Teams throughout the NBA had questions about Kevin Garne
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Teams throughout the NBA had questions about Kevin Garnett and his move from high school to the pros. Garnett, however, had a few questions of his own for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Minnesota’s vice president of basketball operations, Kevin McHale, said Garnett wanted to know why the team hasn’t won and whether the players would put team goals before individual ones.
``He said, `It’s gotta be team first,‴ McHale said. ``Then I said, `Do you want me to drive up to Toronto and pick you up? Or are you going to fly down?‴
While McHale opted against making the drive, he did make Garnett the fifth pick overall in the NBA draft on Wednesday night.
``Had this kid gone to college, we think he would have been the No. 1 pick in the draft in two years,″ McHale said. ``So we got a No. 1 pick a couple of years early.″
In the second round, Minnesota drafted Mark Davis, a 6-foot-7 guard-forward from Texas Tech, with the 48th pick and Jerome Allen, a 6-4 guard from Penn, with the 49th pick.
The decision to draft Garnett, a 6-10 forward from Farragut Academy in Chicago, was McHale’s first major move in a series that he hopes will replace off-court distractions and a lot of losses with a team concept and, ultimately, wins.
Garnett’s skills have never been questioned. Though tall enough to play center, Garnett will likely play forward in the NBA.
``He’s a great runner, a great jumper, he can block shots from the weak side,″ Blair said. ``He can post up right now. He can shoot a jump shot right now. Right now I think he can play in this league.″
What has been questioned and, according to Timberwolves officials, addressed is the potential trouble a 19-year-old can get into with millions of dollars and little supervision.
``We realize, as an organization, that there are going to have to be some safety nets set up,″ Minnesota general manager Flip Saunders said. ``We are showing that the organization, from top to bottom, is making a commitment that this team is going to be a team of the future.″
Timberwolves coach Bill Blair admitted, after making the pick, moves to get rid of some of the team’s ``problem″ players, Isaiah Rider and Christian Laettner, may be forthcoming.
``The locker room is really going to change _ by addition and subtraction,″ Blair said.
When asked about fears of Rider become Garnett’s role model, Blair said simply, ``We’re going to give him another role model.″
Team officials said they do not have a timetable for Garnett and they expect him to get knocked around as a rookie.
Garnett also did not promise to bring an additional 20 wins for the Timberwolves with him to Minnesota.
``I’m going to do anything that’s going to help me develop,″ Garnett said. ``I’m just going to come in with a hard-working attitude and try to do my best.″
Garnett, who was named ``Mr. Basketball″ in Illinois following his senior season at Farragut, became just the fourth player to be drafted directly out of high school. The only other high school players selected were Moses Malone in 1974 and Darryl Dawkins and Bill Willoughby in 1975. Garnett, who averaged 25.2 points and 17.9 rebounds last season, played his first three years in Mauldin, S.C., and was Mr. Basketball for that state in 1994.
McHale and Blair said they were happy with Garnett, but were also realistic.
``We’re talking about projects,″ McHale said. ``But, we had Allen rated as the best defending point guard in the draft.″
Blair said that both second-round picks could have a future with Minnesota.
``We got two young kids that we were shocked we would get,″ Blair said. ``Either, or both, have a chance to make our team.″