NBA rumors: Hornets interested in trading up for James Wiseman

More on No. 1 pick

Those sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to represent their teams publicly. Both sources work for teams with top-10 draft picks.
The Minnesota Timberwolves will come up with a handful of trade scenarios, but they could have a tough time finding the right partner. The level of interest in Anthony Edwards isn't overwhelming, and point-guard-needy teams hoping for LaMelo Ball don't seem to have the right assets for a trade. Most scouts and executives we've spoken with believe that Ball would have the edge if Minnesota stays put. Sources also tell Bleacher Report that the Wolves like Obi Toppin, but it's unclear if they'd be willing to take him at No. 1.
Not every NBA evaluator loves LaMelo Ball, whose shooting and professionalism have been questioned by some around the league, even if they still have him at or near the top of their board. And not everyone trusts Anthony Edwards' style and impact or sees James Wiseman's upside or value in today's NBA. Sources tell B/R the Minnesota Timberwolves are high on Toppin. The question is whether they'd be willing to take him first overall or if they'd only draft the big man out of Dayton in a trade-down scenario.
Multiple NBA front office members told B/R they feel they can mask Toppin's defensive weaknesses by playing him at center, where he won't guard as much around the perimeter and can still use his athleticism for shot-blocking at the rim. Toppin's age (22) has also rarely come up as a deterrent. Teams sound persuaded by his offense, which is something the Timberwolves (No. 24 in offensive rating), Hawks (No. 25), Cavaliers (No. 26), Hornets (No. 28) and Bulls (No. 29) could obviously use.
When it comes to where the Wolves are headed, Saunders said the team is in a great position with the Nos. 1, 17 and 33 picks in the NBA draft, which will be held on Nov. 18. But so far, they cannot do in-person workouts. “Can’t do any of that. It has been a lot of Zoom meetings and interviews and then just evaluating,” Saunders said. “We do a lot of work, and we have a number of people in this organization, [assistant general manager] Gianluca Pascucci, he does a lot of work with our draft. These guys are putting together a great plan and a great step-by-step process to what we’ll do.”
Why so much uncertainty? First and foremost, there is not a singular talent in this draft. Teams are all over the map in terms of who they like at the top. In that vein, the Timberwolves are doing due diligence on all of the top prospects. That also includes Ball, Anthony Edwards, and, yes, James Wiseman, despite the presence of Karl-Anthony Towns. I don’t think they’ll ultimately go the direction of Wiseman — hence why he’s not the pick here — but they’ve done enough work into him to where it would be wrong to totally take him off the table despite the positional overlap, per sources. Ultimately, though, this is kind of the issue for the Wolves. None of the three players who most executives consider to have the highest upside in this class particularly fit with the Wolves.
Isaac Okoro says he deserves to be the top overall pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 18. “Yes, I feel I should be the No. 1 pick because I go out every game and I compete and I give 100 percent effort,” Okoro said Saturday in an exclusive interview from Auburn, where he has been training. “I’m just willing to do whatever any coaches want me to do, so I feel like me bringing a winning culture I should be the No. 1 pick.”
Omar Cooper, Okoro’s agent, said “every team in the NBA has reached out for Isaac Okoro,” including the Timberwolves. “I could see myself fitting in there, playing with D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns,” Okoro said. “I feel like I could come in there and play my role, do whatever the coach needs me to do in the game and just win.”
ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz says the Wolves should take LaMelo. “LaMelo Bell,” he said on air during the lottery. “I I take the talent and I figure it out from there and I think that this kid is the best talent in the draft.”
His older brother Lonzo was a former No. 2 pick and is now with the Pelicans. LaMelo said his brother has given him some tips on life in the NBA. “He gives me a lot of little hinters, it’s hard to break it down to just one,” he said. Asked why he feels he should be the No. 1 overall pick ahead of players like Georgia’s Anthony Edwards and Memphis’ James Wiseman, Ball said, “Talent, work ethic, all of the stuff like that..."
