By any stretch, Williams didn't fit in Wolves' plans

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 27, 2013 - 12:36 AM

Playing the same spot as Kevin Love limited playing time and development.

At risk of someday sounding like a guy who sold his stock portfolio in March 2009, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders explained on Tuesday why he traded former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams to Sacramento for veteran defensive specialist Luc Mbah a Moute.

Ultimately, Saunders and coach Rick Adelman decided Williams indeed is — no matter how much weight team executives asked him to lose so he could better play small forward — just what two-time All-Star forward Kevin Love is, a “stretch” power forward.

The same issue has swirled around Williams since the team made him their highest draft choice ever in 2011. It finally reached a conclusion Tuesday, when the Wolves finalized a deal with the Kings to send away the former University of Arizona star. He couldn’t find his way into Adelman’s rotation this season because the coach deemed there was no room for him to play consistent minutes at either forward spot.

“Through our training camp, through practices and through the games, we pretty much saw what we needed to see,” Saunders said. “I really believe that we came to the conclusion that he really was a power forward. His transition to the small forward just wasn’t beneficial to him or us. Our best player being Kevin Love, it was time to move on.”

So the Wolves traded their third top-six draft lottery pick in the past three years. Williams was dealt before his rookie contract expired, this time for a 27-year-old role player who, whether he starts at small forward or not, is intended to boost the team’s bench strength and give Adelman a defender who can guard the opponent’s best wing player every night.

Saunders well knows it’s the kind of trade that could look astoundingly shortsighted three, five and 10 years from now. Williams is 22 years old.

“You always look at that, you always have to be aware of that,” said Saunders, whose team started the season 5-2 and is now 8-8. “But you have to look and see: What is the value where you’re at? What’s the value going to be in two months? What’s the value going to be at trading deadline? What’s it going to be next year? I just didn’t foresee Derrick being able to play much. And if a guy’s not playing, usually your value is not going to go up.”

Saunders’ predecessor, David Kahn, drafted Syracuse guard Jonny Flynn sixth overall in 2009 and traded him two summers later in a complicated draft-night deal in which the Wolves sent away an extra second-round pick so Houston would accept Flynn and his damaged hip.

Kahn drafted Syracuse forward Wes Johnson fourth overall in 2010 and two years later gave Phoenix a protected first-round pick next summer so the Wolves would have the salary room needed to sign Andrei Kirilenko.

On Tuesday, Saunders traded away Williams two years and five months after the team drafted him, making what seemed like the obvious choice then.

Even though he wasn’t hired until last May, Saunders was asked how an NBA franchise survives such squandering of high draft picks.

His answer: You make other moves — free-agent signings, trades — that you hope “offset” such draft history.

Saunders mentioned the signings of Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer last summer and Tuesday’s trade that brought back a player Saunders said he admired when he coached Washington and Mbah a Moute played for Milwaukee in Eastern Conference games.

The team discussed acquiring Mbah a Moute — a 2008 second-round pick who played with Wolves star Kevin Love at UCLA — from Milwaukee before last summer’s draft and then again after the Bucks dealt him to Sacramento in July for two second-round picks in a salary-cap maneuver.

Saunders said the team did “extensive” research on Mbah a Moute’s knees — he had surgery to resolve tendinitis in May 2012 and missed much of this year’s preseason because of more knee issues — and Saunders said he and Love talked about Mbah a Moute as a person and player in a casual conversation about three weeks ago.

Saunders also said he and Adelman like Williams and believe he will succeed in Sacramento and in the NBA. But he mentioned a need to strengthen the Wolves’ bench and add defensive grit for a team that has relied upon its starters so much to start the season.

He also mentioned something Williams never found playing for Adelman: trust.

“Coach is going to play guys he feels he trusts, who can go out there and play for him and help him win,” Saunders said. “We need to do something where Coach can get some trust into his bench and play those guys more.”

  • related content

  • Video: Flip Saunders talks about trading Williams

    Tuesday November 26, 2013

    The Wolves have traded Derrick Williams to Sacramento for defensive specialist Luc Mbah a Moute.

  • Souhan: Wolves' draft and deal misses were one big Kahn job

    Wednesday November 27, 2013

    In the former Wolves GM’s wake are long-gone top draft choices and recycled players never as good as projected.

  • Chart: Wolves' recent draft disasters

    Tuesday November 26, 2013

    Wolves’ recent draft disastersDerrick Williams (below)Drafted: Second overall out of Arizona in 2011.As a Wolf: It took the team two-plus...

