Wizards owner Ted Leonsis declared on the night of the draft lottery that the team would not trade the third pick. A week later, President Ernie Grunfeld said “in all likelihood” the Wizards would keep the selection and added, “We do what our owner says.”
Other NBA teams have apparently taken those comments as a dare. As Thursday’s NBA draft draws near, the Wizards are discovering that No. 3 is in demand. According to two league sources, the Wizards have been fielding calls in recent days from teams interested in moving up to possibly select Kansas big man and District native Thomas Robinson.
The Charlotte Bobcats hold the second pick in the draft and are reportedly interested in taking Robinson but they also need to acquire more assets after finishing 7-59 last season. Cleveland has been mentioned as a possible trade partner for the Bobcats, since it holds picks No. 4 and No. 24.
The Wizards have interest in three players — Beal, Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes — and believe they are in a great position to address their needs for an upgrade in perimeter talent. It would likely take a knockout offer for the Wizards to budge, but they are picking up the phone.
According to multiple sources, the Bobcats are trying to convince teams interested in the second pick to also take back disappointing power forward Tyrus Thomas, who has more than $26 million remaining on his contract. Thomas is coming off the worst season since his rookie year as he averaged just 5.6 points and 3.7 rebounds. When asked if teams would be willing to touch Thomas, one Western Conference executive said, “I don’t think so.”
The Bobcats already made a huge deal on Tuesday, as it traded small forward Corey Maggette’s expiring contract to Detroit for shooting guard Ben Gordon and a lottery-protected draft pick in 2013. Gordon has been a disappointment since signing a five-year, $55 million contract with Detroit three years ago. The deal is unlikely to affect Charlotte’s plans for the second pick, but it does give the Bobcats one of the league’s smallest back courts with Kemba Walker in tow and if they retain restricted free agent D.J. Augustin.
If Charlotte deals the No. 2 pick and blocks the Wizards from taking the best perimeter option on their draft board, it would be interesting to see if Washington stands in the way of the Bobcats taking Robinson. This is a crazy draft game.
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