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Friday, June 27, 2008
The Story of Draft Night 2008 ...


TrueHoop at the Draft

Blogging and blogging and blogging the 2008 NBA Draft. Selected recent posts:

The Big Apple Wants O.J.
Will Michael Beasley Prank David Stern?
Thursday Bullets
Trade Talk
Chatting with Top Prospects
Pre-Game Tension
Liveblogging the Early Picks
Liveblogging the Later Picks
Darrell Arthur's Three Teams

Was barely even known on draft night 2008.

I just left Madison Square Garden, and that place was dead. Just about every single person had gone home, except the cleaning crew, and those few stragglers still hanging around were far from lively.

But check that Blackberry one last time tonight, because it's Game On.

ESPN's Chad Ford reports:

Two league sources told ESPN.com that the Wolves have reached an agreement in principle with the Memphis Grizzlies that will send the draft rights of Mayo, Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker and Greg Buckner to the Grizzlies in return for the draft rights to Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins.

The deal is a blockbuster for both teams. ESPN.com reported on Tuesday that the Wolves GM Kevin McHale was infatuated with Love, but felt that the team had to select Mayo and use him to acquire more assets.

In addition to landing Love, the Wolves get a sharp-shooting swingman in Miller who can help carry the scoring load from the perimeter.

Wow. OK.

Not two hours ago, David Thorpe was singing the Grizzlies' praises:

One pick I am very high on is Kevin Love for Memphis. Love brings toughess to a team that no one would call tough. I don't know if they're soft, but you wouldn't call them tough. But they have pieces. Rudy Gay, on the wing on the break, might be the second scariest guy in the NBA, behind LeBron James. He's outrageous in transition. Now Love can start breaks like crazy. That team has a chance to be good. They have a point guard, a small forward, and now a big. With that, you're on your way. He'll lose weight too, because it's clear that they want to run.

But now it's all different. All different. Come with me. Let us gaze upon the latest version of the Memphis roster.

The forwards are Rudy Gay, Antoine Walker, Hakim Warrick, and Andre Brown. Gay is a keeper, Warrick is interesting, but this list was better with Kevin Love's name in it.

The centers are Kwame Brown and Darko Milicic, two cautionary tales of poor draft judgment.

(The Grizzlies also reportedly now have thrice-traded Darrell Arthur, after a reported deal with Houston.) 

The guards? Well, there are a lot of them. The present list is: O.J. Mayo, Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry, Javaris Crittenton, Marko Jaric, Greg Buckner, and Casey Jacobsen. Every one of them has something to recommend them, but (this sounds harsher than I mean it) none has ever really been a player that mattered on an NBA team that mattered.

Four of those guards would tell you they play point guard. In fact, even before the draft, it was widely believed that Memphis' point guard corps could use a good thinning. Now?

Now, I guess, we go with another widely held theory -- that O.J. Mayo might really be best at shooting guard.

That part's not a stretch.

For instance, here's former Kings head coach Eric Musselman, writing on his blog:

Mayo's an off-guard who some believe will eventually make the move to the PG position. I see him as a player who can help distribute the ball, handle it, and help his team get into its offense, but his strength is as a scorer. He doesn't have a point-guard mentality.

But what is a stretch, to me, is the notion that this roster is a long-term solution. This seems to me like some salary manuevering, combined with a play for some star power, any which way it could be had.

Put it all together and you have a roster that does not make sense to me. There are quality pieces on this team. But almost never has there been a team with so little scoring in the paint, and yet, even the guards are not proven, either.

I know it in my bones that Memphis could not possibly be done dealing.

Meawhile, I still believe that O.J. Mayo is like a moth, and big cities like New York, L.A., and Miami are the flames.

Remember how Pat Riley went on and on about Mayo through the draft process, saying he was in the mix for the second pick?

Remember that we heard the Grizzlies were desperate for Michael Beasley?

I don't think it will happen, but mark it down as one of the trades that should happen. Miami could get, say, Mayo, a backup point guard like Lowry, and/or next year's pick for Beasley. Memphis could get more playing time for Mike Conley, massive improvement on the front line, a long-term big man to play with Rudy Gay, and a little savings not having to pay Lowry and/or next year's first-rounder.

This trade is a figment of my imagination, but I can't imagine some follow-up trade isn't in the works to make this all make more sense.