With three days to go before the NBA Draft, here is the league’s latest information on free will and the Draft.
As always, keep in mind that leaks are often provided for a reason and this is the time for smokescreens, agent promotion and counter-information.
Acceleration Ben Simmons
There was an acceleration on Ben Simmons’ forehead. Less than two weeks ago, the league consensus was that Simmons would be traded in August and not until the draft.
Bleacher Report reported on Sunday that the Sixers had not received an All-Star offer for Simmons, seen as a prerequisite to a deal.
This does not mean, however, that there were no serious discussions.
Multiple sources confirmed on Sunday that the Toronto Raptors have become a team with “significant” interest in Simmons. A source close to the talks said the talks had not yet been substantive. Multiple sources, including those close to the talks, said a proposed cadre including Raptors guards Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and the 4th overall pick in Thursday’s draft for Simmons was rejected by Toronto.
Some league insiders have mentioned a more complicated setting. By way of preface, this is speculation based on what leaders familiar with the situation have said. The Sixers want Bradley Beal, who is at least considering asking the Wizards for a trade.
The Wizards, according to multiple sources, are lining up for a full rebuild if Beal asks for it. It is no coincidence that Bleacher Report reported that there had been preliminary talks between the Lakers and Wizards over a deal for Russell Westbrook, a deal which league sources said was more and more likely Sunday evening.
(As a reminder, these things are fluid. Deals collapse on the goal line all the time and every leaked trade is “almost done,” which almost never turns out to be true. Deals are closed when they do. are actually reported. as done.)
So back to Simmons. The Sixers want Beal, the Wizards want to rebuild the assets. The Raptors, to some extent, want Simmons. The Sixers have Simmons, the Wizards have Beal.
The Raptors have choice # 4.
Is there a three-way framework?
I haven’t heard of this from any source involved in the talks, but the idea was pitched by more than one source in the spitballing league on Sunday.
The list of other teams interested in Simmons does not have a brand inclusion. The closest thing is talking about Simmons going to Wolves for D’Angelo Russell. Given Russell’s relationship with Karl-Anthony Towns, I’m skeptical.
Another big change on Simmons’ front: There has been talk that 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey would be ready to start the season with Simmons to rehabilitate his value ahead of a mid-season deal. This idea now seems untenable to leaders based on the discussions with Philadelphia.
Either way, Simmons will most likely be on another list by September.
Kyle Lowry is on the verge of making an absolutely ridiculous amount of money for a 35-year-old non-All-NBA first-team goalie.
There was a guess from league sources that Lowry would pursue a second ring in free agency. But while playoff or potential playoff teams make up the roster of contenders, the new working assumption is that money will be the deciding factor for Lowry.
In other words, there will be no ring chase below a minimum chord.
This limits the teams that can present serious offers. Last week we reported the Bulls as a team planning to throw a lot of money at the point guard with Lowry being their target and the Pelicans. Marc Stein Hall of Fame also reported the corner of New Orleans.
Then on Monday, the Pelicans traded Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams with the 10th pick in Memphis to free up space, presumably in pursuit of Lowry.
Add two more serious contenders to Lowry’s roster: the Knicks and Mavericks.
The Knicks are eyeing a one-year deal that is thought to trump a multi-team one-year salary offer. The Mavericks are believed to be pursuing a two-year deal for Lowry.
There is always room for Lowry to change his mind, but the thinking process right now is that you have to be prepared to put some serious money in front of him to get his services.
There’s a lot to cover here, let’s try to organize it a bit.
• Every year there is a consensus on the # 1 player in college basketball midseason. This year it was Cade Cunningham. And this player is regularly considered the No.1 pick until draft week, when suddenly “(The team with the No.1 pick) is considering not taking (Consensual No.1 pick)” reports.
It happened on Monday.
That’s not to say it’s impossible for the Pistons to take Evan Mobley or Jalen Green.
There are two sides with arguments for not taking Cunningham. The first is that he doesn’t like analytical models too much. Two high-ranking analytical executives said this week that the production Cunningham provides to Oklahoma State, even adjusted for teammates and the role, doesn’t come across as a true star of the franchise.
