Yesterday ESPN’s Chad Ford released his NBA Mock Draft 4.0. In it, he had the Cleveland Cavaliers drafting Nerlens Noel with the #1 overall pick. For the Cavaliers’ 2nd first-round pick at #19 overall, he had the Cavaliers looking to Russia for their pick, in the form of the 19 year old international sensation Sergey Karasev, writing:
If the Cavs grab Noel at No. 1, look for them to add a small forward or shooter with their second first-round pick. Karasev is interesting. His performance in Vegas on Friday wasn’t stellar thanks to some jet lag, but scouts are very high on him at the moment.
He has the size to play both wing positions, is a terrific shooter, has a high basketball IQ, and at 19, already has significant professional experience averaging 18.4 PPG in the Russian League. A few scouts compare him to smaller version of Toni Kukoc. Karasev could go as high at No. 9 to the Wolves but would be a great get here by the Cavs.
While a lot of teams are rumored to have serious interest in Karasev, the expectation was that he would be making the rounds and holding private workouts with many of the interested teams. However, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowksi is now reporting that Karasev is going back to Russia and will not return for workouts with any team prior to the draft:
Sergey Karasev has returned to Moscow until the NBA draft in late June, fueling speculation among front-office executives that a team has given the Russian teen star a strong first-round guarantee, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Karasev’s representatives, Andy Miller and Justin Zanik, began to inform teams on Tuesday that Karasev, a sharp-shooting 6-foot-7 forward, will not be made available for any private workouts prior to the June 27 draft, league sources said.
Most NBA teams wanted to get Karasev into their facilities for closer inspection, but none will get the opportunity.
So are the Cavaliers the team who gave the guarantee? There are no indications who the team is that gave Karasev the guarantee, and certainly no clues or signs that point to Cleveland. However, using history as a guide, a move like this wouldn’t be out of character for the Cavaliers.
Cavalier GM Chris Grant was on Danny Ferry’s staff back in 2006 when Ferry masterfully got Daniel Gibson to cancel workouts in an effort to get him to slide to the team with their first pick in the 2nd round. Mike Brown was also the coach at the time, so the team certainly has experience using the pre-draft guarantee to try to get what they want. Furthermore, we know that Chris Grant is comfortable drafting players without holding workouts for them. Last season he drafted Dion Waiters despite the fact the Cavaliers never once had Dion in for workouts.
None of this is to say the Cavaliers are the team who is trying to get Karasev. Instead, this is just pointing out that it falls within their method of operations, and so they certainly have to be considered as one of the teams who would more realistically be inclined to make this kind of move. We’ll have to wait until draft night to see how everything plays out.