During the 1996 draft, the Wolves nearly drafted Kobe Bryant with the No. 5 overall pick, writes Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. “We teetered on the idea of getting another [player right out of high school] because we had success with [Kevin Garnett],” said Flip Saunders, who was the coach of the team that year, just as he is now. “But we kind of thought it would be too much having two of those guys who were young at that time and still in the process of developing KG as a young player.” Minnesota ended up drafting Ray Allen and subsequently trading him to Milwaukee for Stephon Marbury.
Here’s more from the Northwest Division
- The request to commit another $24.5MM in public money in order to further renovate the Target Center, which is the Wolves‘ home arena, passed a City Council panel vote, reports Eric Roper of the Star Tribune. Roper notes that there are still potential roadblocks in securing the additional funding, but the latest news is reason for optimism. The city of Minneapolis previously committed $50MM toward the renovation.
- Executives of the Nuggets are “very happy” with the job done by interim coach Melvin Hunt, sources tell Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Mannix notes that although the team will conduct a thorough search for a new head coach after the season, Hunt’s performance will earn him some consideration for the job.
- Enes Kanter didn’t enjoy being an NBA player until he got to the Thunder, writes Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News. “The difference is I like playing basketball [in Oklahoma City], that’s the most important thing,’’ Kanter said. “I never liked playing basketball before in my NBA career. That’s the first time I felt like playing basketball for my team, for the fans, for my teammates, for coaches — everybody.’’ The center spent his entire career with the Jazz before being traded to the Thunder at this year’s deadline.