The newest rookie with the Minnesota Timberwolves won’t play in the NBA Summer League, but Jarrett Culver finally got to meet some of his teammates over the weekend in Las Vegas.
After nearly two weeks of having to keep silent, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ new front office leader could finally talk on Saturday about his first round draft choice. Gersson Rosas traded Dario Saric and the No. 11 pick in the first round to the Phoenix Suns for the No. 6 pick.
pen to paper 🖊 pic.twitter.com/ZhmEjCNH6p— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) July 8, 2019
They chose Culver, a guard who had visited the Twin Cities in April. He helped lead Texas Tech to the national championship game at U.S. Bank Stadium, an overtime loss to Virginia.
The trade couldn’t become official until July 6, and the Wolves made the signing official on Monday. Culver is working out with his new teammates in Las Vegas, but won’t play in any games at the NBA Summer League. Team officials said he will practice and take part in team activities. The Wolves are 2-0 so far in Summer League action.
Rosas did something the Timberwolves don’t often accomplish in the NBA Draft: Trading up. The cost, other than the No. 11 pick, was Saric.
”It costs you to make moves, it costs you to move up in the draft and Dario Saric is a very talented player, a guy that we valued in our program and in our system. But you’ve got to give up value and talent to get value and talent, and we were very excited at the prospects of being able to move up to acquire Jarrett,” Rosas said.
Culver averaged 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game in 38 games for the Red Raiders last season. He was named the Big 12 Player of the Year. He scored 15 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had five assists in Texas Tech’s overtime loss to Virginia in the national title game.
Culver was named to the Final Four All-Tournament Team and was a Second Team All-American. He was also the first Texas Tech player to score at least 1,000 career points in just two seasons. He scored 415 points as a freshman, second-most in program history.
He said on draft night he’s excited for the challenge ahead.
“I feel great about it honestly. I’m very excited to play in the league, play in the NBA and also play for Minnesota. I feel really confident and I just feel like I can come in and make an impact,” Culver said. “I’m just looking forward to getting to know everybody, knowing the coaching staff and everybody over there better.”
Since Culver was drafted, the Wolves have had plenty of changes to the roster. Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson departed in free agency, and the team is likely to part with Minnesota native Tyus Jones. The point guard is a restricted free agent and was offered a three-year, $28 million deal from the Memphis Grizzlies. The Wolves have 48 hours to match the offer, which is asking a lot for a back-up point guard, or move on.
The Wolves also signed forward Noah Vonleh in free agency, and acquired forward Jake Layman from the Portland Trail Blazers in a sign-and-trade.
Minnesota was also involved in the trade for D'Angelo Russell, just not the way they preferred. They acquired guards Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham from the Golden State Warriors, who needed to make financial room to land Russell.
In Culver, the Wolves get a capable scorer and an athlete who competes on the defensive end. He often told Texas Tech coach Chris Beard to put him on the opponent’s best offensive player.
“A prototypical, two-way, play-making wing in the NBA is super valuable. We feel like we got our hands on one in the draft,” Rosas said.
He can play multiple positions at his size, and he can guard multiple spots on the floor. The ceiling is high, but it will take some time for Culver’s game to translate to the professional level.
Culver will have plenty of time to get acclimated with his new teammates before they start training camp. He just wants to get to work.
“There’s a lot to like in Jarrett. His defense and versatility, ability to finish around the basket. He has a high IQ,” Rosas said.