NBA Draft Rumors: Last-Minute Draft Whispers Around All 30 Teams
With the 2014 NBA draft nearly upon us, the rumor mill has kicked into overdrive in order to keep up with all of the would-be selections and potential transactions.
Not only is this draft class rich with star-caliber prospects, but some of the best players in the league today are on the market as well. That has led to some teams jockeying for position in the draft order, while others will use the draft as an opportunity to either trade picks and land an established star or prep for a run at one in free agency.
Between the high-profile talents and the extraordinary depth this class has to offer, this draft will have significant ramifications for every team in the Association.
When we look back on the 2014 offseason, it could be one of those fulcrum periods in NBA history, during which the long-term balance of power conspicuously shifts. And we could look back on these final days before the draft as the time in which franchises set the stage for prosperous futures.
Jeff Teague already has nice frontcourt weapons to target in Al Horford and Paul Millsap, but the Atlanta Hawks could use some more firepower on the wings.
Per Ken Berger of CBS Sports, Atlanta is looking at Gary Harris, Rodney Hood and James Young at No. 15. Any of those three would give the Hawks some versatility on the wing that they have otherwise been lacking or will want going forward.
Guys like Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll have given Atlanta three-point shooting from the small forward position, but neither has offered much off the bounce to threaten defenders that are closing out. Though the 6'4" Harris is a natural shooting guard, all three of the aforementioned prospects would significantly improve Atlanta's ability to penetrate offensively.
With the sixth pick in the 2014 NBA draft, the Boston Celtics will look to add some much-needed length and leaping ability.
Vonleh would be the best fit for the roster as currently constructed. At 6'10", he can give Boston some rim protection that the team desperately needs,with the stout Jared Sullinger ostensibly playing center. Gordon also has the athleticism to do that job, but he's two inches shorter than Vonleh and won't translate to the NBA low post as well.
Considering Boston has Rajon Rondo at point guard, Smart is a more interesting option. If he winds up in a Celtics uniform, that could be a sign that Rondo might not be wearing it long term.
The Brooklyn Nets don't have any picks in this year's draft, so they are looking to acquire veteran upgrades rather than unproven talent.
As ESPN's Marc Stein reports, the Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers are in talks to swap bench scorers on multi-year contracts. Brooklyn would send Marcus Thornton to the Cavs, and in return the Nets would get point guard support in Jarrett Jack.
At the very least, Jack would provide shot creation and penetration ability that Brooklyn doesn't currently have in its second unit. But beyond that, a Jack addition could signal that the Nets aren't willing to spend to keep Shaun Livingston around as their backup to Deron Williams.
The one-time Bobcats may go by a different name now, but without some big-time shooters, the Charlotte Hornets will look the same on the floor.
Berger reports that the Hornets have narrowed their choices at No. 9 down to just two names: Doug McDermott and Nik Stauskas, both of whom could make strong claims for the title of best pure shooter in the 2014 draft class.
Each prospect would immediately be the most dangerous three-point threat Charlotte has to offer, and each could take defenders off the dribble and pull up from mid-range territory as well. The Hornets will likely be able to choose between both when the time comes, but even if one is gone, they will get what they need.
In their relentless pursuit for another star, the Chicago Bulls are eager to sacrifice prospects in a historically deep draft in order to preserve cap space.
According to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, Chicago is interested in dealing both the 16th and the 19th pick of the first round for future picks, thus ensuring the Bulls have as much money as possible to make a bid for Carmelo Anthony in July.
If Chicago adds any players to its roster with one or both of those first-rounders, the contract of whomever is selected would be guaranteed for 2014-15—as are their cap hits. Swapping their 2014 selections for future picks will allow the Bulls to defer those payments, as would stashing prospects in overseas leagues. If the Bulls keep one or both picks, expect them to go that route.
This is the most important rumor of them all, and it's entirely inconclusive: the Cleveland Cavaliers have no idea who they're going to pick first.
Jeff Goodman and Chad Ford of ESPN reveal that the Cavs' war room is currently divided, unable to decide between Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins. On top of that, LeBron James' impending free agency and various offers to trade down complicate the decision.
