DOING THE MATH: In the last two years the Timberwolves have subtracted underachieving forward Donyell Marshall (and his $42 million contract) and problem-child guard Isaiah Rider. They've added versatile and dependable forward Tom Gugliotta; young forward Kevin Garnett, a star in the making; and prized rookie point guard Stephon Marbury. The bottom line: Minnesota is on the right track.
ON THE AGENDA: The first 30-win season in franchise history is a reasonable target, but a more important long-term goal is to keep Garnett happy in Minnesota. The Wolves acquired his good friend Marbury partly with that in mind. Garnett can become a free agent after next season, and his departure would cripple vice president Kevin McHale's master building plan.
PLAYOFFS: That's a word that shouldn't be used in connection with the Timber-wolves just yet, not with Marbury's having to learn the NBA ropes, former Celtics bust Stojko Vrankovic at center and a bench that's thinner than the wiry Garnett's calves.
MORE FIREPOWER: The Grizzlies were toothless on offense last season. Their 89.8 points per game ranked last in the league. They should have more bite this year with the addition of sharp-shooting guard Anthony Peeler, who made 41.3% of his three-pointers as a Laker last season, and rookie forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim, a 6'10" small forward who was the third overall pick in the draft. Peeler and Abdur-Rahim will also keep defenses from doubling up on center Bryant Reeves, who made rapid improvement during his rookie year. Look for Vancouver to improve slightly on last year's 15 wins.
HAPPY TRAILS: Rookie forward Roy Rogers, the 22nd pick of the first round, could turn out to be one of the steals of the draft. Rogers, a 6'10" shot blocker, had knee injuries his first two seasons at Alabama, but he didn't miss a game or a practice the last two seasons. His offensive skills also improved significantly, which is reminiscent of another sleeper from Alabama, Warriors guard Latrell Sprewell.
LOOKING AHEAD: The brightest spot on Vancouver's horizon could be finance-related. As an expansion team, its salary cap (around $18 million) is 75% of what other clubs are allowed. But next year the Grizzlies will have the full cap to work under, which will allow them to play the free-agent game.