Timberwolves take F Derrick Williams at No. 2
By: By Jon Krawczynski, AP Sports Writer, Superior Telegram
MINNEAPOLIS — Derrick Williams is on his way to Minnesota and Timberwolves President David Kahn emphatically told fans that he is coming here to stay.
The Wolves drafted the Arizona forward with the No. 2 pick Thursday on a dizzying draft night, leading to speculation that he could be traded because his skills so closely resemble those of current Timberwolves Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph.
"We're not trading Derrick Williams," Kahn told the team's draft party in an interview from the team's war room. "He will be in a Timberwolves uniform next year."
That's just fine with Williams, who welcomes the chance to help turnaround one of the league's worst franchises.
"I heard David Kahn say they were drafting me to keep me," Williams said. "Hopefully they are. I get along with a lot of the players there. Hopefully they do keep me. I want to be part of this team and turn it around."
Williams averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Wildcats last season and was widely considered the second-best player in the draft behind Duke point guard Kyrie Irving. The Cavs took Irving with the first pick.
The Timberwolves tried all week to trade the second pick in hopes of landing a veteran center or shooting guard to help the youngest team in the league. In the end, they couldn't find an offer they liked enough to pass up on the explosive, 6-foot-8 forward with shooting range.
They didn't make that trade, but they sure made up for it later in the night.
"We made a lot of trades tonight," Kahn said, declining to comment on all of them because they had not been approved by the league.
After taking Williams, the Timberwolves sent point guard Jonny Flynn and the 20th pick — Lithuanian forward Donatas Motiejunas — to Houston for the 23rd and 38th picks, center Brad Miller and a lottery protected future first-round pick, according to a person with knowledge of the deal who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the trade had not been approved by the league.
According to other reports, the Wolves then:
—Shipped No. 23 to Chicago for picks 28 and 43.
—Sent No. 28 to Miami for No. 31 and a future second-round pick.
—Sent No. 31 to New Jersey for a future second-round pick and cash.
—Sent No. 38 to back to Houston for a future second-round pick and cash.
—Sent a future second-round pick to Portland for pick No. 57.
They selected UCLA guard Malcolm Lee with the 43rd pick and Tanguy Ngombo, a forward from Qatar at 57 in the second round.
Kahn made all the decisions without Kurt Rambis in the room. The coach was watching the draft from Los Angeles, still not told if he will return for a third season after going 32-132 in his first two years. Kahn said after the draft it "remains a process. I'll talk about it when there's news to share and there's simply not news to share at this time."
With all the deals for cash on Thursday night, Kahn was asked if some of it was acquired to buy out the coach's contract, which has two years and $4 million remaining on it. Kahn vehemently denied that.
"I had great reticence to continue to add rookie after rookie after rookie to a team that, frankly, needs a few veterans," Kahn said. "And if you keep adding young players, you run out of roster space."
Whoever coaches the team next year will have quite a chore to figure out how to find enough playing time for Williams, Beasley and Randolph, all "tweeners" who can play small forward, power forward and, in Randolph's case, some center.
Kahn said Beasley will not be traded, either. He spoke to Beasley about the prospects of adding Williams to the group, possibly cutting into his playing time.
"The prospect of adding Derrick to the team really excited him," Kahn said. "So I felt comfortable based on those conversations and conversations with Derrick that the kids wanted to make this work and that they could all play together."
The Timberwolves finished an NBA-worst 17-65 last season, but their long history of bad lottery luck struck again when Cleveland leapfrogged them for the top pick. And when the Cavs took Irving as expected, the Wolves had a dilemma.
They could take Williams, who seems to be redundant with Beasley, Randolph and Wes Johnson — three tall, very athletic players who can play multiple positions. Williams has been working out with Beasley and Johnson in Los Angeles this summer and said they became fast friends.
"Me and Beasley play a little similar, but it's pretty hard to guard when you have me and Beasley on the court, I think," Williams said. "You have a couple people that play the same spot and we're going to have to make that work."
There is some debate as to where Williams will play in the NBA. He played mostly power forward at Arizona, but league observers wonder if he's big enough to defend the power forwards he'll face on a nightly basis in the NBA.
When he worked out for the Timberwolves last week, Williams insisted that he is a small forward in the NBA, and Kahn agreed. He shot almost 57 percent from 3-point range for Arizona last year and has displayed the quickness and ball-handling ability to play the position, on offense at least.
Johnson said he thinks they'll figure out a way for everyone to coexist.
"His basketball IQ. is high so I think him coming in, any type of position, I think he'll be fine," Johnson said.