- Chad Ford, ESPN Senior Writer
With the NBA draft less than a week away, the rumors are beginning to fly. Not only are GMs speculating about who will draft whom, but there's also quite a bit of buzz about potential trades.
Normally at this time of year, we see a number of big trades before and during the draft. This year is more complicated. With the league on the verge of a lockout, teams are unsure what the future holds. Typically a number of trades have to be completed after July 1, when teams get players off the books and have cap space to facilitate deals. This year, with a lockout that could go on for months, such future trades will be virtually nonexistent because teams are unsure how much cap space they'll actually have and whether handshake deals can last for months instead of just days.
Still, there is plenty of chatter about teams exploring deals that they could complete immediately.
It starts at No. 2, where the Minnesota Timberwolves continue to listen to offers for their pick. Although they continue to maintain that they are comfortable taking Derrick Williams at No. 2, their preference is to begin adding veterans to the team. If they draft Williams, they'll look to move Michael Beasley and possibly Anthony Randolph. But neither player has the same trade value that the No. 2 pick has. Potential trade partners include the Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers.
For weeks, the most realistic partner appeared to be the Wizards if they were willing to part with JaVale McGee. However, sources in Washington claim that they don't want to trade McGee. The center is a talent, albeit an immature one. But finding young 7-footers is hard to do, and the Wizards wouldn't have a natural replacement for him if they traded him.
Another realistic trade scenario involves the Suns. Phoenix is in hot pursuit of Williams and may have interest in a deal that would send Minnesota center Marcin Gortat and the No. 13 pick for the No. 2 pick and Nikola Pekovic.
The Cavs are also aggressively out there. As I reported in my Mock Draft 5.0, the Cavs have been heavily shopping both Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions around the league in anticipation of drafting Kyrie Irving at No. 1. You can add J.J. Hickson to that list as well, according to sources. The team is willing to package one or more of them with the fourth pick to get the No. 2 pick or a younger veteran to put on the floor with Irving.
The Jazz also will explore options to move down in the draft if they get the right offer. They like the No. 3 pick but don't sound wedded to it.
I've got my eye on the Bucks as well. For the past two years they've made big trades on draft night. They kept their pick both times, but this year might be different. The Bucks think that they're a 45 to-50-win ballclub if they're healthy. Adding another veteran to the mix might help push that along.
The Rockets continue to be aggressive as well, looking around the league for help ... any help. From what I can gather, no one in Houston is safe. The team especially would like to add a center, and there aren't a lot of great options at No. 14.
The Sixers are another team to watch. As ESPN's Chris Broussard has reported, Andre Iguodala is available and the Sixers are looking for size in return. Chris Kaman could be an option. But getting up into the top five in the draft could do it as well if the Sixers are OK moving forward at a slower pace. Is coach Doug Collins willing to risk sliding a bit to shore up the team for the future?
Finally, the Blazers have been aggressive, according to a number of GMs. They are out there looking for a starting point guard and would like to move way up in the draft to get one.
• Jimmer Fredette had his big workout in Utah on Wednesday. The word is that Fredette had an excellent workout, shot the ball well and even played some defense. The question du jour is whether he'll land with the Jazz at No. 12.
Two big obstacles remain in the way, Jazz fans. The first is the No. 3 pick. If the Jazz take Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker (who I hear is also strongly in the mix at No. 3), it's unlikely. If they take Enes Kanter or Jan Vesely instead, I think drafting Fredette at No. 12 becomes a strong possibility.
The second obstacle is the Kings. Although other teams are intrigued by Fredette, I don't think they'll take him. The Bucks were the one team that could've been in the mix, but sources say they're going to pass.
So would the Kings take a player at No. 7 whom most have as a late lottery pick? Yes and no. It's complicated.
Fredette isn't the top-rated guard on their board -- Brandon Knight is. Kemba Walker also has fans in the organization, but it's much closer between the two players. The Kings may feel that a bigger need is at the 3, and either Kawhi Leonard or Jan Vesely should be on the board there.
But that's half the story. The other half is the Maloofs, who are getting more involved in the Kings' front office. I'm told the owners are the ones who are pushing hard for Jimmer, and they may get their way.
