The 2015 NBA Draft is less than 24 hours away, and things are heating up. The trade rumors are flying every which way, and now we're starting to see cracks in the dam holding everything back. Let's catch up on the biggest news in the NBA today and check in with the latest draft projections for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Portland Trail Blazers trade Nic Batum to Charlotte for Gerald Henderson, Noah Vonleh
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Charlotte will acquire the veteran wing after earlier suggesting the Hornets were looking to trade Cody Zeller for just such a player. ESPN's Chad Ford posited that Frank Kaminsky was likely to be a target for Charlotte with the #9 pick. Andy Katz stepped in to cool his jets. According to Wojnarowski, the Blazers are not prepared to blow up the team and start rebuilding just yet.
Free Agency Updates
Kevin Love opted out of his contract and will be a free agent this summer. The move was not unexpected, and Cleveland still feels like the heavy favorite to retain Love's services.
Latest Draft Projections, Rumors
Chad Ford's 'Grade: A' mock pick-by-pick 2.0 -- ESPN
Not a real mock draft, but in Chad Ford's "optimized" rundown, he keeps Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky in the state.
I'm pretty sure Kaminsky won't actually last this long in the real draft, but I think this would be the best-case scenario for him and Milwaukee. I like Kaminsky, but I don't think he has the upside of a lottery pick. He's, at best, Channing Frye. But on a team like the Bucks who desperately need some size, he could be perfect, get plenty of minutes and meld into a very intriguing up-and-coming team. The combination of Michael Carter-Williams at point guard, Khris Middleton at shooting guard, Giannis Antetokounmpo at small forward, Jabari Parker at power forward and Kaminsky at center has a great long-term future.
Mock Draft Update -- Zach Harper, CBSSports.com
Harper hooks the Bucks up with a familiar name: UCLA power forward Kevon Looney.
Looney falling out of the lottery is perfect for the Bucks, especially after their salary-shedding trade of Ersan Ilyasova. That frontcourt isn't as deep as it used to be, and Kevon Looney is a rangy power forward with a big wingspan and the capabilities of slotting in next to Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Montrezl Harrell could also be a great option here.
Mock Draft 4.0 -- Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated
Mannix also has the Bucks going with a big man: Arkansas' Bobby Portis.
Bucks GM John Hammond says Milwaukee will take the best player on the board, and that there are 4-5 players the team has zeroed in on. Power forward isn’t a position of need for Milwaukee, but Portis is a high motor player who does a lot of things well, including knocking down perimeter shots.
I'm not sure "power forward isn't a position of need for Milwaukee" is 1) true, and 2) worth considering, but Portis has frequently been mentioned as a possible target for the Bucks.
Latest draft buzz -- Ken Berger, CBSSports.com
Berger gets into the DeMarcus Cousins saga quite a bit here, but passes along a few draft-related notes as well, including speculation on the draft range of Wisconsin star Sam Dekker.
Wisconsin's Sam Dekker is the wild card in the late lottery, with league sources pegging him anywhere from 10th (Miami) to 17th (Milwaukee). If the 6-9 forward is on the board when the Bucks pick, there will be tremendous pressure to take the local star from Madison -- especially with the Bucks trying to build community and political excitement for a new downtown arena. Milwaukee native Kevon Looney of UCLA also could fit the bill.
Hometown associations generally get too much attention (I'm frequently guilty of this), but when a team has a fresh approach, likeable players, and recent, surprise success almost entirely to thank for a rejuvenated fanbase? Then the hometown association is pretty much meaningless. Sam Dekker could be very good in the NBA--I made just such a case in our staff mock draft video--but he'll be selected based on his merits as a player, not where he played. That may or may not be a decision for the Bucks to make when the 17th pick rolls around. Would it make a good story? Sure. But I doubt if the Bucks are considering anything so trivial when the next few seasons are so critical for the franchise.