In covering what some experts are calling a weak NBA Draft tonight, ESPN plans to include free agency storylines and use a salary cap expert for the first time.
"This year being the biggest year for free agency, we are going to tie in some of the free agency stories," ESPN coordinating producer Pat Lowry said.
Former Portland Trail Blazers executive Tom Penn will serve as a "capologist," analyzing the salary cap space for teams heading into the free agency period, which includes top stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Stuart Scott will host ESPN's coverage with analysts Jay Bilas, Jon Barry and Jeff Van Gundy. Mark Jones will interview players after they are drafted.
ESPN will have videoconferencing capability with 13 teams, including the Thunder. The other teams are Boston, Chicago, Dallas, L.A. Lakers, Miami, Memphis, Minnesota, New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, Portland and Washington.
In a conference call this week, Bilas and analyst Fran Fraschilla described it as a weak draft.
"The way I analyze it, there might be nine guys that realistically will be in a team's rotation next year," said Fraschilla, who once again will serve as ESPN's expert on international players.
OU PROSPECTS SLIGHTED
Fraschilla called OU guard Willie Warren "probably the most disappointing guy in the draft probably because of where I thought his potential was," but noted he might be a bargain late in the first round or early in the second.
"Not just the attitude issues surfaced, but he has some inherent weaknesses with his game. He cannot go left. He proved to be a very streaky shooter."