Posted on: June 23, 2009 11:13 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2009 6:24 pm

T-Wolves are on the clock (UPDATE)

The keys to the draft are now tucked neatly in the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

A flurry of pre-draft trade activity on Tuesday left Minnesota’s new GM, David Kahn, with four first-round picks – including the fifth and sixth – with clear designs on using at least two of them to move as high as needed to snag Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio or UConn center Hasheem Thabeet.

Or both.

The next 10 picks after the Clippers take Blake Griffin are no longer a bore. And if this works out the way Kahn envisions, neither are the Timberwolves.

To recap: Pending league approval, Minnesota has agreed to acquire Washington’s No. 5 overall pick along with Etan Thomas, Oleksiy Pecherov and Darius Songaila for Randy Foye and Mike Miller. With the fifth, sixth, 18th, and 28th picks, Minnesota is far from finished. A person familiar with the team’s plans said Minnesota is loaded for a run at Rubio, the gifted but raw 18-year-old point guard, and Thabeet, the 7-3 shot-blocker who would finally replace Kevin Garnett’s inside presence. “In a perfect world, both,” said the person with knowledge of Minnesota’s master plan.

Either way, this sends shivers through the Sacramento front office, which seemed to be hoping Rubio would be available with the No. 4 pick. Even more so, Kahn appears to have trumped his former boss with the Indiana Pacers, Knicks president Donnie Walsh, who has done a commendable job persuading some rival executives to believe that coach Mike D’Antoni wanted Rubio. But as much as Rubio’s play-making skills could energize D’Antoni’s free-wheeling, pick-and-roll offense, the player the Knicks covet is Davidson’s Stephen Curry, according to a high-level management source with knowledge of the team’s plans. But the Knicks believe they may not be able to land Curry with the eighth pick, as evidenced by their serious talks with Washington about the No. 5 selection – talks that stalled, according to a person familiar with them, when the Wizards balked at taking back Jared Jeffries and his $6.9 million player option for 2010-11.

Minnesota had to give up two proven commodities in Foye and Miller, and the deal came together like a perfect storm because of Washington’s desire to add veterans to its core of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison. The Wizards entertained numerous offers for the fifth pick, even exploring a deal with Phoenix that would’ve yielded Amare Stoudemire. They backed away from that one when the Suns asked for Butler.

In a draft in which team executives see no can’t-miss stars after Griffin, the Wizards didn’t want or need to pay a lottery pick to join a team that management believes is ready to contend now with a veteran roster and experienced coach, Flip Saunders. The trade also accomplished the Wizards’ goals of creating a roster spot and not taking back any salary beyond next season. The impact on Washington’s 2010-11 payroll is a wash.

The day began with a report that the Celtics had engaged in low-level discussions with the Pistons about a blockbuster scenario that would’ve sent Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen to Detroit for a package including Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Rodney Stuckey. The talks never went anywhere, but sparked league-wide curiosity about Boston management’s level of discontent with Rondo.

The Spurs struck first in what is shaping up to be a frenzied trading period, acquiring Richard Jefferson from Milwaukee for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto. It was a clear sign that the Spurs are determined to make at least one more championship run with their core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. For Milwaukee, acquiring $11.3 million in contracts that expire after next season clears cap space to re-sign promising guard Ramon Sessions.

Oberto was, in turn, sent to Detroit for Amir Johnson as the Pistons continue obliterating their roster in preparation for the 2010 free-agent frenzy. Joe Dumars now has only three players under contract for 2010-11 – Prince, Stuckey, and Arron Affalo. UPDATE: The Pistons plan to buy out Oberto, thus trimming more payroll for next season.

So, welcome to the 2009 NBA draft, a.k.a. the new trade deadline.
Posted on: June 18, 2009 11:42 am

Amare for Jefferson?

I hate to keep being that guy. You know, the guy who takes a perfectly delicious and sensible trade rumor and swats it into the fourth row like Dwight Howard. Sadly, I am stopping by the BergerSphere once again just long enough to ruin your day.

As with most trade rumors this time of year -- or any time of year, frankly -- any discussion of a trade between Phoenix and Minnesota involving Amare Stoudemire and Al Jefferson is premature. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, here's how this one went down. Suns and Timberwolves officials had a discussion at the pre-draft camp in Chicago that went like this: Phoenix expressed interest in Jefferson. Minnesota indicated that it would be highly unlikely it would be willing to do a deal involving Jefferson. Phoenix asked to be informed if that were to change.

That's it. Just another day on the pre-draft rumor mill.

There will, I promise you, be some actual trades that occur between now and draft night. After the first pick -- Blake Griffin to the Clippers -- the jockeying to move down is palpable. The teams positioned from 2-7 -- Memphis, Oklahoma City, Sacramento, Washington, Minnesota, and Golden State -- have varying degrees of desire to trade out of their spots. The one team that has expressed only a lukewarm desire to trade out is Sacramento, and the Thunder aren't 100 percent averse to using their pick -- although GM Sam Presti doesn't need another young guy. Memphis, according to a source, likes Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry, though not necessarily with the second pick. In a deep but not very top-heavy draft, the Grizzlies are said to be interested in moving down as far as No. 7. That's the theme heading into the last weekend before next Thursday night's draft. According to a team executive involved in the process, "Nobody wants to be the guy who takes somebody at [No.] 3 and passes on the next Michael Jordan at [No.] 7."

My radar tells me the Knicks are up to something, and a rival team executive confirms that New York is the rare example of a team that would consider moving up -- in this case, for either Curry or Ricky Rubio.

Strap on your trade rumor hats and give me the best you've got. The keys are on the table for a couple of days while I regroup after the Finals. Any trade rumors, reports, suggestions, or proposals that you post here will be answered.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com