Draft-buzz roundup: What we're hearing
Updated: June 24, 2009, 11:17 AM ETESPN.com
Richard Jefferson to the Spurs for cap relief, and the Wolves agreed to trade Randy Foye and Mike Miller to the Wizards for the No. 5 pick and a bunch of players with undesirable contracts. How do the deals affect the draft? For the Bucks, probably little. This deal gave them some flexibility to re-sign one of their restricted free agents -- either Charlie Villanueva or Ramon Sessions. From what I can gather, the emphasis will be on Villanueva. Why? The draft has something to do with it. The Bucks have several point guard prospects they like at No. 10. The only big guy they've looked at hard is DeJuan Blair, but that's too high for Blair to go. I think they'll take Jonny Flynn, Jrue Holiday or Jeff Teague at No. 10 and go into the summer with a solid rebuilding base of talented young players including Andrew Bogut, Joe Alexander and Villanueva. It isn't a championship contender, but it's a start. For the Spurs, not at all. They don't have a first-round pick anyway. But the Wolves now are the power players in the draft, with picks 5, 6, 18, 28, 45 and 47. The question is, what will they do next? Sources say they want two lottery picks, so a trade of 5 and 6 for the second or third pick is unlikely. But they might be willing to package 5 and 18. That might not be enough for Memphis (No. 2), but it could be for Oklahoma City (No. 3). The Thunder might be content to go to No. 5 and get either James Harden or Stephen Curry, and then, at No. 18, get another player they covet, Ohio State's B.J. Mullens. See our latest mock draft for more on the Wolves' options. The Wizards are out of the draft now, but what they did was pretty savvy. I thought it would be tough to get two veterans who could come and really contribute for them, but Miller and Foye really fill out their backcourt. If they can get one more big man, they will be serious contenders in the East. Amir Johnson to the Bucks for Fabricio Oberto. Since Oberto's contract is only partially guaranteed next year, the Pistons can waive him and get about $1.7 million further under the salary cap this summer. That could put them roughly $23 million under the cap going into free agency. Over the past few months, we've assumed Carlos Boozer is their primary target, but that might not be the case. A league source told me Tuesday that the Pistons' free-agent strategy likely would preclude a run at Boozer. The Pistons want to add several players to the roster and want to keep salaries at or less than $10 million per year. With Boozer likely demanding a deal in the $15 million to $16 million a year range, his contract demands are out of their league. Add in concerns about Boozer's injury history, and I don't think the Pistons will make a play for him. Instead, you can look for them to make a run at Ben Gordon, try to re-sign Antonio McDyess and find one or two other players they can sign for smaller salaries. That stance in Detroit could put Boozer in a tough position. If he opts out of his contract with the Jazz, he's going to struggle to find any team far enough under the cap to offer him what he wants. And with the Jazz interested in keeping Paul Millsap, Boozer could be out of luck in Utah, too.
POSTED: June 23 -- 10:16 a.m. ET Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. Instead, they've put together a pretty basic wish list: Take a couple of our bad contracts, save us some money and give us a veteran or two who can help right now. Etan Thomas, Mike James and Darius Songaila seem to be the three players the Wizards wouldn't mind getting off the books. The Wizards have gotten at least 10 offers for the pick, but every team I spoke with still was in the dark about where it stood. The Knicks have offered Larry Hughes for Thomas and James. The Wolves reportedly have offered Mike Miller. The Celtics would give them Ray Allen. The Rockets would give them Tracy McGrady and Carl Landry. The Bucks would send them Richard Jefferson. The Nets would entertain unloading Vince Carter. The Suns could do something with Shaquille O'Neal. The Blazers could part ways with Steve Blake, Jerryd Bayless or Travis Outlaw. The question is: Are any of those offers good enough for the No. 5 pick? In most years, no. But this year, with the Wizards thinking they're poised to make a deep playoff run? It might be enough.
