Patrick Reusse: Even holy water can't save the Timberwolves

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 22, 2007 - 10:20 PM

Things could have been worse for the Timberwolves during the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday night in New York City. When ESPN's Mark Jones asked Brandon Roy what might have been different if he had wound up in Minnesota a year ago, the Portland guard could have offered the obvious answer:

"I wouldn't have been the Rookie of the Year."

Roy went with a political answer -- something about being colder in Minnesota -- and then proceeded to bring home the No. 1 choice for the Trail Blazers in the lottery that followed.

Last June, the Wolves came up sixth and the Trail Blazers seventh in the lottery. Minnesota took Roy with the sixth pick, Portland took Foye with the seventh, and then they switched players.

Those clever Wolves came up with this scheme in order to save the dollars separating a sixth and seventh pick. As with 95 percent of all schemes devised by this franchise in its 18 years of existence, it went awry.

Roy recovered from an early injury to become the NBA's best rookie. Foye was more down than up, more disappointment than lively addition to the lineup. His selection as a first-teamer on the NBA all-rookie team was merely a tribute to the limited minutes most newcomers see in this league and not his impact.

An early tradition for this franchise was Bob Stein, the team's first president, sitting at the lottery and putting a sick smile on his long mug as the basketball gods offered more bad news.

Nearly two decades later, the Wolves decided to pass on such minor higher powers and went directly to the source:

They had Foye, the representative at Tuesday's lottery, take a container of holy water obtained at the shrine in Lourdes, France, by the front office's Rob Babcock.

Our Lady of Lourdes has been credited with causing crippled children to walk, deaf men to hear and blind women to see. And even this noble lady did not have in her powers the ability to assist these hapless lads from Minnesota -- this luckless, wretched collection of humanity located inside the dreary concrete of Target Center.

There were two players available in this draft who could have transformed the Timberwolves from a blight on our great state: Ohio State center Greg Oden and Texas forward Kevin Durant. To land either, the Wolves were required to finish in the top two in Tuesday's lottery.

Did our guys hit the 9-1 long shot? Don't be ridiculous. The Wolves wound up where they figured to wind up: seventh.

Oden and Durant are no-brainers, and that's the only way you could have any confidence in this basketball operation. When Kevin McHale and his lackeys actually have to think about something, they are dangerous -- with Roy-for-Foye being a recent vivid example.

With the seventh pick, they will have to choose among players such as Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, Spencer Hawes and Yi Jianlian, the Chinese 7-footer. And count on this: The player chosen by McHale, Babcock, Jim Stack, Fred Hoiberg, Randy Wittman and Kevin Garnett will turn out to be the No. 1 stiff in the draft's top 15.

The members of the Timberwolves' brain trust are not cursed. They are the curse.

Portland and Seattle still were alive after the Wolves dropped into the seventh slot. Admit it, Wolves follower -- yes, you, you're the one:

Didn't you know it right then that the Blazers and the Sonics would end up 1-2 and with Oden and Durant?

The Northwest Division in which the Wolves reside was divided in two segments last season. There were Utah (51-31) and Denver (45-37) at the top, and the Wolves (32-50), Portland (32-50) and Seattle (31-51) in a hogpile at the bottom.

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