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The NBA Draft Is Here, The Last Of The NBA Season - The Downbeat - #517

  For the past month or more, you've been reading every mock draft, following every rumor, sifting through every analysis, and refreshing every five minutes for the latest to prepare yourself for today.

Armed with all of that knowledge, you now realize that precisely zero people know what's going to happen tonight.  This draft has been deemed the weakest in a very long time.  That could be the case. Because of that though, it's also become the most unpredictable draft as well.  We know who should be going in the top 2 or 3 we just don't know what order that will be.  

The biggest cog in that uncertainty is the Jazz.  I disagreed with Tom Ziller a couple of weeks ago stating that the Wolves were the biggest question mark and not the Jazz.  Kahn could still be Kahn but when it comes down to it, if he keeps the pick, he should pick Derrick Williams, recent twitter rumors aside that they have Kanter higher on their board.

The Jazz should go one of two ways.  Go big with Enes Kanter or take their PG of the future in Brandon Knight.  Both picks would have a ripple effect on the rest of the lottery.  Go big and Jimmer is still in play.  Go small and suddenly the Cavaliers have Kyrie Irving and Kanter which would be a big score in this draft.

To paraphrase the immortal Kay, "I need to tell you something about your draft knowledge.  As of right now, it means precisely squat."

Sit back and enjoy the day of draft rumors, trade rumors, and the actual trades and drafts.

  Chad Ford has released his latest and last Mock.  He's going with Kanter and Jimmer (Insider),

Analysis: GM Kevin O'Connor is now issuing his famous "no comment" when asked about what the Jazz will do here. They are one of the most tight-lipped teams in the league. They aren't leaking who they'll take at No. 3.

So why did I change this from Brandon Knight to Kanter? Because it's hard to get legit centers in the league, especially ones with Kanter's upside. So are point guards, which is why Knight could be the pick. But as of very early Thursday, I think the Jazz will go with size and upside and Kanter.

In his pick of Jimmer, he asks, "will crazed Jimmer fans rush to the streets of Salt Lake City and Provo if Fredette's name is called here?"  I don't Salt Lake is going to turn from red to blue.  It will be an interesting sight at the ESA though as we hear cheers and likely boos.

And what if Kemba Walker falls to the Jazz at 12?  Ford ponders what would happen if both Jimmer and Kemba are on the board (Free):

If Walker doesn't go No. 7, he could slide ... but how far? The Bobcats will look at him at No. 9. But to me, the most intriguing scenario of the entire draft will happen if Walker and Fredette are both on the board for the Jazz at No. 12. If the Jazz take Enes Kanter at No. 3, they are likely to go with a guard here. 

There will be enormous pressure on Utah to draft Fredette here and good reasons to do so. But would the Jazz really pass on Walker, a guy whom they seriously considered at No. 3, to take the hometown hero? I don't think so. I think if both players are on the board, the Jazz would take Kemba. It wouldn't be a hugely popular decision in Utah, but Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor isn't afraid to do the unpopular thing.     

O'Connor almost welcomes boos at this point, so it would be no problem for him to take Walker.  The Millers pretty much leave basketball decisions up to O'Connor and his crew so I can't see a Mark Cuban-like takeover and insisting the team draft Jimmer; not that there's a known preference.

If the Jazz took Walker and passed on Fredette, what would the ESA reaction be then in comparison to the earlier scenario?  No doubt some boos and some cheers.  Boos for not taking Jimmer.  Cheers not for Walker but because of no Fredette.

  Let me put a damper on your draft day.  After inching infinitesimally closer yesterday like two middle school teens at their first dance, news came out yesterday showing just how wide the divide is between the players and owners.    The owners' latest offer even asks for their money back from this past season,

In a hastily called meeting with a handful of reporters, union leaders also disclosed that the N.B.A. is seeking the return of $160 million earned by players in the 2010-11 season - money that was committed under the current labor deal.    

That's money that's already been distributed but held in an escrow.  Tom Ziller explains more,

This is salary already earned by players, but kept in reserve until the end of the season in case total player payroll exceeds 57 percent of the league's revenue. If it doesn't -- and it didn't -- that money goes to players. If payroll does exceed the threshold, team owners split the pot.    

Have you ever had your employer come to you and ask for you to return a portion of your salary for last year?  Especially after one of the most successful years of your career?  I'm pretty sure Mark Cuban spent that much on his post-championship in Miami.

At this point, it's almost as if the owners have taken this labor dispute personal and are just looking for opportunities to stick it to the players.  Derek Fisher told Ken Berger that the owners asked them, "why are we even talking?"

Enjoy the last NBA action you'll see in a long time tonight.

If you want the law side of the dispute, The Huffington Post has a thorough breakdown.

  Word came out yesterday that the Wolves were telling everyone that they were going to take Kanter with the second pick.  If that were the case, David Stern may as well call out the Jazz's pick at #3 for Derrick Williams.  Despite a tweet yesterday from HoopsReport, there's no way that the Jazz would pass on Williams.  Absolutely no way.

Chad Ford and anyone with ears and eyes (no knock on Ford) could see that this was Minny's feeble attempt to drive up the price for the second pick and try to justify some of their trade requests.  They know that if teams want to trade up to land Williams, they would have to get the second pick.  By leaking Kanter's name, they're trying to put a scare into GMs because they're certain the Jazz would take him at three and Utah would not trade the pick.

David Kahn is the bizarro O'Connor.  Loose lips sink picks?  It seems as if Minnesota will leak anything and everything while O'Connor is almost notoriously tight-lipped.  If O'Connor gets out-maneuvered by Kahn in this draft, I'll be upset.

  Open draft-day thread at 11.  Then another thread going up for the draft itself at 4:30.  I will be racing home to ensure I'm in front of the TV when the 1st pick is called.