According to a Western Conference executive, word around the league is Minnesota isn't leaning one way at No. 1, sounds "confused" and feels pressure after "messing up last year by trading for Jarrett Culver." The belief is that Minnesota's priority is to trade, realistically down the board assuming an established star won't become available. If the Wolves stick at No. 1, multiple sources say they'd bet on LaMelo Ball having the edge over Anthony Edwards.
While Minnesota would love to pull off a blockbuster move and team up Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker with close friends Russell and Towns, Phoenix isn't going for that. Most league insiders expect the Wolves to take Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, considered the best positional fit among the top three prospects (including National Basketball League guard LaMelo Ball and Memphis center James Wiseman).
While Minnesota would love to pull off a blockbuster move and team up Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker with close friends Russell and Towns, Phoenix isn't going for that. Most league insiders expect the Wolves to take Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, considered the best positional fit among the top three prospects (including National Basketball League guard LaMelo Ball and Memphis center James Wiseman).
That makes this pick ripe for a trade. Rosas is one of the most aggressive general managers in the league. Sources around the league already expect that he’ll work the phones over the next couple of months at least to see what’s out there on the market. The consensus around the league is that this will simply be a value play for Rosas, not necessarily one based upon a specific timeline they want to adhere to. Remember: Rosas and executive vice president Sachin Gupta come from the Houston school of thought under Daryl Morey, where they think of most assets in regard to trade value. If they decide an offer is good enough, the thought is he’ll take whatever he thinks is the most valuable for the organization long-term, versus the one that will help them win this year. Maybe it’s player capital, maybe it’s additional draft capital in a trade down. One thing most teams want to do league-wide is potentially expand their draft capital in the much stronger 2021 draft, so may it’s a trade out involving a big offer. Maybe they do just stand pat. But the Wolves are absolutely going to explore what’s available.
One thing Penny Hardaway was gung ho about, was former Tiger James Wiseman’s chances of being the number one pick in the NBA Draft, despite Minnesota having the top pick with Big Man Karl Anthony Towns already on the roster. “He’s the Unicorn. That’s what he calls himself,” said Hardaway. “He can run the floor. Rim protect. He works harder than anyone, and he’ll get his shot down out to the 3 point line and be a threat from out there as well. I’m not just saying that because I coached him, I just know the NBA and what they’re looking for, so to me, he’s the number one pick overall.”
SiriusXM NBA Radio: "LaMelo Ball is not likely to go number 1 now" "The Golden State Warriors are open for business" @franfraschilla gives these thoughts and much more after watching the 2020 #NBADraftLottery
“We couldn’t be more pleased to land the first overall pick in this year’s draft, marking only the second time in franchise history,” said Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas. “We are excited for the possibilities ahead of us to bring in a high caliber player now that we secured the first overall selection. As a front office, we are proud of what we’ve built here in Minnesota so far and we are looking forward to continuing to build upon that foundation in this year’s draft.”
Gersson Rosas: “We know with the number one pick we have the opportunity to draft an impact player who could immediately complement our young, strong core in All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns and All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell. The front office and I are prepared to get right to work with this new component for the draft and we’re confident we will be able to bring energy and excitement to our fanbase with our next moves.”
“I’m glad I could represent for the state of Minnesota at the draft lottery the same way we plan to show out for our fans when we get back on the court,” said Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell. “The number one pick is exciting to have, it makes me think back to when Karl and I got drafted 1,2 in the 2015 draft. There’s so much buzz and energy during the draft as a player and I really look forward to seeing what Gersson and the front office will do to build upon our 2020-21 roster with this pick. I know we’re ready to compete and I can’t wait to see who joins us next.”
Shams Charania: “I feel like I’m the best player coming out of this class. I should be the No. 1 pick.” Potential top NBA pick Anthony Edwards (@theantman05) sits down on @Stadium: Life lessons, modeling game off Bradley Beal, more. pic.twitter.com/s0isG4gt0i

http://twitter.com/ShamsCharania/status/1296482574148280320
The Golden State Warriors are expected to select Anthony Edwards if they’ll have the 1st pick in the next NBA draft. Per SF Chronicle, A source says Edwards is one of the few players available in this draft who can contribute immediately while also having the upside to develop into a franchise caliber player in the future.
