Isaiah Thomas has gone from last selection in the 2011 NBA Draft to one of the league’s top budding superstars with the Celtics. As he prepares for a Game 7 showdown against the Wizards, stories about Thomas’ unlikely path to stardom continue to circulate and the Timberwolves are the latest team to be connected with the 5’9″ point guard.
As Sam Vecenie of Vice Sports details, Minnesota had interest in selecting Thomas with the 57th pick in the draft (Thomas selected 60th by the Kings) but elected to go with Tanguy Ngombo, a Congolese forward playing in Qatar. Few projected Ngombo to be drafted, leaving a lot of mystery surrounding not just his skills, but his identity. Chaos ensued when it was discovered that Ngombo may not be 21 years old as the team believed.
After speaking to Ngombo, the team realized he was not sure of his age due to restricted access to his passport and no official birth certificate. Eventually, the team rescinded its rights to Ngombo and he continued his career in Qatar while Thomas — after a subpar stints in Sacramento and Phoenix — is a two-time All-Star in Boston.
Here are additional news tidbits in the Northwest:
- The Trail Blazers are expected to hold a private workout with University of California product Ivan Rabb after the combine, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes (via Twitter). Rabb, 20, has spent the last two seasons with the Golden Bears; the 6’11” center averaged 14.0 PPG and 10.5 RPG this past season.
- Speaking of Portland, the team’s president of basketball operations Neil Olshey spoke to Scott Howard-Cooper on NBA TV to discuss the team’s future and possible strategy from the combine. “We’ve been rebuilding the organization based of of Damian Lillard’s timeline, we’ve been lucky enough to be a playoff team in both of those years,” said Olshey (via NBA.com). “It’s whatever the best decision long-term for the franchise is. If that’s three rookies, it’s three rookies. If that’s an aggregation of picks to get an impact player, then that’s what it’ll be.”
- Jazz center Rudy Gobert told L’Equipe he will not suit up for Team France for the Eurobasket 2017. After suffering an injury during the playoffs, and playing through a full regular season plus the postseason, he would rather prepare for rigors of the 2017/18 campaign.“It was a tough decision for me,” he said. “But my knee injury during the playoffs, the long season in the NBA, the talks with the Jazz: I need to work on my body this summer. I am not leaving the project Team France.”