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The Finale, Player Exit Interviews, Flip wanted Billups?

Felt like writing.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight's game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves has playoff and draft lottery implications.

The Wolves would retain sole possession of the NBA's worst record with a loss; this would give them a 64.3% shot at a top-3 pick and a 25% shot at the #1 overall selection.

Oklahoma City must win tonight to keep postseason aspirations alive but are depending on San Antonio to defeat New Orleans. It would be their sixth consecutive playoff appearance. If the Wolves win tonight--or if New Orleans beats San Antonio--Oklahoma City will be eliminated from postseason contention.


As part of the Kevin Love trade last summer the Wolves sent the Miami's 1st round pick to Philadelphia (via Cleveland) in exchange for Thaddeus Young. You obviously remember Young was dealt to Brooklyn for Kevin Garnett back in March.

Miami will keep their first round pick in the upcoming draft unless they finish outside of the top-10 at the lottery, in which case the pick would go to Philadelphia. That pick is protected for selections 1-10 in 2015 and 1-10 in 2016 and unprotected in 2017.

Miami faces Philadelphia on the road tonight, but has no shot at the playoffs after yesterday's loss to Indiana. (Miami will probably rest key cogs in an effort to keep their first rounder.)

If Philadelphia or Brooklyn (vs. Orlando) wins tonight, Miami will finish with the 10th-worst record and thus would have a 91% chance at keeping said draft pick. If Miami wins and Brooklyn loses these two enter a tie for the 10th- and 11th-worst record. The winner of an ensuing coin flip between these clubs would have a 17.8% shot at the 10th pick, leaving the loser a 17.7% chance at the 11th selection.

Exit Interviews

A few of the Wolves spoke with media--a larger turnout than usual, as can be expected--after shootaround this morning. Because this is the last day of the season, the feeling is that every player is expected to be made available, which is easier said than done. Today was not like Media Day, or the fair, where a show was made of what was happening.

It's as if kids who hadn't been showing up to class all semester came to take the final test, more or less. (Some of us know what it's like to have been there before.)

"What's up everybody?" Kevin Garnett asked, walking past the group of oncoming heads who had just been let in the arena. Nobody really answered. He did not stay and chat.

Wolves PR corralled Chase Budinger first.

"Right now I'm under contract for next year," Budinger explained.

"My plan is to be back here next year."


"That's a great move for him," Andrew Wiggins said of Tyus Jones' decision to leave Duke in pursuit of an NBA career.

"He accomplished the main goal in college, and that's to win a national championship, and he's a great point guard. I know he'll be great in the league."

The reporter followed by asking Wiggins if he had any advice for Jones, a graduate of Apple Valley High School.

"Just put in the work."

Wiggins plans to compete with Team Canada at the upcoming Pan American Games. He's not worried about running out of juice and says he'll get 'a lot of rest' in the offseason. Wiggins was in usual form--giving strictly correct answers--and at this point these guys understand the 'game' that is media Q&A scrums. 
Then there's Zach LaVine. He seems to say more than his teammates, and does not lack confidence. At all. Like Wiggins--and this likely because of their age--Lavine's words written and read appear harsher than when said out loud.

"I mean, yea." LaVine answered unsurprisingly, when asked if he should make the All Rookie team.

You know I'm a cocky person, so, I mean, I always think I should be there, but you know, that's up for the media to decide.


Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post in this column reported that Chauncey Billups was 'enticed by Flip Saunders to join the Wolves last year as an associate head coach, with the understanding Billups would become head coach in 2015-16.'

I wonder if the Wolves would go through this process with Mike Malone, if there is even any traction there. Malone is said to be interested in the coaching vacancy down in Orlando. This doesn't surprise one local head, who brought up a good point in that Malone is probably interested in any of the available head coaching jobs--Darren Wolfson claims Denver is the team to watch.

In an article on this website I backed Malone as a qualified candidate to someday coach the Wolves. However, I could be swayed otherwise if he isn't picked up by another team sometime over the next few weeks. He's been unemployed for a while, and that's fine (Sacramento might still be sending him checks) but I would lose confidence in Malone if he isn't picked up soon.

Another question: Could Saunders feel differently about coaching now that he's spent a full season in the proverbial trenches. This is a question that Bill Bohl wrote about months ago.

I imagine walking away wouldn't be easy, but Saunders really wouldn't be venturing all that far away, either.


That's it. I felt like typin' words about the Wolves and this is what happened. I'll leave some music.