2012 NBA Draft Eve Notebook
Here’s a little taste of the latest rumors, buzz and analysis 24 hours before the 2012 NBA Draft.
What Should Bobcats Do At #2? It is becoming increasingly clear that the Charlotte Bobcats are not in love with any one player at #2 and have made this pick available. The latest rumors have the Bobcats wanting to select Thomas Robinson, but not enough to use the second pick on him.
It’s also clear that the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Washington Wizards both covet Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal. It makes sense for the Bobcats to trade the #2 pick to either team, if for no other reason they will still likely be able to pick Robinson at either #3 or #4 and it will save the franchise money over the length of the rookie contract.
The Cavs can offer the best package (between the Cavs and Wizards) by either agreeing to take back Tyrus Thomas and his bloated contract or by adding the 24th pick in this year’s draft to the deal. If the Cavs agree to either potential trade, the Bobcats would be making a mistake by not jumping at this.
The Wizards likely won’t offer much more than the #3 pick and maybe a second rounder, after all they are only trying to move up one spot. They own the 32nd pick in the draft, which would give the Bobcats the first two picks in the second round. Every year there are draft night steals that slip into the second round and make an instant impact for a team. Last year, Isaiah Thomas was the last pick taken in the draft and he made the All-Rookie team.
As the draft nears, one thing is becoming clear: it will be a surprise if the Bobcats end up drafting for themselves with the #2 pick.
Kings Need A Veteran, Not Another Rookie: The Sacramento Kings own the fifth pick in the draft, which likely limits their draft day choices. There is a seeming consensus on the top five players in the 2012 draft, and the Kings will likely select whichever player is still on the board between Robinson, Beal, Harrison Barnes and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, with Barnes or Kidd-Gilchrist the most likely player to fall to the Kings.
Sacramento is a team of young, up-and-coming players. Their core group consists of Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton, Jason Thompson and Isaiah Thomas; all of which are 25 or younger. This isn’t a team that needs to add another teenager; they need to add veteran leadership.
It’s been no secret that several teams have been interested in moving into the lottery, especially into the top five where Barnes or Kidd-Gilchrist will likely be waiting. The Kings would be wise to consider a deal with the Chicago Bulls’ Luol Deng or the Philadelphia 76ers’ Andre Iguodala. Recently, Deng even spoke to the possibility of being traded.
Both players have playoff experience and both players can thrive in a situation where they aren’t the primary ball handlers, which they wouldn’t be in Sacramento. Deng or Iguodala would also bring added toughness to the defensive side of the ball for the Kings; Deng was even selected to the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team this past season. The Kings also have a need at small forward, Evans is on record saying he isn’t happy playing off the ball, and adding a player like Deng or Iguodala would allow him to assume more of the ball handling duties.
The Kings haven’t had any luck in attracting marquee free agents to Sacramento, so their best bet to add a veteran difference maker would be via trade. If the Kings were willing to take on the money that is still owed to Deng or Iguodala without sending out any contracts in return, it’s possible the Kings could find their small forward and all it would cost them is a lottery pick.
For the Bulls or Sixers, a deal with the Kings makes financial sense as well as basketball sense. Both teams would free up enough cap space to pursue other free agents this offseason without pushing them into luxury tax territory and the #5 pick would likely be a young small forward that the team could build around with Derrick Rose for the Bulls or Evan Turner for the 76ers.
Houston Going Big: The Houston Rockets have made no secret of their desire to add a big name via trade or free agency. Now, with their recent deal acquiring another first round draft pick giving them 12, 16 and 18, the Rockets are in prime position to acquire a big name player through trade.
The biggest name that has popped up is Dwight Howard. With the Magic recently hiring a new GM, it’s possible the team finally moves Howard and starts the rebuilding process. A deal with the Rockets could be a good start for the Magic after losing a superstar like Howard.
The real question though, is this a good idea for the Rockets? The rumor out of Howard’s camp is that under no circumstances will he sign an extension with the Rockets. In an era of superstars eventually getting what they want (Carmelo Anthony being traded to the New York Knicks, LeBron James forming a big three in Miami and Chris Paul forcing his way out of New Orleans to name three) is it really worth it for the Rockets to acquire Howard when it’s almost certain that he will leave in free agency after just one season in Houston?
The Rockets believe one year in Houston will be enough to entice Howard to re-sign with them, plus they will have the ability to add a fifth year to Howard’s contract and some extra $25 million that other teams won’t be able to do. Will that be enough to keep Howard with the Rockets is anyone’s guess, but for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2008-09 season it’s probably worth the risk.
If Howard does leave after one year, then the Rockets are right back where they started anyway, a team without a star that is heading for the lottery, but at least they likely will be coming off an exciting season that saw them make the playoffs. If Howard does happen to re-sign then the Rockets will instantly be one of the top teams in the Western Conference and could be building toward something special. If Howard is traded at the draft, expect the Rockets to be in the thick of the discussions.
Trade Rumors Starting To Heat Up: The closer the draft gets, the more trade rumors are popping up. Most of these are just rumors, but plenty of big names have been bandied about. Howard, Deng and Iguodala were discussed above, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Now the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz appear ready to make a draft day splash as well. Sources say the Lakers are indeed shopping Pau Gasol and are looking for a draft pick and an established player in return. There are plenty of teams inside the lottery that are looking for a big man with Gasol’s skills. The Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers and Detroit Pistons could all use a center/power forward like Gasol and in most mock drafts have targeted big men with their draft picks.
The Jazz are reportedly interested in moving into the lottery in an attempt to draft Weber State point guard Damian Lillard, Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal or Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The Jazz appear to be dangling veteran big men Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap, along with a future first round pick.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have long been linked to trade scenarios where they move up in the draft, but now there is word they may look to move down in the draft. The Cavs are working out Washington guard Terrence Ross, and it’s doubtful Cleveland would use the fourth pick on him. The Cavs are clearly in rebuilding mode and are thinking about the future more than the present. If they could trade down in the draft and pick up another asset or two, it appears they would be at least willing to listen to offers.