Washington and Toronto are exploring a draft-day trade that would move the Wizards up two picks to No. 5, where they likely would select Rhode Island forward Lamar Odom or Miami of Ohio forward Wally Szczerbiak, according to a source in Toronto with knowledge of talks between the teams.
In turn, the Raptors would receive the Wizards pick -- No. 7 -- and a player, most likely forward Tracy Murray, the source said. The Raptors want to select Jonathan Bender, a forward from Picayune (Miss.) High School, who is expected to be available at the seventh pick.
The Raptors still are trying to work a trade with the Chicago Bulls, who have the first overall pick, so they can select Maryland point guard Steve Francis, the source said. However, if that falls through, the scenario with the Wizards is a possibility.
If the draft holds to form -- which may not be the case because several teams are jockeying to move up -- the Bulls are projected to take Francis, Duke's Elton Brand likely would be selected by the Vancouver Grizzlies, and the Charlotte Hornets are expected to take UCLA point guard Baron Davis with the third pick.
It is believed the Los Angeles Clippers, with the fourth pick, will take either Szczerbiak or Odom, whose stock recently has dropped because of concerns about his off-court behavior. Should the Wizards get the fifth pick from Toronto, they could select whomever of the two forwards the Clippers do not take. With the addition of one of those two forwards, Murray, who played for the Raptors in 1995-96, would become expendable for the Wizards.
If Washington is unable to move up in the draft, Szczerbiak is not projected to slip past the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have the No. 6 pick. Washington, like most teams, is high on the 6-foot-7 Szczerbiak, who improved his already worthy stock with strong postseason workouts.
The 6-10 Odom was projected as the first player to be picked after he declared for the draft after one season at Rhode Island. But Odom's failure to work out for several teams and his conspicuous absence at a predraft physical in Chicago have scared off some teams. Odom reportedly did work out finally yesterday on campus for representatives of at least four teams. He could be available at No. 7 should Washington not be able to move up in the draft.
"We're hearing that he's dropping [in the draft], and nobody knows why," Wizards General Manager Wes Unseld said. "We're trying to find out. I don't expect him to fall far, but if it comes to that . . ."