Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wolves Make Big Pre-Draft Deal

In a surprise move, the Minnesota Timberwolves traded away a big part of their offense on Tuesday in an effort to move up in Thursday's NBA Draft. The Wolves sent guard Randy Foye and guard/forward Mike Miller to the Washington Wizards for center Etan Thomas, power forward Darius Songaila, center Oleksiy Pecherov, and the Wiz's first round pick on Thursday - fifth overall. The Wolves now hold the 5th, 6th, 18th, and 28th picks in the draft. Although the deal is still not finalized, it is expected to be Wednesday, as a clerical issue with Thomas need to be agreed-to and Wolves' owner Glen Taylor needs to be formally consulted.'s David Aldridge and's Ric Bucher are both reporting that the Timberwolves have Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio in their sites, and are looking to package the 5th and 6th picks in a deal with Memphis at #2. It's thought that the Grizzlies covet UConn's Hasheem Thabeet, leaving Oklahoma City #3 as a potential Rubio destination. The Thunder apparently covet Rubio and would be reluctant to trade the pick for two lower ones. Sacramento picks fourth.

Chad Ford has his mock draft here, with the Wolves staying at #5 and 6 and picking up Arizona State's James Harden and Davidson's Stephen Curry. The Wolves also like Memphis guard Tyreke Evans as well.

Foye became a Timberwolf in 2006-07 after four years at Villanova. The Wolves selected Washington guard Brandon Roy with the sixth selection that year, and then sent his rights to Portland for the rights to Foye, whom the Blazers drafted seventh. The move was initially deemed a wash, as both guards were considered safe picks. However, Foye was given inconsistent minutes his rookie year under coach Dwane Casey and struggled somewhat, while Roy became NBA Rookie of the Year and a perennial all-star. The deal was added to Kevin McHale's list of failures the next year as Foye was limited to just 39 games with injuries while Roy made his first all-star team.

In 2008-09, Foye showed glimpses of his NBA ability, averaging 16.3 points on 41% from the floor. He exhibited the leadership qualities he displayed at Villanova and was a solid contributor all season long. He missed 12 of the team's last 22 games with injuries, but recovered nicely from his knee issues of the season prior.

Miller joined the Wolves prior to 2008-09 in a deal with Memphis which dumped a lot of garbage (read Marko Jaric and Antoine Walker) on the Grizzlies and also included the O.J. Mayo-for-Kevin Love aspect. Miller performed nicely for the Wolves last season, providing 9.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game and displaying hustle every night.

Of the players coming over, Thomas has the most experience, but missed a good chunk of last season with a torn MCL. If he stays, the 31-year-old big man would expect limited minutes in Minnesota behind Al Jefferson. Best yet, hit contract expires at the end of 2009-10 at $7.35M. Songaila is another 31-year-old forward with limited impact, and has two years remaining on his contract for a total of $9.3M. Pecherov is a young 7-foot project and has three years remaining on his contract at $7.1M.

The centerpiece of this deal is obviously the draft pick. With Foye and Miller departing, the Wolves' backcourt will be completely re-made for 2009-10, with holdover Sebastian Telfair providing back-up at the point. They will draft guards on Thursday night; just which ones obviously remain to be seen. What is certain is that new basketball operations head David Kahn has made a bold move in his first few weeks on the job, and his promise of change is not an idle one.

Here's hoping that Memphis will do us another favor on Thursday night and that we'll be seeing Rubio at the point night-in and night-out......

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