SI.com's NBA draft day blog (cont.)
Two: "I'm thinking Evans. I just think he's got a physical presence the other two don't. Curry will be fine if he's not expected to be a true point guard. If you make him a true point guard, you're taking away his best skill" as a scorer.
Three: "My sense is that Evans will be best. But Holiday could be a Chauncey Billups situation -- it might take four or five years, but then he gets really good."
No real consensus, in other words. Curry is the best bet for a successful career because he's a scoring weapon and those players always last, but that is not the same as good odds on being a successful prototype point guard who can deliver the right pass. Maybe Oklahoma City takes him third, throws that thinking out the window, and plays Curry at shooting guard at 6-3 with the comfort of having Russell Westbrook to send at the opponent's best backcourt threat. Maybe the Kings take him at four or take Evans at four. We'll have an answer on that part in a few hours. But getting the ultimate answer will take years. -- Scott Howard-Cooper
TOP FIVE UNSETTLED: In the final five hours before the draft, potential trade calls were being made to Memphis for the No. 2 pick and Oklahoma City for No. 3.
The big mystery driving these calls involved the choices to be made by Oklahoma City at No. 3 and Sacramento at No. 4. The Thunder have been disciplined about keeping their decisions in-house and not letting rivals know their plans. Then there is Sacramento, which has put out a variety of confusing signals of whether it's looking to take Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio or Jonny Flynn with the fourth pick.
These mysteries leave Minnesota in a position of uncertainty. If the Timberwolves knew that Evans or Rubio would slide to them at No. 5, then they could sit tight. But they can't count on that possibility.
So here are the options for Minnesota to move up and grab one of the top two point guards in the draft:
Improve on Wednesday's offer to Memphis of Nos. 5 and 18 and a player (Craig Smith being among those mentioned), with the Grizzlies insisting on both Nos. 5 and 6 from Minnesota in exchange for No. 2.
Trade up with either Oklahoma City or Sacramento in order to guarantee access to one of the point guards.
Ever since Minnesota traded for the No. 5 pick on Tuesday, the talk has been of a subsequent move up for Rubio. But it may be that the Wolves have shifted their aim. "It could be that the battle is for Tyreke Evans,'' said an executive with an upper-lottery team. -- Ian Thomsen
LOVE STAYING PUT: Timberwolves GM David Kahn said on Dan Patrick's radio show that the team would not trade power forward Kevin Love, who had a strong finish to his rookie season.
WARRIORS COULD FACE GREAT DEBATE: The Golden State front office -- new GM Larry Riley, coach Don Nelson, president Robert Rowell -- has more on the line than just the 2009 draft. This could become about '07 as well.
The Warriors will almost certainly go point guard or Arizona power forward Jordan Hill with the No. 7 pick. If Hill is the call, a good possibility, it sets up the very interesting race for minutes starting in training camp and into '09-10: Hill vs. Brandan Wright, the '07 lottery-pick power forward.
Wright has not come close to reaching his potential in two seasons, thanks to typical growing pains, a shoulder injury and falling into such disfavor that he wasn't even in Nelson's doghouse; he was in Nelson's dog's doghouse. But Wright is only 21, would have just finished his junior season at North Carolina, and the entire NBA knew when he went eighth in '07 as part of the prearranged Jason Richardson trade that he wasn't an immediate-impact guy. The results were supposed to start showing in two or three years, or right around next season.
Not only does he still have a big upside, the consensus around the league is that it's bigger than Hill's. That's why a Hill selection is not as simple as saying that whoever plays the best gets the minutes. That's an understandable approach for a coach, and especially understandable for a 69-year-old coach who isn't exactly working on a five-year plan, except that there's little doubt that one of the prospects at power forward would have the chance to build a nice career, if Hill is the pick, and the other has the chance to become special. If he gets the minutes. -- Scott Howard-Cooper
WOLVES NOTES: If we can step back from all the Minnesota-trading-picks talk and focus on how the Wolves might use them, you might want to know:
Arizona State guard James Harden is popular with the brain trust, even though he didn't shoot well in his workout at Target Center. Harden worked out Wednesday in what was a closed workout; the other guys all had media availability.
Memphis' Tyreke Evans probably had the best individual workout of all the Wolves' invitees.
GM David Kahn referred to Dan Fegan, Ricky Rubio's agent who is a thorn in the side of many team executives, as "one of the toughest and one of the best'' agents in the NBA. Kahn, himself a lawyer and slick to the max, actually has something of an agent demeanor to him. -- Steve Aschburner
KNICKS-LAKERS TRADE: The Knicks reportedly have acquired the No. 29 pick from the Lakers for cash.
FACTORS WORKING AGAINST RONDO TRADE: I will be surprised if the Celtics are able to package Rajon Rondo in a trade anytime soon, because of their need to get equal value in return. But the market as it exists isn't set up for that kind of deal. Look at the recent moves: Richard Jefferson to San Antonio, Mike Miller and Randy Foye to Washington, Jamal Crawford to Atlanta, Shaquille O'Neal to Cleveland -- all have been one-sided deals in terms of basketball talent, because in each case one team has traded talent for financial reasons (or, in Minnesota's case, to gain the No. 5 pick from the Wizards, which in its own way is a money deal).
Not only would the Celtics be seeking equal basketball talent in exchange for Rondo, but the team trading for Rondo would have to give him a new, expensive contract as a restricted free agent in 2010. That's like swimming upstream against the current trends of teams seeking to either steal talent or else slash payroll -- a Rondo trade meets neither demand.
The bottom line is Boston needs to win the championship next year and can't afford to make a deal that damages those hopes. Kevin Garnett is 33, entering his 15th season and coming off knee surgery. If the Celtics are going to win another championship around Garnett, they need to make it happen next season.
With that in mind, are the Celtics worried about Rondo's focus next season while he's playing for a new contract? This is one of many questions raised by their recent attempts to gauge his value in a deal.
Ultimately, Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge must find a way to manage those concerns and mend their relationship with their young point guard. Unless the Celtics pull off a trade that would be miraculous by current standards, they are going to need all of Rondo's athleticism and defense next season. -- Ian Thomsen
THABEET OK WITH MEMPHIS: Memphis has locked in on center Hasheem Thabeet at No. 2, according to league sources. And Thabeet says he has no problem with that. Rumors that Thabeet wanted no part of Memphis surfaced after he canceled a workout with the Grizzlies over the weekend. But Thabeet said in addition to suffering from a right shoulder injury, he needed to be in New York to renew his visa, which had expired when he left UConn.
"I think it could be a great opportunity," he said of playing for Memphis.
Thabeet is arguably the draft's biggest wild card. At 22, and with only seven years of basketball experience under his belt, Thabeet has all the tools to become a Mutombo-type shot-blocking presence. But will he contribute much on the other end? Thabeet said he has spent the last two months working almost entirely on offensive drills, specifically left- and right-handed hook shots and 10-foot jump shots.
"I want to be able to score consistently," Thabeet said.
"He's capable of doing that," said Scott Roth, a former NBA assistant coach with Dallas and Memphis who has been working with Thabeet.
Roth has been putting Thabeet through two-a-day drills focused on developing his offensive game. Under Roth's watchful eye, and with former NBA center Sean Rooks there to defend him, Thabeet has worked diligently to fine-tune his offensive game.
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