There might not be a more intriguing week of the year for Wolves fans than NBA Draft week, and this year is proving to be no different as rumors and speculation mount leading up to Thursday's selection showcase.
Earlier Tuesday, we wrote about a report claiming that Minnesota is "aggressively" looking to trade Andrew Wiggins, despite mountains of evidence suggesting a trade involving him and the $120+ million left on his contract being nearly impossible.
Now, ESPN's Jonathan Givony is reporting that the Wolves are among a handful of teams looking to trade up in the draft for a chance to take Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland.
"Darius Garland will conduct a last-minute workout in Tarrytown with the New York Knicks tomorrow, a source told ESPN," writes Givony. "Garland is in serious consideration for the No. 3 pick. Minnesota, Boston, Chicago are teams looking at potentially trading up to No. 4 with Garland in mind."
Garland, 19, going third overall to the Knicks would be a surprise considering the top-three picks in the draft have been long thought be to etched in stone, with Zion Williamson going first overall to the Pelicans, followed by Ja Morant to the Grizzlies and R.J. Barrett to the Knicks.
Garland, however, has gained a lot of late steam even though he played in just five games this past college basketball season because of a torn meniscus.
KSTP's Darren Wolfson responded to Givony's report saying the Wolves are interested in obtaining the fourth, fifth or sixth pick, which would allow them a chance to draft Garland or North Carolina point guard Coby White.
Sam Vecenie of The Athletic (paywall) believes it's likely that New Orleans trades the fourth pick, with a team hoping to get Garland.
"This is the swing point of the draft. Teams around the league know this pick is open for business. The feeling around the league is that the Pelicans are more likely to move it than to keep it. The player mentioned most when discussing a potential trade-up with New Orleans is Garland. So that’s why the projection here is Garland, not because I think Garland ends up in New Orleans. Teams around the league generally believe that Garland is the player with the most upside outside of the top-three guys in this class. It’s easy to see why. He’s an elite live dribble creator due to his ability to keep the ball on a string and change pace. His pull-up game is also lethal and makes him a tailor made fit for today’s NBA as a scoring guard if he can finish around the basket."
Minnesota has Jeff Teague slotted in to start at point guard in 2019-20, which is the final year of his contract. He's due to make $19 million, which is a big number that could free up dollars for the salary cap-strapped Wolves via a trade this summer or once he comes off the books next summer.
But trading from 11th to fourth would likely require at least Teague, the 11th pick and a future first-round pick.
Another possible roadblock is that the Pelicans already have Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball as guards, so the only real value New Orleans would probably see in Teague is his expiring contract freeing up space to go after a big free agent next summer.
New Orleans could afford to take on Wiggins' four years and $122 million left on his contract, but would they really be interested in taking on that kind of financial commitment for a player who's regressed the past two seasons?
Regardless, draft week is giving Wolves fans a renewed energy during a long offseason.