Hartman: Saunders sees balance in draft class

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 27, 2013 - 12:35 AM

The Timberwolves president doesn’t expect this year’s class to produce an All-Star immediately.

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Flip Saunders has only hinted at the direction the Wolves would go in the draft.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune file

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Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders questions whether there is an impact player in Thursday night’s NBA draft, one in which his team has two first-round and two second-round selections.

“We’re going to get a good player,’’ he said. “… In the past a lot of times people look and they say, ‘Is there an impact player in the draft? Is there a guy that’s going to be an All-Star within two or three years?’ I don’t think there’s anyone like that in this draft, but it’s a balanced draft.

“There’s balanced players. Some people will get a guy they like, it may be [at number] seven, eight, 9, 10 or 11 that some [teams] like [at number] three or four. It’s probably more of a balanced draft than you’d say an impact draft.”

Saunders added: “I really believe that most drafts, the guys you’re talking about [going] high [this year] would actually be, instead of being [drafted] 1-5, some of them might be more 5-10.”

Saunders also said he hasn’t been trying in any way to trade forward Derrick Williams to get a better draft choice.

“I haven’t said anything about trading him,” he said. “That is something that has been speculative. That’s because last year it was pretty public, it came out of the organization that they were looking to trade him last year. It’s just a lot of speculation from the people, social media, everyone talking about trading him.”

On the other hand Saunders said that anybody is tradable.

Wilt Chamberlain was traded, guys like Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got traded,” he said. “Anyone can be trade for the right price. But [Williams is] not a guy that we’re just out there looking to trade.

“He played well at the end of the year. If he was in the draft right now, he’d be a guy that would be one of the top three players that people would be looking at to draft. He’s only 21 years old. Sometimes you have to let those guys develop a little bit.”

Giving up Williams to trade the No. 9 pick is not viable.

“Really what happens closer to the draft is everybody starts loving their players too much, and you get into a situation where they want too much in order to move up a few spots in your draft,” Saunders said.

“Our last pick that we have, No. 26, we’ll wait and see who is available at that time, and if we think there’s someone that can help us right now, a specialty type player, or a player that can help us in the future, we’ll use that pick.”

Saunders said that, “We’ve got a box of about three or four players that we’re looking at [drafting at No. 9]. We feel we’re going to get one of those players there. When the time comes, we’ll judge the players not only by what position they play and what needs they have, but also talent.

“If there’s a bigger player there that we feel is longer term or short-term more beneficial to us, and has a chance to be a little bit more special, then we might lean towards talent than what the need may be.”

One thing that is important for the Wolves is to get the right player, and Saunders has been a great judge of talent all the way back to when he was a Gophers assistant coach under Jim Dutcher. And rest assured, Saunders has only gotten smarter.

Bishop knew, liked coaches

Desmond Bishop told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel why he signed with the Vikings: “It was a combination of things but it just kind of came down to I think it was just the best fit for me,’’ said Bishop, who was released by the Packers earlier this month. “I had the biggest motivation to go there and play. I got a chance to meet with the head coach, Leslie Frazier, and I’m also familiar with [assistant coach] Mike Singletary, who coached me coming out of college in one of the all-star games.

“I just really felt comfortable there, and I think it was the best fit for me and my family.”

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