Will Clips keep pick? Thunder dealing?
Which teams could trade their draft picks? Here's the latest word
Updated: May 21, 2009, 6:46 PM ETBy Chad Ford | ESPN.com
• Clippers general manager and head coach Mike Dunleavy was pretty clear that the Clippers will take Blake Griffin with the No. 1 pick. "Clearly, we're taking Blake Griffin," Dunleavy told the Los Angeles Times in a telephone interview from Barcelona, Spain. "This guy is the No. 1 pick. We're extremely excited. He's the guy." So what about all those rumblings that Dunleavy has a crush on Ricky Rubio? I think he still does. Although I have no doubt the Clippers will take Griffin at No. 1 if they keep the pick, a number of NBA GMs said they believe the Clippers will be open to offers for the No. 1 pick -- especially if they can secure the services of Rubio in the process. A number of GMs continue to insist that the Clippers want to move Baron Davis and might be open to moving the pick to Memphis or Oklahoma City if either is willing to take on Davis' contract as part of the deal. Both teams will have the cap room this summer to make it happen. However, Clippers president Andy Roeser told me at the draft lottery that the rumors about moving Davis are bogus. I guess we'll see in the coming months.
• As I first reported Tuesday night, the Grizzlies are strongly leaning toward selecting Hasheem Thabeet at No. 2. The reason? Several sources told me that owner Michael Heisley loves Thabeet. He wants the team to be tougher defensively and thinks Thabeet would give it the shot-blocking and size it desperately needs. I'm told that the rest of the Grizzlies' front office is partial to Rubio, but as we've seen the past few years, Heisley runs the show in Memphis.
• Look for the Thunder to be pretty active in trade discussions with the No. 3 pick. They like Rubio, but if they draft him, they'll have to move Russell Westbrook to the 2-guard position. I talked to Thunder head coach Scott Brooks on Tuesday, and he said that although he believes that Westbrook can play the 2, Westbrook wants to be a 1. I think the challenge is that Westbrook is most effective when he has the ball in his hands and struggles more when forced to play off the ball. With Rubio and Kevin Durant likely to have the ball a lot in that offense, Westbrook would have to make an adjustment. When you factor in that neither Rubio nor Westbrook is an accomplished shooter yet, there is an issue. That's why a couple of teams think the Thunder might be willing to trade down in the draft. Two league sources said the Wizards and Thunder already had discussions about a swap of the No. 3 pick for the No. 5 pick and the Wizards' 2008 first-rounder, JaVale McGee. The Wizards want Rubio but would settle for Thabeet if he's the one who falls. The Thunder would get a long, lanky shot-blocker in McGee and then could get another guy they like, Arizona State's James Harden, at No. 5.
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