Tuesday, June 07, 2005

#3 Pick: What's happening?

Wow ... lots of rumors flying around about Portland's #3 draft choice. Nash told Kerry Eggers in today's Tribune that there is a "strong possibility" that he'll trade the pick. Let's tackle them one-at-a-time:

Rumor #1: Marvin Williams.

It's widely thought that Portland has its eye on Marvin Williams, and it's also widely thought that Andrew Bogut and Williams will be going 1-2 or 2-1 in the draft, so he won't be available. My opinion is, Bogut is garbage and Williams and Chris Paul are clearly the best two players in the draft. With Portland already locked into its point guard of the future, that leaves Williams as the only viable pick for this team with the #3. Hence, don't be surprised to see if Portland waits until draft day to see if Williams is available, and if he's not, for them to deal the pick and trade down.

Rumor #2: High-School Phenom

Gerald Green and Martell Webster, both swingmen (although Green is projected as more of a "3" while Webster is more of a pure shooter), have established themselves as the class of this year's high-school entries. Portland is working out both players next week. Webster is projected as a mid- to late-lottery pick (8-15 range) and would be a bit of a stretch at the #3. Green is projected as a 5-10 pick, and though not as big of a leap, would probably be early at the #3 -- especially with so many teams interested in Paul. There's an outside chance Portland could select Green, but I don't expect Portland to select either of these two with the #3 pick; it's more likely he'd become the team's top choices if the club trades down.

Rumor #3: Trade with Toronto

There are two "versions" of this reported trade: In the first, Portland gives Toronto the #3 pick in exchange for the #7 and #16 picks in the draft. In the second, Portland gives Toronto the #3 pick and Darius Miles for Morris Peterson, the #7, and the #16 pick. Both of these deals are attractive to Portland because, assuming that Marvin Williams does indeed get selected in the top-two, it makes more sense for Portland to move down, select Green or Webster (in this case likely Webster) and collect more assets. As for moving Darius Miles, while it's true we'd all like to see how he performs under a different coach, getting out of his contract is a plus and Peterson can fill in at either the 2 or the 3 for the next few seasons while Portland's younger guys develop. As for the #16 pick, this would be a fantastic place for the team to grab a guy like Hakim Warrick (whom they worked out on Monday and were very impressed with) as yet another piece to build around.

Rumor #4: Trade with Charlotte

In this deal, Portland would send the #3 pick to Charlotte in exchange for the #5 and #12 picks. It's doubtful that Charlotte would agree to this trade without receiving a player as part of the deal ... and Bobcats GM Bernie Bickerstaff said as much, claiming he'd like a young veteran in return. The Bobcats have enough cap room to take Darius Miles, and if Portland received both picks in return, you have to think they'd jump on that deal. The team could select both its SG (Green, Webster, Rashad McCants) and SF (Danny Granger, Warrick) of the future.

Rumor #5: Package Van Exel and the #3 pick for a veteran

Nash has repeatedly said that he imagines that a team looking for cap relief would find the #3 pick and Nick Van Exel's expiring contract both very attractive. For Portland to deal the #3 pick for a veteran, they'd have to get a top-flight player in return, likely at shooting guard. Might a team like Seattle, who is struggling to reach agreement with Ray Allen, have interest in a deal like this? Or a team like Phoenix, with restricted free agent Joe Johnson? I doubt Johnson is worth the #3, but if Portland can land a player like Allen or Michael Redd, they'd have to consider it.

With John Nash speaking so openly about trading the pick, that's got to be the favorite at this point. The Toronto trade seems to make a little more logistical sense than the Charlotte trade, although either would be great for Portland.

It's goign to be a very interesting three weeks until the draft, and we'll keep you updated as news progresses.

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