It’s crunch time in the NBA.
With the NBA draft just hours away, teams are frantically deciding whether to pull the trigger on a deal. All 30 teams are entertaining some kind of move – even the reigning champion Golden State Warriors.
We all know the Pacers are willing to move Paul George, and the Bulls are listening to offers – a ton of them – for Jimmy Butler. Ditto for the Knicks with Kristaps Porzingis.
And that’s just the start. There are an array of rumors surrounding the draft and here are some of them:
— John Hammond didn’t get his nickname “Trader John’’ for nothing. During his nine-year tenure as the Bucks general manager, Hammond seemingly made a trade as often as he combed his well-kempt hair.
Look for Hammond to shuffle the deck now that he’s the new Magic GM. NBA officials said Hammond has been working the phones, trying to move point guard Elfrid Payton and veteran centers Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo.
If Hammond is successful in moving Payton, it will likely impact the Magic’s draft plans. The consensus among NBA officials is the Magic will draft Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac with the sixth overall selection. However, if Payton is moved, the Magic may change plans at select North Carolina State point guard Dennis Smith.
— The Suns are feeling the heat and would love to make an impactful move. That’s why they’re exploring a slew of trade scenarios, one that involved their No. 4 pick and veteran guards Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight.
— The Timberwolves aren’t content with their point guard situation and, according to league sources, are pushing hard to trade veteran Ricky Rubio. There is also some uncertainty in the organization about Kris Dunn, who was their top selection last season.
The Bucks have had major interest in Rubio in the past. Would the Bucks’ top pick, No. 17, and John Henson get it done?
— The Pistons are another team that isn’t totally comfortable with its point guard situation and starter Reggie Jackson. That’s why they’ve been actively pursuing a trade for an established point guard.
— The Nuggets have let it be known they want to play “Let’s Make a Deal.’’ Among the Nuggets available are veteran point guard Jameer Nelson and swingmen Wilson Chandler and Will Barton.
— The Trail Blazers are in an enviable position with three No. 1 picks: 15, 20 and 26. There have been chatter the Blazers may hook up with Brooklyn, which has plenty of cap space to absorb one of the Blazers’ bigger contracts i.e. Myers Leonard ($10M) or Evan Turner ($17M).
— The Spurs are receptive to moving veteran guard Tony Parker and, perhaps more surprising, talented big man LaMarcus Aldridge. The scuttlebutt is the Spurs, while liking Aldridge, like Chris Paul even more and need to create salary-cap space for him.
A WHOPPER OF A DEAL: One NBA executive said he could see a blockbuster deal between the Celtics and Knicks. His proposed trade: Porzingis to the Celtics for Boston’s No. 3 pick, a future No. 1 pick and a player, perhaps Jaylen Brown. Can you imagine a Celtics’ frontline of Porzingis, Al Horford and perhaps Gordon Hayward? One word: wow.
Some other trade talk and draft tidbits
There are whispers that Duke center Harry Giles could take a big slide because of his knee issues. … The Warriors don’t have a pick, but don’t be surprised if they buy one, just like they did in the 2016 draft when they purchased a second round from the Bucks and drafted guard Patrick McCaw. …. Philadelphia has four second-rounds picks and you can go to the bank they won’t keep all of them. … The Kings are ready to move on from Willie Cauley-Stein, whom they selected with the sixth overall selection in the 2015 draft. … A player whose stock has just soared: Australian power forward Jonah Bolden. One scout told me he rated Bolden as a late-lottery selection; another had him in the middle of the first round.