See which team is going hard after Pau Gasol

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See which team is going hard after Pau Gasol

From Comcast SportsNet
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves are pulling out all the stops in an effort to land Pau Gasol. If they have to part with the highest draft choice in franchise history after just one season, the Wolves appear ready to do it. That much became clear leading up to the NBA draft on Thursday, when Minnesota offered Derrick Williams to the Charlotte Bobcats for the No. 2 pick as a vehicle to help them land Gasol from the Los Angeles Lakers, two people with knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press. The deal never came together before the draft began, and the Bobcats stayed at No. 2 and took Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The people requested anonymity because the talks were meant to remain private. The Timberwolves were expected to continue their pursuit of Gasol in hopes of putting him with fellow Spaniard Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love on a revamped roster aimed at getting the team back to the playoffs, and beyond, for the first time since 2004. The Wolves' interest in Gasol has long been rumored, with the highly skilled big man considered an ideal fit for coach Rick Adelman's corner offense, and the kind of playoff-tested veteran needed on one of the youngest rosters in the NBA. He is also close friends with Rubio, the Wolves' superb young point guard who is recovering from a torn ACL and hopes to be ready early next season. Gasol has teamed with Kobe Bryant to win three titles in Los Angeles, but has always seemed to catch the brunt of the criticism when things went wrong. That was the case again this year when he averaged just 12.5 points along with 9.5 rebounds in the playoffs, and the Lakers were abruptly eliminated in the second round by the younger, quicker Oklahoma City Thunder. He often appeared to get lost in the shuffle while Bryant and Andrew Bynum got most of the touches on offense. He was the subject of trade rumors all season, starting before it began when Commissioner David Stern, operating as owner of the New Orleans Hornets, nixed a deal that would have sent Gasol to Houston as part of a package that would have brought Chris Paul to the Lakers. "It has been a crazy year and a lot to deal with. ... Unfortunately, we had tough losses and things didn't really go our way for the most part," the four-time All-Star said at the end of the season. "You just have to regroup and digest this loss and this season, and learn from it and move on." Gasol is due to make more than 38 million over the next two seasons, an enormous sum that the salary cap-strapped Lakers might have difficulty footing under the harsher luxury tax penalties that are scheduled to kick in in 2013. Love's max contract extension kicks in next season, making him the only Timberwolves player who is expected to be on the roster next season making more than 4.6 million. If the Wolves buy out Martell Webster and decline to tender qualifying offers to Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph, as expected, they should have plenty of cap room for Gasol. But if they want to bring him in to play alongside Love in the frontcourt, it likely will come at a hefty price. Offering Williams, the second overall pick last season who showed promise and inconsistency in his rookie year, means the Wolves would be giving up on him after just one season. And at just 21 years old, Williams has plenty of potential to grow into the star that many projected him to be when he entered the draft after his sophomore season at Arizona. Gasol will turn 32 next week and has played nearly 39,000 minutes in his career, raising the question if he has enough gas left in the tank to help turn the Timberwolves from an up-and-coming team into a legitimate contender. Williams is aware that the Wolves are trying to deal him, but it's unclear how he will respond if he is still on the team when training camp begins. He averaged 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds and was the only Timberwolves player to play in all 66 games last season. Williams had several big games during an up-and-down year in addition to participating in the slam dunk contest during All-Star weekend. He scored 27 points in 27 minutes in a win over the Clippers in Los Angeles on Feb. 28 and had 27 points and eight boards in a loss at Denver on April 11. But the 66-year-old Adelman has been pushing for the franchise to add more veterans, and he grew impatient at times with Williams last season. Williams did most of his damage while playing power forward, which is the same position played by Love, who blossomed last year into a surprising MVP contender. With Love playing so many minutes at power forward, the Timberwolves were hoping Williams could drop some weight this summer to help him become quick enough to play small forward for the majority of the time. Earlier this week, Kahn said that Williams was already down to 233 pounds, with a personal goal of 225. "I think the most important fact about Derrick to me is that he turned 21 last month. He's still very, very young," Kahn said on Wednesday. "This is a very important summer for him to demonstrate if he's serious about his craft, his occupation, that he's serious about himself. This is the offseason. I challenged him in his exit interview, and I'm eager to see the results of this summer." But Kahn also declined to list Williams with Rubio and Love as "untouchable" players when the team considers trades this summer. "We have two untouchables," Kahn said. "That doesn't mean everyone else will be traded this summer. We just don't know."

