Basketball Trade Rumors and Notes for June 22nd

1. Chris Paul draws interest as draft nears

2. Blazers pay $2M for draft pick

3. Doc Rivers remains undecided

4. Agent says Turner fits best with Sixers

5. Bulls’ aim: Clear more salary-cap space

6. Nets making push to trade for Hornets guard Chris Paul; New Orleans balks at offer

7. Knicks looking to trade into first round of draft for shot at Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez

8. Trading for Chris Paul helps get LeBron?1. Chris Paul draws interest as draft nears

Yahoo Sports is reporting As the July 1 start of free agency pushes closer, powerbroker William Wesley has been working multiple angles to NBA front offices about possible trades and signings. Here’s his latest: World Wide Wes has been pitching teams with salary-cap space that trading for New Orleans Hornets star Chris Paul will dramatically increase their chances of signing LeBron James, multiple sources told Yahoo! Sports.

New Orleans general manager Jeff Bower has no intention of trading Paul, but multiple league executives believe that until owner George Shinn closes on the team’s sale with billionaire oilman Gary Chouest, there is a price with which Paul could be pried away.

"He can be had with Shinn in there, but once the new guy takes over, he’s off the market," one senior front-office executive told Y! Sports.

Can Wesley deliver Paul? Extremely doubtful, but that hasn’t stopped his sales pitch to teams, league sources said. First of all, Paul hasn’t requested a trade out of New Orleans, so the franchise isn’t under pressure to move him. He has two years and $31.3 million left on his contract until he can opt out before the 2012-13 season."

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2. Blazers pay $2M for draft pick

Espn is reporting "The price of moving up in the NBA draft has been established. And it’s expensive.

Two sources told that the Portland Trail Blazers paid the Golden State Warriors $2 million to move up 10 places when the teams made a trade Monday exchanging the 34th and 44th picks in the second round of Thursday’s NBA draft.

Numerous teams, especially the teams that have cleared salary space, are interested in buying up second-round picks to fill empty roster spots."

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3. Doc Rivers remains undecided

The Boston Herald is reporting "Though a few days have passed since the Celtics lost Game 7 of the NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers, coach Doc Rivers isn’t ready to make a decision about his future.

Rivers appeared on WEEI’s "Dennis and Callahan" show yesterday morning and shed no light on his plans for next season. He has one season remaining on his contract, but he could decide to walk away in order to spend time with his family.

"I am not going to say which way I am leaning – and I am one way – but I could look you in the eye and say that I have not made a decision," Rivers said in his first public comments since Game 7. "We (the coach and his family) have only had a small conversation, and we are going to do that in the next week or so."

Rivers didn’t tip his hand, but he clearly is concerned with missing important time with his family in Winter Park, Fla.

Son Jeremiah Rivers will be a senior guard at Indiana University, daughter Callie Rivers will be a senior volleyball player at the University of Florida and son Austin, one of the top basketball recruits in the country, will be a senior at Winter Park High School."

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4. Agent says Turner fits best with Sixers

The Philadelphia Daily News is reporting As an agent, David Falk’s stake in the 76ers includes a major chunk of the present (Elton Brand) and perhaps a star of the future (Evan Turner).

We’ll all know much more about Turner at the beginning of Thursday night’s NBA draft, in which the Sixers hold the No. 2 pick. Conventional wisdom says the Sixers remain focused on Turner, the guard from Ohio State. The speculators would like you to believe there’s a split in the organization, one side preferring Turner, another faction lobbying for 19-year-old Georgia Tech forward Derrick Favors.

But it sounded like Turner 2 weeks ago, last week and yesterday. And it almost certainly will be Turner Thursday night.

"For me, it’s all about ‘fits,’ who fits best with which team," Falk said yesterday. "I believe Evan is a good fit for the Sixers and became a better fit when Doug Collins was named the coach because Doug has a lot of experience with guards."

Falk allowed Turner to work out only for the Sixers, declining an opportunity to work out for the Washington Wizards, who hold the No. 1 overall pick and are expected to take Kentucky guard John Wall. Again, conventional wisdom suggests that if Falk believed Turner had a realistic chance of becoming the No. 1 pick, he would have allowed his client to work out there.

