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Wolves' Saunders doesn't tip his hand about top pick

Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders met with the media today, the day before the team will make the first pick in the NBA draft.

He’s ready to make the pick, of course. And,  to the surprise of nobody, he was not willing to tip his hand as to who that pick will be. “There’s no reason to do it,” he said. “There are a lot of things that can happen, heaven forbid. …. There is no reason to let it [be] known, until you really have to.’’

Most expect the Wolves to take Karl-Anthony Towns with the first pick. And while Flip wasn’t saying who he’s taking, he did extol Towns’ virtues when asked about the Kentucky center.

Here’s what he had to say when asked about Towns’ best attributes: “Everyone talks about his versatility,” Saunders said. “He’s known right now [as] more of a defensive player. He’s very much underrated offensively, I think, because of playing [in Kentucky coach John Calipari’s] situation. By far, he’s the best pick-and-roll defensive big man in the draft. If you base things on it analytically, he’s the top analytical player, everything he’s done, on a per-minute basis. There’s a reason that people are looking at him as being one of the top players in the draft.’’

Here is a sampling of some of the other things Saunders had to say today:

--On how settled they are on their pick: “I think we feel really comfortable with the process that we’ve gone through. Thorough process. We brought in a lot of people, done a lot of intel, both in the players’ home towns and also here in our meetings. So I think we’re pretty comfortable.’’

--On how much input Kevin Garnett had in the process: “None. He came by, watched guys work out. One, I wouldn’t put him in that situation. That wouldn’t be fair to him, being a player. And he didn’t want to be in that. He just wanted to see these guys and see them in person and see how they were and see how they reacted. He was impressed with everybody that he saw.’’

--On what prospects thought of the Wolves: “You talk to those players…. There is no question if you look at you see the team that we have that it’s an up-and-coming team. There has been no hesitancy from any of the players from them coming saying, ‘Hey, I don’t want to be here.’ I think they all believe we have a chance to be special here.’’

--Has he had any sleepless nights worrying he might be passing on the next Michael Jordan? “They passed on Michael because they drafted for need rather than drafting who the best player was at the time. We’re taking the best player.’’

--On what he hopes to accomplish either with his two second-round picks or through free agency: “We’re probably going to look and see what we have in the backcourt-type situation. I believe that up front we’re pretty big. I think we’re pretty well set in letting some of our young guys develop.’’

That’s about all for now. Have a good day. 

Best bet?: Wolves-Lakers opener for Las Vegas summer league

Funny what happens when you get the No. 1 pick.

The Wolves will parlay their draft status into the marquee slot at the Las Vegas Summer League, when they'll play and the Los Angeles Lakers in a featured 7:30 pm Central time game on its opening day, July 10.

It'll be a meeting of No. 1 and 2 picks, of course, on NBA TV.

The league did the same last year, putting Cleveland's No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins against Milwaukee's No. 2 Jabari Parker. They did so at the smaller Cox Pavilion, which fans jammed full and waited in long lines outside just to get into a game that seemed a bit like the playoffs in July.

This time, the NBA is putting the Wolves-Lakers game in the bigger Thomas and Mack Center arena next door.

The Wolves also will play Chicago (July 11, 5:30 pm Central time) and Utah (July 13, 9:30 pm Central time) in their other preliminary round games. All three games will be in the big arena, which has never happened before for the Wolves until they won the No. 1 pick this year.

Meanwhile, the Wolves continue draft workouts at Target Center this week. The plan is to bring top players Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, D'Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay in for two days each, one of which will include a workout.

Wolves scouts are flying into town -- long-timer Zarko Durisic arrived on a late-night flight from L.A. last night -- to start 10 days of intense preparation and meetings that will culminate in the team selecting first for the first time, on June 25.

Right now, the best bet is the Wolves take Towns, but Flip Saunders very well could change his mind five or six times between now and draft night.

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