Minnesota Timberwolves land No. 1 pick in 2020 NBA Draft

Minnesota No. 1 pick
Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images
0 Comments

Minnesota has a No. 1 pick on the roster in Karl Anthony Towns. They had another in Andrew Wiggins but traded him for D'Angelo Russell.

They are about to add another top pick.

Minnesota, which had a 14% chance of landing the No. 1 pick, did just that — the Timberwolves won the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery.

The Golden State Warriors pick second (if they don’t trade the pick for more veteran help), and the Charlotte Hornets jumped up to third.

Landing the top pick gives Gersson Rosas — the man in charge of basketball operations now in Minnesota — a chance to add depth, and maybe a No. 3 option, around Towns and point guard D’Angelo Russell, who Minnesota just traded for this season.

That might make Anthony Edwards — the 6’5″ two guard out of Georgia the most likely No. 1 pick. He would fit a role and is at or near the top of most draft boards. Or, does Rosas fall in love with the potential — and the risks — of LaMelo Ball, who plays Russell’s position (but Russell is arguably better off the ball). Or, does he take James Wiseman, the best big man in the draft, but who plays Towns’ position.

Rosas emphasized he would take the most talented player, regardless of position.

Rosas enters some risky territory with the No. 1 pick. There is no clear-cut, Zion Williamson-like, lock top pick in this draft. Rosas knows better than to draft just for fit and need, he needs to get the most talented player on the board. But how can you decide who that is during a pandemic, with no conference tournaments, no NCAA Tournament, no in-person workouts, and less tape than most seasons?

“This is not about one year of scouting,” Rosas said. “We are fortunate our staff is very well versed with all these prospects.”

Here are the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery results and the order of picks through No. 14.

1. Minnesota Timberwolves
2. Golden State Warriors
3. Charlotte Hornets
4. Chicago Bulls
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
6. Atlanta Hawks
7. Detroit Pistons
8. New York Knicks
9. Washington Wizards
10. Phoenix Suns
11. San Antonio Spurs
12. Sacramento Kings
13. New Orleans Pelicans
14. Boston Celtics (via Memphis)

These teams will select players in what is considered an unimpressive draft class at the top, but with potential rotation players deep into the first round if teams have a good development program. One scout told NBC Sports he would be more comfortable picking in the second half of this lottery rather than at the top.

The Timberwolves, however, will happily take that No. 1 pick.

Some other notes from the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery:

• The Draft itself is scheduled for Oct. 16.

• However, it appears unlikely that free agency will begin two days later, as the league had scheduled initially, as part of a general move to start the season later.

“Dec. 1, now that we’re working through this season, is feeling a little bit early to me,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said on the draft lottery broadcast. “Our number one goal is to get fans back in our arenas. My sense is, working with the players’ association, if we could push back a little longer, and it increased the likelihood of having fans in arenas, that’s what we would be targeting.”

• Knicks fans watched their team slide down again (they finished with the sixth-worst record), but falling to No. 8 is not a crazy result, they had a 20.6% chance of this happening (one-in-five).

• With Boston getting Memphis’ pick at 14 this season, the Grizzlies keep their pick next season.

• Remember when Boston had roughly 2,347 future first-round picks stashed away? No longer, getting the Grizzlies’ pick at 14 means they are caught up on future draft picks. Looking at Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, they did alright with those picks.

Hawks trade Harkless, second-round pick to Thunder for Vit Krejci

0 Comments

The Atlanta Hawks just saved some money, getting under the luxury tax line. The Oklahoma City Thunder picked up a second-round pick for their trouble of taking on a contract.

The Hawks have traded Moe Harkless and a second-round pick to the Thunder for Vit Krejci the teams announced (Shams Charania of The Athletic was first).

This saves Atlanta a little over $3 million, which moves them from above the luxury tax line to $1.3 million below it. While the almighty dollar was the primary motivation in the ATL, the Hawks also pick up a development project. Krejci showed a little promise in his rookie season, appearing in 30 games and averaging 6.2 points plus 3.4 rebounds a night, before having his knee scoped in April.

Krejci was on the bubble of making the team in Oklahoma City, now the Thunder pick up a second-round pick for a guy they might have waived anyway.

Harkless, 29, is on an expiring $4.6 million contract, which fits nicely into the Disabled Player Exception the Thunder were granted for Chet Holmgren’s season-ending foot injury.

The Thunder are expected to waive Harkless and buy him out, making him a free agent. However, they could keep him and see if another trade could net them another second-round pick.

Lonzo Ball says ‘I can’t run’ or jump; Bulls’ Donovan has to plan for extended absence

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
0 Comments

Officially, Lonzo Ball will be out 4-6 weeks after getting his knee scoped this week.

