NBA AM: Draft And Trade Scuttle
Draft Scuttle: With less than 58 hours remaining until the 2011 NBA Draft gets underway in Newark, NJ on Thursday night. There are still a number of pieces in motion and there are some answers starting to take shape.
Irving At #1: ESPN’s Rick Bucher reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers made a promise to Duke guard Kyrie Irving that they would select him with the top overall pick in Thursday’s draft. Despite the obviousness of the proclamation, it was being flatly denied by the Cavaliers yesterday who met with Enes Kanter, Derrick Williams and Brandon Knight at their facility in Cleveland.
Each walked away being told they were very much in contention for the top overall pick. Each was told that a firm decision on the top pick had not been reached and would be the subject of a team meeting with a decision expected today or tomorrow.
The Cavaliers do hold the #4 overall selection, so it’s likely the Cavs walk away with two of the four players they have met with recently.
The Cavaliers’ field is not limited to just Irving, Kanter, Williams and Knight. They also have interest in San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard, international big man Jonas Valanciunas and UCONN’s Kemba Walker.
The Cavaliers have been holding talks with other teams about dealing the #4 pick and possibly moving down a few spots and word is they really like Klay Thompson and Alec Burks and if they could acquire additional draft assets or a veteran player as part of deal to move they are very much open to that discussion.
The Cavaliers are going to continue to meet and debate their plan, so while it’s easy to proclaim Kyrie Irving as the top pick, mainly because he is the front runner, the Cavs continue to say they are not there yet, and things are still subject to change.
Minnesota and The #2: The Minnesota Timberwolves have made an offer to virtually every team in the league. They have offered almost every combination of players and picks possible hoping to flip the second overall selection and possibly a roster player into something significant like an All-Star player.
There is truth to the offer of the #2 and Kevin Love to the Lakers for Pau Gasol. There is substance to the #2 being offered to Cleveland, Washington, and Milwaukee.
The problem with this “flood the market” mentality is that a lot of dead transactions get out and are treated as viable in the press, which then further clouds what’s real and what’s possible.
The Timberwolves continue to play this smart, the say they like the #2 overall pick and are planning to use it on draft night.
The reality is if a team really wants the player Cleveland does not take, the #2 pick can be had, the problem Minnesota is facing is the same issue the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets faced last year – there just isn’t enough at the top of the 2011 NBA Draft to justify giving up a pick and a proven asset to acquire it, especially not an All-Star.
The odds the Timberwolves trade the #2 overall pick is still very high, 70/30, however the odds they can extract a real stud of a player for it is really remote, simply because no one at the top of the draft board is viewed as a surefire can’t miss talent.
Coincidently there may be more interest in Minnesota’s #20 pick than their #2 pick, because the players projected in the top five have more boom-bust potential than the players that could be available in the 20′s.
Minnesota has enough out there in the market to say they have a trade if they want it, the question becomes can Minnesota really extract anything better than they can obtain themselves and that’s what has to get decided in the next 48 hours.
On The Rise: If you go back and look at the HOOPSWORLD Mock Draft from January 2011, it’s easy to see how radically the NBA Draft landscape has changed.
With the draft just a few days away there are a few players that have really helped themselves in this process and none is bigger than BYU’s Jimmer Fredette.
Word is Fredette, who we originally pegged at the 15th best player in January, is now strongly in contention for the #7 pick with the Sacramento Kings and is said to be the target of the Phoenix Suns and the Indiana Pacers it they can find deals to move in front of Utah #12, which is said to be Jimmer’s floor – the team he will not fall past.
Washington State’s Klay Thompson was pegged in the 40′s in January and is now said to be the top name on the Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors boards. The Bucks could go Marcus Morris at #10 and have sent strong indications that he is in the running for the #10 leaving Thompson to the Warriors at #11. Either spot is a huge jump for Thompson, but according to teams that have met with him he is a lights out shooter that really can stretch the floor and teams are enamored with his size, length and ability to shoot the ball.
UCLA’s Malcolm Lee was a player we had locked in the late 40′s in January but after a strong run through the NBA Draft workout process Lee’s name has steadily climbed. His range could be as high as #12 to Utah. He was said to have blown the Jazz away in his workout, however #12 is a huge reach for Lee. The 76ers at #16 are high on Lee because of his versatility. The Wizards at #18 are high on Malcolm as are the Nets and the Timberwolves. Lee is not a first round lock yet, but considering where his stock started in the process he should be off the board before the 35th pick and that’s a nice run up for the 6’5 guard from UCLA.
