Saunders sees no draft pick worth trading up to get
- Article by: JERRY ZGODA
- Star Tribune
- June 25, 2013 - 12:11 AM
The Timberwolves concluded predraft workouts on Monday, bringing North Texas forward Tony Mitchell to Target Center for a morning session and some lunch.
With the clock ticking toward Thursday’s NBA draft, Wolves new President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders sounded like a guy ready to keep the night’s ninth pick — perhaps to select Georgia shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — rather than give what few assets he has to trade in an attempt to move up for a chance at Indiana’s Victor Oladipo or Kansas’ Ben McLemore.
“We’re not going to deplete our whole talent pool,” Saunders said. “There are good players in this draft, but right now, there are not impact players, no one you look at who within two years will be an All-Star, like Kyrie Irving was. There are good players, probably pretty good players, but are they going to be that All-Star or future Hall of Famer? In order to dilute your talent pool, you’ve got to get an impact-type player.”
Saunders remains adamant that he will not give away former No. 2 pick Derrick Williams for the right to move up in the draft, even though there continues to be plenty of talk around the league that the Wolves are shopping him.
“If you had Derrick in this draft, he’d be a top-three pick right now,” Saunders said.
There’s always a chance the Wolves will trade a pick — namely No. 26 overall — for a veteran.
Saunders insisted that they could draft for any position, save one.
“We’re not going to take a point guard,” he said. “That’s the only position we wouldn’t think of.”
As part of the draft interview process, Saunders said he had some of the team’s younger staff members interact with prospects at Target Center, just to see if a player treated them differently than he did the boss himself.
“Maybe two guys — one guy in particular, not going to mention him — just based on his character I just wouldn’t touch based on how he interacted,” Saunders said.
Waiting on AK
Saunders said Monday he hasn’t heard from Andrei Kirilenko’s agent and has an “inclination” whether Kirilenko will opt out of $10.2 million for next season by Saturday, but said he doesn’t expect to get the final answer before the draft.
“Everyone always waits to the end to see if they can get anything better or what develops,” he said.
• Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio have organized workouts in Los Angeles that are expected to draw Williams, forthcoming unrestricted free agent Chase Budinger, Chris Johnson and possibly both J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved. David Kahn signed Johnson —promoted from the D League midway through last season — to a minimum contract for next season before he was replaced by Saunders in April.
• Shved will spend most of July in the United States — working out in Miami and Minneapolis — before fulfilling Russian national team commitments later this summer.
• Russian team CSKA Moscow will play the Wolves in an Oct. 7 preseason game at Target Center. Kirilenko and Shved played together for CSKA two seasons ago. Toronto completes the Wolves’ two-game preseason home schedule Oct. 12.
© 2013 Star Tribune