-Hearing that the Charlotte Bobcats have five offers for the second pick in the draft, and will likely trade back a few spots, with the intent of still drafting Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson. Their ideal scenario is trading the #2 pick to Cleveland (who would select Bradley Beal at #2) and getting the #4 & #24 overall pick in return, then selecting either Thomas Robinson or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at #4, however sources say that the Cavs are trying desperately to keep the #24 pick and are offering their two early second round picks instead. The other rumor is the Bobcats are insisting that anyone who trades up to #2 take forward Tyrus Thomas and his 3 year $26 million deal off of their hands, which nobody wants to do.
-Hearing that the Atlanta Hawks are getting serious about trading forward Josh Smith, if not tonight some point this offseason, and there has been talk of some sort of deal with the Los Angeles Lakers that would send Smith to L.A. and Pau Gasol to Atlanta (which would of course have much more involved). Several teams are interested in Smith, he may be a fall back option for the Houston Rockets if they are unable to trade for Dwight Howard.
-Hearing that the Oklahoma City Thunder at least discussed internally trading Sixth Man of the Year shooting guard James Harden, because they know they could get a lot in return and are afraid that they will not be able to keep both him and power forward Serge Ibaka long term. Oklahoma City absolutely loves Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal, however they would have to move all the way up to the second pick to get him. Would an offer of James Harden and their late first round pick be enough? I doubt it. If Beal is on the board at the third pick, they could explore a similar trade scenario with the Washington Wizards, who also love Beal.
-As I mentioned below (yesterday) the Lakers asking price for Pau Gasol continues to be ridiculously high, and they are insisting that any team that trades for Gasol surrender a package including a top ten pick and young players, plus take back Ron Artest. I do not think anyone in their right minds is taking Artest’s baggage and contract off of the Lakers hands.
-Hearing whispers that the Utah Jazz are exploring trading into the first round, they have a lot of assets, including their own pick and Golden State’s (top six protected) in next year’s draft plus a lot of young players. If you like any player not named Derrick Favors or Enes Kanter, they will listen.
-Over the last 48 hours there has been some talk that Austin Rivers is falling down the draft boards of a few teams because he is cocky and has an attitude problem, and I do not think this is the case at all. I think it is the fact that Rivers had more turnovers than assists and tended to dominate the ball at Duke that is making teams question him, combined with “can he play point guard in the NBA”. I do not think he has an attitude problem, however he will have to learn unselfishness if he wants to play point guard in the pros. I will be shocked if he falls out of the top ten.
-Hearing that the Warriors are totally undecided about what they want to do with the seventh pick in the draft, some within the organization love Harrison Barnes, some Andre Drummond, some Dion Waiters. Some want to trade the pick altogether. If I am Golden State, based on their roster, I gamble on Drummond if he is available.
-The Houston Rockets are desperately trying to trade up to land Andre Drummond. They are fluidly talking to the Kings about the fifth pick overall.
-Hearing that Terrence Ross is the pick if he is on the board for Milwaukee, meanwhile the 76ers are hoping that Ross or Jeremy Lamb falls into their laps.
-Dion Waiters is an extremely hot prospect right now. There is some talk he goes as early as fourth overall, and there is zero chance he lasts past Toronto at eight.
– Sounding more and more like the Cavs will be content to stay at four and take Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
– The Kings will not trade their pick until they see who is on the board, they love Thomas Robinson, hoping he falls to five which is unlikely. Some whispers that if Robinson is gone they will flip the pick to the Warriors who will select Kidd-Gilchrist or Barnes at five. The Kings then would pick either Andre Drummond or Damian Lillard at seven, whoever Portland doesn’t take at six.
– The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to trade forward Pau Gasol, except they are making ridiculous trade demands. They are asking for a few good young players, a top ten pick AND for their trade partners to take Ron Artest. Many teams will be interested in Gasol, but I doubt anyone will take on Artest as part of the deal, his skills are diminished and his contract is huge plus his long history of suspensions and fines is well documented. I doubt anyone will take on Artest’s baggage AND give up a lot of value to get Pau Gasol. I’m sure the Rockets are interested in Gasol, but the Lakers demands are too much, even for them.
