Timberwolves Thought Drafting Kobe Bryant in 1996 ‘Would Be Too Much’

by March 26, 2015

A devastating Kobe Bryant-Kevin Garnett duo was nearly formed in Minnesota 19 years ago, but in their infinite wisdom, the Timberwolves got cold feet.

Head coach and team president Flip Saunders says the organization considered nabbing young Kobe in the 1996 NBA Draft with the fifth overall pick, but worried about pairing him with a second-year KG.


Per the LA Daily News:

What would have happened had the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Kobe Bryant fifth overall in the 1996 NBA Draft? That would have paired Bryant along with Kevin Garnett, two high school phenoms who eventually morphed into future Hall of Famers. Instead, Minnesota selected Ray Allen and traded him to Milwaukee for Stephon Marbury.


“We teetered on the idea of getting another one because we had success with KG,” Saunders said before the Lakers’ 101-99 overtime win over the Timberwolves on Wednesday at Target Center. “But we kind of thought it would be too much having two of those guys who were young at that time and still in the process of developing KG as a young player.” […] Neither Bryant (right shoulder) nor Garnett (sore left knee) played in Wednesday’s game in what could have been the second-to-last matchup before Garnett’s possible final season in a storied 19-year NBA career.


But Saunders’ most definitive memory of Bryant and Garnett took place when he coached them in the 2004 NBA All-Star game. […] “Kobe was picking guys up at 94 feet,” Saunders said. “That’s his competitiveness and nature in wanting to win and play. KG is the same way. As long as they love playing the game, they’re going to keep on playing.”