This is it. The week of the NBA draft. With less than four days to go, there is still a lot of commotion going on. Teams are still conducting last-minute workouts. Trade calls are heating up. Draft stock is still rising and falling. Here's the latest from around the league.
One of the biggest challenges in projecting the draft is trying to get a handle on who is exactly drafting where.
Sources continue to insist that the Minnesota Timberwolves (2), Utah Jazz (3), Cleveland Cavaliers (4) and Washington Wizards (6) are all still open to moving those picks. Some of those trades could be with each other, but from what I can gather, none of the teams at the top of the lottery are sold with the players that are available to them.
"If someone really values the pick, and we can get something more proven, I think in this draft, you have to be open to a trade," one lottery GM said. "I don't like the risk-reward mix right now."
But the draft exodus may go even further into the first round. Sources say that the Charlotte Bobcats (9), Milwaukee Bucks (10) and Golden State Warriors (11) are also open to moving their picks. In this case, the interest is all pretty specific. The Knicks, and a handful of other teams, are trying to get ahead of the Jazz. The target? BYU's Jimmer Fredette.
More Jimmer intrigue
Speaking of Fredette, don't count out the Sacramento Kings as a possible destination. In the past few days there's been a spate of articles emphasizing that both Kemba Walker and Kawhi Leonard are higher on their Big Board. True. But that's Geoff Petrie's Big Board. The Maloofs, who own the team, are looking to make a splash. I'm not saying they'll force Petrie's hand, I'm just saying that Fredette is still strongly in the mix there.
There are some major last-minute workouts going down Monday and Tuesday. Each could very well decide who that team takes with its pick.
The Cavs have Brandon Knight and Enes Kanter in on Monday. If Knight wows, could it persuade Cleveland to draft Derrick Williams No. 1 and Knight at No. 4? On the flip side, if Kanter wows, could the Cavs feel better about taking Kyrie Irving No. 1?
The Utah Jazz had Jordan Hamilton, Chris Singleton, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris and Tyler Honeycutt in on Sunday and have Alec Burks and Klay Thompson in on Monday. This workout is for the 12th pick in the draft. The team has a need at the wing and virtually any one of these players could be the pick here. We've had Singleton here for weeks as the pick and still think he's the favorite if the Jazz go with a guard at the No. 3 pick. Singleton's defensive abilities make him an ideal replacement for Andrei Kirilenko.
But he's not the only possibility. Klay Thompson has been dominant in workouts up to this point and might be a better option for the Jazz because of his deep shooting ability. Burks would give them more athleticism in their backcourt. Morris' ability to play both the 3 and the 4 will be intriguing and Hamilton is a major scoring threat. Harris and Honeycutt are more well-rounded point forwards who'd also fit needs.
The Knicks are inviting Marshon Brooks, Josh Selby, Jordan Hamilton, Darius Morris, Jeremy Tyler and Nikola Vucevic back in for a second workout. While the team is hoping that either Thompson or Fredette slides to them at 17 (or alternatively that they can move up) this appears to be the group of players they are seriously considering at 17. Of the group, Brooks has already had a very strong workout in New York. Selby, on the other hand, struggled in his. Tyler is a dark horse here. He's raw, but very athletic and has size. I'm not sure the Knicks have the patience to wait on him.
On Tuesday, the Detroit Pistons will have a major workout with Bismack Biyombo, Tristan Thompson, Markieff Morris, Keith Benson and Jordan Williams. The team is seriously looking at Biyombo and Thompson at No. 8 and Morris has an outside shot, as well. Both Biyombo and Thompson have a lot of similarities and it should be big for Pistons president Joe Dumars to see them go head-to-head. This will be the first time Dumars has seen Biyombo live.
Many of the top international prospects in the draft remain men of mystery at the moment.
Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas has yet to get an NBA buyout with his team in Lithuania. The Cavs are very high on Valanciunas with the fourth pick, but if he cannot resolve the buyout, he's likely to slide and slide hard. Sources close to Valanciunas' camp told me they feel like he won't get past the Rockets at No. 14. But still, that's a major slide for a player ranked as highly as Valanciunas.
On the plus side for Valanciunas, I was going over some of my notes from the Eurocamp and noticed that I failed to mention that Valanciunas had very impressive measurements at the camp. He measured a legit 7 foot in shoes, weighed 245 pounds, had a 7-foot-4 wingspan and an impressive 9-foot-3 standing reach. While that doesn't make him the tallest player in the draft (Nikola Vucevic and Jeremy Tyler both measured with longer standing reaches), it does quiet anyone who doubts he's big enough to play center in the NBA.
Meanwhile, the Czech Republic's Jan Vesely worked out in front of several teams in New Jersey on Sunday. The Toronto Raptors, Kings and Wizards -- probably the three teams highest on him -- were all scheduled to attend. Another team that was invited, the Pistons, met with him on Saturday but didn't attend the workout.
Biyombo begins his workouts Monday. He'll have the Raptors come visit him in New York, then he'll fly to Detroit for that big Pistons workout Tuesday. He'll then return to New York for a visit with the Knicks on Wednesday. Of the group, the Raptors are the most intriguing team. Sources say they have strong interest in him as a potential athletic shot-blocker to pair on the floor with Andrea Bargnani.
Lithuanian big man Donatas Motiejunas, coming off a very shaky workout in Italy, also has made his way to the U.S. for workouts. He worked out for the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs over the weekend and still has workouts scheduled with the Philadelphia 76ers and Knicks. Motiejunas' draft stock has been sliding in recent weeks and he's attempting to find his floor. All four of the teams he's visiting have serious interest, but he's not a lock to go to any of them. While he's been projected by various sources as a lottery pick, it looks like his true draft range is 16-29 -- a range we've had him in for months.
Mock Draft 6.0 is coming tomorrow and for the first time this year, will have a full second-round mock, as well.
I continue to hear that several players not in the first round of Mock 5.0 should be there in 6.0. Iman Shumpert is getting looks everywhere from 17 to 27. Kyle Singler has strong interest from the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 24. Chandler Parsons is also getting terrific buzz from 18 to 32.
If all three are in, that's three spots in the first round that someone is going to have to give up.
Speaking of draft ranges: Every year, the NBA tips its hand as to who it believes are the top 14 or 15 prospects in the draft with its annual "green room" invitations.
This year's invitees to the June 23 draft include:
Kyrie Irving (Duke); Derrick Williams (Arizona); Enes Kanter (Turkey); Brandon Knight (Kentucky); Kemba Walker (UConn); Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania); Jan Vesely (Czech Republic); Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State); Chris Singleton (Florida State); Klay Thompson (Washington State); Tristan Thompson (Texas); Jimmer Fredette (BYU); Marcus Morris (Kansas); and Alec Burks (Colorado).
A 15th name -- Markieff Morris of Kansas -- can effectively be added to the list, as well. Markieff is Marcus Morris' twin and will get an invite from his brother.
The only conspicuous name left off the list is Biyombo. Several others, including USC's Nikola Vucevic, Providence's Marshon Brooks and Texas' Jordan Hamilton, have an outside shot of cracking the lottery, as well.
After the story of Jimmy Butler's amazing journey to the NBA went viral this weekend, I've been flooded with questions about where he's going in the NBA draft.
Butler has worked out well wherever he's gone. He's had a huge number of workouts and the consensus among NBA teams is that he's a late first-round to early second-round pick.
A few teams in the first, including the Rockets, Thunder, Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls, are all giving him looks. In the second round, the Cavs, Pistons, Kings and Wizards all have interest, as well. If he doesn't go in the first, I think his wait will be pretty short in the second.