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Last shots: On draft night, a new aggressiveness, and upcoming free agency



The 2019 NBA Draft has come and gone and the focus now shifts to free agency. The Wolves spent draft night being aggressive, and free agency could be much of the same. Nineteen last shots on draft night, a newfound aggressiveness, and what may lie ahead for the Wolves.

1. When Gersson Rosas was introduced as the President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves in early May he mentioned the phrase ‘action over words’ as something that was going to be heard frequently.

2. That phrase means Rosas is going to have to prove how good he is as an organizational leader, rather than just talk about it. The 2019 NBA Draft was the first step in doing that. It was the first opportunity for Rosas and his newly assembled staff to make a splash. In trading up from the No. 11 pick in the draft to the No. 6 pick they did just that. The cost of the splash was sending Dario Saric – a starter entering his final season before restricted free agency – to the Phoenix Suns.

3. Many across the league think Jarrett Culver was the correct pick for the Wolves with the sixth pick. He should be able to contribute immediately for the Wolves, even if that gets downplayed. Culver should be one of the few guys in the draft that’s a positive on both ends of the floor, and the Wolves don’t have nearly enough of that on the roster as currently constructed (much more on that later).

4. When the Wolves traded up, they did so with the intention of landing someone that has a bright future. In the pre-draft press conference Rosas held the week of the draft, he spoke about acquiring high-end talent. This was one way to do it, and the Wolves are going to continue to explore other avenues to grab more high-end talent.

5. “A high-end talent that is available we’re always gonna be looking at,” Rosas said. We’re always gonna be making calls; whether it’s the trade route, high picks in the draft, or even as we prepare for free agency as well.

6. “A high-end talent that is available we’re always gonna be looking at. We’re always gonna be making calls; whether it’s the trade route, high picks in the draft, or even as we prepare for free agency as well.”

7. Culver certainly could be a high-end talent. If the Wolves didn’t take him sixth, it’s hard to envision him being on the board much longer. His game needs time to develop, but right now it’s good enough to be on the NBA floor. The Wolves drafted a guy that’s got

8. The Wolves’ aggressiveness didn’t stop after trading up for the sixth pick. After the selection was made, they were on the phone with the Charlotte Hornets trying to acquire the No. 12 pick with the intention of drafting Sekou Doumbouya, a source told SKOR North.

9. Since we’re talking about aggressive moves, this seems like as good a time as any to address the 6-foot-5, 198-pound elephant in the room. None of this D’Angelo Russell noise seems to be going away. ESPN’s Zach Lowe alluded to it on his podcast after the draft. Maybe the Wolves find a way to pair him with Karl-Anthony Towns, no matter the cost, or maybe nothing else happens.

10. If nothing happens there, it won’t be for lack of creativity. The Wolves clearly are interested in making it happen and employee some of the most creative front office members in the NBA. If something is possible, they’re going to explore every avenue to make it happen, no matter how unlikely it may be.

11. Russell has been friends with Towns for a while. Obviously, the pair went first and second in the 2015 NBA Draft to the Wolves and Lakers, respectively. Back then it probably would have been viewed as unlikely that the two could be playing together during their careers, especially as soon as the start of the 2019-20 season. It’s still not likely, but there’s smoke there, and where there’s smoke there’s often fire.

12. Karl Towns Sr. didn’t do anything to temper things when he showed up at Russell’s basketball camp in New Jersey this weekend. The two have known each other for quite some time, and this would probably be happening regardless of Russell’s status, but this only adds fuel to the fire that Russell is a possibility for the Wolves.

13. The Nets are in the running to land Kyrie Irving, and probably the favorites to do so. If that happens, Russell is very likely out of their plans. The avenues to get him to Minnesota remain complicated, but they’re there.

14. The Wolves trading up in the draft might even make it more likely, especially considering they didn’t address the position that Russell plays. The trade up showed the aggressiveness that will be required to dig out of the hole that the Tom Thibodeau-era dug for the Wolves in some sort of timely fashion. Making a move to add Russell to the fold would be aggressive. It might mean that the Wolves have to mortgage a bit of the future in terms of assets to take a gamble on Russell.

15. Free agency is now less than a week away. Plenty of fireworks are promised league-wide. How involved the Wolves will be remained to be seen, but if it’s anything like draft night, they’re going to find a way to be involved.

16. The Wolves have six players entering some sort of free agency when the clock strikes 5 p.m. central time on Sunday June 30. Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, and Jerryd Bayless are all unrestricted free agents, while Tyus Jones is entering restricted free agency. The likelihood for each to return varies (and I’ll have something regarding that later this week), but it will tell us something about the new regime.

17. We already did learn something about the new regime with the trade up from No. 11 to No. 6, and not in terms of the aggressiveness previously mentioned, but rather in how the Wolves are going to play. Moving Dario Saric eliminates another frontcourt option and thrusts Robert Covington into the fold at the four.

18. “For us, positionally, it is a different game,” Rosas said. “We talked about where we’re at in the NBA now. You have four perimeters. Points guard, three wings and a big. That could be a center. That could be a power forward. It’s just the game is played differently now. We feel like our wings are versatile. Robert Covington is a guy that has the most success at the four offensively and he’s a tough defensive guard that’s very active. For us to be able to put a group of wings like we’re going to be able to put on the floor at certain points this year gives us a lot of versatility, gives us some shooting. Gives us playmaking. That’s how we want to play. For us to be able to execute that vision, we have to be built differently.”

19. Changes are coming for the Wolves. Some of them have already happened, plenty more appear to be in the future, and this looks to be a very exciting summer for basketball in Minnesota under the watch of Gersson Rosas.





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