Post-Draft Press Conference: Flip Saunders

Post-Draft Press Conference: Flip Saunders



Below is a full transcript of Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders' media availability on Thursday, including right after the first round and his post-Draft wrap-up press conference shown above in its entirety.

Was it pretty crazy in the war room?

"Well I'll tell you what; it was chaos from the first pick. The first pick when (Anthony) Bennett was taken off the board, I think that set the tone, pretty much for the whole draft. Going into the draft, we had four scenarios, one, two three and four and it came down and we were at the fourth scenario, our guys at No. 9 were off the board, we thought one would be there (and) we had a decision to make, whether we thought who we could get, could we move back and get who we wanted maybe at 14? Those guys would all be in another box and we thought that one of our guys would be there and that's why we moved back to get 14 and 21."

Couldn't have you moved up?

"No, that was not a possibility."

"What happened when you look at the draft, when (Ben) McLemore started falling there was value all the sudden and a lot of value in the five to 10 and you look and see (Nerlens) Noel there, and (Alex) Len and you look at McLemore, the three guys that some guys had in the top-3 are sitting there in the middle and we thought at that time we were in pretty good shape and then a couple of guys we had were taken off the board."

Was the last guy Kentavious Caldwell-Pope?

"That was it."

So, no chance of a trade?

"We talked to people, and coming up the whole time. Well, they locked into who they wanted. People lock in on who they want... We felt pretty confident that we were going to get one of our guys. We didn't , we moved back, I know it's not a popular pick, with Shabazz (Muhammad), and I've been very critical of him and I told him that when he came in. I was critical when he came in and how he played against Minnesota at times because I was watching a lot of the game and talking to him and talking to a lot of people, we were comfortable with him because I do believe this, you look at the history of this and the people who have been Player of the Year in high school, those players have been pretty good players in the NBA if you look back in the last 25 years. Here's a guy that sat out the beginning of the year, came in, still ended up being a pretty dominant player in the Pac-10, and I said even no matter what he's going to be able to score, he'll be able to score in the NBA because theta's what he does. He's a little bit different than what we have. He's an aggressive, more of a slasher, an aggressive player. What I do like about him is that he's extremely competitive. He can score. His coach says he's a gym rat. He's in the gym and you almost have to kick him out he works so hard. Those are the positives. Doesn't shoot it as well as maybe a pure shooter outside, but he did shoot over 40 percent from the 3-point line. I do believe one thing. He will come in, here's a kid prior to this season was ready to be the No. 1 pick in the draft, he'll come in and play with a chip on his shoulder. Those are always positive things too. With the second pick with Gorgui (Dieng) we wanted to get someone who we thought could protect the rim and that's what he did at Louisville, he has very good ball skills, he can pass the ball. He's a guy that is more defense oriented, we thought that would be a good mixture, along with Pek and (Ricky) Rubio."

Do you think Dieng will be a project?

"I think he's more ready to play than most of those guys because he's skilled in his passing ability. He has an NBA skill and that skill is that he can guard. Coach (Rick) Pitino said he's one of the best players he had, and here s a guy who's only played ball for five or six years so he can improve, but the one thing he has is an NBA skill and he's aggressive, he knows how to defend pick and rolls, he knows how to defend inside. I believe both these guys have the ability to play some for us."

Did you talk to Shabazz about the situation with the game-winner?

"We talked about that. It gets back to my saying 'sometimes your greatest strength is your greatness weakness if you don't control it.' His greatest strength is that he's competitive. I talked to Ricky Rubio about this because I remember watching a game this past year when they were down one, there was a breakaway and I think either Luke (Ridnour) or J.J. (Barea) took it down the left side shot at the buzzer and missed it. Ricky was kind of trailing and kind of showed some frustration that he took the ball and he was open and didn't get to make the play. We want guys that want to make plays. I want a guy who wants to take the shot rather than someone who is running away from it. It's not a popular pick, but that's why you got to take the picks that you think are value picks at that time. And here's a guy that we had rated highest at that time. I really think when it's all said and done, we'll look back that he's going to be a positive player with us. Some people have compared him to (James) Harden. That's not fair, maybe they compare him because he's left-handed and has an unorthodox game but he can score and as we know sometimes, scoring becomes very difficult in the league, sometimes you have to someone who can create something out of nothing."

