2024 NBA Draft: Contending Timberwolves hit lottery, land Rob Dillingham

The first round of the 2024 NBA Draft brought plenty of trade activity, but despite all the league-wide buzz about veterans potentially moving teams, only Deni Avdija and Malcolm Brodgdon will wear new uniforms after the events Wednesday evening. In total, six first-round picks ultimately changed hands over the course of the first 30 picks — Thursday’s second round begins at 4 p.m. ET — none of the transactions more notable than Minnesota trading a non-first-round pick protected 2031 pick, plus a protected 2030 first-round pick. swap of first-round picks, league sources told Yahoo Sports, in exchange for San Antonio’s No. 8 pick and the right to select Kentucky guard Rob Dillingham.

Entering the evening, Dillingham had interest as high as No. 5 Detroit, San Antonio at No. 8, Utah at No. 10 and Miami at No. 15, according to sources. Rumors were circulating among league personnel that the Heat and Timberwolves were considering trading up to No. 9 with Memphis, according to sources, in order to trade ahead of the Jazz. It turned out to be a spot earlier than the Timberwolves sent their lone first-round pick into the closet to get Dillingham. Minnesota will have access to its 2032 first-rounder once this draft is completed.

2024 NBA Draft: Contending Timberwolves hit lottery, land Rob Dillingham2024 NBA Draft: Contending Timberwolves hit lottery, land Rob Dillingham

Rob Dillingham, right, poses for a photo with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being selected in the first round of the NBA draft, Wednesday, June 26, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

It’s a huge gamble that Dillingham will become Anthony Edwards’ optimal future running mate in Minnesota’s backcourt once veteran table-setter Mike Conley ages out of the Timberwolves’ competitive window. Dillingham weighs just 164 pounds at 6-foot-1, leaving various teams concerned about his size and ability to defend. But Dillingham’s physical profile is quite similar to that of Bones Hyland, the Clippers guard whom Minnesota president Tim Connelly recruited when he was piloting the Denver Nuggets. And if there’s any team that could make up for the deficiencies that protect Dillingham’s position, it’s that nasty, long-running Timberwolves unit that had the league’s best defense during the 2023-24 regular season. Minnesota did all this work while remaining at No. 27, where the Timberwolves were still able to land Illinois senior guard Terrence Shannon Jr., a microwave scorer who was under consideration, according to sources, as high as Chicago at #11.

Where UConn center Donovan Clingan landed was arguably the most intriguing subplot looming at the top of the first round. Rival executives believed Clingan was being considered for Atlanta’s No. 1 pick, and then Clingan interviewed with San Antonio over Zoom last weekend, Clingan confirmed to Yahoo Sports during Tuesday’s press conference in Manhattan.

All of this allowed Houston to field calls from various teams regarding the No. 3 pick, including the Portland Trail Blazers, who held the seventh selection, and the Memphis Grizzlies, who entered the draft at No. 9. It was clear to Houston that Reed Sheppard would be on the board, but the Rockets did not give teams many opportunities to trade at that position, sources said, because Houston had long targeted the guard. Kentucky who shot 52.1% from three last season.

After Stephon Castle, Clingan’s point guard with the Huskies, was revealed to be San Antonio’s player at fourth overall, there was much speculation in corners of the league that Detroit would simply take Clingan and sell him to the highest bidder. Instead, the Pistons flipped for G League Ignite guard Ron Holland – perhaps the biggest surprise of the entire draft – leaving Charlotte in a strong position to engage with both the Blazers and the Grizzlies.

The Hornets discussed a trade from that No. 6 spot with Portland and Memphis, sources said, as Charlotte was on the clock. The Trail Blazers appeared to have been the Hornets’ preferred partner, as much of the league’s leadership believed San Antonio was targeting 6-foot-9 forward Tidjane Salaun at No. 8. The French prospect shares an agent with the Spurs centerpiece Victor Wembanyama, and Memphis’ No. 9 pick would have been a risk that Charlotte ultimately didn’t feel was worth rolling the dice. So the Hornets got their guy in Salaun, and then Portland got Clingan.

Portland must be excited to land Clingan without having to sacrifice any future draft capital. The Blazers had been pursuing the 7-footer who anchored UConn’s national championship run throughout this pre-draft cycle. It presents some questions about Portland’s crowded frontcourt with Deandre Ayton and Robert Williams already on the roster, but many NBA scouts and talent evaluators believe Clingan presents All-Defense-worthy intangibles, in addition to its fluidity and its astonishing size.

Acquiring Avdija was also an interesting deal, as the Blazers signed the 23-year-old forward, which sent out Brogdon and brought them under the luxury tax threshold. Trading Brodgon’s $22.5 million salary for next season in favor of Avdija’s new four-year, $55 million contract that begins in 2024-25, that now leaves Portland with about $1 million under the luxury tax. The Blazers projected interest in competing for the playoffs next season, but it wasn’t a roster any front office would have deemed tax-worthy. And Avdija is a developing defender who has drawn interest from various suitors, to the point where Washington had told interested teams it would take two first-round picks to part with the Israeli forward. Avdija’s new contract is considered a valuable one by team strategists, especially if he can continue to improve in his fifth NBA season.

However, the price of saving all that money and attracting a promising player was surely high. Not only did Portland deal Washington the No. 14 pick that became Pittsburgh’s Bub Carrington, but the Blazers also sent a first-round pick in 2029, as well as second-round picks in 2028 and 2030. That’s it. a return for the Wizards, as Washington recalls. The new front office led by Michael Winger has performed absolute surgery on the team’s roster and assets.

League staff believe the Wizards will be able to find trade value for Brogdon this season, but how long he stays on Washington’s roster could put veteran point guard Tyus Jones in a curious position. Jones will be an unrestricted free agent and is expected to command the neighborhood just south of Brogdon’s dollar figure for next season. Perhaps the Magic will actually consider the league-wide rumors sparking interest in adding Jones, but they also need to consider the big salary coming for Jalen Suggs.

Washington raked in significant draft capital after trading Bradley Beal to the Suns last summer. Getting a first-round pick for Daniel Gafford at the trade deadline was a win. Two for Avdija is a bigger point in the Wizards’ case. Maybe Kyle Kuzma will follow these veterans out the door. Sacramento had discussed some type of framework to acquire Kuzma and trade the No. 13 pick for Washington’s No. 26, sources said. If the Wizards’ package for Avdija is any indication, one can only assume that Washington’s price for Kuzma is going to remain very high.

There were so many second-rounders dealt Wednesday that it was hard to keep track. Denver traded three seconds, including No. 56 in Thursday’s draft, sources said, to move up six spots from No. 28 to No. 22, and select Dayton center DaRon Holmes II via Phoenix. A few slots later, OKC traded five second-round picks between 2025 and 2027 to New York, sources said, in order to move up late in the first round and pry Dillon Jones out of Weber State.

That will set the tone for Thursday’s second day of the NBA Draft, where the Toronto Raptors will return to action at 31st overall. It will be interesting to see if any teams splurge on future seconds for either of the final two remaining names. the green room: Kyle Filipowksi of Duke and Johnny Furphy of Kansas. Another prospect still available that league staff believe could entice a team to move to first linebacker: former G League Ignite center Tyler Smith.

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