TREVISO, Italy – NBA executives are increasingly predicting increased trade activity centered around the draft as the looming lockout puts teams on the clock to face the unusual prospect of needing to do an offseason of work within a short time.
“Trades could be explored more,” one front-office veteran said Sunday on the second day of Eurocamp about 20 miles north of Venice, the largest annual international scouting session in preparation of the draft. “Whether that happens or not remains to be seen. But, yeah, I definitely think the lockout could prompt people to make a lot of moves they might ordinarily wait on.”
The concern for teams in this case isn’t the length of the lockout that in all likelihood will begin July 1. The issue is the amount of time they will have once the work stoppage, if it happens, is settled. Or won’t have – if the labor dispute carries deep into the regular season, general managers will have much less time than usual, perhaps just a couple weeks, between the time the lockout is settled and the start of the renovated schedule. Having more of a preferred roster in place by the end of June, rather than the usual schedule of being able to make adjustments throughout the summer, will complete a lot of the work now.
“It could accelerate the process a bit,” one executive said of teams looking to make moves heading into the draft and the June 23 night itself.
Others agree. The premise is especially interesting in this of all years, with a draft so poorly regarded around the league that any picks being moved would be in a buyers’ market. Now, if teams genuinely are getting more aggressive in anticipation of a lockout, the mood changes.
There have already been a lot of calls directed at clubs late in the lottery, with one executive suggesting that, based on the needs of the suitors, shooting sensation Jimmer Fredette is a likely target. The possibility of a pick being moved goes all the way to No. 2, where the Timberwolves continue to have conversations but know the best offers probably won’t come until the final days before the draft.
Other news, notes and observations from the middle day of Eurocamp:
- Lucas Nogueira, a skinny 7-footer playing in Spain, said he is seriously considering withdrawing from the draft as the Monday deadline approaches.
- Most clubs feel that would be the right move – “I don’t know why they put him in the draft in the first place,” one scout said. Even if Nogueira stays in and gets the guaranteed money of a first-round pick, a possibility for a team picking near the end but wanting to avoid taking on a contract now, it is a near-certainty that he plays overseas at least one more season and possibly two.
- Dwight Howard, in town as part of a promotional tour and scheduled to address the prospects on Monday, made a surprise appearance Sunday to join New Zealand’s junior national rugby team, in town for a tournament, to do the Haka at midcourt. A pre-game Haka, a traditional dance from the country, is a great moment no matter what. The Magic’s gregarious center in the spirit and putting full-throated energy into the Haka is even better.
- There are very few signs many lottery picks from the 2012 draft and beyond will come from the combine. Some of the best European prospects for next June skipped the competition, to the surprise and frustration of NBA teams that for some reason figured competition is good for young players. One of the intriguing possibilities is Denmark’s Rasmus Larsen, a 7-footer at 16 years old and with the ability to do something with it.