RandBall

Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

Follow Randball on Twitter

261271731

Monday (The albatross of Pekovic's contract) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 3rd at 7:10am 294670931

pek2Nikola Pekovic has never played more than 65 games in a season. When the Wolves signed him to a five-year, $60 million contract extension in the summer of 2013, the motivation was two-fold:

1) They thought they were building a contender around Kevin Love, and offensively Love and Pek worked very well together. So in order to convince Love to stick around, and without other options at center, they couldn’t afford to let Pek walk.

2) They were hoping Pek would stay healthy enough — maybe missing 15 games a year — to justify the expense because, when healthy, he is a productive (albeit unique) post player.

Since signing that extension, Pek has played 81 of the Wolves’ 140 games. We would bank on that number staying at 81 for a while, now that Pekovic’s bothersome ankle problem has flared up again.

Last year, his 54 games were productive: 17.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg and 54.1 percent shooting from the field. You could almost live with him doing that and only playing two-thirds of the games for the life of the contract.

This year, those numbers — without Love spreading the floor and giving him more room to work down low — have dipped to 13.2 ppg and 7.8 rpg on a dismal 42.9 percent shooting. His health problems seem to be limiting his mobility, to the point that he’s a candidate to have his shot blocked on every post-up or putback.

He just turned 29, so this should be the prime of his career. But he’s also a giant man who puts a lot of pressure on those poor ankles and feet. There is a nagging suspicion that — without Love and with those injuries — this is close to the version of Pek we are destined to see for the life of the contract (another three years, at roughly $12 million per year, after this season).

And that would create a two-fold problem: First, that’s a lot of money and years left for a player who might not fit into the team’s current style and whose production has diminished. Second, it potentially puts the Wolves in an awkward spot if they get one of the top two picks in this year’s draft and have a shot at an elite college big man because that player, plus Pek, plus Gorgui Dieng would be quite a logjam at center.

Our best guess is the Wolves would still take an elite big man if they got that chance, and then try to move Pekovic to another team. To do that, though, they would probably have to take back another big contract.

Unless Pek makes a magical transformation and can return to even his 2013-14 production level, his is the one contract you look at, long-term with the Wolves, and cringe at. It won’t kill them, cap-wise, but it will weigh them down.

Nuclear Wessel: Put up your nukes, it's time to fight in the EPL

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated February 27th at 4:33pm 294434871

nuclearDana Wessel works at Go963 FM in Minneapolis and formerly worked at Enterprise Rent-A-Car under their excellent corporate structure where *they* gave *him* the tools to be his own boss.

Lets get Nuclear!

Before we get to the weekend preview, I want to give a shout to the Vikings for putting on a cool event for soccer fans last Sunday at Brits in Minneapolis. The Vikings treated everyone to free beer, breakfast buffet, t-shirts and pint glasses. Thanks, Zygi! This was part of their continued interest in getting an MLS franchise to play in the new Vikings stadium. I have been very open on social media that I prefer the other group lands a team, but I have to give the Vikings credit for putting on a fun event. VP Lester Bagley even came — although I didn’t see him move more than a few feet from the door. Don’t be shy, Lester! Us soccer folk are good people!

Alright, it’s a lopsided slate of matches this weekend with all of the meat worth sinking your teeth into coming on Sunday. Great triple-header, though. And definitely worth getting up early for.

Onto the matches!

No. 1: Liverpool vs Manchester City at Anfield

When: Sunday at 6:00AM on NBC Sports Network

Last year: This was the match where Liverpool fans believed they won their first Premier League trophy. They beat City 3-2 after blowing a 2-0 goal lead but finding a winner from Philippe Coutinho in the 78th minute. They controlled their own destiny with four matches to go but lost to Chelsea, blew a 3-goal lead at Palace and finished two points behind City. One of the biggest crotch-shots in recent sports history.

Set those alarm clocks! Earrrrrly start for this one. If 6:00am freaks you out, sleep in a bit later. I talked to Shane the manager over at Brits and he says they are showing the match on tape-delay at 7:30 with doors opening at 7:15. As always, the Liverpool fans will be out in force at Brits.

