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Finally, we know for sure who is and isn't in the draft. Thursday's deadline for underclassmen to withdraw saw several international players who had been projected in the first round -- Martynas Andriuskevicius, Kosta Perovic, Peja Samardziski, Tiago Splitter and Roko Leni Ukic -- bail out, leaving plenty of room in the lottery and the late first round for players to move up.
How weak did the draft get with all of the pull-outs? In my mind, the true first-rounders stop after No. 21. Everyone below, in a better draft, would be good second-round picks.
Knowing who's in the draft is a relief. Now, if we just knew who's drafting whom. There's a flurry of trade talk going on right now that could turn the draft completely on its head and make a mockery of this mock.
The first eight teams in the drafting order -- the Magic, Clippers, Bulls, Bobcats, Wizards, Hawks, Suns and Raptors -- are all in serious trade talks. A few -- the Clippers, Bobcats and Suns -- appear likely to make deals. The others are still trying to sort out the pieces.
Until they do, take everything you read here with a grain of salt. We'll update this mock one more time on Thursday morning.
The gap between Okafor and Dwight Howard for the No. 1 pick narrows daily. If T-Mac is going to be traded (and that looks inevitable now), everything changes. If the Magic get veterans in return, a guy like Okafor makes the most sense. If the trade is for lottery picks and young players, Howard will be be the guy. The Magic like both, but one source claims that over the past few days, they've started to lean toward Howard. We still feel like Okafor is the best choice for the Magic, no matter what they do with T-Mac, but don't be surprised to see Howard on top of this list.
2. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
SW ATLANTA CHRISTIAN H.S. | FORWARD
HEIGHT: 6-10¼ | WEIGHT: 240 | AGE: 18
It now looks like a foregone conclusion that the Clippers are going to trade this pick. Whoever moves up will want Howard, so we're taking him out of the No. 4 doghouse. The front runner, according to several league sources, is the Bobcats. They're willing to offer the No. 4 and a future first (that they'll pick up in the expansion draft), and they also are willing to swallow a bad contract or two to make the Clippers' cap situation more desirable. The Hawks have been trying to get this pick as well, (offering the No. 6 and No. 17), but two things are working in the Bobcats' favor. One, they're willing to make a deal now, and they'll take either Okafor or Howard, whoever falls to them. The Hawks only want Howard. Two, the Clippers have some concern that the guy they want may not be around at No. 6. Grabbing the Bobcats' fourth pick is a safer proposition.
The decision is down to Iguodala, Luol Deng, Ben Gordon and Josh Childress. However, of those four, Iguodala has the most upside and is the best fit. He's the most athletic, the best defender, a superior passer and may be the most ready to step in and contribute right away. Iguodala's the guy who gets them to the playoffs the quickest -- that is, unless, the Bulls trade this pick.
This is a tough call. Assuming the Clippers and Bobcats swap picks, L.A. likely will choose between Iguodala, Livingston, Gordon and Devin Harris here. According to our mock, Iguodala will be off the board. Livingston would be the best choice if the Bobcats were making the pick, but the Clippers, who want to make the playoffs badly next year, may not want to wait. Gordon and Harris are both ready to play right now (with the Clippers leaning toward Harris), but neither player has the upside of Livingston. This pick could go any of those four ways, but long term (aren't the Clippers always thinking long term?) Livingston is the best pick. If the Bobcats keep the pick, it will be between Deng and Childress.
5. WASHINGTON WIZARDS
DUKE | FRESHMAN | FORWARD
HEIGHT: 6-8 | WEIGHT: 220 | AGE: 19
Landing Deng is the best-case scenario for the Wizards. Why have you been reading so much about Deng in Chicago? Because the Bulls know Ernie Grunfeld wants him and are trying to get Washington to send Jarvis Hayes and the No. 5 pick in exchange for the No. 3. The Wizards already have more small forwards than any team in the league, but Deng is way ahead of both Jared Jeffries and Hayes. They'll also give Childress and Andris Biedrins a long look here.
6. ATLANTA HAWKS
OAK HILL ACADEMY | FORWARD
HEIGHT: 6-8¼ | WEIGHT: 221 | AGE: 18
The Hawks are working to trade this pick to the Clippers for the No. 2, but right now it appears the Bobcats have a better shot moving up to L.A. spot. If the Hawks keep the pick, they prefer is Livingston. However, in this mock he's already gone, causing them to opt for Josh Smith. He's gotten some bad press over the past few weeks, but his big-time athleticism and game will sell some tickets in Atlanta.
