[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="351" caption="Dunking on Diddy"][/caption]
No more worrying about the #18 pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday for Pups fans. The Wolves dealt that pick to the Dwight Howard chasing Houston Rockets for SG/SF Chase Budinger and PF Lior Eliyahu (2006 44th overall pick playing in Israel). All while the rumors are swirling that the Wolves are one of the main suitors for Brandon Roy and his return from retirement that was forced due to knee issues. The other rumors swirling around the blogs, chat rooms, forums and Twitter-sphere is that Derrick Williams maybe dealt from the Wolves, for either a veteran or to now get back into the 1st round of this draft, preferably in the top 10 to nab a SG. Oh, and we may also be looking to trade for Jamal Crawford as well.
Got all of that?
So let's start with what we know will be there for the Wolves starting next season -
PG - Ricky Rubio recovering from a torn ACL.
PF - Kevin Love recovering from becoming the best PF in the world.
Coach - Rick Adelman.
Owner - Glen Taylor.
That's it and that's all kids. Everything else is up in the air. If David Kahn screws up the draft and/or gets into a pissing match with Adelman on roster moves, then he may not even be here.
This isn't all in all a bad thing, and doesn't mean the Wolves are back into "rebuild mode". If the Miami Heat, OKC Thunder and Boston Celtics have taught us anything, it is that an NBA team is built around stars. We now have two legit stars in Love and Rubio. The goal of this off-season is to find out if we have the third on the roster (Derrick Williams?), or what we need to package of this roster to get that third star. After that, it's as simple as filling the holes around those three and you have a contender.
Easier said than done.
The freshly acquired Chase Budinger will not be the third star. I do believe he'd be a very nice complimentary piece though, and for under $1 million against the cap he is very affordable for a SG/SF that averaged nearly 10 points in all three of his NBA seasons. Does Adelman, who coached Budinger in Houston, think that Budinger will fit at the SG position full-time and be the starter for the Wolves next year? Or is Budinger just added depth at the SF position with the struggling Wes Johnson that then opens the door even more to trading the misfitting talent of D-Will? Or will he just be another trade piece in a future deal?
Derrick Williams is the most attractive asset the Wolves have to sell, and prior to dealing the #18 pick to Houston for Budinger, the rumor was the Pups were looking to package D-Will and the #18 for the #2 pick from Charlotte. Likely they would have then used that pick for Bradley Beal and locked up their SG spot that has been, oh so not locked up for oh so long. The 18th pick is now gone, so is that rumor now dead? Or would the Bobcats want something else to pry that #2 pick away from them? Is Derrick Williams better than any other player in this draft after Davis?
Brandon Roy then enters the picture at the SG position that the Wolves are desperate to fill. The Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks and Indiana Pacers join the Pups in wanting the once retired 27-year-old SG. The biggest issue for the Wolves is going to be competing against teams that are more "title ready" than them. If you are Roy, you know your time maybe limited, so you need a team ready to win right away if you are going to come back. The Wolves show promise, but is it enough to convince Roy's achey knees? Should the Wolves even risk ruining their building momentum by signing Roy and hoping he can be their SG answer with his major injury concerns? Roy, if healthy, could be the 3rd star for the Wolves, but one has to wonder how long those knees will hold up.
Pau Gasol still comes up as a guy that could be bound for Minneapolis. Derrick Williams would be the main part of a trade with the Lakers. I can't say I love this trade idea, but I do think if the Wolves somehow also landed (healthy) Brandon Roy and Pau Gasol, their lineup would all the sudden contain veterans, youth and balance. Rubio, Roy, Budinger, Love, Gasol looks pretty nice to me with Gasol and Roy taking the third star role on a night to night basis with Love and Rubio, that is the type of team that could definitely be a contender.
David Kahn is in his last year of his contract as President of Basketball Operations. He knows the Wolves need to be a playoff product this season in order for him to likely see another contract. This summer he has the opportunity to make that happen and has a great mind in Rick Adelman near him to help him with the big decisions. The first move of this off-season to get Budinger seems to likely have had a good amount of Adelman input on it. As previously stated, Adelman has coached Budinger for two seasons with the Rockets. Wolves fans that haven't favored Kahn's decision-making up this point may take comfort in that idea. Still Kahn (and hopefully Adelman as well) have a lot of decisions left to be made and many will need to be made soon.
Here we are again as Timberwolves fans with more questions than answers just over 48 hours away from another NBA Draft. This time it feels different though as there is more of a foundation already built at Target Center. It feels less like the Wolves are starting over from scratch and that is the exciting part. Over the next few weeks, and possibly on Thursday night, a lot of the questions posed above will be answered and in turn more will inevitably be created.
In Kahn we...trust?