On Monday evening, I sent out the bat signal to my followers on Twitter to gauge what questions they had leading up to Thursday night’s NBA Draft. I did my best to answer them within the 140-character constraints, but felt it would be worth elaborating here. Below, you’ll find the more predominantly asked questions of the 40 or 50 I fielded with some longer, more detailed answers. Do enjoy.
Q: What likelihood do you place on the Cavaliers selecting Derrick Williams first and Brandon Knight fourth?
A: In short, very little to none. Yes, I know that the team brought in Williams for a second time on Monday afternoon. Yes, he is consensus top-two across nearly every draft board in the NBA. Yes, he’s a talented kid who played very, very well against Duke. But, barring any drastic changes, the Cavaliers are going to select Kyrie Irving with the first overall selection on Thursday night, a decision which should be finalized today in Independence as Chris Grant and his staff compile their draft board.
Baron Davis is an aging teacher-type at this stage in his career and Ramon Sessions continues to be an asset that the team is willing to trade. That said, neither will likely be here in the three-to-four-year window for the Cavaliers to be sustainably contending within the Eastern Conference. Coupling that with the fact that Utah is almost guaranteed to take Knight with their third selection, the Cavaliers would be looking at the next tier of guards – something that is not likely worth the gamble at this stage.
Q: Then who would the Cavaliers take fourth overall?
A: With the news that Jonas Valanciunas’ buyout clause will prohibit him from entering the NBA until the 2012-13 season, it is perceived that his value has dropped on many teams’ boards. Fortunately for Cleveland, they are not in a hurry to have the Lithuanian big man stateside as his international play will allow him to take part in competitive basketball in the event of an NBA lockout; this is a huge bonus given his need for development.
That said, look for the Cavaliers to field offers from nearly every other NBA team to see what they would receive in the event the pick is moved.
Just as I’m told the team is kicking the tires on “five or six” potential deals involving the Traded Player Exception, their perceived interest in Enes Kanter is working. The Washington Wizards, as mentioned here yesterday, are allegedly in talks with the Cavaliers to trade up to fourth-overall to take the Turkish big man. In return, the Cavs would require the Wiz’ sixth-overall pick as well as the 18th.
A player who the team would target here would range from Colorado’s Alec Burks to Texas’ Jordan Hamilton. Whether or not Washington bites remains to be seen.
Q: Assuming the dream scenario is Irving and Williams, what can the Cavs do to make this happen?
A: A deal will almost assuredly have to be made. At least one, to be specific. The more we hear, it is becoming evident that the Cavaliers and Timberwolves are having a difficult time on coming to terms for the second-overall selection on their own. Thankfully, all of that flexibility that we have talked about over the course of the last 11 months will have a chance to provide some return. If the front office can find a way to add additional picks, there is a chance that one will be used to assist in a subsequent move.
Q: Well, that’s pretty vague. Who or what can the Cavs move to get a trade done?
A: First and foremost, the Traded Player Exception. As we have said here since acquisition, look for the team to use at least a portion of this on draft night. Also keep in mind that it cannot be combined with a player in a potential deal. What this can be combined with to entice other teams are draft selections, something the Cavaliers have four of.
Also being deliberated is the trade value of Ramon Sessions and JJ Hickson, two young assets that continue to receive attention by other NBA teams. Anderson Vareajo continues to have his name thrown in the mix, but the team does not appear willing to include him in any draft-related deal at this time.
Q: Can the Cavs combine Hickson with the fourth overall selection to move up to second-overall and draft Derrick Williams?
A: Yes, they can. But they won’t.
Regardless of what fans think of Hickson and his occasional bout with inconsistency, the team – along with other league executives and scouts - view Hickson as a better talent than Williams when the two are compared side by side. If they would not deal him by himself for the second overall selection, they most certainly would not add their fourth-overall pick to the mix.
Hickson is a true power forward and is considered to be more athletic than Williams. While the soon-to-be rookie is younger and can shoot the ball from a longer range, Williams’ tweener status isn’t doing him any favors. And yes, the Cavs – like the majority of the league – consider Williams to be a power forward. Hickson is a known commodity and Williams, despite what he did to Duke, is still a gamble. Adding a point guard like Irving will only make the team’s current team better, including Hickson.
Q: So, with that said, what would the Cavs expect for Hickson since they value him so highly?
A: Valuing a 21-year-old power forward that can average a double double with a block per night highly is not exactly far-fetched even considering the mental lapses and frustrations with Byron Scott. That said, the team is trying very, very hard to acquire a lottery selection in the 2012 draft to go along with a third lottery pick this year. They will likely try to obtain a unprotected selection, but after what fortunes the Cavs had with regard to the Clippers trade – coupled with the above-average draft class in 2012 – teams will be hard-pressed to part with lottery selections.
Potential targets in these talks, as I’m told, are the Charlotte Bobcats, New Jersey Nets and Phoenix Suns. Alas, the team will continue to aim for two draft picks or a combination of a draft selection and a starting wing player to help bolster what is potentially the worst starting unit in the NBA. It’s also worth mentioning that, as the draft nears, the bid-ask spread may narrow or widen to the point of dissipation.
Q: Well, if teams do not want to match the Cavs’ value for Hickson, what are we looking at with the Exception?
A: First things first: fans will need to stop wondering about big-name players like Andre Iguodala, Monta Ellis and Rudy Gay as there is a very slim (to no) chance that the Cavs will handcuff themselves financially. Also, the team is – as I stated yesterday – not necessarily looking to be a seven-seed in the playoffs next season so adding a high-volume player now would be a disservice to said goal.
The team would love a young big like Al Horford or Josh Smith, but the Hawks (like other NBA teams) are not valuing the fourth-overall selection enough to garner a potential All-Star.
As mentioned above, there are several deals currently being discussed, most of which would net the team a serviceable wing player (think Sacramento’s Francisco Garcia) along with a draft pick for a portion of the Exception. If the team would acquire another lottery selection, look for them to have interest in Kansas’ Marcus Morris, Washington State’s Klay Thompson, and Florida State’s Chris Singleton – who I’m told is rapidly moving up the team’s draft board.