Buzz: Pistons still want Cousins

NEW YORK – The Detroit Pistons aren't done trying to pry DeMarcus Cousins out of Sacramento. Sources say Pistons general manager Joe Dumars plans to make one more run for the center that he's long coveted.

The Kings took Cousins with the fifth pick, leaving the Pistons to select Georgetown center Greg Monroe sixth.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 8:40 p.m. ET, June 24

Thunder getting Aldrich from Hornets

The Oklahoma City Thunder have reached agreement to acquire the draft rights to center Cole Aldrich and take on Morris Peterson's contract in exchange for the 21st and 26th picks, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The Thunder needed a center to strengthen their frontline and had been working to climb into the lottery since acquiring the 18th pick from the Miami Heat on Wednesday.

The trade allows the Hornets to remove Peterson's $6.6 million salary from their payroll and move below the luxury tax while also giving them a couple picks to build around.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 8:55 p.m. ET, June 24

Nets keeping Favors

The New Jersey Nets turned down several trade opportunities and will keep Derrick Favors after selecting the Georgia Tech forward with the third pick, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Nets and Pacers had discussed a blockbuster draft trade that would have sent All-Star forward Danny Granger and the 10th pick to the Nets for Devin Harris, Yi Jianlian and the third overall pick, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. The Nets didn't want to use their cap space to help absorb Granger's contract and the Pacers also weren't sold on Harris, sources said. Indiana's main interest in the proposed deal was securing Favors.

Sources say New Jersey received a steady stream of strong offers for the third pick from teams hoping to take Favors.

The New Jersey Nets had run an elaborate ruse about wanting to draft Syracuse's Wesley Johnson, even letting the world believe a conspiracy theory of a possible free-agent package deal with Carlos Boozer, who is represented by Johnson's agent, Rob Pelinka. No one bit harder than Minnesota GM David Kahn, who had his minions calling everyone for days fearful the Nets were going to take Johnson, his preferred choice.

All the way until Thursday afternoon, Minnesota executives were calling Favors' agent Wallace Prather, asking if he knew what the Nets wanted to do. Around the NBA, several GMs knew Thorn's plan, but didn't dare blow his cover. Most wanted to see him make Kahn sweat it out.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 8:03 p.m. ET, June 24

Would Pacers pass on Hayward?

The Indiana Pacers have hometown hero Gordon Hayward rated as one of the best players on their draft board, sources say, but are torn because they desperately need to find a point guard or a center in the draft. They don’t need Hayward that badly with franchise star Danny Granger on the roster.

Nevertheless, the Pacers are sensitive that Hayward could drop to them at No. 10 and could be ultimately vilified should they pass and he becomes a good player elsewhere. For all the reasons the Pacers want to trade out of the 10th spot, the specter of Hayward coming back to haunt the organization isn’t far down on the list, sources say.

Indiana is engaging numerous teams to trade for a point guard and picks further down in the draft. The Oklahoma City Thunder have been trying to move up in the draft, and some league executives believe they’re targeting Hayward.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 3:50 p.m. ET, June 24

Nuggets looking for second-round pick

Because of how frequently their frontcourt has endured injuries, the Denver Nuggets are angling to acquire a second-round pick to use on a young big man. UTEP’s Derrick Caracter is the target, sources say.

Once the No. 1 high school player in America, Caracter, 6-foot-9, 280 pounds, had a disappointing career at Louisville before resurrecting himself at UTEP. At Caracter's best, teams are projecting him to be a Big Baby Davis-type contributor.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 3:50 p.m. ET, June 24

Raptors like Patterson

Of the players who figure to be available for the 13th pick, the Toronto Raptors appear to like Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson the best, league sources said.

Nevada forward Luke Babbitt, Kansas guard Xavier Henry and Fresno State guard Paul George are also on the Raptors' short list.

– Marc J. Spears, 1:55 p.m. ET, June 24

Clippers want Aminu

The Los Angeles Clippers have entertained offers for the No. 8 pick, but if Wake Forest forward Al-Farouq Aminu is still on the board they plan to take him, barring an unexpected drop from someone in the draft's top six.

