NBA Rumors & Draft News, Day 4

NBA Rumors & Draft News, Day 4

Published Jun. 7, 2012 7:49 p.m. ET

Harrison Barnes is as polished as they come. Oh, his game could still use a little work – but off the floor, it’s easy to see how Barnes and Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving became fast friends.

Then again, Barnes played his college ball at North Carolina and Irving at Duke. Hard to find a more bitter rivalry than that. Yet, somehow Barnes and Irving are tight.

“He only played 10 (actually 11) games (at Duke),” Barnes said of Irving from the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. “He jokes with me it took 60 games for me to get drafted.”

Sounds a lot like Irving, doesn’t it?

Anyway, Barnes and Irving met at a basketball camp prior to college and immediately hit it off. They’ve remained close and it’s part of the reason the Cavs are said to be leaning toward drafting Barnes with the No. 4 overall pick.

Of course, a much bigger reason would be the idea that the Cavs like Barnes’ game. He’s a 6-foot-8 small forward with perfect form on his jumper. Most general managers and scouts feel he’ll be even better if lined up next to a point guard like Irving in the pros.

“I wouldn’t say (Barnes) is going to be a regular All-Star in this league, but I think he’ll be better (in the NBA) than he was in college with the right guys around him,” said one Western Conference executive. “Basically, he’s not someone who will carry your team by himself, but he could be a whale of a No. 2 option.”

With Irving as the Rookie of the Year and future leader on the court, a whale of a second option is something the Cavs could use.

“He and Irving would play well off each other,” said one scout, who then cleared his throat and paused. “Actually, you could probably say that about a lot of guys in this draft when paired with Irving.”

On top of their friendship, Barnes and Irving share an agent – as Barnes signed with Jeff Wechsler, who represents Irving, Bobcats forward D.J. White and Magic swingman Quentin Richardson.

Barnes and Irving also display their fair share of style, Barnes showing up for his media session at the combine wearing a sweater and slacks. That was different than most others, who sported workout clothes during their own interviews.

“You always want to try to look professional and nice,” Barnes told reporters in Chicago. “Personally, I think how you dress says a lot about how you carry yourself.”

Either way, Barnes’ stock has been climbing in recent days, mostly because of the talk of the Cavs possibly drafting him fourth.

“That talk has intrigued the Bobcats and Wizards (who own the second and third picks, respectively),” said a scout. “They’ll probably give Barnes a longer look now. But no matter what you hear, much of it will come down to how he fares in individual workouts.”

Double Dribbles

-- The Knicks and Nets are said to be exploring ways to obtain a first-round pick. The Knicks currently hold the No. 48 overall selection, while the Nets’ first choice comes at No. 57. It may not be as difficult as it sounds, either. According to one general manager, several teams with two first-rounders are looking to trade down. The teams mentioned most include the Trail Blazers, Warriors and Celtics.

-- Perhaps no player’s status is as up-in-the-air right now as that of Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger. Most team executives seem to agree on one thing: They really have no idea where Sullinger might go. “I could see him being taken anywhere from sixth to 15th,” said one GM. “I guess a lot depends on who ends up picking where.” The Celtics are one team that’s said to be particularly intrigued with Sullinger, but he is highly likely to be gone by the time they pick in the first round (Nos. 21 and 22).

-- Weber State point guard Damian Lillard was already considered a top-10 pick, and he seems to have only improved his standing during a workout at the combine Thursday. “Absolutely fabulous,” was how one scout described Lillard. Don’t be surprised if he ends up with the Hornets, who are likely to eye him at No. 10 to pair him with first overall pick Anthony Davis (Kentucky). Lillard has already worked out in front of several teams, including the Cavs.

-- One Eastern Conference GM said he doesn’t expect the Cavs to move up in the draft. “The Bobcats and Wizards certainly appear willing to trade their picks, but right now it seems they’re asking for a lot,” he says. “I haven’t really talked to those teams, but based on what I’m hearing, I’m wondering if I should.”

--Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal said he met with the Cavs and several other teams Wednesday, beginning an interview process that Raptors VP of Basketball Operations Ed Stefanski called “very, very important” Also, there have been questions about Beal’s height, but he told reporters in Chicago he measured at 6-foot-4, as opposed to his assumed height of 6-foot-2 1/2.

-- Baylor forward Perry Jones has drawn comparisons to Pacers guard Paul George, except for the fact that Jones is 6-foot-11, is viewed as a small forward and possesses a 7-foot-3 wingspan. He is likely to get drafted in the 7-12 range. “Man, I like that kid,” said one GM. “We’ll be working it out, hopefully more than once. I hope for his sake he really brings it, because there are some questions about that. If he does, he’ll really help somebody.” For the record, Jones reportedly gave a very impressive showing at the combine.

-- The Hawks supposedly are looking to move up from their No. 23 spot in the first round, with the Grizzlies’ No. 18 pick being mentioned most. “They’re also the one team that seems like a pretty good destination for (Grizzlies small forward) Rudy Gay, if he gets traded,” one GM said.

-- Finally, keep an eye out for Orlando Johnson, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard out of UC Santa Barbara. He is expected to be a late first-rounder, but appears to be climbing into the 18-22 range.

Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO