Okay, folks, we're going to make this somewhat brief for now. It is Friday afternoon, the sun is shining, and I'm sure you have a ton of draft coverage to read through so we won't take up too much of your time.
While the final transactions have yet to be announced, last night was a pretty good draft for the Wolves. While the team still has a long way to go if they ever want to crack 30 or even 20 wins, this was a great display of valuing assets and doing the best you can to maximize returns on pieces we quite frankly did not need. A few points and implications:
1. Derrick Williams.
Derrick, who will wear #7, was the complete logical pick. While his size and quickness are questionable, he has a great power game and a very solid outside shot. A safe pick who will struggle to find minutes in our rotation. If the Wolves fail to consolidate and go after the veteran player they so dearly need, the frontcourt situation could not turn out pretty. In a vacuum, this pick was great, but only if we follow it up with some consolidation and maneuvering. Otherwise it simply will not work out. There aren't enough minutes and too many guys in need of playing time.
2. Cash Considerations Were the Steal of the Draft
I can't stress this enough.
Look, owners can be greedy slimeballs. No one likes to see teams sell draft picks. No one likes to see talent go to the wayside in favor of insignificant cash allocations....but in the case of the Wolves I am FULLY in support of acquiring cash for one reason: so we can pay off Rambis.
Whether we agree with the underlying approach to the situation or not, one can speculate with a pretty high degree of certainty that Taylor and Co. were not excited about paying off the $4 million owed to Kurt Rambis. My best guess is Kahn, directed by ownership, held out on the firing until after the draft so he could acquire as much cash as needed in order to facilitate the Rambis buyout. Now that he (hopefully) has, he can has the green light to fire Kurt.
Now, whether you think of this as being ethical, sensible, normal, want to slam the hiring in hindsight...whatever....this is our reality. Our status quo. It is out of Kahn's or our control, and we need to accept the fact that Rambis was in danger of staying because of his contract. Past mistakes be damned, hiring a new coach is high on any Wolves fan's wishlist. We were in heavy danger of bringing back a coach who amassed 32 wins total in two seasons with an offense and defensive identity so out of whack that Corey Brewer was trusted to drive to the basket and pull up for contested mid-range jumpshots, while he allowed wide open three pointers on the other end. It was complete, utter, insanity. And yet some wanted to keep Donatas Montiejunas (or draft Marshon "franchise savior" Brooks) instead? That's more insane than Rambis' player development model.
With these cash considerations acquired and Rambis (hopefully?) bought out soon, the cash could make a larger impact on the Wolves' win column than any player in the entire draft could have made, including Derrick Williams. And that is not a knock on Derrick Williams. If these cash considerations were the key to letting Rambis go, then give me them seven days a week. Getting him out of town will make such a positive impact on the team that it makes the idea of taking a flyer on some mediocre #20 pick everyone overrates (BUT GRANGER WAS PICKED AROUND THERE ONCEOMGOMGZOMG!!) who would play 4 minutes a game next year an hilarious afterthought. Would you have rather kept Montiejunas or fired Rambis? Be rational and focus on the on court product rather than bitterness of the Rambis system/hiring/whatever. Kahn was able to maintain the #2 prospect in the draft while getting rid of Flynn, and picking up Brad Miller's insured contract and anywhere between 3-4 additional draft picks, and they still ended up with Malcolm Lee and Ngombo (although not for long) in the end. And Rambis is all but gone....and yet, what is the problem, here?
3. Malcolm Lee and Tanguy Ngombo
What impresses me about this draft is that the Wolves didn't pull a Lazar Hayward and take Malcolm at #20. Instead they bumped back to the proper position and took him at #43 while picking up a cache' of goodies. The #20 pick netted the Wolves more than what Miami got for Michael Beasley. Malcolm is a solid prospect coming from a great program and many say he is a 2nd round steal. However, if history suggests anything, the Wolves won't carry more than 13 players on the roster. We have 14 guaranteed contracts as of today. The reality is, unless consolidation occurs, it might be tough for Malcolm to make the team. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't. So, let's not get our hopes up (but Manu, Monta and Arenas were 2nd rounders once!!!!!!!!!).
Not much is known about Ngombo. It seems unlikely he will ever even come close to playing in the NBA. It wouldn't shock anyone I'm sure if he were never heard from again. UPDATE: In fact, a report surfaced today that he has been busted for lying about his age and he is actually tuning 27 in a couple of weeks! Could this mean we lose his rights? More on this as it comes....
If anyone can properly name and spell all of our Eurocanish stashes overseas I will perhaps provide a treat.
4. What it all means
The Wolves did a great job of amassing talent and maximizing the value of their assets. It will be interesting to see the final parameters of the trades when they are all finalized. Sometimes added assets and surprises come out of the woodworks that were previously unreported.
At this point, though, the Wolves are headed right back toward another awful season with no 1st round pick next year to ease the losses. While the draft was handled nicely in a vacuum, in a way we needed to trade this pick in the absolute worst way to acquire a high impact player with more that 17 NBA starts (for those Gortat fans out there). And the reality is, Kahn tried vehemently to deal this pick and he failed to do it. It was priority numero uno. And he couldn't pull it off. So while Kahn handled the draft well, is the guy capable of making a trade for an established player, or will we forever be characterized by our reclamation ability while pushing back our windows of opportunity? At some point consolidation must occur, the logjam must be eased for many reasons: 1. Wins (team as it stands is still a bottom feeder). 2. Rotation and development 3. Contracts and imminent extensions. We simply won't have enough money to retain all of our young players, plain and simple, and Kahn is running out of time. And people who will even talk to him (but that's another story).
Thoughts on the draft? Check out the forums or leave a comment. 5 days 'til lockout :(
Also, fun fact in closing: Kyrie Irving has only 5 hours of NCAA college basketball experience and was picked first overall.