Word on the Street: Workouts, Trade Rumors Heat Up

Word on the Street: Workouts, Trade Rumors Heat Up
Jun 05, 2008, 02:29 am
-The Reebok Eurocamp in Treviso just got even more intriguing when Turkish big men Omer Asik and Semih Erden officially sent their paperwork in. The camp is already considered the strongest edition ever, and will surely attract a horde of NBA executives.

Note Corrections Made:

-There are a number of teams looking to move down or out of this draft if the right trade offer comes along. One of them is Memphis, who is having serious problems scheduling some of the top players expected to compete for the fifth overall pick. Besides Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose, who will not work out for obvious reasons, Jerryd Bayless has told the Grizzlies he is not interested in playing for them, while Brook Lopez and O.J. Mayo are still in a holding pattern waiting to see how things play out. Eric Gordon is expected to come to Memphis to work out eventually. Memphis might thus decide to save some money and slide down a few slots, while possibly unloading a contract (such as Brian Cardinal) in the process. The Sixers could come into play here too.

Similar to last year, where the Houston Rockets organized a massive two-day, 36 player workout attended by 12 teams in Orlando, this year the Phoenix Suns’ Dave Griffin and the LA Clippers’ Neil Olshey are putting together a two-day, 24 player workout intended to showcase players in the 10-40 slots of the draft.

Ten teams are reportedly already on board, including the Warriors, Kings, Nuggets, Clippers, Trailblazers, Supersonics, Grizzlies, Bulls, Bobcats and Suns. The workout will be conducted in Golden State on the 13th and 14th. Some of the players we heard that will attend include Brandon Rush, Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Bill Walker, Gary Forbes, J.R. Giddens, Trent Plaisted, and others.

We’re hearing about a multi-team workout that is being organized later on that week by Houston as well.

-UCLA sophomore Russell Westbrook is expected to sign with Wasserman Media Group shortly. Westbrook would give WMG six likely lottery picks in this draft.

-O.J. Mayo is expected to officially sign with Leon Rose (agent of LeBron James, Allen Iverson, Rip Hamilton, etc) of CAA next week, according to reports we’ve received.

Mayo has reportedly yet to schedule even a single workout, and will probably do so after he officially hires his new agent. We’ve been told by several sources that Mayo may try to pull a Yi Jianlian and only work out for Chicago, Miami, New York and Los Angeles, while shunning the smaller market teams such as Minnesota, Seattle and Memphis. Things could certainly change as the draft develops over the next few weeks.

-The Indiana Pacers are trying to dangle the #11 pick in hopes of being able to package it with one of their ugly contracts (preferably Jermaine O’Neal). There is talk out of O’Neal’s camp that he anticipates being trade to Cleveland at some point this summer, possibly in a deal involving expiring contracts such as Wally Szczerbiak and Eric Snow.

The Pacers don’t want to give O’Neal away for nothing, but the temptation of shedding his 23 million dollar contract from their cap figure (giving them substantial cap space to work with in July of 2009) may be too great to pass up. On Cleveland’s end, it makes sense for their ownership to spend the money it will take to try and appease LeBron James and show them they are making the efforts to put together a championship caliber team. We’ve heard rumblings about this Cleveland/Indiana trade from a number of well-informed sources, so there appears to be at least some truth to it.

-One team that is apparently looking to move up in this draft is Philadelphia, thanks to the plethora of cap space they will enjoy coming July 1st. The Sixers are reportedly realizing that there could be very few quality unrestricted free agents available that they could realistically sign, making their precious cap space essentially useless.

One trade that is making the rounds would involve the Knicks sending Zach Randolph and the rights to the #6 pick to Philadelphia for a smaller contract, such as Reggie Evans, and the rights to the #16 pick—after July 1st (when Philadelphia’s cap space kicks in). New York would move into position to have significant cap space in the summer of 2010 (possibly to make a run at LeBron James) by unloading the 17.3 million dollars owed to Randolph in 2010/11, and would still be able to keep David Lee around.

Philadelphia would fill a big void at power forward with a 20 point per game scorer in Zach Randolph, and possibly pick up one of Jerryd Bayless, O.J. Mayo or Eric Gordon in the process, while only sacrificing the 8-9 million dollars they are expected to have in cap space, which likely wouldn’t get them very far anyway.

-Minnesota continues to field offers for the #3 pick in the draft as well, according to numerous sources. They would not mind selecting either Kevin Love or Brook Lopez, and could decide to drop down a few slots and try to pick up another asset in return. It’s unlikely that Minnesota makes a trade before they are on the clock, though, as there is still a small possibility that Miami decides to pass on Michael Beasley at #2. Pat Riley and the Miami front office will reportedly be in Chicago this week to take a look at O.J. Mayo.

-Minnesota is reportedly looking at packaging their two early 2nd round picks (#31, #34) for a late first round pick, due to roster spot concerns. Chris Douglas-Roberts may be one of the players they are targeting.

-Portland (as they do every season) may consider doing the same with picks #33 and #36. One player they reportedly may make a run at this summer is Chicago’s Ben Gordon, as they may feel like he is the perfect fit in their starting lineup next to Brandon Roy, where he can defend point guards but not have the burden of having to run a team.

-Talk continues to circulate that the Denver Nuggets have promised to select Ty Lawson with the 20th pick later this month. Lawson pulled out of the NBA pre-draft camp after just one day, citing a hip-pointer, but was seen shooting around and looking absolutely fine just a few hours before he was supposed to play. He stated that if he were to be projected to be drafted outside the top-20, he will return to North Carolina, making the Nuggets precisely his cut-off point.

Denver started Anthony Carter at the point guard position in 67 of 70 games he played this season. He did an admirable job, but clearly the team is in need of an upgrade at that spot, particularly if they want to continue to play the brand of up-tempo basketball that George Karl is so fond of, and which Lawson just happens to absolutely excel at.

-Rodrigue Beaubois and his agent Bill McCandless are conducting an open workout on Sunday the 8th in Atlanta that is expected to draw multiple NBA teams (Orlando, Atlanta, Memphis, New Jersey, LA Lakers, possibly others).

-J.R. Giddens has been forced to cancel workouts with Boston, Detroit and New Jersey this week after suffering a hamstring injury in the second game of the NBA pre-draft camp—of which he played only six minutes. Always the competitor, Giddens tried to play on the injury in the third and last game of the camp and struggled because of it, and was forced to pull out of the combine as well. Giddens will be participating at the multi-team workout in Golden State.

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