Should Cleveland keep the top pick, both Parker and Wiggins would fill current needs for the Cavs. Wiggins would give Cleveland a scoring threat in transition and a lockdown wing defender, while Parker is an all-around scoring forward who would be a much-needed complement to Kyrie Irving.
A veteran, win-now team without a first-round pick, the Dallas Mavericks are diverting their main focus to the free-agency pool.
Coming off of a $19.4 windfall in 2013-14, it's unclear how cheaply Gasol will feel comfortable signing for this summer. Dallas has over $30 million in cap room, but re-signing Dirk will cut into it, and paying Pau too much will inhibit the Mavs' ability to add more talent.
That could sway them toward a trade for old friend Tyson Chandler, which could potentially cost them a prospect they gain with one of their two second-rounders. So, if Gasol doesn't work out, Dallas' draft-day moves could be integral in the team's effort to land a center.
As reported by Ford, Dario Saric has decided to remain in Europe for at least the next two seasons after signing a three-year deal with "Turkish powerhouse Anadolu Efes" on Monday, but Berger believes he knows why the Croatian forward got a green room invite to the draft.
Berger believes the Denver Nuggets have given Saric their assurance that they will select him 11th overall pick if he is still on the board. Doing so would very clearly indicate that the Nuggets are taking a rebuilding-type approach to their next couple years following a 37-45 season.
With Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried in place, there wouldn't be room for Saric in the Nuggets lineup right now anyway. While he hones his skills abroad, Denver can develop the rest of its roster and move one of its forwards in preparation to compete when Saric arrives.
After the lottery balls caused the Detroit Pistons to send their top-eight-protected first-rounder to Charlotte when it landed at No. 9, Motor City is looking at other avenues of roster building this offseason.
One of those is to reduce some of their frontcourt glut through a trade, and it appeared Detroit had a willing partner to help. Stein reported the Pistons were discussing a swap of Josh Smith, a poor fit for Detroit at small forward, with the Sacramento Kings for Derrick Williams and Jason Thompson.
However, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress has since reported that talks between the two teams have fallen through and a Smith-to-Sacramento deal will not happen.
Doing so would have given the Kings a defense-first interior partner for DeMarcus Cousins, while Detroit would have gained a high-ceiling utility forward and second-unit forward depth—a welcome change from overloading the starting lineup. Expect both teams to keep trying to make changes in those veins.
Golden State Warriors
Speaking of teams in dead-end pursuits of trades that wound up fizzling, here we have the Golden State Warriors.
Per Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher, a possible move to send Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Bay Area has fallen through. Futhermore, the Wolves are "unlikely" to trade Love at all before the draft.
The second half of that report informs the first. As teams scramble to make moves on draft day, asset values on the open market fluctuate. If Minnesota is looking for a draft-pick haul, it stands to receive the best return when teams actually go on the clock.
Should Minnesota finish draft day with Love still in a Wolves jersey, however, the Dubs, who have no first-rounders to offer in 2014, could arise from the dead and a package of Golden State players could prove to be the most valuable offer.
The Houston Rockets find their way into every rumor about acquiring a star, but they're looking at role players, too.
Gery Woelfel of the Journal-Times reports that Houston could be a possible trade destination for Ersan Ilyasova and that the Milwaukee Bucks could target the No. 25 pick as compensation. Woelfel recounts that Ilyasova had been on Houston's radar before, and the team still has a need for a stretch forward.
Of course, this trade only happens if Houston rules itself out of the sweepstakes for the higher-profile stretch forwards on the market this summer: LeBron, Melo and Love.
With that in mind, expect Houston to pick 25th on draft day, but don't be surprised if that selection winds up in a Bucks uniform sometime later.
The Indiana Pacers won't do anything on draft day until 56 picks have already been made, so there's not very much to discuss in their camp right now.
Last season's ill-fated deal for Luis Scola cost Indy the No. 27 pick this year, leaving them with just the No. 57 pick at the back end of the second round. That has left the Pacers working out a bunch of prospects who, collectively, don't move the needle at all.