Everyone, including Wessel de Nuclear, wrote Liverpool off months ago. Thought it would be a one-and-done for them returning to Champions League and not another sustained run of top-four finishes their supporters were dreaming of. Now they haven’t lost in their last 10 league matches and sit two points out of third place.

They’ll welcome a City team with renewed confidence in their bid for the title after picking up two points on Chelsea by embarrassing Newcastle 5-0 last Saturday. A win over Liverpool would cut their deficit to two points against Chelsea and put all the pressure on the Blues to win the game-in-hand they’ll have due to the League Cup final on Sunday.

This one has the stench of a draw lingering all over it but a win for either side is important enough that hopefully we see that back-and-forth frantic action we all love and crave.

No. 2: Arsenal vs Everton at Emirates Stadium

When: Sunday at  8:05AM on NBC Sports Network

Last year: These two played to a 1-1 draw last December at Emirates Stadium with both goals coming after the 80th minute. You might not believe this (just kidding, you should absolutely believe this), Arsenal blew the 1-0 lead.

Arsenal sit alone in the race for the third place trophy with 48 points. They might have just cinched the thing up already had it not been for losses to other top-four contenders Southampton and Tottenham in the last month.

Everton continue to embarrass the idiots like myself who made them their sneaky pick to finish in a Champions League spot. Tim Howard continues to look like the kid that gets thrown in to play goalie that doesn’t want to in a U-12 match instead of the Captain America he was last summer vs Belgium. The man is entitled to a rough season but it just makes me sad to watch whenever they are on TV.

Arsenal suffered a horrible 3-1 loss to Monaco at home in the first leg of the Round of 16 in Champions League. They have now been outscored 12-2 in their last four Round of 16 first leg matches. Oof. It appears to be another one-and-done for Arsenal in the knockout round.

They will be the favorites to take three points against Everton, but it is fair to wonder what kind of effect the Monaco match will have the rest of the way. Arsene Wenger has always done a great (and underappreciated) job keeping Arsenal in the top four. They haven’t finished better than third since 2005 but they have always kept their head above Champions League water- sometimes by margins as small as the zipper on Wenger’s sleeping bag jacket. But maybe this — one of the most competitive races in recent memory — is when they finally slip up. Then the Gunner fans that called for Wenger’s head during the years of top-four finishes and Champions League will really have something to whine about.

No. 1: Chelsea vs Tottenham at Wembley Stadium in the League Cup Final

When: Sunday at  10:00AM on beIN Sports

Last time: Chelsea and Spurs last met in a Cup Final in 2008. Spurs hoisted the trophy after Spurs went up 2-1 late in added time and Chelsea couldn’t equalize. The last time they met in an FA Cup semi-final? 2012 when Chelsea won 5-1. What does that have to do with anything? Nothing, really. I just wanted to type it.

The League Cup is an odd thing. Of the four trophies an English side can win each year, it is by far the least significant. Top Premier League teams field mostly youth sides in the early going to get bench players some run. Nobody — fans, players, managers — really sheds a tear if they get knocked out. But if your team keeps winning, you get to a point where everyone just sorta says We came this far, might as well win the thing.

This year’s final is spicier than usual and actually appeals to neutrals for the first time in a while. Does anyone remember when Swansea City beat Bradford 5-0 a few years back? Does anyone even remember who played in the final last year? I’ll be honest, I had to look it up. City beat Sunderland 3-1. Woo!

The Chelsea/Spurs London rivalry is certainly not as big as it’s Spurs/Arsenal counterpart but it is still juicy. It had been very one-sided for years before Spurs poured some gasoline on the fire to renew things with a 5-3 win on New Year’s Day — their first win over Chelsea since 2010.

A trophy, 100,000 pounds (no idea how to do the cool pound sign on a keyboard) and a spot in Europa League are all on the line. But none of that really matters to either side all that much.

What’s really on the line here is pride and the thrill of defeating your rival at Wembley. Spurs catch a break with Nemanja Matic being suspended for pushing a man who tried to end his career last Saturday against Burnley. Matic is a key cog to this Chelsea squad and, somehow, underrated by folks who point to Chelsea’s big knockers when talking about the team’s success. But the Blues have quality replacements so don’t go inscribing Tottenham on the cup yet. Also, it’s a final. You never really know with these things.

