Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wolves Acquire 5th Pick?

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2009 at 7:32 PM

Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Minnesota Timberwolves have acquired the 5th pick in Thursday's draft from the Washington Wizards:

The Washington Wizards have agreed in principle to acquire Minnesota Timberwolves guards Randy Foye(notes) and Mike Miller(notes) for Etan Thomas(notes), Oleksiy Pecherov(notes) and Darius Songaila and the fifth pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, a league executive with knowledge of the deal told Yahoo! Sports.

Given the recent rumors of the Wolves trying to acquire the #5 pick in order to package it with their own #6 pick in a trade to get the Grizzlies' pick at #2, you have to wonder if this is a step in that direction.

I don't know either way though I'd question if the Wolves, after parting with two useful assets (Foye and Miller) to get one (#5), are really willing to do so again. If there's anything to this, I would think there would be other pieces involved in any deal.

This site has been too quiet the past couple of days as I've dealt with deadlines on non-Griz work and internet problems Beyond the Arc's home office. That behind me, I'll be slavishly devoted to this space through Thursday's draft.

Up next: A roundup from the past three days' workouts and a look at various recent Griz-related links.
Tomorrow: A report from the last pre-draft workout and an in-depth look at candidates for the #27 and #36 picks.
At some point before the draft: A team and Beyond the Arc draft boards for #2 (or reasonable trade-down possibilities.

UPDATE: Conflicting reports already on this. Sacramento Bee's Sam Amick twitters:

# New T-Wolves GM David Kahn promised to make a splash - http://bit.ly/18WlRj - and I'm told it's Rubio if Griz comply and give up # 2. If...39 minutes ago from TweetDeck

Rubio may be about to come off the board. Don't be shocked if Minn. packages 5 and 6 for No. 2 from Memphis.

However, ESPN.com is reporting that the Wolves will not package the picks:

The Wolves would then keep the draft pick and their own selection at No. 6 and not try to package those to move up, a source told ESPN.com's Andy Katz.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Draft Notes: Quick Thoughts, Twitter, Post Schedule

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2009 at 10:16 AM

Other work will keep me from posting anything in-depth here until tonight at the earliest, but a few quick hits:

My best feel for the Grizzlies' current draft plans coming out of yesterday's workout session is that there are two primary options at this point: Drafting and keeping Hasheem Thabeet and drafting and trading Ricky Rubio. Any other scenario (such as taking James Harden, Tyreke Evans, or Stephen Curry at #2) is a longshot.

A team contingent (Chris Wallace, Lionel Hollins, Tony Barone Sr., and Johnny Davis) flew to Los Angeles Saturday to meet with Thabeet, which I certainly think fans should take as a strong indicator of how seriously Thabeet is being considered at #2.

On the other hand, trading the pick still seems to be a strong option, and it's been indicated to me that the rumored Minnesota deal involving Kevin Love is legit and still in play. In addition to that, there are likely several other trade options on the table with, presumably, more to come as draft day approaches.

What I don't sense is much of a chance of the team drafting and keeping Rubio, who doesn't appear to have a strong champion in the team's crowded and volatile war room.

Continue reading »

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Draft Notes: Harden Workout, Thabeet Pull-Out, Heisley Talks

Posted By on Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 2:28 PM

The Grizzlies held their second major draft workout Friday morning with former Arizona State swingman James Harden, considered a darkhorse candidate for the #2 pick.

Harden had, frankly, a terrible workout, missing an avalanche of jumpshots while dealing with the stifling defense of small orange cones. Arguably worse than all the missed shots was how clearly frustrated Harden got.

Afterward, a team official pulled me aside and said 'Look, we both know that was one of the worst workouts we've seen, but we've seen this kid enough to know what he can do."

Harden, who shot 50% from the floor and 38% from three last year at Arizona State, is clearly a better shooter than he showed. (And he did find his rhythm toward the end, hitting 19 of 25 going around the horn on long two-point shots and a somewhat less impressive but still respectable 13-25 from three in the same drill.) And he may have been hobbled slightly by recovering from a minor ankle injury and recent sickness.

Still, after his poor performance in the NCAA tournament and his easy frustration at Friday's workout, I would tend to worry about his nerves.

The interesting comparison right now is Harden and Tyreke Evans, who worked out for the team on Wednesday. Harden and Evans are similar physically (height, weight, and wingspan), play essentially the same position, and are both thought to be pushing Ricky Rubio and Hasheem Thabeet as draft options for the Grizzlies.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Draft Notes: Tyreke Evans Workout, Harden/Thabeet Rumors

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2009 at 11:00 PM

A little late chiming in today, but the Grizzlies held their first significant draft workout earlier at FedExForum and there are a few items that have popped up on the internet or on the radio waves that are worth noting:

tyreke_evans1.jpgFormer University of Memphis guard Tyreke Evans became the first of what should be five workouts the Grizzlies will conduct involving the seven players the team would be likely to consider either at #2 or in a trade-down scenario.

