The anticipation in building.
The AT&T bills are sky high.
GM's around the league are trying to get the lay of the land and get a sense of what is out there.
(Sidenote - Isiah Thomas' bill is either the smallest - greatest number of hang-ups, or largest - everyone trying to give him their max contracts.)
It's less than 48 hours until draft day, the day that so many fans look forward to to see just what their respective teams are going to do to try and correct past errors, build for the future, or add to already elite squads. (Or, in the case of San Antonio Spur fans, waiting three to five years to figure out what your team just did.)
It's a day of hope for Raptor fans in particular (the 2004 draft being the exception) and now with the first pick, whether or not there is a Lebron, it is hard not to be excited to see just what Raptors' GM Bryan Colangelo does. The mind races just trying to think about all the options available to Colangelo and co, especially considering the mass amount of rumours and possibilities regarding them.
And finally, we can't sleep at all. Here are some things on our minds as the clock ticks down to draft day tomorrow eve...
The Brandon Roy Effect
Is there another guy out there that seems to have so much control over the draft? Rumours of the Lakers, Rockets, Sonics and others trying to secure his services must be making the teams in many of the top ten spots sweat. The idea that Roy is the most NBA-ready and solid all around player is well known. Where he lands is far from determined however and while not likely the top overall pick, Roy might in fact be the most coveted player in this year's draft.
This raises many possibilities of course. Right now the main rumour is that Atlanta will attempt to select him at the fifth spot and trade him to Houston for the eighth pick and another player (reportedly Luther Head.) This will allow Atlanta to draft Shelden Williams at eight and get more of a point guard all in one fell swoop. Sounds good right? Of course...but will Roy even be there at the fifth spot for Atlanta to draft? Roy would be a good fit for the Bulls, Bobcats and Trailblazers, all of whom draft before Atlanta. And furthermore, could Toronto throw a monkey wrench into the whole draft and grab him first overall for trade purposes? - you bet...and where he ends up will have a major trickle down effect. For example, most mock drafts now have Roy slated at that very 5-spot to Atlanta. But if Charlotte decides to snatch him up at three, or Toronto grabs him at one to use as trade bait, things could get interesting very quickly. In fact ESPN.com's Chad Ford considers this situation and it could result in Rudy Gay falling all the way to number nine! To nine?! The fact that a guy who at one point was the number one pick could now slide to nine is just an example of how no one really knows how this is going to play out.
The Wild World of Trades
There's been a ton of trade talk in the days leading up to the draft and a lot has revolved around Toronto. First came the rumours of a deal with Portland trading the top pick for anyone we want on the Blazers. Ok, I jest but it's obvious that Portland is basically starting from scratch and is willing to trade nearly anyone on their team. And while Colangelo denied the rumours I don't buy it. There's no way a team with an obvious interest in Adam Morrison didn't make the requisite call to Colangelo. Whether Colangelo picked up the phone when he saw who was calling is another matter...
Next of course came the rumours involving Indiana and Charlotte concerning Jermaine O'Neal and Brevin Knight respectively. Both of these were shot down as being false as well by Colangelo and neither made much sense from our perspective. Giving up J.O. is a pretty big move concerning none of the top picks this year look to have as much potential as the current All-Star. And we're not sure why Charlotte would move Brevin Knight only to move up two spots in the draft and have to take back Alvin Williams. Nope, that didn't really jive.
Right now the rumour that seems to keep floating around is a possible pick and player swap with the Seattle Sonics. In fact the rumours are eerily similar to the ideas we had when presenting our "playing GM" scenarios and would see us dealing the top pick, Charlie Villanueva and Alvin Williams to Seattle for the tenth pick, Ray Allen and Earl Watson. A Ray Allen/Chris Bosh combo sure is intriguing and this trade would essentially boil down to trading future potential (CV Smooth and the top pick) for present success. You can't say that a lineup of Watson, Allen, Mo Pete, Bosh and Rasho wouldn't compete for a playoff spot in the East. And, with the 10th pick there's a great chance Toronto could get a prospect like Patrick O'Bryant or Marcus Williams to develop. But does this trade even work salary wise? We checked and it would, but only if Toronto includes a re-signed Mike James in the deal and that just doesn't make much sense for a Seattle team looking to cut costs. And in any event...would Seattle actually make this trade?
The Value of Villaneuva - Two Takes
Howland: Yes, beside the Seattle rumours, obviously there have been whispers out there about Charlie V. Am I the only one that thinks it would take a mind blowing offer before BC should even consider dealing this guy? Charlie has a better offensive repretoire than pretty much everyone in the draft this year, he can get in the post, drive and hit from the outside, pass like a PG, is multi-dimensional and has showed flashes of brilliance. Trading him, in particular this early into his rookie contract, seems ludicrous. His production per dollar is going to be sky high over the next couple of years.
Maybe I am over-valueing him, but I can't help but think I would rather trade the #1 than Charlie because Charlie seems to be the real deal. There is some comfort in that.
