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Updated: February 9th, 2013 1:07am
Wessel: Wolves' season has bottomed out, and that's not all bad

Wessel: Wolves' season has bottomed out, and that's not all bad

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1500ESPN.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves' longest homestand of the season came to a close on Friday, and so did what little life was left in their playoff hopes.

That isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The Wolves once again kicked away a game, this time 100-94 to the New York Knicks, and finished 1-5 in a home stretch they had deemed crucial to getting back into the playoff race.

Calling their season dead in the water is by no means a bold proclamation. It could have been done weeks ago.

They have lost 14 of their last 16 and any talk of getting back in the hunt at this point will just be athletes doing what athletes do best -- lobbing clichés off the wall.

But it is an important distinction to make with less than two weeks left before the trade deadline. Not even David Kahn is naïve enough at this point to think they have a chance of salvaging something from this junkyard of a season.

This is actually the best-case scenario for the floundering Wolves.

It is a tough pill for fans to swallow, but all attention now turns to using the trade deadline to get better for next season, not try to pull a miracle rabbit out of their hat and make the playoffs this year.

The Wolves had a ton riding on this season. There is no question. They have offered season ticket holders a 10% refund if the team didn't make the playoffs, and there was more excitement behind the scenes than there has been in nearly a decade.

With that being said, there was a lingering fear Kahn and the rest of the front office might try to do something shortsighted out of desperation at the trade deadline if the Wolves were within striking distance.

But even if the Wolves were better than their current No. 12 spot in the playoff hunt, their odds of making the postseason were low because of the logjam that is the Western Conference.

The Wolves bottoming out this badly this soon essentially saves Kahn from himself. Any move that will be made has to be one that will help the Wolves next season. That was the right way to look at things last season and is now the only way to look at things.

Remember, we never got a clear look at what this team can do together. Chase Budinger lasted six games. Kevin Love played 18 games in-between broken hands. Ricky Rubio and Love have only played 29 minutes together.

Take a mulligan, make trades at the deadline designed for helping the team long-term and use the draft to give it another go in the fall.

Having the season in the gutter so early is painful for everyone involved, the players, the fans and the organization as a whole. But it now allows everyone to turn the page to next season rather than jamming a square peg that has no chance of fitting in a round hole.

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