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Updated: June 23rd, 2010 10:43pm
Pelissero: Draft is important, but Wolves GM has plenty of work to come

Pelissero: Draft is important, but Wolves GM has plenty of work to come

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by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com

The media room at Target Center will be closed for Thursday night's NBA Draft because the Cirque de Soleil is in town.

There's a metaphor in there somewhere for what might transpire at Minnesota Timberwolves headquarters, but I'm too creeped out by the thought of bumping into one of those acrobatic clowns backstage to figure it out.

The point is this thing could turn into a freak show, and that's not necessarily a bad thing for general manager David Kahn and company. Because action means attention for the Wolves, who need it -- and, you know, talent -- in the worst possible way.

This isn't just about winning back fans who have lost interest over five straight losing seasons. That'll take time and results.

No, Kahn needs to manufacture some positive momentum -- excitement even -- to convince players this is an operation that has a chance to take a turn for the better in the important days, weeks and months to come.

What good is cap space if free agents view this as a place careers go to die?

Don't think Ricky Rubio won't be watching what the Wolves do with the fourth overall pick, too, and there are plusses and minuses to all three primary options.

Syracuse wing Wesley Johnson">Wesley Johnson can play coach Kurt Rambis' up-tempo style and is the most mature (physically and mentally) of the bunch at age 22. But there are concerns about Johnson's ability to create off the dribble at the NBA level, and his upside may be limited.

Georgia Tech post Derrick Favors is an explosive athlete who plays with power and also can run the floor. But his conditioning long has been a concern, and three weeks shy of his 19th birthday, Favors may be a year or even two away from being a prominent contributor for a team that badly needs help now.

Kentucky big man DeMarcus Cousins is a fearsome inside presence who should have a chance to make an impact from Day 1, even though he's only 19. But he's a notorious hothead, refused to come to Minnesota for a predraft workout and might not fit in a major rebuilding operation that will require patience.

Even if Kahn somehow finagles his way to No. 2 and snares Ohio State swingman Evan Turner -- he painted those chances as minuscule on Tuesday -- the key will be adding another piece or two to the puzzle, through the draft or otherwise.

Drafting Favors or Cousins almost surely would trigger a trade of Al Jefferson, who seems to have been linked to half the teams in the NBA in recent days.

Other reports have had the Wolves using their other two first-round picks (No. 16 and 23) to trade up (with Memphis for the 12th pick?) and down (with Memphis for Nos. 25 and 28?), though as of late Wednesday night there were no signs anything was a done deal.

All that seems clear is Kahn is keeping his options open. And that should be perceived as both intriguing and a little scary, given that Thursday night well could define the Kahn Era in Minnesota -- even if Kahn wants to make sure no one rushes to judgment.

Asked on Tuesday how important draft night will be, Kahn said, "Very, but not exclusively. It's very important, but not exclusively, and there will be -- I will say this, too, that I wouldn't presume that, if we take a player somewhere, anywhere, Thursday night (necessarily) means that player, just because of the nature of the beast these days and the volatility of the league, that we might have to make a move with a player that we pick Thursday night and package in a subsequent deal."

Which is a roundabout way of saying what we think we know late Thursday night may prove false by Friday afternoon.

The circus may be in town for a while.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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