What does Dieng bring to the team?

"What he does offensively, which I think is a positive, he can really pass from the elbow. I mean he's a very good passer and how coach (Rick Adelman) likes to play you want your bigs to not be just totally one-dimensional and he's proven that over the last year. He's shown the ability to shoot 13-14 foot shots, I don't think with Love, Pek and Rubio, when he comes into the game along with other guys, he won't have to score a lot. He will come in and play his role. He will come in and accept and play his role."

Is Shabazz a two or three?

"I think he's both. I think it depends who he plays against. And depends who he can guard at times. We're going to have to work with him, he's going to have to work. He's got to maintain, keep in shape. Sometimes he can gain a little weight, that's the way he is. But what I feel good about, I feel good that he's a gym rat. And I believe, I know that Ricky Rubio is a gym rat, some of our other guys are. When you get a player who will spend however much time he will to be successful, he has the ability to reach his potential. He's a guy that has a little bit of a chip on his shoulder."

On not getting an outside shooter

"And we talked about that. We will have to address that through trades and free agency. ... We knew we could get some improvement when Love came back, but I think it's a little bit misleading. What I said about Shabazz, if you look at his shot, it's not the prototypical jump shot, but he seems to shoot a high percentage and he puts the ball in the basket, that's one of the main things."

Why did you trade No. 26

"We needed to fill the roster to give coach some help with some veteran type players. We were able at 26 to move that pick, move Malcolm Lee, move off some money and therefore we were able to give us some freedom to have some more money in free agency."

What exactly was the trade?

"Cash considerations, Malcolm Lee for a second-round pick next year."

So you didn't want three 1st rounders on roster?

"We just thought, we felt comfortable where we were at with our first two, we think we can get someone that can make the roster late at 52 or 58 or someone that we can maybe send overseas or an overseas type player we'll wait and see how that works out. We just didn't see how having three first round picks would be beneficial to fill our roster right now."

You didn't come away with a shooting guard

"We came away with a scorer. The reason you want a shooting guard because you think they'll be able to make shots for you and put the ball in the basket and score and spread the floor. If you don't have that, you can have a guy who can score. The way we are set up there's only about three guys that was, when you really look at the wings... there's probably only really three or four guys that were going to have an impact. Three guys in the draft. And unfortunately for us they all went in front of us."

Are you disappointed with the draft?

"Well, what I'm not. We addressed our defense inside, we addressed our ability to score, and we did not address our ability to make perimeter shots. So that's something that we will have to address through trades and free agency. I said prior to the draft, sometimes things don't go the way you want. We were being very active we were trying to make trades. A lot of people talking, there was really no one who wanted to really do anything... When you look at some of the trades that happened, some people gave up some unbelievable value to trade up to No. 5. That was a lot of value to give, so we tried. I'm not disappointed, but what it does is we still have some things we have to fill. Like I said, know people aren't' probably happy , they have ideas on who they want, but we have to fill our roster, there' s lot of ways to fill it. I'm not disappointed. I believe that both these guys will come and be able to play for us next year."

What do you think your Twitter feed looks like?

"I'm sure it's blowing up and I'm' sure it's probably not really good, but that's why you're in this position. You've got to own up to the picks you make and I feel like at the pick, that was the best pick we could make. It made more sense for us to move back and get a couple quality guys than stay put."

How many players did you have in your box?

"The box, it was about four."

"He (Muhammad) was one of the guys."

Why not C.J. McCollum?

"I liked C.J. We felt in reality that Shabazz would be a better fit for us than C.J. really because more of the size at the wings and having both Ridnour and having Barea and having Ricky, and knowing Ricky is going to play 38 minutes. We just thought we wanted some more size there and fell in with some other people."

