Western Notes: Wolves, Lakers, Kings, Nuggets

Coach/executive Flip Saunders didn’t give too many hints about whom the Timberwolves are leaning toward drafting with the No. 1 overall pick, telling Chris Mannix of SI.com that they haven’t made up their minds yet. Saunders did insist that he’d draft for talent rather than positional fit and that he’s not worried that top prospects will try to dissuade the team from picking them so that the Lakers can snap them up with the second pick instead.

“I have had contact with most of the top players and all they talk about is wanting to be the No. 1 pick and basically explaining why they should,” Saunders said. “We have an enticing situation. The enticing situation that we have is that we have got some great youth, as I said with [Andrew] Wiggins, a potential top-five player in this league, we have a great point guard in [Ricky] Rubio, we’ll get him back healthy, we have got a great mentor and still a pretty good player in [Kevin] Garnett that we hope to sign in July. We have a lot of things moving in the right direction. We just opened up a $29MM practice facility. We have a $160MM renovation of our arena starting in about a year. We have a lot of positive things. When we get people here and they can see what we have going on a little bit, it will sell the situation even more.”

Notable among the core players that Saunders mentioned is Rubio, a rumored trade candidate, lending further credence to the notion that the point guard will stick in Minnesota this summer, an outcome Rubio has made clear that he’d prefer. There’s more from Saunders amid the latest from around the Western Conference:

  • Saunders confirmed that the Wolves expect to re-sign Garnett in free agency this summer and said that while he’s evaluating head coaching candidates, he has no intention of relinquishing his bench duties for now, as Mannix also relays.
  • The Lakers are working out UMass big man Cady LaLanne today, as league sources told Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops and as the Lakers confirmed (Twitter links). Boston College combo guard Olivier Hanlan, Kentucky shooting guard Aaron Harrison, Arizona small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Texas combo forward Jonathan Holmes and LSU power forward Jordan Mickey are also showing off for the Lakers in the group audition, according to the team.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein and Cameron Payne will work out Thursday for the Kings, the team announced. Payne had been expected to work out with Sacramento, which at pick No. 6 appears to be his ceiling. The Kings, along with the Pacers, are reportedly the teams with the most interest in Cauley-Stein.
  • The Nuggets are expected to work out Justise Winslow on Wednesday, tweets Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post.
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