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The Trail Blazer brass is spending much of its time this week on the June 28 NBA draft.
The Blazers hold the third pick and will invite at least 10 of the top prospects to their Tualatin training facility for individual workouts. The invite list includes the players generally regarded as the top three in the draft — Utah center Andrew Bogut, North Carolina forward Marvin Williams and Wake Forest point guard Chris Paul.
Bogut and Williams are not expected to come to Portland, however, because they are all but assured of going 1-2 to Milwaukee and Atlanta. And Paul has passed on the Blazers’ invitation, probably because Portland already has a 6-foot point guard in Sebastian Telfair, a rookie last season.
“Last year, (power forwards) Al Jefferson and Kris Humphries refused to come in because we have Zach Randolph,” Nash says. “That might be the reason we have been unsuccessful” in getting Paul to visit.
The Blazers have invited at least seven other prospects for the No. 3 pick to the workouts next week, including shooting guards Rashad McCants of North Carolina, Martell Webster of Seattle Prep and Francisco Garcia of Louisville; guard-forward Gerald Green of Houston’s Gulf Shores Academy; point guard Deron Williams of Illinois; and power forwards Fran Vasquez of Spain and Sean May of North Carolina.
Nash says there remains a “strong chance” Portland will trade the third pick. The Blazers need a shooting guard, and the top ones in the draft aren’t expected to go among the first seven or eight selections. If they decide to target one player as the guy they want — the 6-6 Webster, for instance — they could trade down to No. 7 or No. 8 or beyond, and still get the player they want, plus additional considerations.
One possible move is a deal with Charlotte, which owns the fifth and 13th selections. The Bobcats covet Paul; they might be willing to send both picks to Portland in exchange for the third choice.
Toronto owns selections 7 and 16, but sources say the Raptors are leaning toward keeping the picks.
Utah also owns multiple first-round picks (No. 6 and No. 27) and might be amenable to a deal.
Or the Blazers could try to package the pick with the rights to veteran Nick Van Exel and his nonguaranteed $13-million contract to secure a veteran shooting guard such as Ray Allen, Michael Redd or Corey Maggette.