Latest draft mockery and news, Bucks reportedly interested in J.R. Smith (because of course), Sergey Karasev's appeal

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Draft day is upon us, so naturally everyone has opinion on what direction the Bucks will go. Could it be Sergey Karasev? Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Bucks appear to have their eye on the Russian wing.

ESPN New York: Bucks have "strong' interest in J.R. Smith, could also bid for Copeland
Another day, another set of rumors. This time around, Chris Broussard and Jared Zwerling report that the Bucks are planning free agent pitches to a pair of Knicks: reigning Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith and restricted free agent small forward Chris Copeland. The combustible Smith scored a career-high 18.1 ppg last season (albeit on meh 52.2% true shooting) before falling flat in the playoffs, while Copeland came out of nowhere to post terrific per-minute numbers (22.6 pts/40, 16.89 PER) and shooting efficiency (42.1% from deep, 58.3% true shooting) as a 29-year-old rookie.

Both players have pledged their desire to stay in New York, but they'll likely have to turn down more money elsewhere to make that possible. Because Smith has only played the past two seasons in New York, he's an Early Bird free agent and thus the capped-out Knicks can't offer him any more than the average salary (a shade under $6 million). Meanwhile, Copeland is limited to the mini mid-level of $3.18 million in New York. ESPN reports that Copeland is expected to garner interest from no less than ten teams, and given his background as an undrafted free agent who needed seven years to make it to the NBA, you can bet he's not going to take a big discount to stay in New York.

As for the Bucks' interest? Well, Copeland is a nice player who would bring some much-needed floor-stretching ability to the forward rotation, though the Bucks will hardly be the only team with that in mind. And while Smith's perimeter game would be a nice addition to the Bucks' bare backcourt cupboard, all the other stuff about J.R. Smith just doesn't seem to make any sense in Milwaukee. And honestly I'm not really that into the idea of him being worth more than the mid-level to begin with, so...well, maybe he'll end up staying in New York after all. I think Jeremy's post over at Bucksketball pretty much nails it.

I'd have a hard time of thinking of a player less of a natural fit for the city of Milwaukee and the Bucks organization, but crazi ... no, I don't know if anything crazier has happened than J.R. Smith voluntarily living in Milwaukee during the NBA season. That would be the craziest.

DraftExpress: Sergey Karasev now mocked at #15
The Bucks have been loosely linked with Russian sharpshooter Sergey Karasev for a while now, though his refusal to do individual team workouts dulled some of the buzz about him during the lead-up to the draft. Still, Jonathan Givony's latest mock has the Bucks opting for the 19-year-old Karasev over Shabazz Muhammad among others, and his invite to the green room suggests that there's a more than passing chance he might be gone by the time the Bucks are on the clock.

While he's not a great athlete, Karasev is considered one of the best shooters in the draft, wise beyond his years (coach's son, natch) and has been a productive professional playing in one of the Europe's better leagues for a couple years now. That's a major reason why the Cavs (who have the 19th pick in addition to the 1st overall) are rumored to be looking to trade up to the Mavs' #13 slot.

UPDATE: More from Woj on the Bucks' interest in Karasev:

It's not clear what Dallas would want for a two-pick move down, but it's no secret they're looking to shed salary and the Bucks have the ability to absorb it--either immediately with one of their trade exceptions (up to $1.48 million) or come July 1 when they can open up cap space. In the latter scenario, the deal wouldn't become official until next week.

Latest draft news and mockery:

  • Chad Ford: The latest from Ford has the Bucks still going with Larkin, with the note that Schroder and Glen Rice Jr. are also in the mix.
  • Gery Woelfel: His mock has the Bucks going with Muhammad:

    Caldwell-Pope is believed to be the Bucks’ prime target with Karasev next in line. There are also whispers the Bucks have keen interest in 18-year-old Giannis Adetokunbo, a gifted 6-9 small forward from Greece who has played against inferior competition. Other potential Bucks picks are Muhammad (an explosive scorer who has been dogged by some off-court issues), Larkin (athletic but small at 5-10), Schroeder (talented but inexperienced) and shooting guards Jamaal Franklin of San Diego State (versatile and tough but suspect shooter) and Allen Crabbe of California (basically a perimeter shooter)

  • Tom Oates: Go BPA goddamnit! I accept this, though I also don't know who that will be. Let's hope it's not another big man for convenience's sake, OK?
  • NBADraft.net: Afterclinging steadfastly to the Bucks taking Kelly Olynyk (huh?) for a couple weeks, they now have the Bucks opting for Greek youngster Giannis (flips back to mock draft, highlights last name, copies, pastes) Adetokunbo. By the way, their profile page on him misspells his name, and I don't know how I recognized that but I totally did.

    I don't even know how to begin thinking about Adetokunbo, other than that I need to copy-paste his name every time I write it. But thankfully Jonathan Tjarks of SB Nation can confirm that he's a real person and worthy of first round consideration. OK!
  • Sporting News: Sean Deveney says the Bucks go for Muhammad. Weird part is that I'm not even sure the Bucks would touch Muhammad--he didn't work out in Milwaukee for unclear reasons--and his rep is rather...sketchy. Is he a Bucks-type guy? Is he even going to be a good pro? Conveniently that's exactly what Steve and Dan just debated...

JS: Bucks expected to address backcourt
Charles Gardner thinks the Bucks will take Shane Larkin at number 15, though he reports that Hammond sees plenty of uncertainty in the middle of the first round. As for their process?

"We've seen what we can see," Hammond said of the recently concluded draft prospect workouts. "We still have a lot of work to do. "No.1 is our grouping at 15, say we have four or five guys at 15. Then beyond that we try to rank the draft 1 through 30 and eventually 1 through 60. That will go into the wee hours."

Speaking to the media ahead of the draft (Paschketball video here), Hammond also suggested Larry Sanders and John Henson were "keeper" pieces (no surprise there), though he maintains the Bucks will take the best player even if a big man would not be the most "logical" pick given the current state of the roster. I'm not sure who that guy might be--Steven Adams, Kelly Olynyk, and Mason Plumlee all stand a decent chance of being available, but there's been little talk of them being serious possibilities for the Bucks. Via Woelfel, Plumlee opted not to work out for the Bucks due to their crowded frontcourt.

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