NBA Draft: Hold Onto Your Hats

If you’re an NBA fan, you might want to fasten your seat belt now. Tonight’s annual draft could be a wild and crazy ride.

I contacted an NBA executive after Wednesday’s two major trades, one involving Derrick Rose going to the New York Knicks and another involving Jeff Teague going to the Indiana Pacers, and he was adamant those deals were a prelude to even bigger deals.

“That was just the beginning,’’ the exec said. “Everybody is talking about doing something. It’s the calm before the storm.’’

So, who could be on the move?

  • Philly big man Jahlil Okafor has been rumored to be dealt for weeks and is still being prominently mentioned in trade talks.
  • The Phoenix Suns, with a glut of prime-time guards (Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker) appear to be open to moving Knight or Bledsoe. There is some scuttlebutt Knight could be dealt to Philly for Nerlens Noel.
  • You’d think the Chicago Bulls are done wheelin’ and dealin’ after trading Rose. But maybe not. With Rose already gone and Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah ready to relocate during free agency next month, the Bulls could be in a full-fledged rebuilding mode. And that’s why some NBA officials contend Bulls star Jimmy Butler could be on his way out of the Windy City as well. Some believe the Bulls are quite intrigued about possibly obtaining the Lakers’ No. 2 pick for Butler.
  • Denver is receptive to moving veteran power forward Kenneth Faried.
  • The Bucks have two vets available: Greg Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams. Monroe would likely fetch a mid-first round pick, while Carter-Williams could bring Milwaukee a late first-rounder.
  • And there are still rumblings that Minnesota would be open to moving Ricky Rubio, if they could secure Providence point guard Kris Dunn in the draft.

Brown, Kidd are tight

One of the X-factors at the top of the draft is Jaylen Brown. He could go as high as No. 4 to Phoenix or No. 7 to Denver. But some NBA officials believe he could slip further, perhaps to Milwaukee at 10.

Bucks coach Jason Kidd and Brown are friends, with each having attended California.

Asked about Kidd, Brown cracked, “I think I’ve heard of that guy. The bald-headed guy, right?’’

Asked if he and Kidd kept in touch, Brown added, “Jason has been a mentor of mine. He went to Cal, so he calls me every now and then to check on me.

“The first time I met Jason Kidd was on campus at Cal. We have mutual friends and I met him through a guy in compliance. We went out for dinner, got some ice cream and kicked it for a while.’’

The draft’s Rip Van Winkle

When an NBA general manager was asked to select his “sleeper’’ of the draft, he didn’t hesitate: “Isaiah Whitehead (a combo guard from Seton Hall). I see a lot of mock drafts have him in the second round, but I got him in the first round in the 20s.’’

Several teams have worked Whitehead out, including the Bucks who have two early, second-round picks at 36 and 38. The word is Whitehead had an outstanding workout for the Bucks and made a marked impression on team officials.

McKay garners attention

Milwaukee native Jameel McKay has caught the eyes of some teams in workouts. The 6-foot-8 McKay played for Iowa State and was one of the best defenders in the country. He was chosen the 2015 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Besides Milwaukee, McKay had workouts with New York, New Orleans, Utah. Chicago, Boston, the L.A. Clippers.

Bonus shots

There are whispers Sacramento, with the eighth pick, has made a “promise’’ to draft Gonzaga power forward Domantas Sabonis – even though the Kings drafted power forward Willie Cauley-Stein in the lottery last summer. … The Raptors also like Sabonis. The Celtics, who have the ninth pick, are believed to be deciding between Sabonis and Utah center Jakob Poeltl. While the Raptors like their pick, an NBA source said they would like to move the pick for a veteran player. … There is growing sentiment the Celtics, if they keep the third pick, covet Providence point guard Kris Dunn. Which prompts this question: Why? The Celtics backcourt is loaded with All-point guard Isaiah Thomas, defensive whiz Avery Bradley and two recent high picks in Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. … With Rose now in the fold, some NBA folks contend it’s a slam dunk the Knicks will pursue Pau Gasol or Dwight Howard, instantly giving them one of the best frontcourts in the game with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.

 

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