(Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

The NBA Finals are over (but not the sniping between Draymond Green and LeBron James), which means it’s time to switch our focus to next week’s draft. In other words, unleash the draft rumors!


The biggest of the all the rumors looks like it came true!

As first reported by NBA.com and Turner Sports’s David Aldridge, the Celtics and 76ers indeed will make a deal, with the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s draft headed to Philly, which is expected to take University of Washington point guard Markelle Fultz.

There are still several moving parts to the deal, including what, exactly, the Celtics will get in return. Stay tuned.

Ball gets second workout with Lakers, but are they wary of him?

Lonzo Ball worked out in front of the Lakers’ brass for a second time on Friday, running hills, lifting weights and showing off his conditioning, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports. A source told her that the workout was “solid” after a reportedly lackluster first performance in front of his desired team.

Father LaVar Ball was in attendance this time after he was not invited to the first workout, where his son reportedly was winded by the conditioning drills.

Shelburne reported earlier that the younger Ball could start talking to teams that have lower lottery picks than the Lakers. So far Ball has only worked out for them, but Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders reported Saturday morning that he’s “not sold” that the Lakers truly want Ball and that they “seem to be struggling with him.” He also said Saturday that Los Angeles remains the “enigma” among the top lottery-picking teams and that team officials will meet this weekend to nail down their plans.

The Lakers aren’t the only team interested in Ball, obviously. The Phoenix Suns are looking to trade up from the fourth pick, according to Legion Hoops, in an attempt to pair Ball with Devin Booker.

Kyler further speculated that Ball will end up with either the Lakers, Suns or Kings and likely won’t fall past Sacramento with the No. 5 pick.


Celtics, Sixers “deep” in trade talks for No. 1 overall pick

Sound the alarm. Both The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski and ESPN’s Marc Stein and Zach Lowe are reporting that Boston and Philadelphia are engaged in trade discussions centered around Boston’s No. 1 overall choice, widely believed to be Washington point guard Markelle Fultz.

Wojnarowski elaborated further, noting that the potential deal involves the Sixers’ No. 3 overall pick in 2017 and package to include future first, per sources. He also reported that the discussions are far enough down the road that Fultz could be in Philly for a meeting as soon as Saturday. According to Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News, that’s indeed the case. Fultz also will talk to reporters after his workout at 6 p.m. EDT on Saturday.

Keith Pomprey of the Philadelphia Inquirer says not to expect anything concrete on this until the day of the draft.

Here’s Wojnarowski with the framework of the possible deal, which gets a little tricky with all the protected picks involved.

Celtics GM Danny Ainge really seems to like hoarding draft picks.

In any case, the Sixers are opening their arms to Fultz.

Pop that popcorn, draft fans.

Lakers also vying for Fultz at No. 1?

Jonathan Givony of Draft Express is reporting that Fultz “murdered” (in a good way) his workout with the Lakers Thursday, and that team is also now very interested in trading up to the top spot to nab the offensively gifted guard. Givony speculated that Los Angeles might offer the Celtics forward Julius Randle, the seventh overall pick in 2014, plus their No. 2 pick this year. The added he was told Josh Jackson’s second workout with the Lakers “did not go well at all.”


Celtics considering going with Josh Jackson at No. 1

It feels as though Washington point guard Markelle Fultz has been inextricably linked to Boston at the top spot since the draft lottery, but not so fast! ESPN’s Chad Ford reported Thursday that Kansas small forward Josh Jackson “has emerged as an intriguing option for the Celtics and team president Danny Ainge,” despite reportedly canceling a workout with the team this week.

“I’ve picked Danny’s brain for years,” an unidentified NBA general manager told Ford. “Jackson is an Ainge player all the way. Tough, athletic, long, versatile, elite motor. If he’s keeping the pick, Jackson just to me, far and away, is the most Celtics-type player for them to draft. From all my conversations with them, I’m convinced they’ll take Jackson No. 1.”

