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News » Minnesota Timberwolves to shape NBA draft

Minnesota Timberwolves to shape NBA draft

Minnesota Timberwolves to shape NBA draft
The Timberwolves finalized one trade Wednesday.

Can they pull off another?

With four first-round picks in tonight's NBA draft after Tuesday's trade with the Washington Wizards, the Wolves have the ammunition to move up into the top two or three of the first round for a shot at point guard Ricky Rubio of Spain or perhaps 7-foot-3 Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet.

At the end of the day Wednesday, though, new team president of Basketball operations David Kahn had yet to find another trade partner. reported that the Memphis Grizzlies turned down multiple offers for the No. 2 selection because the Wolves refused to part with both the Nos. 5 and 6 picks or package forward Kevin Love with the latter.

The trade that sent guards Randy Foye and Mike Miller to Washington left Minnesota with two top-six picks, and Kahn was adamant at an afternoon news conference that the team would keep at least one.

"I want to be really clear about this," he said. "We will not trade five and six for two. We will not do that, under no circumstances."

Kahn acknowledged that the Wolves and Grizzlies had been in discussions for several days but said it was too early to gauge the chances of any deal.

Memphis reportedly is prepared to use the No. 2 selection on Thabeet if it can't trade the pick, which would leave No. 3 Oklahoma City in position to take Rubio or perhaps broker a deal.

The Wolves have expressed interest in Thabeet and Memphis point guard Tyreke Evans, who could go to Sacramento with the No. 4 pick.

The main object of their affection, though, appears to be Rubio, 18, a flashy point guard who has been compared to Pete Maravich and might help the attendance-starved team sell a few tickets.

Rubio didn't work out for the Wolves, but they scouted him extensively in Europe and Kahn said "he was very good" in the one game he saw.

Kahn said he had no idea if Rubio might fall to the Wolves at No. 5 and has only a casual knowledge of the details of the $6.6 million contract buyout he has with his Spanish team, a buyout that reportedly will be reduced.

In New York for a pre-draft news conference, Rubio was asked his reaction to various NBA cities and answered "too cold" for Minnesota. But Kahn said neither Rubio nor his agent has expressed any misgivings about playing here.

"I think what they have told me is their No. 1 concern is the opportunity for him to play and to be, within time, the starting point guard," Kahn said. "They want a place where he can develop quickly, and I think clearly we're one of those places. At least that's what the agent said to me."

With the departure of Foye and Miller, the Wolves have a short-term need at shooting guard, and they had Arizona State's James Harden in for an afternoon workout Wednesday. He is a prime candidate to go to the Wolves at No. 5 or 6, whether they keep one pick or both.

Other prospects they could be eyeing there are Evans, if he's still available, or point guards Stephen Curry of Davidson or Jonny Flynn of Syracuse.

One of them and Harden could make up next season's starting backcourt for the Wolves after the trade with Washington, which Kahn said was maybe 10 days in the making and he believed was important to do early.

"I wanted it to kind of sit out there a bit," he said, "so that people kind of absorbed it and maybe it would increase our (trade) options, based on what people thought of the extra pick we acquired."

Kahn said he had yet to speak to Foye or Miller but did leave voice messages for both and believes they will do well with their new team.

Neither player could be reached for comment.

In addition to the No. 5 selection, the Wolves acquired center Etan Thomas and forwards Darius Songaila and Oleksiy Pecherov in the deal. Kahn described them as "three players that I think in various ways will help us next season and in one case (Songaila) maybe for a couple seasons."

Briefly: Kahn denied that the Wolves have agreed to sell the No. 28 pick to the New York Knicks for $3 million, insisting that no decisions had been made on any of their selections. They also own the No. 18 pick.

Kahn said he expects to hire a coach in July but called it "highly unlikely" that he would have someone in place for the start of the summer league season in Las Vegas on July 12.

Kahn, on Foye getting a fresh start with the Wizards: "I just felt that he'll just be better at the next place. Because here he went through kind of, what position is he? He had some injuries. He needs to find his groove, and I think he will."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: June 25, 2009


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