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Word on the Street: Who's Moving Up or Down?

Word on the Street: Who's Moving Up or Down?
Jun 19, 2008, 01:33 am
Trade Talk

Numerous teams we spoke with today discussed the rumors of a potential draft-night trade that is making the rounds in NBA circles. Presuming that Derrick Rose goes #1, Miami would select Michael Beasley at #2 regardless, and wait to see if O.J. Mayo were to fall to the 5th overall pick. If that indeed was the case, Memphis would select him, and then trade him to Miami along with Mike Miller in exchange for Mark Blount and Beasley.

Seattle is also reportedly trying hard to move up to #2, and is dangling Chris Wilcox as bait (in exchange for the cumbersome contract of Mark Blount). The Supersonics would also take Beasley there. This is all assuming that O.J. Mayo doesn’t go third to Minnesota, which is not something teams should take for granted just yet based off what we know so far.

Memphis’ additional first round selection, the #28 pick, acquired from the Lakers in the Pau Gasol trade, is also reportedly in play. Rumors have the Grizzlies potentially trading this pick to Denver along with Kyle Lowry in exchange for the #20 pick. It’s possible that they would try and leap-frog the Orlando Magic and select Courtney Lee, who reportedly had a terrific workout there last week.

Other picks that we’re hearing rumors about include #6 (New York, trying to move up, or back), #19 (Cleveland, possibly to move up and take Brandon Rush), and #29 (Detroit, who supposedly isn’t enamored by anyone in this area). Two teams that are reportedly looking to acquire an additional first round pick are the Spurs (who unfortunately have very little to offer) and the Suns. The Wizards wouldn’t mind moving out if someone would offer them a good deal involving a point guard, but at this point that doesn’t seem likely to happen. Cleveland is trying to buy their way into the mid-first round, but unlike in years past, it won’t be Phoenix that is selling.

Look for the Los Angeles Lakers to try and land an early second round pick (possibly from Seattle) in order to draft IUPUI’s George Hill. He worked out in Los Angeles and reportedly was very impressive. His college team actually ran the triangle offense, and that is always a big factor in the Lakers’ workouts.

Who’s Gonna Slip?

As we continue to work the phones to discuss with teams who they hear is going where, we first of all need to establish which prospects will be on the board. At this point it’s clear that there is a fairly significant drop-off in this year’s draft class right around the 12th (Sacramento) or 13th (Portland) pick, as all the prospects that are getting mentions have some serious “warts” in the words of one NBA executive, which make teams hesitant about drafting them. The question is which will be overlooked, and which will cause players to slip.

Players that might find themselves being drafted a bit lower than they hoped include DeAndre Jordan, JaVale McGee, and possibly even Anthony Randolph. If Sacramento selects Darrell Arthur at #12 like many NBA sources we spoke with anticipate (this was his last workout stop before cancelling numerous workouts), then Randolph could be in for quite a tumble, as he would likely continue to slip past Portland at #13, Golden State at #14, Phoenix at #15, until reaching Philadelphia at #16. That’s about 10 spots lower than some mocks have him projected right now, but isn’t out of the question depending on how things play out next week. Randolph is not helping himself reportedly with the way he’s working out, being very average so far according to numerous people who’ve watched him, looking “laid back” or even “out of shape.” Compounding the problem is that he may have recently hurt his shoulder.

Another player who could crash the lottery unexpectedly and even shockingly go just one spot below his twin brother is Stanford center Robin Lopez. Lopez reportedly canceled all his remaining workouts (with the Pacers, Kings, Sixers, and more) with a supposed “sprained ankle” after working out for the New Jersey Nets this past week. Although the tenth pick is widely believed to be Danilo Gallinari’s, no one would know better about where the Italian small forward will get drafted than his agent Arn Tellem, who also happens to represent the Lopez twins. Robin being promised to go tenth (a speculatory rumor that is definitely making the rounds) almost surely means that Gallinari is going sixth to the Knicks. The Nets can’t expect to wait and pick Lopez at #21, as there is very little chance he gets past Phoenix at 15, or at the very worst (if Donte Greene slips past Golden State), Toronto at 17, where he is extremely coveted.

While DeAndre Jordan and JaVale McGee are refusing to conduct workouts with certain teams drafting outside of the lottery (McGee’s mother foolishly won’t let him visit anyone past 12 from what one frustrated team told us), there is no shortage of workout warriors on the prowl looking to take their spot in the teens portion of the draft. One of those is Alexis Ajinca, who may be working himself into that 12-14 range, based off the workouts he’s having.

One executive who recently watched him expressed shock at his combination of physical tools (7-1 in shoes, 240 pounds, with a near 7-7 wingspan), coordination and agility. “If he were in college, let’s say at Nevada instead of JaVale McGee, he would be a sure-fire top 10 pick,” the executive noted. “He’s bigger than McGee, and he’s also more skilled…with that length, he is going to be able to bother some people for sure” Ajinca is answering question marks about his toughness by not backing down from anyone he’s faced so far, particularly in an outstanding workout in Charlotte where he matched up with Jordan, McGee and Roy Hibbert. His experience playing against grown men all season long in the French league is certainly showing in workouts so far it seems.

The safest pick amongst players being projected to go from 13-19 is likely Brandon Rush. He could seemingly be picked by any of those teams, and be able to find a way to be productive thanks to his size, shooting ability and defensive skills. He’s probably not going to be a star, but as you’ll be able to read in the research conducted by Heather N. Allen and Paul Gearan tomorrow, that’s not such a bad thing in this range.

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