The NBA draft is Thursday night and, as should be expected, the rumor mill is filled with reports of fact and fiction. We won't know which is which until some time after the final pick is announced.
The talk centers around veterans who may be on the move as well as draft picks that could change hands. Here's a look at the hottest buzz as the NBA draft nears.
LaMarcus Aldridge Wants Out of Portland
Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald reports that Aldridge wants out of Portland and he wouldn't mind landing with the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls are said to be entertaining ideas of trading Luol Deng and his expiring deal, but McGraw writes that the Blazers would also want Joakim Noah in the deal. That may be a deal breaker for the Bulls.
Sean Deveney of Sporting News reports that the Cleveland Cavaliers also inquired about Aldridge, but the Blazers had no interest. Portland is said to be targeting a big man to play alongside Aldridge in hopes of making a playoff run next season.
Aldridge would likely get an opportunity to play for a playoff team with either the Bulls or the Cavs, but if he joined Derrick Rose in Chicago, he would be a major player with a team with a legitimate shot at winning an NBA championship—so long as the team doesn't have to part with Noah.
Aldridge is a more skilled offensive player than Noah, but the Bulls would be hard-pressed to replace his defense, energy and passing from the high post.
Also, the Bulls would have a logjam at power forward with Aldridge, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson on the roster.
Boozer will likely be amnestied after this season, but during the 2013-14 season someone would be unhappy with their minutes.
Milwaukee Bucks Looking to Steal New York Knicks' Biggest Free Agents
ESPN's Chris Broussard tweeted that the Bucks have interest in Knicks free agents J.R. Smith and Chris Copeland.
Sources tell me & @JaredZwerling that Bucks have interest in NYK free agents JR Smith & Chris Copeland. They could outbid NYK 4 both guys— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 27, 2013
If the Knicks are indeed outbid for two important members of their bench, their hopes of contending for a title next season will take a significant hit. Smith and Copeland combined to average 24.5 points per game as reserves last season.
Take a look at how much of the Knicks' bench scoring would be removed if Smith and Copeland left.
Stats per HoopsStats.com.
The Knicks reserves outscored the opponent's bench 38.5 to 28.3 per game, primarily because of Smith, but Copeland was big when he got the minutes.
The chances that the Knicks can find replacements who can duplicate that production with the money they have to spend is unlikely. The team already has $77.68 million of committed salary for the 2013-14 season, per Sham Sports.
Milwaukee and New York don't have much of a rivalry now, but if this happens one just might appear.
More Rumors About Alex Len to Cleveland With No. 1 Pick
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix is the latest to report that the Cavs could be leaning toward Maryland center Alex Len with the top pick in the draft.
Hearing stronger indications that Cleveland likes Maryland's Alex Len with the No. 1 pick.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) June 26, 2013
What's the best spot for Len to be drafted?
Len is a decent prospect, but the Cavs would be crazy to use the top pick on him. Chances are they could get him by moving back a few spots. In addition to the fact that he's a reach at No. 1, it's hard to see a player who wasn't dominant at the college level worthy of the top pick—even in a so-called weak draft.
Generally, you'd want a solid big man in college basketball to have his share of double-doubles games with at least two blocks per game. Len had five such games last season and only one of them came against an ACC team.
In that contest, Len had 15 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks against Florida State. The Cavs can find more value in another player or by trading down.
Thunder Like Len Too
Mannix also tweeted reports that the Oklahoma City Thunder were busy trying to reposition themselves in the draft.
Oklahoma City continues to be aggressive. Trying to move up, down and/or out of draft. Asking for two future No. 1's to move out of No. 12.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) June 26, 2013
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Len may also be the apple of the Thunder's eye as well.
One of the primary targets of Oklahoma City's pursuit of a Top 5 pick on Thursday, sources tell Y! Sports: Maryland 7-footer Alex Len.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 26, 2013
If the Thunder jump into the top five and take Len, it would be a more appropriate leap and grab.
Taking Len anywhere from third to fifth makes sense and is a better representation of his value. In addition, the Thunder already have two stars on their roster and Len could play a role better suited for his talent level.
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