Georgia Tech’s Iman Shumpert has surprised some in his rise in this process. Shumpert was ranked as the 52nd best prospect back in January and is now firmly in the mix for the Phoenix Suns at #15, the Knicks at #16 and the Nuggets at #19. Shumpert was easily one of the best players of our draft tour in May and has really changed a lot of perceptions about him. At Georgia Tech he was very one dimensional and was wildly inconsistent. In workouts he has shown an increased range out to NBA three, a better NBA body after working at IMG with rising NBA trainer Dan Barto. Shumpert looks like he will be gone in the top 25 and that is a huge run up for a kid almost everyone had in the late 2nd round when this process started.
Coming Down: There are always players that tumble on draft night and this year there are a few guys that are set up to be tumblers later this week.
Jonas Valanciunas is the best center prospect in the draft class, but word surfaced yesterday via ESPN’s Chad Ford, that Valanciunas will not be available to NBA teams this season and that a buyout agreement was imminent, but that agreement would keep him with Lietuvos Rytas for one more season.
You can now scratch Valanciunas from the top five, and he now becomes a reach in the top ten. Word is the Houston Rockets are now his floor with the #14 pick, however if Houston passes at #14 who knows where Valanciunas lands.
Unfortunately for Valanciunas he cannot pull out of this draft class so someone in the teens is now going to get a very good NBA center prospect and the Rockets need one more than any teams in the top 15.
Kentucky’s Brandon Knight may be the biggest beneficiary of the Jonas Valanciunas dropping out of the top ten, but how Knight and his camp have handled the Utah Jazz put him in a situation where he could fall a few spots as a result.
Sources near the Jazz say they were not at all happy with how Knight and his camp handled their workout. There was a real will he-won’t he leading up to their June 16th workout in Salt Lake City.
The Jazz wanted to see Knight up against Kemba Walker and Malcolm Lee, they wanted to see how he defended and he handled himself versus solid talent. Knight was not having that and according to Knight it was his agents that refused the matchup.
The Jazz are said to have real doubts about Knight’s ability to run a team, they view him more as a combo-guard and are not sold that he is their guy at #3.
Knight was pegged as the 3rd best player from the very beginning of this process, meaning he could very easily slide to #4 and the Cavaliers, however if they take Kyrie Irving #1 overall that pushes Knight down to #5 and the Toronto Raptors.
It’s not a huge tumble, but it is a situation worth watching because if Knight slides down two spot that means someone else moves up and with Valanciunas likely out of the top 10 that bodes well for Kawhi Leonard, Alec Burks and Klay Thompson.
Boston College’s Reggie Jackson is a huge enigma in this draft class. Jackson suffered a knee injury early in the draft process and did not end up working out for NBA teams. He pulled out of the NBA Draft Combine amid rumors that he had a first round guarantee that was suitable to him and his agent.
Jackson’s camp told NBA teams that after recovering from the injury he would work out for teams, but it would likely be last week at the earliest. Jackson still has not worked out for teams and his camp was refusing personal meetings and to share Jackson’s medical history, adding more fuel to the Reggie has a guarantee rumor.
Jackson had been linked to the Nets and the Celtics who have both said Jackson is not in the mix for them leading most to believe it was Miami who made the pledge at #31, the problem with that is the HEAT have told several players that were into to see them last week that they have made no such guarantees to Reggie Jackson and that the #31 is still very wide open. In fact at their expense the Miami HEAT did a full medical workup on UTEP’s Julyan Stone who they contend is in the mix for the #31 too.
If Reggie legitimately doesn’t have a commitment from Miami at #31, projecting his floor without him meeting with a single team is a scary proposition, especially with reports of a knee injury.
Checkout the latest HOOPSWORLD Mock Draft updated today. There will be one more Consensus Mock Draft on Wednesday and look for my final Mock Draft in the USA Today on Draft day.
Trade Scuttle: Expect a lot of trade activity over the next 58 hours. There may be more talk than action, but there are some notable names on the table, whether teams can consummate a deal is what has to be worked out in the next two days.
Here are some situations worth watching:
The Magic: If the Orlando Magic do not make a deal during the 2011 NBA Draft it won’t be from lack of effort. The Magic have been at the table with virtually every team with a player on the market, the problem is with Magic president Otis Smith you never know what he is thinking or what he is going to do next.
The Magic made offers on Andre Iguodala, it does not seem like they will land him as the LA Clippers are said to be the front runners if Philly pulls the trigger on a deal.
The Magic have talked with the Atlanta Hawks about a Josh Smith deal, something sources say Dwight Howard was pushing for.
There were rumors of a Monta Ellis discussion, however both publicly and privately the Warriors are denying anything of substance took place.
There have been some left field highly unlikely talks such as calls with Phoenix regarding Steve Nash. The Magic made calls, the Suns don’t seem interested, but Nash’s $11.6 million paycheck makes him easy to acquire if the Suns wanted some of the Magic’s assets.
Suns sources say Nash continues to say he’s happy, so unless there is a radical change in thinking Steve Nash isn’t going anywhere, but if he was, its hard to imagine the Magic with the best package of assets for him.
