T-wolves take Edwards with top pick, agree to deal for Rubio
By Dave Campbell
AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves made Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards their latest addition in an ongoing attempt to return to NBA relevancy, adding a potentially dynamic scorer to their lineup with the first overall pick in the draft before reaching an agreement to bring back point guard Ricky Rubio on a busy Wednesday night.
The Timberwolves, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations, plan to send the 17th pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 25th and 28th overall selections and Rubio, who played for Minnesota in his first six seasons in the league. The person confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the trade had not yet been announced. Deals involving players can’t be finalized until free agency officially begins on Sunday for salary cap purposes.
The 6-foot-5 Edwards was the nation’s freshman scoring leader at 19.1 points per game in 2019-20 for the Bulldogs, before the pandemic halted the season. The 19-year-old native of Atlanta has sharp long-range shooting touch, an ability to score off the dribble and a nose for driving to the basket, though he comes to the league with some questions about focus and effort after an uneven one-and-done college season.
President of basketball operations Gersson Rosas promised to be aggressive about entertaining trade offers for the top pick but ultimately opted to keep it. Memphis center James Wiseman and guard LaMelo Ball, who played professionally in Australia last season, were the other prospects widely considered in the top three.
Rosas and his staff kept working the phones, though. They agreed to send the 17th pick, which originally belonged to Brooklyn and came from Atlanta in a four-team, 12-player, three-pick trade in February, to the Thunder for the pair of late first-rounders and Rubio, the slick-passing ball-handler who was beloved by the fan base despite a rash of injuries that minimized his impact.
Edwards will now slide into the lineup on the perimeter, buttressing the building blocks the Wolves believe they’ve cemented with center Karl-Anthony Towns and point guard D’Angelo Russell. There’s plenty of room to grow after a 19-45 finish that had them left out of the NBA’s postseason bubble. Minnesota has made the playoffs only once in the last 16 years, a first-round loss to Houston in 2018.
This was the second time in 32 drafts for this woebegone franchise that the Timberwolves held the top pick. They took Towns, now a two-time All-Star, with the first overall selection out of Kentucky in 2015.
The Wolves had the worst record in the league the previous season, so they earned that spot, but this year was stunningly the first time they’d ever benefited from the ping-pong balls and moved up from their default slot.
Rosas wasted no time putting his stamp on the team during his first year in Minnesota, making three significant in-season trades. The trio of swaps dumped a total of nine different players, including Andrew Wiggins, the up-and-down scorer whose athleticism once had him as the ideal sidekick on the wing to Towns.
The most significant of those deals sent Wiggins to Golden State for a package that included Russell, the offense-minded ball-handler who has been a close friend of Towns since they were the first two picks in the 2015 draft.