This is where things get a little interesting for the Hawks. There are some folks inside the organization who firmly believe Ball is the best prospect in this draft class, and it’s not close, and there are others who are against taking him because of the fit with Young. Particularly, the defensive end of the floor scares them because they aren’t good on that end. From what I’ve heard, he’s not a total cross off for the Hawks, but a lot more evaluation and talks are going to have to happen to get everyone in agreement for him to be the choice.
Sources have indicated to The Chronicle that, if the Warriors land the No. 1 pick and decide not to trade down, they’ll likely take Georgia’s Anthony Edwards. If Golden State lands anywhere between No. 2 and No. 5, it’ll strongly consider Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton, Auburn’s Isaac Okoro and Israel’s Deni Avdija, among others.
Chad Ford: Lot of teams that I've spoken with, they don't have LaMelo No. 1, Edwards is the guy that is often the other guy that you hear at No. 1, his range was exactly the same as LaMelo's. I heard him as high as one never heard him lower than five. Chad Ford on Killian Hayes: He's been mentioned anywhere from three to 10 on the NBA teams that I've that I've spoken with, and he really has seemed to rise over the last couple of months as well.
In an anonymous poll of 35 NBA executives conducted by Stadium, James Wiseman has emerged as the frontrunner for the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft. The 7-foot-1 center, who played just three games at Memphis this past season prior to withdrawing from school amidst an NCAA suspension, received 20 of the 35 votes (57 percent). “I wouldn’t even want the No. 1 pick,” one NBA general manager told me. “If I have it, I’m trying like hell to trade it.”

http://twitter.com/stadium/status/1263893639522025473?s=12
The bust potential is high once again, in what some are considering the weakest draft since Anthony Bennett was selected No. 1 overall in 2013. With little consensus on who the best player is, it’s anybody’s guess who Warriors GM Bob Myers — two-time Executive of the Year — has his eye on. Well, unless you’re Warriors beat writer Connor Letourneau, who told Murph & Mac that sources around the team have informed him Golden State will select wing-scorer Anthony Edwards out of Georgia if they land the No. 1 pick. “This is a draft where there isn’t a ton of certainty up high,” Letourneau began. “The top five picks are kind of in flux. There isn’t a Zion type talent, there isn’t a LeBron, so teams really have to do their research and be careful who they are picking.
Most executives currently expect the first three prospects to come off the board to be Georgia wing Anthony Edwards, Illawarra guard LaMelo Ball, and Memphis center James Wiseman. But it’s too early to say where each prospect will go when opinions vary so greatly. I’ve spoken with NBA executives who have Wiseman first, and others who have him ranked outside of the top 10. Edwards has been labeled a boom-or-bust prospect. And I’ve heard LaMelo called both “underrated” and “overrated” because of his family’s last name. Hayes also has his skeptics.
Georgia’s Anthony Edwards is the kind of power athlete with length who typically appeals to the Orlando front office, although he may not be available beyond No. 1 given that his is the name I hear most often when I ask NBA executives to name their favorite prospect in the class. An explosive scorer at 6-foot-5, Edwards still has a ways to go in terms of his approach on defense. But no one has more upside as a pure scorer — something Orlando desperately needs. To me, those are the two highest-upside guys in this class, and Orlando would do extremely well to acquire either.
The NBA draft lottery won’t be held until May 19 at the earliest, but the Warriors are on track to select no later than fifth. According to multiple league sources The Chronicle contacted in the past few days, the Warriors — contrary to what mock drafts might suggest — aren’t believed to be high on two of the three players being mentioned as possibilities at the No. 1 pick: former Memphis center James Wiseman and point guard LaMelo Ball, who last played for the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League. As one source put it, “I think they’d only take one of those two if they were trading down in the draft and taking them for another team.”
