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Wolves-Wizards Trade Foreshadows Big Backcourt Night in Thursday's Draft

The frenzy of phone activity by new Wolves personnel guru David Kahn has been the constant buzz of the NBA gossip boards. Tonight, there is a solid report that Kahn has broken through on his desire to raze the roster and point hard toward the future, unloading Minnesota's only legitimate two-guards, Randy  Foye and Mike Miller, in exchange for a trio of Washington Wizards big men--6-9 Darius Songaila, 6-10 Etan Thomas and 7-footer Oleksiy Pecherov--plus, most importantly, the #5 overall pick in Thursday's NBA draft.

A few things stand out. First, Kahn wants to make an immediate impression and scrap the past ASAP. The keys to the deal are Miller and the #5 pick. The Wizards have got to be doing jumping jacks over their result. And the Wolves have taken the blinders off their perpetually sanguine view of two players who fans had every right to expect would perform better in Minnesota than what they actually delivered. Last but not least, there's also chatter that the Wolves could keep leveraging in their effort to move up to #2 and grab point guard Ricky Rubio.

Whether or not Rubio is part of the final equation, however, you can underline Thursday as "perimeter scoring day" at Wolves headquarters. Kahn stressed this flaw more than once during the informal breakfast I attended where he backgrounded the media on his evolving impressions and plans for the team. And he's right: Even with one of the league's top six low-post scorers drawing double-teams in the paint, the Wolves shot a league-worst 44.1% from the field last season. After scanning hours of video from last season, Kahn obviously felt the problem was the talent more than the scheme--he just dumped two of the ballclub's top three perimeter scorers in Foye and Miller (and the third, Ryan Gomes, is a 240-pound forward). How bare is the cupboard now? Well, if the Wolves had to open the 2009-10 season with the personnel currently on their roster, the starting backcourt would be Sebastian Telfair (a 38.9% shooter over his 5-year NBA career, including 31.6% from three-point range) and Corey Brewer (38% from the field, 25% from trey during his two years in the league). So we know what's on the docket for the draft and free agency: guards, guards, guards who can shoot straight.

The trade is probably good news for the chances of Rodney Carney re-upping. And, unless Rubio is the ultimate prize--and you wouldn't hear any flak from me if that's the endgame--it means Stephen Curry has a much better chance of becoming a Timberwolf in about 48 hours. Because from what I have read and youtubed (as I frequently have stated, almost all of my college smarts are received wisdom), despite a wealth of other beguiling skills, neither Tyreke Evans nor James Harden is particularly adept at perimeter shooting. Certainly we know that after the Clips take Blake Griffin first overall, three players go before the Wolves pick twice, and that two of them are likely to be Rubio and Thabeet. That means there will be  will be two "quality" backcourt players available at #5 and #6, most likely from among Harden, Evans and Curry, and the glut of point guards after Rubio, including Flynn, Jennings, Holiday and Lawson. Either Rubio or two of those other names will likely be Wolves in the very near future.

Mulling over draft picks is the most exciting activity for Wolves fans in the wake of this trade, because the trio of bigs Washington is sending our way are hardly gamechangers, and could simply become more deadwood to pile on the logjam up front. The Wolves already have three power forwards in Jefferson, Love, and Smith, plus a 6-9 center in Madsen, and a pair of smart 3/4 forward swingmen in the 6-8 Cardinal and the 6-7 Gomes. You'll notice Madsen is the only center, and he's a pipsqueak 6-9 to boot, better known for his cheerleading and his tanking clanking than his rebounding, which elevates Thomas, who goes 6-10, 260, and plays the pivot. Thomas is also a fascinating character, a staunch lefty poltiically, a poet (falling somewhere on the continuum between James Tate and Shaddy McCants) and a tough customer who has battled back from career-threatening heart problems and an assortment of other injuries. He also traded fisticuffs more than once with the Wizards' other center, Brendan Haywood--if the beat writers can't spin all this stuff into a bevy of featurettes, journalism really is comatose. Not since the Madsen trifecta--who else on earth has an advanced degree from Stanford, has been a Mormon missionary and is nicknamed Mad Dog?--has a resume been written with such neon crayons.

