Word on the Street, June 24th: The Latest

Word on the Street, June 24th: The Latest
Jun 24, 2009, 04:59 pm
10:35 PM Update

-Sacramento has reportedly offered Detroit the #23 and #31 picks in exchange for the #15. The Kings may target DeJuan Blair at 15 if he’s available, while the Pistons like Toney Douglas and possibly DaJuan Summers.

-Does Atlanta unloading Acie Law for Jamal Crawford change their priorities in this draft? GM Rick Sund has supposedly told people that he will surely target a point guard, possibly Eric Maynor or Jeff Teague (assuming Lawson is gone at 13 or 17), but this might change things for him. Tyler Hansbrough and DeJuan Blair appear to be firmly in the mix here as well.

-Washington was able to save decent money in their trade with Minnesota, as well as bring in two players that appear to be more equipped to help them win right away than the #5 pick. At #32 they seem to be targeting a big man, although it’s not quite clear if they can find a quality player there. Some options include Taj Gibson (likely gone already), Ahmad Nivins and Victor Claver.

-There appears to be lots of interest in high 2nd round picks this year, with the going rate so far being at least what Miami paid Minnesota last year for the rights to Mario Chalmers—two future second round picks and 1.5 million dollars, and possibly more.

-The Cavs supposedly like Garrett Siler and are considering taking him with the #46 pick.

-It appears that New Orleans is leaning towards keeping their pick for now. Some of the options on their board supposedly include: DeJuan Blair, Eric Maynor, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Toney Douglas.

-Two teams that may be looking to sell their late first round picks are Chicago and Memphis.

-Three teams that are looking to move into the first round are Miami, San Antonio and Houston. The Heat are supposedly looking at Taj Gibson and the Spurs are intrigued by Omri Casspi and Jonas Jerebko.

-Minnesota supposedly may not be done making moves, and could be looking to package some assets and move up even higher in the first round. Right now they seem to be dangling the #18 pick and Nikola Pekovic, possibly to Detroit sitting at 15. Gerald Henderson could very well be their target, as he’s likely gone one pick later by Chicago.

-A couple of teams are wondering where in the world is Rodrigue Beaubois, and why hasn’t he conducted even a single workout after the Eurocamp in Treviso? The answer is that Beaubois was supposedly just cleared to play last Friday, and after a few weeks on the shelf, his agent Bouna Ndiaye decided not to risk the excellent momentum he has going for him with some bad workouts. Beaubois supposedly feels good about where he stands with a number of teams in the late first round, including Portland, Oklahoma City, the Lakers and Cleveland.

10:00 PM Update

-Oklahoma City appears to have narrowed in on Ricky Rubio as their top choice with the #3 pick, at least according to what most NBA teams have on their board at the moment. For now, it seems like they will be keeping him. While we’re told that the Knicks will definitely explore a sign and trade with David Lee to acquire Rubio, it might take more to convince Oklahoma City to make that trade.

It will be interesting to see what the fallout is from Russell Westbrook’s camp after this, as he’s been extremely vocal publicly about not wanting to relinquish the full-time point guard duties, which is bound to happen eventually with Rubio around. Westbrook is currently scheduled to be on Jim Rome’s show tomorrow, so we may expect some fireworks.

-With Rubio locked up at three, we can probably move our attention to Sacramento, where Jonny Flynn and Tyreke Evans are clearly the top two candidates on the board.

If Jonny Flynn is the choice as expected, Tyreke Evans may be in for a slightly longer stay in the Green Room than he initially planned. James Harden would be the likely choice at Minnesota at 5, while logic suggests that Stephen Curry would be a much better fit in the backcourt than Evans at #6.

Evans did not work out for Golden State at #7—they are leaning towards Jordan Hill anyway—which means he would probably land at #8, where the Knicks would happily snatch him up.

That would slide Jrue Holiday down a slot, and in turn bump off James Johnson, since he is supposedly slightly Holiday on Toronto’s board. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

-In this scenario, Milwaukee may have an interesting choice on their hands at #10. DeMar DeRozan was never supposed to get to their pick, but all of a sudden they find him right there for the picking, just a few days after trading away an extremely athletic wing player in Richard Jefferson. Do they swing for the fences on DeRozan’s upside, or will they stay true to their plan of drafting a point guard at all costs and reach for Jeff Teague?

