Plotting the draft
Picks and trades that make enough sense to consider
Posted: Monday June 25, 2007 2:10PM; Updated: Monday June 25, 2007 3:44PM
In the spirit of the trade rumor/conspiracy theory season, I thought it might be fun to put on my general manager hat. I'm no GM -- though if I were I would never, ever use the mid-level exception because there are way too many Jerome James's and Brian Cardinals out there -- but there is no harm in playing one because in this space there are no consequences.
So with Thursday's NBA Draft approaching, here are five moves that should happen on or before draft day and five players whose games are an ideal fit with specific teams.
1. The Boston Celtics should drop out of the Kevin Garnett sweepstakes and get in the Shawn Marion derby.
The Suns would love to deal Marion, and Boston has the assets to make palatable a three-team deal that would send Garnett to Phoenix. Landing Marion would enable the Celtics to keep their prized possession (Al Jefferson) and create a 2-3-4 combination of Jefferson, Marion and Paul Pierce that would rival any in the league. Giving up Gerald Green, who would have to be included (along with the No. 5 pick and Theo Ratliff's expiring contract), would hurt -- particularly because the reigning Slam Dunk champ seemed to "get it" more and more every game last season. But acquiring Marion would go a long way toward appeasing the Boston fan base.
2. "With the first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers select: Kevin Durant."
Now, I'm not foolish enough to think this is going to happen. Big men are a dying breed in the NBA, and centers who draw comparisons to Bill Russell come along once every two or three generations. First-year GMs like Kevin Pritchard aren't foolish enough to pass on them. And, in all likelihood, the only thing Greg Oden and Sam Bowie have in common is the team that drafts them.
But what a gutsy move it would be to take Durant.
Forget about the weightlifting. This isn't football. No one is asking Durant, a probable small forward in the NBA, to tackle a running back. What he is being asked to do is put the ball in the bucket, and few players have the potential to fill up a stat sheet the way Durant can. Every scout I've talked to believes Durant is the real deal, that it is only a matter of time before he becomes a bona fide superstar. How do you pass up a player like that?
3. The Atlanta Hawks should trade out of the third spot.
Unless GM Billy Knight is convinced Al Horford is a 20-10 player, Atlanta would be wise to deal the pick for veteran talent. To where? Portland would be my first phone call.
The Trail Blazers seem to feel reuniting Oden with Ohio State running buddy Mike Conley will ease the transition, and they have made Zach Randolph readily available. Putting the character issues aside -- that's not easy considering his checkered past -- Randolph's rebounding and low-post game would be a tremendous asset in Atlanta, which hasn't had a post presence since Shareef Abdur-Rahim was traded in 2004. Portland could sweeten the pot by offering one or more of its four second-round picks, which could be used to take a point guard like Finland's Petteri Koponen or Florida's Taurean Green.
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