There is, however, a but coming.
“When I watch this team, though,” Friedell continued, “I just don’t see this Timberwolves team getting out of the first round.”
Friedell, who covers several teams for ESPN, including the Timberwolves, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks, says he doesn’t think the Timberwolves stack up with the other contenders at the top of the West: Golden State, to whom Minnesota lost Thursday night, as well as Houston, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
“I just don’t think they’re ready to take that jump. San Antonio, they’ve been there forever, they have guys that know how to play … that group has been there together before. Same goes for Oklahoma City.
“Here’s the key. If we’re looking at the West right now, the Timberwolves have I think exceeded expectations up until this point. [But] I am still buying stock in Oklahoma City.”
From there, the conversation on the podcast shifted to a variety of topics:
>>> The progression of Minnesota becoming Butler’s team, and the development — or at times lack there of — from young sidekicks Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
>>> The status of Butler’s comfort level in Minnesota, and how likely he is to stick around there as a free agent in 2019 — or if he’d perhaps look to play elsewhere.
>>> How the Bulls, to this point, have — in Friedell’s mind — won the Jimmy Butler trade, and why Fred Hoiberg already has guaranteed he’ll have a job next season.
>>> Why Nikola Mirotic will not be in Chicago past the Feb. 8 trade deadline, as well as why the Bulls haven’t already traded him.
>>> Why Jason Kidd wasn’t the only problem in Milwaukee, and how firing him doesn’t solve the team’s roster issues moving forward.
>> Potential replacements for Kidd, and why former New Orleans Pelicans Coach Monty Williams seems like an ideal candidate for the job.
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