As a staunch lefty and published poet (waaaaay back in the day) myself, I wish I could report Thomas is a world-beater on the court. Nope. In fact the Wizards have got to be ecstatic that they beefed up their backcourt and rid themselves of an expensive draft pick they didn't want without having to dislodge the four guys in their frontcourt they most wanted to keep--Antawn Jamison, Haywood, Jarvis Mcgee and the confounding manchild Andray Blatche. That means Thomas, Songalila and the European dude dubbed "Big Oily" are 5, 6 and 7 at best, on the big man depth chart for the Wiz. That doesn't mean they are useless. In fact Songaila in particular is a grinder who knows how to rebound, foul, foster ball movement and get out of the way at the right time. Both he and Oily could also be classified as centers in McHale-speak.

But nobody is kidding anybody here. Thomas, Songaila and Pecherov are the bubble wrap around the #5 pick--Wolves fans want to move past them and see what the ballclub really got come Thursday. And, sub-mediocre bigs (literally) aside, they'll be judging if the pick is worth Mike Miller and Randy Foye.

The answer to that is tricky.  When the draft day deal with Memphis went down almost exactly a year ago, I was heartily on board for the Wolves precisely because of Miller's inclusion. He seemed like the perfect Jefferson enabler, a former ROY and 6th man of the year, a dead-eye jump-shooter who didn't mind dishing but didn't hesitate to plunge in the long-range dagger, and, as a cinching coup, a floppy-haired gym rat from the corn palace capital of Mitchell, South Dakota, which made him a flesh-and-blood answer to the much asked but rarely satisfied question: How corny can you get? But the writers of CSI should set to work on a script that explains Miller's lone season in Minnesota, which was one of the most perverse, distasteful wastes of a player's tailor-made role on a ballclub that I've ever witnessed. Instead of Mike Miller, the Wolves got a second-rate Jason Kidd, a guy who played like he wanted to patent the no-look inbounds pass; who frequently drove through three opponents in traffic so that he could leap at the hoop and then suddenly contort-spin himself for a zip-pass to an increasingly less surprised Telfair for a clanked trey; who angrily cited the fundamentals of hoops inventor James Naismith to a hapless beat writer who dared to ask why one of the game's best shooters wasn't shooting; who lay on the court in writhing agony at least 20 times during the course of the season (I don't think I'm exaggerating), then would either crawl on his belly to the bench, get helped off by teammates, or, most frequently, move as if walking on glass shards for a good two or three minutes, yet never allow himself to be taken out of the game. Miller was TOUGH and he was UNSELFISH, goddammit, and the more I watched him chew the scenery like Nicholas Cage as Macbeth while the triple-teamed Jefferson and the Wolves sank to the bottom of the league in FG%, the bigger the shingle I hung out as a Mike Miller hater.  Ahem. Regular readers are probably already aware of this.

But no matter what I think of Miller, it is sobering to consider what he might have brought if Kahn had been more patient. There are plenty of reasons why his market value is much inflated compared to what he demonstrated here in Minnesota. There are the rookie of the year and 6th man trophies, of course, and there is his reputation, just slightly tarnished, as a cold-blooded long-range shooter who cannot be left alone on the perimeter. The fact is, Miller's numbers on paper were a lot more impressive than his play on the court last year, and anyone looking at the career in toto of this historically stand-up guy and comparing it to a franchise that has long been regarded as something of a train wreck,  might plausibly conclude that the Wolves somehow screwed up Mike Miller rather than the other way around. Then there is that little matter of Miller's $10 million expiring contract. You don't think of a player of his caliber might be a nice little chip to dangle around the trading deadline next season?

