Now the real work starts, and a trade still makes sense
No big surprise, really, in the lottery and, sure, it’s nice that the HOTH didn’t move back but they got what they deserved and pretty much was expected.
Now the pressure’s on.
As you know, I’m all about trading out of No. 8 even it means using the pick to sweeten the pot in a deal into the abundant cap space – no, I don’t have specific names – but it seems Bryan’s not entirely sold on that idea, as he told us last night.
So that means an awful lot of homework and a group of probably eight or 10 to pick from, and that’s where due diligence comes in.
How’d Bryan put it?
“We look hard at the analytics, we look hard at the background, we look hard at the performance evaluation … background and character, as you know, mean a lot to me and the organization, it’s part of the culture we’re establishing … it all factors in.
“If you can find the right combination of things and it happens to fit your need, that’s even better but if it means that you take a player that duplicates some of what you have, we’re at a position where we need to acquire the best possible assets because assets equal opportunity at points.”
Clear as mud, right?
Now, you’re going to be hearing an awful lot of names associated with the No. 8 pick and some of them are even going to be real. I had very little time to talk to anyone from the Raptors or the league privately last night – that’s work to be done in the next fortnight or so – but if you’re looking at a group of five we’ll have a little photo gallery up around here early this morning and you can likely toss another five or six names into the pot.
But there’s no doubt, despite Bryan’s assertion that they take the best player available, they need someone who can score a bit, defend and play the wing. They are woefully under-manned at both the two and three right now – they could probably use a backup point guard – and that would seem to be the strength of the group that’ll be there at No. 8.
Going to make for some interesting times, indeed. Last time they were in this spot was the DeRozan year but there wasn’t nearly the movement to trade that pick as there should be with this one; buckle up, kids, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
So I’m going to OKC today and when I tell a friend I’m going, I hear something like:
Oh, The Flaming Lips!
Seems it’s a musical group.
Ever hear of them?
How good was that?
How good was that?
The league hasn’t even sold the team officially and there’s old Tom Benson saddling up to the stage to take the No. 1 draft pick on behalf of the New Orleans Hornets after last night’s lottery and, I tell you, I can almost hear the conversation from a month ago now:
“Tom? David Stern. Want to take the Hornets off our hands?”
“Love to, David but have you seen that team? Screwed on the Chris Paul trade, Erik Gordon may leave, fans hate you, the team doesn’t draw flies. Nah.”
“Hmm. I see your point. What if we sweeten the deal a little bit.”
“Ever hear of Anthony Davis? How about him and another top 10 pick? You cool with buying then? We just came out of a lockout, we’ve been laying off staff forever, I need some help.”
“David? I don’t know. What else have you got?”
“How about we give you an all-star game, too?”
“Done. Now it’s up to you to make it look all plausible.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ve been fooling ‘em since the Patrick Ewing dry ice night. This is a piece of cake.”
“Ok, David. You’ve got a deal.”
“Great. Gotta run, have to call Prokhorov and break some bad news to him. See you later.”
But – and I really can’t say this firmly enough – I’ve been in the room and seen how the draw’s conducted. It is so far above board it’s not even funny; no way any of those conspiracy theories are legit but, you have to admit, it’s pretty cool, no?
All we need is Jim Garrison now.
(Anyone get that?)
So, off to OKC while you’re reading this (the “you can’t get there from here goes from LaGuardia to O’Hare at 6:30 a.m., quick turnaround and then to Will Rogers by noon their time) so will get to comments when I can.
And if you’re bored, send me some mail; I’d love to land and see all kinds of fun notes before I have to go to the game.
Oh, and we’ll give an IGBT a shot tonight, okay? It’s a 9 p.m. start.
Ran into one of the all-time greats last night – Jim O’Connell of the Associated Press, haven’t seen him forever – and he’s in rare form.
We’re standing a back corner of the studio, behind the cameras and facing the stage with all the luminaries and pretty people on it and he says:
“I want to interview the ping-pong balls.”
So you want to know what’s next for the Heroes?
Well, a handful of Henchmen are off to Minnesota today for a wee look at another few dozen second round possibilities and then there’s the biggie next week in Chicago with the top 60 or so kids in a three-day frenzy.
Figure on first workout groups in Toronto the week after that, which is only about two weeks before the draft and it’s going to be the most accelerated pre-draft period I can recall.
And one word of warning, and please take heed:
We are entering the age of disinformation; you’re going to hear all kinds of stuff about picks and favourites and who likes who and just remember this: Teams need to keep information to themselves and you need to always – always – ask who is best-served by stories attributed to “sources” and judge them accordingly.