NBA draft rumors: The latest buzz on teams, players, trades and more
With the 2015 NBA draft just hours away, SI.com rounds up all of the latest action from the NBA rumor mill.
The basketball world is waiting to see how the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers handle the top three picks in a draft deep with elite prospects. Their decisions will have major implications for teams like the New York Knicks, Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings, who also all choose in the top 10. Multiple teams are rumored to be interested in Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, and a deal could shake up draft night.
Be sure to check back for the latest news and rumors.
• Aldridge officially out: According to Erik Gundersen of the Columbian, LaMarcus Aldridge has already informed the Trail Blazers that he will not return next season and will become a free agent. The four-time All-Star will could San Antonio, Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers among his suitors on July 1.
• More out of Sacramento: Marc Stein of ESPN reports that the internal dismay with head coach George Karl is coming more from Kings vice president Vlade Divac than owner Vivek Ranadive. Stein says the latest signals suggest the Kings will hold onto the No. 6 pick and that the team is focused on the draft, but that there are "issues to iron out" after the draft.
• Could Karl be fired?: Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports that the possibility of Sacramento firing George Karl, their third head coach in the past year, is floating around "league circles." Karl's reported machinations toward dealing DeMarcus Cousins without the consent of the front office may have worn his welcome thin. USA Today's Sam Amick reports that there is "zero chance" of a Karl firing happening anytime soon.
It's bad in Sacto right now, to be sure, but they have one thing going for them: the Vivek/Vlade dynamic much healthier than Vivek/Pete D.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 25, 2015
• Knicks leaning Mudiay?: ESPN's Chris Broussard reports the Knicks are currently leaning toward point guard Emmanuel Mudiay with the fourth pick. Should they move down via trade, New York will reportedly target Frank Kaminsky.
• Los Angeles leaning Okafor, holding on Randle: Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reports the Lakers are leaning toward taking Jahlil Okafor second over D'Angelo Russell, provided Minnesota selects Karl-Anthony Towns first. Bresnahan adds that Los Angeles is "unwilling" to deal prized forward Julius Randle, who has reportedly lost 20 pounds and improved his jumper after missing his entire rookie season.
• Lakers held secret workout for Towns: According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, via RealGM.com, the Lakers, who pick second, held a private workout for Karl-Anthony Towns last week. Towns is widely believed to be Minnesota's selection at No. 1 overall.
• Payne to Indy at 11?: ESPN's Andy Katz reports "a number of teams" believe the Pacers will take Murray State point guard Cameron Payne with the No. 11 selection.
• Game of thrones unfolding in the Kings front office: SI.com's Chris Mannix reports a "deeply strained" relationship between Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and head coach George Karl at present. Karl reportedly offered "no objection" to keeping star center DeMarcus Cousins long-term when hired in February. Now, Ranadive is convinced Karl never wanted Cousins in the first place, as trade rumors swirl. For what it's worth, Cousins tweeted this on Thursday afternoon, as news of beef between Karl and ownership emerged:
What's done in the dark comes to the light ...💯— DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) June 25, 2015
• More on Ranadive and Karl: The Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones adds that Karl said when hired that he would stay out of personnel matters, and Ranadive is frustrated at the coach's meddling in the Cousins trade situation. According to Jones, former Kings GM Pete D'Alessandro was against the Karl hire, fearing that he would take matters into his own hands. Cousins reportedly only became open to a trade because "he believes Karl does not want to coach him." The drama has been building ever since Karl's hiring process at the All-Star break.
• Meanwhile, Sacramento zeroes in on two prospects: According to USA Today's Sam Amick, the Kings, should they keep their No. 6 overall selection, have guards Mario Hezonja and Emmanuel Mudiay atop their wish list. The possibility of a trade remains real.
• Also, Kings fielding offers involving Eric Moreland: Amidst all the reported turmoil in Sacramento, RealGM.com's Shams Charania reports that Denver and Miami have discussed deals with the Kings that involve forward Eric Moreland. The talks "are expected to be centered on larger trade scenarios," but look for Moreland's name to come up in potential moves. The Nuggets (who employ former Kings GM D'Alessandro and coach Mike Malone) and Heat are reportedly interested in his shot-blocking ability.
