Once the Los Angeles Lakers jumped up to the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, rumors began of top players trying to force their way to Los Angeles or leaking that they would be more interested in falling to the Lakers than being taken first overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ultimately none of that type of pre-draft chicanery came to pass, and Minnesota selected presumptive top overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns with their top pick and the Lakers took D'Angelo Russell second.
Towns took time out of his runaway rookie of the year season in which he is averaging 18 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game while shooting 54.9 percent from the field to speak with Chris Mannix of the Vertical in a podcast on Tuesday. Right at the top of the show, Mannix asked Towns about the rumors that he preferred Los Angeles to Minnesota, and the rookie gave an emphatic denial that he wanted to be anywhere else other than with the Wolves:
Mannix: "I want to clear something up right off the bat. There was a lot of talk, going in to the draft that you preferred to be drafted number two by the Lakers instead of number one by the Timberwolves. Clarify this for me: did you want to come to Minnesota?"
Towns: "Absolutely. You know God bless his soul, the late Flip Saunders, I remember calling him and telling how how much I wanted to be here, how much I wanted to be a wolf. How much I wanted to be in this franchise. I just love this game of basketball, it never mattered where I played. I was going to try and win as many games as possible for whatever organization I played with, but I remember vividly telling the late Flip Saunders how much I wanted to be here, and how thankful I'd be if they take me."
Mannix: "Where do you think some of that stuff came from? Where it was 'guys like Karl and Jahlil [Okafor], that was what the topic was, want to go to L.A.?'"
Towns: "I think for me, I can only speak for myself, I think for me maybe that's because I was training in L.A., you know it's a hotbed, especially for pre-draft workouts, so I was there. I was working out, I think people just thought they were putting two-plus-two together saying just because I was working out in L.A. that was the case. I was just working out there because it's a great spot to work out, it's a great spot to get in the best shape of your life in, so I was just there for that. I never had told anyone or anything I wanted to do that or do that, I just wanted to play the game of basketball at the highest level for whatever organization and team that would pick me."
To a certain degree, Towns has to say this, but it does go to show that pre-draft rumors like those are generally not worth buying too much stock in. Lakers fans have of course all heard the stories of Kobe Bryant forcing his way to the West Coast during the 1996 draft, but that was a very different situation in a very different league with a much less hyped prospect going into the draft.
Just remember these quotes from Towns going into draft season this year (should the Lakers retain their pick), because these types of rumors will pop up again, and you have to take them with not just a grain, but a pillar of salt. Los Angeles is nice, but it's unlikely that a top player is going to do the things actually required to make a team pass on them just so that they can get to the Lakers, no matter how much fans hope for it.