More on Shabazz

"I think we wanted to get someone there, he was the best small forward player that we thought was ready to play. The one thing about him is he has an NBA body. He might not be the most athletic guy but he's physical and strong and he's going to be aggressive and he's not afraid to compete. He's a guy like I said I'm looking forward to him and I think it's a good opportunity for him because he's going to be able to, with Ricky with the ball, move without the ball and have some lanes and move in the open floor. "

Did Pek have anything to do with drafting Dieng?

"No, we just, we felt like we're going to get Pek back and so we just we felt like we wanted to get someone we felt was a rim protector that could help us and that's what we thought Dieng could do."

On Lorenzo Brown

"He's a first round talent, we had him in here, he worked out, actually shot the ball better than we thought he could. You're right, he's been a first round talent for most of the talent, he slid a little bit in the second half. His team did his team didn't play nearly as well. Sometimes when a guy goes on a slide, sometimes it's tough to find someone to catch him especially in the NBA in the second round because you have a lot of people who have an agenda to get someone, like put them overseas or do something else with them. He was by far a very valued pick. What you like about him is that he's 6'5."

How does he fit into your future?

"We'll have to see. One he comes in, we work him out we see what happens in summer league and see where he's at whether he's here, or whether or not he wants to give it a go with the team and see if he can make the team or see if he makes another decision. I just thought a guy that has that type of talent, as a first-round talent you bring him in. He's different than the other guys we have because he's 6'5, he's big he's not a little guard. It's nice to have some big guys like that."

Is he more of a point guard or a shooting guard?

"I think he's more of a point. You need more of a backup guy, with Ricky and we'll just wait and see where it plays out by getting rid of Malcolm we made, there's at least one, even though there's a log jam he can play together with Ricky because of his size being 6'5 and strong and being able to do some things."

Is this the craziest draft you've been a part of?

"It was a crazy draft with the first pick taken. Everyone from there was wondering what was going on, all the guys that were falling and guys taken and guys moving up... The guys we evaluated as good were pretty much taken in front of us and we thought we had a chance again and lost them right before us. But I like the biggest thing was we couldn't get the guys we wanted the one thing we wanted to do from a physiological stand point was to get guys who could really compete, guys that were physically ready to play and I believe the guys that, the first two guys we took in the first round and even Brown is physically ready."

Why didn't you take a chance on Trevor Mbakwe?

"We were going to take a guy who we thought was going to go overseas. We didn't want to put the pressure on the coaching staff or anyone else, I believe somewhere he can play in our league. We didn't' feel like we were in as situation, having two guys then having another guy and having four guys, rookies , to make our team is probably not going to happen."

Will he make the summer roster?

"We haven't made any decision. R.J. does a lot of that. He's (Mbakwe) the one who will want to go on a summer league team to know if he can make the team. What we need to do is get the positions to fill in is some shooting positions and they will be more veteran types of player."

Are there veteran shooting guards that you like?

"There are some guys that we like, they will be available. We're talking as we went into this we talked d a lot on potential trades to bolster the two and the three spot. We'll see where it happens. The thing about draft night and I've been through a lot of these is that strange things happen. You're never surprised. What you can do is you can only draft who's available at that time. You got to feel that where we're at we got guys that are going to compete and will fit in to our system."

Have you been part of a crazier draft?

"I don't' know if I've been in a draft this crazy. It's been like this for the last month. Who was going to go where and there's everyone is going No. 1and the guy that wasn't talked about going No. 1 was the guy that went No. 1. That tells you a little bit about this draft.

Where did you have Oladipo ranked?

"He was up there. He was high. We liked him from that. He was probably our No. 1 guy who we thought could make an impact with the players we have."

What's next?

"We'll bring these guys in tomorrow. Let you guys see them and talk to them about our philosophy about them coming in we have summer league in a week and practice in about eight days and that will be the first time these guys will be able to start showing the things that they can really do. We're anxious to get our hands on them and work with them. I think these guys can really help us out. I think they bolstered where we want to be. We did anticipate that no matter who we brought in that they would not be starters for us. They would come in as a backup type player, grow into the position."


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