– Marc J. Spears, 1:55 p.m. ET, June 24

Jazz want Babbitt?

An executive with a team that's targeting Nevada's Luke Babbitt fears the Utah Jazz will take him with the ninth pick.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 1:55 p.m. ET, June 24

Thunder eye lottery pick?

A day after acquiring the 18th pick, the Oklahoma City Thunder are still working hard to move into the lottery, and sources said the team's possible target could be Butler’s Gordon Hayward.

So far, Oklahoma City has been unsuccessful in trying to get New Orleans' 11th pick, sources say. It's unlikely the Hornets will move the pick without attaching a contract, like Morris Peterson's, to it.

The Thunder traded the No. 32 pick for No. 18 and Miami Heat guard Daequan Cook(notes) on Wednesday. They also hold the 21st selection.

The Indiana Pacers have been dangling the 10th pick in hopes of getting a young point guard, but league sources said it's unlikely the Thunder would agree to a proposed deal that involves the 18th and 21st selections and Eric Maynor(notes).

Adrian Wojnarowski, 12:26 p.m. ET, June 24

Warriors looking to move Biedrins

League sources said the Golden State Warriors are trying to move center Andris Biedrins(notes). The Warriors already shipped the remaining three years and $31 million of Corey Maggette's(notes) contract to the Milwaukee Bucks and wouldn't mind moving Biedrins' deal, which has four years and $36 million left.

Marc J. Spears, 12:26 p.m. ET, June 24

Heat like Vasquez

If Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez gets out of the first-round, don’t expect him to get past the Miami Heat with the 32nd pick, league executives say.

Adrian Wojnarowski, 12:26 p.m. ET, June 24

Richards to come to U.S.

Despite suggestions otherwise, British center prospect Ryan Richards – a potential target for Sacramento with the 33rd pick – doesn’t want to return overseas next season, a source said. He plans to play in the NBA or D-League.

Adrian Wojnarowski, 12:26 p.m. ET, June 24

Grizzlies like Pondexter

League sources said Washington forward Quincy Pondexter ranks high on the Memphis Grizzlies' draft board and could be available when they pick at No. 25.

Marc J. Spears, 12:26 p.m. ET, June 24

Kings want Cousins at No. 5

The Sacramento Kings are planning to select Kentucky center DeMarcus Cousins with the fifth pick in the draft, sources with knowledge of the franchise’s plan told Yahoo! Sports.

The Kings have ultimately decided Cousins is just too talented to pass and believe they can provide the support system he’ll need in the NBA. Cousins is 6-foot-11, 285 pounds, and has a refined offensive game. Kings general manager Geoff Petrie and coach Paul Westphal are banking the organization can help Cousins improve his conditioning and maturity.

Cousins had a fantastic workout with the Kings, delivering the best shooting performance of their predraft process. He made 78 percent of his shots, including plenty of attempts from 15 to 17 feet. The Kings had considered Georgetown’s Greg Monroe, but don’t believe a drama-free personality outweighs far more upside at center.

If Greg Monroe drops to No. 7, the draft board changes in Detroit, league sources say.

The Kings, who just traded for Philadelphia 76ers center Samuel Dalembert(notes), are counting on a frontline of Cousins and Jason Thompson(notes) to carry them through the next era.

The Kings expect Derrick Favors and Wesley Johnson will be gone before them, and so starts the dominoes to set up the alignment of the draft lottery. The New Jersey Nets have Minnesota spinning now, unsure whether GM Rod Thorn’s interest with drafting Johnson over Favors is genuine or designed to be a rouse to elicit a draft pick out of the Timberwolves. The Wolves have long wanted Johnson, but if he’s gone, they would take Favors, the power forward out of Georgia Tech.

For New Jersey to let Minnesota have Johnson, league sources say the Nets want Minnesota’s pick at No. 23.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 5:05 p.m. ET, June 23

Warriors eye Udoh at No. 6

As the Golden State Warriors continue to deliberate what to do with the sixth pick, league sources say Baylor forward Ekpe Udoh has become the front-runnner in the eyes of team officials.

