Befuddled by the process

Zach Harper —  June 25, 2012 — 3 Comments

The Timberwolves are confusing me.

There are some things we know for sure:

- This team plays at the Target Center.
- They currently have a team with two star-quality players in Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.
- Rick Adelman is the head coach.
- Glen Taylor is the owner.
- David Kahn is the president of basketball operations.
- The Wolves currently possess the 18th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. They also have the 58th pick.
- They’re currently running one of the oddest draft processes a lot of people have ever seen.

I came back earlier from the Wolves’ workout of Will(ie) Barton, Ramone Moore, Yancy Gates and Garrett Stutz. This was Moore’s second time working out with the Wolves, so maybe they really like his chances of being available at 58 for some backcourt depth. Gates and Stutz are most likely irrelevant and just workout filler to get some big men in here to run some 2-on-2 sets that test guards.

This was Barton’s first workout with the Wolves. He’s been through so many workouts over the past month that he said he actually forgets what city he just came from most mornings. He’ll be in Indianapolis tomorrow and trying to remember that he was just here today. Barton has also been shooting up draft boards throughout this draft process.

When the Wolves pick at 18, it’s possible he’s the guy. When the Wolves pick at 18, it’s also possible Royce White will come home to make his NBA debut. It’s also possible that Fab Melo’s workout with the team Tuesday will vault him into being the 18th pick. Or maybe Draymond Green from Michigan State will get the nod because of his prior workout with the team.

Or what if… um… who else was here… Drew Gordon… yeah… what if Drew Gordon ends up being the pick for the Wolves? Is that a possibility? 

That’s the confusion I’m drawing from the Wolves’ draft process this year. Who have they even worked out? There were workouts on May 31st and June 1st, hosted by the Wolves. All 30 teams were present at the workouts. Then the Draft Combine was from June 6th until the 10th. Then the Wolves held a workout on June 12th, which had White and Green competing for some 18th pick acceptance. And then… the Wolves had a workout on June 22nd for six guys that are all late second rounders at best.

Finally today, the Wolves had Barton in for a look at a potential 18th pick. The draft is Thursday. I’m so confused by this inactivity.

It’s no secret that the Wolves would like to win now, rather than later. It’s no secret that the Wolves could potentially package Derrick Williams and/or the 18th pick to bring in a veteran (wing) player who can help them win now and get this Wolves’ franchise closer to respectability than it’s been since KG, Flip and Sam were patrolling the Target Center. And there is no problem with this kind of thinking at all.

I don’t believe there is a guy available at 18 who will end up being a starter right away and someone that can make an immediate impact. If Terrence Ross or Austin Rivers fall to 18, then you have a guy that can probably play right away. If Quincy Miller is available at 18 (and it sounds like he absolutely will be), you have to worry about his knee becoming completely healthy again, but he has the potential to be a huge steal.

The problem though is that the Wolves haven’t worked any of those three guys out at all. It’s probable that Ross and Rivers refused to accept a workout invitation from the Wolves because they don’t believe they’ll fall out of the lottery. David Kahn even mentioned how it can be difficult at first to bring in a lot of guys. As told to reporters after the first workouts the Wolves hosted:

“We don’t have too many names yet confirmed, but we’re in the process of doing so,” Kahn said. “A lot of the players still all believe they’re in the lottery. So we’ve got 35 players who all think they’re going to be lottery picks and they’re a little bit hesitant to come and work out at 18. But those things sort themselves out.”

The question I have with a couple days before the draft and not a lot of workouts under the Wolves’ belt so far is did it sort itself out?

Actually, I have a lot of questions.

Did the Wolves love Royce White so much that they made a promise to him at 18? If that happens, do they now have a surplus of 3/4 tweeners that will make it difficult to move Derrick Williams to even out the roster?

Is being so passive in bringing in players for workouts giving everybody the opinion that they don’t want the pick? Why didn’t Quincy Miller get brought in when his draft stock is hurting and he could potentially fit a need? Even if you don’t want him, shouldn’t you give teams the illusion that you want him?

To outwardly show such little interest in your own 18th pick seems like a bad way to drive up its trade value. It’s not that I need a lot of trade rumors floating around the Wolves right now. How many rumors do we actually hear or read that end up coming to fruition? If we were hearing rumors about the Wolves moving the pick right now, it would probably mean that none of that stuff is about to happen. But it’s weird to have so few trade rumors and so few workouts in one of the most pivotal off-seasons in the team’s history.

To the outsider looking in, it seems like Kahn isn’t all that involved. Rob Babcock and R.J. Adelman are apparently running the show right now. Rick Adelman has supposedly been seeing film of the workouts, but he’s not actually present at them? Whenever Kahn answers questions, we’ve heard a few “I haven’t talked to him yet” or “I haven’t seen film on him” type of answers (paraphrasing, of course).

When Will(ie) Barton was asked today if he saw Rick Adelman or David Kahn in the workout, he said that he didn’t recall seeing Rick there. He also then asked who the other guy was that they asked about. When hit with the name “David Kahn” again, he seemed confused as to whom that might be. It’s very possible that Barton just has no idea who Kahn is or is bad with names and couldn’t differentiate one front office guy in a city he won’t remember tomorrow from the last one. It also seems weird that you wouldn’t remember the team president’s name of a team you just worked out for. Both are understandable scenarios, given the circumstances.

Last year, it made sense that the Wolves worked out very few options for the second pick in the draft. If you’re lucky, most seasons will only have a select few worthy of being a top-2 pick in the NBA Draft. However, when you’re picking 18th and not bringing in a steady stream of prospects hungry to move from the late first round and early second round into the middle of the first round, it’s hard to figure out just how into the process and just how prepared a team is. You don’t want to tip your hand up until your pick because too much can go wrong when you’re waiting for 17 picks to go before you. However, you still want to know the cards you’re holding and right now, it seems really hard to see that the Wolves have even anted up.

As of right now, it’s just another odd thing from the outside looking in when trying to figure out what the Wolves are going to do on Draft Night in three days.

Zach Harper

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3 responses to Befuddled by the process

  1. It is weird how Kahn was so cocky and hands on when the team sucked, now that he actually is building something more or less on schedule, he seems somewhere between disinterested and diffident. Truly a mystifying fellow.

  2. Or could it be without Ronzone leaking every thought from every meeting the soap opera is no longer being televised and is now boring? I guess this shouldn’t be an OR.

    It kills me when I hear players in the top 3 won’t workout for anyone below #4 or lottery players won’t work out for teams drafting out of the lottery. Are they unfamiliar with trades? Doesn’t it help them significantly if a team out of the lottery loves them and forces that team or a lottery team to trade up?

  3. draft fab melo, trade other pieces for wing talent, not derrick williams.

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