The pandemic-related delays in the NBA calendar have added close to five months of additional time to an already highly speculative draft process.
Teams have had countless opportunities to think through — and rethink — what they are going to do. But it’s hard to imagine they have gleaned a whole lot of additional information with that extra time, given that the players they would like to be evaluating haven’t played at all since March.
That is the backdrop for what should be a unique and interesting draft, one that finally arrives Wednesday night.
With that in mind, here is an attempt to catch you up on what we already know and what is being reported — both in terms of the Wolves, who have the No. 1 overall pick in addition to holding No. 17 and No. 33, and the NBA overall, which is in the midst of a flurry of blockbuster deals in a compressed offseason.
So, what’s the latest on the Wolves?
Wolves chatter has become more scarce in recent days, which — counterintuitively, I know — is often a sign that something is about to happen. The Jimmy Butler trade a couple years ago, for instance, popped during a period of prolonged silence after a flurry of rumors flew initially.
In this case, we know Minnesota has to do something by tonight. The most persistent trade rumbling has the Wolves dealing the top pick to Charlotte for the No. 3 overall pick plus a player — perhaps someone like Miles Bridges, a 22-year-old small forward who averaged 13 points last season and still has two seasons left on his rookie deal.
Wolves executives have kept their thinking very internal, which is the best way to maximize leverage. But center James Wiseman, a likely top three pick, does not seem to be in their plans. If they do take him at the top of the draft tonight, it will almost certainly signal a trade is coming.
Betting markets are of little help, too. Though they have swung in the direction of both Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball being the top pick, particularly if the Wolves keep it, the odds are now pretty much split on either being the No. 1 overall choice.
Edwards, Jim Souhan argues, is the safest pick. Ball has perhaps more upside but figuring out how he fits with D’Angelo Russell would be a bigger challenge.
In short: Anything can happen with the Wolves tonight. You’ll just have to watch at 7 p.m. to find out.
What about the rest of the NBA?
Hoo boy. Where do we start?
*The Bucks have already signaled their intention to go all-in (and a bid to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo) with a blockbuster trade to acquire guard Jrue Holiday from New Orleans.
*The Suns acquired Chris Paul from Oklahoma City, which probably ends any Wolves dreams (if they weren’t dashed already) of acquiring Devin Booker from Phoenix.
*The Rockets are on the verge of breaking up their core, with deals for both James Harden and Russell Westbrook being considered. Harden might wind up on the Nets, which would give them an interesting and formidable Big Three and reunite Harden with Kevin Durant (plus pair him in a backcourt with Kyrie Irving).
If the Nets make that move, they might need to clear some other salary and roster spots — and the Wolves could benefit from that, given that Brooklyn has some interesting complementary pieces on its roster that could match well in a trade.
*Several other deals for draft picks have already been announced. You can count on a lot more emerging between now and the end of Wednesday.
Buckle up. It’s going to be a fun night. But get your rest Thursday. Because free agency starts Friday.