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Draft Day rumor/open thread: Final mocks have Bolden or Anunoby; Raps could shop Valanciunas

16 mins read

Throughout the day, I’ll continue updating this thread with the latest rumors, deals, and mock drafts. Check back often.

The draft starts at 7, with the first picks coming at 7:30.

(Here’s the hub for all of our draft content, and a final ranking list, by the way.)

Mock Drafts

Latest Update: 6:25 p.m. – It’s still quiet but at least we got one more mock

Chad Ford: Ford still has Jonah Bolden going to the Raptors at 23 in his Mock 8.1, where he’s been all day, pointing out that Masai Ujiri “has a penchant for finding and drafting similar under-the-radar prospects.” Bolden’s a super interesting name after leaving UCLA to become the Adriatic League’s Rookie of the Year, and thanks to a commenter directing me to some YouTube videos, I was able to watch a bit more beyond his freshman year. Ford has no notes or rumors on the Raptors front in his mock, though he lists Semi Ojeleye, Tony Bradley, and Tyler Lydon as other potential picks there.

DraftExpress: In Jonathan Givony’s 10:30 update, he has OG Anunoby sliding to the Raptors at No. 23. Whether it’s injury concern, the risk of him losing some development time because of it, or a raw offensive game, or what, this is the lowest Anunoby’s felt in the entire process. He’s a guy the Raptors spoke with and would seem like a fit with the style of player they’ve been attracted to in the past, and the Raptors probably wouldn’t have an issue with getting little return from the No. 23 spot in Year One.

DX previously had the Raptors taking Tyler Lydon, though their early-morning update moved to Anunoby and has held there. It’s worth a reminder here that while Ford has historically gotten the highest number of pick slots exactly right, it’s DraftExpress that’s performed the best with mock drafts in terms of average error. In other words, they do a better job having guys in their firm draft range than anyone else. Tyler Lydon, Semi Ojeleye, Anzejs Pasecniks, and Harry Giles sandwich the Anunoby pick here.

Draft-specific news and rumors

  • 6:50 p.m.: Michael Grange of Sportsnet cites multiple league sources who indicate the Raptors have looked into moving Jonas Valanciunas with the No. 23 pick. Zach Lowe adds that the Raptors are quietly exploring “a lot of different things.”
    • Grange doesn’t speculate on a return, but this has long made sense as a means of shedding significant salary ahead of a tough luxury tax crunch while also still returning an asset. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, using Valanciunas to move up a bit in the draft could serve two ends (improving the pick and saving money), but finding a trade partner is the tough part. It’s not necessarily a Valanciunas thing – I know he’s divisive, but he remains a useful piece on a decent deal – but if the Raptors want to keep most of the core together, they’ll have to cut salary somewhere, and finding a home for DeMarre Carroll would be much tougher (and probably costlier). It doesn’t make a lot of sense to bring both Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka back, given financial constraints. It’d be tough to watch a long-time core piece go. It may wind up being the best thing for the team and player, though, depending on the deal.
  • 5 p.m.: Nothing. Nothing is happening. The Raptors don’t leak.
  • 2 p.m.: Michael Scotto informs us that the Raptors are gauging the market for the No. 23 pick and are open to moving down. This meshes with what Masai Ujiri said Tuesday, which is that they’re still exploring a number of uses for the pick and are prepared for (and comfortable with) a number of scenarios depending on what happens leading up to the draft. We’ve now heard the Raptors are willing to move up or down, and they’re probably open to moving out altogether.
    • It’s easy to kind of scoff at reports like this, because of course the Raptors are willing to move in different directions if the market makes sense. But Scotto is almost surely hearing from a team that’s engaged with Toronto (Scotto has become a trusted name over the last two seasons), and hey, it’s a slow news day so far. If nothing else, it’s nice to know that A) the Raptors are always active, and B) they run a ship that only lets the slightest glimmers of information leak (and this probably isn’t coming from them).
    • My best guess here is that the Raptors would probably like to attach the No. 23 pick to Jonas Valanciunas in a move that nets them an asset back but helps trim a lot of salary in the process ahead of a luxury tax crunch.
  • 9 a.m.: Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun got a quote from OG Anunoby talking about what the Raptors told him during an interview. Yes, that means Anunoby is the one name that we know the Raptors met with who wasn’t on the public workout list. Word is they didn’t physically work anyone out privately, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Anunoby wasn’t the only name they interviewed. There’s also the usual matter of agency-run camps and pro days, the combine, and so on – they’re not making any picks blind here, regardless of the workout list.

Other Raptors news and rumors

Thursday rumors…

  • Damn, it’s quiet. What else did we expect, though?
  • 1:30 p.m.: I’m ordering pizza.
  • 2:30 p.m.: I’ve officially booked my flight and hotel for Summer League. Hopefully there’s an actual pick to cover.