Sheridan Hoops' Michael Scotto reported Indy's most recent slate of predraft workouts: Mike Moser, Roscoe Smith, Eric Moreland, Tyler Stone, David Stockton and Nick Kellogg. It would not be a surprise if all of those guys went undrafted, but the Pacers are exploring all possible options.
Los Angeles Clippers
Unsurprisingly, a star-laden, big-market team is looking past the draft and toward LeBron and Melo in free agency.
The Los Angeles Clippers don't have the cap space at the present time to sign either star, but per Romona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles, they're willing to make trades in order to clear the books for either James or Anthony.
Shelburne explains that James' close relationship with Chris Paul would be a draw for L.A., so CP3 is certainly not going anywhere. And per Shelburne, Doc Rivers has reportedly deemed Blake Griffin "untouchable" as well. That leaves every other Clipper on the block plus the No. 28 pick to grease the palms of a team taking on a salary dump.
Los Angeles Lakers
Equally unsurprisingly, the other L.A. franchise is looking to clean up its books and acquire stars to win now.
That's the line of thinking that made Steve Nash a Los Angeles Laker in the first place, but now he's a broken-down point guard and a salary to be dumped. That's why, per Stein, the Lakers are considering dealing him in tandem with the No. 7 pick.
Stein reports they'll likely keep the selection because it's too valuable to trade just to cut Nash's salary, but if L.A. could return commensurate value in future picks while also dumping Nash, it would be worthwhile. Doing so would give the Lakers the best chance (albeit still a slim one) to land multiple stars this summer in free agency to create a spontaneous superteam for Kobe Bryant.
In the midst of a tumultuous offseason for the front office, the Memphis Grizzlies are poised to enter the draft without their GM of the future.
Though they recently took Chris Wallace's interim tag off and made him the lead exec, Berger reports that the Grizz are interviewing candidates to be GM-in-waiting.
Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks, Pacers vice president Peter Dinwiddie, Knicks director of pro personnel Mark Hughes and former Raptors and Knicks GM Glen Grunwald have all talked with Wallace and owner Robert Pera about working with and eventually taking over for Wallace.
Wallace was advising Memphis on player personnel decisions even before CEO Jason Levien resigned, so the transition should be relatively smooth in terms of the draft. Any additional front office turbulence will come only after Wallace and Pera make a hire.
Needing youth, perimeter defense and three-point shooting from the guard positions, the Miami Heat are a very reasonable destination for Iman Shumpert.
Per Grantland's Zach Lowe, the Heat could offer the New York Knicks the first-rounder Phil Jackson has been seeking in exchange for Shumpert, who has found himself on the block repeatedly over the course of his three seasons in the NBA.
This deal would be a no-brainer for Miami. Unless an impact point guard like Shabazz Napier falls to No. 26, the Heat would be better served adding a three-and-D guy like Shump. The variables will be whether Jackson decides to see how Shump will fit in a triangle offense or that New York receives a more generous offer.
Is there subterfuge afoot among the 2014 draft's elite?
Ford has (subscription required) Jabari Parker going to the Cavs in his most recent mock draft. Yet after a subpar, lackadaisical workout with Cleveland, sources say he "tanked" the showcase in order to fall to No. 2 and the Milwaukee Bucks, whom he prefers as a prospective team.
That's not to say Parker's disappointing performance that day—shady intent or not—will be the decisive factor that brings Wiggins to Cleveland. After all, Ford still has Parker going first. Considering how torn the Cavs front office is right now, though, late negative momentum for Parker could bump Wiggins ahead and Parker back to the Bucks.
Even if the Wolves don't wind up dealing Love to Golden State, they certainly have no shortage of interested buyers.
Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News reports that Derrick Rose would prefer the Bulls trade with Minnesota for Love rather than acquire Carmelo Anthony. That said, this rumor says as much, if not more, about Love's relationship with Minnesota than it does about his future landing spot.
Lawrence's got his intel on Rose's feelings from "sources close to Kevin Love." That smacks of the star forward's camp planting rumors in order to force the Wolves' hand and engineer a trade to a proven winner.
Much like with Golden State, Chicago's odds as a suitor rise if Love remains in Minnesota past the draft. Regardless, Love's relationship with the Wolves seems permanently shot.
