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An alternate reality

If you are like me, during this 4 game lull in the Sonic’s schedule, you often find yourself clicking around on the internet looking for something interesting to read that will fill the gaps in your basketball addiction. March Madness is great, but I personally am not as enthused about the college game; I don’t know why, it is still basketball. I guess I just don’t love the game in general as much as I specifically love the Sonics. So I noticed the standings this morning and it caught my eye that Seattle and the Timberwolves have the exact same record at 26-39. This is noteworthy because in an alternate reality, coach Casey of the Wolves could have very easily been named the Sonics coach at least two times.
When Paul Westphal was fired, the story we all read in the paper had Wally agonizing over the decision of the replacement; Nate Mcmillan or Dwayne Casey. As my memory serves me, Wally met with both men, and the result was Nate being named head coach and Casey named assistant head coach. Casey was a close second.
Fast forwarding a few years, we have the Timberwolves hiring Casey away from that position and naming him their new head coach. A few weeks afterward, Nate decides to take the gig with Portland, and Dean Demopolous decides to follows Casey…er changes his mind and follows Nate. If Nate had made his decision to leave first, I have no doubt that Casey would have been offered his first NBA Head coaching job with Seattle. Instead as we all know, Seattle promoted Bob Weiss.
The reality is that Dwayne Casey is in Minnesota, and Nate and Demopolous are in Portland, and I don’t know where Weiss is.
I began examining the job done by Casey so far; and the bitter truth is that he is having a rough time in his first head coaching position. When he was hired, he was asked about the challenge ahead of him, and how he would steer a team that had been so close to a championship contender just one season earlier. He responded by saying “The Timberwolves are not broke," Casey said. "They had a hiccup last season ... It's not a team that's down. It just needs a little tweaking, especially on the defensive end.'' He also said “The Wolves will remain a strong contender in the conference. There is always some guy like me that remembers quotes like that and finds them with a Google search.
The Timberwolves season seemed to reach its summit on Dec. 10th when they posted a record of 12-6. They then went on a 4 game losing streak. They hovered around .500 for most of January, and then traded Wally Sczerbiak, Michael Olowakandi, and Dwayne Jones to Boston for Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, Marcus Banks and Justin Reed. This trade basically traded two underperforming, uninspired centers for each other, and two second option offensive players; but the Wolves are getting great minutes out of Banks as the starting Point Guard. Since that trade, the Wolves have been steadily spiraling downward in the standings; all but out of the playoff race.
Casey wanted to “tweak” the team on the Defensive end. Unfortunately the results have not been forthcoming. The Wolves are allowing fewer points this year than last (106 P/per 100 last year; 105 this year), but they are also scoring less this year (108 P/per 100 last year, 105 this year). The FG% allowed has actually risen slightly this year from .473 to .476.
I am not sure if Dwayne Casey is really a “George Karl” disciple, or if he draws his philosophy from his other coaching stints; perhaps an amalgam of all of the above. George Karl’s Sonics teams were always in the upper half of defensive teams. There was a dramatic dropoff in defense when Westphal came in. Nate’s teams were never spectacular defensively. All three coaches had “the Glove” in his prime years.
I don’t know all of the protocol involved behind closed doors when an NBA team makes trades or acquires free agents; but I suspect that the head coach has input. Marco Jaric was brought in to be the starter at Point Guard after Casey was on the job; he must have at least had to nod his head “yes”. Jaric has fallen out of favor. The same scenario likely was in play before the big trade; the trade was supposed to shake a .500 team out of its slumber. The team’s performance has been meager ever since.
This season’s record will fall at least partially on Dwayne Casey’s shoulder, who in another reality could have been ours.