There are so many rumors floating around about the draft and possible trades that I thought that I would sort through a few of them and report on them here. One of the most interesting comes from Celtic Thug on Real GM. This is a poster that has posted some good information in the past and the mods have checked him out and he does have legit team ties. Here is what he had to say:
For Celtic fans the most important thing from that piece is that Atlanta wants Brandon Wright which is 100% true. I told you that yesterday. Why is that important to us? Well Atlanta still feels Conley Jr. is the best PG in the draft and still would like to have him as there PG of the future.
They have a tentative agreement with Boston, that if Conley Jr. falls to Boston at 5. Boston will draft Conley Jr. who will then ship Conley Jr to Atlanta along with Theo and maybe another player for Joe Johnson and the #11 pick.
So Celtics fans should actually be looking at pick #11 to see who will be there for the Cs at #11. The player Danny Ainge really like is in draft is Florida State’s PF Al Thornton. If Danny Ainge can pull off a trade that would land him Joe Johnson from Atlanta and Al Thornton it would be a successful draft.
Another potential target is Al Thornton, a 6-8 Florida State forward who averaged 19.7 points. When asked if he could play power forward, Thornton actually laughed. "A four [power forward] on the next level, I don't think I can," he said. "My true position on the next level will be a three [small forward]."
There are some NBA observers who believe the Hawks, with the No. 3 pick, could trade down to the No. 5 spot, which is currently held by Boston. The Hawks would then draft Ohio State point guard Mike Conley Jr.
And Speaking of Hawes, Andy Katz reports on ESPN Insider that Hawes is looking for a guarantee from a team before he decides to stay in the draft. I haven't seen where he has scheduled a workout in Boston but we should look at him.
Washington freshman center Spencer Hawes continues to say he hasn't made up his mind about whether he's staying in the draft. He said he's going to work out for Minnesota (No. 7) and Chicago (No. 9) after the physicals here at the pre-draft camp on June 6 and 8, respectively. He said he continues to field calls from agents but isn't getting pressured. "The ultimate thing I'm looking for is a guarantee," Hawes said. "I'm trying to get feedback of who [would take him in the lottery]." Hawes said he understands that no one in the NBA believes he is returning to school. He has until June 18 to withdraw from the draft. He said he is ready to contribute to an NBA team too. "I want to see how the workouts go," Hawes said. "I don't want to rush the decision. "My skill set is unique since there are so few back-to-the basket scorers. Just look at the teams in the playoffs with Tim Duncan [Spurs] and Rasheed Wallace and Chris Webber [Pistons]. You can see that those teams are successful." North Carolina freshman forward Brandan Wright said he is only going to take two or three workouts, isolating Atlanta (No. 3) and Memphis (No. 4) as the definite stops. He said he thought he was maybe going to Boston, which picks No. 5. But Wright said he was not going to Milwaukee (No. 6), which could be a mistake since Wright could fall and the Bucks are interested in him.
Rumors out of Seattle about a 5th pick deal for Rashard Lewis- I'd imagine this is more likely a rumor where the 5th pick moves to Atlanta for JJ and then Rashard is brought in on a sign-and-trade for Paul Pierce. Pierce is more comprable in age to Ray Allen and Seattle has stated that they'd spend the money to retain Lewis. Lewis has clearly requested to leave however. Putting Pierce and Allen together at the Wings and allowing Durant to play the PF position from jump street as the third option is very intriguing in a Western Conference that has seen the Suns and Warriors succeed with small-ball..Durant will be a PF in full with time, so its really not too much of a stretch.. The Celtics could in one foul swoop re-constitute their core while IMPROVING their short-term clout via the acquisition of two All Star caliber wings in exchange for one... This doesn't give the team another big man, but it does give them 3 All Star players to build around with a very solid cast of role players to complement them.
Rashard Lewis is a popular topic around the net. The Herald also reports that there may be a Seattle/Boston trade in the works. They mention one of the Sonics bigs. I wonder if Danny is still pursuing Robert Swift? Here are a few more Rashard Lewis tidbits. The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Magic will make an offer to Rashard Lewis and/or Vince Carter as soon as free agency starts on July 1. Billy Donovan is known as a star recruiter and may be a factor here. SeattlePI reports that the Knicks have made Lewis their #1 priority this offseason. The News Tribune reports that the Rockets are also in the Lewis sweepstakes.
The Houston Rockets intend to contact the Seattle SuperSonics to discuss a potential sign-and-trade deal for free-agent forward Rashard Lewis. The Rockets will offer forward Shane Battier and their No. 1 draft pick, 26th overall, in an attempt to lure Lewis home to Houston. The Sonics say they want to re-sign Lewis, a one-time All-Star who has opted out of his contract, and they have the negotiating leverage to convince him to stay because they can offer a longer-term contract than any other suitor. But the Rockets are hoping that they can cajole Lewis to leave the only NBA team he has played for with the enticement of being close to family and friends. If the Rockets cannot land Lewis, they will consider offering Battier for Chris Wilcox, who thrives in up-tempo systems because of his ability to run the court. Wilcox could lose his starting power forward position in Seattle if Lewis and Kevin Durant, the team’s expected No. 2 overall draft pick, play together.
Hoopsworld discusses the fact that the Sonics are open to trade offers for the #2 pick.