Prior to Thursday…

  • The NBA told teams Wednesday that the 2017-18 salary cap and luxury tax projections have been decreased from $101M and $121M, respectively, to $99M and $119M. This has pretty big implications for the Raptors. Quickly:
    • Kyle Lowry’s maximum salaries decrease as a result. He can now earn only $149M on a four-year max from another team, $155.2M on a four-year max from the Raptors, and $201M on a five-year max from the Raptors.
      • The net effect here is probably that it’s a little more likely Lowry stays. It doesn’t have as much to do with the money,necessarily, but that it’s now more difficult for two of his biggest perceived suitors (Houston and San Antonio) to get the requisite cap space to sign him away. Yes, Utah and Denver and some others remain threats, and sign-and-trades are there as a tool (although not a super-likely one since Lowry can’t get a penny more this way), but it’s probably slightly more likely Lowry stays now than before.
      • The Rockets, by the way, are interested, though they’re interested in all of the star free agents, per Marc Stein. Houston would need to shed salary, but that ma not prove too difficult with some semi-attractive salaries to dangle.
    • This is a net negative for the Raptors overall, though. If they want to remain competitive, a decrease in the luxury tax level makes their post-Lowry cap crunch even more difficult and further ratchets up the need to shed a salary this offseason. The lower luxury tax apron ($125M), which acts as a sort of hard-cap in certain offseason scenarios, ties their hands a little further. And if they opt to blow things up instead, this stands to limit the cap space with which they could chase young free agents.

Non-Raptors news and rumors

Thursday rumors...

  • 7:55 p.m.: Woj reports that the Celtics are close on a deal for Paul George and I am dead inside. Mercifully, Woj is saying those talks have stalled.
  • 7:40 p.m.: The Wolves are close to acquiring Jimmy Butler, per Marc Stein. The Bulls will get Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 pick, and the Wolves will get the No. 16 pick along with Butler. Good googly moogly.
  • 6:20 p.m.: Teams are still exploring deals and willing to make moves if the right deal comes along. Pizza is still delicious, etc.
  • 6:15 p.m.: Chris Haynes reports that the Nuggets and Suns engaged on a Bledsoe-for-Mudiay-and-#13 swap.
  • 5:05 p.m.: Per Briand Windhorst, the Cavs have discussed a deal for Danny Green, but the Spurs have a high asking price. Considering the Cavs don’t have a GM, it’d probably be tough to get a deal done.
  • There was also a bit more Drummond buzz, particularly with the Kings, but Sam Amick poured cold water on it.
  • 2:50 p.m.: There seems to be a lot of actual traction on a Porzingis deal, with the Celtics looking to acquire an extra lottery pick (likely from Minnesota) to pair with No. 3 and a future pick. It’s a lot to digest. Ian Begley has had most of the inside stuff on this one. (Some reports have them asking for even more.)
  • A shocking one: Several teams are open to moving up or down in the draft if the right deal is there.
  • 12:30 p.m.: More notably, last year’s Jimmy Butler-to-Minnesota rumors appear ready to pick back up.
    • And oh, hey, Woj says Ricky Rubio’s name is in the wind, as usual. Poor guy.
  • 10:10 a.m.: The Spurs have engaged with teams on LaMarcus Aldridge, looking to land a top-10 pick (and clear cap space, I’d imagine). That’s an interesting one.
    • The Suns and Blazers are out there in rumors, but nothing seems to have a ton of traction just yet.

Prior to Thursday…

  • A quick run down of the trades that have already been made or reportedly agreed to:
    • Not sure if you heard, but the Celtics traded the No. 1 pick to the 76ers for the No. 3 pick and a conditional future first (the Lakers’ pick in 2018 if it falls 2-5, otherwise the Kings’ pick in 2019 if it’s not No. 1).
    • The Lakers traded D’Angelo Russell and TIM Mozgov to the Nets for Brook Lopez and the No. 27 pick.
    • The Hornets traded Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli, and the No. 41 pick to Atlanta for Dwight Howard and the No. 31 pick.
    • Tim Frazier was dealt to the Wizards for the No. 52 pick.
    • Greg Monroe picked up his option for next year, taking at least one big off the market. Dwyane Wade picked up his option, too.
    • Nick Young declined his option. He sure can shoot. Aron Baynes declined an option, too, and the Wolves waived Nikola Pekovic. Much earlier, the Kings had waived Anthony Tolliver.
  • And a run down of some rumors:
    • Danny Green could be available as the Spurs look to make room.
    • DeAndre Jordan could move, and the Clippers and Pistons have broached a Jordan-Andre Drummond swap.
    • Paul George rumors have quieted down, but league experts initially expected today to work as sort of a soft deadline for the Pacers.
    • Patrick Beverley is being shopped as the Rockets look to clear space. Lou Williams and Ryan Anderson could be dangled, too.
    • The Grizzlies may only be willing to offer Tony Allen the minimum, which you’d think would make him look elsewhere. Vince Carter hinted last night he could take less money to sign with the Warriors.
    • The Hawks could be open to sign-and-trading Paul Millsap, which would be a heck of an interesting situation. (From the Raptors’ perspective, it’d be tough to put together an attractive offer that works under the cap rules, but you can bet they’ll call and see if something can be worked out.)
  • The Knicks remain the worst. What a mess. Kristaps Porzingis is going to wind up somewhere else and be a goddam stud.
  • Similarly, the Cavs are a bit of a mess – after letting David Griffin walk (dumb), Chauncey Billups may not even accept the presidency, and they’re entering the draft and maybe free agency without a management team in place. LeBron James won Cleveland their title…he likely feels comfortable leaving again if the situation worsens, and he can become a free agent next summer.

Keep checking back throughout the day!

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