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News » Raptors keeping options open ahead of weak draft

Raptors keeping options open ahead of weak draft

Raptors keeping options open ahead of weak draft
The only thing anybody knows for sure about the NBA draft is that nobody knows anything for sure.

Outside of presumptive No.1 pick Blake Griffin going to the Los Angeles Clippers, the remainder of the lottery portion of the first round is a crapshoot, with a handful of players many think could be good NBAers but few that many expect to be great vying for a spot in the top 14 selections.

Which makes it virtually impossible to handicap the order of selection, a fact not lost on talent evaluators around the league.

"That's the problem," said one Eastern Conference team official. "They are all the same after the top three."

Following Griffin, the 6-foot-10 Oklahoma forward, the next three or four players could go in any order, as Connecticut centre Hasheem Thabeet, Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio and Arizona guard James Harden are seen as the logical next picks. And that leaves Toronto in a very tenuous spot.

With the ninth selection, the Raptors are going to be at the mercy of a handful of teams who select before them, with no one certain what's going to transpire.

"I think the guys in the top 10 are pretty good players, I just don't think they're the household name players ... but I think there is talent there," said Jim Kelly, Toronto's senior director of player personnel. "We have to find a guy who can complement what we have."

The Raptors have five big men - Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Kris Humphries, Reggie Evans and Nathan Jawai - with guaranteed contracts for next season, and it's likely they will exercise an option on Patrick O'Bryant.

They also have three guards - Jose Calderon, Roko Ukic and Marcus Banks - locked up and seem intent on bringing back Quincy Douby.

With Shawn Marion, Anthony Parker and Joey Graham as unrestricted free agents, and Carlos Delfino in the mix as a restricted free agent the Raptors have spoken about bringing back, that leaves a dearth of shooting guards and small forwards.

It would seem obvious the No.9 pick would have to play one of those positions, but general manager Bryan Colangelo could have a few transactions bubbling just below the surface that could change things.

"We are active ... if we make another trade, maybe we don't need this position, maybe we need something else," said Kelly. "I think you have to be a little flexible there because we're actively trying to improve in a couple of different areas."

The wild cards in the selection process, at the moment at least, would be the Washington Wizards, who now have the fifth selection.

According to league sources, the Wizards are trying to shop the pick and if, for instance, they trade it to a team that wants a specific player not thought to be in the top 10, it could knock down a player Toronto finds desirable.

But with such parity in the 15 or so players that could go No.5-20, there might not be many takers for Washington's spot; teams could get the kind of player they want by simply waiting.

Toronto already has worked out a handful of players they might consider at No.9 and, according to team sources, no one has established himself as a "must-have" selection.

DeMar DeRozan, a 6-foot-7 freshman swingman from USC, is expected in today to at least meet with team officials, and he's a player sure to be on Toronto's short list.

But so, too, would be the likes of Memphis guard Tyreke Evans, UCLA guard Jrue Holiday, Wake Forest forward James Johnson, Arizona forward Jordan Hill or Duke guard Gerald Henderson, any of whom might be around at No.9.

League sources insist Colangelo is open to some kind of transaction - most likely acquiring another pick rather than divesting himself of the No.9 choice - this time around.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: June 16, 2009


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