Wow. A guy covers a little horse-racing, a little baseball, a little hockey, and next thing you know all hell breaks loose.
More on this later further down, but Raptor fans should start Googling James Johnson. Right now he's looking like their most likely candidate at No. 9 tonight, with Jrue Holiday the next best bet. DeMar DeRozan, the feeling is, won't last that far down.
Anyway, is it my imagination or is this one of the most active pre-draft periods ever? It's likely only to get busier as the day goes on. "It's very unusual," said one league executive I spoke with. "Everyone, for different reasons, is starting to act."
Teams are loading up. I like Jefferson to San Antonio. If Richard Jefferson - even if he has lost a bit of lift, according to people close to the Bucks - is your fourth-best player, you have a pretty damn good team, and that's where San Antonio is now.
Shaq to Cleveland? Risky given that the Cavaliers' chemistry was perhaps their strongest feature last season - well, that and LeBron. Losing Pavlovic and Wallace won't hurt the Cavs. Wallace was done and was known to brood on occasion, and Pavlovic was perhaps the one Cavs rotation player who didn't linger around their practice facility for hours on end with LeBron and the rest.
The bigger chemistry issue is O'Neal and his giant personality. History lesson: When Moses Malone was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in 1982, he went out of his way to make everyone know it was still Dr. J's team and they went 65-17 in the regular season and 12-1 ("fo, fi, fo") in the post-season to win the NBA championship.
Well, the Cavs already are 66-win team, and have just traded two spare parts for a Hall-of-Famer, albeit an aging one.
Will Shaq fit in? Or will he defend LeBron better than anyone ever has by taking up all that space?
As for the Raptors: You can only imagine that the sudden stir of deal-making had Raptors president Bryan Colangelo's eyes on fire. He loves to deal and not being in on anything would be killing him.
From my poking around the sense is that DeRozan, the rawest of the Raptors targets for the No. 9 pick but also the one with the highest ceiling, will be gone by the time the Raptors are choosing. If that's the case - and three league sources have indicated that to me since last night - then look for the Raptors to choose James Johnson from Wake Forest. And you know what? I'm okay with that.
The Raptors got tougher when they added Reggie Evans. They would get tougher still if they add Johnson, a bruising small forward who echoes Rodney Rogers with a dash of Paul Pierce, and who won multiple national titles in karate and won in his only MMA bout against a 31-year-old when he was just 18.
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