The Suns have given long looks to four point guards -- Harris, Gordon, Livingston and Jameer Nelson. Leandrinho Barbosa is more of a combo guard, and it looks like Milos Vujanic might not be coming next season, after all. Gordon's workout was Phoenix's most impressive, but they just got done shipping out a smallish two guard forced to play the point (see ya Starbury). Harris isn't as ready as Gordon might be to step right in and help Phoenix, but he's a pure point guard, something the team has yearned for since Jason Kidd left town. Is Harris the next Kevin Johnson?
8. TORONTO RAPTORS
CONNECTICUT | JUNIOR | GUARD
HEIGHT: 6-2¼ | WEIGHT: 192 | AGE: 21
The Raptors need a big in the worst way, and both Pavel Podkolzine and Andris Biedrins are real options here. But I'm not sure new GM Rob Babcock has the stomach to take on a project right away. Gordon's workouts have been lights-out. A combo of Gordon and Vince Carter in the backcourt makes a lot of sense.
The Bulls, Bobcats and Wizards all love Childress, so he could end up going much higher. However, if he does slip, he won't get past Philly. Childress' length, athleticism and defensive effort are a great fit in Philly.
Conventional wisdom last week said the Cavs were after Luke Jackson, a college-seasoned swingman who could step right in and help LeBron. They still are looking for that guy, but sources claim they prefer to grab a big man in the draft and find a swingman in free agency or via a trade. Adding Biedrins, a tough, 7-footer who blocks shots and rebounds, makes some sense. Pavel Podkolzine is another guy who could land here, especially if Cleveland ends up cutting a deal with a team like the Mavs, who are hot on Pavel's trail.
11. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
RUSSIA | CENTER
HEIGHT: 7-5 | WEIGHT: 300 | AGE: 19
The Warriors like Biedrins, but he just went off the board at No. 10. The rewards really start outweighing the risks if Podkolzine slips this low. There isn't a player on the board worth passing him up for now. The Warriors look like they're losing both Erick Dampier and Adonal Foyle, meaning they'll have a gaping hole to fill in the middle. No one fills it better than Pavel.
Snyder's stock has soared since he hit the workout circuit. He's a better athlete and shooter than most gave him credit for. With the Sonics exploring numerous Ray Allen trade possibilites, Snyder becomes insurance. If they trade Allen, Snyder steps in at the two. If they keep Allen, Snyder has the ball-handling ability and court vision to play a Brent Barry-type role at the point. Don't be surprised if the Sonics trade down, either. Teams like Utah and Boston are trying to package picks to move up. The Sonics also have a thing for Brazilian Anderson Varejao and wouldn't mind picking up another pick late in the first round to nab him.
13. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
OREGON | SENIOR | GUARD
HEIGHT: 6-7 | WEIGHT: 212 | AGE: 22
The Blazers are trying to package this pick, along with the one they apparently have acquired from New Jersey (No. 22) in an effort to move up. Some sources have targeted Toronto (at No. 8) as their destination. If they stay here, there will be enormous pressure to take Jackson. He has had great workouts, is a good kid with local ties and fills a need as the sharp-shooting swingman they've been missing for a long time. Sebastian Telfair also will get consideration here. Coach Mo Cheeks wants him badly, and there's a chance he may not be on the board when the Blazers pick again at 22 or 23.
The Jazz claim they have not made a promise to Monya. Fine. But they still have interest, and the connection between Monya and fellow Russian Andrei Kirilenko, not to mention Marc Fleisher, who represents them both, is too good to pass up. Besides, Monya is the most NBA-ready Euro in the draft. They'll love him in Utah.
15. BOSTON CELTICS
BAKERSFIELD H.S. (CALIF.) | CENTER
HEIGHT: 7-1 | WEIGHT: 260 | AGE: 18
The Celtics want Monya, but it's unlikely he'll get past Utah at No. 14. That means the decision comes down to Araujo, Robert Swift or Peter John Ramos. The Celtics like all three, but after spending an hour talking with Danny Ainge last week, my gut said Araujo. This week, after talking to everyone else in the league, my head says Swift. Head wins over heart every time in these mock drafts.
16. UTAH JAZZ
BYU | SENIOR | CENTER
HEIGHT: 6-11 | WEIGHT: 280 | AGE: 23
The Jazz have a no-lose situation here if either Arajuo or Swift is still on the board. The Jazz love both players. There's a chance neither could be. The Warriors have been looking at Swift as high as No. 11. The Sonics have interest in Araujo at No. 12. But in this scenario, the local product is a great fit -- a tough big guy who can step in and play right away. If both guys are off the board, Kris Humphries could be the pick here.