Alright, everyone. Talk more next week. Only 11 matches to go. Keep your socks taped and your oranges sliced.

Law professor says Judge Doty messed up Adrian Peterson case

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated February 27th at 2:53pm 294416321

petersonRoger I. Abrams, a law professor writing for Huffington Post, takes quite a bit of issue with Judge David Doty’s ruling in Federal Court on Thursday that reversed — at least temporarily, until the NFL appealed later in the day — Adrian Peterson’s suspension.

Per his piece:

Here is where Judge Doty went wrong. He overturned the decision based on his own view of what (arbitrator Harold) Henderson should have done. Henderson, Judge Doty said, should have followed the “law of the shop” as Doty saw that law.

Furthermore, Abrams writes:

There are more problems with Judge Doty’s decision. He criticizes Mr. Henderson’s failure to apply the “well-recognized bar against retroactivity.” Where exactly in the collective bargaining agreement is this “well-recognized bar?” Once again, the Judge applies his own personal view, marching down the wrong path.

That said, Abrams concedes that the result of the ruling might be the correct one:

The irony of Judge Doty’s decision is that the outcome he ultimately reached might be correct but for the wrong reasons. The decision by Mr. Henderson was not that of an arbitrator. It was a management decision taken pursuant to the grant of power under the collective bargaining agreement.

But Abrams concludes that the NFL should win its appeal. Long story short: Peterson is right back where he started and figures, at least in the opinion of one legal expert, to stay there.

Friday (Impressive responses from Gophers, Wild) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated February 27th at 8:27am 294363361

squirrelWednesday was one of those all-too-rare feel-good days in Minnesota sports, with Kevin Garnett not just coming back and playing with the Wolves but also helping them win by 20 in front of a raucous Target Center crowd.

Thursday, then, had the feeling of a classic letdown. We’re not used to having nice things around here, so with the Wild at Nashville … the Gophers men’s basketball team at Michigan State … and the Gophers men’s hockey team at home against Michigan State … well, one win out of three would have been the expectation.

Instead, improbably, it was a clean Minnesota sweep — with all three teams providing impressive responses to adversity in their own ways.

The Wild was center-of-the-sun hot coming out of the All-Star break, but a bad home loss to Edmonton threatened to undo some of that good work and potentially start a cold stretch the team can ill afford. Playing at NHL-leading Nashville did not figure to be the antidote to stop the bleeding, but in a strange way maybe it was the perfect opponent. Whereas another soft opponent at home wouldn’t have forced the Wild to focus like it did Thursday, Nashville gets everyone’s attention. The Wild gave a classic road performance in dispatching the Predators and reaffirming that it is a legitimate threat to not just make the playoffs but do damage once there.

The Gophers men’s basketball team is at the point of its season where you learn about character. Minnesota was 5-10 in the Big Ten going into East Lansing, where the Gophers hadn’t won since 1997. This season, through a combination of some poor luck, some close losses, some bad chemistry and some underachieving, hasn’t met anyone’s expectations. It would have been very easy for the Gophers to sleepwalk through a 15-point loss. That, frankly, is what we expected. Instead, of course, they pulled out an overtime victory that while probably too little, too late when it comes to the NCAA tournament, at least shows the team has not quit on second-year coach Richard Pitino.

The Gophers men’s hockey team, meanwhile, fell behind 3-0 at home to Michigan State in a game it could ill-afford to lose … only to come storming back for a 5-3 victory to keep pace in the Big Ten (and more importantly avoid a damaging loss in the PairWise Rankings).

It’s hard to know, really, what to make of all these positive developments heaped atop the KG game on Wednesday. The pessimistic Minnesota sports fan would fear a massive comeuppance over the weekend.

Maybe we should just make like a cliche and take this one game at a time?

TFD: First LeBron, then KG, and now Michael Beasley is going home

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated February 26th at 4:11pm 294271431

beasKevin Garnett quipped at his re-introductory news conference in Minneapolis that if LeBron could go home, why couldn’t he.

Well, we have another NBA homecoming. Michael Beasley, who has been dominating China like a modern day Genghis Khan — and who was acquired by the Wolves under the reign of David Kahn — is going back to Miami.

