SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The fact that the Cavaliers have not come out and pledged eternal love to Kyrie Irving yet, three days before the Draft, does not mean a thing. There is no need to commit. Cleveland keeping its options open, whether to stoke trade offers from around the league or throw the next few teams in the picking order off balance, does not have to equal Cleveland not wanting Irving.
But there is this to consider, because any front office would undoubtedly give the premise at least a few minutes of internal conversation:
Take Derrick Williams at No. 1 and go point guard at No. 4.
It works only if the Cavaliers think Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker are only slight downgrades from Irving and that Williams will be a star. Neither uncertainty would likely be answered in the affirmative around the league. Williams wouldn’t be this close to the top of the draft in any other year while Knight and Walker are not held in the same regard by front offices compared to the way Irving is rated by some as being in the Chris Paul mold.
It’s credible enough, though, to be a worthwhile discussion because the three point guards are rated high enough that they could all be gone within the first five picks on Thursday. The Cavaliers would be surrendering the best player in the Draft, and that is never easy, or smart, but with the payback of landing Williams and still addressing the point with a top prospect.
There is almost no chance it happens, and even that may not be shutting the door enough – every front-office member from another team has checked in with the certainty that the Cavaliers will take Irving first and hit forward or center at four. But at a time when Cleveland is weighing countless scenarios, it had to at least come up.
Other news, notes and observations as Draft Week arrives:
- Kawhi Leonard said he has worked out for or will work out for the Cavaliers, Raptors, Wizards, Kings, Pistons, Bobcats and Bucks, and there are reports a Jazz visit is also being arranged. Workout calendars do not mean everything. But the fact that every team that brought him in is in the lottery indicates that teams picking after 14 do not expect the San Diego State small forward to slip at a time when some executives think he is overrated.
- After previously saying he would only audition for teams that visit him in Spain, Bismack Biyombo scheduled workouts for several front offices on this continent. At least one veteran executive read it as Biyombo’s camp becoming concerned he is slipping and being passed by Tristan Thompson or Marcus Morris among power forwards. The new approach seems designed to put Biyombo back in front of personnel departments again and remind them of his athleticism and potential as a game-changer on defense and the boards.
- On the other hand: Maybe it’s not slipping as much as a settling in. Some clubs thought the relative unknown from the Republic of Congo and part of a season in Spain should have been on the edge of the lottery all along, before the hype machine drove his draft standing to unrealistic expectations. This could just be the morning after.
- One aspect to the appeal of Jimmer Fredette that didn’t fit in the story on the local pressure for the Jazz to take the former BYU star: He is not only handling the massive attention during the pre-Draft tour, he is encouraging it. Fredette allowed a film crew to trail him early in the process when a lot of players in his position might have wanted normalcy after an entire season of spotlights. He wants the expectations. “Leading up to the Draft, I think it will be good for your hype and good for letting people know who you are,” Jimmer said. “Having a personal connection to you off the floor is a good thing. I’m looking forward to hopefully having more fans because of it.”
- But enough of the speculation that the Kings might take Fredette at seven to spark fan interest. Fan interest has been more than sparked by the forced decision to stay in Sacramento at least another season. Ticket sales will go way up in 2011-12 with or without him on the roster. And any player will be as popular as Fredette around town if the arrival leads to more wins.