So what would it take to tear the #2 out of Seattle’s hands? Nothing short of an All-Star will keep the Sonics on the phone, especially with Rashard Lewis announcing he will be a free agent (not a surprise, but roughly zero percent chance he re-signs with Seattle). Not just any All-Star either – it has to be a young All-Star. The Sonics know their other All-Star, Ray Allen, doesn’t have a ton of years left on his odometer and they need some kind of assurance anything they get will still be around when Allen can’t be the man anymore.
Maybe Danny can convince them to take Pierce as their all star and go for the championship now. I know it is a long shot, but I can dream, can't I?
Speaking of dreaming, I have been dreaming of David Blatt coming to the Celtics ever since that report on an Italian website last week that Blatt was considering a move to the Celtics. There are several Israeli reports including the Maccabit website, Haaretz, and One that indicate that he is in line for the Maccabi head coaching job. He indicates that he will make a decision sometime next week, but no mention is made of the Celtics in these articles. They also indicate that he is asking for 1 million dollars which seems a bit steep for the Celtics. Maybe the prestige of coaching in the NBA would win out over money. The Celtics would be the best place to start out for him if he wants to get into the NBA. (Hat tip to Celtics Blog poster gileyal for the info.) However, there is a ray of hope as Peter May finally makes a reference to Blatt as a possible replacement for Brown in today's Globe. But then, May hasn't been known for his accuracy in reporting and he may just be getting his info off of the blogs on the internet.
The Knicks are said to be offering up their pick at #23 and a player, or a couple of players without the pick. The players mentioned were Nate Robinson, who has fallen out of favor with Isiah Thomas, and David Lee who Thomas loves but knows will return a quality piece.
It is commonly believed the Blazers will deal Zach, and the team Portland would like to make a deal with is Boston. The Celtics hold the #5 pick, something Portland would love to obtain, and they have a few complimentary players that Portland wouldn’t mind cashing Zach in for.
For the record, I don't like either of those trade scenarios. I don't want Randolph here because he has been nothing but trouble off the court and he is too much like Al who is a much better citizen. And I like David Lee a lot but I don't like Nate Robinson, who acts like a punk much of the time. I have seen much better trade scenarios elsewhere.
There were really only two significant exceptions. Mike Conley really struggled shooting the ball in drills. Brandan Wright struggled a little bit with the more complicated drills -- he looked a little lost at times.
Brandan Wright proved what one GM had told me during the camp, "show me a tape where Brandon Wright hits 15 foot jumpshots". Wright struggled on shots outside of 8 feet during the drills. You have to like his touch within 5-8 feet from the basket, but as the GM pointed out, "Its very difficult to score with in 8 feet in the NBA, especially for a thin player such as Wright". The team that takes Wright will be betting on the come as he needs to improve both his body and his shooting range. Both elements seem correctable, but you are dealing with unknowns. Teams drafting in the top 5, such as Atlanta and Boston have GMs who may not have the time to wait for a player such as Wright. Wright's 57% free throw shooting is cause for concern as is his mechanics from outside 8 feet. However, the touch he shows close to the basket gives hope that he will be able to extend his range over time and improve upon his free throw percentage.
The Yi Jianlian games have begun. Yi is foregoing the physical-only portion of the camp -- the first time I remember seeing that move by a player. Yi is not injured and he's not in China. He's pulling out to maintain control of the process. Both his agent, Dan Fegan, and the Chinese government want to make sure Yi lands on the "right" team. So Yi will work out for only a few select teams. Yi's Orlando maneuver means that the other teams in the league won't even have the results of a physical to look at, which might further discourage them from draft Yi. Don't be shocked if Golden State or Chicago finds a way to move up and grab Yi. They seem to be the two "approved" teams most interested
So check this out. Last night I am at a restaurant in Westwood (near UCLA's campus), and guess who walks in with his posse?
Yup, you guessed it Yi.
So after downing a few shots of liquid courage, I approach him to say hello. Turns out that he's quite a nice guy who has almost an 80% command of English. I didn't even have to speak Chinese to him (I speak a good amount of Chinese). He told me that he's only been living in the US for about one month.
After chatting with him for about ten minutes, I got the distinct impression that he will not be drafted by Atlanta or Memphis. He mentioned to me that he is interested in playing for a big market team (I.e., Boston).
I asked him if he wouldn't mind being drafted by Boston and he just gave me a little smirk and said "I would enjoy playing with Jefferson and Pierce."
Take it for what it's worth, but it would not surprise me the least if Ainge has already promised to draft him at #5.
And since we are talking Yi, here is a new video of his steals, fast breaks and dunks. I still am not sold on him because of his lack of defense. We need more defense.
There are suspicions among some league executives and coaches that Stern rigs the results of the lottery -- in this case to punish the three worst teams (Memphis, Boston and Milwaukee, who came out of the lottery Nos. 4, 5 and 6 in the draft) for contributing to the perception of late-season tanking. To deal with the conspiracy theories, the league spelled out during the committee meeting how the lottery machine works and how it would be practically impossible to fix the outcome. (I've been in the closed room during the lottery, and the NBA mechanism is a lot like the Powerball or other lottery machines that you see on television.)
So, it isn't just the fans who smelled a conspiracy here. League executives also feel that way. I still say it would be easy to fix it just by weighting the 1,2 and 3 balls slightly and since no one sees the balls until they go into the hopper, there is no way of knowing unless one of the executives at the time challenged it and weighed them.
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