Wolves draft Robinson 40th, trade pair of second-round picks

Glenn Robinson III averaged 13.1 points on 48.8-percent shooting as a Michigan sophomore last season.

Jeff Hanisch/Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — After drafting UCLA guard Zach LaVine 13th overall in the first round, the Timberwolves entered the second round with a bundle of picks to work with.

They walked away with a possible first-round talent and wad of cash in their back pocket.

Minnesota took Michigan small forward Glenn Robinson III — the son of former NBA star Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson — 40th overall in Thursday night’s 2014 NBA Draft, then dealt the 44th and 53rd picks to Brooklyn and Houston, respectively, in exchange for cash. It marked the fourth time since 2008 the Wolves have traded a second-round pick and received money, not a player, in return.

Robinson comes to the Twin Cities after two years in Ann Arbor. While there, he averaged 12 points per game and shot 52.5 percent — 13.1 points and 48.8 this past year as a sophomore.

Minnesota coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said Robinson could join the rotation right away. Four mock drafts had him going between No. 23 and No. 29.

The Wolves front office’s projections weren’t much different.

"It’s always when of these things when you get up and you hear it from everybody, ‘we had this guy rated a lot higher,’" Saunders told reporters Thursday night in the Target Center media room. "But we had him rated a lot higher."

With LaVine capable of playing the one or the two, Saunders said, the Wolves attempted to address their void of a bona fide small forward. Robinson won’t be that right away but, like LaVine, it’s hoped that he’ll develop into an everyday contributor.

He has the pedigree to do so after growing up under the example of his father, the No. 1 pick in the 1994 draft. The elder Glenn Robinson averaged 20.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists during his 11-year NBA career.

While he wasn’t picked as high as his dad, Glenn Robinson III’s college credentials lend further credence to his ability.

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound prospect from Gary, Ind., helped the Wolverines to the national championship game in 2013 and an Elite Eight appearance last March. He’s a slasher that can create his own shot — a skill area in which the Wolves have been severely lacking in recent years.

"Our priority was to get more athletic," Saunders said. "Many of our other players are not what you call creative-type players, to get to the basket or create their own shots. We’ve added a couple guys who can create shots for them and other people."

And in Saunders’ eyes, two of those were enough.

Rather than take a flier and stash another prospect or two in Europe, Saunders opted to take cash that can be spent in free agency or elsewhere within the organization. Markel Brown went to Brooklyn, and Alessandro Gentile was dealt to Houston.

Minnesota went a similar route in 2011 (38th pick Chandler Parsons was dealt to Houston), 2008 (No. 34 selection Mario Chalmers went to Miami for cash and two future second-round picks) and 2006 (Minnesota sent 37th pick Bobby Jones to Philadelphia for cash and a future second-round selection).

Chalmers has gone on to win a pair of NBA championships with the Heat. Parsons is one of the league’s most lethal shooters. Only Jones didn’t pan out.

But Saunders vehemently defended his course of action.

"I’m not going to draft somebody just to say we drafted him," Saunders said when challenged about the notion of taking a player rather than money on the chance he pans out. "Do you see how many 44s and 53s make our league overall?

"If we had quality people there, we would’ve drafted him. Don’t stereotype what (others have) done in the past. We’ve been here a year. I’m going to draft players that can play, not players that can’t play."

After introducing LaVine and Robinson at a press conference Friday, the Wolves — along with the rest of the league — will quickly transition into free agency; formal negotiations can begin Tuesday, and Minnesota has a near $6 million midlevel exception to use.

The franchise also has yet to find a suitable deal for Kevin Love, who plans to opt out of his contract after next season and has been the subject of trade rumors all summer.

They’ll heat back up again now that the draft has come and gone without a deal being struck. Saunders said at no point during the draft was he seriously considering trading Love or any other current players.

That’ll have to wait.

"I feel fine," Saunders. "We addressed something that we’ve needed. We’ve had an infusion of some young talent to go with our young players from two years ago. I believe these are players that have to go through a development process, but they are going to be good players in our league."

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