But Kahn couldn't wait. Having already deep-sixed the reviled and revered McHale, he probably figured there was no sense in dilly-dallying. And if he was wrong to bum-rush Miller instead of waiting for a more propitious moment to deal him, he was absolutely right in his timing with Foye. If the kid who's heart is on the wrong side of his body can ever make another deal with the devil that is longer than the month of January--if he can display that dazzling blend of clutch shooting setting up daredevil drives setting up beautiful feeds setting up more clutch jumpers for longer than 30 days--than the Wizards have depantsed David Kahn and all the snickers about his lack of genuine front office decision-making will turn into a shaming din. But that's not the way I'd bet on it happening. Randy Foye has been in the league three years now and will be 26 when the 2009-10 season opens. He has played with Kevin Garnett and Al Jefferson and he has been given the benefit of every doubt by a braintrust desperately hoping to save a little remaining face from the disastrous Roy for Foye swap on draft night 2006. He has been force-fed point guard duties and he has then grudgingly been taken off the ball as a two-guard. Wolves fans have learned that if a player lacks a sure-fire handle and possesses non-peripheral court vision, he too frequently strives for greatness by calling his own number, and otherwise plays risk-averse, unconfidently conservative basketball, until he builds up enough success and momentum to commit foolish mistakes and re-recognize his limitations. That's the Randy Foye experiment at the point. At the two-guard, on the other hand, it became striking exactly how many off-guards in this league are 6-7 to 6-9 in height, and how difficult it is to contain them defensively if you're 6-4.

More succinctly, Foye is a classic 'tweener, which is much different than a combo. Some nights he'll flourish, as will Miller, surrounded by the superior talent and firepower of a Wizards team that has to be healthy someday. As stated, Washington didn't sacrifice anything it wanted to keep. Meanwhile, David Kahn has dropped another rock into the apathetic pond that is the Wolves' fan base. A couple more will be unloaded on Thursday, another after that with the naming of a new coach. Kahn understands that courtship is necessary, and that under these circumstances, courtship means acknowledging to the former faithful that recent history was by turns traumatic and sleep-inducing, and then not only vowing to turn the page, but walking that talk.

The other thing about courtship is the fine line between being dashing and being a dunce, between being bold and thrill-seeking and being reckless and endangering. Even those of us enjoying Kahn's nerve and understanding the logic of his response to circumstances--I completely endorse the McHale dumping and gingerly agree with this trade, pending the draft bounty--are keeping the knives sharpened. This is a courtship, not a honeymoon.

33 Reader Comments

Brewer's Boy (not verified)01:58am
Jun 24

This makes me happy. Foye is a loss, he had potential but I think we need a score first SG and a pass first PG. Not one who tries to do both. No matter what we need to trade away at least two picks...I dont want to enter next year with 4-6 rookies on the team.

TheFlingerOfPoo (not verified)02:00am
Jun 24

First, let me say, thank God you're back, weighing in so quickly. Knee-jerk goes away and clarity finds a path... or something.

I'm at a loss, trade-wise. Kahn managed, in my head, to trade away two of my least favorite Wolves (not-Roy-steaky-shoot and not-a-man-won't-shoot) for Steph Curry--- one of the 4 guys in this draft who are capable of being, in the words of the supreme deuche-nozzle Tom Hanneman, special. And if it's really a play to get Rubio and maintain the 6th, well that's really about as top-notch as one can get on the frozen tundra.
It isn't good fortune at all that we finally got an adult (with an iffy resume, but nonetheless) in charge while the draft was operating at seventy-five percent of normal, but the moxy to move up in a draft at a loss of moneys, and not back for a slight gain(and the acumen to recognize just how sh--ty Foye is) is a step forward.
Rubio and Curry or Jennings and Harden-those are franchise making combo platter.

AndyH (not verified)03:45am
Jun 24

Ahhh Britt, so good to read your take on things. Miller really was a bust and he did get very annoying as the season wore on, but good to get your version as one who has your kind of access to the team. It confirmed my feeling. Foye, it is kind of sad for a "tweener" as you say. I think he is a good kid, and certainly has lived an interesting life. (as in the Chinese curse thing....)

