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Sasha Pavlovic

Sasha Pavlovic

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Remember the NBA draft of 2009 .

.

.

as in "What draft?"On the eve of the event, the ground trembled under the NBA amid reports from myriad sources that the Phoenix Suns are close to a deal with the Cavaliers, sending Shaquille O'Neal to Cleveland.� Clippers hope Blake Griffin can change...

Lakers prefer a deal to a draft pickClippers' secret is outBlake Griffin impresses in workout for ClippersGriffin already a Clippers selling point If the deal is done today, it will be remembered as the day the Clippers got Blake Griffin (that's nice) and the Cavaliers got Shaquille O'Neal (HOLY MT.

OLYMPUS, SHAQ AND LEBRON JAMES TOGETHER!).

The deal being discussed is similar to the one they discussed at midseason, with the Cavaliers getting a center, and the Suns getting cap relief.The package the Suns would take back, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, is almost comical: Ben Wallace, who's retiring and may accept a buyout; Sasha Pavlovic, whose salary is only partially guaranteed, and the 46th pick in today's draft.

This is the latest development in what promised to be a busy draft season, which started when the Milwaukee Bucks made a similar deal, dumping Richard Jefferson's salary on San Antonio.

In the actual draft, the Clippers will select Griffin, the lone superstar prospect.

After that, it's anybody's guess.

Minnesota, where General Manager David Kahn is in his first month on the job, is now up to four No.

1 picks, hoping to trade two or three of them to get to No.

2 for Hasheem Thabeet.

At No.

3 sits Mysterioso Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti, who raised eyebrows last spring by taking Russell Westbrook at No.

4, to convert him to point guard.

As well as that worked, Presti is now acting as if he may take Ricky Rubio, the "Spanish Pistol Pete Maravich," who isn't really close to the American Pistol Pete, who was a prolific scorer, but is still an exciting young point guard.

Unfortunately, that would mean moving Westbrook to the bench, minimizing the impact of last spring's coup.

The conventional choice would be Arizona State's James Harden, a better fit with Westbrook, as opposed to a replacement, but word just surfaced the Thunder has retained a lawyer in Barcelona to negotiate Rubio's buyout.

Showing where everyone's heads are at this time of year, a rival GM suggests this was a Presti plant, to make it look as if he were taking Rubio.

For years, GMs have hired private detectives to check out draft prospects.

Now GMs may start hiring the gumshoes to tail each other, if they haven't already.In any case, here's how the draft will go, in theory:1.

Clippers: Blake Griffin, 6-8 1/2, 248, So., Oklahoma.

Lone player in draft you would reconfigure a team around goes to team that needs reconfiguring.

2.

Memphis: Hasheem Thabeet, 7-1 1/4, 267, Jr., Connecticut.

Owner Michael Heisley's tab -- and a shot worth taking.

Thabeet could turn out to be Saer Sene or Dikembe Mutombo, but if it's the latter, they can be somebody.

3.

Oklahoma City: James Harden, 6-4, 222, So., Arizona State.

Savvy shooting guard with playmaking ability, good complement for converted point guard Westbrook.

I'm like everyone else, I'll believe they'll take Rubio when I see it.

4.

Sacramento: Tyreke Evans, 6-4, 221, Fr., Memphis.

Had already decided to pass on Rubio if he was there or not, choosing between little Jonny Flynn or this big slasher, who they think can play the point in a running game.



http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-heisler-nba-mock-draft25-2009jun25,0,7572380.column
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