LAS VEGAS – Jarrett Culver said the nearly two-week waiting period from the time the Timberwolves traded up to select him in this year’s draft to when he was officially allowed to join the team on Saturday was “difficult.”
But it made a day like Sunday all the more worth it. From the moment he entered the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Culver had a smile across his face.
“It feels like a big relief off my shoulders,” Culver said. “It’s official now, so I’m just ready to work.”
Except he wasn’t quite able to work as much as he wanted Sunday, as he did not play in the Wolves’ 90-66 victory over the Hawks.
The Wolves opted to rest Culver since Culver got into Las Vegas late Saturday night, for a team dinner around 11 p.m. to officially welcome him to the franchise.
“There’s a lot to like, and we feel like in our system we’re going to be able to maximize him over time,” President Gersson Rosas said. “A prototypical, two-way, playmaking wing in the NBA is super valuable. We feel like we got our hands on one in the draft.”
Culver was hardly sitting on his hands Sunday. He took part in a workout earlier in the day with some of his new teammates, among them Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and he was scheduled to work out Sunday night as well.
The Timberwolves, on their official Twitter account, also posted a picture of Culver signing his contract late Sunday night, a deal worth about $26.4 million over four years with team options on the final two years.
“They want me to come in and be confident and be myself, just like how I was in college,” Culver said. “They want me to improve on my game and take it to the next level.”
Both Culver and Rosas said they expect Culver to make an immediate impact defensively.
“[He has] versatility, he can guard multiple positions,” Rosas said. “He’s coming from a fantastic defensive program that’s been one of the best defensive programs in college. Man-to-man defender, good technique, good skill, good physical tools and as his body improves we feel like that’s going to translate at a high NBA level.”
Coach Ryan Saunders said Culver was versatile as well, citing his ability to handle the ball when needed at Texas Tech. Under Saunders, Culver will have the freedom to push the ball if he has an opportunity.
Rosas said over time he envisioned Culver growing into a “primary playmaker,” but he will be involved in the offense from the jump.
“For sure [he’ll be] a secondary pick-and-roll guy who can create off the dribble or live situations,” Rosas said. “His ability to see the floor and make plays is something that we value a ton. … But with his size and with his handle, with his ability to pass, with his ability to finish and make plays at the basket and improving shooting potential, that’s a very valuable weapon in the NBA.”
The Wolves had a strong presence at summer league Sunday. Towns and Wiggins sat courtside along with some of their newer teammates, such as Jordan Bell, Noah Vonleh and Jake Layman.
Culver eventually made his way to the bench and took in the game from there. He seemed to like the view.
“I for sure got a sense of the culture,” Culver said. “They want to win and I feel like me coming in is a part of the plan of winning. I’m glad to be a part of it.”