T-minus 32 hours to the draft, and:
*Ron Artest almost certainly will not be a Warrior anytime soon.
It would not ordinarily rate as news, since a lot of teams will take a pass on partnering with Artest, except that Golden State was one of the actual and interesting potential Kings trade partners. Basketball boss Chris Mullin is a big fan, the Warriors have a $9.9-million trade exception that allows them the rarity of acquiring a player without sending a matching salary in return, and the Warriors have a need for Artest-like defense and post presence on offense.
It's a tough sell in other ways -- nothing clogs Nellieball like a guy dribbling... dribbling... holding the ball... dribbling... -- but Artest also delivers a lot of what the Ws are missing. There won't many better fits available if they're going for a big push in 2008-09, what could be the final season with Baron Davis and Don Nelson, with the added benefit of cap flexibility with Artest expected to become a free agent next summer.
That's the backstory. The pertinent detail of the moment is that the timing is really bad.
Because Artest has a clause that allows him to become a free agent, he can not be traded until he either notifies the Kings in writing he is keeping the existing deal or does nothing and keeps the contract simply by letting the deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Monday pass. Until then, he has the potential to be a free agent on July 1 and therefore is ineligible to be dealt.
The Warriors deadline for using the trade exception: 11:59 p.m. on Monday. So it will not realistically happen.
The only way the possibility flickers on is if Artest does send notice in advance of the deadline, kicking in the 2008-09 portion of the contract. There's no benefit for him to do that, though. It can only get him traded, and he has said he wants to be a King and, besides, every signal is that he won't opt out.
Doing a deal without the trade exception will be much more difficult because the teams will essentially need to match salaries. That wouldn't have had to happen before Monday. In return, the Kings could have gained a future first-round pick(s), the instant financial relief of shedding Artest's $7.4 million, and ownership of the trade exception at $7.4 million for one year from the date of acquisition.
*Derrick Rose to the Bulls, as expected, would make the Memphis freshman the first point guard to go No. 1 since Allen Iverson in 1996. So much talk about the balance-tipping importance of the position, but the basketball people always take big over small.
If news is coming out of two cities at the same time, something's usually cooking. Too much coincidence. It could also be that the two beat writers shared information, checked details with the team in their own market and the item became a single trade possibility with double credibility. That happens.
It has potential traction in Sacramento because the Pacers would no longer be desperate for a point guard if they acquire Ford and retain the No. 11 pick, one spot ahead of the Kings. That's D.J. Augustin territory. And if the Raptors get that selection as part of the deal, they wouldn't go point guard, not with Jose Calderon coming off a good season and an automatic to be re-signed as a restricted free agent.
There is no certainty the Kings take Augustin if he is there -- he's 5-10 in bare feet and 5-11 1/2 in shoes and doesn't have the real dragster speed it usually takes to compensate for the height disadvantage. But he would have to be at least an option for a roster without any true point guards under contract, and the Kings need options at 12. It's down far enough that, lottery or not, they're getting into the land of projects and backups.
The scouting report on Augustin from one executive, just in case: "I like him. Can run a team. Tough kid. Big situations don't bother him at all. I think he's going to be a good player.... Is he too small? No. He can play."
*There's nothing more ridiculous in pre-draft over-analysis than the suggestion that some connection a lifetime ago will drive a front office to a selection.
As if the Knicks are considering taking Danilo Gallinari at No. 6 for anything that has to do with New York coach Mike D'Antoni as a former teammate of Gallinari's father in Italy. It might give the Knicks some bonus insight into Gallinari's background or personality, and that's important, but it's nothing but a cute human-interest story after that.
Just like Kevin Love being linked to Minnesota, where Kevin McHale is VP of basketball operations and picking third. Stan Love used to show his young son film of McHale as a Celtics star, to demonstrate proper big-man fundamentals. Stan Love, a former NBA player, used to show his young son a lot of players.
Or as Kevin noted when asked about ending up in Memphis with the fifth pick:
"Hey, I'm into Elvis too."