves to site their long-awaited D-League affiliate in Rochester.

Does Kevin Garnett's $8 million salary stay on the books next season or does he retire while transitioning into a front office spot? Maybe I'm being overly sentimental, but I'd like to see him stick around for one more year — especially if Thibodeau, his old defensive coach in Boston, gets hired.

RUFF:My sentimentality is also getting in the way. The dream would be for the Wolves to get into the playoffs next season (not out of the question) and for K.G. to be a major contributor towards that. It would send a jolt through me that I haven't felt since he led them to the 2004 Western Conference finals. But the reality is, he'll be 40 when next season starts, his body is broken down, and he didn't show a whiff of an offensive game this season. Probably best to package that $8 million he's set to make and hand it to a free agent who can make a real difference at both ends of the court.

It's time for this franchise to get really serious about winning. And part of that — gulp — is to hope that Garnett doesn't come back for more.

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