I'm not sure they're wrong in pushing for him. Although it might be "high" for Fredette, he would be a good fit in Sacramento with Tyreke Evans. If you believe he can play the point, the Kings could have one of the most lethal scoring backcourts in the NBA down the road.
• A month ago, Boston College's Reggie Jackson was one of the hottest names in the draft. Now? He's disappeared. Jackson had a knee injury right before the Chicago pre-draft combine and had a minor procedure done that was supposed to keep him out of workouts for three weeks.
Jackson had scheduled workouts with the Pacers, Bobcats, Blazers and Bulls for the last week before the draft. Earlier this week, all four teams learned that Jackson would not come. They were told Jackson was still injured and wasn't able to work out.
Fair enough. But when the teams were also told that he wouldn't be coming in for interviews and that his team wouldn't be releasing medical information, everyone got suspicious. It sounds as though a team that has promised to draft Jackson in return for not cooperating with other teams has shut him down. It happens every year, and it seems it has happened again.
I don't know who has promised him. Three rumored teams -- the Blazers, Boston Celtics and New Jersey Nets -- all say they haven't. The Blazers and Celtics don't make sense anyway. Both drafted similar players (Elliot Williams and Avery Bradley) last year with their first-round picks.
I would be shocked if he slides past the Heat at No. 31. Miami has loved him all season, and he'd be a great fit there.
• Big man Bismack Biyombo may be facing a bit of a backlash after a disastrous workout in Treviso, Italy, at the Adidas Eurocamp. Although the teams I spoke with sounded as though they had things in proper perspective (what do you think would happen if Biyombo shot for 30 minutes?), his camp may be getting nervous.
The NBA released its preliminary list of 12 prospects who will be invited to attend the draft and sit in a special green room. Biyombo wasn't on it.
The original plan was for Biyombo to show up in New York a day or two before the draft. He had refused all personal workouts. He would come just for the draft.
Now it sounds as though the plan has changed. Biyombo's people have reached out to at least two teams offering a private workout. One of the teams, the Pistons, still doesn't have a workout confirmed. Another team, the Knicks, will work him out early next week.
Biyombo is in an interesting situation. His draft range is still pretty wide. It starts at No. 8 with the Pistons, but I'm not sure he has a floor yet. If the Pistons pass, where would he land? The Bucks, Warriors, Jazz, Rockets, Sixers and Knicks are all possibilities. But none of them is a lock, either. He needs to find that backstop.
• The closer we get to the end of the first round, the more the draft consensus seems to be falling apart. I've spent the past two days talking to teams, and a number of people not in our first-round mock are getting serious looks in the first round. Our new Draft Tier Rankings has all of them listed as Tier 6 players. But they could make the first-round cut.
Cleveland State's Norris Cole and Georgia Tech's Iman Shumpert seem to be generating the most buzz. Both players have had great workouts. So has UCLA's Malcolm Lee, who I'm told was excellent in Utah's workout versus Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker. Florida's Chandler Parsons and Croatia's Bojan Bogdanovic also have some first-round buzz.
Cole has wowed with his athletic ability and his ability to get to the basket. I've had a couple of teams tell me he's the fourth-ranked point guard on their board behind Knight, Walker and Fredette. He could go as high as No. 21 to the Blazers.
Shumpert's athleticism, defense and size are all standing out as well. He's also been shooting the ball better, a big plus for him. The Knicks and Nuggets are both looking at him.
Parsons is coming off a terrific workout in Denver, where he and E'Twaun Moore sound like they stole the show. Parsons has drawn praise wherever he's gone. He has NBA size and an NBA skill set. If he can prove to teams he has the toughness to make it in the league, he may be a good pick.
Bogdanovic already has worked out in New Jersey and Houston. He will visit the Thunder on Friday and has the Spurs, Wolves and Celtics also lined up before the draft.
All six teams are real possibilities for him in the first round. Bogdanovic was the second-leading scorer in the Euroleague this season at 18 points per game. However, he's under contract for the next few years with his new team, Fenerbahce, and teams will have to patient. But he'd be a good late-first-round pick from a talent perspective. If he had no contract issues, he'd be a mid-first-round pick.