I was watching youtube Ricky Rubio highlights. As Garth said: SCHHHHWINGGG!" The first thought I had is, this is color updated film of Bob Cousy. Then I read the wiki page for Ricky Rubio and it said he studied Pete Maravich film. So I checked out Pistol Pete film and it is eerie. Pete died in 1988....Rubio was born in 1990.
I think we've found the basketball Dalai Lama. Watch Rubio's underhand length of the court laser passes to the teamate rising and guiding the ball into the basket and tell me you don't believe in reincarnation. Gave me goose bumps. Trade up and get this kid. If it means trading a pick and Love. Do it.

levi06:46am
Jun 24

I'm feeling that somebody got duped. The Wizards got at least one player who can prosper in Flip's offense and zone defense, maybe two.

Meanwhile, the Wolves have to take out the Wizards trash as well as their own.

More manuevers must surely be in the works. Unfortunately, I don't think very highly of anyone that the Wolves might draft -- and that includes Rubio and Thabeet.

Peter Weinhold (not verified)07:31am
Jun 24

Boy, the basketball buzz is sure building right now, isn't it? Whether Kahn is the executive version of Red Bull--huge spikes of energy/activity, only to be quickly let down--or a true franchise fitness guru remains to be seen. One has to start somewhere however, and by dumping two guys who were consistently overhyped by the club, I'm intrigued. This is great for all the long suffering "fans left standing" by this organization.

It's all high risk/dubious reward though; if we did land Rubio, one shot of Minnesota weather--along with an aggressive agent--will make him increasingly hard to deal with. From what I've observed or heard about some of the other draft candidates, Curry is destined to become a career designated shooter, Harden is pretty unathletic, Evans needs the ball in his hands (a lot), and Thabeet is soft and lacks passion, even if he can block shots. Nothing here even resembles a calculated slam dunk.

And, of course, other than Thabeet, and maybe Holiday, none of these potential additions even heard of the word defense. I won't harp too much on that however, because in this case hope and change are essential to the rebuilding of relevancy, if not interest. I just hope some of these moves/picks actually work for the club.

I am excellent at making love (not verified)07:51am
Jun 24

Hey, Britt--thank you for weighing on the off-court activity. It's great to get your perspective, and so quickly, too.

I'm guessing right now there is a stand-off between the Wolves and Memphis, with the Griz saying "Give us Love," and Kahn saying "5th + 18th + Tall Veteran Not Named Love or Jefferson."

One of the conspiratorial benefits of having David Stern's hand-picked choice for Wolves boss is that the Commish could lean in and say to Memphis, "Look. Ricky doesn't want to play for you, but we need to get him the 2nd pick salary slot to pay off his buyout overseas. Draft him, trade him to the Wolves for a fair package, and I won't forget it."

So the Wolves will either make the trade right before the draft, or wait until draft day, where either Evans or Thabeet will be available at the 5 pick. The Wolves will pretend to be very excited about adding either player until the team, until the caps are switched on the players' heads.

Fugue (not verified)08:19am
Jun 24

This is a good trade for a couple of reasons:

1. Gives long suffering fans some hope.

2. Opens up the possibility of bundling #6 + something for #2/#3 . This way we draft either a C or PG and a shooting guard: Thabeet + Curry/Harden/Evans or Rubio + Curry/Harden/Evans.

As Britt mentioned, this isn't the only deal that Kahn is going to make. Seems fairly obvious that he looking for Rubio or Thabeet; players who would not only excite fans (and put butts in seats -- no small thing) but also two positions that complement Al Jefferson (who seems to me the only non-tradeable player on this squad).

And given the torpor that this team is in right now I'm fine with a little excitement. Sure beats the alternative.

H (not verified)08:41am
Jun 24

When both of these players perform at much higher levels than we have seen from them in blue and white, it will be incumbent upon us to remember all the frustration of hoping for something that never clicked with either of them. As everyone here notes, this trade will be judged by its fruits come Thursday; however, the hindsight six months on needs to maintain perspective on who these players were before they had the pleasure of shooting for Flip Saunders and falling into less-burdensome and more mentally liberating roles behind the alpha-dog leadership on the court in Washington.

