Ebi surprised by Wolves seeking NBDL waiver

Updated: October 21, 2005, 7:19 PM ET
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves are petitioning the NBA for an exception that would allow them to send third-year pro Ndudi Ebi to the NBDL, something that came as a surprise to Ebi.

Ndudi Edi
Edi

"I'm not a development league player. I'm an NBA player," Ebi said Friday after practice. "I've been playing against NBA players since I was 15 years old. I'm an NBA player. I'm not a developmental league player, period."

Entering his third season in the NBA, Ebi is not eligible under a new rule that allows teams to assign players with less than two years of experience to the NBDL.

The Timberwolves are hoping that the league would allow the 21-year-old Ebi, who was drafted in the first round in 2003 straight out of high school, to be "grandfathered in."

"That's a great word for it," new coach Dwane Casey said. "This kid needs to play. He's a talented athlete. He needs to get a feel for the game with bodies out there and how to navigate those players."

Ebi has played in just 19 games in his two seasons, including only two last year. He looked impressive in one of them, scoring 18 points against San Antonio in the final game of the year.

He hasn't seen much playing time this preseason either, averaging less than 4.0 minutes and 3.0 points in three games.

We're trying to see if it's a possibility. This kid needs to play. He's a talented athlete. He needs to get a feel for the game with bodies out there and how to navigate those players.
Wolves coach Dwayne Casey on Ndudi Ebi

"It's premature to speculate on whether Ndudi is truly a candidate for this type of option," Ebi's agent, Dan Fegan, told The Associated Press. "But the spirit of the rule, on both sides of the table, was to help younger players get an opportunity to develop. Ndudi wants to be a good teammate and good part of the organization and is willing explore the options that will help him do that."

Casey, general manager Jim Stack and vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale think a stint in the D-league, where he would get much more playing time, would help Ebi develop.

"We're just looking at options, there's nothing wrong with that," Casey said. "We're trying to see if it's a possibility. This kid needs to play. He's a talented athlete. He needs to get a feel for the game with bodies out there and how to navigate those players."

The biggest mistake the Timberwolves may have made was letting news of their proposal slip out before discussing it with Ebi.

McHale declined comment on Friday and Casey apologized for not informing Ebi sooner, saying he wasn't surprised at Ebi's initial resistance.

"No player should expect themselves to be a D-league player. I'd be very disappointed with any player who was jumping up and down saying, 'Hey, I want to go to the D-league.' That's not to be unexpected."

As upset as Ebi was, he said he would need time to think about how he would take such a proposition, if it comes.

"I've been doing this for a long time, but if that's how they feel, that's how they feel," Ebi said. "A lot of guys in my position would go crazy right now. But I know what I can do. My confidence is still the same.

"If that's what they want to do, I respect their decision. Basketball's a business, I understand that."

Casey said no decision has been made yet on whether Ebi will make the roster, even though his $800,000 salary is guaranteed this season, or if they would assign him to the D-league if that is an option.

"We haven't got to that bridge yet," Casey said. "At least I haven't."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press