As the NBA Draft approaches, the Cavs are still actively trying to trade the 1st overall pick, Washington seems determined to take Anthony Bennett of UNLV at No. 3 — which has led Charlotte to shop Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to make room for Otto Porter.
Also, Kevin Love is once again being discussed as a trade candidate — to Cleveland, just as we reported in Mock 3.0.1 on May 29.
The Cavs, as we’ve discussed for weeks, want to trade the first pick but are struggling to find a package that meets their demands.
Cleveland would love to trade the first pick for an established star such as LaMarcus Aldridge or Love, but in a weak draft cannot entice teams to take the bait. ESPN is reporting the Cavs have offered the No. 1, along with Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters, to the Wolves. There are also reports out there that the Brooklyn Nets are trying to trade for Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce.
“No way they trade the pick. CG [Chris Grant – Cavs GM] is asking for way too much in this draft. If Andrew Wiggins was in this class it would be a different story,” one rival executive told SheridanHoops.com.
Cleveland has narrowed its choice down to three players at No. 1 — Alex Len, Ben McLemore, and Nerlens Noel. Cleveland has its fair share of concerns with Noel, who is raw offensively and won’t play until January. While Noel has the most upside and is a darling of the analytics folks, McLemore is a proven shooter and can be a great complimentary player but has turned off many with his agent saga and inner circle.
Len, the likely target for the Cavs, offers Cleveland a capable scorer on offense and a quality rebounder and shot blocker.
In fact, Cleveland has the structure in place to help any big man blossom with assistant coach Jamal Mosely, who was critical in helping Tristan Thompson develop, along with Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Vitaly Potapenko, Len’s countryman from the Ukraine. Cleveland GM Chris Grant loves bigs who can score and Len is by far the most polished scorer at his position.
The Wizards, according to a source, have placed Anthony Bennett at the top of their board. Bennett combined with John Wall and Bradley Beal would give the Wizards a dynamic threesome with plenty of offensive versatility.
It is true Portland has been listening to offers for LaMarcus Aldridge, who quietly wants out, but Portland expects a large sum for their All-Star. Cleveland has had talks about Aldridge for 1 and 19, but that offer was laughed at by members of the Blazers front office.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a hot name right now, the Georgia wing has been shooting up boards and now is likely to be a top-10 pick. According to a source, Oklahoma City really is intrigued by Caldwell-Pope and would consider trading up to land him. Several teams I spoke with believe he is the target of several teams looking to jump the Thunder. More on OKC’s attempt’s to trade up here.
I have been extremely high on Jamaal Franklin for some time but an ankle injury limited his availability to work out for teams and prevented him from cracking the lottery, but watch for Atlanta to possibly tab him with one of their two picks as Franklin is working out for a second time in front of Danny Ferry and company. For now, I’ve got him going to the Pacers at No. 23. (Our final Mock will be published Thursday afternoon after we see what Wednesday brings, then I will be joining our special live chat with venuing.com. (Click on the banner at the top for more info).
As we reported in Mock 6.0, the Cavs have had discussions to acquire Shawn Marion from Dallas in a lopsided trade that would allow them to move up from No. 19 to No. 13 in the first round by relieving the Mavs of Marion’s $9.3 million salary, allowing Mark Cuban more salary cap flexibility to use on July 1. (ESPN now confirming Cavs’ interest.) But with Doc Rivers landing with the Clippers, it appears there is no longer any chance that any team can make a run at both Chris Paul and Dwight Howard — something the Hawks had planned to do.
I have been saying for two weeks that if the draft were held today, the Cavaliers would select Alex Len with the top pick. The Cavs believe he is the best fit long-term alongside Kyrie Irving. As for the potential Shawn Marion trade, Cleveland has the cap space to absorb Marion’s contract, and they view him as an upgrade over Alonzo Gee in their pursuit of a playoff spot next season. Sources say Cleveland is eyeing Sergey Karasev at 13. (The trade would be Marion and No. 13 for No. 19).
On the trade front there are at least three lottery picks that are very available. Minnesota and Portland, along with the aforementioned Mavs, continue to reach out to teams to discuss potential deals as their respective draft picks are available to the highest bidder.
Watch out for these names on draft night as they are on the rise: Ricky Ledo, Jamaal Franklin, Glen Rice Jr., Tony Snell, and Myck Kabongo, all of whom have been impressive during workouts and could hear their names called during the first round. Franklin, who is still recovering from a sprained ankle, has been showcasing an improved jumper. (More on draft sleepers in this column from Tommy Dee).
Without further ado, here is Mock Draft 7.0:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Alex Len, C, Maryland (7’1, 11.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.1 bpg)
For the fourth straight Mock Draft, Alex Len remains the choice for the Cavs. Cleveland is still considering Nerlens Noel or trading the pick — especially if they can get Love, or a package consisting of a lottery pick, an extra No, 1 and a good young player.
