The smoke around Wednesday night’s NBA Draft was still thick as of Monday.
The Timberwolves, who hold the top pick, have been acting like professionals in the art of misinformation — which is out of character considering the history of botched decisions by their ownership.
They’re still poker-faced on what they’ll do with No. 1. First it was believed they’d go for 7-1 James Wiseman, at least until rumors spread that the former Memphis center wanted nothing to do with them, allegedly feeling that the presence of Karl-Anthony Towns blocks his path to being a starter.
Then, as late as last week, the Timberwolves were linked to point guard LaMelo Ball. But that seems less likely when you break down the roster and see the commitment they’ve made to D’Angelo Russell as their combo guard.
That leaves the player whom many initially felt would be the No. 1 pick in a very underwhelming draft: Georgia scoring machine Anthony Edwards.
When future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade comes out and says you can be better than he was (“America here is your number 1 pick!’), it certainly doesn’t hurt, but Edwards just makes sense for the Timberwolves. He’s an explosive shooting guard who can score from long range, mid-range and at the rim, and he would bring toughness to one of the most mentally ques-tionable rosters in the NBA.
He wasn’t suspended from college, like Wiseman was, or part of the Big Baller Brand chaos that followed Ball. He has warts in his game, like most in this draft class, but he’s move-in-ready for the Timberwolves’ starting lineup.
Sure, they could always trade down — and that’s looking increasingly possible, with several teams rumored to be willing to move up for Ball.
And that’s why there’s so much smoke. Depending on what they do, the Timberwolves could completely alter the landscape when it comes to the next few picks — including the Bulls’ No. 4.
The Warriors sit at No. 2, locking in on Wiseman, but they also could trade down for a team coveting Ball if he’s not taken first overall.
Then come the Hornets, who miss on far more draft picks than they hit on. Do they grab Ball? He’s the best fit there if no team jumps up for a trade, but does Hornets owner Michael Jordan want to deal with LaMelo’s father, LaVar Ball, who claimed a few years ago that he would have beaten Jordan one-on-one?
Which brings us to the Bulls at No. 4. Veteran Otto Porter Jr. has done the expected, letting the team know he will opt in for $28.4 million this coming season, but when he walks next summer, there will be a huge vacancy at small forward. Israeli and EuroLeague player Deni Avdija is the obvious replacement to draft if the Bulls want to go the offensive, play-making route. Or there’s Auburn product Isaac Okoro if they want to grab the best defensive-minded forward.
There’s also growing speculation the Bulls will trade down and draft former Florida State forward Patrick Williams or former Iowa State combo guard Tyrese Haliburton, but don’t rule out Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls’ new executive vice president of basketball operations, getting aggressive and trading with the Warriors to land Ball if he’s available at No. 2.
A source confirmed the Bulls skipped Ball’s latest workout, but that means little in the draft intel department. Two years ago, the Bulls privately confirmed they were going after Ball’s older brother, Lonzo, and the film on LaMelo is already beyond dissected across the NBA.
So skipping a workout? It’s posturing — or just more smoke.