Andy G08:51am
Jun 24

It's hard to comment on this trade at length, because it's almost surely Step 1 out of the pre-draft and draft process, where we'll need to make another trade or two to get some balance on our roster. But I like this step, as it gives us greater flexibility in trying to get what we need and want out of this draft.

If Rubio is what many say he is, then we've gotta make it happen. One All-Star point guard is worth a million solid wings. If Kahn could get both Rubio and Thabeet, without giving up Love/Jefferson, he should win Executive of the Year--even if Voshon Lenard needs to come out of retirement to play off-guard for a year or two.

wally (not verified)09:01am
Jun 24

Excellent piece Brit.
If the wolves pick with the 5 and 6 spots, they dramatically increase their odds of acquiring a quality piece that compliments Jefferson. I appreciate Kahn's impulse to refresh the parts of our team just aren't working while giving us a good opportunity to build through the draft AND free agency. I will suffer through "taking out Washington's trash" (and we are) if it means putting an end to the era of constantly having to evaluate a "beguiling" roster (at least we know its trash). Khan has decided that these guys weren't fixable with another few parts and rightly avoided getting caught up watching them *almost* realize their potential. I just hope that he can find the right pieces to build it stronger faster better.

For the draft, I like thabeet with jefferson, but rubio is best in the fast break and needs to go to a faster paced team. That said, I could see Love whipping outlet passes to rubio who in turn assists the alley-oop to the super 2 guard we got for jefferson... But El Jeffe doesn't have the hustle (and I question his ability to lead effectively).

To say the least, I am intrigued; but, its easier to tear it down responsibly than it is to build it up effectively. (esp in this draft year)

Matt D. (not verified)09:23am
Jun 24

I am cautiously optimistic about this draft. Remember in '03 when Flip said there wasn't much to draft after LeBron? (maybe Flip was a weak drafting link also?) My optimism comes from pure superstition..

levi10:20am
Jun 24

Aww, Matt. The 2003 draft had outstanding "household name" guys in it -- like Darko. And Ndudi.

And Carmelo, Dwayne, and Josh.

Also Perkins, Barbosa, Kaman, Pietrus, Hinrich, even Walton.

A.K. Agikamik (not verified)11:58am
Jun 24

When I informed my ten-year old son of the trade this morning his immediate response was "We have a really good GM now".

The house is being cleared. What a relief.

I am reminded that players are not precious. For too long "our guys" were treated as special in ways that were damaging to the franchise. Funny, draft choices were undervalued by the old regime and players over-valued. Now an apparent 180 that for the time being will be helpful.

The change in leadership reminds me of the classic university conundrum. For years we've had McHale, an "academic" at the helm who values those around him. Kahn is like the fundraiser who inevitably follows - he'll piss off the profs, but he will make the organization strong again - for now.

David Brauer (not verified)02:09pm
Jun 24

Because I'm a pessimist, I'm betting the first four picks are Griffin, Rubio, Thabeet and Curry.

Will we all be thrilled with no-hops Harden, no-sense Evans, etc. I want Rubio!

JPFnotJPK (not verified)04:25pm
Jun 24

I had a feeling Kahn had a hard-on for Curry. I have a hard-on for Curry's shooting ability, but I notice the rest of the package. I don't think he'll ever be a point.

Brandon Jennings or Ricky Rubio must be a Timberpup after Thursday. We gotta get one of them.

I don't really care what else we do as long as we get one of them...And Sam Young. Yeah, he's got an AARP card, so what? The man can play!

Peezy (not verified)05:29pm
Jun 24

Britt, you got a shout out from Ball Don't Lie. Interesting take there too.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Washington-and-Minne...

I hope Kahn does not get too eager to trade away our overabundance of draft picks and get fleeced.

Ogishkemuncie (not verified)08:35pm
Jun 24

I am afraid the Wolves may have yet again been unable to maximize their own player's abilities. We've given up two starters and there will be nothing but question marks about what remains even well after Thursday. Look at the comments. There is absolutely no consensus who the Wolves should pick. Why would any particular choice give their fans spasms of joy? Miller and Foye will prosper in Washington, but at least I don't think it will mean a championship there. Agent Zero does not lift his teammates and their only big man is Brendan Haywood. No Eastern Conference domination there. We, again, begin to rebuild. If the roster gets turned over by 60-70% every other year, how can a fan not be happy? (sarcasm).