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The 5 must-see moments from Wizards' loss to Spurs

The 5 must-see moments from Wizards' loss to Spurs

Here are the five moments from Friday night's Wizards loss to the San Antonio Spurs that are worth revisiting...

1. Bradley Beal fell down, but got right back up to put in a monster dunk in the first half:

2. The Wizards had two points taken off the scoreboard after a review at the end of the third quarter. The play that was reversed happened with 3:45 left in the third:

3. Beal sank an and-1 and was crazy fired up after it went in:

4. Wall found Beal for a huge three-pointer with just under a minute left to play:

5. Wall drained a tough layup with 11.2 seconds left to tie the game at 105-105. Unfortunately for the Wizards, Kawhi Leonard would answer right back on the next play:

For more on the Wizards' loss, read J. Michael's recap.

[RELATED: No timetable for Ian Mahinmi return]

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Takeaways from Wizards' 17th consecutive road loss at Spurs

Takeaways from Wizards' 17th consecutive road loss at Spurs

The Wizards whiffed on a chance to win at the Oklahoma City Thunder for the first time in their last game. They also came close to beating the San Antonio Spurs for the first time on their home floor since 1999 on Friday night, but could not seal it and are now 0-2 on this three-game road trip. 

The Wizards led by 11 points in the first half, lost it by the end of the third quarter but came back to cut the deficit to 96-95. The Wizards fell in overtime to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, a game they had in hand in regulation. 

The Spurs appeared headed to an easy finish with a 94-85 lead until a 10-2 run put the Wizards one point back with 3:35 left and but they weren't able to close it out. They did tie the score at 100 in the final 80 seconds.

Marcin Gortat (21 points, 18 rebounds) had his best game of the season followed by John Wall (17 points, 15 assists) and Bradley Beal (23 points). Otto Porter (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Markieff Morris (12 points) rounded out the starters in double figures. 

The Spurs were led by Kawhi Leonard (23 points), LaMarcus Aldridge (19 points) and Pau Gasol (19 points, 10 rebounds).

--The Wizards went at Gasol, who at his advanced age can be a step slow. They also wisely attacked the feet of David Lee when he showed on pick-and-rolls to help. The result was Gortat’s double-double by halftime and the Wizards having a 50-30 edge in the paint.

--Tony Parker (rest) was 8 of 13 and key in the Spurs’ win in the first meeting. Nicola Laprovittola provided a much easier matchup. When Wall got into the paint, a big had to provide help and he dropped the ball off to Gortat for easy finishes or he’d be in position to clean up missed shots off the help.

--Ginobili came off the bench and sparked the Spurs with a pair of key plays in the third. A saved ball going out of bounds by Aldridge was snatched by Ginobili who kept it from being a backcourt violation and led to a basket. Then Ginobili made Wall pay for gambling with a drive and layup to tie the score at 71 at 4:09.

-- Gortat’s individual defense had been a strength for him the last two games. In this one, he made an impact with his help by rotating and forcing misses at the rim to cover for the backcourt. Gortat had two blocks.

-- Jason Smith put forth his best game of the season on both ends. His reverse layup in traffic to keep the Wizards ahead by four late in the third, but he knocked down open shots and was able to match up well with Lee.

[RELATED: Difficult to predict when Ian Mahinmi returns to Wizards from latest injury]