Clippers realize top-five picks are expensive
The Clippers have picks Nos. 12 and 13, and they have made a game effort of trying to move into the top five ahead of the draft. But even a package built around that pair of lottery picks has not proven enough to crack that upper echelon.
In fact, for all the talk of a willingness to trade up in this draft, teams besides the Clippers are finding that the asking price for a top-five spot is far too much.
"This is a good draft, a very good draft at the top," one league source told Sporting News. "But the value that teams are placing on these picks is a little unreasonable in some cases."
Among the other teams that have looked into trading up are the Sixers, Cavs, Bulls and Celtics, who might have to give up top rookie Jayson Tatum for a top-five pick, which is a non-starter for Boston.
As for the Clippers, if they wind up keeping their picks, there is a growing sense that Kentucky point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has already been tabbed for one of the spots. UK forward Kevin Knox and Texas A&M center Robert Williams have drawn the most interest from the Clippers outside of Gilgeous-Alexander.
Raptors stuck on trade talks
Of all the big-name players the Raptors could use as trade bait - Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, DeMar DeRozan - and as much as the team is hoping to find a way to slip ahead of the Clippers to land Gilgeous-Alexander, their trade options are limited by too-hefty contracts and a center market that makes Valanciunas more valuable to Toronto than anything they'd get back.
League sources believe that the most likely trade the Raptors are to pull off this offseason is a salary dump of Norman Powell, who fell out of the rotation last year and saw his numbers plummet. Powell played just 40 total minutes in the postseason this year, and he has a four-year, $42 million extension kicking in on July 1.
NBA GM: Don't trade with Warriors
One key to the future of the Warriors' NBA dominance will be their ability to construct a bench out of the players they've managed to bring in despite routinely picking late in the first round or targeting picks in the second round. There have been plenty of successes with that: Kevon Looney, Patrick McCaw, Jordan Bell and, most notably, Draymond Green.
The Warriors have the 28th pick this year, and many front-office types will be nervously paying attention to the player Golden State takes, hoping it's not someone they had high on the board but narrowly passed on. One candidate for that pick who fits the Warriors' mold: versatile, athletic wing Melvin Frazier of Tulane, who worked out for the team this week.
No matter whom they pick at No. 28, the Warriors will again look to purchase a second-round pick in this year's draft, a source told Sporting News. Golden State bought a pick from Chicago last year, and used it to select Bell.
"If anyone sells them a pick," one GM joked, "they ought to have their head checked. Once that first round is over, everyone needs to just not pick up the phone if [Warriors GM Bob] Myers is calling."
Where will Wendell Carter land in NBA Draft?
In a draft in which four or five players could be tabbed a wildcard, Duke center Wendell Carter ranks among them. Carter is one of the few top prospects to work out for the Grizzlies, who own the No. 4 pick and have been entertaining offers to trade out of the spot, and could be the favorite to go to Memphis if the team keeps that pick.
Of course, Carter - who said he models his game after Boston's Al Horford - would have one of the best players in franchise history in front of him at the center spot, Marc Gasol.
He talked about dealing with the likelihood that, wherever he goes, he probably won't be an immediate starter.
"I would just come in and try to outwork whoever is in front of me," Carter said. "That's the beauty of the beast. There are undoubtedly going to be players in front of you, people who have been there before, for four or five years and know exactly what it takes. I would learn those things, and let the best man win."
Earlier this year, Carter's mother raised some eyebrows when she was invited to be a panelist at a meeting of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, and excoriated the NCAA in her opening remarks, comparing the organization to "slavery and the prison system," and adding that, "there is a problem that is sickening."
Those comments were largely taken out of context - while Kylia Carter was particularly harsh on the NCAA, taken in full, she laid out a case for better academic options for basketball players and wondered, "Why can't they go to college and get a two-year certificate in this professional sport that they are pursuing if they are that talented, so that they are aware and educated on the business of the sport?"
Asked about the comments, Carter said, "My mom is my mom. She has her opinions. She doesn't mind sharing them."
Carter went on to explain that his mother's comments were misconstrued.
"A lot of people probably thought what she was saying was that players are slaves and coaches are slave owners," he said. "But that's not what she was saying at all. It's the fact that if you go to college, you're not paid for working for someone above us, and the person above us is making all the money. Not talking about merchandise or food or free education, because if that was the case, they should allow players to go straight out of high school instead of forcing them to have one year of college, which does not do much in terms of academics."
Carter, for his part, said he intends to finish his degree after he is drafted.