Captain America (not verified)09:57pm
Jun 24

I think it is important to put things in proper perspective. The upcoming 2009/10 season will yield no more than 30 wins. Irrespective of which young guns the Wolves draft on Thursday, it takes time to transition to the NBA game.

It is obvious that trading anyway two guards will translate into selecting two guards with high potential but no practical NBA experience.

It is equally obvious that the draft will not yield a center, an woefully apparent gap the Wolves have had for years if not since the inception of the franchise.

Therefore, it will be interesting to see if the excitement expressed by fans due to the firing of McHale, the trading away of Foye-Miller, the dynamic Wiz trio, the draft and other subsequent actions taken by Dingus Kahn translates into more filled seats this upcoming season.

Afterall, paid attendance is the lifeblood of an NBA franchise.

As for Britt being a "Staunch lefty" and former poet, gosh I would have never had known that...

Britt Robson10:24pm
Jun 24

Ogishkemuncie--
FWIW, I, like David Brauer and probably more than a few others, would get a little spasm out of Ricky Rubio coming here. As for the two starters, you mean the ones who led the squad to the league's worst FG% despite the presence of Big Al?
Maybe you thought the Garnett trade was cause for rejoicing, or at least the chance to get excited about rebuilding. I took a wait and see attitude and just couldn't get on board as heartily as some of the regulars to this site, but optimism isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm a little more excited about this current renovation because the change is meant to be thorough and cleansing and because the way Kahn has regarded and prioritized the assets has made sense to me thus far.
Bottom line, as I've said many times before, I'm an NBA freak, and as long as the league keeps operating here, I'm happy. But if you just look at the post above, I think you'll see that Kahn isn't getting a free pass, just a little respect for what I consider a decent attempt at renovation thus far. We'll know more on Thursday, and more than that 'round about December.

CA--

Good to see you back. The site needs its curmudgeons and given how I am currently better disposed toward Kahn than you are, the balance is a good thing.
As for the lefty and the poetry, I prefer to compartmentalize my passions so as not to scare away unlike-minded folks, at least in the blogosphere. But some of my best sports conversatiosn have been with would-be bitter political foes; some of my most invigorating political discussions have occurred beside people, media and otherwise, while watching hoops. It's a big world, eh?

Cheap Seats Erick (not verified)11:23am
Jun 25

It's so nice to see the hometown squad return to some level of relevance. This really is like Christmas morning. Even Bill Simmons (via Twitter) can't ruin it with his comment about how the Wolves have the fifth and sixth picks in a four-player draft.

If they stand pat, at least one of the four first-round picks has to pan out, right? And if they trade up for Rubio, count me as part of the group who'd be excited.

But here's my concern w/ Rubio: If the Wolves are somehow able to pick him, buy out his Euro contract, etc., what are the odds he both pans out AND sticks with the Wolves long-term? It's high-risk. Many have offered Steve Nash as the best-case example of what Rubio could be. But Nash didn't turn the corner until his fifth NBA season, at age 26. How long are the Wolves (and perhaps more importantly, Wolves fans) willing to wait for Rubio to develop?

Twins Geek (not verified)12:17pm
Jun 25

Britt, I'm wondering if you've heard anything about Nikola Pekovic coming to play this year. In an interview on the Wolves site in February Hoiberg claimed he was.

http://www.nba.com/timberwolves/news/Midseason_Evaluations-301266-1193.html

Does that also play into the decision to be focusing on the backcourt? Does it really matter?

Timby (not verified)01:13pm
Jun 25

Rubio looks like such a natural on the youtube video at, with that incredible court vision, anticipation and great hands to be able to deliver. It's too much to hope for that the Wolves could get him... Please, please don't let them draft more tweeners. Get kids with NBA size and speed.