Evans went through a roughly hour-long workout conducted by Griz assistant Damon Stoudamire that focused on ball-handling and shooting drills. It's become habit for top prospects to decline competitive workouts, and you can see how this might benefit someone like Stephen Curry, who can wow on-lookers with a solo shooting display. But I think Evans is a prospect that is hurt by a lack of competition. The solo workout format amplified Evans' negatives — his inconsistent slingshot jumper and his erratic ball-handling — but didn't showcase his attributes — the ability to slash past (or through) defenders to finish at the rim or use his strength and wingspan to deny penetration.

I didn't think Evans was at all impressive today, but I doubt his performance really moved the needle either way in relation to the Grizzlies. The team has seen more of Evans than any other prospect in the draft. It will be interested — at least for me — to compare Evans to James Harden, who is scheduled to come in Friday and has a similar physical profile.

Continue reading »

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Great Power Forward Search of 2009: The Candidates

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 at 10:32 PM

If the Grizzlies have one primary need this offseason, beyond just the obvious "more talent," it's an upgrade at power forward, where the team currently employees two good back-ups in Darrell Arthur and Hakim Warrick. With the #2 pick in the draft, tons of cap space, and plenty of options available either in the draft, via free agency, or potentially via trade, if the Grizzlies open next season with Arthur or Warrick in the starting lineup then this offseason will have been a failure.

Here's a list of my Top 20 candidates to be the Grizzlies' new starting power forward next season, ranked in order of preference — not likelihood.

A pre-emptive note: There are a few obvious names I left off either because I find their acquisition wildly unlikely (Chris Bosh, Lamarcus Aldridge) or because neither I nor — I suspect — the team would be interested (Antawn Jamison, Shawn Marion).

The List:

Griffin.jpg1. Blake Griffin
Rebounding/Physicality: Moderate-to-High. Griffin was a monster rebounder in college and is a beast physically, so he projects as a big-time pro rebounder as well. Defensively, he should be strong enough to hold his own on the block, but his average height and wingspan suggests he's unlikely to develop into a defensive force.
Impact Potential: High. Griffin projects as a scoring and rebounding machine as his game develops and is a tough-nosed kid. He'd be a great fit for the Grizzlies, obviously.
Availability: Low. There have been no signs so far that the Clippers are interested in dealing out of the #1 pick, but until draft night comes and goes, I'm not ruling it out.

Continue reading »

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.

Continue reading »

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rubio Staying in Draft

Posted By on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 2:04 PM

With my power out going on three days now and with production on the paper going on today, I probably won't be able to get into Grizzlies stuff again until tomorrow afternoon, but for now here's a crucial if entirely expected bit of info:

Draft Express is reporting that Ricky Rubio will remain in this year's draft:

-Ricky Rubio will keep his name in the draft, his agent Dan Fegan told DraftExpress. Clearly the rift between Rubio and his Spanish team DKV Joventut is too deep to mend at this point, and with the team strapped for cash and not playing in next year’s Euroleague, that does not appear to be a situation that Rubio is interested in returning to.

Rubio lands in Los Angles today and will begin to evaluate his options regarding who he may work out with. At this point, the Sacramento Kings are the only team that are certain to get a visit. Memphis and Oklahoma City are not on the agenda as of now, and it’s not yet clear whether they will be added. Other teams who are looking to move up in the draft may get a chance to visit with Rubio, depending on their interest level and the likelihood of them brokering a deal with a team like the Grizzlies or Thunder.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Draft Links and Notes: Annotating the 'Experts'

Posted By on Fri, Jun 12, 2009 at 4:52 PM

The most Griz-specific story of note around web today comes from CNNSI.com's Scott Howard-Cooper, who quotes an NBA executive warning the Grizzlies off Ricky Rubio:

A rival general manager is on the phone discussing the Grizzlies' options with the No. 2 pick. Ricky Rubio is the second-best prospect in the draft, he says, echoing the feeling of most peers, and Rubio would make Memphis better.

But ...

"If I'm the Grizz, I probably trade the pick."

Pretty much everyone who has any contact with the team considers a trade at #2 a strong possibility, but the reasons Howard-Cooper cites in addition to the difficulties surrounding Rubio: The emergence of Mike Conley at the point and the need for more size up front.

While those things may well factor into the Grizzlies' decision-making, they shouldn't factor too strongly: The team needs to be focused on getting the most talented player it can get and sorting the rest out.

Howard-Cooper's story also includes this rival GM talking up Hasheem Thabeet in connection with the Grizzlies. While the Griz do have interest in Thabeet, I think you have to consider the source here.

ESPN.com's Chad Ford has a rumors piece up with a couple of Griz items.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Link Roundup

Posted By on Wed, Jun 10, 2009 at 3:58 PM

ESPN.com's Chad Ford has his fourth mock draft up and he's sticking with Hasheem Thabeet at #2 for the Grizzlies, though he suggests a trade is likely:

The Grizzlies continue to be a bit of an enigma right now. They are talking to a number of teams about a potential trade, and teams including the Kings, Wizards, Knicks, Rockets and Celtics have shown interest. The Grizzlies continue to publicly pursue Ricky Rubio as well, though a well-placed source in Rubio's camp said it's likely (though not definite) that it will skip Memphis when Rubio goes on a three-city U.S. tour next week.

