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Wolves Tell Karl-Anthony Towns They’ll Draft Him

THURSDAY, 1:03pm: Brian Windhorst of ESPN is reporting that the Wolves have settled on Towns (via RealGM on Twitter).

WEDNESDAY, 2:36pm: It would be stunning if the Wolves don’t pick Towns, a source told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link).

5:17pm: Towns also denies a promise has been made, as he told Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press (Twitter link). “If I had a promise I would go start eating ice cream and getting fat,” Towns said. “There is absolutely no promise at all.”

4:38pm: Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press hears the report that the Timberwolves have settled on Towns is untrue (Twitter link).

MONDAY, 11:44am: The Timberwolves have told Kentucky big man Karl-Anthony Towns that they’ll take him with the No. 1 overall pick, a source close to Towns tells Adam Zagoria of The decision came after Towns worked out for the team on Saturday, the source indicates to Zagoria. The news isn’t altogether a shock, since Towns has been atop most draft boards since the NCAA Tournament and Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders, who’d instead been in favor of drafting Jahlil Okafor, had recently become enamored with Towns, as Mark Heisler of reported earlier this month. It’s nonetheless disappointing for the Lakers, who hold the second pick and prefer Towns to Okafor, as Chris Mannix of tweeted Sunday.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders had been hearing more and more that Saunders, and perhaps owner Glen Taylor, were still fixated on Okafor, as Kyler wrote today in his NBA AM piece, so it’s possible the Wolves are trying to erect a smokescreen one way or another. Regardless, Towns, a Leon Rose client, would give the Timberwolves a talented defender who, while not as polished a post scorer as Okafor is, has the potential to surpass the Duke center in skill on both ends of the floor, as Eddie Scarito of Hoops Rumors wrote in his profile of the 19-year-old Towns. He averaged 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in 21.1 minutes per game in his lone season with Kentucky, numbers suppressed by coach John Calipari‘s platoon system.

The No. 1 pick is in line for a first-year salary of $5,703,600, presuming he gets the standard 120% of rookie scale. The full four-year contract in that case would come to $25,720,035, as our table of likely salaries for first-round picks shows. The Timberwolves are likely to carry that amount as an over-the-cap team this season, as Charlie Adams of Hoops Rumors points out in our offseason outlook for the club.

Minnesota has the chance to become the first NBA team with three consecutive No. 1 overall picks on its roster. The Wolves are surely hoping that Towns, if they indeed draft him, will be more like reigning Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins than the struggling Anthony Bennett.

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