Wednesday's roundup: Budding stars await future
New York — Karl-Anthony Towns hoisted a child high up toward his shoulders, letting the youngster at an NBA community service event feel what it was like to rock the rim with a dunk.
Next for Towns might be trying to help lift the Timberwolves.
The center from Kentucky is considered the likely No. 1 pick tonight in the NBA draft, though he said he isn't sure and doesn't seem concerned.
"I don't know right now," Towns said Wednesday. "Only thing I can control is making sure I'm the best player I can possibly be for whatever organization drafts me (tonight)."
Towns and Duke's Jahlil Okafor are the big bodies from the powerhouse programs, good bets to be the first two picks even at a time when small ball is becoming increasingly popular.
Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell could be the first guard off the board, and Kristaps Porzingis and Emmanuel Mudiay are some of the lesser-known names that should be called quickly by commissioner Adam Silver at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Okafor, who led Duke to the national championship, and Towns had been rated evenly at one point, though Towns has moved to the top of the list in most mock drafts.
Okafor said he has seen some of them and said "they're all pretty accurate, I guess," and isn't bothered by the idea of being considered second-best.
"I'm still going to be top five or whatever the case may be and I'll still be living my dream of playing in the NBA, so I'll be excited either way," he said.
That's partly because of who — or, perhaps more specifically, where — comes next.
The Lakers hold the No. 2 pick, the 76ers are third and the Knicks follow, providing big-market appeal that would make for a good consolation prize.
"Two is not bad, being in Los Angeles," Okafor said. "Neither is being in Philly. Especially not being in New York."
The head of the class should again be a college one-and-done.
Towns, Okafor and Russell all played one season. The last five No. 1 picks have been freshmen.
Blazers, Hornets trade
The Hornets acquired small forward Nicolas Batum from the Trail Blazers on Wednesday in exchange for guard Gerald Henderson and power forward Noah Vonleh.
The Hornets finished last in the NBA last season in 3-point shooting and are hopeful Batum can help them in that area.
Henderson was the longest-tenured player on Charlotte's roster. Vonleh was the ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft.
Love is a free agent
Kevin Love is about to find out how much the league values him, and how much the Cavaliers want him.
The power forward is opting out of the final year of his contract and will be a free agent July 1, a person familiar with the decision said. Love had a deal worth $16.7 million next season.
Last week, general manager David Griffin said he expected Love and superstar LeBron James to opt out of their deals and become free agents. Griffin also expects them to re-sign with the Cavaliers.
The Lakers and Knicks could be potential suitors for Love
Hawks sale approved
The NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale of the Hawks to an ownership group led by Tony Ressler.
The team now has new owners, a front office and uniforms.
Monta Ellis is declining the player option for the final year of his contract with the Mavericks and will become an unrestricted free agent.
He is one of three starters headed to free agency along with point guard Rajon Rondo, who won't return, and center Tyson Chandler.
... The Magic reportedly has agreed to send point guard Luke Ridnour to the Grizzlies for forward Janis Timma.