NBA

Wolves to fans: We won't win this year

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)

The Minnesota Timberwolves are nothing if not honest.

The team took out a full-page ad in Monday's Star Tribune sports section, featuring a long open letter to fans that acknowledges the negatives, points to the positives, and spells out the plan for improvement.

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Included in the letter are these words: ''So will we challenge for the NBA championship this year? Not likely.''

Chief marketing officer Ted Johnson says this is part of the team's attempt to establish a new relationship with fans and bring some transparency to how it operates. The franchise has struggled in the six years since Kevin Garnett led the Wolves to the Western Conference finals.

Here's the full text of the ad:

"The time for talk is over

"Okay, not quite. Right after this long-winded letter. Because we do have a lot of good things to talk about.

"Fourteen months ago we laid out a plan: First, we would become a running team that plays an exciting un-tempo style of basketball. Second, we would get younger in order to build a team that could improve together and compete for a number of years. Third, we would instill a culture of hard work throughout our organization. Fourth, transparency. We’ll always let you know exactly what’s going on, occasionally via long-winded letters.

"That was our plan over a year ago and it hasn’t changed one iota. In the off-season we added young, athletic wing players Wesley Johnson, Martell Webster and Lazar Hayward. They join Jonny Flynn, Corey Brewer and Wayne Ellington as guys who can get up and down the floor quickly and shoot the ball from the perimeter. We re-signed Darko Milicic and added Nikola Pekovic, giving us two more up-tempo big men to run with one of the best outlet passers in the game, Kevin Love. We took advantage of our cap room to acquire a potential star in Michael Beasley, who was the number one prospect in his high school class of 2007 and averaged 26 points and 12 rebounds in his one college season. And finally, we added Luke Ridnour, a push-the-pace player who becomes the team’s elder statesman at the age of 29.

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"We now have more shooting, athleticism and depth at every position, which will make us a better team this season. So will we challenge for the NBA championship this year?

"Not likely.

"Ouch. This honesty thing is a bit painful. But the reality is, we still need that one dominant player.

"It’s possible that that player could already be on our roster. We have eight guys who were selected in the top seven picks of their respective drafts, and the average age of those players is 22. So the potential is there for someone to emerge. But in case that doesn’t happen, we’ll continue to manage our salary cap so that we have the flexibility to make that one move that can change a franchise.

"We are confident, however, that this team will be exciting to watch. For the first time in years Wolves fans are going to feel like they’re missing out if they aren’t in the arena. So in addition to player development we’re working hard on fan development, starting with variable pricing and Flex Pack ticket packages that let you pick the games and seats that you want. The bottom line for fans is: We’re making it easier than ever for you to be part of our turnaround.

"There’s been a lot of talk this off-season. The naysayers certainly have been vocal. And while we can understand a certain amount of skepticism, we know we’ve turned the corner. And we’re anxious to get after that first tipped ball so we can start to prove it.

"Enough talk. It’s time to play.

"Oh, wait. We forgot to talk about Rubio.

"Next time."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tagged: Timberwolves

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