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Shootaround (June 16): Wolves’ Towns Working On ‘Secretive Stuff’

Shootaround (June 16): Wolves’ Towns Working On ‘Secretive Stuff’ News

Plus, why trading Kevin Love may not solve all of the Cavaliers' problems and more from around the NBA

No. 1: Report: Ball considering talking to other lottery teams — The thinking so far regarding UCLA star Lonzo Ball and the NBA Draft lottery has basically been the Los Angeles Lakers or bust. That notion may be changing, though, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com, as Ball readies for his second workout today with the Lakers:

Lonzo Ball is still considering talking to teams that have lottery picks below the Los Angeles Lakers, a source close to the former UCLA Bruins star told ESPN.

Ball will work out for the Lakers — who have the No. 2 pick in next week’s NBA draft — a second time Friday at an undisclosed, Los Angeles-area location. He remains hopeful the Lakers will give him some indication whether he has “separated himself” throughout the draft process, the source said, and he has no plans to speak with or work out for the Boston Celtics, who hold the No. 1 pick.

Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

After Friday’s workout, Ball will consider talking to other lottery teams that have asked to speak with him, according to the source.

After Friday, the Lakers will have worked out the three most likely choices for the No. 2 pick — Ball, Josh Jackson and De’Aaron Fox — twice. They also worked out the probable No. 1 pick, Washington guard Markelle Fultz, on Thursday.

The Lakers are committed to considering all options heading into next Thursday’s draft, but team sources said it remains highly unlikely they would trade the second overall pick.

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No. 2:  Love once again at center of Cavs trade rumors — There’s no trade on the horizon for Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love as of this morning. Yet that doesn’t mean the All-Star big man is in any less of a familiar offseason spot as he’s likely to hear his name discussed in trade rumors as the offseason gets rolling. Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com breaks down why a trade of Love may not solve all that ails the Cavs:

And yet, not even a week after the playoff run came to a disappointing end, a lopsided 4-1 series loss against the Golden State Warriors, Love’s name was again at the center of trade rumors.

Welcome to Love’s world. He’s been asked about it numerous times, his only recourse to shrug it off. It doesn’t even matter how well he performs anymore.

The latest round of chatter has gained steam because many are now asking the same questions the Cavs are faced with this off-season: How big is the gap with the Warriors? How can it be closed?

So if the Cavs view the Finals loss as decisive, a window into potential future matchups, then minor moves on the periphery won’t be enough. It will take a bigger maneuver, breaking up the nucleus. That’s where Love comes back into play.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

If the Cavs decide their best option is to go fishing for another star this summer, there’s no other way to reel him in. Love is the best — and only — piece of bait they have.

Deep into the luxury tax, boasting the NBA’s highest payroll, the only bit of money the Cavs can spend in free agency is the taxpayer’s midlevel exception, which won’t net a difference-maker — unless there’s one out there willing to take an exorbitant pay cut for a lesser role on the league’s second-best team.

Heck, the Cavs would be lucky to have enough cash to land P.J. Tucker, C.J. Miles or Thabo Sefolosha. It’s entirely possible the Cavs would be out of the mix for most free agents, having to use the exception to bring young Cedi Osman from Turkey instead.

They don’t have a first-round draft pick so finding an overlooked gem is out of the question. There aren’t too many up-and-comers at the end of the bench, guys ready to step into a much larger role, so forget that.

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The only route is via trade. Not only do the Cavs have few players that would fetch an impact player on this market, they don’t have future draft picks to attach as sweeteners in a potential blockbuster trade, unable to move a first rounder until their pick in 2021, which is a risky proposition given James’ uncertain future.

In trade scenarios, James and Irving are untouchable. J.R. Smith is the team’s starting shooting guard, the catch-and-shoot threat the Cavs need alongside James and Irving, and his well-established reputation drives his price down. Tristan Thompson is likely most valuable in Cleveland, where his offensive flaws can be masked. At 26 years old and perhaps the best offensive rebounder in the league, Thompson has some value, but not nearly enough.

That leaves Love, the only player to match the criteria of being both expendable and prized enough to start the conversations for George, Anthony or someone else who will eventually be linked to Cleveland.

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No. 3: Wolves’ Towns working on ‘secretive stuff’ — In making 101 3-pointers and shooting 36.1 percent from there last season, Karl-Anthony Towns showcased a new aspect of his game. The Minnesota Timberwolves’ star big man is back at it again this summer, adding new things to his skill set — although what it is remains a mystery. Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune has more:

After he did his promotional work on Tuesday, Towns plans to return home to New Jersey for a summer camp before coming back to work out at the Wolves’ downtown practice facility.

“I’ll spend a good amount of my summer in Minneapolis,” Towns said from Los Angeles. “I’ve been there quite a lot. I’ve always enjoyed Minneapolis. I’m trying to get back soon.”

LaVine is spending much of the summer in Minneapolis while he recovers from February surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament.

“I’ve seen Zach a lot,” Towns said. “He’s looking great. He’s healing really well. He’s working hard. He’s definitely put him ahead of schedule. I’m glad he’s doing so well.”

Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

In between touring Europe and fulfilling his business obligations on two continents, Towns said he always finds time to get his court work in and add some moves to his game.’

“I’ve got some things I’ve been looking at and I want to do,” Towns said. “It’s going to be really cool to show it off.”

He declined to say specifically what he’s working on.

“Always secretive stuff,” he said. “Nobody knew I had the one-legged fadeaway until I pulled it out. I always have something in my toolbox waiting to come out.”

He’s uncertain if he’ll be back in Minneapolis for the June 22 draft, but confirmed there’s been discussion about Wolves players gathering in Las Vegas in July during the NBA’s summer league. It’s Tom Thibodeau’s idea to nurture some team building.