17. ATLANTA HAWKS
PRENTISS H.S. (MISS.) | FORWARD
HEIGHT: 6-9¾ | WEIGHT: 263 | AGE: 18
Atlanta still could package this pick with the No. 6 to move up. If they don't, though, watch Jefferson. He measured well in Chicago and has been moving up with some strong workouts over the past few weeks. Jefferson isn't the best athlete in the draft at his size, but he's quick off the floor and is as consistent as a high school kid can get. He could do some damage in the paint for the Hawks next season.
The way Humphries has worked out the past few days, he could end up going even higher. The Jazz at No. 14, the Celtics at No. 15 and the Hawks at No. 17 are all showing interest. J.R. Smith is another possibility, but the Hornets are among the most conservative franchises in the NBA and have shied away from high school kids. Taking a college freshman is still a reach for them, but Humphries' ability to play the four and the three could really help out in the long term. He's a better prospect than David West, whom they nabbed at the same draft spot last year.
19. MIAMI HEAT
SAINT JOSEPH'S | SENIOR | GUARD
HEIGHT: 6-0½ | WEIGHT: 199 | AGE: 23
They want Swift, but he probably will be off the board here. They also took a long look at Peter John Ramos, but a poor workout in Miami in front of Pat Riley probably killed his chances of getting drafted. While many readers have written in pointing out that Nelson is a poor fit in Miami (too undersized to play in the backcourt with Dwyane Wade), I just write what I hear. Riley likes guys with intangibles who can play now. Nelson has a lot of that. David Harrison is another possibility here.
20. DENVER NUGGETS
ST. BENEDICT PREP (N.J.) | GUARD
HEIGHT: 6-6¾ | WEIGHT: 227 | AGE: 18
Smith's star potential and his ability to contribute right away could put him much higher on draft night (the Blazers and Jazz both initially showed interest). However, slipping to here isn't out of the question. It would be a godsend for both Smith and the Nuggets. Denver covets three things in a shooting guard -- size, shooting and athletcism. Smith has all three. It's a slam dunk if he's still on the board. If he isn't, and Snyder, Monya, Swift or Podkolzine don't fall, don't count out a late sleeper -- Western Carolina's Kevin Martin.
21. UTAH JAZZ
BRAZIL | FORWARD
HEIGHT: 6-10 | WEIGHT: 230 | AGE: 22
The Jazz already have drafted one Brazilian (Araujo at No. 16). Why not two? The team would've liked to have landed Humphries here, but if he's gone, Varejao may be the guy. He's been working out great and is willing to stay at one of Europe's top clubs for another season if the Jazz want him to.
22. NEW JERSEY NETS
Peter John Ramos
PUERTO RICO | CENTER
HEIGHT: 7-3¼ | WEIGHT: 266 | AGE: 19
Reports indicate this pick actually will belong to the Blazers on draft night. The Blazers are trying to move up, as well (their target appears to be the Raptors at No. 8) and may end up using this pick to do so. If the Blazers keep it, Ramos could be their guy. Eventually, they need to start grooming a replacement for Theo Ratliff and Dale Davis, and Ramos, who has impressed numerous GMs lately, seems like a good candidate.
23. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
LINCOLN H.S. (BROOKLYN, N.Y.) | GUARD
HEIGHT: 5-11 | WEIGHT: 170 | AGE: 18
All the rumors of a Blazers promise to Telfair appear to be true. Besides, Mo Cheeks loves him. If they believe he's going to be off the board before 22, they may use the No. 13 pick to grab him. If that happens, Western Carolina's Kevin Martin could be the guy here.
24. BOSTON CELTICS
SOUTH KENT PREP (CT) | FORWARD
HEIGHT: 6-8 | WEIGHT: 215 | AGE: 18
Ainge claims they're looking for a tall wing player, and Wright looks like a good fit. Everyone who has seen him play believes Wright has the potential to be a star in the league. It's just going to take a little while for his body to develop.
25. BOSTON CELTICS
RUSSIA | FORWARD
HEIGHT: 6-9 | WEIGHT: 235 | AGE: 22
The Celtics wanted Monya, but end up with his teammate, Khryapa. At 6-9, he has the ability to play small forward. He's a good shooter, a better-than-average athlete and uses his long arms to harass opponents on the defensive end. He's another guy who really has helped himself in workouts. Ainge, not wanting three rookies on the roster, likely would leave him in Europe another year or two.