Beasley has reportedly signed a 10-day contract with the Heat, making this his third stint with the team. He was drafted No. 2 overall by Miami in 2008, then came to Minnesota in 2010, signed with Phoenix in 2012, was waived in 2013 and signed with the Heat … and has spent this season playing in China, where he averaged 28.6 points and 10.4 rebounds (while scoring 59 points in the All-Star Game).

That output, combined with Chris Bosh’s serious medical condition, convinced the Heat to bust open another box of Skittles and try Beasley again.

He had some great moments with the Wolves and a lot of not-so-great-moments. We’ll never forget the time he rubbed Anthony Tolliver’s knee instead of his own knee.

We’ll also never forget the time we had commenter Dan write this guest post from his estate sale.

Guess what we’re trying to say here is it’s good to have Beas back in the NBA.

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Houston 6
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Miami 1
Baltimore 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Chicago Cubs 6 FINAL
San Francisco 8
Los Angeles 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
San Diego 4 FINAL
Seattle 9
Cleveland 9 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
Milwaukee 2 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Texas 4 FINAL
Kansas City 5
Colorado 3 FINAL
Arizona 4
NY Mets 4 FINAL
Washington 5
Boston 8 FINAL
Minnesota 9
Toronto 0 FINAL
Baltimore 5
Oklahoma City 105 FINAL
Chicago 108
Dallas 23 2nd Qtr 9:59
Portland 21
Calgary 4 FINAL(SO)
Boston 3
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Philadelphia 3
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Washington 1
Toronto 2 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Dallas 4 FINAL(SO)
Florida 3
NY Islanders 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Vancouver 0 3rd Prd 11:33
Arizona 2
Montreal 0 2nd Prd
Los Angeles 2
Morgan State 76 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 89
Niagara 54 FINAL
Siena 71
Holy Cross 83 FINAL
Bucknell 90
Western Ky 88 FINAL
Charlotte 84
Navy 62 FINAL
Colgate 72
Temple 70 FINAL
East Carolina 56
UAB 59 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 62
Boston Univ 64 FINAL
Lafayette 89
American Univ 68 FINAL
Lehigh 62
Wisconsin 76 FINAL
Minnesota 63
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Saint Peters 63
Arkansas 78 FINAL
South Carolina 74
Morehead State 76 FINAL
UT Martin 65
USC Upstate 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 62
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
North Florida 71
Southern Ill 55 FINAL
Missouri State 48
Texas State 64 FINAL
Appalachian St 67
SC State 62 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 72
Delaware State 104 FINAL
Coppin State 92
Middle Tennessee 54 FINAL
FIU 59
Texas-Arlington 64 FINAL
Ga Southern 76
Norfolk State 80 FINAL
Hampton 69
NC A&T 58 FINAL
NC Central 69
Savannah State 57 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Southern Miss 61 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 72
Marshall 50 FINAL
Old Dominion 67
Rice 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 74
South Alabama 81 FINAL
Arkansas State 76
Alabama State 70 FINAL
Grambling St 46
Alabama A&M 54 FINAL
Jackson State 72
Sam Houston St 67 FINAL
Lamar 61
Georgia State 58 FINAL
ULM 50
Central Arkansas 70 FINAL
Nicholls 77
Portland State 51 FINAL
Northern Ariz 58
Southern U 77 FINAL
Prairie View 73
Alcorn State 73 FINAL
Texas Southern 94
Houston Baptist 72 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 85
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Louisiana 75
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
New Orleans 85
California 60 FINAL
Arizona 99
Memphis 54 FINAL
Connecticut 53
VA Commonwealth 55 FINAL
Davidson 82
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Sacramento St 65 FINAL
Southern Utah 69
Northwestern St 66 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 92