Franchise: I on the other hand think that you have to look at dealing Charlie. Potential is always the siren's lure but at some point you need to win games. I'm not saying Toronto sells the farm to make the playoffs...but a deal to acquire a solid veteran who can help now, while still drafting someone on potential, is the ideal situation coming out of this draft. In the same light, Mo Pete has always been my favourite Raptor but if he can fetch Toronto something even better in return, you've gotta look at it. I really think Chris Bosh is the only untouchable on this team right now.
Stars on the Block - Two More Thoughts
Howland: Allen Iverson, Jermaine O'Neal, Rashard Lewis, Shawn Marion, Ray Allen...man if the rumours are true there is some talent to be had if you are willing to pay the price. BC has to be looking around the league right now looking at teams desperate to shake things up. One player that you would have to consider on this list that has not really been discussed here is A.I...What would it take to get Iverson here? Is he a fit? Want a guy with heart and he's your man, but would he take away from Bosh's development and his growing into the leader role? A deal with Alvin, a re-signed Mike James and CV Smooth would work, or maybe it would take the number one pick, but you have to explore. Allen has been to the promised land and you know he wants to get back there. It would also address the need to have someone bring the ball up the floor. Nothing is truly outside the realm of possibility now.
Franchise: Yep. I'm not sure I remember a summer of more big names who aren't free agents possibly on the move. However there's a reason all these big names are out there...they each have big issues of some sort. Big contracts, big egos, big demands, big injury risks...take your pick. I've always been an Iverson fan in terms of his play on the court. There are precious few who play the game harder and with more passion and desire, however I just don't see a fit with what Colangelo is trying to do. If Mike James isn't the answer at point in Colangelo's mind, then there's no way Iverson is either. In fact, the more I see Colangelo's moves unfold, the more I think that Toronto isn't going to go after a big contract this off-season. With the moves Toronto has already made and a good draft, it's possible Toronto will be able to get that last playoff spot and perhaps Colangelo would rather make his big splash in the following off-season...
Who Cares About the Second Round?
Admittedly, the three of us at the HQ in addition to being Raptor fans, are college hoops junkies. Perhaps that's why we have such an interest in second-round options who, as one of our readers so hillariously put it, might as well be Nacho Libre. I think in some years yes, the second round is simply a game of "well, this player was good in college" or "this player has bigger feet than everyone else which might impress the ladies so we might as well draft him." However with the parity, and admittedly mediocrity, of this year's draft, I think our second round picks, especially the 35th pick, will yield real value. In fact I think we're more excited about pick 35 than pick 1! Why you ask? Well the top pick is sort of a "well, whoever Colangelo picks, we have faith in his decision" type situation. I mean, will anyone REALLY be upset if he takes any of the top six players there? I don't think so. However at 35, things really get interesting. With the uncertainty of the draft, it's quite possible that a solid player falls to Toronto at 35 simply because teams at the end of the first round start drafting on need. As we've alluded to previously, it's entirely possible that a solid college player like Mardy Collins, Jordan Farmar or Kyle Lowry falls to us at that spot. Conversely, a player with great potential like a James White or Josh Boone could be there too hence our excitement. Just looking at the past five drafts it's evident that the second round, especially early in it, has been a great source of solid players.
In 2004, Anderson Varejao, Chris Duhon and Trevor Ariza stand out.
In 2003 we had players like Steve Blake, Kyle Korver, James Jones and Luke Walton.
In 2002 - Dan Gadzuric, Carlos Boozer, Flip Murray and Darius Songaila.
In 2001 - Gilbert Arenas, Mehmet Okur, Earl Watson and Bobby Simmons.
And in 2000 - Marko Jaric, Eddie House, Eduardo Najera and Michael Redd.
No, this isn't exactly an All-Star collection, but the point is that if you do your homework, decent rotation players can be had for cheap.
A final thought for this mismash of concepts...RaptorsTV. While I'm not a huge fan of some of its programming, its draft content is impeccable. The "Behind the Draft" features are my favourite, especially the ones filmed during the more "camera-friendly" days of Glen Grunwald. I mean, it's fascinating to get a look inside the Raptors' "war room" on draft night to see Jim Kelly feverishly working the phones, Glen Grunwald mulling over various trade ideas, Jack McLosky giving bad advice...you can't beat it!
These programs also give you an idea of what deals were being proposed and who Toronto could have traded for in each draft. In particular, the Chris Jefferies draft episode really gets me going. Grunwald actually had Tayshaun Prince in mind with that pick before Detroit snatched him up just before Toronto's choice! And coach Walker D...nice work vetoing a trade for Joe Johnson...you're working where now?
What really kills me though in each of these episodes is seeing Richard Peddie nod his head in agreement when Grunwald would talk to him about certain prospects and proposed deals...sure you knew what Glen was talking about Richard. Anyone else think Peddie was really just keeping an eye on how much Lenny Wilkens spent on pens for the Raptors' war room?
The last two "Behind the Draft" episodes just aren't as good however as Rob Babcock really kept what went on behind closed doors on draft night a secret. Here's to hoping that Colangelo opens things back up as nothing makes for high-drama TV-viewing like seeing Kevin O'Neil get put on his ass by power-forwards during workout action...