With the NBA draft just days away and teams getting close to finishing their workouts with prospects, GMs are getting serious about jockeying for position in the draft.
The last few days, a number of GMs have told me the phones ring more and more, with serious trade discussions taking place. Those talks will hit a fever pitch next week.
Here's what we're hearing so far:
The Phoenix Suns have put Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw on the table in attempts to either move up in the draft or secure another veteran to play alongside Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal.
"I think our needs are pretty clear," one Suns insider told ESPN.com. "We can't ask Grant Hill to play 40 minutes a night, and Barbosa isn't really a point guard."
The Suns own the Atlanta Hawks' pick at No. 15, but the players they covet in the draft -- Russell Westbrook, Joe Alexander and Brandon Rush -- probably will be lottery picks.
Small forwards on the market include Richard Jefferson of the New Jersey Nets, Josh Howard of the Dallas Mavericks, Gerald Wallace of the Charlotte Bobcats and Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons.
But there are stumbling blocks to each deal. The Mavs might not want to send Howard to a rival team. Detroit president Joe Dumars is probably not interested in Diaw. The Nets need contracts that expire by 2010. And it's unclear whether the Suns would be willing to take back Wallace's contract.
The Suns and a number of other teams are talking to the Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers and Nets about trading up in (or out of) the draft.
The Wolves seem especially ready to make a deal if Michael Beasley isn't on the board at No. 3. They like several of the bigs in this draft, including Brook Lopez, Kevin Love and Danilo Gallinari, but none of them is worth taking at No. 3.
It appears the Wolves won't take back veterans, though. Several GMs told me that Kevin McHale is looking for young players only.
The Knicks' Donnie Walsh would like to find a new home for Zach Randolph, but he has struggled to find takers. And New York would love to move up a spot or two in the draft to get O.J. Mayo or Jerryd Bayless.
If it can't, much-desired Westbrook might be the target. Word of the Knicks' interest in Westbrook has generated phone calls from teams trying to get him.
The Clippers have been looking to move up to the No. 3 spot to get Mayo, and they've talked with a number of teams about virtually everyone on L.A.'s roster.
According to one Clippers insider, "No one is safe right now." With players such as Elton Brand, Al Thornton and Chris Kaman on the roster, the Clips could jolt things as the draft approaches.
The Bucks have been trying to move up in the draft to add some star power to their team.
In particular, we've heard Mayo's name associated with the Bucks. The Bucks have been trying to get into that seven-team Mayo workout in Chicago on Saturday to get a closer look.
Bucks GM John Hammond has gotten a lot of calls, with other teams especially interested in Yi Jianlian and Charlie Villanueva. Mo Williams and Michael Redd are also in play in Milwaukee right now.
The Nets, I'm told, did not make a promise to draft Danilo Gallinari -- in part, that's because they might not keep the No. 10 pick. They are trying to find a deal that brings them a star in the draft and/or allows them to move Richard Jefferson to clear cap space for the summer of 2010. Right now, it looks as though the cap space solution is the more likely option for New Jersey.
The Blazers have the 13th, 33nd, 36th and 55th picks in the draft. Obviously, they don't want four rookies joining the two they already have coming in -- Greg Oden and Rudy Fernandez.
GM Kevin Pritchard, as always, is being creative trying to package those picks with young assets such as Jarrett Jack and Travis Outlaw and the expiring contract of Raef LaFrentz to move up or to get a veteran. Portland also is considering packaging those second-round picks to get another first-round pick.
To hear Pritchard talk about the Blazers' draft plan in our Tuesday podcast, click here.
We have, it appears, our first known promise of the draft. Multiple sources say that UCLA's Westbrook has shut down all workouts and has a promise in the mid-lottery range.
Apparently the promise isn't coming from the Knicks. They like Westbrook at No. 6, but they're also looking at Mayo, Bayless, Alexander and Eric Gordon.
The promise isn't coming from the Bucks or Pacers; neither team was able to get him in for a workout.
That leaves the Clippers at No. 7 and the Bobcats at No. 9. As noted above, the Clippers are trying to move up to get Mayo, so I doubt it's them. That leaves the Bobcats as the most likely to have made a promise to Westbrook.
One other possibility: The Seattle SuperSonics have taken a strong interest in Westbrook, according to sources. While No. 4 is a little higher than expected for him to go, one source said it's possible that the Sonics will trade down a few spots and take Westbrook.
More trade notes:
• With the Lakers flaming out in the Finals, it didn't take long for speculation about Lamar Odom to begin. A number of teams covet Odom because of his expiring contract.
I'd expect the Lakers to hear from the Nets (for Richard Jefferson), the Bulls (for Andres Nocioni), the Kings (for Ron Artest) and Memphis (for Mike Miller).
The Lakers and Grizzlies, as you might remember, have a history.
• The hottest rumor of the day has the Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets talking about a swap that would send Kyle Lowry and the No. 28 pick to Denver for the No. 20 and Linas Kleiza.
• The Cleveland Cavaliers have been talking to a number of teams about Anderson Varejao.
One possible destination for Varejao is the Golden State Warriors. According to a source familiar with the talks, the Cavs would send Varejao and the No. 19 pick to Golden State for Brandan Wright. The Warriors hold a $10 million trade exception that allows them to take back a lot more money than they send out in a trade.
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.