North Texas 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 83
Colorado 64 FINAL
Washington 47
Idaho 63 FINAL
Weber State 74
Abilene Christian 52 FINAL
Incarnate Word 64
Eastern Wash 85 FINAL
Idaho State 81
Marist 76 2nd Half 0:42
Quinnipiac 69
Eastern Ill 64 FINAL
Belmont 97
Bradley 40 2nd Half 4:32
Drake 41
Cal State Fullerton 26 2nd Half 15:39
UC Irvine 35
CS-Northridge 28 2nd Half 17:52
Long Beach State 32
UC Riverside 39 2nd Half 15:13
UC Davis 29
Stanford 10:00 PM
Arizona State
Utah 0 1st Half 17:52
Washington St 0
Monmouth 68 FINAL
Canisius 56
Wake Forest 85 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 79
Saint Louis 65 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 58
Saint Peters 62 FINAL
Rider 54
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
Liberty 59
UNC Greensboro 44 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 78
Michigan State 69 FINAL
Michigan 49
Arkansas 72 FINAL
Ole Miss 61
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Niagara 57
Massachusetts 63 FINAL
Richmond 67
Virginia 52 FINAL
Miami-Florida 62
Jacksonville St 45 FINAL
Belmont 55
Morgan State 65 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Campbell 65 FINAL
Winthrop 52
Furman 65 FINAL
Samford 54
Oregon 64 FINAL
Washington St 66
Indiana 52 FINAL
(23) Rutgers 63
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 68
Auburn 47 FINAL
(18) Texas A&M 57
Morehead St 66 FINAL
Tennessee St 81
George Mason 43 FINAL
Saint Josephs 71
Western Carolina 53 FINAL
East Tenn St 73
Arizona 62 FINAL
UCLA 80
FIU 30 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Texas State 55 FINAL
Appalachian St 61
TX-Arlington 66 FINAL
Georgia Southern 41
SC State 57 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 56
Delaware State 51 FINAL
Coppin State 80
Portland 58 FINAL
Santa Clara 66
Norfolk State 49 FINAL
Hampton 64
Florida Atlantic 56 FINAL
UAB 59
NC A&T 67 FINAL
NC Central 46
Savannah State 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 51
Virginia Tech 51 FINAL
Pittsburgh 45
Central Arkansas 43 FINAL
Nicholls 53
Houston Baptist 48 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 73
Gardner-Webb 70 FINAL
Radford 56
Georgia 75 FINAL
Missouri 64
Old Dominion 67 FINAL
Marshall 55
Ark-Little Rock 68 FINAL
Louisiana 66
South Alabama 60 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
Georgia State 66 FINAL
ULM 61
Sam Houston St 73 FINAL
Lamar 92
SE Louisiana 75 FINAL
New Orleans 84
Northwestern St 45 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 56
Alabama A&M 58 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Alabama State 68 FINAL
Grambling 62
Southern U 78 FINAL
Prairie View 50
Alcorn State 55 FINAL
Texas Southern 73
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Wofford 54 FINAL
Mercer 75
Abilene Christian 72 FINAL
Incarnate Word 62
La Salle 60 FINAL
Rhode Island 65
Illinois 71 FINAL
Nebraska 86
TX-San Antonio 60 FINAL
Rice 49
Valparaiso 55 FINAL
Oakland 70
Missouri State 65 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Georgia Tech 64 FINAL
(15) North Carolina 84
Charlotte 72 FINAL
Western Ky 80
Texas-El Paso 69 FINAL
North Texas 61
Wichita State 77 FINAL
Evansville 63
Loyola-Chicago 64 FINAL
Northern Iowa 69
Bradley 70 FINAL
Drake 86
Presbyterian 62 FINAL
High Point 75
Vanderbilt 61 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 67
Colorado 75 FINAL
USC 63
San Francisco 74 FINAL
Pacific 64
Idaho State 58 FINAL
Eastern Washington 62
Weber State 42 FINAL
Idaho 71
Purdue 67 2nd Half 3:15
Minnesota 67
Cal-Irvine 34 2nd Half 15:10
Cal State Fullerton 41
Long Beach St 29 2nd Half 18:14
CS-Northridge 48
Hawaii 36 2nd Half 15:59
UC Santa Barbara 28
UC Davis 32 2nd Half 15:18
UC-Riverside 37
Northern Ariz 52 2nd Half 14:18
Portland State 38
Southern Utah 29 2nd Half 18:45
Sacramento St 63
Utah 10:30 PM
Washington
BYU 10:30 PM
St Marys-CA

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT