NBA Roundup: Lamar Odom on trade block?
There’s not a lot of mystery at the top: Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Hornets are a match, and there is little argument that the college player of the year from Kentucky is the top talent in the 2012 NBA Draft.
But the No. 2 pick, which bounced to the Charlotte Bobcats, is where the plentiful date about the prospect pecking order begins.
The Bobcats had an NBA-record low winning percentage that gave them the best chance at Davis. But the lottery didn’t work out that way, and the Bobcats were dealt another defeat.
There are needs all around the team’s roster. Tuesday’s trade for shooting guard Ben Gordon adds what coach Mike Dunlap said was the team’s greatest weakness — shooters. He’s undersized like 2011 first-rounder Kemba Walker, but the two UConn products combine to fill the void for perimeter punch.
If the Bobcats don’t deal the pick — Dunlap said that possibility is very much in play — the options include Kansas junior power forward Thomas Robinson, Kentucky freshman small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Florida freshman shooting guard Bradley Beal, North Carolina sophomore small forward Harrison Barnes and UConn freshman center Andre Drummond.
Robinson recently held a private workout for the Bobcats and is projected to be the team’s pick. However, deals are reportedly coming in as teams vie to get in position to grab the prospect they prefer, rather than waiting to see who’s available in the middle of the lottery.
One team with the assets to jump up a few spots in Cleveland. The Cavaliers’ rebuilding project advanced last season with two top picks, including No. 1 overall selection Kyrie Irving, the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year. Tristan Thompson, drafted fourth overall last season, wasn’t a major factor.
The Cavaliers are high on Beal, a smooth shooter compared to Ray Allen, and Barnes. But one or both could be gone by the time the Cavaliers are scheduled to pick at No. 4.
Drummond, a 7-footer with leaping and shot-blocking ability, is considered a project but size tends to rise on draft night. There are questions about his drive and how soon he’ll contribute. The other top centers include Meyers Leonard of Illinois, a 7-footer with a face-the-basket game and immense potential. He’s a target of several teams in the top 10, and could be paired with Davis in Charlotte. The Hornets also have the No. 10 pick.
In addition to Barnes, three other North Carolina players could be drafted in the top 20. Sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall, who set the ACC single-season record for assists last season, senior power forward Tyler Zeller and junior John Henson are projected as first-rounders.
Kentucky, though, could match last year’s draft haul by landing four players in the first round in back-to-back years.
Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist are likely lottery picks. Junior forward Terrance Jones, sophomore point guard Marquis Teague, sophomore shooting guard Doron Lamb and senior forward Darius Miller are also first-round options.
–The Clippers and Mavericks have discussed a deal involving Lamar Odom, according to multiple reports.
Odom, owed a $2.4 million buyout Friday if he’s still on the Mavericks’ roster, was given permission to find a new home.
The Clippers might need to lure another team into the conversation. The Mavericks aren’t interested in taking on a contract and would deal Odom only to shed his salary.
The Mavericks are gearing up to make a run at multiple marquee free agents, with point guards Deron Williams and Steve Nash topping the list.
The Clippers would like to deal Mo Williams, who has an $8.5 million option for 2012-13, but he’s not in the Mavericks’ plans.
Odom was traded to Dallas last season but he proved to be an ill fit with the team.
Odom won two NBA titles in Los Angeles with the Lakers as a valuable sixth man.
–Larry Bird officially resigned as Indiana Pacers’ president of basketball operations, returning the baton to Donnie Walsh, who filled the role in the team’s glory days over 24 seasons before four seasons with the Knicks.
Under Walsh, Kevin Pritchard was promoted to general manager. He replaces David Morway, who resigned Tuesday after 13 seasons with the franchise.
“I’m happy these two gentlemen will step up and take us to the next level,” Bird said at a press conference at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday.
The outgoing NBA Executive of the Year, Bird met with owner Herb Simon to finalize the restructured front office on Tuesday. Bird, 55, has had shoulder and back issues for years.
He was Pacers’ head coach from 1997-2000 and came back in a front-office capacity in 2003.
“I really congratulate (Bird) for what he did with this franchise,” Walsh said.
Walsh will have final say in personnel matters. He has had his own health problems and did not work last season. He’d been the head of the Knicks’ front office since 2008.
Pritchard was the Pacers’ director of player personnel but began doing general manager-related duties over the second half of last season.
“I think change is great,” Morway said. “I really do. New ideas, new creativity, new vision and new energy.”
–Deron Williams celebrated his 28th birthday knowing a bigger prize is likely to be presented to him in the next two weeks.
Williams, one of the top free agents in the NBA this summer, isn’t expected to take a tour of cities of interested teams. He has, in fact, narrowed his choices to his hometown Dallas Mavericks and re-signed with the Brooklyn Nets.
If the past week is any indication, the Mavericks have ground to gain on the Nets.
Williams is keeping a regular workout scheduled at the Nets’ facility in New Jersey and celebrated his birthday with a dinner in New York that included Nets’ coach Avery Johnson.
The Mavericks are able to first contact Williams at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday, when free agency recruiting begins.
The Nets can offer a five-year, $100 million contract with is one full year and $25.45 million more than the Mavericks can extend to Williams per the CBA.
The Nets’ recruitment of Williams is ongoing. Tuesday, they sent a truck to Williams’ New York City apartment with the new team logo emblazoned on the side. His wife, Amy, tweeted a picture of the photo.
–The Los Angeles Lakers are assessing Pau Gasol’s trade value, according to an ESPN.com report.
Citing sources, ESPN.com reported that the Lakers are seeking a top-10 pick in Thursday’s draft, plus an established player. No deal was imminent as of Wednesday afternoon.
Many teams covet Gasol, but he won’t come cheaply. In addition to picks and players, ESPN.com reported that the Lakers also want teams to assume the final two years and $38 million of Gasol’s contract.
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