• Celtics now dangling Smart?: ESPN's Marc Stein reports that the Celtics could be willing to surrender Marcus Smart in a deal that would move them into "the upper reaches" of the lottery.
• Hornets in on Booker?: According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, Charlotte is targeting Kentucky shooting guard Devin Booker with the ninth pick after adding Nicolas Batum on Wednesday to fill their void at small forward. The Hornets also added shooting guard Jeremy Lamb on Thursday in a deal with Oklahoma City.
• Knicks keep looking to move down: Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reports that New York continues to seek deals to move out of the No. 4 overall slot and pick later in the lottery, presumably with interest in adding another asset.
• Rockets now playing stingy?: ESPN's Marc Stein is reporting that Houston may be asking for a higher price than originally thought as it dangles forward Terrence Jones and its No. 18 overall pick. Stein adds the Rockets would love to clear space to bid seriously on one of free agents LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love, but dealing Jones or the pick would still be "minor" in terms of freeing up money.
• Aminu opting out in Dallas: Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times reports that Mavericks forward Al-Farouq Aminu has opted out of his contract and will become a free agent. The move was expected as Aminu was playing for the minimum and is set to make more on the market than his $1.1 million player option next season.
• Celtics hanging onto Marcus Smart: Amid rumors of Boston packaging assets to move up in the draft or land a big fish like DeMarcus Cousins, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reports the Celtics would have to be "blown away" to trade their young point guard. Smart, 21, was the sixth overall pick in last year's draft and made the All-Rookie second team.
• Dragic expecting big payday from Miami: According to the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson, Goran Dragic and his camp are expecting a five-year offer in the $90-100 million range from the Heat. Miami can offer up to $115 million. Jackson reports both sides remain "optimistic" about getting a deal done.
• Hornets eyeing Kaminsky: In his latest and final mock draft, SI.com's Chris Mannix reports that Frank Kaminsky is emerging as a "strong candidate" for Charlotte, who pick ninth, should he fall to them. The team is in need of shooters and dealt young big Noah Vonleh to Portland yesterday to help bring back Nicolas Batum.
• Carter-Williams, Henson unavailable: Mannix also reports that amid trade rumors, the Bucks have told teams that neither Michael-Carter Williams nor John Henson is available.
• Pacers coveting two players: Indiana loves both Cameron Payne and Willie Cauley-Stein at No. 11, reports Mannix. The team loves Payne's future potential as they look to transform their offense, as well as Cauley-Stein's rim protection and as insurance should Roy Hibbert leave.
• Rockets could draft for someone else: According to Mannix, the Rockets have "engaged a few teams" on trades and are willing to move down or even out of the first round.
• Knicks targeting big men: ESPN's Chris Broussard reports that if neither Jahlil Okafor nor D'Angelo Russell falls to the Knicks at No. 4, the team is keen on a trio of bigs: Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Kaminsky and Trey Lyles. Point guard Emmanuel Mudiay remains a possibility.
• Hezonja angling for Motor City?: Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com is reporting that some teams are frustrated with what they feel to be a lack of information from Mario Hezonja's camp. There could be intent on Hezonja's side to engineer a fall to the Pistons at No. 8. Givony notes that Detroit would likely need to trade up to land the Croatian prospect given the number of teams interested in him. He reports Hezonja's contract buyout with Barcelona should be "very manageable" for any team picking in the top eight.
Some teams expressing frustration with lack of info coming from Hezonja's camp. Feel they are "trying to pull a Kobe, to get him to Detroit"— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 25, 2015
• While you were away, Luke Ridnour got traded again: Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reports Luke Ridnour has been traded from Charlotte, along with a 2016 second rounder, to Oklahoma City for shooting guard Jeremy Lamb. This is the third time Ridnour has been dealt in the past 24 hours, going from Orlando to Memphis on Wednesday, Memphis to Charlotte for Matt Barnes earlier Thursday, and now to the Thunder.