26. SACRAMENTO KINGS
SOUTHEASTERN ILLINOIS CC | FORWARD
HEIGHT: 6-7 | WEIGHT: 230 | AGE: 20
The Kings are as high on him as anyone. Smith is a big-time athlete with a great NBA body. He was a potent JC scorer and a decent defender. He's a project, but with the team likely losing Gerald Wallace in the expansion draft, he's a good replacement.
Vujacic impressed scouts with his phenomenal shooting touch and extra 15 pounds of muscle in workouts in Chicago. He's not a pure point guard and not the quickest guy in the world, but the way the Lakers play (as long as they keep Shaquille O'Neal, that is) he'll be a great fit, planting himself on the NBA 3-point line and waiting for Shaq to kick it out.
28. SAN ANTONIO SPURS
COLORADO | CENTER
HEIGHT: 7-0 | WEIGHT: 260 | AGE: 21
Harrison has a lot of talent, but a questionable head. In the right, structured system, Harrison could develop into a nice player. The Spurs could use more depth in the middle (Kevin Willis will turn 80 by training camp ... OK, 42 ... but still), and Harrison would be a nice project. Under Gregg Popovich's tight fist, he just might blossom.
History says at least one player from the Chicago pre-draft camp will make it into the first round. This year, that guy may be Udrih. He was the best player in the camp last week. At 22, he has more experience than most of the Euros, and he has great size for a point. The Pacers have been following his career closely for several years. With his shooting and experience, he'd be a nice fit in the Pacers' backcourt.
Shaquille O'Neal - Lakers
Jun. 21 - Reports out of Dallas claim owner Mark Cuban would give up anyone on his roster, with the exception of Dirk Nowitzki, for Shaq. That's bull. A source in Dallas told Insider over the weekend that the Mavericks absolutely would be willing to give up Nowitzki and Antoine Walker for Shaq. The Mavs aren't going to win a championship without a real presence in the middle. No one else they have can command a decent big man back in a trade.
The Pacers, Grizzlies and Blazers are also possible trading partners for L.A., but a trade with Dallas makes the most sense by far.
Kobe Bryant - Lakers
Jun. 21 - Kobe has opted out of his deal and likely will take his time deciding where he wants to play next year. Sources close to Bryant told Insider over the weekend that his first choice still is to remain a Laker. The same sources contend Bryant had little to do with the Lakers' break-up. With at least one championship contender, the Spurs, clearing enough cap room to make a run Kobe, the Lakers will have serious competition for his services.
Tracy McGrady - Magic
Jun. 21 - The Rockets are rumored to be the leading suitors for McGrady, offering a combo of Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato for McGrady and Juwan Howard. That sounds like a fantasy trade that every other owner would veto. We know Magic GM John Weisbrod is a hockey guy, but even he should know this is a terrible deal for the Magic.
The Suns, Clippers and Pacers all look like they could make offers that might make Weisbrod pull the trigger. Some of it will come down to T-Mac's preference. He wants to play in Houston, but the Rockets' offer isn't close to those of the other three teams. At the end of the day, we see either the Suns or Clippers landing him.
Ron Artest - Pacers
Jun. 21 - The volatile Artest, this season's Defensive Player of the Year, decided to skip the Pacers' mandatory exit interview at the end of the season, stating only: "There was nothing to talk about. We lost." Rumors have spread that he could be part of a package put together by Indiana and sent to Orlando for Tracy McGrady. But Pacers general manager Donnie Walsh seemed to quell that thought by saying to the Orlando Sentinel: "If there's going to be interest in doing a deal with us, [Magic GM John Weisbrod] is going to get back to me. He hasn't done that. I don't know where it stands."
Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune writes that there may be another possibility and Artest may be headed to the Grizzlies, but doesn't give any other details beyond that.
Kenyon Martin - Nets
Jun. 21 - With the Nets on the verge of being sold and management ordering cost-cutting moves to facilitate this process, Martin may have played his last game as a Net. The New York Post is reporting that the restricted free agent is still asking for a maximum contract and that the Nets wouldn't match it should another team offer it to him.
According to the paper, the Nets, who are already paying Jason Kidd a max contract and have Richard Jefferson becoming a free agent next season, are also trying to buyout the contracts of Lucious Harris and Rodney Rogers.