New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans made a short-term decision during the 2013 draft, and they are seeing the downside of that choice in 2014.
Jrue Holiday is a Pelican now, but New Orleans' top-five-protected first-rounder landed at 10th overall in the lottery and transferred to the Philadelphia 76ers. Now, John Reid of the Times-Picayune reports, the Pelicans are working to trade back into the first round of this deep draft.
Reid writes that New Orleans would target a center or a small forward in the first round. In all likelihood, though, it wouldn't be able to get a center who could make an impact next season unless it somehow trades up high enough to pick Joel Embiid, and he'll have to get healthy first.
Doing so would likely cost the Pelicans Holiday, if not more. The cautionary tale comes full circle.
New York Knicks
If Knicks fans feel like they have heard Shumpert trade rumors before, it's because they have. And if the Oklahoma City Thunder seem like a familiar suitor, it's because they are.
New York and OKC discussed a Shumpert deal at the deadline that ultimately never got done, but Stein once again identifies the Thunder as an interested party. Much like with a Knicks-Heat trade, New York would receive a late-first rounder from OKC in return for the two-way wing.
Whether the market for Shump is hot or cold, the Thunder are in position to capitalize. Possessing both the No. 21 and No. 29 picks, OKC could outbid the Heat if need be. In the event Miami opts not to deal with the Knicks, the Thunder could try to make the same trade with the lesser pick.
In any of those scenarios, if the Knicks really want to turn Shumpert into a pick in the 20s, one will surely be available for them.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Even if they don't trade with the Knicks, the Thunder have other Shump-esque targets they're eyeing.
In an online chat, Susan Bible of Basketball Insiders reported that OKC could look to bolster its bench with C.J. Miles, Anthony Morrow, P.J. Tucker or Mike Miller in addition to Shumpert. Those guys could each give the Thunder a nice injection of defense, three-point shooting or both.
The only one of that bunch currently under contract, Shumpert has the highest upside and the most two-way ability. That's reason enough for the Thunder to go after him during the draft, but even if the Thunder make both of their picks, they'll still likely pursue veteran help during free agency.
Going back to Ford's and Goodman's report on Cleveland's dilemma with the first overall pick, the Orlando Magic lead all other suitors hoping to trade with the Cavs.
Each of the Sixers, Magic and Utah Jazz are offering Cleveland a top-five pick and a solid player. Orlando is offering two 2014 first-rounders—No. 4 and No. 12—along with Aaron Afflalo, which trumps Philly's offer of the No. 3 pick and Thaddeus Young. Utah is offering the No. 5 pick and Derrick Favors.
Philadelphia also has the No. 10 pick at its disposal, so the Sixers could make their package even more valuable than Orlando's if they so choose. On the other hand, Ford and Goodman propose that Afflalo's two-way play at shooting guard could prove more valuable in selling the Cavs to LeBron James, so Orlando's slightly lesser pick package might not be a deal-breaker for the Magic.
Read between the lines of Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski's Sixers rumors, and you can't help but wonder whether Philly might deal Michael Carter-Williams.
Wojnarowski reports that, a year after Philly selected Carter-Williams with the 11th overall pick, the Sixers are interested in drafting Dante Exum and Marcus Smart, the top-two point guard prospects on the board. Additionally, the Sixers are looking to add another top-10 pick in addition to the No. 3 pick and No. 10 pick that they already possess.
There's no way Philadelphia ends up with three of the first 10 picks of this draft without including Carter-Williams in a trade; the Sixers just don't have any other assets valuable enough to warrant such a deal. If Philly selects Exum third during the draft, don't be surprised if an MCW trade gets the Sixers a pick shortly after.
The Phoenix Suns already have three first-round picks, but unlike Philly, they're looking to use fewer.
Per Wojnarowski, the Suns are looking to trade this year's No. 27 pick for a future first-rounder, leaving them with just the 14th and 18th selections, respectively.
There's not a lot of layers to this rumor.
Phoenix is coming off a 48-win season with a young, deep roster. The 14th and 18th picks will be more valuable in this deep draft than in another equivalent one in a future draft, so the Suns will likely keep those two. If they can possibly turn the 27th pick this year into a higher pick next year, though, it will be worth it to spread the wealth.
