Timberwolves can't pass on Duke's Kyrie Irving

There were wide-eyed looks around the NBA when
Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn conducted his
first draft for the team in 2009 and chose three point guards in the
first round.

Jonny Flynn is the only player among those three still on the
Wolves’ roster, and his name likely will be removed sometime during the
offseason. Two years after Kahn’s infatuation with point guards, the
Wolves are in the same predicament: trying to find a skilled playmaker
who can run the offense and be a spark for the team’s perimeter defense.

The Wolves could be in a much better position to solve this issue
after finishing with the league’s worst record (17-64), which gives
them the highest probability of landing the No. 1 pick in the May 18 NBA
draft lottery.

Duke point guard Kyrie Irving is regarded as the top prospect in
the June 24 draft, despite playing only 11 games as a freshman because
of a toe injury. Many college basketball experts believe the 19-year-old
Irving is still worthy of being a No. 1 pick. He declared for the draft
last week and plans to hire an agent, prohibiting his return to Duke.

"If you’re in the market for an elite point guard, he’s the one,"
ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said of Irving. "If you have
the No. 1 pick, you have to take him for the long haul, especially since
it’s tough to get a point guard in free agency. I appreciate the value
of a point guard. So many NBA teams are thinking the same way."

The Wolves thought they had solved their point guard
troubles in 2009 when Kahn took Ricky Rubio at No. 5, Flynn at No. 6 and
Ty Lawson at No. 18. Lawson, a North Carolina standout, never made it
to Minnesota. Kahn traded him to Denver on draft night for a first-round
pick that was packaged last June with Ryan Gomes to bring Martell
Webster from Portland.

Rubio has yet to decide if he will exercise a $1 million buyout this
summer to leave Regal FC Barcelona and join the Wolves next season. His
decision could be held up by the threat of a lockout because of failed
collective bargaining talks between the league and players union.

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