Phil Jackson - Lakers
Jun. 18 - A source tells ESPN's David Aldridge on Friday that the Lakers have contacted University of Southern California head coach Henry Bibby to discuss their likely head coach opening. Reached by telephone, Bibby said, "I'm at USC right now, and I'm here. I'm not at liberty to comment on anything right now." The Lakers are also believed to have contacted former Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich about their expected vacancy. Tomjanovich, who resigned as Rockets' head coach during the 2002-03 season after being diagnosed with cancer, is still under contract to the Rockets for two more years.
Citing sources it did not name, the June 18 Los Angeles Daily News reports that team owner Jerry Buss is expected to tell Phil Jackson that the coach is not welcome back for a sixth season. Jackson's current five-year, $30 million contract expires June 30 and talks about an extension ended in the winter. The News reports the main issue is not financial: Buss favorite Bryant, a free-agent to be, and Jackson are tired of working with eachother.
Erick Dampier - Warriors
Jun. 18 - Center Erick Dampier expects to decide by the end of next week whether to stay with the Warriors or opt out of his contract, he told the AP on June 17. Dampier, 29, is coming off the most productive season in his eight-year career. He averaged a double-double with 12.3 points and 12.0 rebounds while also blocking 1.85 shots in 32.5 minutes per game. Before the February trading deadline, the Knicks and Grizzlies showed great interest in Dampier.
Aaron McKie - 76ers
Jun. 18 - Knicks president Isiah Thomas reportedly hopes to make yet another deal by June 22 after the Bobcats conduct their expansion draft. The June 18 New York Post reports the Knicks want to trade Othella Harrington -- who's on the Knicks' protected list -- to the Bobcats for a player the new team can skim off other rosters in the expansion draft. Who might that player be?
The Post reports Thomas wants 76ers swingman Aaron McKie, who has a long-term contract that the Bobcats would not want to keep. The Knicks want McKie as insurance should Allan Houston's knees continue to creak. Harrington and Dikembe Mutombo, each with a year remaining on his contract and each on the Knicks' protected list, might be Charlotte-bound.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim - Blazers
Jun. 17 - Several sources claim that the Blazers all but have a deal in place to move Abdur-Rahim. The question is where? As Insider first reported last week, several league sources are claiming that the Blazers are talking to the Nets about trading Abdur-Rahim for Kerry Kittles, Aaron Williams and the No. 22 pick in this year's draft.
Peja Stojakovic - Kings
Jun. 17 - After Chris Webber'ss derogatory comments about Stojakovic after the Kings lost in the second round, several teams have inquired about Stojakovic's availability. One team that could make some sense here is the Pacers. The Kings might consider an Al Harrington-and-Ron Artest-for-Stojakovic-and-Doug Christie deal, though giving up Artest may just be too much to swallow for the Pacers.
Rasheed Wallace - Pistons
Jun. 17 - We've all just assumed that Wallace will re-sign with the Pistons this summer. They can offer him more money and he just won a ring there. That, however, doesn't seem to be gospel. It's still very possible Wallace could elect to sign with New York as a free agent.
"That's where he wanted to go from Portland and we tried like hell to get it done," said his agent Bill Strickland, adding it's too early to speculate on whether Wallace will sign with Detroit.
"Don't get me wrong, I think they're a great group of guys that I'm playing with," Wallace said. "But my family, they are going to have the last decision."
Elden Campbell - Pistons
Jun. 17 - The Detroit News is reporting that the Pistons are so eager to get Campbell off their books that they've left him unprotected for the expansion draft and offered the Charlotte Bobcats a future draft pick and $3 million to take him. This would free up approximately another $4.4 million for the Pistons as they try to re-sign both Rasheed Wallace and Mehmet Okur.
Malik Rose - Spurs
Jun. 9 - Rose can see the writing on the wall. His days in San Antonio appear to be numbered as the team likely won't protect him in the upcoming expansion draft.
"It's like a mathematics problem," Rose said in the Express News. "They have to leave a certain number of players off to protect a certain amount of players. ... They have to protect the guys they think are going to help them the most. And I'm not going to be on that list."
Since signing a long-term deal two years ago, Rose has clashed with head coach Gregg Popovich often. "That was one of the greatest moments in my life," Rose said of his $42 million deal, "and it's turned out to be a huge thorn in my side for certain reasons."
Derek Fisher - Lakers
Jun. 15 - Like most Lakers on the current team, Fisher can and looks like he will opt out of his contract at the end of this week. The Los Angeles Daily News reports that while the point guard hopes to stay with his current team he also hopes to receive a longer more lucrative contract and more playing time. And he also knows that this may be the last time he can make such demands. "This is probably the last time I'll be in this position in my career, in terms of being at an age where you still can capitalize on where you are and really have some value to teams -- and hopefully to this team the most," Fisher said. Fisher is making $3 million per season on his current deal which has two years remaining and the Lakers would retain his Bird rights if he does opt out.
