The draft is now less than 36 hours away and currently, as far as we know, the Nets still have the 21st, 22nd and 51st picks, but it seems increasingly unlikely that will be their pick on Thursday night.
It also seems unlikely that the Nets will go into camp with both of their 3-and-D wings on the roster.
“They’re talking to teams about firsts for Dorian (Finney-Smith),” a league source told NetsDaily on Wednesday morning. “Same for Royce (O’Neale). Trying to take 21 and 22 with one of those guys to move up.”
When asked who the Nets would covet if they get a higher pick, the source said, “no idea.”
Brian Lewis had similar information, detailing where the Nets may be targeting.
[W]hat’s crystal clear is that the Nets are determined to move up from at least one of their two picks near the bottom of the first round…
At least four teams between picks No. 10 and 16 — Dallas, Oklahoma City, Atlanta and Utah — are open to the idea of a trade. How receptive they would be to whatever the Nets have to offer is another story.
While moving up is a possibility, one or both of these first-round picks could also be packaged with O’Neale or Finney-Smith to acquire a veteran.
Lewis also noted that the Nets have had offers to both veterans in the past.
A source told The Post that the Nets rejected an offer of two first-round picks for Finney-Smith last season, while O’Neale reportedly could have picked up a first. What is their value now?
Marc J. Spears of ESPN and Andscape another data point that supports the narrative that Marks wants to move up. Spears reports that Dereck Lively, the 7’1″ Duke center, worked out for the Nets in Brooklyn on Tuesday. Lively is mocked at No. 10 by ESPN and Tankathon, 11 by The Ringer. He would be the highest-ranked prospect known to have trained in Brooklyn.
Zach Lowe on his Lowe Post podcast said the Nets are asking a high price for DFS or O’Neale and suggested Cleveland, desperate for wings, could be interested. However, the Cavs only have a second-round pick at No. 49. He also suggested that dumping either 3-and-D to move up in the draft would help the Nets with cap flexibility.
“The Nets need to save money. Once they get Cam Johnson back, they’re close to the treasure, I could see one of those guys moving in a cost-cutting move that gets drafted,” Lowe said. “From what other teams ask, they ask a lot — real first-round pick equity.”
In fact, while the top of the first round seems safe, even if the order is still in flux, the middle of the first round is squishy. And with so much smoke about the Nets picks — ESPN reported Tuesday that the Nets are “extremely active” — it seems the best bet is that Sean Marks, master of the Draft Day surprise, will likely add to his reputation.
All of this speculation also strongly suggests that the Nets desire someone who will not be on the board once the Nets send their notification via coded message to the NBA. It’s hard to say who it might be. Is France’s Bilal Couliaby, a 6’7” wing who was No. 1, Victor Wembanyama’s teammate and is as fast a riser as there is, now projected for the lottery.
The Nets keep their cards close to their collective chest, not even identifying which prospects have walked through the doors of the HSS Training Center in Sunset Park.
Hoopshype, which tracks workouts using social media, reports that 32 prospects have joined. The real number, based on history and with three picks, is probably twice that. (The Nets also use workouts to scout potential two-way players and Summer League invites.)
Per Hoopshype, the top-ranked prospects after Lively, who has worked out for Marks et al., are projected first-rounders Brandin Podziemski, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Maxwell Lewis, Colby Jones and Andre Jackson, as well as potential first-rounders such as Terquavion Smith, Jalen Wilson and Jordan Walsh. All of them are shooting guards or wings, and none of them are projected higher than 24. Sam Vecnie reported Wednesday that the Nets have worked out Marquette wing Olivier-Maxence Prosper more than once. Vecenie taunts Prosper at #21.
Of course, what happens Thursday will give fans a hint of what the rest of the off-season. While development seems to be the priority, the Nets are also still interested in what happens in Portland. Said the league source, “The Lillard thing is real,” referring to the Nets’ interest in Damian Lillard. Of course, Lillard has to ask out, and at this point there’s no guarantee that will happen.
Furthermore, Woj reported during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show Wednesday afternoon that Portland has shut down calls to Lillard.
“The Blazers have shut down anyone who has tried to call about the possibility of trying to trade for [Lillard]Wojnarowski said.