• Lakers facing tough call at No. 2: SI's Chris Mannix reports that while Los Angeles would love Karl-Anthony Towns if Minnesota passes on him at No. 1, the decision is otherwise down to Jahlil Okafor and D'Angelo Russell. Deciding between the Duke center and Ohio State point guard has been "incredibly difficult" for the Lakers.
• Blazers readying max deal for Lillard: According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Portland plans to be "very aggressive" in signing All-Star point guard Damian Lillard to a five-year max extension in the neighborhood of $120 million. With LaMarcus Aldridge potentially on his way out, Portland would love to lock up its other main asset for the foreseeable future.
• Grizzlies in on Gallinari? Stein also reports that after acquiring Matt Barnes from Charlotte, Memphis is looking to add shooting and are pursuing Denver forward Danilo Gallinari, who is reportedly on the block.
• Jazz would love Millsap back: ESPN's Chad Ford reports, via CBSSports.com, that the Utah Jazz are targeting free-agent-to-be Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks. The Jazz drafted the All-Star forward in 2006, and he spent the first seven years of his career with the team. Jody Genessy of the Deseret News reports "rumblings" that Utah wants Millsap back, and that they might be willing to part with power forward Derrick Favors.
• Burke on the move? Genessy also reports that the Jazz would like to trade point guard Trey Burke and "would likely" include him in a draft day trade. Burke was the No. 9 overall selection in 2013. Utah took another point guard, Dante Exum, fifth overall last year.
• Could Celtics move to nab Okafor?: According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, via RealGM.com, the Boston Celtics are readying an offer for Philadelphia's No. 3 pick should Jahlil Okafor fall out of the top two picks. Boston holds the No. 16, No. 28, No. 33 and No. 45 selections and a number of movable player assets.
• Timberwolves angling for extra pick: Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders reports Minnesota is looking to acquire an additional first round pick. The Wolves hold the 31st and 36th selections in addition to No. 1 overall.
• Kaminsky a hot stock: ESPN's Chad Ford reports Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky has no shortage of execs intrigued on draft day. Phil Jackson and the Knicks, Vlade Divac and the Kings, and Michael Jordan's Hornets are all high on the skilled big man, who now projects for the 4-9 range in the first round. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com echoed Ford's report, as Kaminsky is believed to present immediate help as a "safe and attractive pick."
• Texas two-step for Aldridge?: CBS Sports' Ken Berger reports that the Spurs and Mavericks are the leaders in the upcoming LaMarcus Aldridge sweepstakes. Aldridge becomes a free agent on July 1.
• Cauley-Stein diving?: Ford also reports that if Sacramento passes on Kentucky's Willie-Cauley Stein at No. 6, he could slip down into the middle of the first round or further.
3. If the Kings pass on Willie Cauley-Stein, he could be in free fall. I think Pacers could pass at 11. Could go 13. Could go 21.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 25, 2015
• Expect the unexpected: According to Ford, trades could "dramatically" affect the draft order, corroborating much of the overall chatter in the past 48 hours. Ford lists the Lakers, Sixers, Knicks, Magic, Kings, Hornets and Pacers among the teams currently talking trade.
• Who's moving up?: DraftExpress reports Oklahoma City (No. 14), Houston (No. 18) and Boston (Nos. 16, 28) are among the teams most aggressively trying to trade up in the first round. Atlanta (No. 15) is also reportedly "sniffing around."
• Russian big man bound for NBA?: CSKA Moscow center Sasha Kaun, part of Kansas' 2008 national title-winning team, looks to make the jump to the NBA and has talked with the Spurs and Nets, according to Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski. The rights for Kaun, 30, belong to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who acquired his rights from Seattle in 2008, when Kaun was a second-round selection. Any team looking to acquire him would have to make a trade with the Cavs.