Bruce Bowen - Spurs
Jun. 14 - Bowen has become one of the best defenders in the NBA and maybe too good for the Spurs. This weekend, the swingman who was named to the NBA's All Defensive team opted out of his contract that would have paid him $4 million next season.
"After the season Bruce had and the great recognition he received for being first-team All-Defense, this is probably a nice opportunity for him," general manager R.C. Buford said in the San Antonio Express News. The move makes Bowen an unrestricted free agent and gives the Spurs additional cap space approaching one maximum level deal many believe they will offer Kobe Bryant.
Grant Hill - Magic
Jun. 10 - Believe it or not, there are teams out there who want Hill. Or, rather, the cap space Hill can potentially create. "I've had four or five teams call about Grant," Magic general manager John Weisbrod said in the Orlando Sentinel. "It's a little surprising."
Of course, the acquiring team would still be on the hook for the remaining $47 million in salary, but it would come off the books if Hill reinjures himself and is forced to retire. The risk, though, is that Hill would refuse to quit and the team would be stuck with him and his contract. "It excites me that teams still want me and are willing to take a risk," Hill said, missing the point. "The bottom line is that I want to play and I want to play here."
Jamal Crawford - Bulls
Jun. 10 - Officially, Crawford will soon become a restricted free agent, meaning he doesn't work for the Bulls. And if that's the case, then Crawford is refusing the attend summer workouts at the Bulls' Berto Center even if he does want the Bulls to re-sign him. "I don't know if I'll be back," the point guard said in the Chicago Sun Times. "I think about it all the time, and it will be interesting. I'll talk to the Bulls first because I love playing for Scott Skiles, but I'll be prepared for anything. If some team is interested in me, I'll be interested in them."
Vince Carter - Raptors
Jun. 10 - The Toronto Star is reporting that Carter isn't asking for a trade and the Raptors aren't involved in any trade talks. However, tension is mounting after the team refused to hire Julius Erving. The paper mentions nothing specific except to say that Carter has privately mentioned his dissatisfaction.
Marcus Camby - Nuggets
Jun. 9 - It's official. Camby opted out of his contract with the Nuggets in hopes of securing a longer deal with the team, which he hopes happens soon. "If they come out correct, I don't have no reason to go with any other cities or any other teams," he said in the Denver Post. "I would definitely want to get (a contract) out of the way as soon as possible."
The move also helps the Nuggets, allowing them protect another player on their roster in the expansion draft. "I see it as a positive for both sides, really," Vandeweghe said Tuesday. "At the end of the day, I think Marcus wants to be in Denver, and we certainly want him back."
Troy Hudson - Timberwolves
Jun. 9 - Rehab on his injured ankle will begin in a month, but free agency began last week for Hudson when he opted out his contract with the Timberwolves. Although he hopes to stay with the team, he also hopes to be getting paid more than the $2.1 million he was due if he had kept his current deal.
"My only concern right now is, I would love to be in Minnesota," Hudson said in the Star Tribune. "I have a house here. I'm type of player who's tired of moving around. It's a Midwestern city, I'm from the Midwest. This is where I want to be. I'm a free agent right now, I'm not denying it, but for me, right now, the Timberwolves are my team. I wish I could sign a contract tomorrow. But it's a negotiating process, they have to do what's best for them and I have to do what's best for me . . . You just get to point where you feel that you deserve a little more."
Alonzo Mourning - Nets
Jun. 8 - The Nets hope Mourning comes back. Jason Kidd said he expects Alonzo to come back. But someone, obviously, forgot to check with Morning. "Barring a miracle, no, that is not my intention," said Mourning in the Bergen Country Record.
"My intention right now is to continue to focus on making sure that this new organ that I have in me stays in me. I don't want to go through that procedure again."
Mourning is still recovering from kidney surgery, though he has made constant appearances behind the Nets' bench. "As far as the possibility of me playing again, that is something that yes, being around the game, obviously I think about," he said. "But it is not an issue. The important issue is making sure that my body keeps its kidney."
