NBA DRAFT TALK

There's loads of trade talk making the rounds in NBA-land - in fact, not all of it involves San Antonio Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard - but we'll get to him in a moment after we tackle the topic of the top three picks ... folks, we just don't see #1 Phoenix, #2 Sacramento nor #3 Atlanta dealing out of those premier draft spots although anything's possible. Word is that the Suns, the Kings and the Hawks have latched onto "their guy" and hard to believe anything's gonna shake up the #1-2-3 draft order but we'll go on record to state #4 Memphis and/or #5 Dallas could be in the market for a swap.

The Los Angeles Clippers have the #12 and #13 draft picks and there's some chatter that LA's "other team" could deal away one of those picks and some warm bodies to move into either the #4 or #5 spot with the Clips allegedly eyeballing Texas C/F Mo Bamba - if this scenario takes place then the Clippers are "live" to get their hands on free agent LeBron James. We could see Dallas trading down from #5 with the Clippers and revamping its Mavericks' team quickly.

There's also a possibility - however small - that the Los Angeles Lakers could be looking to move last year's #2 overall pick PG Lonzo Ball to accommodate King James and so don't sleep on the shot that Ball along with the #25 overall pick could get moved to New York Knicks at pick #9. Fact is the Knicks have a batch of point guards but - get this - they don't really like any of 'em from last year's rookie flop Frank Ntilikina to one-time first-rounder of the Denver Nuggets' Emmanuel Mudiay to former Utah Jazz cast-off Trey Burke. If Ball were to come to NYC and be the on-court leader for new head coach David Fizdale, it could bring Madison Square Garden back to life (even if Ball shoots his usual 5-of-15 or thereabouts from the floor!).

Okay, so what about Mr. Leonard? The specter of where he goes next is casting a major shadow over this entire NBA Draft and we've heard him going anywhere from Philadelphia to the Los Angeles Lakers to the aforementioned Knicks ... but if James stays put in Cleveland then it's very possible that Leonard will join 'em with the Cavaliers. So maybe that doesn't instantly make Cleveland a so-called "super-team" but how would a James-Leonard-DeAndre Jordan triumvirate strike you if that could eventually play itself out? Va-va-va voom!

In other NBA Draft News/Notes ...
Wondering for a long time whether or not there's a true "franchise player" in this draft: The Phoenix Suns are expected to nab Arizona C Deandre Ayton with the numero uno pick but we shy away from believing that the Suns will be able to build a big-time winning team 'round him and ditto for the likes of Duke PF Marvin Bagley III, Slovenian two-guard Luke Doncic and/or the aforementioned Bamba - all of whom figure to get drafted in some order in the top five.

Can Missouri F Michael Porter overcome his recent back issues and become a perennial all-star ... how about Oklahoma G Trae Young? Hmm, right now we see maybe 8-to-10 "difference-makers" out there in this year's NBA Draft but no Kevin Durant, no Stephen Curry and - obviously - no LeBron James.