Kevin Garnett's Rookie Season
June 20, 1995
The Timberwolves' basketball staff, during a retreat at a Gull Lake resort last weekend, pretty much reinforced its plan to keep the team's No. 5 pick in the June 28 draft rather than trade it. The Wolves also decided to focus on four possibilities for that pick: Kevin Garnett, Ed O'Bannon, Damon Stoudamire and Rasheed Wallace.
``Those probably are the four guys we realistically are looking at right now,'' VP for basketball operations Kevin McHale said Monday. ``We narrowed it down to a couple of different scenarios.''
The guy who's intriguing is Garnett, the 6-foot-11, 217-pounder who turned 19 just last May, when he still was in high school. The Wolves are serious about picking him.
``No question,'' McHale said. ``He's got a great upside. You've got to look at him and say, `What can he give you this year, what can he give you next year, the next year?'
``People wish they had taken Moses Malone; people wish they had taken Shawn Kemp. Those are high school kids who came out. But you've got to understand that it's a project. If you do that, and are willing to work with him, you might have something special.''
Garnett, who last year transferred from Mauldin (S.C.) High to Chicago Farragut, where he was considered the nation's top prep player, still has the option of attending college. But that's highly unlikely.
The word is that Garnett isn't close to qualifying academically. And if he's a top-five draft pick, financially at least, college wouldn't be worth the gamble. If he were to qualify for college and be drafted, he could decide not to turn pro after a month and reapply for school, as did the Gophers' Voshon Lenard after Milwaukee picked him in the second round of last year's draft.
If the Wolves picked Garnett and he opted for college, McHale said the team simply would retain his rights and wait until he came out. Garnett has said North Carolina and Michigan are his college considerations, but those schools aren't counting on him, and it's believed that talk is more for pro signing leverage for Garnett than anything else.
``Larry Bird was taken junior eligible and ended up being a pretty good deal for the Celtics, I'd say,'' McHale said. ``Sometimes, the best things in life you have to wait for.''
Stoudamire, the 5-9 point guard from Arizona, isn't projected to be among the top 10 picks in the draft. But, McHale surprisingly said Monday, the Wolves still might take him with their No. 5.
``If he's the best player for our team, we'll take him,'' he said.
One scenario is that Wallace, the 6-10, 225-pounder from North Carolina, could slip to No. 5, although he's projected to go among the top three picks.
``The nice thing about Stoudamire and O'Bannon is that they're a little bit more mature, four years of college for Stoudamire, and O'Bannon had five years,'' McHale said. ``Wallace and Garnett are a little bit more raw, but overall, probably are more talented.''
The Wolves' chances of trading their No. 5?
``Not unless something falls out of the sky,'' McHale said. ``No one's making a deal right now.''