Jabari Parker may not have tanked his workout in Cleveland last week, but he's definitely not making it any easier for the Cavaliers to make him the first overall pick in Thursday's 2014 NBA Draft.
Speaking with the media ahead of Thursday's draft, Parker reaffirmed the belief that he and the Milwaukee Bucks have a mutual interest in one another:
Did Jabari Parker say he got a promise from the Bucks to take him at No. 2? http://t.co/7Rwkt1yIsh https://t.co/DV0oFdGDTz— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) June 25, 2014
Jabari Parker says he's not opposed to going to Cavs, but said no commitment was made.Said Bucks told him they'd take him if he's there at 2— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 25, 2014
Well then: Jabari Parker, who looks fit, said he will be the No 2 pick. That's his prediction. Bucks. pic.twitter.com/wN5671suD5— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) June 25, 2014
So there you have it.
The "Parker wants to go to Milwaukee" narrative seems alive and well--why else predict he's not going number one?--as does the "Bucks made a promise to Parker" story that first surfaced last night. Put them together and it would seemingly eliminate the possibility that the Bucks would select Dante Exum over Parker in the event that Andrew Wiggins is selected first overall by the Cavs. And in the event that Parker does end up in Cleveland, Chad Ford writes that the Bucks would be unlikely to pass on Wiggins despite their ongoing interest in Exum:
Parker is there it's Parker. If Wiggins is there it's Wiggins. I guess there's an outside shot that they'd take Exum over Wiggins, but it sounds like Wiggins has done enough in workouts with the Bucks to convince them he's worthy of the pick.
So it seems we're right where we expected to be--Wiggins and Parker going 1-2 in some order--with the fate of both left up to Cleveland's decision at number one. Since Joel Embiid's foot injury came to light a week ago, early signs of Cleveland's interest in Parker have now given way to increasing indications that Wiggins could be the preferred option. Not that anything is particularly clear cut in Cleveland at the moment, with owner Dan Gilbert reportedly pushing for Wiggins after Parker's subpar workout last week. ESPN's Jeff Goodman writes:
Sources said that it's still unclear whether Gilbert will overrule Griffin and the Cavs' front office -- as was the case when he offered Kentucky coach John Calipari the coaching job prior to hiring David Blatt.
A year ago, Gilbert allowed his front office and new head coach Mike Brown to make the call, and they chose Anthony Bennett with the top pick. Bennett struggled as a rookie, averaging just 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds per game last season.
"After what happened last year, he may choose to make the call himself," one source close to the situation told ESPN.com.
I'll go ahead and say that all of this seems to point in the direction of Parker pulling on a Bucks' cap Thursday night in New York, though we still have 24 hours--an eternity in NBA terms--for things to change. As for what else the Bucks are looking to do on draft night, Ford writes that they remain interested in trading up for another lotto pick.
I don't think they'll trade the No. 2 pick. I'd be shocked. But yes, they'll be very active in trying to get another lottery pick. If they can't get that, a mid to late first rounder is also not out of the question for them. They have a number of players they like in the draft. Brandon Knight and John Hensen are the players teams in the lottery are interested in. Also, there seems to be some interest in Larry Sanders as well. He won't net them a lottery pick, but a mid to late first rounder from a team trying to win now? It's a possibility.