Latest buzz around the league seems to center around Lakers' power forward, but nothing close yet, sources say.
By SAM AMICOFS Ohio
A look at some of the buzz heading into tonight’s NBA Draft:
• No veteran is being more aggressively shopped than
Pau Gasol, but at this point, the
Lakers are merely seeing what might be out there for the veteran power forward. Most sources believe if there’s a deal involving Gasol, it’s likely to take place during the free-agency period next week -- or even shortly before the start of training camp in October.
• This is by no means to say the Lakers are just looking to dump Gasol to the highest bidder. But they do realize that Kobe Bryant is getting older, and they’re hoping to get younger while increasing their odds for a title within the next year or two. After center Andrew Bynum, Gasol is their best asset.
• The Lakers have also had conversations with other teams about small forward Metta World Peace, but the interest is low, according to sources. Initially, it seemed, the Lakers felt like they could use the artist formerly known as Ron Artest to move into the No. 25-30 range, but that no longer appears to be the case.
• While the Rockets are said to be stockpiling picks with Magic center Dwight Howard in mind, they have not completely given up on the idea of landing Gasol, despite several reports to the contrary. Both the Magic and Lakers would want veterans off the roster, as well as the picks, according to sources. Forward Luis Scola and guards Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry are Rockets who have drawn the most interest.
• The Grizzlies have also dangled forward Zach Randolph in an attempt to land Gasol, according to Pete Vecsey of the New York Post. It doesn't appear the Lakers will bite.
• Meanwhile on the East coast, the Celtics initially were quiet, but said to be one of the more aggressive teams Wednesday night, placing phone calls and going through “the feeling out process,” according to a source. Point guard Rajon Rondo, once considered a trade chip, appears to be the only untouchable. With Kevin Garnett possibly retiring and Ray Allen probably leaving in free agency, Paul Pierce is the player about whom everyone is asking.
• That said, several sources have said they expect the Celtics to re-sign both Garnett and Allen, and march ahead with picks Nos. 21 and 22. “They’re actually in a good spot if they get those two back and hit a home run with one of their picks,” said a source.
• Several reports say the Trail Blazers are looking to move into the third spot, currently held by the Wizards, in exchange for the No. 6 pick and a player.
• The Bobcats are said to be asking way too much for the second pick and will likely end up holding onto it. The possibility remains, however, that they draft a player for someone else and make a trade during the draft.
• Multiple sources have also indicated that if the Cavs really do draft Syracuse guard Dion Waiters with the No. 4 overall pick, they are doing it for someone else, perhaps the Raptors (who select eighth).
• The Cavs have also been extremely active, according to sources, supposedly dangling forward Anderson Varejao to the Warriors for the No. 7 pick. The Warriors rejected, but could possibly be enticed if the Cavs threw in their No. 24 pick. But even that may not be enough, says someone familiar with the Warriors’ thinking. “There are likely to be better offers out there (for the Warriors),” said the source.
• Yet another source said "there's no way" the Cavs trade Varejao, "considering the pittance they'd have to take back in return. Wouldn't be worth it."
• Back to the Lakers. One source insists they’ll stand pat during the draft, dump some salary later, and land a free agent next month. The source mentioned center Spencer Hawes (76ers), shooting guard Nick Young (Clippers), point guard Kirk Hinrich (Hawks) and power forward Kris Humphries (Nets), as possible targets. “They seem to be figuring out what to with Gasol first,” said a source. If not, a deal between the Warriors and Cavs could happen, he added.
• Also, if the Wizards select shooting guard Bradley Beal with the third overall pick, expect the Lakers to find out what the price might be for current Wizards starter Jordan Crawford, said a source.
• Grizzlies shooting guard O.J. Mayo could be on both the Lakers’ and Celtics’ radar as well, said a source. Mayo is a restricted free agent, meaning the Grizzlies would have three days to match any offer.