It's a strange time to be a Minnesota sports fan.
As an avid user of performance enhancing drugs, I am choosing not to talk about the Minnesota Twins or Major League Baseball.
And because I'll never understand why grown men on skates and multi-millionaires can't seem to see eye-to-eye (or was it because I don't care) I can't even talk about the hockey situation.
This leaves us with the Vikings and the Timberwolves. Two teams that are currently surrounded by a veritable plethora of questions about trades. One about a trade that many people think is less than smart, and one because of not being smart enough to make a trade.
Kevin McHale likes to talk constantly about how difficult it is to make a trade in the NBA. The folks who run the Sixers, Kings, Hornets, Knicks, Celtics, Hawks, Nuggets, Warriors, Rockets, Bobcats, Cavs, Bucks and Heat didn't seem to agree with Mr. McHale when they all were able to make trades before last Thursday's deadline. You've seen the names that changed teams, and we certainly aren't talking about pushing no name players around the league.
So we are left scratching our heads wondering what happened. Perhaps this team has thrown in the proverbial towel for the season. Cassell (injured and disgruntled) and Spreewell (dumb and old) don't have enough value to be considered interesting to other teams. That leaves the too-big contracts of Wally, Trenton Hassell and T-Hud as possible trade bait. Add these facts to the recent suggestion that KG's knee might be bad enough that it's not worth making a run at it this year, and the knee-jerk canning of Flip Saunders, and in reality, it might be the best thing for the Wolves to continue on as they have been.
I might go as far as to say that it would be a good thing for the Wolves to miss the playoffs. They can re-evaluate in the summer. Spree's contract (thank goodness he didn't bite on the one we offered him last summer) will be off the books. Sammy will realize that he needs to put up or shut up. Wally, now matured, can cuddle up to KG and learn how to play second fiddle. This team is quite literally a hurtin' unit right now, so everyone will have a chance to heal. So, we can all get used to the idea that this season is, in essence, over. But hey, we're Minnesota sports fans. We're used to this.
Speaking of which...
Everybody seems to have a very strong opinion about the Vikings dealing away Randy Moss. I've heard everything from "thank goodness he's gone," to "this will go down in history as the Vikings worst trade," to "they didn't get nearly enough in return for his talent."
Five days after the trade I've read multiple articles and talked to several people about the Moss deal and I'm ready to share my thoughts.
Mike Tice has basically spent 3 years as coach of the Vikings trying to appease Moss, who is no doubt the most talented, dynamic and game-changing player in the NFL. For a week following the Vikings final regular season loss to the Redskins when Moss left his teammates on the field with two seconds left in the game, Tice and the entire Vikings organization made excuses for Randy Moss to everyone that would listen. And yet the following week, on the national stage at Lambau Field, Moss threw them all under the bus one more time by mooning Packer fans. Say what you will about his intent, or the severity of this action, it was, at the very least, ill-timed.
Obviously these actions sparked the trade.
Now think about these things:
*Tice realizes that either he can't handle, or doesn't want to handle, Moss any longer. He realizes that he is spending too much time on a guy that will never be a team player, and by doing so he is hurting his entire team.
*Moss' biggest fan, Daunte Culpepper, now has the confidence to couple with the talent he already had, to realize that he doesn't need a selfish guy like Moss, no matter how talented he is, to throw to. Daunte is ready to be the practical and emotional leader of this team both on the field and off.
*A week ago, perspective Vikings owner Reggie Fowler, says he would never trade the ultra-talented Moss.
The upper management of the Vikings must have at least been kicking around the idea of trading Moss before that comment, but after Fowler's comment, they had a new issue: a time-table. If they believed dealing Moss was best for the team they had to do it before Red left town.
If you trade a talent like Moss, you absolutely must get one of two things return, a superstar or a top 10 pick. Could the Vikings have gotten more for Moss from another team? Probably. Could they do it before Fowler took over the team and didn't allow it to happen? Maybe not. And that, I believe, was the thrust of this trade. Once Fowler made the comment about not trading Moss, this was no longer about getting comparable talent, this was about on-the-field leadership, and time.
The Vikings got the number seven pick in a very deep draft. With that pick they will get an immediate impact player. They have $36 million to play with, and the luxury of working a very intriguing free-agency market before they need to figure out which direction to go with that number seven, not to mention their later number 18, pick.
Some might call it addition by subtraction, but when you have so many other additions on the horizon, maybe it doesn't look so much like a subtraction. Could the Vikings afford to trade Moss in the way that they did? Maybe we just need to at least entertain the idea that they couldn't afford not to.
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