Expect serious rumors to start flying Tuesday with the Draft just 48 hours away.
Do the Nets want someone in the Draft who is currently out of their reach? It’s starting to seem that way. After reporting last week that the Nets were considering combining their picks at Nos. 21 and 22 to move up, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo write Tuesday that Brooklyn is “extremely active” in trade talks, willing to include one of their two 3-and-D wings in a deal for a higher pick.
Updating ESPN’s mock draft for the final time on Tuesday, Givony wrote this:
The Nets are said to be extremely active in trade talks, having the option of using one or both of their first-round picks (Nos. 21 and 22) on players like Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale to get to various spots in the draft if they so desire.
He also suggested a final destination for DFS.
The Pacers trading a veteran like Tobias Harris, De’Andre Hunter or Dorian Finney-Smith is an option that could also be explored.
The Pacers have both the seventh and 26th picks.
In the latest mock, ESPN has the Nets taking Noah Clowney, the 6’10” Alabama big at No. 21 and Keyonte George, the 6’4″ shooting guard, at No. 22, but as Givony’s fellow writer Jeremy Woo noted, “It’s unclear exactly what Brooklyn will do with these two picks (Nos. 21 and 22),”
Kevin O’Connor from The caller in his false draft reported that there is market for the two wings and wrote: “Brooklyn has received a number of calls for two veteran wings in Royce O’Neale and Dorian Finney-Smith.”
And Nick Friedell, interviewed by the Los Angeles Timessuggests the Nets could also pack the firsts for a veteran.
The Nets have the ability to package these picks and land the type of veteran that could help them compete sooner behind Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. If they stick to these two choices, [Leonard] Miller provides some versatility. Same with [Rayan] Rupert who played for the New Zealand Breakers. Both have the potential to grow into bigger roles in Jacque Vaughn’s rotation.
O’Neale, acquired in a trade with Utah right after the Draft last year, and Finney-Smith, acquired in a trade with Dallas for Kyrie Irving at the deadline, are seen as duplicative. DFS assumed a starting role immediately after the trade, with O’Neale as sixth man. The two are the same age, 30, but O’Neale’s contract is only guaranteed $2.5 million of $9.5 million this season. Finney-Smith is guaranteed $13.9 million this season, the second year of a four-year, $55.6 million contract. Brian Lewis has reported that after the DFS was granted to Brooklyn, the Nets were offered two first round picks to him by an unidentified team.
The Nets’ continued drumbeat of moving up makes it appear that Brooklyn has someone in particular in mind that they covet, perhaps late in the lottery or in the teens. Dallas at No. 10, Oklahoma City at No. 12, Atlanta at No. 15 and Utah at No. 16 are all reportedly willing to trade their picks for the right pieces.
Later Tuesday, Adrian Wojnarowski laid out the Nets’ long-term plan, built around Mikal Bridges, while waiting for the next superstar…
“This is the Nets team with a lot of options now,” Woj said. “They’re filling up their picks. Mikal Bridges is a player they have to build around. The interest in Bridges around the league, the kind of offer the Nets have made for him speaks to how valuable he is, a player that you keep in place until the next big star is available in a trade.Remember, the Nets have those Suns’ unprotected picks in 2027 and 2029, which look more valuable than ever.
“They’re in a position right now to be competitive, to be pretty good, to be patient so they can go big game hunting again.”
In Australia, Cam Johnson, appearing on a sports podcast, gave another indication that he plans to stay in Brooklyn, noting that he expects to house-hunt in Brooklyn at the “end of free agency”…
He explained that his lease on his current Brooklyn apartment only runs until June. Then he gets serious and living space … still in Brooklyn.
“At the end of free agency, I’m going to reevaluate, explore neighborhoods and figure out what area of Brooklyn I want to live in because there are a lot of cool neighborhoods,” Johnson said about 45 minutes into the interview. Johnson, of course, is a restricted free agent who can sign an extension starting July 5.
On the Damian Lillard front, Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Blazers have not received calls from other teams, but still intend to build around Lillard rather than trade him after a decade in the Rose City.
Lillard apparently prefers to stay with Portland, and the Trail Blazers have shown no willingness to discuss the seven-time All-Star with inquiring teams, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Blazers view this entire offseason as their canvas to bolster a contender around Lillard, not just this week’s NBA draft, and free agency will provide additional opportunity to bolster that roster beyond plans to re-sign Jerami Grant.
The draft is 8:00 PM ET at Barclays Center on Thursday.