NBA Draft: Thunder has its eye on Florida guard Bradley Beal

But to get Beal, Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti would have to work a major trade.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 27, 2012

It's once again that time of the year.

Another NBA Draft has arrived and, for Thunder fans, that means another night of having absolutely no idea what to expect.

The Thunder enters Thursday night's draft slotted to select 28th overall. But with general manager Sam Presti at the wheel, anything is again liable to happen.

Presti executed a trade in four of his first five drafts as general manager. Last year, when the team selected Reggie Jackson with the 24th overall pick, was the only time that Presti didn't pull off a draft-night trade.

This year, on the eve of what was shaping up to be the least suspenseful first round in the franchise's Oklahoma City era, a report surfaced that said the Thunder has sought to trade into the top three.

The supposed target: Florida guard Bradley Beal.

It's the second report in the past two weeks that has connected the Thunder with trying to move into the top three. Typically, where there is smoke around this time of the year there is, well, more smoke. But the Thunder can't seem to shake this cloud of speculation.

And this time, the player provided a firsthand account of Presti's plans.

“He told me he was going to decide what they're going to do and considered getting up there,” Beal told ESPN.com on Wednesday, relaying a conversation he had with Presti during an interview at the draft combine in Chicago.

Beal, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, is widely considered to be a top three pick. In his lone season at Florida, Beal averaged 14.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals. He's viewed as a cross between Ray Allen and Eric Gordon.

According to the report, Presti spent three days in Gainesville, Fla. during the lockout watching the Gators practice. The report goes on to say Presti has had numerous conversations with Florida coach Billy Donovan, both over the phone and during in Dallas back when Donovan attended the first-round matchup between the Thunder and Mavericks.

“Oklahoma City exhausted every opportunity on campus to find out everything they could find out about Beal,” ESPN.com quoted an anonymous person as saying. “They've done everything they can.”

The question is this: how much can the Thunder afford to give up for its coveted man — if he is indeed the coveted man?

Charlotte owns the No. 2 pick. The Bobcats, after winning a league-worst seven games, lost out on the draft lottery and Kentucky forward Anthony Davis, the consensus No. 1 pick. The Bobcats are believed to be more interested in bringing in an established player as opposed to selecting from the remaining prospects, none of whom are considered can't-miss players.

A report by CBSSports.com earlier this month, citing an anonymous source, said Thunder guard James Harden “could be in play” in a potential swap between Presti and former Thunder assistant GM Rich Cho, who is now the Bobcats' general manager.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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