With no trades brewing, Wolves finish draft prep
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Timberwolves’ 2013 draft legwork is pretty much complete.
Now, president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said, action gives way to reaction.
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“We have a list of 60 players — 75, 60 guys on the draft board — and all those players are based on, with our roster as it is, when the time comes, who are we going to pick,” Saunders said during his final gathering with the media before Thursday’s NBA Draft. “Who’s the best guy? We’ve determined right now, so the hay’s kind of already in the barn right now.”
Who ends up coming off that list, of course, is contingent upon what the eight teams drafting ahead of Minnesota do before the Timberwolves pick at No. 9. They’ve got the 26th overall choice, too, and two second-rounders to boot.
And then, of course, there’s the oft-mentioned notion of a trade, one that could improve Minnesota’s draft position or bring in a piece already seasoned with NBA experience.
But Saunders predicted last week that as the draft grew closer, transaction interest among the league would dwindle.
Based on daily conversations between members of his office and the NBA’s other 29 franchises, his hypothesis stands correct so far, he said.
“There’s been offers,” said Saunders, the former Timberwolves coach who took over president and general manager duties in May. “Nothing’s intrigued me enough to get excited about. Some things will happen over the next 48, 72 hours. Nothing’s gonna really happen until the day of or the day before, when you maybe could have a better idea of where everything’s going.”
Unless Minnesota is able to trade into the top five, shooting guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia) and C.J. McCollum (Lehigh) appear the two most likely options for the Timberwolves at No. 9. A tall, defensive-minded center is probably next at 26, unless Saunders and his staff decide to shake things up a bit and draft a forward.
They won’t be picking any point guards in the first round, Saunders said.
Other notes from Saunders’ final pre-draft presser:
— Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Derrick Williams, Chris Johnson and Chase Budinger are among the participants in a player-organized, informal team workout taking place in Los Angeles this week. There’s a chance guard Alexey Shved will join them later in the week, according to Saunders.
— Saunders has been in contact with Andrei Kirilenko’s agent but doesn’t expect to have any answers concerning the forward’s future before Thursday’s draft. Kirilenko has a player option worth $10.2 million next season and has until Saturday to tell the Timberwolves he’s sticking around or pursue other offers. “I have an inclination” as to what Kirilenko will decide, Saunders said, but “I’m not gonna tell you.”
— Off-the-court evaluation’s been a big part of Minnesota’s pre-draft process, and Saunders said at least one player is off the draft board based simply upon personality and interactions with other potential draftees and staff. “Just based on his character, just wouldn’t touch him,” Saunders said.
— Saunders arrived a bit late for the press conference after having lunch with North Texas forward Tony Mitchell. The Timberwolves checked out the 6-foot-9, 236-pound prospect Monday morning in an individual workout session, their last one before the draft.
— Coach Rick Adelman is in Minneapolis for the draft this week. He hadn’t been seen at a media-open team function since May 30 during one of the Timberwolves’ group pre-draft workouts.
— The Timberwolves will host a draft party Thursday that’s free and open to the public. The Target Center doors open at 5:30 p.m., with the draft starting an hour later. Minnesota is expected to make its first-round selections around 7:15 p.m. and again at 8:35 p.m. ESPN is televising the draft, NBA commissioner David Stern’s last before his impending retirement.
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