For the past several months, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has been looking for a buyer for the club who would originally own a portion of the team and then eventually would take over majority ownership.
But after not finding a suitable partner, Taylor changed his mind and bought the stock holdings of six partners who wanted out.
“I was looking at bringing somebody else in to do that, and it never worked out,” Taylor said. “So I just had told the partners that wanted to sell out, that had been with me for about 18 years, that if they wanted to sell out that I would buy their stock. I had about half of them do that, the other half stayed in. I just left that option up to them. They made their decisions, and everybody is happy with how it worked out.”
So now with the hiring of Flip Saunders as president of basketball operations, Taylor seems more involved than ever and he is probably more excited about this draft than any in recent memory.
The Timberwolves will go into Thursday’s draft with two first-round choices and two second-round picks.
With the abundance of draft choices, Taylor was asked if he and Saunders have talked about trading up or down.
“Well, we’re willing to do that, and I know that Flip has talked to some teams,” Taylor said. “But it has to be that we could trade up to where we could get the exact player that we want to get. I don’t know if that is going to work out. But we’re looking at all options. We’re willing to trade up or trade down in order to land the players that we need.”
Taylor was asked about the caliber of talent in this draft.
“There are a lot of good guys out there but not exceptional,” he said. “They don’t talk about a player coming in and changing the franchise or being a major star. … It just takes a good eye of trying to figure out which one of these players might develop over time.”
Williams trade unlikely
There has been a lot of talk about the Wolves trading Derrick Williams, who might have been playing the best of anyone on the roster at the end of last season. Does Taylor see any reason to move him?
“There are teams that have called us and asked us if we are going to trade him, but I think that everybody saw the same thing that you saw, including the coach,” Taylor said. “Once we got him out on the floor and he had a chance to play, he started to play better. We have to remember that he still a very young man and a player that has a lot of potential. So we may trade somebody on our team, but it’s not going to be [him], unless it really would help our team.”
Taylor, apparently, is somewhat involved in the draft itself.
“Traditionally what I have done, and I’ve already talked to Flip about this, I’m going to come up about noon and we’ll go through all the scenarios, which we have already, we’ve gone through them,” Taylor said. “If there needs to be a contact for me to contact any owners, that’s the time I’ll do that, before the draft, just in case there’s some deals we want to get an agreement on. Then I’ll stay there in case there has to be a decision to either move up or down or sell a draft pick or to buy one.”
Taylor also was asked if there is anything new on the status of coach Rick Adelman, who likely will be involved in the draft as well.
“I think everything is going good,” Taylor said. “His wife [Mary Kay, who has been facing health issues] continues to make progress and she’s driving and getting back closer to a more normal way of living in every way. We assume that everything is going fine and Rick will be back.”
In the Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Chicago, there is local interest in how former Eden Prairie and Gophers defenseman Nick Leddy is doing, after the Wild traded his rights, along with Kim Johnsson, to the Blackhawks for Cam Barker in 2010.
There is no better judge of hockey talent than former North Stars General Manager Lou Nanne, who has watched every game closely.
“Nick Leddy didn’t [play] two games ago — he only had that 2 ½ minutes in the fourth game — but he played more Saturday [6 minutes, 53 seconds in a 3-1 Chicago victory],” Nanne said. “Boston is a very physical team, they like to go after the defensemen a bit, and Leddy’s strengths are his offensive capabilities. … So [Blackhawks coach Joel] Quenneville sat him a bit two games ago. But Leddy is a very good player. They need him to create offense, and so he is getting more ice time, and I think he’ll continue to get ice time in the next game or two.”
Nanne is high on Leddy and said he is one of the three fastest skaters in the NHL.
“He sees the ice really well, and he can really move the puck well,” Nanne said. “Offensively he’s a threat all the time. He’s a young defenseman, so he has to improve defensively and he’s doing that, but it takes time to come into the National Hockey League and be real solid defensively. He’s the type of kid that he’s just going to get better and better as the years go by.”
How is Nanne picking the winner of the Stanley Cup?
“Well, when it started, I said Chicago in seven,” he said. “Then when Marian Hossa got hurt, I said I thought Boston would come back and win the series, but Hossa is back playing, so I’m going to stick with Chicago in seven.”
• Gophers basketball and track and field standout Wally Ellenson finished second in the high jump this weekend at the U.S. Junior National Championships in Des Moines. Ellenson had a jump of 7 feet, 5 inches and qualified for the Pan-American Junior Championships in Medellin, Colombia, from Aug. 23-25.
• Former Twin Francisco Liriano continues to pitch marvelously for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Liriano threw 6 ⅔ innings of one-run ball in a 6-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday and is now 6-3 with a 2.30 ERA and 61-22 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 54 ⅔ innings.
• Former Gophers golfer Erik van Rooyen made his first cut as a professional and finished tied for 19th at the Polokwane Classic on the Sunshine Tour. Rooyen, a South African native, made $7,370.
• Former Twins prospect Joe Benson hasn’t played since June 11 for the Frisco RoughRiders, the Texas Rangers’ Class AA affiliate. Benson, who was hitting .333 with four home runs, two triples and six RBI in nine games, is on the seven-day disabled list because of a groin injury.
• Former Gopher Mike Kvasnicka is back playing with the Class A Fort Myers Miracle after being on the disabled list to start the season. Kvasnicka is hitting .300 with two home runs and 11 RBI in 11 games since he has been back.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org