We can't forget that Ray Allen, one of the big reasons the Boston Celtics are the NBA champions after beating the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, was originally drafted by the Wolves with the fifth overall pick in 1996, then traded to the Bucks with a future first-round draft choice for Stephon Marbury.

The Wolves reacquired that draft choice less than a month later by trading center Andrew Lang to the Bucks. Lang was drawing a big salary with the Wolves and the Bucks were willing to take it over.

Had Allen come here, he would have been a teammate of Kevin Garnett like he now is with the Celtics.

Why did Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale prefer Marbury over Allen?

"I thought we needed a point guard at that point," McHale said. "I really liked Steph's ability and Steph's explosiveness. "I thought he was very, very good here. I think that over the course of his career, Ray has changed teams a few times also, but I think that at the time, we'd do it again. If we could do it again, looking at the two players but not looking back.

"I wish Steph had stayed here. My feeling was that I'm not sure that Steph was ever as good as he was when he was here, while Ray has been more solid overall over the course of his career."

Marbury, who demanded a trade and was sent to the New Jersey Nets in 1999 in a three-team deal that acquired point guard Terrell Brandon from the Bucks and forward Brian Evans from the Nets. Marbury went on to play for the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks, and he has had problems with each team he has played on.

Allen has been with three teams -- the Bucks, Seattle SuperSonics and the Celtics -- but was a solid citizen. In every case, he was traded because the club he was on needed to eliminate some salary.

If the Wolves had been able to keep Marbury and Garnett together, they eventually might have won a championship once both young players got some experience.

On the other hand, the Wolves might have had a better chance to contend had they kept Allen, one of the best shooters in the NBA.

There is a good chance Allen would not have been concerned how his salary compared with Garnett, and he wouldn't have been the problem child Marbury was from almost Day 1 when he joined the Wolves.

Allen could have been Garnett's teammate on Wolves teams that might have done well, but eventually wound up with Garnett in Boston, where they and Paul Pierce became the leaders of a championship team.

McHale was able to produce a winner in 2003 when he acquired guard/forward Latrell Sprewell and guard Sam Cassell. The Wolves went to the finals of the Western Conference playoffs before losing to the Lakers.

The second guess is that had the Wolves been willing to go over the salary cap as Boston did, find a way to sign Garnett and pick up a couple of good players like the Celtics did in trading for Allen and Garnett, the same result might have happened here.

Casey to Mavericks

Former Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey has landed a job as an assistant under Rick Carlisle.

Look for the Wolves to make every effort to buy out the contract of forward Antoine Walker or trade him. You can rest assured he won't be warming the bench while the team's young players perform next season.

There were seven members of the Wolves in the practice gym Tuesday after the coaches worked out possible draft choices. Guards Sebastian Telfair and Randy Foye were the latest to join the group that will spend a lot of time trying to improve by working out together this summer.

Corey Brewer, the Wolves' top draft choice last year, and second-round pick Chris Richard will be members of the Wolves' summer league team that will compete with 20 other teams in Las Vegas in a tournament in July. The Wolves also will take their free agents to Las Vegas. Winona State star guard Jonte Flowers could be on the team. ... Guard Ricky Davis, who was traded by the Wolves to Miami last October, is a free agent but the Wolves don't have any interest in reacquiring him.


Gophers third baseman Nate Hanson signed a contract with the Twins after being drafted in the 28th round, and will report to rookie league Elizabethton.

Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio was at Kansas as a defensive secondary coach with former Gophers coach Glen Mason from 1991 to 1994, and Tim Allen was director of football operations at Kansas at the time. So when an opening developed at Michigan State, Dantonio hired Allen, who has been unemployed since Mason was fired at Minnesota after the 2006 season. Allen is one of the best in the business.

Nick Rengel, an outstanding 6-3, 225-pound all-around athlete from Sartell who could play offense or defense, verbally committed to Minnesota recently while attending Gophers football camp. According to the word from Mankato, the Gophers will get their seventh commitment in the next couple of days from Casey Dehn, a 6-5, 243-pound offensive lineman from Owatonna. ... Also spending at least one day at the Gophers camp was Brandon Bishop, a cornerback who played for the same North Broward Prep High School in Coral Springs, Fla., as wide receiver Victor Keise, who has committed to Minnesota, and Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (6-6, 265).

GopherIllustrated.com reports that the Gophers have offered scholarships to two more basketball players: Johnnie Lacy, a 5-10 point guard from Milwaukee (Wis.) Bay View, and Trevor Williams, a 6-11, 250-pound center from Denver Lutheran High School.

The NHL mock draft genius for ESPN has the Wild selecting goalie Harri Sateri from Tappara Tampere in Finland. In TSN's top 60 prospects, Minnetonka's Jake Gardiner is ranked No. 21, Eden Prairie's Danny Kristo is No. 39 and Gophers recruit Aaron Ness is No. 40. Garnering honorable mention status on the list were Eastview's Corey Fienhage; Philip McRae, son of former North Star Basil McRae; and Hastings native and MSU Mankato recruit Derek Stepan.

Former Gophers defense- man Alex Goligoski set an AHL postseason record for points by a defenseman for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with four goals and 24 assists for 28 points. Goligoski was the second-leading scorer in the AHL playoffs behind Chicago's Jason Krog, who had 12 goals 26 assists.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast twice a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com