“I think I should go number one, no doubt,” Edwards told 247Sports. “That’s the only place I think I should go.” Edwards signed this week with Octagon agent Omar Wilkes for his professional representation, per multiple sources. Wilkes has represented top 10 picks -- Trae Young and Cam Reddish -- in each of the past two NBA Drafts.
In his first interview since leaving school to turn professional, Wiseman told ESPN that he cried every night in his dormitory room during the turbulent episode with the NCAA, ultimately leaving school amid a 12-game suspension for rules violations that Wiseman insists he hadn't been aware occurred. "I was really in the middle of a hurricane," Wiseman told ESPN in an interview that aired Friday. "That's like the worst place you could possibly be. Just having the mental agony and the suffering, crying every night because I just wanted to get on the court so much."
Wiseman signed with Excel Sports for his professional representation and remains a strong possibility to become the No. 1 overall pick. "I wanted to have a great collegiate career," Wiseman told ESPN. "I wanted to win a national championship. But throughout the course of the first two games, everything started to go down in terms of my mental [well-being]. I was getting depressed. It was dehumanizing for me.”
Wiseman cited an inability to pay back the $11,500 and the threat of potential injury as reasons for ending his college career prematurely. "It was a bit surreal because I couldn't use a GoFundMe page that [ESPN's] Jay Williams put out for me, obviously," Wiseman told ESPN. "I couldn't use any outside sources. I had to get [the money] on my own, and that was pretty impossible because I didn't have the money. I was just a regular college student."

http://twitter.com/TommyBeer/status/1230570387810942976
LaVar says he not only stands by his decisions to take LaMelo Ball out of high school in the United States (he went to Lithuania and Australia) ... but says he's convinced Melo will be the #1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Ball says his dream would be for the NY Knicks to hire Mark Jackson as the next head coach -- who would then take Melo with their first pick. In fact, Ball says he sees a world in which all 3 of his sons sign with the Knicks and play in Madison Square Garden. He thinks his fam can save the franchise.
Matt Babcock, owner of Babcock Hoops and a former NBA agent, told The Commercial Appeal that Wiseman having to sit out one-third of Memphis' regular season isn't all that significant from an NBA draft standpoint. "It's not like he's a guy that just has a lot of upside with a lot of polishing to do. He's ready to play in the NBA right now," Babcock said. "Not that he doesn't have room for growth. He does. (But) I think it's more of just he's being robbed of the experience." Babcock believes Wiseman (who is tied with North Carolina's Cole Anthony as FanDuel Sportsbook's odds-on favorite to be picked first) is worthy of No. 1-pick status. But the games he will miss could also cost him the opportunity to cement himself as such.
So, does Ball believe he should be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft? “Most definitely. I believe in myself and I’ve worked hard to get here,” Ball told Yahoo Sports. “The other guys at the top of the draft, James [Wiseman] and Anthony [Edwards], are very talented too. But just in the way I believe in myself, I think I’m the top pick.”
A lot of people in the basketball world are believers, too. “I don’t see any way where LaMelo doesn’t go No. 1,” an NBL team executive told Yahoo Sports. “He sees the floor better than anyone, and his passing and shooting is like nothing I’ve seen before.”
So, does LaMelo Ball believe he should be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft? “Most definitely. I believe in myself and I’ve worked hard to get here,” Ball told Yahoo Sports. “The other guys at the top of the draft, James [Wiseman] and Anthony [Edwards], are very talented too. But just in the way I believe in myself, I think I’m the top pick.”
A few NBA scouts made the trip to New Zealand to see Ball play against potential first-round draft pick RJ Hampton and were impressed with what they saw. “This is LaMelo’s first real competition in his career,” an NBA scout told Yahoo Sports. “The fact that he’s putting up numbers like this in a league full of former NBA players is forcing every team to look at him as a potential No. 1 pick.”