POSTED: June 22 -- 10:11 a.m. ET LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy and Sergio Rodriguez. In 2007, Pritchard landed Rudy Fernandez and Petteri Koponen with draft-day deals. And in 2008, Pritchard traded up two spots in the draft to get Jerryd Bayless and then landed Nicolas Batum in a trade. Will Pritchard strike again this year? The Blazers have been making inquiries all over the first round. Their main target has been Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair, a burly power forward who plays with a toughness the Blazers lack and coach Nate McMillan would appreciate. However, Sunday night, there was talk Pritchard has even grander plans. With point guard Ricky Rubio possibly slipping out of the top four, the Blazers are talking to the Wizards about acquiring the No. 5 pick. Pritchard has been on the hunt for a point guard, and Rubio would be a nice fit to round out the Blazers' collection of young, unselfish talents. But trading for the No. 5 pick is far from a done deal, as the price would be high for the Blazers. The Wizards want any team interested in the No. 5 pick to take Etan Thomas off their hands -- a move that could eat into the Blazers' cap space this summer. The deal almost certainly would cost the Blazers some young talent, like Bayless, Travis Outlaw or Batum. Even more pressing, McMillan has been pushing for the Blazers to sit out this draft and instead add a veteran to their young core. Pritchard joked to The Oregonian that McMillan "will probably kill me" if he adds another rookie to the team. McMillan laughed and told The Oregonian, "you will have to put me behind bars" if Pritchard gets another rookie. There's no question Pritchard also is trying to figure out a way to get maximum cap room this summer to use for a free agent or in a trade. The Magic's Hedo Turkoglu gets the most mention, but sources say Portland's real target is Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich. If the Bulls re-sign Ben Gordon to a big contract this summer, they are going to have to part ways with Hinrich to be able to afford it. The Bulls are dangerously close to the luxury tax as it is, and gving Gordon a big deal would put them over the top. Enter the Blazers, who will have the cap space to absorb Hinrich's deal and put the Bulls back under the tax threshold. Hinrich would give the Blazers a seasoned point guard, but one without the sizzle or upside of Rubio. Can Pritchard sit back and let Rubio slip through his fingers?
POSTED: June 22 -- 2:54 a.m. ET Chad Ford: The NBA has experienced workout mania the past few days, with some of the best workouts of the draft happening as teams bring back their top-rated prospects to battle each other. • Maybe the biggest news is about the workout that didn't happen -- UConn big man Hasheem Thabeet dropped out of a workout scheduled for Sunday with the Memphis Grizzlies. The official explanation was a sore shoulder. The unofficial explanation? Thabeet doesn't want to play in Memphis and wanted to stay in Los Angeles to talk Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti into drafting him at No. 3. Why doesn't Thabeet want to play in Memphis? For the same reason that Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry and others have refused workouts. Said one source in explaining the Grizzlies' reputation: "They don't spend any money anymore. They don't have a commitment to put a winning team on the floor right now. It's not where an agent wants to send his star pick." Rubio and Thabeet have said no to Memphis, and James Harden bombed a workout there, so who are the Grizzlies taking? I think it's likely they still will take Thabeet. But I have no idea how Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley is going to react to this latest twist. • Presti didn't conduct any workouts, but he sure was busy this weekend. He met with Rubio and family on Saturday, and then Thabeet and Harden on Sunday, all in L.A. The Thunder GM got a chance to look at the results of Rubio's physical, see his contract and meet the young guard, and he came away "intrigued" by the possibility of taking Rubio at No. 3. While Rubio isn't the best fit in OKC, he looks like he might be the best player on the board. So what will Presti do? While Harden might be the logical choice in terms of fit, my gut feeling is Rubio will go No. 3. • The Kings had a great workout in Sacramento on Sunday, with Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, Jonny Flynn and Nick Calathes taking part. And from what I can gather, Sunday might end up being the day Ricky Rubio lost his chance to get drafted by the Kings if he's still available at No. 4. Several people in the Kings' front office already doubted Rubio was the right fit, so it didn't help that he wasn't there to duke it out with the other top prospects. It's hard to make the case for Rubio when he's not at a workout. Meanwhile, it was the second Sacto workout for Flynn and Evans. Flynn was at the top of the Kings' board coming into the workout, but Evans emerged at the top. His physicality was just too much for Flynn, Curry and Calathes to handle. As one Kings scout said, "It was a man beating up boys." That could be bad news for Rubio. With Sacramento general manager Geoff Petrie looking for a player who can contribute right away, Flynn and Evans are getting more attention. If Rubio slides past Sacramento at No. 4, he could be heading to either Washington at 5, Minnesota at 6 or New York at 8. The Wizards haven't seen him yet, and neither have the Wolves. But if the Knicks want to see him, I think Rubio will find a way to accommodate them. • The Timberwolves brought a number of guards in over the weekend, including Flynn, Evans, Jennings, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson and Jeff Teague. From what I gather, Evans won some hearts in Minnesota, and Flynn stole a few as well. As for Jennings, it sounds like the Wolves will pass. • The Suns also had a big workout this weekend -- Earl Clark, James Johnson and Jennings were joined by Calathes, Jack McClinton and Jonas Jerebko. It sounds as though a number of players played well, and it appears Clark and Johnson are in a dead heat in Phoenix at the moment -- that is, unless someone else in the top 12 falls to Phoenix at No. 14. As for Jennings, one Suns source said he was good but was skeptical: "I hope he doesn't fall to us at 14. I don't want to have to make a decision on him." • More big workouts are coming early this week. The Knicks are bringing back Holiday. There's a good chance it will be Holiday versus Jennings for the No. 8 pick if Curry, Evans and Jordan Hill are off the board. Milwaukee has a big point guard workout with Flynn, Teague, Jennings and Lawson. The Bucks' workouts should help them decide who they take at No. 10. The New Jersey Nets have an "everything" workout with Flynn, Jennings, Gerald Henderson, Terrence Williams, Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Pendergraph on Tuesday. That one should help them determine who they take at No. 11 The Bobcats are trying to arrange a matchup between Henderson and Williams. Henderson has been the favorites there for weeks, but it appears Williams has edged into the mix. And the Bulls are trying to schedule one last showdown between DeJuan Blair, Johnson and B.J. Mullens for Tuesday. As of Sunday night, only Blair had committed to the workout. The Bulls wanted Hansbrough at that one as well, but he had already committed to the Nets. Clark might replace him. • By the way, Blair seems to be back in favor with more GMs. Over the weekend his agent, Happy Walters, had a couple of teams talk to Blair's physician, James Bradley, who did Blair's ACL surgeries in high school. I'm not privy to the conversations, but I do think this latest development has put him back in the mix with the Pacers at No. 13 and the Bulls at 16.
