Chad Ford Draft Buzz
Chad Ford: The Sacramento Kings finally got their wish on Monday … Ricky Rubio in their gym.
Unfortunately for Rubio and the Kings, he was playing one-on-none after going a month without picking up a basketball. The results shouldn't be much of a surprise to anyone. Several sources surrounding the Kings said Rubio didn't blow anyone away.
Of course he didn't. Rubio is a pass-first point guard who makes everyone around him better in a five-on-five game. In a one-on-none I wouldn't expect him to be great. He's not going to shoot the lights out. He's not going to put up highlight-reel dunks. He's just not that type of player.
But they did get to see him live. They got his measurements (6-foot-5 in shoes with a 6-foot-7 wingspan). They got to check out his body language and English skills.
Most importantly, the Kings got word that Rubio was making progress on a deal with his club in Spain, DKV Joventut, that will lower his buyout to roughly $4 million. When you factor in that Rubio will be allowed to make his payments over several years, there is no longer a huge financial impediment for Rubio to come to the draft.
The question on everyone's mind right now? What will the Kings do? The answer? It depends.
First there's a chance Rubio might not be there at No. 4.
The word on Monday night is that it looks like Hasheem Thabeet will be the Grizzlies' pick at No. 2 if they don't trade the pick.
With Thabeet gone, Thunder GM Sam Presti will decide between Rubio, James Harden and Stephen Curry.
If they take Rubio, then the Kings will likely draft either Tyreke Evans or Jonny Flynn.
If Rubio is on the board, it will be a pretty tough decision. As we've written previously, this is a debate about upside versus present value. Evans and Flynn are ready to play now. No question. Rubio? It may take him a while to adjust (though some in the league think he's actually more ready to play in the NBA after years of experience playing pro ball in Spain).
I don't think there's any question that Rubio has the most upside of the group. Given the fact that the Kings are so dreadful at the moment, wouldn't they choose the best player for the long-term health of the franchise? It depends. Most members of the Kings' front office staff are in the last year of their contracts. Do they want to stick their necks out for Rubio when they could take a safer pick like Evans or Flynn?
You get the picture.
If the Kings pass, a number of teams are trying to get Washington's pick at No. 5. Presumably Rubio is the target of at least some of the Wizards' suitors.
The Timberwolves at No. 6 are also high on Rubio. So are the Knicks at No. 8.Chad Ford: UCLA's Jrue Holiday was feeling the pressure. He was in New York today for a callback with the Knicks -- a team he would love to go to at No. 8. His first audition wasn't all that it should've been. He was overshadowed by more experienced players like Stephen Curry and Gerald Henderson. He struggled to shut down Curry defensively. He got frustrated. A little down. And then those old feelings of self-doubt, the ones that were on display all season at UCLA, started creeping up.
The Knicks were down on his first workout, but recognized that he could do better and invited him back to New York on Monday -- this time against Miami's Jack McClinton.
The result? "He was much, much better today," one Knicks source told ESPN.com. "He shot the ball better, played with confidence -- he's a special player."
The question is … is he special enough to overtake Brandon Jennings on the Knicks' draft board?
As of Sunday night, the Knicks had Jennings ranked slightly ahead. Jennings' workout in New York was full of sizzle and bravado and surprised the Knicks' brass, who thought he'd be less polished. Basketball guru Sonny Vaccaro, who orchestrated Jennings' year in Italy this past season, began telling people that Jennings was going to prove everyone wrong on draft night -- alluding to New York as a possible destination, according to sources who talked to Vaccaro.
Is Sonny speaking too soon? The word I got out of New York on Monday was mixed. On the one hand, the Knicks had originally had Holiday ranked higher and were persuaded that his size and versatility made him a better pick. On the other, Jennings seems to have the makeup to be a star in the NBA.
Sources said Knicks president Donnie Walsh will gather his staff on Tuesday to go over the draft one more time so that they can settle on a player.
Two things could still put a stop to Jennings' or Holiday's dreams of playing in New York.
First, the Knicks do have other players higher on their board. If Curry, Ricky Rubio, Tyreke Evans or Jordan Hill were on the board, I think they'd take them over Jennings or Holiday.
Second, the Knicks have had talks with the Wizards about acquiring the No. 5 pick. If the Knicks draft a point guard there, they'd likely go in another direction with their second first-round pick. Their offer was Larry Hughes for Etan Thomas and Mike James and the fifth pick. The Wizards were once high on Hughes and are in the market for a veteran player who can propel the team to a championship right now. They'd save some money in the deal, get a player who could help them … but is that enough for the No. 5 pick?
The Wizards are entertaining lots of other offers right now and the Knicks' offer of Hughes may not be enough.
• The word around the league is that Hasheem Thabeet canceled his workout in Memphis on Sunday in part because he's confident that the Thunder will take him with the No. 3 pick in the draft. How confident is a subject of debate. A few sources say Thabeet got a promise from the Thunder over the weekend. However a source close to Thabeet says he doesn't have a promise and feels there's still a good chance that Memphis takes him at No. 2 -- despite Thabeet's objections.
• There's been a lot of speculation the past few weeks that the Pistons may trade their pick at 15. Not true, according to Detroit sources. "We're in a position to add two to three players through free agency and to add a couple of players through the draft," the source said. "No need for us to move our pick for an extra $1.4 million of cap space."
As for all the talk that the Pistons promised everyone from B.J. Mullens to Earl Clark at No. 15. "It's totally B.S.," the source said. "Why would we promise someone in this draft? So many scenarios are still playing themselves out. Anything could happen. We're just going to be content to let whoever falls to us fall."
• The Rockets are actively hunting for a team willing to trade its lottery pick. Their offer? Carl Landry. I love Landry, but not sure he's worth a lottery pick. Then again, in this draft …