Will Lose  url04:46pm
Jun 25

Seems like a high-risk, high reward trade based on some good insider info or the GM is Stern's tool and making it possible for another large-market team to have a playoff year. The only way to know will be to see who they draft.

The trade itself creates more problems than it solves. Effectively 2 more roster spots filled than they had before it.

It's not as if the icefish were going to contend for much more than 2 home playoff losses in the first round if everything went according to plan with Foye and Miller, but that compared to yet another lotto year probably would mean something to those who waste money on tickets, jerseys, etc.

Cheap Seats Erick (not verified)07:40pm
Jun 25

To clarify, I LOVE Rubio at No. 5 ... my last post was assuming they'd have to part with something to get him. This is unreal!

JPFnotJPK (not verified)10:45pm
Jun 25

I got to enjoy the Rubio pick for two minutes before the Flynn pick made me wonder what the hell is going on.

Oh, and also, what the hell is going on?

flandango (not verified)11:39pm
Jun 25

Just like always. Draft the good players and then trade them away. Welcome to the T-Wolves, Flynn.

Steve J (not verified)12:44am
Jun 26

I was hoping for a new post from Britt explaining this madness at some point...maybe a trade in the offing or something of the sort. Perhaps Kahn is seriously pushing a Rubio-Flynn backcourt, which wouldn't be a bad thing. However, Rubio-Jennings would have meant an automatic season ticket purchase.

W+ Will (not verified)10:10am
Jun 26

Kahn, on the Dan Patrick show (you can download/stream from CNNSI) said he talked to a league exec and that exec told him that he knew the draft order was going to have Rubio fall in his lap. Gave him the exact order 1-4. We all know Kahn is buds with David Stern. We all know that David Thorne, the Nets main decision maker was Stern's long time right hand man.

Now we know the Nets are for sale and in youth movement mode by trading Vince Carter for Courtney Lee and salary cap.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/ian_thomsen/06/26/weekly.c...

This was posted by CNNSI.com prior to the draft...

In addition to their planned acquisition of Rodriguez, the Nets were discussing a bold final-hour move that would package All-Star point guard Devin Harris and the No. 11 pick to Minnesota for the No. 5 pick. These talks were described by a league source as "shaky'' but ongoing. -- Ian Thomsen

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/basketball/nba/06/25/draft.day.blo...

The Nets landed athletic swingman Terrance Williams... speaking of which...

8:35: Williams is a huge fan of Jonny Flynn, who went No. 6 to the Timberwolves behind Ricky Rubio. "He is great with the ball and makes great decision with the ball. Just look at six-overtime game against UConn. When I first saw him I thought he was a miniature Chris Paul. He's not Chris Paul right now but he might be Chris Paul one day. I see his game and it reminds me a lot of Chris Paul." -- Richard Deitsch

antonymous (not verified)11:17am
Jun 26

I don't see what's been going on as madness at all. It's us, filling a need (PG) that was in abundance this draft. What I don't understand is the hyper-sensitivity to Ricky Rubio's feelings - he's 18 and hasn't been groomed to say the right things to American media! Oh no! He's stated that he wants to play in the NBA, he's now on an NBA team. He might be a little rankled by the taking of another PG after him - who wouldn't be? But if that's going to keep him overseas because he's afraid of the competition, then he's not going to make it anyway.

I think we did pretty well during the draft - we clearly are going to have to address the SG situation via trade, since I don't see many free agent SGs who would fit in well here (Ronnie Price and Dahntay Jones are the best semi-realistic options).

JPFnotJPK (not verified)11:42am
Jun 26

Ronnie Price is a SG?

Neil (not verified)12:28pm
Jun 26

I just listened to KFAN have a small aneurysm that the Wolves drafted two point guards at 5 and 6. Unlike everyone else, I am completely and 100% okay with this.

To answer KFAN and most Wolves fans point of contention, I don't think Kahn is really envisioning a Flynn / Rubio starting backcourt as they were insisting. One will start and one will back up. He just can't come out and say that.

