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Rumor: Bulls, Pistons, Thunder could trade up to draft LaMelo Ball No. 1

LaMelo Ball

WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 25: Lamelo Ball of the Hawks celebrates hitting a three point shot late in the final quarter during the round 8 NBL match between the Illawarra Hawks and the Cairns Taipans at WIN Entertainment Centre on November 25, 2019 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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LaMelo Ball is the on-again, off-again, back-on-again predicted No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft.

But the Timberwolves already have D’Angelo Russell at point guard. So, Minnesota could trade the top pick.

Which teams might be interested?

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

Some popular picks among executives to make such a move for Ball at No. 1 include the Chicago Bulls (currently holding the No. 4 pick), Detroit Pistons (No. 7) and Oklahoma City Thunder (No. 25, plus a stash of future firsts).

Arturas Karnisovas just took over the Bulls’ front office. New executives tend to take their time evaluating the current roster,* which in Chicago includes Coby White. However, if the Bulls like Ball, White isn’t nearly good enough to preclude a trade up. Maybe Karnisovas is the exception who begins his tenure with a big splash.

*/delaying the clock starting on having their performance evaluated.

The Pistons need a point guard and identity, and Ball could provide both. Rebuilding around Ball – with Christian Wood, Luke Kennard and Sekou Doumbouya – would be a fresh new direction for a team that could use one.

The Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looks like a long-term point guard, but he just showed his ability to play off the ball with Chris Paul. A backcourt of Gilgeous-Alexander and Ball might have enough size to hold up defensively, and their combined offensive skill would be intriguing. Oklahoma City definitely has the treasure trove of draft picks to trade up.

This ultimately comes down to two key questions: How much do these teams value Ball as a prospect? What’s Minnesota’s asking price?

It’s one thing to evaluate potential fits on paper. It’s another for teams to actually agree to a trade.