Thunder, Wolves swap veteransOKLAHOMA CITY — The Minnesota Timberwolves picked up point guard Chucky Atkins from Oklahoma City on Monday in exchange for veteran center Etan Thomas and four second-round draft picks next year.
By: JEFF LATZKE , The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Minnesota Timberwolves picked up point guard Chucky Atkins from Oklahoma City on Monday in exchange for veteran center Etan Thomas and four second-round draft picks next year.
Minnesota also got Oklahoma City guard Damien Wilkins in the deal. Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn, who has been busy reshaping the roster he inherited from Kevin McHale, said the swap gives the team flexibility when it comes to the roster.
Thomas spent less than a month with the Timberwolves. The Tulsa native came over from Washington in the trade that eventually landed unsigned No. 5 overall draft pick Ricky Rubio in Minnesota. The Wolves also drafted another point guard, Jonny Flynn, with the sixth pick.
Since then, Kahn has shipped Sebastian Telfair — the only remaining veteran point guard on the roster — to the Clippers along with Mark Madsen and Craig Smith to get Quentin Richardson in a deal based almost solely on finances.
Atkins, a 10-year veteran, could replace Telfair as a much-needed mentor to the young point guards. He could also provide depth if Rubio, who has an enormous buyout clause in his contract with DKV Joventut, is forced to remain in Spain instead of playing for the Timberwolves this season.
Thunder general manager Sam Presti has spent the last two weeks shedding veterans who played diminishing minutes late last season. He waived veteran point guard Earl Watson earlier this month and now Thomas, 31, replaces the 34-year-old Atkins as the Thunder’s oldest player.
The moves combine to give Oklahoma City more balance on their roster, which had been guard heavy.
“We see this as an opportunity to add some defensive mentality and some experience to our frontcourt, and we’re excited to have Etan as part of our roster moving forward,” Presti said.
Presti has also stockpiled five picks in next year’s draft. This trade brought over Minnesota’s second-round pick and whichever of the Timberwolves’ other three second-round picks ends up last. The Thunder also have two first-round picks and their own second-round selection.
Thomas, who played at Booker T. Washington High School, will have a chance to play in his hometown Oct. 14 when the Thunder play Miami in a preseason game at Tulsa’s BOK Center.
Wilkins, meanwhile, will be making a belated move to Minnesota nearly four years after nearly joining the Timberwolves. Wilkins signed an offer sheet with the Timberwolves in 2005, but the SuperSonics — who later moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder — matched the offer for the restricted free agent and kept him.
The way Kahn is wheeling and dealing this summer, there’s no telling how long Wilkins will be on the roster. Like Thomas, Wilkins and Atkins have expiring contracts.