-The Chicago Bulls love Harrison Barnes and are trying to trade way up to be in position to select him, dangling All-Star small forward Luol Deng as bait. There are several teams currently in the top ten (Warriors #7, Raptors #8) who would love to add Deng, however I see no way that Barnes falls out of the top five, so I doubt this rumor leads to anything.
– The Denver Nuggets are absolutely loaded with young talent, but have yet to add a true star, and they have received trade inquiries regarding many of their young players. One rumor has the Nuggets discussing sending small forward Wilson Chandler and the number twenty pick to the Golden State Warriors for the number seven overall pick in the draft. I know the Warriors like Ohio State power forward Jared Sullinger and I have him being selected twentieth overall by the Nuggets in my most recent mock draft, so if the Warriors want Sullinger this trade could make a lot of sense. Adding Wilson Chandler and Jared Sullinger would make a great draft day haul for the Warriors.
– Above I discussed the trade talks between the Charlotte Bobcats (#2 pick) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (#4 pick) in which the Cavs would select shooting guard Bradley Beal second overall and the Bobcats would select power forward Thomas Robinson fourth overall, the purpose of this trade would be allowing the Cavs to leapfrog the Washington Wizards (#3 pick) and beat them to Beal. As expected, the Wizards caught wind of these trade talks and are now claiming that they will trade the pick to anyone who wants Thomas Robinson if Beal is not available, an obvious smokescreen to attempt to deter the Bobcats from making this trade and this netting the Wizards Beal. I think that if the trade happens, the Wizards stay where they are and select North Carolina wing Harrison Barnes.
– Reports out of Miami say that barring any unforeseen changes, former Celtics shooting guard and future Hall of Famer Ray Allen will sign with the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat this offseason, which would give them an absolutely deadly shooter who will thrive off of LeBron James being double teamed. The greatest three point shooter of all time going to the Heat, this is terrifying for the rest of the NBA.
– Hearing that the Toronto Raptors are preparing a lucrative contract offer for free agent point guard Steve Nash, however he will likely decline this offer and stay with the Phoenix Suns, where he will end his career. New York, Chicago and Miami are not realistic options for Nash, who would lose a TON of cash if he signs with one of those teams for the midlevel.
– As I have predicted in many of my mock drafts (Mock Draft Links ABOVE), the Houston Rockets will be very active this offseason, and they are determined to land a star player. That prediction came through today, as the Rockets traded swingman Chase Budinger to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the #18 pick in the draft. The Rockets now own three (#14, #16 and #18 overall) picks in the first round of the draft, and are looking to package some of these picks with a player to move up in the draft. One rumor has the Rockets trading point guard Kyle Lowery and the 14th and 16th picks to the Sacramento Kings for former rookie of the year Tyreke Evans and the fifth overall pick in the draft.
-Tyreke Evans is not the “End Game” for the Rockets in the days leading up to the draft. They are attempting to acquire as many assets as possible to make the Orlando Magic an offer they can’t refuse to acquire center Dwight Howard. Howard only has one year remaining on his contract, and Houston is not on his list of preferred destinations, however the Rockets are convinced that they can convince him to sign a long term deal with Houston.
-The Rockets seem intent on trading up in Thursday’s Draft, then using that pick to acquire a star, and the Kings are not their only option. One rumor has the Rockets in trade discussions with the Golden State Warriors for the #7 pick in the draft, while another has then discussing sending point guard Kyle Lowery and picks to the Toronto Raptors for the #8 pick. It seems as though Kyle Lowery will be traded somewhere before the draft, and that Goran Dragic will be re-signed by the Rockets to be their starting point guard of the future.
-The Rockets have other options lined up if they are unable to trade for Dwight Howard, including using their draft picks (or packages including the players drafted in those slots) and players in trades for veterans, such as Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith, Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay or Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol. I have heard those players mentioned in specific rumors, but would not be shocked if they were looking into every player available this offseason.
-Another rumor has the Rockets looking to move into the top ten with their target being UConn big man Andre Drummond. They like him as a developmental prospect, but he would also be a nice big man to send to Orlando as a replacement for Dwight Howard. However, there is a chance Drummond is gone as early as fifth to Sacramento, the Blazers are considering him at sixth, and the Warriors will be considering him at seventh. His absolute floor is the Pistons at nine, a team that needs a big man desperately, so if Drummond slides the Rockets would have to get ahead of Detroit.
