This much is clear: Williams is on his way

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 24, 2011 - 12:53 PM

The Wolves spent Thursday night making one move after another, after they did the obvious move in taking Derrick Williams at No. 2.

The Timberwolves selected Arizona forward Derrick Williams with the second pick in Thursday night's NBA draft and vowed to keep him.

It was the most obvious, simple, sensible decision they could have made.

After that?

Hang on to your flying hat.

Outfitted with the 20th pick as well Thursday, the Wolves traded down repeatedly; dealt away point guard Jonny Flynn; raised cash by selling two second-round picks they acquired; and completed a total of six trades that left their fans exhausted by all the maneuvering and left them with Williams, UCLA guard Malcolm Lee, veteran center Brad Miller, an obscure prospect from Congo named Targuy Ngombo, Memphis' protected 2013 first-round pick and three future second-rounder.

All the trades are contingent upon league approval as the Wolves worked on the specifics far into the night.

When it was all over, somebody suggested to team President David Kahn that it sure looked like he made all those moves -- including four cash transactions -- to raise money to pay $4 million owed to not-yet-fired coach Kurt Rambis, an expected move that Kahn refused to talk about.

"I'll talk about it when there's news to share," Kahn said, "and there's simply not news to share at this time."

Now, about that perception ...

"No, c'mon, that's ..." Kahn said. "First of all, we're adding two 20-year-old players this week [Williams and Ricky Rubio]. We have a painfully young team. So I had great reticence to add rookie after rookie after rookie to a team that frankly needs a few veterans. If you keep adding young players, you run out of roster space."

So the Wolves took Williams after Cleveland chose Duke guard Kyrie Irving first, and then they went to work, trading away Flynn to Houston and making deal after deal with the Rockets, Chicago, Miami, New Jersey and Portland.

When it was all done, the Wolves possessed Williams with the second overall pick, Lee with the 43rd and Ngombo with the 57th.

Kahn vowed that Williams will remain as a significant piece of the team's future, after it had explored every which way to parlay that pick into a veteran presence or two later first-round picks.

"We have no plans to trade Derrick Williams," Kahn said.

The Wolves explored countless options -- they were linked in Internet reports to discussions for everybody from Pau Gasol and Andre Bynum to Josh Smith, Monta Ellis and Andre Iguodala -- and ultimately added two rookies and a veteran center recovering from microfracture knee surgery.

Now, about adding some more veterans ...

"We now have to be aggressive enough in the free-agency market to sprinkle in some veteran players," Kahn said. "We have to. We absolutely have to get some veterans on this team. We're just too young and we know that."

But rather than opt to do that now, they chose to add Williams, who turned 20 last month and is a combo forward not all that different in size or position to Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph. Plus, Wes Johnson can also play small forward and Kevin Love is anchored at power forward, making for a very crowded frontcourt. Williams has impressed both Beasley and Johnson during workouts recently in Los Angeles.

"He's a good player, big body," said Johnson, last year's No. 4 overall pick, who shares the same agent with Williams. "A lot of people don't know he can put the ball on the ground. That's really what's going to separate him from a lot of players in the NBA."

Kahn traveled to Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago to meet with Beasley and Love and discuss how all the pieces might fit in they drafted Williams.

So ... how will those pieces fit?

"It will be interesting and will require some creativity," Kahn said. "The kids wanted to make this work, and they thought they all could play together. We could put some pretty interesting, creative lineups out there next year. I think we will be very fun to watch.

"They all have enough versatility in their games to fit, but I acknowledge it may not fit perfectly. In fact, I can assure you it won't. I think it will require some creativity in how we play."

That learning process already has begun.

When the second-newest Timberwolves player went searching for information about the newest one, Rubio went looking where any 20-year-old might go.

"I went to YouTube to see highlights so I can say something about him," Rubio said. "He can run. He can jump."

Williams sounded happy about being part of the Wolves' long-term plans.

"I heard David Kahn say they were drafting me to keep me," he said. "Hopefully, they are. I already get along with a lot of the players there. I want to be a part of the team and turn it around.

"The first text message I got was from Wes. He was like, 'What's up, teammate?' That right there gives me confidence the team is in place to take me in as one of their brothers."

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