That view of Ainge’s prospect preferences is bolstered by his pick of Jaylen Brown at No. 3 last year, but by the same token, doesn’t Brown already give the Celtics much of what Jackson would provide? Then again, perhaps you can’t have too much of a good thing, and if Boston selected Fultz, it would have to figure out what to do with Isaiah Thomas.

In any event, the fact that Jackson canceled with the Celtics is interesting, because Phoenix radio host John Gambadoro‏ tweeted Monday that …

Jackson has been “promised” by a team in the top three

That’s “promised” as in, “If you’re still available when we pick, we’re taking you.” Gambadoro‏ claimed that it could be the 76ers, with third pick, but it was “likely” the Lakers, at No. 2, who made that verbal commitment.

Jackson worked out for the Lakers for a second time this week, increasing speculation that he is the team’s preferred target. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that “the Lakers are split over whether to use their No. 2 pick in the NBA draft on [Lonzo] Ball or Jackson.”

That, of course, would be the worst possible news for Ball, the UCLA point guard, and his family (you might have heard about his dad), who desperately want him to be drafted by his hometown team. Ball, perhaps not coincidentally, has his own second workout with the Lakers on Friday, at which he hopes to give the team “an up-close look at his training regimen and work ethic,” per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, who adds that the team also will get another chance to talk to LaVar Ball on Friday.

Ball might talk with other teams

Shelburne also reported that Ball “is still considering talking to teams that have lottery picks below” the Lakers. After the lottery, his father had claimed that only the Lakers would get to meet with his son, but the family could be getting nervous, especially because the team has also had workouts with Fultz and Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox.

Turner had this to offer: “Several executives said Ball appeared ‘out of shape’ and way “too cool” during his first workout with the Lakers, but another executive said the point guard still was impressive and that “his body of work at UCLA” demonstrated how skilled he is.”

Conflicting ESPN reports on Lakers trading back

Ford reported that “the Lakers held internal discussions about trading back two spots to No. 4 if the Suns were to offer them a 2018 first-round pick.” According to the ESPN reporter, “the Lakers believe that Ball or Jackson might be available at the No. 4 spot,” and they would be delighted to grab either player while picking up an additional asset.

In addition, Los Angeles is “still very high on Fox and [Duke small forward Jayson] Tatum,” further providing incentive to trade down two, or even three, spots. Imagine the roller-coaster ride for the Ball family, if the Lakers move to No. 5 (where the Kings now sit) and he still falls to them there.

However, in her report linked above about Lonzo Ball, Shelburne finishes by saying that “it remains highly unlikely [the Lakers] would trade the second overall pick.”

Kings trading up?

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Daily News passed along this intriguing possibility Thursday: “League sources keep saying the Sacramento Kings are seriously considering packaging picks No. 5 and 10 in a trade for the 76ers’ No. 3.”

According to Pompey, the Kings have zeroed in on either Fox or Jackson, and are worried that neither player will last until the fifth pick. It certainly would be very much in keeping with the Sixers’ “Process,” even well after firing former GM Sam Hinkie, for them to turn their pick into multiple lottery selections.

2017 first round order
1. Boston (from Brooklyn)
2. Los Angeles Lakers
3. Philadelphia (from Sacramento)
4. Phoenix
5. Sacramento (from Philadelphia)
6. Orlando
7. Minnesota
8. New York
9. Dallas
10. Sacramento (from New Orleans)
11. Charlotte
12. Detroit
13. Denver
14. Miami
15. Portland
16. Chicago
17. Milwaukee
18. Indiana
19. Atlanta
20. Portland (from Memphis via Denver and Cleveland)
21. Oklahoma City
22. Brooklyn (from Washington)
23. Toronto (from LA Clippers via Milwaukee)
24. Utah
25. Orlando (from Toronto)
26. Portland (from Cleveland)
27. Brooklyn (from Boston)
28. Los Angeles Lakers (from Houston)
29. San Antonio
30. Utah (from Golden State)