Draft notes: Wolves not done yet
With four first-round picks, the Timberwolves have a host of draft/trade options
The conditions are ripe for a couple of contenders to buy a first-round pick
There will obviously be lottery-related fallout from the Timberwolves-Wizards deal that gives Minnesota the fifth pick in addition to No. 6 it already owned, turning new president David Kahn into even more of a pivotal figure in his first draft as personnel boss anywhere.
Once their trade with Washington becomes official, the Timberwolves will have four selections in Thursday's first round. No team wants four rookies needing minutes at the same time, so there will surely be additional moves to follow, and that's not even counting Minnesota's two second-round choices. No one could have imagined a month ago that the Twin Cities would be one of the league's rush-hour intersections June 25, but welcome to it.
Kahn will have nonstop options, including packaging picks in an attempt to move up to No. 2 or 3; selling No. 18 or 28 because there will be interested buyers; trading No. 18 or 28 for a future first-rounder; and using No. 28 on an international player who will stay overseas.
If they stay at Nos. 5 and 6, the Timberwolves could take two backcourt players after dealing guard Randy Foye and swingman Mike Miller to Washington. Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet is a possibility for the Timberwolves, too, in a move that would allow them to shift Al Jefferson to power forward.
The Wizards' dealing their pick was the lottery shuffle everyone saw coming. Not specifically with Minnesota as the trade partner, but Washington had all but hired skywriters to announce it was open for business with No. 5. The Wizards are trying to win now with Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and, after the swap with the Timberwolves, Miller and Foye. They didn't want another prospect to develop. With 14 players under contract before the move, they didn't want more bodies, period. Exchanging four (the pick, Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila and Oleksiy Pecherov) for two (Miller and Foye) was part of the appeal.
As for the other big deal so far, tracing the draft impact of the Bucks-Spurs trade is not nearly as clear. Milwaukee moved small forward Richard Jefferson but has last year's two draft picks, Joe Alexander and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, at the position and no need to spend No. 10 on a replacement. The choice without Jefferson is the same as the choice with Jefferson.
This draft could turn into an auction more than any other. A lot of teams are strained for cash, several championship hopefuls or playoff contenders don't have a first-round pick, and the deep-pocket guys are reading buyer's market and hoping to get a first-round pick at a bargain rate compared to past years. Either that or get much higher than past years for their $3 million, the most teams can include in a trade. Among those willing to spend while so many others are looking to save or survive: the Spurs, Nuggets, Trail Blazers, Mavericks and maybe the Rockets. The second set of Minnesota picks are obvious targets. So is the Kings' pick at No. 23.
The Warriors, who have the seventh pick, have said several times they will go either point guard or big man barring unforeseen developments. And since it is possible no highly rated power forward or center will be there, with a chance Jordan Hill will be off the board, things narrow considerably. Except that point guards Stephen Curry, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday and Ricky Rubio all declined workout invitations, which signals how they'd feel about landing there. The so-called unforeseen development is believed to be the availability of shooting guard James Harden at No. 7. Won't happen.
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