Georgetown center Greg Monroe and Wake Forest forward Al-Farouq Aminu also remain under consideration.

Udoh had a strong workout for the Warriors in which he showed his defensive skills. Warriors officials also were impressed with his professionalism when he arrived at their meeting in a suit.

The Detroit Pistons are expected to take North Carolina’s Ed Davis with the seventh choice. If Monroe drops to No. 7, the draft board changes in Detroit, league sources say, with the Georgetown star likely getting the edge over Davis.

– Marc J. Spears and Adrian Wojnarowski, 11:06 p.m. ET, June 23

Hornets could trade out of lottery

The New Orleans Hornets’ front office hadn’t wanted to trade its No. 11 pick, but it appears the financial realities of the cash-strapped franchise are making it more likely the team will trade out of the lottery, league sources said late Wednesday.

The Hornets could make a team with cap space take one of their unwanted contracts – perhaps James Posey(notes) or even Julian Wright(notes) – as a condition for moving into the 11th spot. The Hornets could move later into the first round, where the guaranteed contracts for rookies descend with every spot until the 30th pick. Or, perhaps the Hornets could move completely out of the first round and pick up one or two second-round picks.

The Hornets were believed to be hoping Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh would drop down, but that appears unlikely. New Orleans had strong interest with Kansas’ Xavier Henry and Nevada’s Luke Babbitt, too.

In other Hornets news, coach Monty Williams has hired away Sacramento Kings assistant Bryan Gates for his new staff, sources say. Gates had finished his first season in the NBA on Paul Westphal’s staff after a successful run with the Idaho Stampede of the D-League.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 2:08 a.m. ET, June 24

Knicks like Zoubek?

Duke’s 7-foot-1 center Brian Zoubek has emerged as one of the top second-round prospects, and league executives believe he could be one of the New York Knicks' back-to-back picks at Nos. 38 and 39.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 2:08 a.m. ET, June 24

Pacers still eye young point guard

The Indiana Pacers' latest efforts to get a young point guard had them discussing a deal to send the No. 10 pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Eric Maynor and the 18th and 21st picks. Two league sources, however, said it's unlikely that trade happens.

– Marc J. Spears, 9:35 p.m. ET, June 23

Orton continues to drop

Kentucky center Daniel Orton has rapidly turned into a freefalling draft prospect – perhaps all the way out of the first round.

Orton’s combination of knee issues, poor conditioning and personal turmoil surrounding his predraft process has raised multiple warning signs for NBA teams. A 6-foot-10 freshman, Orton had been considered a prospect for the middle of the first round, but several league executives suggested on Wednesday morning that he could drop into the second.

“It could be like one of those anvils falling in a cartoon,” one Western Conference executive said.

“It’s a perfect storm of stuff happening with him – the knee, the conditioning, the stuff going on around him,” one Eastern Conference personnel director said. “I think he drops right out of the first [round].”

“Unless there’s one team that’s fallen in love with him because of the size, the shot-blocking, he could fall a long way,” a Western Conference general manager said.

Orton canceled several workouts in the past two weeks, leading some to speculate that a team had privately guaranteed to draft him. There’s no evidence that’s true. He finally worked out for Indiana on Tuesday.

Orton played one season at Kentucky, where he averaged just 13 minutes and 3.4 points behind DeMarcus Cousins. He left on relatively poor terms with coach John Calipari, and even told front offices in the predraft process that he wished he had chosen Kansas over Kentucky. Despite the belief he would be represented by agent Raymond Brothers, Orton hasn’t used him. He’s gone without an agent, using his family and former NBA coach Bob Hill to guide him through the process. That’s been a disastrous choice for him.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 11:27 a.m. ET, June 23

Nuggets not trading Lawson

Teams calling the Denver Nuggets with hopes of acquiring point guard Ty Lawson(notes) say they’ve received one resounding response: He isn’t available.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 12:20 p.m. ET, June 23

Nets ponder taking Gallon

The Nets worked out Oklahoma’s Tiny Gallon for a second time on Wednesday and are considering him with the 27th or 31st pick. He’s an intriguing prospect, a talented player who weighs 300 pounds and needs to learn the proper nutrition to keep his weight down. Nevertheless, one Eastern Conference executive calls him, “a more talented, offensive Big Baby,” who multiple teams believe is a worth project based on his talent. He’s an engaging personality too, and that’s helped him in the predraft process.