The Cavs apparently feel that Len’s ability on both ends of the court better mix with budding star Kyrie Irving and would give the team the dynamic combo it needs to push for the playoffs. While Len may not have as much upside defensively as Noel, he is a significantly better offensive option and a productive rebounder and shot blocker.
As reports, positive and negative, continue to surface about McLemore and Noel and their inner circles, the Cavs seem more inclined to take Len, who still has room to develop. Len’s signature right now is his developed offensive game in the post and facing the basket. With Irving and Len, Cleveland could have a really impressive pick-and-pop game.
2. Orlando Magic – Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky (6’10, 10.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 4.4 bpg)
Sources say Orlando is very interested in Eric Bledsoe and is prepared to deal Arron Afflalo to the Clippers to get him. GM Rob Hennigan has been aggressive in acquiring assets and has assembled a good core of young players.
With a potential hole at shooting guard to fill, the Magic have their choice of Nerlens Noel and Victor Oladipo. Both prospects represent better value and have higher ceilings than Trey Burke at this spot.
With Noel, the Magic can slide him in between Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic and have an impressive front court. Another factor in favor of Noel is that Orlando can bring him along slowly with Vucevic, Andrew Nicholson, and Kyle O’Quinn all able to contribute.
I have had Victor Oladipo in this spot, but I am switching gears for now, which puts me at odds with Sheridan, who believes Oladipo is the next Dwyane Wade. But Sheridan gives all our writers a blank canvas, and we can agree to disagree.
3. Washington Wizards – Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV (6’8, 16.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.2 bpg)
Based on fresh intel, we are moving Bennett up from No. 7. The skilled forward has shown the offensive versatility to be an intriguing prospect. While undersized, Bennett will be excellent in smaller lineups that the Wizards can run featuring John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Scouts and stat gurus alike praise Bennett for his tenaciousness on offense and recognize he has plenty of upside. The Wizards are focused on making the playoffs next season and can count on Bennett providing them with a punch instantly as a rookie.
Otto Porter was hoping to be in this spot, and he refused to workout for the Bobcats per the advice of his agent, David Falk.
4. Charlotte Bobcats – Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown (6’8, 16.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.7 apg)
The Bobcats would be pleasantly surprised if McLemore or Noel slipped to them on draft night. While McLemore would make sense here, I’m told by multiple sources that Charlotte would pass on McLemore because of concerns about his inner circle. Charlotte needs more offense and Otto Porter makes sense here.
Porter enjoyed a breakout season at Georgetown and could give the Wizards a dynamic and lethal scoring trio. Playing for the Bobcats will allow Porter to utilize his skill set on both ends. Porter excels in multiple areas and would fit in well with a team that has two primary ballhandlers because of his ability to play off the ball and effect the game in other areas.
His ceiling may not be as high as McLemore or the prospects drafted ahead of him, but Porter projects as a much safer pick.
5. Phoenix Suns – Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas (6’5, 15.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 42% 3pt)
McLemore just announced that he will be represented by Rodney Blackstock, a bit of a head scratcher. If McLemore does slip here I expect McDonough’s phone to blow up with teams trying to trade up and land the Kansas guard. When a player with his combination of talent, athleticism and shooting is available, they go high — and the Suns would love to back someone take one or two of their bad contracts — Channing Frye is due to make $13.2 million over the next two years, and Michael Beasley has two years left at $12.2 million.
McLemore does have his flaws, but this would be a great start for the new front office. Finding a running mate and shooter to pair with Goran Dragic could be the main focus. Pairing McLemore and Dragic in the backcourt could be just what the Suns need to boost their offensive production.
It seems strange to think of McLemore slipping this far, but there have been discussions in Sacramento about whether McLemore might slip all the way to the Kings.
6. New Orleans Pelicans – Trey Burke, PG, Michigan (6’0, 18.6 ppg, 6.7 apg, 3.2 rpg)
No chance New Orleans passes on Burke. Austin Rivers showed he is not a point guard, and if given the chance to take Burke – who once had an outside shot at being the top pick – the Pelicans will rush the stage on draft night. With Rivers and Eric Gordon, the Pelicans are deep at shooting guard and can even entertain trade offers for Gordon, who is signed to a massive extension but was emphastic in his desire to play for the Suns when they signed him to an offer sheet last season.
The Pelicans took their centerpiece last year in Anthony Davis. Now New Orleans must surround him with talent. Burke is one of the quickest guards in the draft and can get by most defenders. With as much success as rookie point men have had the last few seasons (see Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving), the Pelicans will look to get theirs.