• Spurs lead the way for Aldridge: SI.com's Chris Mannix reports that San Antonio "will be tough to beat" for LaMarcus Aldridge's services. While teams prepare to court the All-Star power forward, the 30-year-old Aldridge is reportedly intrigued by playing for Gregg Popovich, who has extended the careers of stars like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
LMA loves how Gregg Popovich has extended the careers of so many players, league sources say. At 30, he wants to play as long as possible.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixYS) June 25, 2015
• Terrence Jones on the move?: According to ESPN's Marc Stein, that could be the case as Houston figures out how to shuffle its roster to make room to bid on LaMarcus Aldridge or Kevin Love. Stein reports Jones could be traded "as part of today's draft proceedings," so it could possibly happen sooner than later. UPDATE: Stein reports Houston's No. 18 selection is also "very available" in addition to Jones.
• A non-Cousins centered Kings rumor: Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Sacramento is "making calls" about moving down in the draft's Top 10. If the Kings stay at No. 6, Mario Hezonja looks like their "strong target."
• Barnes to the Grizz, Ridnour on the move again: Wojnarowski also reports that Memphis will flip Luke Ridnour, acquired yesterday from Orlando, to Charlotte in exchange for veteran swingman Matt Barnes. Charlotte will be able to release Ridnour, whose contract is non-guaranteed, but the Grizzlies are reportedly planning to keep Barnes, who was dealt to Charlotte from the Los Angeles Clippers in the Lance Stephenson trade.
• Mason Plumlee back on the block: ESPN's Jeff Goodman reports that the Nets "continue to be aggressive" in trying to move up into the lottery. Big man Mason Plumlee, one of the team's bright spots last season, is being "actively shopped."
• Free agent crashers: ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports that the Houston Rockets are trying to find ways "to crash" the free-agents chases for both Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge. The Rockets currently have around $61 million committed to salaries next season.
• Knicks pump brakes on Bledsoe deal?: There are no talks between New York Knicks and the Phoenix Suns regarding Eric Bledsoe and the No. 4 pick in the draft, reports ESPN.com's Chris Broussard.
• Cousins trade framework details: While rumors of DeMarcus Cousins being shipped to the Lakers swirl, Cousins told a fan on Twitter that he "absolutely" wants to be in Sacramento. The reported framework involves the Lakers' giving up the No. 2 pick in Thursday's NBA draft and sending Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson and other draft assets to the Kings, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
• Trail Blazers draft trade options: Portland may trade its first-round pick (No. 23) in the draft for multiple second round picks, according to Alex Kennedy of BasketballInsiders.com. The pick could go to the Philadelphia 76ers for picks Nos. 35 and 37, according to the report.
• No more LA in Portland?: The Blazers' trade of Nicolas Batum to the Charlotte Hornets is just the latest signal of LaMarcus Aldridge's 'likely departure' from Portland, ESPN's Marc Stein reports. While the Lakers appear to have moved passed the Dallas Mavericks for Aldridge's services, the San Antonio Spurs are still the All-Star's top destination, according to Stein.
• DeMarcus Cousins trade framework exchanged: The Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers exchanged on Wednesday the framework of a trade that would send Cousins to Los Angeles, Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reports. The discussions could "intensify" on Thursday, according to the report. Jason Jones, the Kings beat writer for The Sacramento Bee reached out to team executive Vlade Divac late Wednesday night.
Vlade Divac in a text when asked if the Kings are planning to trade DeMarcus Cousins: "Nope."— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) June 25, 2015
• Thunder trying to free up cap space: The Oklahoma City Thunder are looking to unload at least one contract in order to free up the team's ability to retain center Enes Kanter and small forward Kyle Singler, according to Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski.
• Hornets staying active: Charlotte, in need of perimeter scoring, is reportedly acquiring Thunder guard Jeremy Lamb involving Matt Barnes's contract in a separate deal from their reported trade with the Blazers for Nicolas Batum, the Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell reports. Barnes will not be going to Oklahoma City, according to Bonnell.
• Blazers parting ways with Nicolas Batum: Portland is finalizing a deal to send the sharpshooting forward Batum to the Hornets for forward Noah Vonleh and guard Gerald Henderson, according to Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski. Vonleh was the Hornets' ninth overall pick in last year's draft. He averaged 3.3 points per game in an injury-plagued rookie season.