However, this is his second surgery on his left knee this year — he had meniscus surgery in January, after which he was never able to return to the court — and there are concerns Ball could miss significant time again. And coach Billy Donovan has no choice but to plan for an extended absence.

Ball did a Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday and it’s hard to come away from what he said overly optimistic. Rob Schaefer reported on the call for NBC Sports Chicago:

“Literally, I really can’t run. I can’t run or jump. There’s a range from, like, 30 to 60 degrees when my knee is bent that I have, like, no force and I can’t, like, catch myself. Until I can do those things I can’t play,” Ball said. “I did rehab, it was getting better, but it was not to a point where I could get out there and run full speed or jump. So surgery is the next step.”

The symptoms are something Ball said he has never dealt with and have left doctors, in his words, “a little surprised.”

It’s never good when doctors are surprised. Ball said the doctors don’t see anything on the MRI, but there is clearly something wrong, so they are going in and looking to find the issue and fix it.

Ball has been diligent in his recovery work from the start, the problem was pain in his knee. Something was still not right after the first surgery. Whatever it is.

The 4-6 week timeline would have Ball back in early November, but you know they will be overly cautious with him after the past year. Coach Billy Donovan was honest — he has to plan for a season without Ball.

The Bulls need Ball in a deep and challenging East. He brings defense, pushes the pace in transition, and takes care of the rock. Chicago has other players who can do those things individually — Alex Caruso can defend, Coby White pushes in transition, Goran Dragic takes care of the ball — but the Bulls lack one player who can do all those things. At least they lack one until Ball returns.

Whenever that may be.

Deandre Ayton says he hasn’t spoken to coach Williams since Game 7

Phoenix Suns v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
0 Comments

In a Game 7 against the Mavericks last May, Suns coach Monty Williams benched center Deandre Ayton, who ended up playing just 17 minutes in an ugly, blowout loss for Phoenix. When asked about it after the game Williams said, “It’s internal.”

Ayton and Williams have not spoken since then, according to Ayton.

Yikes. Remember that includes a summer where the Suns would not offer Ayton a max contract extension so he went out and got one from the Pacers, then the Suns instantly matched it. Ayton did not sound thrilled to be back in Phoenix on Media Day, and he was rather matter-of-fact about dealing with his coach.

It’s what every fan wants to hear — “this is just my job.”

Reporters asked Williams about this and he played it off, saying he hasn’t spoken with a lot of players yet.

It’s just day one of training camp, but there are a lot of red flags around the Suns: owner Robert Sarver being suspended and selling the team, Jae Crowder not in camp waiting to be traded, and now not a lot of communication between the team’s star center and its coach.

Maybe it all amounts to nothing. Maybe the Suns get on the court, Chris Paul looks rejuvenated, Devin Booker looks like Devin Booker, and none of this matters. But what had looked like a stable situation not that long ago now has a lot of red flags flying heading into the season, and that has to concern Suns fans.

 

Report: Lakers would have traded both first-round picks for Irving, Mitchell

Utah Jazz v Brooklyn Nets
Matteo Marchi/Getty Images
0 Comments

“If you make that trade, it has to be the right one, you have one shot to do it,” Lakers GM Rob Pelinka said at media day, pulling back the curtain a little on his thinking of trading two first-round picks. “So we’re being very thoughtful around the decisions on when and how to use draft capital in a way that will improve our roster.”

That tracks with the consistent messaging out of Los Angeles all summer: The Lakers would only trade the only two first-round picks they fully control for the rest of this decade (2027 and 2029) for a deal that made them a contender.

That meant landing Kyrie Irving or Donovan Mitchell, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin said on The Hoop Collective Podcast.

“I’ve been told that had the Lakers been able to acquire, Kyrie Irving, or the Lakers been able to acquire Donovan Mitchell, either of those players, the Lakers were willing and able to move both those [first-round] picks to do it.”

The problem for the Lakers is the market price for elite talent has moved beyond two first-round picks. The Jazz got three unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027 and 2029) plus the rights to two pick swaps (2026 and 2028) in the Mitchell trade, not to mention three players: Lauri Markkanen (who they will try to trade for another pick), Collin Sexton, and Ochair Agbaji. The price for Kyrie Irving would have been at least as high, if the Nets really wanted to trade him.

The Lakers traded all of their young players and most of their picks to land Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, except for the ones they let walk away (Alex Caruso). Before he was judicious in making trades like he was this offseason, Pelinka made deals that backed him into this corner.

The Lakers likely could use both picks to acquire Buddy Hield and Myles Turner out of Indiana (sending Westbrook back), but that doesn’t make Los Angeles a contender (a playoff team, but not a title threat) and it messes with the plan to have around $30 million in cap space next summer to chase a big name.

The Lakers you see in training camp are the Lakers you get. At least for now.