A very good player? Yes, but not a megastar.
The second angle is the same reasoning, that he can be a really good player that helps you win but not a centerpiece of the franchise, and there are scouts who think so.
However, if you hit the scouts and analysts, “Who’s the best player in the draft?” It’s still Cunningham.
• The Rockets basically pulled out billboards in front of the Pistons’ offices with “DO YOU WANT TO REDEEM YOUR CHOICE?” CALL 1-800-WE-HAVE WE. 2-NO. 23-AND-NO. 24-NOW ”on them.
• It’s probably worth noting if you’re the Pistons that if so many teams are desperate to get your pick maybe you should just take the guy.
• Do I think Cunningham is valuable to finish 2nd at +2000? This is 4.76% implied. There is a greater than 5% chance that the Pistons will trade the pick. But it is “this is a leaflet” and not a major position.
• Here are the players who, based on important info and information, have more than a 60% chance of making it into the Top 10 on Thursday: Cunningham, Mobley, Green, Jalen Suggs, Scottie Barnes, Moses Moody and Josh Giddey .
• James Bouknight is another. There is a consensus among sources that it will go between # 6 and # 10.
Bouknight had a terrific combine training that impressed scouts and managers alike. (Yes, it was a 1 on 0 practice, yes those are still influential, and no, I don’t know why.)
But Bouknight shot 30% from a 3-point range last season at UConn and ranks poorly in the analysis models. There are players like Bouknight who are considered top players and slip away because scouting services just aren’t that big on them. Bouknight will also be a 21-year-old rookie, and older players tend to slip.
Bouknight’s over / under is 7.5 for several pounds, and it’s just too crisp. If it goes to 6 I think the top is worth it, if it goes to 11.5 for some reason I think the bottom has value depending on the juice.
• Giddey is probably the hottest name right now. There is a range for him from No.7 at the Warriors to 10 if the Grizzlies stay there.
• Scottie Barnes has an over / under of 5.5, and the under is valuable. He’s been linked to the Raptors for over a month and if they come back it’s probably someone who wants Jalen Suggs at 4.
In this scenario, the magic is also high on Barnes. Two different sources said their teams were operating under the assumption that Barnes was a “lock” at 5, but I will vehemently warning against such language; these ideas assume that we are always dealing with rational players, a tenet refuted by everything in NBA history.
• Jonathan Kuminga (6.5) and Davion Mitchell (10.5) are two potential droppers with low over / unders.
The only real threat to Kuminga is the 6-a-side Thunder. The team draft consultants are not very attached to Kuminga, the leaders do not light up at his mention.
There are two problems with the underside.
- No one, and I mean no one, knows what’s going on with the Thunder other than “they actively want to trade”. Like, dislike, who’s high, who’s low, it’s all a state secret in typical Thunder fashion.
- If OKC concludes a trade, it’s not crazy to think it’s up to a team that wants to go up to reach him or a team in the top 4 willing to take the risk on him (Toronto).
Mitchell is pretty straightforward. He is 22 years old and neither the team staff nor the models have raised him. It is at stake in the middle of adolescence.
• Moses Moody’s over / under is net at 11.5. The consensus is that no one do not like Whimsical. The interviews have been good, the skills are good, he is impressed with the training. We talked about him until # 7 (with a few questions about if OKC could take him at # 6).
Moody is a top player, but he’s not considered true superstar material. If you’re a top 10 team looking for the home run, Moody is the safe choice.
For perspective, Moody’s at less than 11.5 was valued at +115 on July 4 at DraftKings and while the number has not budged, it is now at -140.
• Ayo Dosunmu checks all the boxes and shouldn’t last until his over / under of 26.5 (as evidenced by his juice of -165). … Aperen Sengun is at stake for some top 10 teams but interested teams (including Sacramento) are also interested in Franz Wagner. … Consistent names for the Knicks at 19 and 21 are Jared Butler and Isaiah Jackson. … If the Knicks don’t pack the pickaxes together to progress. … The Pacers have had a number of talks about the No. 13 pick, including talks with the Rockets.