June 18, 2012
By Joe Kotoch
Welcome to the latest installment of the PBD Draft Journal. As the draft is merely 10 days away the league is gearing up for an exciting night full of anticipation and excitement. While the first pick is clear, the questions begin at 2 and who will the Bobcats select or will they even make the pick?
The Bobcats, as was previously reported by PBD, have been among the most active teams talking trades as Charlotte's preference is to move down and grab one of the second tier players and acquire an additional asset. According to sources in Charlotte the Bobcats would like to move down with a team in the top-6 and acquire an additional pick or add a young player with potential. Bobcats GM Rick Cho was very visible at the NBA Combine in Chicago and according to one rival GM "Rick really wants to move the pick because he's not convinced about any of the guys at 2." This source went on to say that is not to say that Charlotte doesn't like any of the players in the high-lottery but rather the franchise views each player as having some flaws. If Charlotte were to keep the pick it sounds like Thomas Robinson and Harrison Barnes are the two names Michael Jordan is most comfortable with and Jordan apparently gives the edge to Barnes.
Washington, as Ted Leonsis stated during the Lottery, will stand pat at 3 and seem to be considering Barnes, Brad Beal, and Thomas Robinson but are infatuated with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The Kentucky forward is said to at the top of the Wizards' wish list. Washington's front office seems intrigued by how athletic a lineup featuring Kidd-Gilchrist and John Wall could be and while there is a faction that would like to bring in Robinson, the hometown kid, Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin still have the franchise's confidence.
Sitting at 4 is Cleveland and the Cavs appear to be quietly talking deals with several other lottery teams, not just about swapping picks but exploring whether a deal can be made that gives Cleveland another top pick. Sources say the Cavs have been in touch with the Hornets (10th), Blazers (11th), and Rockets (14th and 16th) about what it would take for Cleveland to acquire their respective picks. As was first reported by PBD, the Cavs came away more impressed by Beal during Saturday's one-on-one workout against Harrison Barnes.
Per sources Cleveland covets Michael Kidd-Gilchrist but seem less inclined to deal with Charlotte to acquire him. After Kidd-Gilchrist the Cavs brass appears to have it ranked Beal, Drummond, Barnes, and Robinson but that their final draft board will not be set until next week. The UCONN center arrives in Cleveland this week and it will be an interesting workout as Cleveland has been very hushed about their feelings on him. Looking historically at Cavs GM Chris Grant he prefers to draft athletic prospects with high upside whenever possible as evidenced by J.J. Hickson, Christian Eyenga, and Tristan Thompson. Grant was the assistant GM but in charge of the draft and ranking the Cavs board at the time Hickson and Eyenga were selected. It would not be a shock to see the Cavs pull the trigger on Drummond as the Cavs, who could have as much upside as any player in this draft. Sources in Cleveland do concede if the Cavs were to select Drummond the rest of the draft would be centered on finding perimeter scoring with their remaining picks.
Another team that will be interesting to watch on draft night is Sacramento as the Kings are reportedly looking to add a mature winner who can help this team. That would seem to describe Robinson, Barnes, and John Henson but there is a faction within the Kings front office that really is intrigued by the possibility of Drummond. Adding Drummond to play alongside DeMarcus Cousins would give the Kings one of the brightest young frontcourts in the NBA.
A couple names that continue to soar up boards are Damian Lillard and Austin Rivers. Lillard is the consensus top PG in the draft and now has forced Portland's hand. A league source tells PBD that the Blazers were impressed by Lillard's workout last week and now are under the impression that Lillard will be snatched up by either the Raptors or Hornets. Because of that belief there is a growing pressure on Blazers GM Neil Olshey to take Lillard at 6 or focus on Dion Waiters or Kendall Marshall at 11.
Rivers on the other hand has surged in front of Jeremy Lamb on several lottery teams' draft boards and may have secured a promise with the Hornets at 10. Speaking of Lamb, the UCONN guard sprained his ankle and has begun to slip a bit but it sounds like his floor is 13 with the Suns.
While it has been well-documented that this is a very weak international draft the deadline to withdraw is today at 5:00 p.m. (EST) and it sounds like a handful of prospects will pull out but the most discussed names like Evan Fournier, Tornike Shengalia, Furkan Aldemir, Tomas Satoransky, Josep Franch, and Kosta Papanikolaou will all remain in the draft.
In the final week and a half it sounds like the usual cast of veterans will have their names floated as possible trade bait. Luol Deng, Rudy Gay, Trevor Ariza, Mike Conley, Tony Parker, Jose Calderon, and Anderson Varejao should all expect to see their names mentioned in possible deals but also a few big names may surprise you. According to one GM, "Keep an eye on Dwight Howard and Tyreke Evans. It's no surprise they have pinned their clubs into a corner." The source goes on to say that Evans' inability to make it work in Sacramento will scare some teams off but there is so much raw talent that somebody will fall in love.