But asked directly whether he had any reason to believe Turner would not be the Sixers pick, Falk said, "To speculate more would be irresponsible."

Falk said Turner was "relaxed, enjoying the situation," showing maturity and patience as he awaits Thursday night.

"He’s 21, he played 3 years," Falk said. "That’s a lot different than guys who went to school for, say, 3 months. It’s fun watching him learning the marketing and business aspects, watching him grow. He’s comfortable.

"I’m hoping to hear his name called early Thursday night, but that’s up to the Sixers."

For the record, the draft starts at 7:30 p.m.

Falk also represents Brand, the power forward who signed a free-agent contract worth $79.8 million 2 years ago, but has struggled coming back from Achilles’ tendon surgery, a shoulder separation and a mystifying year with since-fired coach Eddie Jordan.

"Doug will form a great partnership with Elton," Falk said. "He knows Elton well. Last year was disappointing, but Elton feels he has a number of productive years left. I think he might have a little bit of a chip on his shoulder to prove all the pundits wrong.

"Successful people bounce back from adversity, and Elton knows a lot of people have written him off after last year. He has to do it on the floor, but I believe Doug will rehabilitate his career.""

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5. Bulls’ aim: Clear more salary-cap space

The Chicago Tribune is reporting "For months, the Bulls have talked internally and whispered to organizational confidantes about the desire either to possess enough salary-cap space to sign two big-name free agents outright or engineer a sign-and-trade for one and acquire another with cap space.

The NBA draft may be Thursday, but July 1 — the start of free agency — still dominates management’s plans.

League sources continue to indicate the Bulls are shopping the 17th pick and trying to package it with long-term contracts to clear even more cap space than the projected $20 million to $22 million t
hey currently possess. A maximum free-agent salary will start at roughly $16.5 million.

In the current NBA financial climate, it might be a long shot for the Bulls to move either Luol Deng or Kirk Hinrich, particularly for expiring contracts. But the Bulls are trying.

In lieu of that, the Bulls have worked out roughly 35-40 players in a draft that is regarded by most scouts as below average beyond the lottery. With just six players currently under contract for next season, the Bulls’ needs are many.

Topping the list are perimeter shooting and size up front, although 2008 draft-day acquisition Omer Asik, a 7-foot Turkish center, is expected to be in training camp and Brad Miller could return at the right price."

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6. Nets making push to trade for Hornets guard Chris Paul; New Orleans balks at offer

The New York Daily News is reporting "The Nets are one of several teams that have called the New Orleans Hornets about trading for Chris Paul, but the Hornets are not looking to move their franchise guard, according to team and league sources.

Nets president Rod Thorn, who pulled off the blockbuster deal for Jason Kidd in 2001, has expressed interest in Paul in recent weeks. Reportedly, the Nets have offered Devin Harris and the No. 3 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, but the Hornets, starting a new era under first-time coach Monty Williams, are not ready to part with the face of the franchise and their only box-office draw.

"We are not going to move him," said one team official Monday. "He’s our foundation and is not exactly ‘touchable.’"

But that hasn’t stopped several teams from calling the Hornets to gauge their interest in a deal to move Paul, who is entering his sixth NBA season."

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7. Knicks looking to trade into first round of draft for shot at Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez

The New York Daily News is reporting The Knicks are looking to trade into the first round of Thursday’s draft toone of three players, including Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez, a team official told the Daily News late Monday.

The club is debating between Vasquez, Iowa State power forward Craig Backins and New Mexico small forward Darington Hobson. Brackins had a strong workout with the Knicks, who see him as a legitimate 3-point threat."

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8. Trading for Chris Paul helps get LeBron?

Yahoo sports is reporting NBA powerbroker William Wesley is spending a lot of time on the phone, calling around to all the NBA front offices before the July 1 free-agent window gets thrown open. And the product he is selling, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, is that if a team trades for New Orleans Hornets star Chris Paul, it will help them to also get Paul’s close buddy, LeBron James, onto the roster.

The Hornets don’t want to trade Paul, who has two years and $31.3 million left on his contract until he can opt out, but until the ownership of the team officially changes to Gary Chouest, a trade is possible, according to Wojnarowski’s sources.

"He can be had with Shinn in there, but once the new guy takes over, he’s off the market," one senior front-office executive told Wojnarowski.

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