The Washington Wizards also have interest in Gallon – as well as Quincy Pondexter – with the 30th pick.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 12:20 p.m. ET, June 23

Nets to trade Douglas-Roberts

The New Jersey Nets have agreed in principle to trade forward Chris Douglas-Roberts(notes) to the Milwaukee Bucks for a 2012 second-round pick, sources told Yahoo! Sports. The deal is expected to be completed this week.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 9:17 a.m. ET, June 23

Blazers look to add another pick

Portland Trail Blazers have targeted University of Memphis guard Elliot Williams and are actively working to get an additional first-round pick in the 20s to draft him, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Without another pick in the late first round, Portland will have to decide whether it wants to use the 22nd selection on Williams. The Blazers would prefer to use No. 22 on a different player, but don’t believe Williams will be available when they select again at No. 34.

Sources say the Blazers have been willing to give Memphis the 34th overall pick and as much as $3 million to get one of the Grizzlies’ two picks – either Nos. 25 or 28. Memphis has discussed trading those two picks to Minnesota to move up to the 16th spot.

Blazers owner Paul Allen paid $2 million to exchange the 44th pick for No. 34 with Golden State on Monday.

Williams has been slowed with a knee injury suffered in a predraft session last month in San Antonio, but Portland has worked him out and feels confident in his recovery.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 7:06 p.m. ET, June 22

Teams eye Mavs' trade exception

The Dallas Mavericks don’t have a pick in the first round, but they do hold a valuable $3 million trade exception. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told Y! Sports that Dallas is “taking bids” on it “in exchange for a pick and cash to help teams free up cap room and get under the tax.”

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 8:45 p.m. ET, June 22

Nets could spoil T'wolves plans

Perhaps it won't be long until panic starts to set into the Minnesota Timberwolves, where two things need to become increasingly clear: They're far overvaluing Al Jefferson's(notes) trade value; and Syracuse's Wesley Johnson is no longer assured to be available to them with the fourth pick in Thursday's NBA draft.

All along, the Wolves had planned to select Johnson at No. 4, and yet the New Jersey Nets are holding serious discussions about drafting the small forward and taking their chances with trying to sign a power forward in free agency. The Nets had long favored Derrick Favors, but are debating now about how long it will take for him to become a regular contributor. New Jersey is still contemplating DeMarcus Cousins, too.

Under general manager David Kahn, the Wolves are becoming the organization that no one wants to send players. Kahn's condescending, abrasive style is frustrating to rival GMs and agents because few people believe he has the background, knowledge or credentials to even hold the job. To his credit, Kahn did hire a personable assistant GM, Tony Ronzone, who can work the phones for him.

Nevertheless, Cousins wouldn't work out for the Wolves. Nor did Georgetown center Greg Monroe, who traveled to the two teams in the next two spots, Sacramento and Golden State. Favors reluctantly worked out for the Wolves only to have Kahn insult him by calling him "out of shape." This infuriated Favors' agent Wallace Prather, and has strained the relationship there. It makes no sense for the Wolves to draft another power forward, anyway.

Kahn has tried to assure agents he's going to move Jefferson before the season, but it won't be long until he realizes how little value his power forward has with such an expensive contract and a reconstructed knee. The Wolves have two power forwards, Jefferson and Kevin Love(notes), who don't complement each other, and no center.

Minnesota wants Memphis' Rudy Gay(notes) in free agency, but sources say the only way Gay will even consider the Wolves is if they massively overpay him. That's why the Wolves were so determined to draft Johnson and why they have to be terrified that he could be gone at No. 4.

The Wolves are also willing to move point guard Jonny Flynn(notes), and have discussed a deal with the Indiana Pacers, sources said. The Wolves are willing to part with the 16th and 23rd picks as part of a bigger package to move up to No. 10. This way, the Wolves could possibly gain the leverage to make a deal with Philadelphia to secure the No. 2 pick and grab Ohio State's Evan Turner.

