Good news for the Raptors from Chad Ford (Insider): "I think [the second best player in the draft] could be the Toronto Raptors' Jonas Valanciunas. Many NBA scouts believe he would have been the No. 2 pick in this year's draft had he not entered the 2011 draft. Valanciunas spent this past year in Lithuania and will be a rookie this season. The Raptors likely will give him lots of playing time early, as they think he has the makings of a star."
John Hollinger (Insider) explains how trading Chase Budinger to Minnesota for the 18th pick increases the Rockets' chances of landing Dwight Howard: "Houston hopes to present an overwhelming stockpile of assets to the Magic in return for Dwight Howard ... even if it has no assurances he'll stay more than one season. This may even be a move that sets up the move that sets up the big move. Houston may very well be looking to package multiple draft picks to move into the lottery, then using that lottery pick as the bait to lure Howard. In the big picture, it seems Houston's gambit is to count on Brooklyn being unable to keep its salary cap powder dry for another season while still retaining Deron Williams. If the Nets are off the table -- either because Williams bolted or because they used their cap space to keep Williams happy -- it's not clear where Howard would go that might be preferable to Houston. According to a report at NBA.com, Howard's people are busy trying to scare the Rockets off, as partnering with Williams in Brooklyn is his preferred destination, but Houston doesn't seem deterred."
There's a lot to like about the possibility of Josh Smith in Boston.
ESPN the Mag gets NBA players from each team to represent their clubs in a Mock Draft (Insider). Lots of NBAers drafted players from their old school, but J.J. Redick's explanation for picking Bradley Beal is pretty great: "'He's the best player available, and he could be the shooting guard Magic fans have longed for, someone who can create his own shot,' says Magic guard Redick about the Gators freshman, who averaged 14.6 ppg and 6.5 rpg. 'All this is moot if he dropped this far because he has a life-threatening injury or a habit of punching his coaches that I don't know about.'"
Royce Young of Daily Thunder has caught on to OKC's front office mantra: "I find myself asking, 'What would the Spurs do?' in these situations and what strikes me is that they target a guy that could have a potential impact sooner than later. The fact is, essentially one to ten, the Thunder have a roster and rotation basically filled out. But as Presti said, this is a chance to improve, so why not look for a guy that’s ready physically and mentally to do something on the floor. I think we could all agree that despite being three wins from a championship, there are some holes in the team. And they aren’t likely getting filled in free agency. So look to an older player. The Thunder don’t need another project. They don’t need another guy to wear a uniform and draw a check. They don’t need another guy locked on the Turner Turnpike bouncing between Tulsa and Oklahoma City."
Anthony Davis gives Jimmy Fallon a taste of what it's like to shoot over his 7-6 wingspan.
Syracuse's Dion Waiters has flaws, but this video suggests he'll be a nightmare to stop on pick-and-rolls.
From an Arron Afflalo conversation with Henry Abbott: "When you get a fiery young player coming into the league that's willing to play defense, I don't think there's a coach in the NBA that won't love that." Makes me think some coach (and likely a fan base) is going to enjoy having Marquette's Jae Crowder on the roster. Chad Ford currently predicts Crowder will go to the Knicks in the second round (Insider).
Tough "D" and corner 3's make Courtney Lee a perfect fit with the Clippers.
Did the Thunder know about Jeff Green's heart condition, which caused him to miss the 2012 season, when they traded him to Boston?
Why many of the trades this offseason will likely be pre-emptive responses to the punitive luxury tax system that will be implemented for the 2013-14 season.
Baylor coach Scott Drew reflects on three former players who expect to be drafted on Thursday night.
More trouble for Thunder co-owner Aubrey McClendon in a special Reuters report by Brian Grow, Joshua Schneyer and Janet Roberts: "In emails between Chesapeake and Encana Corp, Canada's largest natural gas company, the rivals repeatedly discussed how to avoid bidding against each other in a public land auction in Michigan two years ago and in at least nine prospective deals with private land owners here. In one email, dated June 16, 2010, McClendon told a Chesapeake deputy that it was time 'to smoke a peace pipe' with Encana 'if we are bidding each other up.' The Chesapeake vice president responded that he had contacted Encana 'to discuss how they want to handle the entities we are both working to avoid us bidding each other up in the interim.' McClendon replied: 'Thanks.' That exchange -- and at least a dozen other emails reviewed by Reuters -- could provide evidence that the two companies violated federal and state laws by seeking to keep land prices down, antitrust lawyers said."