NEW YORK — Monta Ellis deserves credit for being the man to get this all started a few weeks ago. And sooner or later someone’s going to give the wacky days of trade chatter and pure speculation leading up to the NBA Draft a name.
The Great Speculations?
Basketball’s International Moving Parts Festival?
We’ll keep working on that. In the meantime, it’s time to dive in and sort through the all the mess just hours away from the 2011 Draft and see if we can’t make a little sense of all these rumors:
Ellis Might Not Get Moved
According to an NBA source, new Warriors coach Mark Jackson has made at least two phone calls to Monta Ellis to tell Ellis how much he would love to coach him.
Here’s a full report and breakdown of the latest Ellis info by CBSsports.com’s Ken Berger, who has been all over this situation and everything I’ve heard is totally consistent with this.
It’s an open secret around the league that Ellis and his representatives are starting to believe that this might be the right time to move him to a title contender.
Ellis is in his prime, has put in many years with the Warriors, and two sources indicate that there has been some frank general discussion between GSW management and Ellis’ camp about his future, the team’s future, and whether the two should remain entwined.
Big point: Ellis loves playing at Oracle Arena. He apparently also appreciates what Jackson has been telling him.
But he’s wondering the same thing many execs around the league are wondering: How else could the Warriors get a necessary bigger player if they don’t trade Ellis?
Iguodala Stays Put As Well
Andre Iguodala‘s name has been linked to as much trade bluster as anyone in recent weeks, including Ellis. And yet there seems to be nothing solid in place heading into tonight’s festivities, as Kate Fagan of the Philadelphia Inquirer explains:
In recent weeks, the Sixers have discussed trades involving swingman Andre Iguodala with both the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers, along with various other teams, but have yet to find a deal they deem worthy of execution.
Two factors seem to be slowing the Sixers’ willingness to deal Iguodala: the impending change in ownership and the impending lockout.
A little more than two weeks ago, news broke that Comcast-Spectacor was in serious discussions to sell the team to a group led by New York investor Joshua Harris. Although the deal is not yet official, many league sources have conveyed the belief that the Sixers front office is in a bit of a holding pattern until the new ownership officially takes the reins.
During a meeting with reporters after Tuesday’s final predraft workout at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Sixers president Rod Thorn said it’s business as usual for the basketball side, although Thorn also said that nothing was imminent with any trades.
“We’ve had conversations with everyone over the course of the last three weeks,” Thorn said. “And we’ve had some what I would call meaningful conversations, and then some not so meaningful. But as of right now, we don’t have anything imminent. But we keep having conversations, so we’ll just have to see.”
(UPDATE: A league source has told the Philadelphia Daily News that there’s nothing to the Iggy-for-Odom swap rumors.)
Bobcats Play “What If?” Game
With the ninth, 19th and 39th picks in this draft, the Charlotte Bobcats’ only chance of getting what they want will require a trade up of some sorts. Otherwise, they play the “What if?” game tonight, per Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:
What if top-five talent Jonas Valanciunas is still available at No. 9 due to contractual complications?
What if the Bobcats have the choice between forwards Marcus Morris of Kansas and Chris Singleton of Florida State?
What if shotblocker extraordinaire Bismack Biyombo is still on the board at Nos. 9 and 19?
What if they have the option to trade one of those first-round picks for a young veteran?
Bobcats management is preparing for those scenarios and dozens more. This draft is unusually rich in variables, things that can’t be predicted before they come to pass.
“We’re constantly on the phone,” said Rod Higgins, the team’s president of basketball operations. “Rich (Cho, the new general manager) and I are talking to every team around the league, trying to gauge interest in our team as well as seeing what’s there as far as different players on different rosters.
“We’ll be prepared to make our picks tomorrow or who knows?”
Lakers Attempt To Move Up (Lamar Odom For No. 2 pick) Rejected
If there is any truth to the rumor that Lamar Odom was offered for the No. 2 pick and rejected, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, Timberwolves general manager David Kahn should expect a Christmas card from the Kardashians:
The Lakers tried to move up in Thursday’s NBA draft by offering forward Lamar Odom to Minnesota for the Timberwolves’ No. 2 overall pick, but Minnesota turned them down, according to two NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about the trade talks.
The Lakers wanted to use the No. 2 pick to select Arizona’s forward Derrick Williams, the officials said.
However, Minnesota didn’t want Odom, the NBA’s sixth man of the year last season, because the Timberwolves have Kevin Love at power forward and see him as part of the franchise’s cornerstone.
Instead, Minnesota asked the Lakers for either Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol — two players the Lakers were not going to trade — for the No. 2 draft pick. Talks broke down and the teams aren’t talking anymore about a deal, the officials said.
The Lakers don’t have a first-round pick in Thursday’s NBA draft; their second-round draft picks are Nos. 41, 46, 56 and 58.
Champs Keeping Options Open
Give the Mavericks credit for not resting on their championship laurels as the Draft creeps up on us. They’re also eyeballing opportunities to move up in this draft, per Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com:
Donnie Nelson isn’t dropping any hints about what the Mavericks hope to happen in Thursday night’s NBA draft.
Trade up? Trade down? Deal the pick for a future first-rounder?
“It’s not beyond reasonable possibility,” Nelson said, although he added that it’s more likely that the Mavs stand pat and make a pick at No. 26.
How about drafting a foreign player who would be stashed overseas for another season or two? Lanky young Euro forwards Nikola Mirotic and Davis Bertans are popular picks for the Mavs in mock drafts.
“If that’s the best player on our board, we’ll pull the trigger and not look back,” Nelson said. “We’d be willing to wait a couple of years.”
Then again, Nelson said he sees “holes across the board” when he looks at what’s left of the roster of a team that’s fresh off the franchise’s first world championship.
Maybe the Mavericks fill one of their more obvious holes and pick a power forward to back up Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavs have been tight-lipped about the players they brought to Dallas to work out, but we know Richmond’s Justin Harper was one of them.
Or how about a point guard who might eventually replace Jason Kidd? There is a batch of point guards expected to go in the late first or early second round: Cleveland State’s Norris Cole, Boston College’s Reggie Jackson, Kansas’ Josh Selby, UCLA’s Malcolm Lee, Michigan’s Darius Morris and Hofstra’s Charles Jenkins. (The Mavs might have addressed that need a couple of drafts ago when it picked Nick Calathes, who spent the last two seasons playing in Greece and might join the Mavs next season, depending on his buyout and other factors.)