Reports surfaced late Monday night that the Thunder is one of the more active teams attempting to trade up for Cleveland’s No. 1 pick.
Those rumors stemmed from a blog post by ESPN’s NBA Draft guru Chad Ford, who labeled OKC as ‘proactive’ in its talks with the Cavaliers.
Ford held his annual draft conference call on Tuesday afternoon and discussed the report more in-depthly, among a few other draft-related topics:
You mentioned the Thunder as a team trying to move up to No. 1. What would they realistically have to give up?
Ford: “Cleveland wants a veteran for this, a young veteran. They’re not really interested in anything but that. You look at the Thunder roster, obviously there’s no way they’re moving Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook. So it’s pretty clear that it would probably take Serge Ibaka to get to the No. 1 pick. I don’t think that that is likely that the Thunder would do that. And that’s what teams are finding, they are complaining that Cleveland is overvaluing this pick because there isn’t a consensus No. 1. But you can also understand Cleveland’s perspective here. If they’re going to give away the No. 1 pick, they have to walk away with a piece that they think can help compel them to the playoffs and that means a really good player. So I think that’s why there’s been a lot of trade talk, but not much action. We’ll see Thursday if someone caves, but I just don’t see a team giving up the talent Cleveland is looking for, for the No. 1 pick in the draft.”
If OKC stays at 12, what big do you think would fit them best?
Ford: “I think the two guys you should look at if you want bigs are Steven Adams out of Pittsburgh and Kelly Olynyk out of Gonzaga. Very different players. Steven Adams a back-to-the-basket defensive rebounds, shot-blocker with a lot of upside. Olynyk may have been the most efficient big man in (college) basketball this year, but he’s a face the basket big, probably actually is going to be more of a four than a five in the NBA. Can create off the dribble, can shoot the three. Just very different looks. And I wouldn’t rule out Sergey Karasev, the Russian sharpshooter who’s a two (or) three and has a lot of experience over in Russia and has played at a high level over there and is one of the hotter names in the draft right now.
Do you think the Cavs like Nerlens Noel or would he just be the default No. 1 choice because there’s no one else they want?
Ford: “That’s a good question. I think they like Noel. I think they like all six of the players they’ve brought in. Do you like him with the No. 1 pick? The Cavs are in a difficult situation this year where there isn’t a clear No. 1 and there isn’t a franchise player or superstar. They’ve had to take the attitude of let’s find out what these guys do well instead of obsessing over what they can’t do. Because if you do that, you disqualify every player in the draft. While the Cavs haven’t told me who they’re going to draft, I don’t think they’ve told anybody and I’m not sure they’re 100 percent sure that they know yet. I think they’re narrowing down and getting close to that decision. Noel has been the guy who’s been on the top of their big board all year. He fits the criteria that I’ve heard Cleveland talk about all year, the best talent available. Who will be the best player in three to five years?
Would the Cavs prefer to get rid of it if they could?
Ford: “That’s a difficult question to answer. I mean, are they shopping the pick? Yeah, they’ve been doing that for a while because they have an imperative to make the playoffs and make their team better right now. So if they can get that sort of player, they yeah. But look at the players they’ve tried to go out and get. They’ve inquired about Kevin Love. There’s no way Minnesota’s going to do that, so it’s a dead end there. They’ve inquired about LaMarcus Aldridge out of Portland. There’s a little bit more willingness to do it, but it wouldn’t just cost (Cleveland) the No. 1 pick. They would probably have to give up Tristan Thompson and other assets to make that work. If this was the Anthony Davis draft or the Derrick Rose draft, they’d be getting offers for LaMarcus Aldridge for the No. 1 pick. But no one is even sure who should be the No. 1 pick…While I think there’s a chance Cleveland trades this pick, I’ve been talking to multiple sources around this and it’s around 25 percent, which is high, that they trade the pick. I still think at the end of the day, Cleveland selects this pick for themselves.