No one is surprised. Not Portland fans, not Minnesota ownership, and not even Brandon Roy. As the Oregonian’s Jason Quick has reported, Roy will again have surgery on his right knee, sidelining him with the seventh such medical procedure of his basketball career. While Timberwolves fans groan, and Portland fans bask in the Schadenfreude, it’s probably best we examine his signing without our rose-tinted glasses.
Roy was signed for just $5.1 million, a smidge under the “average” league salary in the NBA. All things considered, that’s terrific value if he could play. Roy was a franchise cornerstone, a max contract player, and had recently undergone a knee treatment option that is extending the career of other top talent in the NBA. And, if you can get an All-Star player for Daniel Gibson money, you take it. Minnesota did.
Although he didn’t play well, the crux of the argument for Roy was sound. Having voiced his displeasure over Minnesota saving the max contract extension for Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love made it abundantly clear that if the Wolves aren’t any good he will want out of Minneapolis. GM David Kahn needed to placate Love’s desire to win, and after failing to sign away Nic Batum through RFA, Roy was a good wager to bolster the wing.
Historically, Minnesota has had the best read on Roy. They traded away his rights for Randy Foye, with rumors murmuring that it was because of his knees. Meanwhile, a few years later they traded Foye away and received back the first round pick that became Ricky Rubio. Then, when they signed Roy, they potentially nullified what Dwight Jaynes reported as a partial insurance policy on Roy’s knees for Paul Allen – some $17 million – since he did not remain permanently retired (much of this is speculative).
They spent just $5 million on Roy, drafted Rubio, showed their star player they want to win, and stuck it to Paul Allen. Even with Roy injured, the Timberwolves are coming out well on this one.
I can’t shed tears for the Timberwolves. The odds for them were better than they were against them, even if only slightly. Nor can I shed tears for Brandon. There has been too much of that already, and although Portland wishes him the best, there’s no real cause for further outpour.
Sometimes you bet and lose. The Timberwolves still have Rubio and Love. Roy still has $60 million. The Blazers still have Aldridge. And everyone, from Portland to Minnesota, will be happy when this argument is put to rest. Perhaps the only person who won’t be satisfied?