As Ringling Bros. moved into US Airways Center on Tuesday for its annual performance run, rumors continued to swirl around the Suns and Thursday’s much-anticipated NBA draft — which could have a circus-like atmosphere.
Phoenix first watched projected lottery picks Corey Brewer, Jeff Green and Joakim Noah work out Tuesday. No one in the trio played themselves out of consideration, all producing impressive performances.
“All three guys can play right away for any team in the NBA. That’s why they’re in the position they’re in,” Suns general manager Steve Kerr said. “I don’t know if they could start for us, but they are all gamers and tough competitors.”
Then Phoenix resumed attempts to swing a trade that might put them in a position to draft one. The Suns are still offering a package of exclusively draft picks (the 24th and 29th pick this year and two first-round picks next year) or a combination of picks and bench players.
But NBA sources said while the Suns were still talking to Charlotte (eighth overall) and at least one other team about their picks, as few as one team in the top 10 may ultimately end up trading out, severely limiting Phoenix’s chances.
Even that deal, however, could be contingent on Phoenix’s trading partner not getting the lottery player they have targeted.
That would have the Suns falling back to other options, such as dangling a draft pick to shave salary and slip back toward the league’s luxury tax threshold.
Sources confirm one possible deal on the table would ship the 24th overall pick and Kurt Thomas to the Bobcats — who are under the salary cap and therefore could absorb the $8.1 million player option Thomas will exercise Sunday — for future considerations.
“We have a chance (to move up),” Kerr said Tuesday afternoon. “Whether it’s a great chance or not, I don’t know. I can’t give you any percentage.
“Everybody’s talking, but you don’t know what to believe and what not to believe.”
Here is a good example:
The Suns believe they are still a player in the increasingly curious Kevin Garnett derby after a day of intense talks between Minnesota and the Los Angeles Lakers apparently went nowhere. Now pressed to make a deal for the reportedly disillusioned Garnett, the Timberwolves may revisit previous negotiating partners.
But several league sources flatly denied a report Tuesday by ESPN’s Jim Gray that Phoenix was close to a three-way deal with Minnesota and Boston that would bring Garnett to Phoenix, send Marion to the Celtics and Thomas and draft picks to Minnesota.
Gray said the deal was contingent upon Marion signing an extension with the Celtics. Last weekend, Marion let it be known through his agent that he had no desire to go to Boston.
Even on the eve of the draft, the Suns are still not done scouting.
North Carolina forward Brandan Wright — who has reportedly slipped out of the top five on many draft boards — and Florida State forward Al Thornton were supposed to be in New York this morning for a predraft media session. Instead, they will be here for a closed-to-the-media workout.
The NBA player Thornton is most closely associated with? Marion. Ultra-athletic and a strong perimeter defender who can score in a non-conventional offense, he averaged 19.7 points and 7.2 rebounds for the Seminoles and his stock has been climbing on many draft boards. . . .
Phoenix’s second workout Tuesday featured a pair of point guards — 6-5 Petteri Koponen from Finland and speedy Aaron Brooks. Both players remain in Phoenix’s plans, along with Italian Marco Belinelli, if Phoenix ends up keeping either the 24th or 29th pick. . . .
Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo, who was honored at a US Airways Center luncheon Tuesday, said Dwyane Wade indicates he will be healthy enough to play in the FIBA Americas Tournament in Las Vegas beginning Aug. 22. Wade underwent shoulder surgery in May.
Colangelo said LeBron James also confirmed that he intends to play in the tournament.