With the Magic working this hard on a trade it’s likely they will be part of something that drops on Draft night, but at this point it’s hard to say what Orlando can really accomplish because there are better suitors at the table on a lot of the players Orlando is said to covet.
Josh Smith: The Atlanta Hawks have got to flip some of their salary cap into more assets and that has put forward Josh Smith firmly on the trading block.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing the Hawks “want” to trade Josh Smith, they have simply come to the understanding that as constructed they are not going to get radically better and Smith is a big enough talent that he could return a couple of nice chips.
The Hawks desperately want a center, and that’s going to be the starting point on any deal involving J-Smoove. The problem with Josh Smith is he is not owed a ton of money; he is slated to earn $12.5 million next season with his contract ending in 2012-2013 with a final year of $13.3 million.
Normally a player like Smith being owed 2 years and $25 million would be a no-brainer, but the fact that Smith alone doesn’t return a lot means a deal for the Hawks would have to include another player.
With the Hawks being up for sale, and ownership losing its interest in funding losses, the Hawks may have to force Marvin Williams and his three years and $24.9 million into any transaction in order to return enough of the assets Atlanta is seeking.
Atlanta has seven players under contract and has $66 million in salary commitments. So not only does Atlanta need to flip Smith for a center, they need to replace his production on the cheap.
It is very likely Josh Smith is moved this week, but keep in mind that while both sides would welcome a change; this is a move of necessity first.
Andrew Bogut: Bucks’ center Andrew Bogut could be had. He’s not going to come cheap, but the Bucks have grown tired of things being on Andrew’s terms.
Bogut really rubbed the organization the wrong way in how he handled his injuries last season. They wanted him to be part of things he opted out of. He did not communicate with them in a reasonable way and that may get him his ticket out of town.
Keep in perspective that Bogut is still one of the top centers in the NBA, meaning the Bucks are not just giving him away, but if a deal involving Bogut helps the Bucks improve they seem open to that idea.
Bogut is owed $12 million next season and has a total of three years and $39 million owed and if the Bucks could exit that debt they are open to it.
The odds Bogut is dealt in the next week still remains fairly slim, 50/50 at best, however there is some level of substance to the idea that he could be traded.
Surprisingly the Bucks are not strapped for cap cash; they have $50.6 million in salary commitments next season to 10 players including a non-guaranteed $3.5 million owed to Carlos Delfino, so dealing Bogut would not be about economics in the short term, it would be about flipping a high maintenance player for better fitting pieces.
Andre Miller: Portland’s Andre Miller has a non-guaranteed contract making him a desirable trade chip. He can return roughly $9.75 million in salaries to Portland and his deal can basically be torn up to clear space by the acquiring team.
Miller at $7.8 million is pretty cheap for what he brings to the table as a player, so simply disposing of him is one possibility, but keeping him is another.
The Blazers seem like they are going to deal Andre this week, the question is will he be packaged with another Blazer player.
The Blazers have $75 million in salary commitments next season and with the possibility of a new harder cap environment will the Blazers make the play to gather assets or with they use Miller’s buffer as a means to offload someone like Brandon Roy?
The Blazers seem willing to deal and Andre Miller seems to be the focal point of their discussions, so expect to see Portland active on Draft night both in how they use their picks (the 21st and the 51st) and their existing roster.
Andre Iguodala: The 76ers seem like the table is set to move Andre Iguodala. Word is there are a couple of offers the team is seriously considering with the Clippers offer of Chris Kaman for Iguodala being the top one under consideration.
The fact that the 76ers are up for sale and there is a buyer negotiating now complicates things because much like Detroit last season, when teams are negotiating sales long term debt like player salaries weighs into the valuation.
If the 76ers can shed Andre’s contract without taking anything back, current ownership can get a better price.
So while the basketball move may be to flip Andre for a center like Kaman, the business move may be to flip Andre to the Cavaliers for their Traded Player Exception and erase the debt.
It is unclear how much the sale is impacting the thought process, but a source that’s been dealing with Philadelphia said things are different and predicting what they will do is even harder because of the sale.
So while it is easy to say take Chris Kaman for Iguodala and be done with it, Kaman is owed $12.7 million next season, his final season, which is $12.7 million more than a new owner would have to pay if the deal was with say Cleveland.
The long term ramification on this matter more than normal, which is why almost anything with Orlando is less desirable because of the debts they owe the players like Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson they were said to be offering.
Also keep in mind that new ownership wouldn’t be buying a team to immediate tear up contracts either, so the 76ers need to get their house in order in advance of a sale, so expect them to make some moves in the coming days.
Because of a potential NBA lockout, expect teams to be more deliberate in making transactions early to insure things get in before the hammer of a lockout falls. This could be a very busy NBA Draft on the trade front, especially with teams looking to trim costs in the face of a tighter NBA economy next season.
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