There will be many rumors from today until draft day, so buckle up folks. The latest one with the Wizards involves the New York Knicks, and not in a way that would intrigue most people here. From Alan Hahn at Newsday:
There have been recent conversations between the teams about players, mainly ones the Wizards are interested in on the Knicks roster. But what may come as a surprise is that Wilson Chandler doesn't appear to be the main ingredient here. In fact, from multiple sources with knowledge of the Wizards' strategizing, they're the ones who have inquired about two former Wiz players, Larry Hughes and Jared Jeffries.
The Knicks are all ears.
To be clear, Hahn isn't saying that the Wizards would move the fifth pick for Larry Hughes or Jared Jeffries. The whole deal with the Knicks rose out of a rumor on NBADraft.net that suggested the two teams were considering a proposal that would swap picks for Wilson Chandler. Hahn's first blog post on the subject, in addition to shooting down this rumor, included this tidbit.
And how about this one: the Wizards are getting the word out that they are mulling between seven -- yes, seven -- players to take at No. 5.
Seven players. Seriously?
That would suggest two things: 1. this is a really deep draft and you can't go wrong with any of these players in the top 10 (survey sez? Bzzzzz!) or 2. the Wizards absolutely do not want this pick and are trying to scare someone above them into trading down.
What we're hearing is the Wizards are having trouble moving this pick, mainly because as they hoped to package it with Gilbert Arenas or Antawn Jamison to get some salary cap relief. But teams are only asking for Caron Butler. He, however, is as untouchable as it gets.
So for now Washington can only play the poker game and let the rest of the draft know they could spoil someone's plans by choosing one of the following players: James Harden, Jordan Hill, Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, Jonny Flynn, DeMar DeRozan or Brandon Jennings.
Normally, when a line like that comes up, I immediately launch into attack mode and remind people that it doesn't make sense for the Wizards to cut salary. This time, though, Michael Lee preemptively did the job for me with some real reporting.
I can also tell you that unless he is totally blown away, Ernie Grunfeld does not plan on trading any of his Big Three (Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler or Antawn Jamison) in any deal. His hope is to use the fifth pick as his primary asset in any deal, not the pick and one of his top three players. The goal is to add to the Wizards' core, not subtract from it.
Point is, I don't see anything to suggest that the Knicks and Wizards will swap picks. The rumors about Hughes and Jeffries make some sense because they were there at the trade deadline, and it's possible they're there again. The Wizards could theoretically convert their two expiring contracts (Mike James, Etan Thomas) into one (Hughes) and run Hughes at shooting guard. The problem is that Hughes isn't any good anymore, will steal shots from the Big 3 and minutes from Nick Young and Dominic McGuire. From a payroll standpoint, it makes more sense to have two smaller expiring contracts than one mega expiring deal for the purposes of flexibility.
Basically, forget the Knicks as an option. There's one guy I want on that team, and he's a free agent (David Lee).
- Mike Jones quotes Ernie Grunfeld shooting down the idea of the Wizards needing to cut salary: "The Wizards' financial situation could be a factor. With 14 players under contract, Washington already has $75.9 million committed to salaries for next season. The luxury tax spending threshold is expected to drop to roughly $69 million, and teams are permitted to carry only 15 players, so Washington could need to make a move to gain flexibility going into next season. But Grunfeld said that perception is overblown and that the Wizards are under no pressure to deal the pick for financial or roster reasons."
Draft Express: "The Wizards have been bombarded with trade offers as of late, some of them more realistic than others, but it’s not a given that they will decide to trade the pick. If Rubio is on the board, all indications are that the Wizards would take him, and worst comes to worse, deal with the repercussions of him staying in Europe for another year or two until his buyout situation gets resolved. There aren’t many teams that are higher on Rubio’s upside than Washington." This in response to Sacramento cooling on Rubio, for reasons that seem silly to me. If Ricky's there, pick him.
Michael Lee asks: What about Jrue Holiday? All the other top point guards have cycled through DC except him, so he wonders what's up. Part of the answer, according to a league source, is his agent, Dan Fegen. The same Dan Fegan that is Ricky Rubio's agent.
- Speaking of Lee, he also reports that Florida's Nick Cathales, the one who signed a contract to play in Greece, and Boston College's Tyrese Rise are workout out with the Wizards today. If Cathales is available, he's a great draft-and-stash option, which makes sense because the Wizards already have 14 players under contract. The Wizards are done working out prospects for the fifth pick.
- Bon Finnan of the News-Herald (Cleveland-area paper): "The Wizards say forward Antawn Jamison is not available."
- Two league scouts are quoted as being very high on Tyreke Evans.