Earl Watson - Grizzlies
Jun. 8 - The St. Paul Pioneer Press is reporting that the Timberwolves are trying to work out a deal through the Charlotte Bobcats and the expansion draft that would land them Watson. The paper also reports that franchise player Kevin Garnett would much rather have Troy Hudson back, but Hudson appears set on testing the free-agent market. Hudson, who is expected to opt out of his contract soon, could make $2.1 million with the Timberwolves next year.
Head coach - Hawks
Jun. 7 - The list of potential head coaches for the Atlanta Hawks continues to grow, with the Indianapolis Star reporting Pacers associate head coach Mike Brown will interview for the job next week. As Indiana's defensive coordinator, Brown was largely responsible for the Pacers improved play on that end of the floor.
He is now on a list in Atlanta that already includes Dallas assistant Del Harris, Denver assistant John McLeod and Seattle assistant Dwayne Casey. Others expected to interview are Detroit assistant Mike Woodson and former Atlanta and Cleveland head coach Mike Fratello.
Antonio McDyess - Suns
Jun. 7 - The Rockets wanted Antonio McDyess when he was at his peak a few years ago. They might finally have a shot at him now.
"I have had no ... conversations with the Houston Rockets about Antonio McDyess," McDyess' agent, Andy Miller, told the Houston Chronicle. "But Antonio has indicated to me that, one, remaining in his adopted hometown of Houston, Texas, is very appealing to him. He loves the city and community. Two, he has a high regard and respect for the team, its personnel, management and coaching staff. And three, this would provide him the opportunity to win, to contribute to the success they are having, and to go over and above what they've already achieved."
McDyess averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds from 1998-99 through 2000-01 but has played in only 52 games since because of lingering effects of a major knee injury.
Pau Gasol - Grizzlies
Jun. 7 - No one knows better than Jerry West that Memphis needs to make a move to get to the next level, but potential trading partners might as well scratch Gasol off their wish list.
"Every once in a while I hear Pau Gasol's name mentioned in trades," West told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "The last six champions in the NBA have all had a player who is very good with his back to the basket. And unless somebody is offering us Shaquille O'Neal or Kobe Bryant or a player of that magnitude, I would never be willing to trade Gasol. Another player in my mind is James Posey."
West, however, did say he is trying to put together a deal and wouldn't be opposed to including the team's draft picks.
Vlade Divac - Kings
Jun. 4 - Vlade Divac may be a free agent, but he's still a King at heart. "The Kings are my first option," said Divac in the Sacramento Bee. "I feel like a King. I came here six years ago because I believe in Geoff (Petrie) and the things we can do. It would have to be perfect situation for me to leave."
Recently, Divac has considered teams like the Clippers and Lakers (where he started his career) and even retirement. But with the Kings' future in flux, he seems to want to stick around and see it through. "I think we have the best team in the league," he said. "It just has to click together. What really ticks me off is that I saw great talent, I saw opportunity, and we didn't capitalize. I don't know why it happened."
Al Harrington - Pacers
Jun. 4 - Al Harrington may be the odd man out of the Pacers' small forward rotation. "This is an unbalanced roster," coach Rick Carlisle said in the Indianapolis Star. "There are a glut of guys at the small forward spot, and there haven't been enough minutes. I don't think this team will be back in our exact form next year. I just think there will be some changes, through free agency, the draft or trades. There's going to be some things that are different, without question."
Harrington believes he should be starting. Carlisle believes he should be starting. The problem is that there can be only one starting small forward on the team and the Pacers already have Ron Artest. "This has been a tough situation for Al," Carlisle said. "I view him as a starter in this league. As the summer progresses we'll see what takes form. If there was the opportunity for him to be a starter here, that would be great. If there isn't, it may be time for him to move on to another team."
The Bulls are interested in Harrington, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, but likely won't be willing to trade the No. 3 pick in the draft for him.
Gary Payton - Lakers
Jun. 4 - Rather than change his address and head coach for a second time in two seasons, Gary Payton may, instead, change his mind and his own style of play to stay with the Lakers.
"Let me work at standstill jumpshots if that's what it's going to be," Payton said in the Orange County Register. "In the summer, if that's what I want to do, I'd work on that."
It has been reported in the past that Payton was unhappy with the current Laker situation and would opt out of his contract at the conclusion of the season. He has since softened his stance and linked his stay to Karl Malone. But this is the first sign that he would go to such an extreme to remain in L.A.
Eddy Curry - Bulls
May. 28 - According to the Chicago Tribune, both the Grizzlies and SuperSonics have contacted the Bulls about Curry, as both look for a low-post presence to contend in the big-man dominated West. The paper suggests the Grizzlies could offer Pau Gasol and Shane Battier for Curry, Chicago's first-round pick (No. 3 overall) and one of the Bulls' bad contracts.