There also have been rumblings that Tyreke Evans is in the mix in Memphis. But when the dust clears, it looks as though the most likely scenario has Thabeet in Memphis on draft night if the Grizzlies keep the pick.

Ford is now prognosticating Georgia Tech forward Gani Lawal for the Griz at #27.

Continue reading »

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Draft Update: Rubio News, Workout Report

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

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.

Continue reading »

Friday, June 5, 2009

Griz Draft Board: Three Weeks Out

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 12:20 AM

We're three weeks from draft day and no one — including, one suspects, the team's own braintrust — knows exactly which direction the Grizzlies will take with the #2 overall pick. Which is probably as it should be right now. On the day after the lottery, I laid out the four potential paths the team could take with the pick — trading up for Blake Griffin, draft (and keeping) Ricky Rubio, drafting (and keeping) someone else, or trading down or out (presumably with the rights to Rubio). And at the moment, all those paths still seem to be on the table.

Don't expect those options to begin narrowing until the final days before the draft — remember, last year the O.J. Mayo trade didn't really materialize until draft day itself.

As of right now, it seems clear that the team will make an attempt to get up to #1, but pulling off a deal with the Clippers seems like a longshot. I think trading down (or even out) is a likely scenario, but specific deals don't seem to have emerged yet. (Sacramento is an obvious trade partner, but don't be surprised to see Amare Stoudemire rumors in connection with the Grizzlies to re-emerge if it looks like the Suns are going to put the star forward back on the market.)

So, for now, let's assume the team will be drafting and keeping a player at #2 (or at least moving down only a few spots). Who are the most likely picks? Here's my current educated guess at the Grizzlies' likely draft board, based on conversations with team insiders, outside media reports, draft combine results, and my own sense of the players:

64c7/1244177728-ricky.jpg1. Ricky Rubio: The consensus #2 prospect following the lottery, there's been a lot of posturing, conjecture, and reportage regarding Rubio's status relative to the Grizzlies, so let's set the scene.

At the beginning of the week, ESPN.com's Chad Ford wrote this:

They've made a trip to Spain to woo Ricky Rubio and his family, but I still believe that, short of a trade, drafting Thabeet is the most likely outcome. Even if the front office decides that Rubio is the guy, they have to persuade him to pay a huge buyout to come to Memphis.

From what I can gather, that's not going to happen. The best option for the Grizzlies is to find a team hot for Rubio and get a couple of great assets for the pick. The problem with that plan is that teams don't seem willing to give up the farm for Rubio. Lots of teams like him, but not enough to make a blockbuster deal.

Continue reading »

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Congressman Cohen Questions NBA Age Rule

Posted By on Thu, Jun 4, 2009 at 12:36 PM

A little late posting this, but Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen has sent a letter to NBA commissioner David Stern and NBA Player's Union director Billy Hunter asking them to revisit the league's current age restriction in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement:

Cohen said that one of his primary arguments against the rule, which is part of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and union, was that soldiers can fight for their country at age 18 but not play in the N.B.A. He also said noted that predominantly white sports like hockey, baseball and golf lack similar restrictions.

“There’s something wrong with keeping kids, who are more likely to be African-American than not, from playing professional basketball and football when they can help their families and communities immediately,” Cohen said. “They’re forced to go to school when they have no desire or interest in going to school.”

My basic reaction: I think Cohen is certainly correct about the age restriction, though some of his rhetoric (the "slavery" reference) is overheated, or at least imprecise — there's certainly a plantation metaphor to be made here, but you need to be careful with it. Beyond that, though, I don't see this as an issue that exactly warrants congressional intervention.

Continue reading »

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Draft Express Comes Off Thabeet Pick

Posted By on Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 9:11 AM

After first echoing Chad Ford's report about the Grizzlies taking Hasheem Thabeet at #2, Draft Express is now coming off that report:

•Memphis Not a Lock to Take Thabeet?

Most NBA teams we speak to these days are assuming that the Memphis Grizzlies have been decisively spooked by Ricky Rubio’s threats to pull a Fran Vasquez, and have instead zeroed in on Hasheem Thabeet as their likely selection with the #2 pick.

Memphis coach Lionel Hollins hasn’t necessarily given up on the idea of drafting a point guard, though, and he’s telling NBA-types that he may be interested in picking one with legit size that he can play alongside either Mike Conley or O.J. Mayo depending on the situation on the floor. Tyreke Evans is one that has come up—he comes with the added benefit of having played in Memphis, which might help the team somewhat in the ticket sales department. Jrue Holiday is another name that is beginning to get some mention here.

The assumption is that Memphis will trade down a few spots, possibly to 4th, where Sacramento can offer either Jason Thompson or Spencer Hawes as added compensation. That would surely please Rubio’s camp, as the difference between the 2nd and 4th picks is somewhere around four million dollars over the course of his rookie deal, which would make things infinitely easier as far as his buyout is concerned, and also satisfy his and his family’s initial expectations of being a top-3 pick.

Continue reading »

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