Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Draft Notes: Which teams might deal their pick?
By Chad Ford
This may be one of the deeper drafts in recent memory, but that hasn't stopped teams with high draft picks from already engaging in trade discussions that would involve those picks.
There were numerous rumblings in Orlando, Fla., during the pre-draft camp about teams potentially swapping picks or moving out of the draft altogether.
Some of the trade talk has to do with need. A few teams are eyeing the playoffs and would prefer a veteran over a rookie. Others sense parity in this draft -- after perhaps the top three players -- and that has them believing they can get a good player later in the draft and potentially pick up an asset.
Which teams are the most likely to move a pick by draft night?
Miami Heat: We are continuing to hear that if the Bulls draft Derrick Rose with the No. 1 pick (which is looking more and more likely) they'll try to move the No. 2 pick for either a draft prospect like O.J. Mayo or a veteran point guard like T.J. Ford or Kirk Hinrich.
Of course, the Heat will want more than just a straight swap for giving up such a coveted pick. With so many teams in pursuit of a scoring forward like Michael Beasley, the Heat could really net a starter and a high pick or solid prospect. They could change their mind after Beasley comes in for workouts, but right now it's looking less likely that they'll draft at No. 2.
Portland Trail Blazers: From what I can gather, using the No. 13 pick is a last resort for the Blazers. They have plenty of young players and actually will look to package their first-round pick and a few of their young players to get a veteran point guard or small forward. They too could be in the hunt for Ford or Hinrich.
They have a lot of other assets they could include in a trade, including Jarrett Jack, Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw, Channing Frye and Sergio Rodriguez.
The flip side for Portland? If they keep all of their young players for another year, they could have significant cap room next summer. In other words, it will have to be a good deal for the Blazers to pull the trigger.
New Jersey Nets: This is a team at a serious crossroads. Do they try to make a big deal that puts them back into contention in the East? Or do they start cutting payroll with an eye toward free agency in 2010? The popular notion is that the Nets will try to find a way to get far enough under the cap to make a run at LeBron James in 2010.
However, a Nets source told me in Orlando that if they were able to make a big deal now, they'd do it and risk losing LeBron in 2010. The Nets have assets: two first-round picks, Richard Jefferson, Nenad Krstic's restricted free-agent rights and a few interesting young players.
If that could net them a young player like Carmelo Anthony, they'd probably pull the trigger. From what I understand, there's no one at No. 10 or No. 21 that they feel will turn this team around.
Seattle SuperSonics: Two different team executives told me in Orlando that Sonics GM Sam Presti had called about trading the No. 4 pick. One trade would have the Sonics moving down a few spots in the lottery. The other would have the Sonics moving significantly down.
I'm not sure how much to read into it because a Sonics source made it sound like the team was high on Jerryd Bayless, and I doubt he's on the board past No. 6. We'll see what happens.
Memphis Grizzlies: The team is rebuilding and is at a good spot at No. 5. But they also have assets that could net them a higher lottery pick.
If they were to offer Mike Miller and Kyle Lowry for the No. 2 pick, would the Heat bite? Maybe, if the Grizzlies were willing to take back Mark Blount or a combo of Marcus Banks and Udonis Haslem in return to make the numbers work.
New York Knicks: The Knicks are in a tough spot. They'd love to move up a few spots in the draft and get a player like Mayo or Bayless. But neither player will likely be there at No. 6. Their options at No. 6 are solid, but none of the players on the board will be able to turn this team around.
Would they be willing to sacrifice a good young player or two (David Lee or Nate Robinson) for the chance to draft a star? Or would they be willing to move down in the draft to pick up multiple assets?
I don't think Donnie Walsh likes where he's at and it will be interesting to see which way the Knicks will go.
Los Angeles Clippers: L.A. is another team at the crossroads entering the draft. If Elton Brand and Corey Maggette stay -- and stay healthy -- the team should be competing for the playoffs again as long as they can find a point guard via free agency or the draft.
I could see them moving their pick for the chance to get a strong point guard like Ford or Hinrich. If Maggette opts out (likely) and Brand does too (less likely, but possible) they're in full rebuilding mode around Al Thornton and Chris Kaman and will likely keep the pick.
Milwaukee Bucks: New GM John Hammond is determined to make the Bucks a winner now. He has a roster full of young, unproven players and one valuable veteran -- Michael Redd.
I think it's more likely that the Bucks package No. 8 along with several other players on their roster to get another veteran to play alongside Andrew Bogut. I think Redd, Mo Williams and Charlie Villanueva are all available and Hammond is looking for players, not cap space. They could be an interesting mover and shaker in the draft.
Golden State Warriors: Golden State is yet another team with a tough decision to make. They have a lot of players hitting free agency. Will their owner spend the money to bring Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins and Mickael Pietrus back in the fold?
I'm also hearing that a combo of Brandan Wright and the No. 14 pick are available if they can get a veteran big man back in return or move up in the draft.
Phoenix Suns: Considering that they have a history of dumping their draft picks, you have to look at Phoenix's pick at No. 15 as being in play. There are some good options for them there, but if Steve Kerr is continuing down the path of a championship run, the chances of a 15th pick getting much action are pretty slim.
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.