T-wolves jump in for Dillingham and draft exonerated Shannon, after Blazers go big with Clingan

Published 6:44 am Thursday, June 27, 2024

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The Minnesota Timberwolves were committed to keeping their core together, coming off a trip to the Western Conference finals and in no position to enhance the roster through free agency or trades.

They got that done in the NBA draft Wednesday night, jumping in to get Kentucky guard Rob Dillingham after a trade with San Antonio for the eighth overall pick and finishing a productive first round by selecting Illinois guard Terrence Shannon Jr. at No. 27.

Seeking more scoring off the bench, particularly through shot creation and a faster pace of play, the Timberwolves found a promising backup point guard in Dillingham without giving up any current assets and snagged a dynamic scorer in Shannon with the pick they started the draft with.

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The trade two years ago for Rudy Gobert depleted their supply of future first-round picks, and high-dollar contracts for Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and the others on down has thrust the Timberwolves well above the salary cap and deep into the luxury tax.

“We think we have a chance. We’re at the big table, so it’s not time to get scared now,” president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said. “I don’t how we can add this level of talent via trades unless we want to give up core guys.”

For Dillingham, who’s still 19, the Timberwolves agreed to send a 2031 first-round draft pick and make a swap of first-rounders in 2030 with the Spurs, who had a pick to burn for future resources after taking UConn’s Stephon Castle at No. 4.

Despite being undersized at 6-foot-1 and 164 pounds, Dillingham is a proven scorer with an average of 15.2 points in 23.3 minutes per game for the Wildcats. He shot 44.4% from 3-point range.

“He’s a guy who, from day one, is going to have a role and a responsibility. Certainly it’s going to be hard for him, but I don’t think you’re that aggressive in the top 10 with a guy you don’t think can play right away,” Connelly said.

Shannon’s stellar final season with the Illini — he was the MVP of the Big Ten Tournament, among other accolades — was overshadowed by a pending rape charge in Kansas. He was found not guilty two weeks ago after a jury spent less than two hours deliberating the verdict.

The Portland Trail Blazers went big — literally, with the selection of Donovan Clingan from two-time national champion Connecticut at No. 7 overall. The 7-foot-2 shot-altering stud averaged 13 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game last season for the Huskies, expanding his offensive skills to complement his dominant defense.

Clingan dedicated his night to his mother, Stacey Clingan, who died of breast cancer at age 42 in 2018.

“I’ve got my mom over here on my side at all times,” Clingan said. “She’s looking down at me. She’s smiling, and I know she’s proud.”
Other draft details across the Northwest Division: