Draft day is already heating up, and it's still over three hours until Chicago is on the clock. We've already had two first round picks traded, and rumors (most involving the Clippers) are swirling around picks 2 through 5, which is astounding if you think about it.
Here's what Chad Ford said about the Clippers about an hour ago:
The Clippers have been trying to move up in the draft to get Mayo or Gordon. There's a chance they can pull it off if the Wolves or Sonics are willing to bet that the guy they are targeting will be available at No. 7.
If those teams are open to a deal, the Clippers are willing to trade a future first-round pick to move up.
Seems reasonable. I'm encouraged that team leadership appears to see the draft the same way I have all along - Mayo and Gordon are the class of the guards, with a break to the next group of Bayless and Westbrook. It's worth noting that ESPN's draft page includes photos of four players: Rose, Beasley, Mayo and Gordon. Unfortunately for the Clippers, the idea of Gordon falling all the way to seven, something that looked entirely possible a week ago, looks unlikely now.
If they're going to send a future-first rounder out the door, let's hope it's one of ours (lottery protected) and not the Wolves pick. We've waited three years for that Wolves pick, and there's certainly a good chance that Minny will still be bad when the protection drops off in 2011. We're halfway there - let's hang onto that one.
Charlotte picked up Denver's pick at 20 for a future first rounder. This would seem to be the Nuggets and owner Stan Kroenke worrying about the luxury tax. Denver pretty desperately needs an infusion of young talent and giving up your first rounder in a deep draft would not seem to be the way to do it. Marcus Camby is 34 years old, and guys like DeAndre Jordan, Javale McGee and Robin Lopez, flawed as they are, all are possibilities at 20. Bad move by the Nuggets.
Portland and Paul Allen are up to their old tricks, buying draft picks outright. The Blazers paid the maximum $3M for the Hornets' first rounder, number 27 in the draft. This one is a head-scratcher. Not that Paul Allen is willing to throw is Micro-bucks around - we knew that. But Portland has a MASSIVE roster crunch looming next season. They have Rudy Fernandez coming over from Spain, they have Kopenen stashed in Finland, they have Freeland stashed in England, they have extra picks already, and now they just bought another one. If they keep all these picks, all they can do is leave more guys in Europe (something that is becoming increasingly difficult as the dollar continues to fall against the Euro, forcing the good players to take a pay cut to sign a rookie-scale NBA contract) or cut guys in training camp. Which tells you that Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard has a deal in the works. He's planning to send a LOT of bodies out the door for one big asset.
Deals like the two above all was make me wonder why the Clippers don't get more active. The 'buying picks' thing is particularly interesting, and the Blazers seem to be the only team in the league willing to do it. I mean, $3M is the max, and the Hornets don't really care a lot WHO gets their pick. They'd prefer to send it to a non-threatening, non-rival, but other than that, it's just a monetary transaction. So why don't other teams do this? I could see it as a cost-saving mechanism in the long run. If you take a late first rounder at the rookie scale and give him minutes, as opposed to signing a vet, who may or may not be any help, for $2.5M per, you'll save that $3M in no time, and you may get a real gem.
Then there was yesterday's TJ Ford for Jermaine O'Neal trade. Of course that has an impact on the Clippers, as it takes Ford off the table in the discussion of potential point guard trades - and I suppose it puts Jamaal Tinsley on the table.
And now Marc Stein is reporting that the Nets and the Bucks have agreed to a trade of Yi Jianlin and Bobby Simmons for Richard Jefferson. Wow. I haven't had much time to think about that one, but off the top of my head it seems like that could be one of those trades that works for both teams. The Bucks desperately needed a small forward and get one in RJ. The Nets needed to do SOMETHING. The Nets big three of Carter, Kidd and RJ is now Vinsanity, Devin Harris and Yi. Can we assume Vince won't be there much longer? Also, does this make it more likely that the Bucks will try to trade Michael Redd? Jefferson can pick up a lot of the scoring load. Interesting.
It should be an interesting day.
We can use this thread to discuss all the happenings. I'll be online from the start of the draft at 4 PM until about 7:45.