The Los Angeles Lakers hold the No. 2 pick and will likely take their pick of whoever's left between Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns. The Minnesota Timberwolves, however, might be in a strange position. Okafor is rumored to have his "heart set" on joining the Lakers, according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.
NBA front offices hold workouts, interviews and other activities with top prospects leading through the draft, which is generally handled by agents. There's no question that behind the scenes negotiations could be in play, which isn't something unfamiliar to the Lakers. Arn Tellem manufactured a path for Kobe Bryant to fall to the Lakers, talking John Calipari and the Nets out of drafting the high school phenom.
Whether or not that level of manipulation happens with Okafor and Towns, who could both be interested in becoming the franchise center for the Lakers, remains to be seen. The possibility is there, though, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports indicated on lottery night:
If Karl-Anthony Towns is determined to get to Lakers, it'll be interesting to see how agreeable his camp will be to meeting with Minnesota.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 20, 2015
There's already signs of smoke and mirrors and the workout process hasn't begun yet. It's hard to imagine either side will play so hard that they don't meet with Minnesota to make their case to be the No. 1 pick of the draft, and ultimately the Timberwolves can do whatever they want when it's time to phone their pick in. Timerwolves president of basketball operations and head coach Flip Saunders has been complimentary of both big men since the draft lottery, saying Okafor has the best footwork "since Tim Duncan," while calling Towns the best defensive player in a recent radio interview.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is reportedly most interested in drafting either of the big men, making guard D'Angelo Russell a dark horse candidate at the No. 2 spot. It's unclear who the Lakers prefer at this point, though the dramatic turn from potentially losing the pick to moving up to the second pick makes this a win-win for the front office.
This whole process is going to start feeling real once we catch glimpses of the incredibly important workouts that are to come for both big men, and both franchises.