  • Once the Wolves’ experiment to try and turn Derrick Williams into a small forward failed, his minutes behind All-Star power forward Kevin Love were going to be minimal and he was traded to the Kings.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Golden State 6:00 PM
Brooklyn 6:00 PM
Portland 6:00 PM
Washington 6:00 PM
LA Clippers 6:30 PM
New York 6:30 PM
Toronto 6:30 PM
Milwaukee 7:00 PM
Sacramento 7:00 PM
Utah 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Indiana 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Denver 8:00 PM
Memphis 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Washington 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
NY Rangers 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 6:30 PM
Toronto 6:30 PM
Los Angeles 7:00 PM
Chicago 8:00 PM
Calgary 9:30 PM
San Jose
Robert Morris 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 61
Rochester College 35 FINAL
Eastern Mich 68
Marist 68 FINAL
Fresno State 64
Butler 74 FINAL
North Carolina 66
Liberty 50 FINAL
Morgan State 51
Denver 57 FINAL
Belmont 78
American Univ 64 FINAL
Hampton 60
Sacred Heart 72 FINAL
James Madison 79
Northeastern 54 FINAL
Massachusetts 79
Samford 71 FINAL
Kennesaw St 84
Coastal Carolina 61
Hawaii 75 FINAL
East Carolina 73
Missouri 74 FINAL
Chaminade 60
UCLA 64 2nd Half 1:58
Oklahoma 70
North Florida 32 1st Half 1:53
Elon 24
Oral Roberts 26 1st Half 2:27
Milwaukee 22
Chicago State 4 1st Half 13:47
Western Carolina 9
Purdue 4:00 PM
Furman 4:00 PM
San Francisco 5:00 PM
Wisconsin 6:00 PM
Davidson 6:00 PM
Albany 6:00 PM
Canisius 6:00 PM
Longwood 6:00 PM
George Washington
Delaware State 6:00 PM
Trinity Baptist 6:00 PM
Cleveland State 6:00 PM
St Johns 6:00 PM
PSU-Harrisburg 6:00 PM
Richmond 6:00 PM
NC State
Grambling St 6:00 PM
Notre Dame
Georgia State 6:00 PM
Campbell 6:00 PM
Ohio State
Goucher 6:00 PM
Bryant 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Mount St Marys 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
Lafayette 6:00 PM
UMKC 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Kansas State 6:30 PM
Va Military 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Lehigh 7:00 PM
UC Riverside 7:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Morehead State 7:00 PM
Miss Valley St 7:00 PM
North Texas
UNC-Asheville 7:00 PM
South Carolina
Tenn Tech 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Texas Southern 7:00 PM
Radford 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American 7:00 PM
Wayne St-NE 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Northern Ill 7:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast 7:30 PM
Green Bay
Carroll (MT) 8:00 PM
Florida A&M 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Auburn 8:00 PM
Oregon State
Eastern Ky 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Stetson 8:00 PM
Northern Ky 8:05 PM
Eastern Wash
Utah Valley U 8:05 PM
Idaho State
Florida 8:30 PM
Georgia 8:30 PM
Northwestern 8:30 PM
Northern Iowa
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
Arizona 9:00 PM
San Diego St
Utah State 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Alabama State 9:30 PM
North Dakota
Portland State 10:00 PM
Tulsa 10:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Pacific 10:30 PM
Missouri State 11/27/14 1:00 AM
Colorado State
Ohio U 24 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 21
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Kennesaw St 74 FINAL
Seton Hall 77
Northern Ill 46 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 55
Illinois-Chicago 40 FINAL
Northwestern 61
UT Martin 75 FINAL
Samford 79
Niagara 63 FINAL
Binghamton 52
Radford 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 72
East Tenn St 69 FINAL
Indiana 97
North Dakota 66 2nd Half 3:15
Nebraska Omaha 44
Marshall 4:00 PM
LSU 5:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Oral Roberts 5:00 PM
Ark-Little Rock
Boise State 5:30 PM
Evansville 6:00 PM
(22) West Virginia
(4) Tennessee 6:00 PM
Delaware State 6:00 PM
Mount St Marys
Bradley 6:00 PM
Providence 6:00 PM
Presbyterian 6:00 PM
Albany 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Alabama A&M 6:00 PM
Colgate 6:00 PM
(22) Georgia
Memphis 6:05 PM
Southern Ill
Oakland 6:30 PM
(16) Michigan State
Utah Valley U 6:45 PM
UC Davis
Butler 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American 7:00 PM
(6) Texas
McNeese State 7:00 PM
(7) Texas A&M
Milwaukee 7:00 PM
Northern Ariz 7:00 PM
Jackson State 7:05 PM
Chicago State
Indiana State 7:05 PM
South Alabama
Kansas State 7:30 PM
Santa Clara
Long Beach St 8:00 PM
Iona 8:00 PM
Fresno Pacific 9:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Timberwolves win this season?

Weekly Question