Beyond core, Kahn mum on who will remain

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 28, 2012 - 7:37 AM

David Kahn said he wants Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio to retire here. Next season's lineup beyond those two is anyone's guess.

Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman and President of Basketball Operations David Kahn on Friday morning addressed their just-completed season, a 37-minute session with reporters in which Kahn called Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio the team's "cornerstones" but left everything, and everyone else, open for discussion in a summer both men promise will be active.

"We're going to do everything in our power this summer to make this a better team," Kahn said. "No proverbial stone will be left unturned, no trade possibility will be turned down for any reason. You should assume Kevin and Ricky will be here -- my fervent hope is that each of them retires here -- but after those two, we just have to be very aggressive this year to make this team all that it can be, not that everyone else needs to be on watch."

The Wolves on Friday learned they will own the 18th pick in June's draft that they acquired from Utah in the 2010 Al Jefferson trade after they finished third in a three-way tiebreaker.

That pick will help ease the loss of their own pick, which was traded away with Sam Cassell to the Los Angeles Clippers for Marko Jaric long ago.

"I wish we had our pick, but it'll be nice finally to have that to be behind us," Kahn said.

Kahn called the Jazz's pick -- received when Utah clinched a playoff spot on Tuesday night -- "another arrow in the quiver" the team can use to select a young player or package in a trade for a veteran and improve a Wolves team that has that Love-Rubio-Nikola Pekovic core but lacks depth.

"Of course, I would like to see more veterans who have been in the league," Adelman said, "but you also hope some of your young people grow into that role. You have to look at everything and make the decision as it comes up."

That process begins as the June draft approaches and continues when the NBA's free-agency period begins July 1.

Kahn declined to discuss the futures of such players as Darko Milicic, Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph and Martell Webster.

Beasley and Randolph will become unrestricted free agents if the team doesn't pick up rich qualifying offers for each of them. Webster's $5.7 million option for next season can be spent more wisely, and Milicic almost certainly has played his last game for Adelman.

When asked if the Wolves will use their one-time amnesty clause to waive Milicic and take his $5 million salary off their salary cap, Kahn said: "It's not appropriate to use one name. We're coming off a season; it's Day 1. All those questions have a more appropriate time to be answered, and that's much deeper into the summer."

Until Friday, Kahn publicly has contended he likes the roster he has assembled and that it is in no need of "wholesale" changes. Adelman's words have suggested otherwise for a team that lacks depth beyond its core group.

Kahn called this summer vital for young players to "prove how serious they are about this endeavor. I think Kevin showed his seriousness last summer about what he wants to be and how he wants to be considered. I'm a little bit more patient than most. It has been a hard year for players with no summer league, without being with our coaches during the lockout and the lack of practice time and the injuries. That doesn't excuse them on some of the other issues. But we need to find out right now how serious these kids are."

The Wolves could clear the contracts of Beasley, Randolph, Webster, Milicic, Anthony Tolliver and retiring Brad Miller to clear $15 million or more off their cap even while adding Kevin Love's new $13.7 million contract. Or they could trade salaries for salaries and add players through trades.

"We have options," Kahn said about cap flexibility. "There isn't one way we're going to look at it. Don't know yet. If we want to have room, we can have room."

Etc.

• When asked if he would contemplate selling the Utah pick after the Wolves used the 20th pick last summer to repeatedly trade down for a lot of cash and future picks, Kahn said, "That would be a terrible thing to do, and I can assure you that never would we consider that."

• Kahn said he is in discussions to bring some of the team's drafted European prospects -- including forwards Nemanja Bjelica and Henk Norel and center Paulao Prestes, second-round picks all -- to Minnesota in June so Adelman and his staff can see them work out. He said one unnamed player might be ready for the NBA. Best guess is that it's Bjelica, a 6-10 point forward who has been compared to a poor man's Toni Kukoc but still probably is too soft for the NBA.

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