Rubio was by all accounts the second best prospect in this draft - buyout issues aside. Obviously there could be some buyout and contract issues, but he was the best player in the draft at the number two slot much less where the Wolves picked him at number five. That pick was a no-brainer.

That said, I think according to most experts, Flynn was the next best player in the draft. You could make an argument for Curry, but Curry's ultimate fatal flaw is that he's a really small scorer in a league that chews guys like that up for lunch. With the exception of Allen Iverson, and I don't think anybody's making the case he's a prolific as Iverson, how many guys translate his size and skills from college stardom to NBA stardom? Didn't we just learn this lesson with Randy Foye?

The Wolves have clear needs for an efficient, high scoring shooting guard and defensive minded center. Depending on how Brewer develops, they may need a starting caliber small forward as well. There was nobody that was going to expertly fill any of those three roles at number six after Rubio, so again, why not take the best player on the board.

Commentators in particular are losing it because "it was a lottery pick." We also have to acknowledge that this is not a normal number six lottery pick. This is the weakest draft in years. I've heard numerous experts say that the number six through ten picks in terms of talent this year are closer to eighteen to twenty in most other years. Again, why reach for an inferior talent to fill a need? No matter who they picked, the Wolves will likely be terrible this year and earn another high lottery pick next year --- this is more than a one year project so how about we wait until next years draft when a pick more whose talent is more consistent with typical lottery consideration are available. Draft the high powered shooting guard or stiff defensive center next year. We'll have a high pick next year.

Even if Rubio turns out to be a star, he's not going to play 48 minutes a game. Telfair's not going be a Timberwolf this time next year. We will need a backup point guard. And even if you don't like Rubio, maybe Flynn turns out to be a starting caliber point guard with Rubio backing him up. Maybe neither will turn out to be very good, but they still picked the best two prospects in the draft at the five and six slots and don't deserve to be taken to task for it. Best case scenario is that if they both display all star talent (unlikely as this is) then we have a blue chip point guard prospect to trade in two years time.

Lastly, sports comentators routinely chide teams for passing on the best player available to fill a need. Every ESPN commentator loves to mention how Portland passed on Chris Paul because they had Sebastian Telfair, and how they passed on Michael Jordan because they had Clyde Drexler. Yet when the Timberwolves follow this logic, albeit in the unusual context of back to back lottery picks, they get taken to the woodshed. Completely unfair.

Time will tell whether Kahn made the right decision, but I think he's taking a lot of flak right now for all the wrong reasons. I'm very happy with how the Timberwolves draft turned out and has made the best possible decisions given his options.

Paul (ikrushlots) (not verified)12:54pm
Jun 26

I agree with you Neil. Between the two guard positions, there are 96 minutes/game to go around. Three guys can average 32 minutes a game. If Flynn and Rubio both pan out, the Wolves would have the luxury the Pistons once had (Thomas, Dumars and Johnson), and play the three (assuming they end up with a good SG someday) according to matchups.

I agree with taking the best player available. Teams that draft according to need rather than talent usually end up regretting it.

If the Wolves were to play the two together, I think it could work. Rubio has a problem with small, quick PGs. Defensively Flynn can guard the the PG while Rubio guards the two (he's 6'4"). Offensively, Rubio could still play point, and Flynn's quickness would be an asset at the two.

I know the argument is, well Rubio will have to guard big, quick shooting guards like Kobe Bryant. I've got news for those who say that . . . not every 2 is a Bryant. Many, are spot up shooters or defensive specialists. A good coach will know how to use three guards and play them according to matchups.

The Wolves have increased the talent on the roster by a big margin from two weeks ago. Now that Rubio fell to them, I am very happy with the Wash. trade. Whether it was luck or shrewd decison-making, Khan has done a great job with the roster thus far.

antonymous (not verified)09:59pm
Jun 29

Oops, just found this thread again - Ronnie Price is clearly not an SG - I was thinking of Ronnie Brewer, whom I think would be a great fit for the Wolves. Unfortunately, it's Price that will be a FA, not Brewer...

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