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News » Minnesota Timberwolves Getting Inside 2008-05-30

Minnesota Timberwolves Getting Inside 2008-05-30

Minnesota Timberwolves Getting Inside 2008-05-30
Long-suffering Timberwolves fans predicted it: In an NBA draft billed as a two-man show, their team, which has never beaten the draft-lottery odds, finished third in the race.

In a televised undercard to Kevin Garnett and Flip Saunders playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Wolves received from the lottery exactly what they deserved in the NBA's annual game of chance: The third pick to match their third-worst record in the league (22-60) after they won a tiebreaker with Memphis, which finished with the same record.

Fans gathered at a lottery-night party fell silent when the Wolves' logo was revealed as the third pick, meaning the team almost certainly will not have the chance to select either Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose and thus accelerate their formidable rebuilding process.

"Hey, we ended up where we were," Wolves basketball boss Kevin McHale said. "I'm very happy with that."

With the third pick in a draft that features a consensus top two players, the Wolves will choose from a group that includes Stanford sophomore center Brook Lopez, USC freshman guard O.J. Mayo, UCLA freshman forward Kevin Love, Arizona freshman guard Jerryd Bayless and Italian forward Danilo Gallinari, among others.

McHale threw his hands up when asked about the Chicago Bulls, a young team just a year removed from a 49-victory season, beating their 1.7 percent offs to win the first pick.

McHale refuted the notion that Beasley and Rose are this year's only big prizes.

"It's supposedly a two-man draft," he said. "I love being third. We have eight players that you look at in this draft and you really, really like. It gives us a lot of flexibility at that third spot."

Lopez, a 7-footer, would give the Wolves a big body to place next to blossoming star Al Jefferson, a 6-9 power forward who played most of last season at center.

Mayo, a talented scorer whom basketball junkies have talked about since he was in grade school, teases with perhaps the most superstar potential. He also is the subject of an NCAA investigation for allegedly taking thousands of dollars in cash and gifts from a sports agent.

McHale said the allegations won't have any effect in how the Wolves evaluate Mayo as a possible draft selection.

"No, not at all," McHale said. "Tell you what: If you said every person who ever took any money in college would not be drafted, it'd be slim pickings. That's more news interest for people and probably very interesting for the University of Southern California wondering what's going to happen."

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: Two home victories over Phoenix P.S. (Pre-Shaq O'Neal), including one in January that was the second victory in a stretch when the Wolves won five of seven games after they started the season 5-34. Those transforming games included a victory at Golden State and home victories over the Suns, New Jersey, Chicago and the Los Angeles Clippers.

TURNING POINT: July 31, 2007. The date of the Kevin Garnett trade, when the Wolves traded their last three seasons of mediocrity for a big step backward that evoked the team's early expansion days. The Wolves lost 60 games (22-60) for the first time since Garnett was drafted in 1995. Until then, the Wolves had lost 60 or more games in five of their first six seasons.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: May 30, 2008


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