NEW YORK – In a lust to draft center Enes Kanter, the Atlanta Hawks are trying to engage the Minnesota Timberwolves in discussions to trade Josh Smith(notes) for the No. 2 pick in Thursday's NBA draft, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
So far, the Wolves haven't been forthcoming on a potential deal, but sources say Atlanta was still trying to discuss a deal in the hours leading up to the draft.
The Wolves have privately committed to drafting Arizona forward Derrick Williams with the second pick, but the Hawks want to sell Minnesota on Smith as an open-court finisher to play along with rookie point guard Ricky Rubio(notes).
Hawks GM Rick Sund has been hugely interested in Kanter throughout the pre-draft process, sources said, and has clearly been looking to find a deal for Smith. Under the salary cap, the Wolves could absorb the $13 million-plus owed him next season without sending back corresponding contracts.
Several teams trying to trade up into the high lottery of the draft believe Utah holds the key at No. 3, and Utah has left several teams believing that they will draft Kanter over point guard Brandon Knight unless they trade out of the spot.
Cavaliers, Bobcats discuss deal
A fascinating game of cat-and-mouse has unfolded in the middle of the lottery, where the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Bobcats are jockeying to get the players they want out of the 2011 draft.
Cleveland wants to draft 7-footer Jonas Valanciunas of Lithuania, but had a scenario where it could get him and also land the 19th overall pick belonging to the Bobcats, sources said. Charlotte has the ninth pick, and desperately wants Texas’ Tristan Thompson. The Bobcats believe that Thompson won’t get past Detroit with the eighth pick and need the Cavaliers to take him fourth. This way, Valanciunas, who may not be able to join the NBA until the 2012-13 season, would drop to Charlotte at nine, and owner Michael Jordan would trade Valanciunas – with the 18th overall pick – to the Cavaliers for Thompson.
Several days ago, Detroit hadn’t planned to draft Valanciunas, but sources said Pistons general manager Joe Dumars was given the OK by new owner Tom Gores to take Valanciunas despite the fact he wouldn’t be able to join the team this season. This is a problem for the Charlotte-Cleveland deal, and now another has arisen. Several teams believe the San Antonio Spurs' desire to get the Sacramento Kings' pick at No. 7 centers on a desire to draft Valanciunas as a future replacement for Tim Duncan, and now Cleveland must draft Valanciunas at the No. 4 spot, or risk losing him all together.
In this scenario, Detroit could land Thompson with the eighth pick, unless the Houston Rockets can convince the Pistons to move back in exchange for the 14th and 23 overall picks.
Cavs keep quiet
As the hours crept closer to the start of Thursday's NBA draft, Kyrie Irving still didn't have a commitment from the Cavaliers that he'll be the No. 1 pick. The Cavs' front office has been in lockdown mode, offering no suggestions, no scenarios, to prospective players on how everything will unfold.
Nevertheless, Irving is still believed to be the team's first choice, a move that likely would trigger the Minnesota Timberwolves to select Arizona forward Derrick Williams second overall.
Cleveland had so many scenarios developing – contingencies which come with owning the first and fourth overall picks. The Cavaliers were still trying to parlay their two second-round picks (No. 32 and 54) into a late first-round selection, sources said. Cleveland also has discussed trades for point guard Baron Davis(notes), sources said, but has nothing imminent there.
The Cavaliers are intrigued with several players at No. 4 but have offered the pick in potential trades to teams in exchange for young forwards.
The trade talks between the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers, first reported by SI.com, have traction for one simple reason: The exchange of Lamar Odom(notes) and Andre Iguodala(notes) could provide immense benefits to both teams.
The proposed deal – Iguodala for Odom and Luke Walton(notes) – would give the Lakers an elite wing defender for their championship chase. New head coach Mike Brown wants more athleticism in a younger player to pair with Kobe Bryant(notes) and Ron Artest(notes) to defend the likes of James, Dwyane Wade(notes) and Kevin Durant(notes).
One source involved in the talks said that Sixers coach Doug Collins "thinks Odom can play the [center] like [Mike] Krzyzewski had Odom doing in the world championships."
Nevertheless, no deal was imminent, and the advanced and complicated sales talks make it harder for Sixers president Rod Thorn to pull off such a major trade, sources said.
More draft news
• As the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks start to retool to try and defend their title, they're worried they could lose J.J. Barea(notes) to free agency. Another small guard, Isaiah Thomas from Washington, may attract their interest with the 26th pick. The 5-foot-10 Thomas dazzled the Mavericks in a workout this week. They could perhaps still get him with their 57th overall pick, but they've never been afraid to make a bold move with a young player whom they like – regardless of where other teams have him listed on their draft boards. The Chicago Bulls will take a long look at Thomas with one of their two late first-round picks as well. Barea's success in the Mavericksâ championship run is perfect timing for Thomas' early entry to the NBA. He had a tremendous season for the Washington Huskies, and his speed, explosiveness and scoring ability can be game-changers. Some have compared Thomas to another small guard out of Washington – the Oklahoma City Thunder's Nate Robinson(notes) – but Thomas is a much better playmaker.
• The Miami Heat adore Boston College's Reggie Jackson with the 31st pick, but there are questions about him. Jackson has provided no medical records on his knee to teams, and has refused workouts as well as even the most rudimentary of interviews. Several teams with picks in the 20s are still considering drafting him, including the Bulls and New Jersey Nets, but without medical reports it can be hard to guarantee millions of dollars on the rookie wage scale. Riley is intrigued with Jackson's ability to shoot the ball, and that's why sources say he prefers Jackson over Duke's Nolan Smith, the ACC Player of the Year, at that spot.
• The Spurs' aggressive pursuit of a lottery pick had them trying to get into the early teens, with hopes of using one of those picks to move up even higher in the first round, sources said. San Antonio could get into the late teens – perhaps the Utah Jazz slot at 12 – to draft. The Spurs are enamored with Lithuanian 7-footer Dontas Montejunas, sources said, and could move up to take him in the late lottery picks. Nevertheless, several teams believe San Antonio's ultimate goal is to parlay that late lottery pick into an even higher spot in the first round. The Spurs are discussing deals involving guard George Hill(notes) to get them anywhere from 11 to 13. They've also had discussions about using Tony Parker(notes) in talks to rise up to the Kings' or Toronto Raptors' picks at seven and five, respectively.
• The Rockets are offering cash for early second-round draft picks.
• The New Orleans Hornets had no regrets about trading their first-round pick for Jerryd Bayless. They moved him for guard Jarrett Jack(notes), who helped them make the playoffs this season. The Hornets have a second-round pick (No. 45), and have had talks on deals which would get them back into the first round.
• Marquette's Jimmy Butler could sneak into the first round with the Boston Celtics at No. 25, but will likely will be gone by the early second round.
• If Miami somehow secures another second-round pick, Riley could make a bid for Wisconsin's 6-foot-11 Jon Leuer.