Portland Trail Blazers
All should be quiet with the Portland Trail Blazers when the draft rolls around.
Chris Haynes of Comcast Sportsnet Northwest reports that the Blazers, who currently do not have a pick in either round of this year's draft, likely will not acquire one.
Interestingly, Haynes believes that Portland's absence from this loaded draft is a reasoned team-building choice. He proposes that adding a 2014 draftee to an already young roster "could stagnate [the] team's progress."
Whether or not that's the logic, Portland will be inactive during the draft. Afterward, how the Blazers approach the pool of undrafted free agents will indicate how much truth there is to Haynes' theory.
Sacramento might not be dealing with the Pistons anymore, but the Kings are looking to trade more than just Derrick Williams or Jason Thompson.
Per Stein, Sacramento wants to trade the eighth overall pick in the draft, and Stein feels that a deal for that pick is "increasingly inevitable."
The logic behind such a move seems to be that one young player won't be the answer for the Kings, who have won 28 or fewer games in each of the last six seasons. By that line of thinking, ether trading down for multiple firsts or acquiring veteran talent would provide better support for DeMarcus Cousins than the No. 8 pick would on its own.
San Antonio Spurs
This might sound shocking, but the San Antonio Spurs could be eyeing an international center prospect.
Per Scotto, the Spurs recently brought in Walter Tavares for a predraft workout.
Once a relative unknown in the 2014 class, Tavares has risen to fringe first-rounder status, as scouts have gotten to know the Cape Verde native. Seeing a 7'3" prospect in person will boost his draft stock like that.
Simple workout rumors shouldn't cause too much of a stir, but when it's the most accomplished international-drafting franchise around that also developed Tim Duncan and a corps of versatile bigs, notice is warranted. Tavares as a Gregg Popovich disciple is just that terrifying of a hypothetical.
David Aldridge of NBA.com included it just as an aside in his year-end power rankings, but when discussing the Toronto Raptors season and the imperative task of re-signing Kyle Lowry, he mentioned the Lakers would be "at the top of the list" of potential Lowry suitors.
Lowry had a breakout season in 2013-14, averaging 17.4 points, 7.4 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game, as he led a Toronto Raptors team expected to tank to the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. In doing so in a contract year, he became the most attractive point guard on the market this summer.
Toronto values Lowry highly and wouldn't want to lose him for nothing, so let's look at this alongside the Lakers' rumor.
A sign-and-trade centered on Lowry for the No. 7 pick and Nash gives L.A. the star-caliber talent it desires while allowing Toronto to keep building for the future while bringing in the greatest Canadian basketball player ever.
While Philly's overture for the first overall pick seems to be at odds with its quest for more first-rounders, Utah's effort is single-minded.
Spencer Checketts of 1280 The Zone reports that the Jazz offered Cleveland the No. 5 pick and Favors in hopes of landing Wiggins with the pick, not Parker.
Even if the Cavs decide they prefer Parker, Utah would still have to deal with Cleveland in order to get Wiggins. Cleveland needs an interior presence like Favors, but Milwaukee already has a player in that mold in Larry Sanders. Presented with the same offer, the Bucks would have less than Cleveland to accept even though they're trading a lesser pick.
That means Utah needs to throw another asset at Cleveland in order to get the star small forward the Jazz crave.
The Washington Wizards' plans for the 46th overall pick couldn't possibly be flashy, but they hope they can result in a substantive gain for the team.
J. Michael of CSN Washington reports that the Wiz are interested in bringing in a big man with their second-rounder, with the focus on drafting the most NBA-ready player.
Frontcourt depth is key for Washington. Assuming they re-sign Marcin Gortat, the Wiz still start the injury-prone Nene at power forward, and the likes of Trevor Booker and Drew Gooden proved disappointing when called upon to perform in the postseason.
After a heartening playoff run to the conference semifinals, Washington is looking to continue its newfound winning ways. It's a lot to ask for a second-rounder to make an impact on a playoff team, even coming off the bench, but the Wizards are hoping their bright future is now.