NEW YORK – Because it is mostly harmless and completely fun, here are the latest unconfirmed rumors, rampant speculation and possibly baseless draft talk buzzing around in the final hours leading up to the NBA draft.
Some of this will happen. Some will not. Take this as nothing and everything at the same time.
- With the ninth pick overall, expect Golden State to take Arizona State power forward Ike Diogu, who has seen his stock shoot up rapidly. The Warriors were expected to take Hakim Warrick, who will now slide into the teens.
- The Portland Trail Blazers entertained offers for the No. 3 overall pick from five different teams but settled on the Utah Jazz as a trading partner.
The Jazz will get Wake Forest point guard Chris Paul with the third pick, and the Blazers will take prep star Martell Webster with the sixth. The Blazers also will receive the Jazz's No. 27 pick and a 2006 first-round pick.
- The New York Knicks, who are desperate for size, will take Arizona shot-blocker Channing Frye at No. 8 if he is available. The problem is the Toronto Raptors may take Frye at No. 7. If Frye is off the board, the Knicks will take Andrew Bynum, the 7-foot New Jersey prep player.
- If Toronto does not feel like messing with the Knicks and taking Frye with the seventh pick, then the Raptors will go with either Danny Granger from New Mexico or Texas prep small forward Gerald Green.
- Reports that the Raptors would trade their two first-round picks (seventh and 16th) to the New Orleans Hornets for oft-injured big man Jamaal Magloire are being laughed at throughout the league. "That would be the worst trade ever," one Central Division player personnel director said. Especially since Toronto could get either Frye or Bynum as a center and save the 16th pick for something else.
- The Los Angeles Lakers tried to trade up with Portland to get Illinois point guard Deron Williams, but that appears to be dead at this point. If so, expect the Lakers to consider Gerald Green or North Carolina point guard Raymond Felton at the No. 10 spot. Felton is a terrific point, but with him being only 6-foot, the Lakers are wary of taking a smallish point.
- The Los Angeles Clippers have made a soft promise to pick Yaroslav Korolev with the 12th pick. The 6-9 Korolev is a 17-year-old Russian who is said to be a raw but very promising scorer.
- Speaking of the two Southern California teams, the Lakers have promised Amir Johnson, a 6-10 local prospect from Westchester High School, that they will take him at No. 36 in the second round. But don't be surprised if the Clippers step in and take the one-time University of Louisville signee at 31, the first selection of the second round.
- The Clips-Lakers rivalry may all be a moot point if the Detroit Pistons' surging interest in Johnson – a terrific, lanky athlete – gets them to pull the trigger at No. 26.
- The Orlando Magic may be leaning toward North Carolina power forward Sean May at the 11 slot.
- The New Jersey Nets have their eye on Carolina's Rashad McCants at 15, but if May is available, the Nets will jump to take the Final Four MVP. That would allow McCants to fall to either the Indiana Pacers or Boston Celtics.
- The Celtics aren't likely to pull off a major deal involving star Paul Pierce, whose playoff antics didn't help his cause in Boston, but it isn't because they aren't listening.
- There is talk that the Atlanta Hawks have cooled a bit on picking Carolina freshman Marvin Williams second overall, but someone will have to make a substantial offer to take that pick from the Hawks.
- The Minnesota Timberwolves will wait and see what falls to them at No. 14. It might be New Mexico's Granger, it might be Bynum, it might be Texas A&M's Antoine Wright.
- So does the Seattle SuperSonics' selection of Georgia Tech point guard Jarrett Jack at 25.
- The Denver Nuggets are trying to get the Charlotte Bobcats to take picks 20 and 22 for the Bobcats' 13th overall choice. The Nuggets would then take UNC's McCants. If the Nuggets can't get that done, they will keep their picks and choose the best shooter available and then a European prospect who will remain overseas for a year.
- The Phoenix Suns have some interest in Arizona State star Ike Diogu with the 21st pick, but it doesn't seem likely that the 6-8 power forward will make it past either Indiana (17) or Boston (18). If that is the case, the Suns are expected to take a European player and keep him overseas. That would free up an additional $1.3 million in cap room to help re-sign key free agent Joe Johnson.
- Most speculation has had Boston focused on Croatian point guard Roko Ukic, with the possibility he would stay in Europe next season. But the Celtics will take a player who can help them next season.
- Memphis Grizzlies czar Jerry West still likes the versatility of N.C. State guard Julius Hodge and may grab him at No. 19. But if Diogu falls that far, West may change his mind.
- If that went down, then Hodge won't slide past the No. 23 pick and the Sacramento Kings, who also like the 6-7 combo guard from Harlem.
- Both the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat are interested in high school center Andray Blatche, but they don't think he will be available when they choose at 28 and 29, respectively.
- Flip Saunders, who's expected to replace Larry Brown as head coach in Detroit, is now said to be "a near lock" to be the next coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. "It's almost done," one league source said.
That throws another wrench in the Pistons' plans. Detroit does not expect Brown, who will head Wednesday to the Mayo Clinic for a physical check-up, to be back next season. They expected him to become the president of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but that has fallen through.
Brown, who has three years left on his deal, could return if he wants, putting the franchise in a tough spot. Or he could quit in a week after the Pistons' top choice, Saunders, is in Milwaukee.
- The New York papers, and Knicks GM Isiah Thomas, would gladly take Brown as the Knicks' head coach if he leaves Detroit.
- Ersan Ilyasova, the 6-9 small forward from Turkey, cancelled a workout Monday with the Houston Rockets, and the belief is he has been promised by some team that it will select him.
- Speaking of the Rockets, even though they need a power forward, they will take the best player available at No. 24. Not the best prospect – the best player. They want someone who can come in and contribute immediately.
- Because he is just 6-foot, no one thinks Arizona sharpshooter Salim Stoudamire will get picked in the first round. But everyone thinks because of his impressive accuracy, he will be in the league a long time, which makes no sense. Regardless, expect teams to try to move into the front of the second round to grab him.
- University of Pittsburg power forward Chris Taft may slip right out of the first round after he played listless in a series of workouts for teams. "He doesn't have much of a motor," one GM said.
- Channing Frye
- Ike Diogu
- Andrew Bynum