-The reason the Minnesota Timberwolves traded the #18 pick to the Rockets for Chase Budinger is because their number one priority this offseason was to upgrade their shooting guard position and improve on their horrible shooting from downtown last season. During the Wolves draft preparation, they came to the harsh realization that none of the top shooters in the second tier (Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Ross, Austin Rivers) would fall to the eighteenth pick, so they decided to ship it to Houston, who is desperately hoarding trade assets. Budinger immediately upgrades the outside shooting, and he should fit nicely in Minnesota, who did not need another developmental player during this draft.
-I am hearing that the Charlotte Bobcats have decided on Thomas Robinson as their draft pick, however, the team thinks he will be available later than the second overall pick and will likely trade down. The Cleveland Cavaliers hold the fourth pick in the draft, and the rumor is that they think that they want Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal, who they fear the Washington Wizards will select third. In the trade the Cavs want to leapfrog the Wizards and trade up to the second pick overall, where they will select Beal. The Bobcats believe that the Wizards, who need a shooter, will not draft Thomas Robinson third overall and he will be available with the Cavs’ fourth pick. Compensation has not yet been agreed upon, but the Cavs own the 24th pick in the first round, and then two picks (#33, #34) early in the second round. The Bobcats are asking for the 24th pick and the Cavs are attempting to keep that pick and trade their second rounders. Stay tuned, this rumor one definitely has legs.
-If the above trade were to take place, I would assume the Wizards would then select between Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes with the third pick overall. I hear they currently favor Barnes due to his edge shooting the basketball. The Wizards like Beal more than they like Barnes, and if Beal is available he will be the pick.
-If the draft breaks this way, the Kings could have Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (who is the second best prospect in the draft on many boards) fall into their laps at fifth overall. He is exactly the type of hard working, high motor player that the Kings need, and he would be a perfect fit if they keep this selection. I think that they should, it’s looking to me like Kidd-Gilchrist will be there, and if he is trading this pick could haunt Sacramento. The Kings also are known to like Weber State point guard Damian Lillard very much, but I think MGK gets the nod.
-The Portland Trail Blazers will have a difficult decision to make at six between UConn big man Andre Drummond and Lillard with the sixth overall pick. I am currently hearing that Lillard holds a slight edge, as he is ready to produce right now, and Drummond will take some time to develop.
-I am not sure anyone knows what the Golden State Warriors are doing with the seventh pick, I think they should take Drummond if he is available because they need size, but they are reportedly considering other options including Syracuse guard Dion Waiters. If a team is trying to trade into the top ten, the Warriors would likely be a good trade candidate.
-I am hearing the Toronto Raptors, also open for business on the trade market, will be happy with both Jeremy Lamb or Dion Waiters if they keep the pick. I am still hearing slight edge goes to Lamb due to his shooting ability.
-The Pistons will go big with the ninth pick. Dream scenario is Andre Drummond sliding all the way to this pick, but that is unlikely. Looks like they will choose between John Henson, Meyers Leonard and Tyler Zeller with this pick. Slight edge going to Henson because of his shot blocking ability.
-The Hornets will likely select the best player available, and I hear that Dion Waiters could be the pick here if they think he can play point, but it’s clear that they expect a steal to fall to them here. Austin Rivers is another option.
-The eleventh pick is the Portland Trail Blazers second of the lottery, so if they draft Drummond early, expect a guard and if they draft Lillar early, expect a big man here. Could be a Lillard/Zeller or Leonard combo. Personally I would prefer Drummond and Austin Rivers, Dion Waiters or Jeremy Lamb.
-The Milwaukee Bucks pick twelfth and if John Henson is on the board, I’m hearing he will be the pick here. I am not sure why, the Bucks have similar players that they like in Epke Udoh and Larry Sanders, and I would think that Zeller or Leonard would be better fits.
-The Suns pick thirteenth and they will likely take the best player available, probably a player who can score. This is the floor for Waiters, and Lamb and Curry will also be considered if they are on the board here. Washington shooting guard Terrence Ross will be an option, as will St John’s forward Moe Harkless.
Then we get into the Rockets picks. Things get dicey here. Keep checking the site for all the latest rumors.