Sources say Flynn was frustrated throughout the season with the triangle offense and clashed with Wolves coach Kurt Rambis over the system. Rambis brought the offense with him from the Los Angeles Lakers, but traditionally it's worked best with bigger guards. Minnesota could turn its team over to Ramon Sessions(notes) next season or gain another point guard elsewhere. The Wolves own the rights to Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio(notes), but he won't consider leaving for the NBA until next season. Even then, Rubio's camp still needs to be sold on the organization.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 3:10 a.m. ET, June 22

Suns to make offer to Stoudemire

Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver and coach Alvin Gentry are planning to meet with Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) next week and offer him a contract extension, but a source called it "pretty bleak" that the Suns will be able to convince the All-Star forward to agree to a deal.

The Suns are expected to visit Stoudemire in Chicago at his summer basketball camp, if not wait for him to return to his home in Phoenix, Yahoo! Sports has learned. After rejecting what's expected to be another counteroffer below the maximum, Stoudemire will opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent July 1.

The Miami Heat and New York Knicks will be the top suitors for Stoudemire, with the Chicago Bulls and New Jersey Nets also expected to show interest.

Stoudemire has been disappointed with the resignations of general manager Steve Kerr and his assistant, David Griffin. The Suns' top two executives plan to work through the draft Thursday, but free agency and trades will be left to Sarver and Gentry. Much of the reason for Kerr's departure was based on Sarver asking him to take a pay cut and continuing to nickel-and-dime the teams' front-office employees.

When Griffin was told that there would a search for Kerr's successor and that he wouldn't necessarily be promoted to the top basketball job, sources said, he decided to not stay past the expiring of his contract June 30.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 3:10 a.m. ET, June 22

Orton stock dropping

There's a great deal of uncertainty and caution surrounding Kentucky center Daniel Orton, who has cancelled several workouts in the final days before the draft, but has tentatively planned a visit with Indiana on Tuesday.

League executives say Orton has been out of shape and struggling with knee issues during the predraft process. Orton, a 6-foot-10 freshman, had planned to hire agent Raymond Brothers, but sources said an internal family struggle over control has kept him without formal representation. With so much uncertainty surrounding Orton, he could face a steep drop Thursday night.

Orton has been working out with former NBA coach Bob Hill. As one Eastern Conference executive said Monday, "There are too many red flags right now."

– Adrian Wojnarowski, 3:10 a.m. ET, June 22


Here's the great advantage Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen and his embattled GM Kevin Pritchard have over the rest of the NBA: a willingness to spend at draft time. To move up 10 spots in the second round – from 44 to 34 – a league source says the Blazers paid Golden State $2 million to go with the 44th pick. … The Miami Heat's draft pick at No. 18 is available, league sources say. "They want to sell it to clear cap space," one Western Conference executive said. … The Washington Wizards have the Nos. 1 and 30 picks of the first round, but league executives says GM Ernie Grunfeld is trying to stockpile more picks. New owner Ted Leonsis had a similar philosophy with the Washington Capitals, and has insisted that building through picks and the draft will be his priority in the NBA, too. … The Nets and Philadelphia 76ers are expected to have interest in Boston Celtics free agent Brian Scalabrine(notes). The reserve forward prefers to re-sign with the Celtics, but it's unclear if they'll make him an offer. … Portland is showing strong interest in Cleveland Cavaliers guard Mo Williams(notes). The Blazers have been making calls to check on him. … British center Ryan Richards isn't expected to get past the Kings with the 33rd pick. … The Denver Nuggets made Linas Kleiza(notes) a $2.3 million qualifying offer, but sources close to the forward say there's "more than a 50 percent chance" he'll stay in Greece. Kleiza is due to make $6 million next season if he stays with Olympiakos. The qualifying offer allows the Nuggets to match any offer an NBA team makes to Kleiza.

– Marc J. Spears and Adrian Wojnarowski, 3:10 a.m. ET, June 22