Jarnell Stokes, Willie Cauley-Stein, Nerlens Noel

Draft rumor roundup: Can Cleveland find a taker for the No. 1 pick?


Here is a quick roundup of some NBA Draft rumors floating around Tuesday morning:

• The Cleveland Cavaliers are still shopping the No. 1 pick around and trying to trade out of that spot. While other names come up (because there is no dominant player in this draft) expect Nerlens Noel to be the No. 1 overall pick.

But who makes that pick? Cleveland or someone else? Like I said they are shopping it around and Chad Ford at ESPN has some names.

Sources say the Thunder, Timberwolves and Blazers have been the most proactive in trying to get the No. 1 pick — but so far neither team has persuaded the Cavs to move out of the top pick.

In the Trail Blazers case the Cavaliers reportedly asked for LaMarcus Aldridge and to swap the No. 1 and No. 19 picks, Ford reported. When Portland was done laughing at that offer they may have had a counter — that deal is not happening but consider it a starting point for negotiations.

• My gut feel, the Cavaliers will take Noel with the No. 1 overall pick.

• If the Cavaliers go with Alex Len or another team takes Victor Oladipo at No. 1, expect the Magic to grab Noel at No. 2.

• Denver is shopping the No. 27 pick, the Pacers are shopping the No. 23 pick (but you have to take on Gerald Green’s contract with it). Basically you can get a pick in the 20s for a song right now, there are a lot of them available.

• The Sacramento Kings new management is seeing what the market is for Jimmer Fredette and if they can get a No. 1 pick for him, reports Chad Ford of ESPN.

• We told you already that the Nets were shopping MarShon Brooks and we speculated they might want one of Minnesota’s plethora of backup point guards. Or, they might want the No. 26 pick in the draft, Chad Ford suggests. They should be able to get more for Brooks.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at NBA.com.

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.