Contrary to some rumors, LaMelo told Yahoo Sports he is staying in Australia for the entire season despite his team’s last-place record of 3-9. “I don’t know where that rumor came from, but when I decided to come play over here, I committed to the whole season. I’m not leaving early,” he told Yahoo Sports.
While it’s clear Ball will end up an early selection in a relatively thin lottery, there are echoes of skepticism tied to his candidacy at No. 1. “[The No. 1 pick] shooting sub-40% from the field and sub-30% from three? That’s crazy,” one Western Conference executive emphasized. For all his highlight-caliber plays and big totals, Ball is shooting 38.9% from the field and just 27.9% on threes as of Monday, in addition to 70% on less than four free throw attempts per game. He shot 1-of-11 from three during Saturday’s triple-double against the Breakers and fellow projected lottery pick R.J. Hampton. Watch Ball play and you can tell he’s improved, but the greater statistical sample at the end of the season will tell a big part of the story.
An area in which there are still many questions, though, comes off the court. While the attachment to his father, LaVar, will always hang over him, it’s not the only area scouts and general managers have hesitations. In a piece on Sunday in which DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz discussed which prospect should top the 2020 NBA Draft big board, Givony talked about NBA teams being uncertain about whether they can trust Ball to lead the franchise. However, I believe that if the draft were held today, (Ball) probably would not be the No. 1 pick. Of course, that will heavily depend on the team that ends up winning the May lottery. But both Schmitz and I have just received a significant amount of blowback from NBA teams who say that they simply don’t trust Ball enough to hand him the keys to their franchise. They worry about what all the attention around him will do to their team culture, how strong his work ethic is and whether his father, LaVar, could become a distraction.
Jeff Borzello: Penny Hardaway to ESPNU on why James Wiseman played: "That's just up to the school. We're just going to go about it legally moving forward. James has a right to do what he did, and we're moving forward." On whether he has a response to the NCAA's mid-game statement: "I do not."
The NCAA has officially addressed the situation, releasing its own statement on Friday evening in response to Memphis’ decision to let Wiseman play after being notified that he was "likely ineligible." “The University of Memphis was notified that James Wiseman is likely ineligible,” the statement read. “The university chose to play him and ultimately is responsible for ensuring its student-athletes are eligible to play.”
The Australian NBL would be interested in adding projected No. 1 NBA Draft pick James Wiseman if he’s declared ineligible for the season at Memphis. One source with the NBL told Forbes SportsMoney the situation “is a bit complicated with legal action” but that Wiseman would be “a logical fit for the NBL if he was interested.”
In a statement, NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said of interest in Wiseman: “Potentially, but it hasn't even been a discussion yet. These decisions require a lot of due diligence on both sides to ensure it's in everyone's best interests. He's exceptionally talented and of course we'd be interested, but honestly we haven't even had a conversation with him or his family. I have no idea yet as to whether or not it would suit his plans, his personality or his aspirations.”
Memphis attorney Leslie Ballin announced Friday the Tigers’ star freshman James Wiseman has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA. Ballin also said Friday that a Shelby County court judge ruled to put a hold on the NCAA's ruling, pending further litigation. Wiseman will be eligible to play Friday night vs. Illinois-Chicago.
Jeff Goodman: James Wiseman moved from Nashville to Memphis and played for Penny Hardaway at Memphis East his junior and senior years in high school. Also played for Penny in AAU ball. NCAA deeming Penny a booster for helping to pay moving expenses.
Jeff Goodman: James Wiseman is considered the frontrunner to be the No. 1 pick in June’s NBA draft. He is also the key to Memphis’ Final Four hopes. Timing is strange for the decision as Wiseman played and was dominant in season-opener.
Shams Charania: Top three picks in 2019 NBA draft are set, per sources: 1. Zion Williamson, Pelicans 2. Ja Morant, Grizzlies 3. RJ Barrett, Knicks Pelicans hold cards at No. 4.
