Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Can't-Miss Picks Missing

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Can't-Miss Picks Missing

Article excerpt

While the phones may be getting busy with trade talk -- mostly teams looking to slide down the draft -- there is one spot that is certain as the NBA Draft approaches Thursday night.

The New Orleans Hornets, winners of the lottery, are staying put and selecting Anthony Davis of Kentucky. No mystery. No flirtations. No moving at any price that they've heard.

But after that, it's up for grabs, with the deals being announced to be as likely as any pick in any spot. The first domino fell Tuesday when the Rockets, a deal first reported by the Houston Chronicle, sent Chase Buddinger and the rights to Lior Eliyahu to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the No. 18 pick in the draft. That gave the Rockets the No. 14, 16 and 18 picks -- all of which are up for grabs in a chance to move up either for pieces to obtain Dwight Howard from Orlando or for Howard himself.

Players who have done little to prove themselves stopped workouts and interviews early -- St. John's Moe Harkless and Syracuse's Dion Waiters among them -- with team executives sure that they have promises somewhere. But none of them was confessing to have made a promise to any player, anywhere.

"There just aren't the players who you view as can't miss after Davis and maybe [Bradley] Beal," one team official said. "You can get as much certainty at No. 10 as you can at No. 2."

The Knicks and Nets traded their first-rounders. The Knicks sent away what would have been the 16th pick and the Nets swapped out what became the No. 6 pick. Nets GM Billy King noted earlier this off-season that he always is aggressive on draft day, and while he's content with having dealt away this pick, he's open to trading back in.

"I'll always go into the draft, even if we had a top pick, to try to get other picks." King said. "You evaluate the draft, look at the talent that's there, and if [there's] someone that you want to go get, I've always been in my history aggressive. …

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