POSTED: June 21 -- 8:27 a.m. ET Chad Ford: The Bucks look like they're sitting pretty good at No. 10. One of the point guards that they like -- whether it's Jonny Flynn, Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague or Brandon Jennings -- should be there when they draft. In fact, it's possible all of them will be there. With that in mind, the Bucks are bringing back Flynn, Jennings, Lawson and Teague early next week for another big workout. I think Milwaukee's board looks like this right now going into that workout: 1. Jordan Hill
Holiday won't be in the workout, but maybe he doesn't need to be at this point. The other four rankings could change based on what happens on Monday. • There is a lot of intrigue in the draft between picks 13 and 16 right now. The first dozen players are considered known quantities, which puts teams like the Pacers, Suns, Pistons and Bulls in no-man's land. All four of those teams have brought in numerous players to work out in the past few weeks. This weekend the Suns have three key players coming in: Brandon Jennings, Earl Clark and Austin Daye. Here are some the players the four teams are looking at, according to sources with each of the teams: Jennings, Clark, Daye, James Johnson, DeJuan Blair, Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Eric Maynor, B.J. Mullens and Terrence Williams. The Pacers seem to be leaning toward going with either a point guard (Jennings, Maynor, Lawson or, if one of them falls, Holiday or Flynn) or one of two big guys, Blair and Hansbrough. The Suns seem to have three guys squarely in their sights -- Clark, Daye and Jennings. The Pistons are looking at Clark and Daye, and if neither guy is on the board, then Mullens. As I reported on Friday, there is no Pistons' promise to Mullens. The Bulls appear to be targeting a big as well, looking at Blair, Hansbrough and Johnson. They also are fans of Williams. Behind the scenes, there has been a lot of talk and maneuvering, as these teams try to figure out who will be available. The Pacers, Suns and Bulls have all talked with teams about moving up and down in the draft. The Bulls seem to be trying to leapfrog the others by acquiring the Nets' No. 11 pick, and are dangling No. 16 and No. 26. The Suns have tried to get up higher in the lottery, as have the Pacers. Of course, all of these trade discussions depend on who's going to be available, something that's a real mystery right now. And in some cases, at this time of the year, teams are engaging in draft talk with prospects just to try to get more information about what other teams are going to do in the draft. While sources say it's likely that the Bulls move up in the draft, the Nets aren't their only suitors. And the Pistons may end up getting out of the first round altogether to create even more cap room this summer. • Not sure how much to read into this, but in the past week Brandon Jennings went from working out for high-to-mid-lottery teams like the Kings (4), Warriors (7) and Knicks (8) to working out for several late lottery teams, including Indiana (13), Phoenix (14) and soon Milwaukee (10) and New Jersey (11). If he doesn't go to any of those teams, he could be in for a draft day slide. His camp feels pretty confident he's going to be drafted by late in the lottery, and he really impressed both the Warriors and Knicks -- but he's one we're following closely. • I'm preparing our first second-round mock draft for Monday and keep hearing a few players in the second round are pretty hot names at the moment. They include France's Nando De Colo, Central Florida's Jermaine Taylor, St. Joseph's Ahmad Nivins, Santa Clara's John Bryant, UAB's Paul Delaney and NC State's Courtney Fells. De Colo wowed a lot of teams with his performance at the Reebok Eurocamp and has more than held his own in workouts. Bryant's and Nivins' size has given them a boost. A number of scouts say that Nivins, in particular, is interesting because he's still learning the game. And Delaney and Fells are doing it the old fashioned way: They've come to workout after workout against much higher-ranked opponents and repeatedly responded with terrific workouts.
POSTED: June 19 -- 1:39 p.m. ET