Zion delivers amazing rim-rattling slams, but it's his defensive versatility and willingness to work on that end that makes him the ideal modern big prospect, with the 1-through-5 switchability of Draymond Green. Williamson even produced a 7.2 defensive box plus-minus in his lone season at Duke -- identical to Green's defensive impact as a senior at Michigan State. In the NBA, Green has consistently ranked among the most effective stoppers in the league according to ESPN's defensive real plus-minus despite his size.
We've never seen a 285-pounder who can sky for dunks quite like Williamson, but Griffin (248 pounds as a 20-year-old) was a close replica. Like college Griffin (6-11 wingspan), Williamson is a power dunker set to tear down the rim on every attempt, doing so despite mediocre positional length. He seems to get just as much lift off one leg or two and is challenging for any shot-blocker to challenge when he gets to his launching pad. But it's not just the dunks that make these two similar.
Williamson was the darling of college basketball last season with his high-flying dunks, underrated passing, dominating rebounding, diverse scoring and all-out effort at Duke. And word is that Williamson was excited and very much at home during his recent two-day trip to New Orleans to visit the Pelicans. The 6-foot-7, 285-pound forward, along with his parents, dined with Benson, Griffin, head coach Alvin Gentry and Saints and Pelicans president Dennis Lauscha at the world-renowned Commander’s Palace restaurant. The Pelicans loved his down-to-earth attitude and believed he was wholeheartedly interested in being there.
Scott Kushner: The Pelicans’ top brass loved basically everything they’ve learned about Zion Williamson on background, & raved about meeting with him & family in Chicago. This week’s visit to New Orleans is a chance for Zion to cement all of those fond notions and lock down No. 1 pick.
What were your thoughts when all of the stories popped up post-Draft Lottery about Zion not wanting to be in New Orleans and him potentially going back to Duke to avoid being there? Lee Sartor: I thought that didn’t make any sense. I know Zion and I know his heart and I know how hard he’s worked to put himself in position to be able to play in the NBA one day. Going backwards was never in his mindset. I know Zion is appreciative of the process and I believe no matter who drafts him that he would be happy and ready to go out and do what he can to help make that franchise better.
What do you think when people compare him to LeBron James? Lee Sartor: Everybody wants to be compared to someone, especially someone that’s great. But I believe Zion is one of those guys that transcends the game, one of those generational players. He has some attributes that are similar to LeBron and some other players, but when you watch him play, he does Zion Williamson stuff. That’s the only way to describe it. That’s what you really want to be as a player; you want to be your own person.
Marc Stein: As @NYTSports reported in April, USA Basketball officials also have planned to gauge Zion Williamson's interest in filling one of the 12 roster spots as he inches closer to his NBA debut next fall. @ZionW32 will be selected No. 1 overall by New Orleans in the June 20 draft
New team vice president David Griffin, who dealt with Paul when he was the general manager of the Cavaliers and LeBron James (Paul's primary client) played in Cleveland, has tried to smooth things over with Klutch Sports and the Pels. His attempts at talking Davis into staying in New Orleans have more to do with resetting relations with Paul than it does with actually keeping Davis in town, which is a longshot. There are many within the Pelicans organization who are still embittered by the way Paul manipulated Davis last season, particularly coach Alvin Gentry, and having Williamson lined up with Paul would have opened wounds that are only recently healed. That won't be a problem with CAA.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 484 more rumors
More HoopsHype Rumors
November 30, 2020 | 3:12 pm EST Update
The Denver Nuggets have signed guard Markus Howard to a two-way contract, President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today. Howard, 5-11, 180, went undrafted in the 2020 NBA draft after a prolific four-year career at Marquette University. In 29 games (all starts) as a senior in 2019-20, Howard led the nation in scoring, averaging 27.8 points per game, adding 3.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists, shooting 44.4% from the field and 41.2% from three in 33.2 minutes. He was unanimously named to the 2019-20 All-America First Team.
Storyline: Two-Way Contracts
November 30, 2020 | 2:40 pm EST Update
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