Michigan State coach Izzo assisting Saunders in draft preparations

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 30, 2013 - 7:17 AM

Izzo is serving as something of a draft consultant to buddy Flip Saunders while he waits until after the draft before reconfiguring the team’s front office.

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Head coach Tom Izzo of Michigan State

Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press/MCT

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Representatives from 26 teams, including NBA coaches Mike Woodson, Randy Wittman and Rick Adelman, evaluated two days of workouts that ended Wednesday at Target Center.

Michigan State’s Tom Izzo was there, too.

What was a college coach doing among all those NBA executives?

Izzo is serving as something of a draft consultant to buddy Flip Saunders while he waits until after the draft before reconfiguring the team’s front office.

“He’s good because he has seen a lot of these guys play, recruited a lot of these players,” said Saunders, the Wolves’ president of basketball operations. “Him coming in to look and talk just helps, gives you insight. One of the biggest things you want to do is background checks, so you know as much about these players now and where they were four or five years, what improvement they’ve made. Have they reached their full potential or do they have a lot more to go? He’s good for that.”

Saunders and Izzo on Wednesday finished two days of workouts featuring Gophers forward Rodney Williams, Wisconsin center Jared Berggren, Illinois guard Brandon Paul and others — players just hoping to hear their names called in the second round of next month’s NBA draft.

Saunders reportedly is considering adding front-office executives Milt Newton from Washington and Tim Connelly from New Orleans as a general manager.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people about a lot of things,” Saunders said.

He fired five scouts in his first full week on the job and said Wednesday he intends to streamline the scouting operation. He said he wants to beef up NBA scouting and will have regional scouts Milt Barnes and Derek Pierce do more of that. He wants other front-office personnel based in Minneapolis so they can see the team daily.

 

Pope intrigues Wolves

The Wolves begin their individual workouts Thursday, when they’ll bring in six prospects, including Georgia’s 6-6 shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Caldwell-Pope is the first player in town whom the Wolves will consider selecting with their ninth overall pick because he’d address two needs — outside shooting and defensive size — at a position where they started 6-1 Luke Ridnour last season.

“Defending, I love to defend,” Caldwell-Pope said when asked about the best part of his game. “It keeps me patient and it lets my game come to me. If I do what I need to do on the defensive end, my offense just comes.”

 

Don’t forget about …

Thursday’s six-player workout also will include three other shooting guards — Michigan’s Tim Hardaway Jr., California’s Allen Crabbe and Providence’s Ricardo Ledo — the Wolves could pick with their second first-round pick, 26th overall. Creighton center Gregory Echenique and Villanova center Mouphtaou Yarou also are expected.

Saunders plans to fly to Las Vegas after Thursday’s workout so he can attend a Friday workout by Russian swingman Sergey Karasev, another player the Wolves will consider with that ninth overall pick. A coach’s son and a deft lefty shooter, Karasev played with the Wolves’ Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved for Russia in the 2012 London Olympics.

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