Latest Buzz Surrounding Jamal Crawford, Kristaps Porzingis, Celtics' Draft Plans

Sam SpiegelmanFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2015

The 2015 NBA Finals are in the books, and we’re officially less than one week away from the draft.  

As June 25 nears, talks are heating up around the league about potential trades. Yet again, there are some familiar names and some familiar teams being mentioned.

The Los Angeles Clippers just made a big-time splash by acquiring Lance Stephenson from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for forwards Spencer Hawes and Matt Barnes. Apparently, the Clippers could be on the verge of making yet another deal.

According to Arash Markazi of, the Clippers remain in the mix for a small forward. Markazi names Paul Pierce as an option should he decline his $5.5 million player option with the Washington Wizards. He also reported the team could deal Jamal Crawford as part of a package deal to land Wilson Chandler.

The Clippers are also exploring trade options for Jamal Crawford, according to sources, and one possibility is trading Crawford and C.J. Wilcox, the team’s 2014 first round pick, to the Denver Nuggets for Wilson Chandler. The Clippers inquired about Chandler last season but nothing materialized. 

If the Clippers did in fact gauge the Nuggets’ interest in trading Chandler last season, then there’s fire behind this smoke.

Denver is reportedly dangling Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility more players on the roster could now be available.

Crawford has been a dynamite three-point shooter for Los Angeles since his arrival in 2012. In three seasons with the Clips, he’s averaged 17.0 points per game with a 36 percent mark from downtown.

Making a move for Chandler over Crawford means the Clippers would be getting younger. Crawford is 35, and Chandler is 28. It also means the team is swapping out offense for defense and rebounding.

Last season, Chandler averaged 13.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for the Nuggets. He’s also about $1.5 million more expensive in terms of his salary for the 2015-16 season.

Given the Clippers’ decision to trade for Stephenson, a strong defender, and the loss of key frontcourt contributors in Barnes and Hawes, it makes sense to add Chandler, assuming the Nuggets are willing to deal him.


Knicks Likely to Move Out of the No. 4 Spot?

It seems as if everybody is having difficulty gauging what the New York Knicks might do when they’re on the clock Thursday night.

Trade back? Or stay put? There aren’t that many options, yet insiders cannot seem to put a finger on what Phil Jackson is going to do.

Joe Kotoch of Sheridan Hoops reported the Knicks are looking to trade the fourth overall pick in the NBA draft in order to load up on assets and try to draft a mobile big man. Kotoch named Kristaps Porzingis as the team’s top target.

At No. 4, Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks are infatuated with Okafor, Towns and Russell and will take any of them if they fall. But they won’t. My sources tell me that the Knicks instead will look to trade this pick and accumulate more assets. Based on the names I’m hearing most often, I think the Knicks are targeting a mobile big that can face the basket, such as Porzingis, whom we will have more on later this week.

Chad Ford of ESPN reported the Knicks were working out prospects expected to fall somewhere between picks No. 8 to No. 14 and would explore trades involving the fourth overall pick if Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell are off the board by the time they’re on the clock.

The Knicks’ interest in Porzingis is confirmed by Ian Begley of, who reported that the forward worked out for the team last Friday. Begley reported the Knicks are “at least considering” Porzingis with the No. 4 pick.

The Knicks need a mobile big, and Porzingis fits the bill. However, the Knicks have glaring needs all over the court, so it’s difficult to narrow in on one specific need over another. The Knicks have been linked to big men and guards alike.

Begley reported the Knicks could also trade the No. 4 pick to move back and draft Murray State point guard Cameron Payne. It’s just further evidence that they are a strong candidate to deal the lottery pick.


Celtics Aggressively Engaging in Trade Talks

The media has consistently mentioned the Boston Celtics as a team looking to improve their position in time for the upcoming NBA draft.

According to Kotoch, the Celtics are “the most aggressive” at this time as they continue to try to move up from the No. 16 overall pick. They have engaged in trade talks with the Knicks (No. 4) and the Nuggets (No. 7) in an effort to find a big man, most noticeably Porzingis or Willie Cauley-Stein.

The Boston Celtics are the most aggressive team in talks right now, exploring ways to move up in the draft. GM Danny Ainge is loaded with picks and wants to make a splash. Watch for a possible deal with the Knicks involving multiple first-rounders. If that falls through, I think Ainge targets a move to No. 7 with Denver. I am hearing the Celtics’ target in a possible trade up would be Porzingis, but they also are very intrigued by Willie Cauley-Stein as they lack a rim protector in their stable of bigs.

Both Cauley-Stein and Porzingis fit the bill as far as the Celtics’ needs going into this draft. Power forward Brandon Bass is an impending free agent, as is Jonas Jerebko, according to Spotrac.

The Celtics have long been linked to Willie Cauley-Stein. A. Sherrod Blakely of previously reported there are “growing signs” that they have interest in Cauley-Stein but would have to move up in the draft to land the former Kentucky star.

In addition to the Knicks and Nuggets, Boston has also been connected in a potential deal with the Charlotte Hornets. After trading away Stephenson to the Clippers, the Hornets are reportedly open to trading the No. 9 overall pick, according to Ford, who named the Celtics as a potential partner.

By moving into the top 10, the Celtics could put themselves in a position to select either Cauley-Stein or Porzingis, depending on who is still on the board.  


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