Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Draft Update: Rubio News, Workout Report

Posted By on Tue, Jun 9, 2009 at 3:25 PM

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Some new stuff to mull over on the ever-evolving Ricky Rubio front: ESPN.com's Chad Ford picks up on a story that emerged last weekend about Rubio challenging the sizable buyout with his current team.

Rubio challenging the buyout seemed to cement his entry into this year's draft — which I still believe to be the case — but Ford draws a slightly different conclusion:

If an arbitrator agrees with Rubio and lowers the buyout, Rubio would likely be headed to the NBA next season. If the arbitrator rules that Rubio's indemnity payment to the Joventut is reasonable, it may convince Rubio to stay in Spain another year.

Ford also reports that Rubio is headed to the States:

In the meantime, Rubio plans to arrive with his family in the United States on June 13. Rubio has yet to schedule visits with any team, according to the source.

Rubio has already informed teams that he won't do workouts, but he might visit them to meet the front office and owners. The source said if visits happen, they will be to Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Sacramento — owners of the first, third and fourth picks in the draft.

The source said it's likely that Rubio and his camp will skip visits to Memphis. The Grizzlies hold the No. 2 pick, but the source said Rubio is leery about playing in Memphis after two other Spanish players — Pau Gasol and Juan Carlos Navarro — had bad experiences there.

Predictably, Grizzlies fans are already roasting Ford for telling them something they don't want to hear. I do think Ford was wrong about his earlier report of Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley pushing the drafting of Hasheem Thabeet, and it seems to me that he hasn't had great Grizzlies sources in the post-Jerry West era. But this information isn't coming from Grizzlies-connected sources. It's presumably coming from a Rubio-connected source, and since I haven't seen it strongly disputed anywhere, I think Griz fans shouldn't be so quick to dismiss it.

The Commercial Appeal weighed in on this today with a story from Griz beat writer Ron Tillery that contains this doozy of a headline: Grizzlies Expect Ricky Rubio Visit for Workout

There's only one problem: The story doesn't say that. Nowhere is it implied that the Grizzlies expect Rubio to workout for the team in Memphis (or anywhere else). In fact, they do not expect this. Now, Tillery does say that the Grizzlies "expect" Rubio to visit Memphis if he comes to the States, but the quotes from general manager Chris Wallace are more hopeful — and noncommittal — than expectant.

Certainly, no one I talked to at today's draft workouts at FedExForum knew for sure if Rubio would be stopping in Memphis — or anywhere else. Team officials continue to insist that Rubio's agent, Dan Fegan, has not delivered the message that he doesn't want Rubio in Memphis. But they haven't said they've gotten a strong positive response from the Rubio camp either.

I did have one team official shrug off the posturing, suggesting that the team would make its decision based on their own basketball discussions and wouldn't be swayed by any of this posturing. I hope that's true, but I'm not entirely convinced.

The CA story also mentions Boston, Houston, and (obviously) New York as teams that have expressed interest in the second pick. I haven't heard anything about those teams, but there doesn't seem to be a logical deal to make with Boston or Houston. New York has the #8 pick, but the only other piece the team could really pair with that to move up is David Lee, who's a restricted free agent and thus can't be a part of a draft-day deal.

Workouts:

It was a Conference USA all-star team out there today in a rather lackluster pre-draft workout, with Tiger Hero Antonio Anderson and reigning CUSA player of the year Jermaine Taylor joined by an ACC sharpshooter, Miami's Jack McClinton. (There were three other marginal prospects involved too.)

Anderson is a local story, but he won't be drafted and is highly unlikely to be on an NBA roster next season. For Grizzlies purposes, the focus today was on Taylor and McClinton. Taylor rates out higher on most draft boards — 41st on Chad Ford's list to 59th for McClinton, 34 on Draft Express' mock to 58th for McClinton. But McClinton looked like the better prospect to me.

Taylor is a strong, rugged guard, but doesn't jump out at you. McClinton is a big-time shooter — his three-point percentages in college were ridiculous, topping out at over 45% his senior season — who looked good today both from three and on mid-range pull-ups.

There was some stray talk today about McClinton as a candidate for the Grizzlies' pick at #27, and that isn't an unprecedented notion, as Draft Express has reported about the Knicks potentially looking for a late first to target McClinton.

I'm skeptical, though. McClinton can stroke it, but is already 24, is only 6'1", and doesn't seem to be a point guard. Could he be another Tony Delk or Eddie House? Sure. But there are plenty of undersized shooters littering secondary leagues all over the world. I wouldn't take McClinton at #27 or #35. If the Grizzlies had — or acquired — a mid-to-late second rounder? Sure.

Next week, the team will kick off a series of solo meetings (and, in some, but probably not all cases, workouts) with lottery prospects. The word today was that Tyreke Evans, James Harden, and Jordan Hill are lined up. Hasheem Thabeet might be coming back in, Rubio is still a question mark, and the team is still trying to get something set up with Stephen Curry.

Other scuttle and links:

Word around the workouts was that Dajuan Blair could be the big dropper due to concerns about his knees and, to a lesser extent, his height. Could he drop all the way to #27? Unlikely, but don't rule it out.

The guesswork about the draft fence sitters was that Damien James would probably remain in the draft but Jodie Meeks might return to Kentucky. Both would seemingly be in the mix for the Grizzlies' two late picks.

Finally, ESPN.com's Doug Gottlieb, who covers the college game, has an interesting take on the draft for those of you with ESPN Insider accounts. Gottlieb ranks his Top 30 prospects, with results that often disagree with the mock-draft conventional wisdom.

Gottlieb's "underrated":
Jrue Holiday — #3
Demar DeRozan — #4
Jeff Teague — #7
Patrick Mills — #11
B.J. Mullens — #12
Toney Douglas — #18
Damien James — #19

Gottlieb's "overrated":
Hasheem Thabeet — #6
James Harden — #10
Tyreke Evans — #13
Stephen Curry — #15
Terrence Williams — #24

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