Regardless of which sport you favor, draft time is the best time to watch an entire league's front offices try and out-game each other, and use their resources to spread confusion and subterfuge leading up to the draft.
To this end the Charlotte Bobcats have been very successful in recent years. They have been able to keep an exceedingly tight ship, to the point where trades like last night's that brought Ben Gordon were completely off the radar until the news broke. For other teams it's a chance to use their ‘sources' (read: employees) to sow seeds in the media, and create stories that could give them the upper hand.
Late yesterday reports out of Washington said the Wizards were fielding calls for the #3 overall pick from teams interested in Kansas PF Thomas Robinson. Here's the problem: that doesn't really make sense. In what is undoubtably a reaction to Charlotte nearing completion of the trade that would net Cleveland the 2nd pick in the draft, with the Bobcats falling to 4th and gaining additional selections. This move would ostensibly pull the rug out from under Washington, who find themselves in somewhat of a bind if they're stuck at third, and Bradley Beal if off the board; their front-court is crowded, and the three next best prospects (Robinson, Kidd-Gilchrist, Barnes) all play redundant roles to what they already have on the roster, albeit more talented ones long term. It's in Washington's best interests to try and freeze the CHA-CLE trade, as they gamble on the Bobcats being so enamored with Thomas Robinson they balk at the idea of moving back if they think they can't still get him at #4.
There are several problems with the rumor that teams are calling the Wizards about Robinson, and we'll explore those...
After the jump
Who is interested?
This is probably the biggest kicker in dismantling the rumor. You're looking at a situation where whoever would be moving up would be basically accepting Robinson sight unseen. His camp kept a significant limit on the teams he visited with, and he only worked out with teams drafting in the top four. Essentially this would mean that a team is so in love with Thomas Robinson that they're willing to move considerable assets to move up in the draft, knowing full well they didn't get a private workout, but if that's the case Charlotte would probably know about it also. Herein lies the catch-22 with the Washington rumor: If a team loves T-Rob that much, then surely they would have called the Bobcats, the team most likely to select him, and remove all doubt from the equation by trading the moon for him.
We knew the Cavaliers and Wizards were both interested in Bradley Beal two weeks ago, we know the Portland Trail Blazers are interested in Damian Lillard, and we know Toronto has fallen for Austin Rivers. Interest doesn't grow overnight, so why the last-minute flurry over Robinson? The timing doesn't makes sense, especially when it comes so close to the heels of the Cavaliers/Bobcats trade rumors. Teams aren't one to waste valuable time and energy leading up to the draft by talking hypotheticals. It would be one thing if Charlotte's trade back was already consummated, but talking to Washington about Robinson with Charlotte still owning the pick doesn't make a lot of sense.
Should Charlotte even care?
In short- no. Fans may like to saddle themselves to a pick, and as such would be upset if ‘their guy' is passed on, but all indications from Charlotte are that they don't have a huge preference in the pick. If it winds up that the Bobcats trade the pick it means they are okay with whoever is still available, and they'll take Barnes or Kidd-Gilchrist, even if the #3 pick is traded.
In 36 hrs we'll know how all this panned out, but beware the rumors you'll hear today and tomorrow. This is the time where every GM is a liar, and every team are keeping their cards close to their chest. Don't think for a second Rich Cho is concerned about these latest rumors from Washington, and I expect the organization will stay the course, make a trade if it's prudent, and get the best player available.