June 20, 2012
By Joe Kotoch
While the NBA Finals churns on the NBA Draft inches closer for the entire league. It appears that teams all across the league are starting to narrow down their targets on draft night and getting close to setting their draft boards.
The stock of Ohio State PF Jared Sullinger is sinking rapidly. With reports that Sullinger has one leg longer than the other and concerns about his back Sullinger's stock has fallen from potential top-10 pick to someone that may be on the board in the mid-20's. Sullinger's red flag is eerily reminiscent of DaJuan Blair, the Pittsburgh PF, who has no ACL in either knee. While Blair lasted into round 2, Sullinger is likely to be snared by a team in round 1 as he is bigger and more polished. Word around the league is that Denver, Boston, Cleveland, and Indiana are all teams in the 20's that would be willing to grab Sullinger. Another intriguing team to watch with respect to a falling Sullinger would be the Oklahoma City Thunder, who lack a low post scoring threat.
According to several sources around the league don't be surprised if Damian Lillard cracks the top top-6. Lillard worked out for the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday and reportedly dazzled, putting on a shooting clinic. Lillard was so impressive that there are some in the Blazers front office that are convinced the Blazers must select Lillard at 6 or risk losing him as the Raptors, and Hornets are very likely destinations for the draft's top point guard.
Word out of Sacramento is that Harrison Barnes has canceled a workout with the Kings. Several outlets are speculating that Barnes is pulling out after securing a promise from a team in the top-4 suspected of being the Bobcats, Wizards, or Cavs. However sources close to the Cavs say that Barnes is not as high on the Cavs board as many in the media have reported and Cavs GM Chris Grant is not the type to promise a prospect a week and half before the draft. By process of elimination it sounds like Charlotte could be the team that surprises many on draft night and takes Barnes. As PBD previously reported Michael Jordan has no qualms about taking Barnes.
Trade talks among the teams in the top-10 seems to be heating up. The Cavaliers have approached Charlotte, New Orleans, and Golden State about acquiring their lottery picks. While it is common for teams to talk and gauge interest about potential deals the Cavs have been more aggressive. Sources say the Cavs have expressed the willingness to absorb salary in addition to trading the 24th pick. A potential stumbling block with New Orleans is the Hornets insistence thus far to have Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor included in a deal for the 10th pick. According to one league executive the Cavs could get a deal done with the Warriors if they trade Anderson Varejao and 24 but that the Cavs are unwilling to pull the trigger on that deal right now.
On the subject of the Cavs, PBD reported that the Cavs have Andre Drummond ranked ahead of Harrison Barnes on their current draft board, which is still subject to change. Drummond's athletic abilities and size are extremely unique and has Grant and his assistants intrigued. Wednesday is a huge day for Drummond as he will be working out in Cleveland.