Head coach decided, Timberwolves now eye the NBA Draft


The Timberwolves crossed one big item off their daunting to-do list Friday, as Flip Saunders announced he will be coaching the team this upcoming season.

The Kevin Love, will-they-won't-they trade saga will likely stay uncrossed a little while longer, as President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders tries to decide which is the better course: trading the all-star now, or betting he can be convinced to stay.

The team's third big to-do isn't something that can be put off.

The NBA Draft is set for June 26, less than three weeks from now. And with the No. 13 overall pick, the Wolves have plenty of scouting work to do.

Or maybe they don't.

According to FanSided, Chad Ford of ESPN says the Timberwolves are one of a handful of teams open to trading away their first-round pick. Local reporter Darren Wolfson asked Saunders about that possibility at Friday's press conference, and got this response:

So if they stay at No. 13, who is in the mix? Saunders earlier this week said the team has about seven players they're targeting, Nate Sandell of 1500ESPN wrote. Saunders also noted that not all of the players they like may come in for pre-draft workouts – which is what happened with Gorgui Dieng last year, Sandell writes.

A trio of mock drafts from CBS Sports has the Wolves taking three different players: Duke small forward Rodney Hood (a solid wing scorer), Michigan State power forward Adreian Payne (a solid stretch 4 who can shoot from behind the arc) , and Kentucky small forward James Young (who has good size and quickness, but had an inconsistent shooting year).

Sports Illustrated's most recent mock draft goes with Payne as well. The reasoning? ove is likely gone, opening up a hole on the Wolves for a power forward. And Payne, 23, is as ready to make an immediate impact in the NBA as anyone else.

Then there is the Adidas Eurocamp in Italy this weekend. Former Eurocamp alums include Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum and Danilo Gallinari.

But this year's crop of prospects isn't as flashy.

Draft Express says it's unlikely any of the participants will go in the first round. But some guys, with good showings, could prove to be second round picks. The Timberwolves, according to Wolfson, have Rob Babcock (vice president of basketball operations) & Zarko Durisic (director of international player personnel) there this weekend – but Flip attended in 2013.

The Wolves currently have three picks in the second round.

Of course, these draft picks could easily change (or the pool could become bigger) if Love is traded beforehand. Is that going to happen?

The Boston Globe, in a piece about how Saunders' coaching duties may affect the possibility of a deal that would send Love to the Celtics, says it's iffy. Saunders, the Globe writes, is in the curious position of having to think about long-term success (making a trade more likely) while not wanting to empty his own tool box as a head coach (making a trade less likely).

"League sources confirmed that Timberwolves’ upper management has not fully committed to dealing Love," the Boston Globe reports, "and that while trade talks are still in their infancy, the team maintains publicly and privately that it aims to keep him."

If a deal comes, the paper says, it likely won't be "well in advance" of the draft.

Less than three weeks to go.

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