NBA Draft, free agency rumors roundup: What do Hornets do with No. 2 pick?
The NBA Draft is Thursday and already we have seen one blockbuster trade — although Bradley Beal getting moved did not dramatically impact the top of this draft — but there is much more action to come. The wildest few weeks of the NBA calendar are just warming up.
Here is a roundup of the latest rumors around the draft and potential trades with just three days to go until the NBA Draft:
Nobody knows what the Hornets plan to do at No. 2
Remember one year ago, when at this exact point a few days before the NBA Draft we were convinced Jabari Smith was going to be the No. 1 pick by the Magic? Things shifted on a dime and Paolo Banchero ended up going No. 1 (a wise choice by the Magic). Plenty of people are comparing the Hornets this season with the No. 2 pick to those Magic.
Undoubtedly, the Hornets are open to trading the pick, and most of that buzz is centered around the New Orleans Pelicans. Shams Charania of The Athletic reiterated that when it comes to a trade with the Pels, the Hornets want Brandon Ingram and not Zion Williamson (and his massive contract and risk).
Most league sources have said the Hornets, if they use the pick rather than trade it, are leaning toward Brandon Miller over Scoot Henderson. However, nobody around the league seems to trust that. Both Miller and Henderson came for a second workout and a meeting with outgoing owner Michael Jordan. It’s worth adding that most sources NBC Sports has spoken with lean toward Henderson as the better prospect, but it’s not universal (and many teams seem to have them on the same tier).
The Trail Blazers still hope Henderson falls to them at No. 3
In one regard, Portland is the opposite of the Hornets — they would much rather have Zion Williamson over Brandon Ingram in a trade, something Sean Highkin talked about on the latest PBT Podcast.
It needs to be reiterated as talking heads across the sports spectrum start to speculate about Damian Lillard landing spots in a trade, the Trail Blazers have no intention of trading him. None. Sources NBC has spoken with say the goal in Portland is to build a competitive team around Lillard and moving him would only be a last resort and a road they are not considering. Maybe, as Miami’s front office hopes, things shift after the draft (and the start of free agency) but don’t bet on it.
Warriors, Clippers both interested in Chris Paul trade
It’s no secret that the Wizards do not plan to keep Chris Paul (part of the Beal trade), which works out best for Paul, as he doesn’t want to be on a rebuilding team thousands of miles away from his family in Los Angeles.
The Clippers quickly popped up as one team interested in a CP3 trade, they could use a stabilizing force at the point plus his arrival would please one very powerful player in the Clippers locker room. Another interesting name is the Golden State Warriors, reports Shams Charania at The Athletic, saying both teams had reached out to the Suns before the Beal trade. In the case of the Warriors, this would likely send Jordan Poole east to Washington, and they could flip him for another player or just turn him loose and make him their scorer (somebody on the roster has to get buckets). The Clippers have a host of salaries between $10 million and $20 million they could send to the Wizards in a trade, expiring contracts that Washington could flip later.
Suns seeing more calls on Deandre Ayton
The trade market had been lukewarm for Deandre Ayton. The vibe was he is a good center but not three years at $207.7 million good. It looked increasingly like he was headed back to Phoenix, where Frank Vogel would work his magic and try to turn Ayton into the solid defensive piece in the paint the top-heavy Suns need. However, since the Beal trade became public the number of calls the Suns are getting about Ayton has jumped dramatically, reports the Athletic’s Charania. That doesn’t mean an Ayton will get traded, but interest is picking up.
Fast draft board climber: Duke’s Dereck Lively II
Every year a could of guys get a boost from pre-draft workouts and this year’s big winner appears to be Duke center Dereck Lively II — he has shot up to a top-10 pick. Lively’s floor was already high because he is an elite defensive prospect with a 7'6" wingspan and an excellent feel for shot-blocking, plus he has the mobility to hedge out and play at the level of the ball on picks. However, in workouts he has shown more of an outside shot that has teams picturing him as a modern center who can defend on one end and stretch the floor on the other (in the mold of Brook Lopez).
Friend of the site Matt Moore of the Action Network reports that both the Warriors and Hawks are interested in moving up in the draft to get him. At this point that would mean maybe trading with the Pacers at No. 7 or the Mavericks at No. 10, both of those picks are in play for deals.
Fast draft board climber, Part 2: Marquette’s Oliver-Maxence Prosper
Prosper has been climbing fast since a standout performance at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, which has carried over to pre-draft workouts. It’s easy to see he has the size and tools teams look for in a wing — 6'7" with a 7'1" wingspan and good athleticism — who is set up to be a switchable defender at the NBA level. He is a defensive first player. What had teams concerned is that he’s not a shot creator (he was the fourth option for the Golden Eagles) but he has shown promise as a guy who understands the game and is a good cutter and finisher. Teams can see how he gets NBA minutes, and at that size at a position of need, teams in the early 20s are looking hard at him.
Orlando keeping its options open with the No. 6 and 11 picks
It’s not the sexiest report ever, but the Magic have two lottery picks — their own at No. 6 and the Bulls at No. 11 — and their GM says they are keeping their options open both for trades or just making picks.
Jeff Weltman said it is a good draft this year and the Magic have a lot of options to consider at 6 and 11:— Cody Taylor (@CodyTaylorNBA) June 19, 2023
“We can go in a number of ways, both sticking to the draft or moving around a little bit. There are several options in front of us.” pic.twitter.com/7DYmplV2Nv
It’s long been expected the Magic would not keep both picks, but which one they trade remains up in the air. There are a lot of teams in the top 10, including the Pacers behind them at No. 7, willing to move their picks. With an interesting young core headed by Paolo Banchero, it matters that the Magic nail this draft.