Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Draft Rumors Heat Up: Links and Notes

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 at 8:45 PM

I'll have a mammoth post up later tonight outlining all the conceivable candidates in the Grizzlies' summer search for a new starting power forward. But first let's let's break down a busy day or so of news and notes:

Workouts: The Grizzlies hosted only their second pre-draft workout today, welcoming Jeff Adrien, Dionte Christmas, Robert Dozier, and Courtney Falls on the FedExForum practice court. The only viable pick here for the Grizzlies is Christmas, who has been considered a contender at #36 and possibly #27. The guard out of Temple has solid size and a good three-point stroke, but didn't otherwise impress today, his handle and mid-range stroke looking shaky. And he clearly is not an above-the-rim finisher.

Former Tiger Dozier got the media attention, and was the most impressive athlete on display, but he doesn't look like an NBA player. Similarly, Adrien has his fans as a tough-nosed, undersized power forward. It's not out of the question that he carves out a bench role as a Chuck Hayes-type player, but it's unlikely. He would have made a fine starting center for the old Memphis Rockers. (Look it up.)

The real question this morning's session provoked was why the workouts are so terrible and so few this year. Team officials will only address this by pointing out all of the group workouts the team is attending across the country, which is fair enough. But the Grizzlies have the #2, #27, and #35 picks in this draft and have so far worked out about three marginal prospects. The Kings — not exactly a glamor franchise — have the #4 and #23 picks and have had several massive workout sessions with most top prospects. What gives? Are players refusing to come here or are the Grizzlies cutting costs by not bringing them? Or is it a little of both?

The Grizzlies were supposed to have DeMar DeRozan in Monday but the USC swingman rescheduled. He's now apparently coming in this weekend, where he's supposed to be joined by Hasheem Thabeet and Jordan Hill for individual workouts. Tomorrow, Tyreke Evans is on the schedule, with James Harden on tap for Friday. Stephen Curry and Ricky Rubio currently have no plans to make a Memphis appearance.

The Rubio Situation: According to his own Twitter feed, Rubio is apparently in the U.S. and is meeting with Sacramento. ESPN's Chad Ford has a new Rubio story that has this semi-new and entirely expected tidbit:

All of that uncertainty could lead to an interesting dilemma for Rubio on draft night. His agent has been working with both the Thunder and Grizzlies to find another team willing to trade up. But with just 10 days to go before the draft, there still isn't a deal.

Power Forwards on the Block?: This might not be a huge power forward draft, but once you factor in free agents and reasonable trade candidates, there are lots of potential power forward targets out there for the Grizzlies this summer. I'll list them all in the next post, but lets link up recent rumors on three on them here.

Josh Smith: Ford is reporting that Smith, whom the Grizzlies signed to an offer sheet last summer, is on the block, though he's probably even less likely to become a Grizzly this summer than he did last summer.

Emeka Okafor: Veteran NBA writer Sam Smith has suggested that the Bobcats might be willing to move Okafor in a cost-cutting move. If true, the Grizzlies should be an obvious trade partner.

Kevin Love: Lots of noise on this front. Draft Express floated a rumor today of Love (and something else) for the #2. Earlier, David Aldridge talked up the possibility of the Wolves trying to move up on an NBATV telecast. And Hoops World also picked up this idea today as well.

But ESPN's Ford doesn't seem to take it seriously based on this chat response:

Adam S. (Minnesota)
I have been hearing rumors of the Wolves moving up to #2 to take Rubio. Any truth to this?

Chad Ford
There have been some rumblings around the league that they were talking to Memphis for what would be Kevin Love for the No. 2 pick. But from what I can gather, that's pretty bogus. The Wolves do like Rubio ... but there are all sorts of problems with them trading away Love ... the most obvious is that Love can't be traded back to the team that traded him in the first place for one year. So anything like that would have to happen after the draft. And, I'm not sure that Love is a perfect fit with Marc Gasol. They need more of a long, athletic shot blocker like ... Hasheem Thabeet!

Other Rumors and Mocks:

Ford is sticking with Hasheem Thabeet as the Grizzlies' top pick in his fifth mock draft, though at this point it seems the result of really having no idea which direction the team will go rather than having a strong sense of Thabeet at the pick. (I can empathize with this.) At #27, he has the Griz taking Israeli forward Omri Casspi, a personal favorite of mine.

Draft Express has a cornucopia of goodies in its latest rumor column, including:

**Golden State not picking a guard at #7 to appease Monta Ellis, but possibly dealing for Baron Davis. The latter would feed into the longshot scenario of the Grizzlies being able to make a run at Blake Griffin.

**Atlanta potentially being willing to part with the #19 pick to a team willing to take on Speedy Claxton, whose one year, $5.2 million contract is apparently 80% covered by insurance. If the Grizzlies covet someone available at #19 who isn't likely to slip to #27, they certainly have the excess cap space to do this kind of deal.

**Dejuan Blair stabilizing his draft stock and thus likely not sliding to the Griz at #27.

Meanwhile, DraftExpress' latest mock still has James Harden at #2, but now has Nick Calathes and Josh Heytvelt going with the latter picks.

NBADraft.net's current mock has Hasheem Thabeet, Dajuan Summers, and Jeff Adrien

Worst trade rumor so far? Celtics Blog sites a Boston-based report that the Celtics offered Kendrick Perkins for #2. No thanks.

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