With the NBA draft on Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN, rumors of all stripes have swirled with increasing furor.
The No. 1 and No. 8 picks are reportedly available for the right price, but only one of those seems likely to change hands. Meanwhile, the defending Eastern Conference champs want a higher first-round pick so they can select a player most pegged as a second-rounder a couple of months ago. Here are the latest rumors and buzz in the NBA with less than 24 hours remaining before the draft.
Cavs Still Offering No. 1 for Kevin Love
The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to gauge the worth of their No. 1 pick, and their dream scenario somehow turns that selection into Kevin Love wearing a Cavs uniform.
According to that never-ending font of NBA rumors and info, Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the sticking point has not been Cleveland's lack of assets on offer, but rather Love's disinterest in signing a long-term deal in Cleveland:
The Cavaliers have a core of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, but that young tandem does not inspire much enthusiasm in league stars searching for the right landing spot. Try as they might, the Cavs simply cannot convince the California boy searching for a winner that Cleveland is the right place.
Kings Shopping the No. 8 Pick, Suns Looking To Rise
According to ESPN's Chad Ford, the Sacramento Kings are actively shopping the No. 8 pick, with the Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks as the primary interested parties. As Ford noted about the Kings, "They obviously want to win now. Aren't in love with anything at 8. I think they're the team most likely to make a deal on draft night."
The Kings hold a very interesting draft position, as the list of draft prospects has had a fairly static top eight for months now: Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum, Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon and Marcus Smart.
While another player could sneak into the top eight on draft night, the No. 8 pick offers more assurance of a quality contributor than even a couple of slots later.
Ford also noted that the Suns have been very active in trade talks and have targeted a specific set of players they would like to acquire with three first-round picks (Nos. 14, 18 and 27) at their disposal:
Suns have been very active. They've talked to the Kings about moving up to 8. They've talked about moving their picks for veterans. Interestingly, they've been talking about point guards with teams which may reflect an uneasiness in re-signing Eric Bledsoe to a huge deal this summer. I'm told that the four prospects they seem to be focused on right now are Elfrid Payton, Zach LaVine, Rodney Hood and T.J. Warren.
With their trio of picks, the Suns would likely be in position to land at least two of their top-four choices, though Payton has rapidly moved up draft boards and will likely be gone by the time 14 rolls around. The same could happen with LaVine, but the Suns must gauge the price of moving up six spots and trading with a Kings team that doesn't appear interested in drafting where they are.
According to ShamSports.com, the Suns have a qualifying offer for Bledsoe this summer. The Suns would be unlikely to enter next season with three rookies on the roster, so packaging the No. 27 with No. 14 to move up could make sense, and landing an elite guard would be a great insurance policy in addition to an investment in the roster's future.
Heat Focused on Napier
Chad Ford noted that the Miami Heat will seek to woo LeBron James to stay by making "an aggressive attempt to move up in Thursday's NBA draft, with their target being former UConn point guard Shabazz Napier, league sources said."
Following the Huskies' inspired run to another national title and Napier claiming Most Outstanding Player honors, James tweeted that Napier was the best point guard in the draft:
While Dante Exum, Marcus Smart, Elfrid Payton, Zach LaVine and Tyler Ennis would beg to differ, James' opinion carries plenty of water in Miami—even more so after informing the Heat he would opt out of his contract—and the team will be eager to appease the best player in the universe.
In his first mock draft following the conclusion of the NCAA tournament, Ford slotted Napier at No. 28 (subscription required). Other draft mockers didn't even view Napier as a first-rounder. Two months later, Ford mocked Napier to the Atlanta Hawks at No. 15.
With the Heat drafting at No. 26, they could hope to watch Napier fall to them, but only moving up would ensure they snag their desired point guard. And it's a position of need with NBA Finals whipping boy Mario Chalmers heading for free agency.
The Heat could choose to start Norris Cole at the position next year, but adding Napier would give them a four-year college player with two championships on his resume and admirable leadership abilities on the court. The only question consists of what assets they would offer up in exchange.
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