-One of the tougher situations to read in this draft lies in New Jersey with the 11th pick. The Nets supposedly aren’t all that close to finalizing their draft board, although three of the players that will likely be on there will include Tyler Hansbrough, James Johnson and Terrence Williams, not necessarily in that order. It’s definitely possible that the Nets listen to one of the trade offers that comes their way, especially if Houston comes calling with Carl Landry.

8:20 PM Update

-Plenty of NBA teams are trying to figure out the motivation behind Portland packaging the #24 pick with the #56 pick and a 2010 second rounder to Dallas just for the sake of moving up two spots to 22. Who are they targeting?

The likely answer to that is, why wouldn’t they? Portland has too many draft picks as it is and not enough roster spots. All they did was acquire a slightly more valuable asset, one they can now use to try and move up even higher.

It’s widely accepted that Portland would love to get their hands on Ty Lawson if they can. The problem is that Indiana seems very high on him at 13, and Philadelphia is also extremely interested at 17.

-Minnesota is offering Oklahoma City the #5 and #18 picks for the #3, but don’t seem likely to get a deal done with those parameters.

-Multiple NBA teams believe that the Lakers have zeroed in on Nick Calathes as their likely target with the #29 pick, and will likely leave him over in Greece for one to two years until they sort out their salary cap situation. Calathes is an excellent fit for the triangle offense as a big point guard who can shoot and has an excellent feel for the game.

7:05 PM Update

Scattered Rumors:

-Indications we’re receiving are that Sacramento appears to be leaning towards drafting Jonny Flynn, even in the scenario that Oklahoma City decides to pass on Ricky Rubio. The wildcard here are the team owners, the Maloofs, who are extremely high on the Spanish point guard and could decide to assert their own will and make the front office pick Rubio.

Flynn won’t have to wait long in the Green Room regardless, as its extremely unlikely that he gets past the Milwaukee Bucks. He may even have a promise there.

-Brandon Jennings seemed somewhat dazed at today’s media sessions, which is yet another indication that he has no idea where he is going to get picked at this point. Privately, Jennings is telling people that he feels he has a good chance of being selected 5th by Minnesota, even if he really doesn’t want to be there apparently. The latest word is that Jennings may actually pull out of the Green Room, especially if his situation doesn’t clear up by tonight.

When asked about the possibility of sitting for an extended period in the Green Room, Jennings admitted that the thought had crossed his mind.

“Yeah, it actually has a lot. Being on the road with some of these guys, they make you think a little bit, should I go, should I not go? Some of these guys were saying, no way, you aren’t going to see me sitting alone in the Green Room. So I had a little bit of cold feet thinking about it, actually I’m still thinking about it, so I don’t know yet.”

-Another interesting quote in today’s media session came from Jordan Hill, as he was very candid in deflecting criticism he had received from some comments he made in private interviews at the NBA combine in Chicago earlier this month about affinity for nightlife.

“I definitely don’t regret it; they asked me to be honest. I don’t go out and party all night, I’m not like that, but I like to have a little fun. When I get my work done first, then I’ll go out and have a little time for myself. I don’t regret saying what I did, they wanted me to be honest and I was.”

If Stephen Curry is indeed off the board as expected, Hill appears to be a very strong target for the New York Knicks, particularly their head coach Mike D'Antoni. The front office seems to be leaning towards Jrue Holiday, but could be swayed towards selecting Hill instead, especially if they feel like they can sign and trade David Lee to Oklahoma City for the rights to Ricky Rubio.

When told about the rumors about D’Antoni, Hill did not surprised at all, telling us about an interesting conversation the two had after Hill’s workout in New York:

“I was able to show more athleticism, my quickness, how well I run the floor, my mid-range jumper; they say I’m like Amare. You know Coach D’Antoni coached him and I feel like any team would want to have Amare and that’s how they feel about me.

DX: Did he bring that up to you? Amare?

JH: Yes.”

New York is reportedly very frustrated not to have found a way to move up into the top 5 of the draft, as they apparently felt like they already had a deal done with the Washington Wizards (Wilson Chandler and Larry Hughes for expiring contracts) before Minnesota’s offer won out. They are very much in the mix trying to make a trade happen, and therefore it wasn’t surprising to see them try and acquire Darko Milicic.

