27 Jun 2003 09:08:26
Rickert is mercy pick for Wolves


In their first 14 drafts, the Timberwolves have made a few good draft
choices, a lot of bad draft choices and a number of inconsequential
ones. They have made choices based on need, and on longterm upside.

On Thursday night, the Wolves entered new territory.

For the first time, they made a choice based on mercy.

The Wolves selected Minnesota's own Rick Rickert.

This was after they had taken a 19-year high-school kid in round one.
This was after not one, but two, players from Poland had been
selected. This was 22 picks later than a Division II North Dakota
player had been taken. This was after 54 other players had been

You could see it in the face of Kevin McHale. The Wolves took Rickert
because, well, by the time you get to pick No. 55, a team has nothing
to lose anyway.

And the Wolves took Rickert because McHale knew that the kid was in
some tall building somewhere in New York City, and the Wolves chief
brain wizard probably didn't want Rickert to get any stupid ideas.

It had to be humbling enough for a player who came to the Gophers
program as a sure-thing first-round NBA draft pick, maybe even a
lottery pick, to sit and stare at the TV screen and see teams pass on
him over and over again.

It was clear that McHale did not want to see the kid never hear his
name called at all. Even if now it means that if he doesn't make the
roster, it will be his home-state team that rejects him.

So the Wolves made him their mercy choice. Then they immediately
switched from compassion to tough, tough love. Flip Saunders said that
the kid could either hang his head and pout or go out and work harder
than he ever has before.