The 2013 NBA draft is creeping up on a basketball world that is hungry for action after an exciting postseason, and it's shaping up to feature some notable players changing locations as well as teams gunning to improve their draft stock.
With no true No. 1 overall pick among the field and an inconsistent class overall, teams are assessing the value of their respective picks and rumors have been flying across the landscape of the league.
Let's take a look at the latest buzz going into Thursday's draft.
Wizards Courting Luol Deng For No. 3 Pick
The first big story to hit the rumor mills when draft week started on Monday was the Washington Wizards' interest in acquiring Luol Deng with their third overall pick.
Marc Stein of ESPN broke the news.
"Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that the Chicago Bulls, in their latest attempt to gauge the trade value of All-Star swingman Luol Deng, have had exploratory discussions with Washington about a deal that would land Deng with the Wizards and bring the No. 3 pick in Thursday's draft to the Bulls."
"The most likely trade construction, if talks were to progress to the serious stage, would send Deng to the Wizards for the No. 3 pick and center Emeka Okafor, who would have to formally opt into his contract for next season ($14.5 million) this week for the trade to go through."
The Wizards aren't the only possible landing spot for the 28-year-old according to Stein, as the Cavaliers are also interested in pursuing Deng on a draft-day deal.
Plus, with the news coming out that the Bulls might be willing to part with the swingman, other teams are sure to jump at the idea of acquiring him as he's developed into a solid perimeter scorer and lethal defender throughout the years.
Cavaliers Interested in Paul Pierce, Shawn Marion
The Cleveland Cavaliers, yet again, are dominating draft talk with their No. 1 overall pick that could go in many different directions. But the latest buzz has revolved around their courting of one of the league's most notable scorers.
The Cavs are looking to deal a pair of second-round picks for Boston's Paul Pierce, according to Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe.
"The source told the Globe any talks are very much in the preliminary stages. That said, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge would no doubt be interested in acquiring assets, such as draft picks, that could help rebuild the Celtics going forward."
That's not the only well-known veteran that the Cavs are interested in. Per Marc Stein of ESPN, they are also interested in Dallas Mavericks' Shawn Marion.
To say that the Cleveland Cavaliers have a lot of options entering Thursday's draft would be a big understatement. They own the top overall pick as well as the 19th pick to go along with a couple of second-rounders.
So it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that this up-and-coming team is courting the help of two players that bring as much veteran presence as you'll find.
With the Celtics seemingly ready to jump head-first into rebuilding, a couple of extra draft picks could go a long way and getting rid of Pierce's $15.3 million salary wouldn't hurt, either.
Additionally, the Cavs are looking to make a big push at Dwight Howard in the free-agent market and offloading Marion's $9.32 million contract would help free up the funds to do so.
Top Pick Still Wide Open
In most draft classes, a sure-fire No. 1 overall pick has been established by now. Well, this isn't most draft classes.
Owners of the top pick in the draft, Cleveland is still exploring five different players to potentially select, according to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Those candidates would be Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, Otto Porter, Ben McLemore and Anthony Bennett.
The Big Board from Chad Ford of ESPN outlined five players as well, negating Bennett for Victor Oladipo.
But that doesn't mean the Cavs have ruled out trading the top pick. According to Rob Finnan of The Morning Journal via San Jose Mercury News, Cleveland is still dangling the pick out there on the market and a deal could still be made.
Much of the talk in recent weeks has revolved around Noel and Len as the two most likely candidates, as the front court is the biggest area of concern in the near future. But it's obvious that nothing has been narrowed down at this point.
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