Or, the paper proposes, Seattle could offer Ray Allen and the No. 12 pick in the draft for Curry, the No. 3 pick and a bad contract of someone like Jerome Williams or Antonio Davis.
Kurt Thomas - Knicks
Jun. 3 - Knicks head coach Lenny Wilkins mentioned the need for a stronger, bigger power forward, which immediately started speculation that the Knicks might use veteran Kurt Thomas as trade bait despite the fact that he had just signed a four-year extension worth about $30 million. The New York Daily News reports that any deal would have to include a 20 percent trade kicker that might scare off any potential suitors for Thomas. Besides, he is already the team's leading rebounder, second in blocked shots and, "I think everybody saw I could play with the injury," he said. "I don't think that will be a factor or anything."
Scottie Pippen - Bulls
Jun. 2 - Though Pippen has said he probably will retire, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald reports Bulls GM John Paxson could use Pippen's contract to help balance a trade involving the No. 3 pick in this year's draft.
"To get deals done, you need salaries to match up," Paxson told the paper. "We'll have to use whatever means we have to make a deal. I can't rule out anything or rule in anything."
Pippen has one year left on his contract at $5.4 million.
Ray Allen - Sonics
Jun. 2 - According to the N.Y. Post, the Nets have contacted the Sonics about a deal for Allen, entering the final year of his contract at $14.625 million, that would send Kerry Kittles and a combination of other players to Seattle. Kittles is scheduled to make $10.2 million next season and is likely to be left unprotected in the expansion draft.
Antoine Walker - Mavericks
Jun. 2 - The Dallas Morning News reports that if the Mavericks retain Walker for next season, he likely will be relegated to a reserve role. If that's the case, the paper suggests, he might be more open to a trade or to opt out of the final year of his contract, worth $14.5 million.
Steve Nash - Mavericks
Jun. 1 - Nash is among the free agents Denver will be pursuing, reports ESPN.com's Marc Stein, but the team with the best (albeit slim) chance of wooing Nash away from virtual blood brothers Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley is Phoenix.
Nash never sold the house he bought as a Phoenix youngster -- his family still uses it -- and the early word is the Suns will make Nash their No. 1 free-agent target, not Kobe Bryant, since they see actually landing Bryant as a long-shot fantasy.
Mehmet Okur - Pistons
May. 28 - The Detroit Free Press is reporting Okur may command as much as $8.5 million in free agency. "I'm excited about my future," Okur told the paper. "I'm not nervous about what might happen this summer. I know that if we do well and keep playing that people will pay attention. Everything will be OK."
At that price, though, the Pistons might have to decide if they want to focus on the immediate future with Rasheed Wallace or look down the road with Okur. It has become apparent that they cannot sign both.
"I'm happy here," Okur said. "This is where I started. My friends are here. I'm happy with coaches and my teammates. I have a good time with them. It's a lot of fun. I don't want to talk about (free agency) because we're doing well, and that's what's important right now."
If the Pistons cannot re-sign Okur, the second-year PF/C from Turkey will have plenty of suitors. The Deseret News of Utah indicates the Mavericks and Knicks have joined a list that already included the Suns, Nuggets and Jazz.
Greg Ostertag - Jazz
May. 27 - Utah may have been his first and only NBA gig so far, but home has always been Texas for center Greg Ostertag. And when he becomes a free agent on July 1, he has no reservations of returning. "I'm hoping they'll bring me in to talk about it at the appropriate time," Ostertag said in the Dallas Morning News. "I'm not a scorer and they don't need a scorer. They need a rebounder and shot-blocker, which I can be. I'm going to look at all my options. But it would be my ultimate dream to play in Dallas."
The paper goes on to note that the Mavs could split their mid-level exception between Ostertag and Marquis Daniels, spend their $1.6 million minimum exception on him or negotiate a sign and trade with the Jazz. But even if Ostertag stays in Utah, he is expected to take a big cut from the $8.6 million he made last season with the Jazz.
Brent Barry - Sonics
May. 25 - Expect the Nets, Nuggets, Cavs and Warriors to make runs at Barry in free agency, according to the New York Daily News. The paper indicates Barry will be seeking the mid-level exception of $5 million per year over three to four years. However, the Seattle Times cites sources who say Barry has turned down a three-year, $18 million deal to re-sign with the Sonics and is seeking a four-year contract. The Times indicates the Sonics still hope to re-sign him.