New Memphis GM likes Brewer at No. 4
NEW YORK -- From a whirlwind day here in New York:
Memphis is seriously considering Florida junior Corey Brewer at No. 4, multiple sources told ESPN.com late Wednesday night. Sources said the Grizzlies are leaning toward Brewer, with either Al Horford or Mike Conley Jr. also prominently in the mix. Chris Wallace, the new general manager and former GM in Boston, has been enamored with Brewer, the native Tennessean and defensive stopper. Wallace took Brewer out to dinner when he was in Boston and his chore now is to convince Jerry West of the choice.
If the Grizzlies pass on Conley, he probably would slide down to Milwaukee at No. 6.
• The buzz name throughout Wednesday was Yi Jianlian. According to multiple sources, Atlanta was holding high-level conversations about whether to select Yi at No. 3. As late as Wednesday evening, the Hawks were 50-50 between Yi and Florida's Al Horford. Ownership was certainly high on Yi, and at least one source was told by Hawks general manager Billy Knight that he was OK with drafting Yi. But that, of course, is dependent on whether the Hawks keep the pick.
If Atlanta trades its No. 3 pick as part of a deal with Minnesota, don't expect Yi to go to Minnesota (the Hawks also have the No. 11 pick, acquired earlier from Indiana). The Timberwolves did not visit the Tigers in China and haven't done the background work on Yi.
If Atlanta passes on Yi, Boston would be the next stop at No. 5. And the Celtics, assuming they keep the pick, are high on Yi. If the C's pass on Yi, he is in play for Milwaukee at No. 6. The Bucks likely would select Yi if he's on the board. That could pose a problem, since the Bucks weren't on the approved list of teams by Yi's group (they're looking for a major city and a high Asian population). Still, the Bucks are seriously interested in Yi. At the very least, Yi has trade value, notably with Phoenix and Golden State. Phoenix is trying to get into the lottery from Nos. 24 and 29. Golden State, which meets Yi's city requirements, is at No. 18.
Yi is in play for Chicago at No. 9 and Sacramento at No. 10.
Yi told ESPN.com on Wednesday that he plans to be in the NBA next season. That would seemingly cancel out any veiled attempt by his handlers to push him back to China if he went to a team like Milwaukee.
"NBA next season, no question," Yi said. When asked if he would go back to China, he laughed and said "no."
The other big issue is Yi's age. Multiple reports have Yi at 22. But Yi told ESPN.com that he was 19.
Yi said Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers, Golden State, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Sacramento watched him work out in Los Angeles this spring. Milwaukee wasn't invited.
• The proposed deal between Seattle and Atlanta, with the Sonics sending Luke Ridnour to the Hawks for the No. 11 pick (which likely would be used for Eastern Washington's Rodney Stuckey), is dormant but may not be totally dead. Multiple sources told ESPN.com that the Hawks aren't interested in the deal. The Sonics were waiting for the Hawks to show their interest Wednesday, but to no avail. But if the Hawks can't move their two lottery picks (Nos. 3 and 11) for Amare Stoudemire in a trade with Phoenix -- who in turn would get Kevin Garnett, with the Timberwolves receiving the picks -- then the Ridnour trade could resurface.
• Ohio State freshman Greg Oden was in a giddy mood Wednesday in his powder-blue suit, despite having a bad cold.
This is how my exchange went with him Wednesday:
When I asked him if he knew he was going No. 1, Oden responded: "I was told I'm going to be in the Pacific Northwest. They didn't tell me where, but said somewhere in the Northwest."
Insert his laugh track.
When asked about his rumored back and wrist issue compared to his cold, he said: "The cold is not an issue. I do have hand sanitizer, so everybody's hand I shake should be fine. I do have tissues, and my whole [hotel] room is filled with medicine. Everything else is fine. My back is fine. It's still hard moving around with 200-something ... pounds. But the back, the wrist and the head is all fine."
Seriously, though, what did he think about being checked out again recently?
"To be in an MRI for four hours wasn't fun at all," he said. "They all checked it out and I'm fine."
As for commissioner David Stern, is he OK shaking the hand of someone who has a head cold: "He already knows. I got to meet him earlier, and he's not worried about it. His immune system could tolerate it."
So, what hat will he be wearing Thursday night?
"My prediction is that I'll be wearing a hat, maybe the 30th hat or the first hat [I try on], but I will be wearing a hat on my head."
Insert Oden laugh track again.
• Ohio State freshman guard Mike Conley Jr. said he's still not sure if he will go to Atlanta, Memphis or even further down in the draft (he likely wouldn't get past Milwaukee). But he said he would fit in well with Memphis with a "young core of players, a superstar in Pau Gasol and a new coach [Marc Iavaroni], starting over and a style of play [that suits him]."
What about playing without Oden for the first time since he was in elementary school?
"It's scary," Conley said. "I haven't played without him for years, and I can't even remember the last time I did. But I'll be ready for it. We're both thrilled to be here. We knew this day was coming."
• Washington freshman center Spencer Hawes is fairly confident that he'll end up with Chicago at No. 9 after working out for the Bulls on Tuesday for a second time. Hawes, who also worked out for Minnesota, Philadelphia and Sacramento, said he's a perfect fit for the Bulls since he would be another young piece to help them continue to win. He said that despite all the rumors, he never received a guarantee from Minnesota.
• Georgetown junior Jeff Green worked out for Minnesota and Phoenix after deciding to stay in the draft on June 18. He went to Phoenix on Tuesday despite not having a guarantee the Suns would be able to trade up to get into the lottery.
"All the trade rumors meant that anything could happen, and I decided to go there with the Florida guys [Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer]," Green said. "It was a good workout, and you never know because maybe it could determine my future. Maybe it will be with Phoenix. I just wanted to go where I had the opportunity to be in the top 10."
Phoenix, if it gets into the top 10, Minnesota (No. 7) and Sacramento (No. 10) are all possible destinations for Green.
• Texas freshman forward Kevin Durant is still bothered by the reports that he couldn't lift 185 pounds.
"It got to me," Durant said. "Everyone saying that I can't lift that or lift this and yet I'm working hard. But I don't think not lifting 185 pounds is going to drive me out of the draft. I've just got to work at it. I don't think if you can't lift 185 pounds that doesn't mean you're not strong."
• Boston College senior Jared Dudley continues to move up in draft-projection scenarios; he secured a workout with Golden State at No. 18 on Wednesday. Dudley has worked out to rave reviews wherever he has been, and so far that's quite a number of spots: L.A. Lakers, Miami, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Utah, San Antonio, Houston, Phoenix and Seattle (for their second-round pick). San Antonio, which is Dudley's preferred destination, wanted to see him a second time, but his representative wanted him to work out for the Warriors.
• UCLA junior guard Arron Afflalo showed up in New York and said he would sit in the crowd at MSG and go up once his name is called. Afflalo is a bubble first-round pick but more likely a second-round selection. Afflalo said he worked out for Philadelphia twice, Charlotte, the L.A. Lakers, Seattle, Phoenix, San Antonio, Utah and Houston.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
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