New York’s two main targets are still Ricky Rubio and Stephen Curry. Unfortunately for the Knicks, Curry’s camp appears to be resolved to the fact that he is going 5, 6 or 7. Rubio will obviously be long gone.

6:05 Update

Oklahoma City the Wild Card

With the top two picks likely falling into place in the form of Blake Griffin and Hasheem Thabeet, all eyes are now on Oklahoma City, to see whether they would take Ricky Rubio or James Harden.

Oklahoma City has already reportedly offered Minnesota to trade the #5 and #6 picks for the #3 selection, where Ricky Rubio is sure to be available for the Timberwolves. Oklahoma City appears to be sending out signals that Rubio is the player they covet at #3, although this could very well be a smokescreen to force Minnesota to trade up if they indeed covet Rubio as much as people think.

Another rumor that is making the rounds is that Oklahoma City may be working on a deal with the New York Knicks that would involve drafting Rubio and then shipping him to the Knicks in July in a sign and trade for David Lee. The tricky part would be coming to terms with Lee on an appropriate contract figure before the pick is made, since technically they are not allowed to negotiate, and Lee likely does not yet know what his true value on the open market. He is reportedly looking for around 11 million dollars a year.

Still, considering his restricted status, and the fact that there are precious few teams with substantial cap space this summer, Oklahoma City could be a very attractive destination for Lee if his agent can reach a handshake agreement with their front office. It seems like the Thunder definitely have eyes for him. The only question is whether they are willing to part with Rubio to make that happen.

In this scenario, the Knicks would likely select Mike D’Antoni’s favorite, Jordan Hill, with the #8 pick. More on that later.

5:25 Update

Thabeet a Lock at Two?

Virtually every team we’re speaking to right now has Hasheem Thabeet slated to be picked second by the Grizzlies. Memphis’ entire front-office met with owner Michael Heisley yesterday at his house to go through all the various possibilities for tomorrow night’s draft, and came to the conclusion that barring a trade, they will select Thabeet with the #2 pick.

We asked Thabeet about his decision to decline his workout in Memphis at the Media session in New York today. After a long and awkward pause, here is what he had to say:

"I didn’t…I haven’t…I mean I couldn't reschedule because the schedule was kinda you know...I couldn't work out early like I was supposed to like everyone else because I had hyper-extended my shoulder working out. Later on when I was scheduled to go to Memphis I found out my visa had expired so I had to get to New York as soon as possible to get it done on Monday morning or I would be deported. So I had to get out here as soon as possible."

In regards to not wanting to play in Memphis:

"That's not accurate at all. To me this is a blessing to be in this position wherever I am to play basketball; wherever I end up I'll be happy. I'm just happy to be in this position. Whoever drafts me, I’ll be happy to go there."

4:45 Update:

Harden Skips Media Day

James Harden made the unconventional decision to skip out on the NBA’s media session with the players who have been invited to sit in the Green Room tomorrow evening.

Harden was in Minnesota today, working out for David Kahn and the Timberwolves. This was a direct response to yesterday’s trade, in which Minnesota acquired the #5 pick from Washington. Harden’s agent Rob Pelinka previously felt that their floor was at Washington following an outstanding workout there, and needed to quickly readjust once they moved their pick to cover their bases in case Oklahoma City decides to select Ricky Rubio. His camp appears to have given up on the chances of being selected by Memphis, which goes along with everything else we're hearing from around the NBA.

The Timberwolves had already conducted an interview with Harden at the NBA combine in Chicago, but wanted to see him one more time to make sure they have all the information they need. They put him through a light shooting session today, with Harden was the only player on the floor.

Harden is landing in New York tonight and will be sitting in the Green Room tomorrow with his family.

Austin Daye was also hanging out at the hotel today we saw, which means that he probably will be sitting in the Green Room. Terrence Williams was at the media session, meaning he was a last-minute addition to the Green Room invite list. B.J. Mullens, James Johnson and Eric Maynor declined their invites as expected.

Here is what appears to be the final list of Green Room invites:

1. Blake Griffin
2. James Harden
3. Hasheem Thabeet
4. Ricky Rubio
5. Jordan Hill
6. Tyreke Evans
7. Stephen Curry
8. Jonny Flynn
9. Demar DeRozan
10. Jrue Holiday
11. Gerald Henderson
12. Brandon Jennings
13. Tyler Hansbrough
14. Terrence Williams
15. Austin Daye

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