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And-Ones: Timberwolves, Draft, Hornets

Former Grizzlies front office chief Jason Levien isn’t involved in Steve Kaplan’s bid to own a partial share of the Timberwolves, as Zach Harper of reports, and his name hasn’t come up in discussions with Wolves officials, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press (Twitter links). Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported earlier that Levien was partnering with Kaplan as part of his effort to get into position to eventually assume full control of the Wolves if owner Glen Taylor relinquishes that. Taylor currently has no plans to sell the team, but he’s preparing for that time to come, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

“It just seems to me if I’m a responsible owner of a team, I should go out there, find someone who is really interested, bring them in and see how it works,” Taylor said. “So if I would die or be in a position where I can’t run it, they’d be in a position to take over and make a smooth transition. I just think it’s something I owe the state because I have the ownership.”

The purchase of a minority ownership, whether by Kaplan or another bidder, doesn’t necessarily guarantee they’ll become majority owners at any point, Krawczynski adds (on Twitter), though the idea of Kaplan owning more than 20% of the team has come up in the talks, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities. See more from around the NBA:

  • LSU small forward Ben Simmons tops the rankings of draft prospects that Chad Ford of (Insider link) and Chris Mannix of compiled for college basketball’s opening day, though disagreement exists beyond that. Ford has Kentucky center Skal Labissiere, Croatian power forward Dragan Bender and Duke small forward Brandon Ingram as his next three, while Mannix’s list goes Ingram-Labissiere-Bender.
  • Simmons isn’t the next LeBron James, but his game is stylistically similar to the four-time MVP’s, as Jeff Goodman of writes in an Insider-only piece that draws comparisons between some of the top prospects and their NBA counterparts. Labissiere is like LaMarcus Aldridge and Ingram resembles Tayshaun Prince, Goodman posits.
  • Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams, a pair of Hornets poised to become free agents next summer, are off to strong starts, as Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders observes in a story that looks at 15 soon-to-be free agents and how they fared during the season’s first two weeks.

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