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Flip Saunders says he thinks Anthony Bennett can be part of Minnesota’s rotation

Aug 26, 2014, 12:54 AM EDT

Anthony Bennett Anthony Bennett

We wrote about Anthony Bennett out of summer League — he showed having lost weight, ready to crash the boards and do the dirty work. He looked like an NBA player. Not one who was going to live up to the No. 1 pick millstone around his neck, but a guy you could give 15 minutes a night to.

Flip Saunders sees it that way, too.

For good reason it’s been billed as the Andrew Wiggins/Kevin Love trade, but Minnesota coach and team president spoke to Sid Hartman at the Star Tribune about the other guy coming in from Cleveland in Bennett.

“You look at him and he was drafted, had shoulder surgery, did not practice at all during the summertime, missed training camp, came in during the year and was diagnosed with sleep apnea and other things,” Saunders said. “He has lost 25 pounds, he’s working hard to get in shape. He’s an NBA player. He’s a guy that’s going to be a rotation-type player.”

As for the addition of Thaddeus Young, not only can he play but they want Young to be Crash Davis to Wiggins’ Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh.

“The other thing is, going back I saw how [Kevin] Garnett developed, how [Stephon] Marbury developed, how [Wally] Szczerbiak developed, we always had mentors with those players. We had an older player that was playing, whether it was Sam Mitchell with Garnett, Terry Porter with Stephon — we always had somebody like that who that could show those guys what it is to be professional. Thaddeus Young is going to bring that for us, [point guard] Mo Williams is going to bring that for us. So I didn’t want to have all these young guys out there by themselves.”

Young is also an asset that can be flipped if contending or on the cusp of contending teams come calling.

Saunders did about as well out of this trade as could have been expected. He got a potential cornerstone piece in Wiggins. He got a quality veteran forward in Young. And if Bennett does become a rotation player, those are not all that easy to come by at his size.

  1. blogsk3tball - Aug 26, 2014 at 1:22 AM

    Flip should be in jail… He is an absolute thief for what he pulled off on this deal.

    • jeffkx - Aug 26, 2014 at 8:02 AM

      Yea Flip did quite well, especially if Bennett can at least do something. All teams did well in this trade.

    • av416 - Aug 26, 2014 at 9:51 AM

      I still just don’t understand why Wiggins was involved in this trade…Waiters, Bennett, a first and Thad still TROUNCES any offer that was out there. I totally get that you deal what’s necessary to get Kevin Love and provide Lebron the best chance to win now…but understand the market at which your playing in, if the Cavs truly understood the market for Kevin Love they would have kept Wiggins and would immediately have the most athletic wings in the history of the NBA, it’s nuts.

  2. money2long - Aug 26, 2014 at 1:51 AM

    What is the starting 5 going to look like?
    Who will be their 3 best bench guys?
    Can someone paint a picture for me ?

    • denverhoopdreams - Aug 26, 2014 at 9:19 AM

      Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, Corey Brewer, Thaddeus Young, Nikola Pekovic as starting 5? 3 Best Bench guys will probably be Levine, Barea, and Buddinger if Anthony Bennett doesn’t develop into someone different than he was last year.

      That’s just my guess.

      • tcstunner - Aug 26, 2014 at 2:42 PM

        Barea is a goner. Mo Williams will be the backup PG.

  3. campcouch - Aug 26, 2014 at 1:53 AM

    There wasn’t anybody in the 2013 draft worthy of the #1 status. Cleveland took a guy to fill a need at the time, that let the other teams grab who they wanted as well. His draft position had nothing to do with it. The Cavs probably would’ve taken him at 7 or 10 if they had to. I’m sure he’ll pan out for Minnesota. With his physical issues handled he looks like he’s ready to go.

  4. seasickcecil - Aug 26, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    A guy who could give you 15 minutes a night lol. You can have him: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2014/1/14/5305228/anthony-bennett-rookie-season-statistics-cleveland-cavaliers

  5. sportsfan18 - Aug 26, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    It isn’t Bennett’s fault he was selected #1 in the draft.

    Players aren’t in control of the name a team says on draft night.

    The millstone is not around his neck, but those of the executives who selected him #1 overall.

    Us fans routinely criticize and put players down in pro sports who don’t “live up” to being taken #1 overall.

    Well, they did not select themselves #1 overall.

    The blame needs to be put where it belongs and that is on the exec’s that select the wrong players #1.

  6. ProBasketballPundit - Aug 26, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    It’s curious how praise keeps getting heaped on Anthony Bennett this offseason yet the best thing anybody has to say about him is, “Hey, this guy can really be a rotation player for a bad team.”

  7. patfic5 - Aug 26, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    A number 1 pick on a guy who gives you 15 minutes a game? Pathetic.

  8. seasickcecil - Aug 26, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    I’m not going to argue about how good Kevin Love is because that has already been done enough times. But their is no way Minn. is going to trade Love for Waiters( who I actually like but now in 3rd year of his deal) bust Bennet and a draft pick that’s going to be outside of the lottery. I go with one of the other teams offers before I would do that.

  9. hauts81 - Aug 26, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    Terry Porter must have been a terrible mentor.

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