NEW YORK – The Portland Trail Blazers have intensified discussions with the New Jersey Nets about moving up into the 10th pick of the NBA draft with intentions of taking Texas point guard D.J. Augustin, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday.
Portland GM Kevin Pritchard had been counting on beating out Indiana for Augustin, but the Pacers likely no longer have that great a need for Augustin after agreeing in principle to trade Jermaine O'Neal to Toronto for point guard T.J. Ford, center Rasho Nesterovic and the No. 17 pick.
Nevertheless, one Western Conference executive warned that he believed Charlotte could make Augustin, the 5-foot-10 point guard, a surprise choice at No. 9.
Portland has had discussions with several teams about moving up in the draft, but a deal with the Nets appears to the strongest possibility now.
As long as the New York Knicks pass on Danilo Gallinari at No. 6, the Nets still believe the Italian forward could be there for them at No. 13. If not, they'd hope one of the Lopez brothers – Brook or Robin – slide down to them. Nets GM Kiki Vandeweghe is intrigued with West Virginia forward Joe Alexander, too.
What's more, with the 33rd pick, the Nets could get a late first round-caliber big man who slips into the second round, such as Indiana's D.J. White. Sources said New Jersey already has targeted Memphis center Joey Dorsey with the 40th pick.
This possible trade would throw Indiana's plans of taking Augustin into a tizzy, although the Pacers have thought long and hard about choosing a forward in the 11th spot. If the four guards – Augustin, Westbrook, Jerryd Bayless and Eric Gordon – are off the board, the Pacers could end up taking LSU's Anthony Randolph.
As usual, Pritchard has been aggressive around the draft. With the endless resources of his owner, Paul Allen, behind him, Pritchard purchased the 27th pick from the New Orleans Hornets for $3 million. They likely will use that late pick to draft an international big man who wouldn't immediately join them in the NBA.