Ford rumours heat up

T.J. Ford is at the centre of trade rumours leading up to the NBA draft on Thursday. SUN...

T.J. Ford is at the centre of trade rumours leading up to the NBA draft on Thursday. SUN MEDIA/Ernest Doroszuk

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

When J.J. Hickson, a guy slated to go in the late first round, is your workout headliner, it's best to head in a different direction to interest your readers.

So with apologies to the North Carolina State forward, who was back for his second workout with the Raptors in a little over a week yesterday, we'll turn our attention to the rumour mill. Fortunately for us the rumours are in full swing this week with the draft just a couple of nights away and the Raptors playing a surprisingly prominent role in all the speculation.

Most of the talk revolves around point guard T.J. Ford.

Depending on who you believe Ford is going to be a member of the Phoenix Suns, Indiana Pacers or possibly the New York Knicks by week's end.

Obviously not even Ford could manage to juggle the kind of workload playing for three different teams would represent, so someone is just wrong here.

ESPN has the former Texas Longhorns standout headed to Phoenix along with the Raptors' first-round pick (No. 17) for forward Boris Diaw.

The Indianapolis Star, meanwhile, is suggesting Ford, centre Rasho Nesterovic, possibly that No. 17 pick and another unnamed player will be joining the Pacers later this week in exchange for forward Jermaine O'Neal. A report from Yahoo! Sports last night, though, suggested that rumour is dead.

The New York Post says the Knicks and their new general manager Donnie Walsh expect to come away from draft night with a point guard of the future and aren't restricting that search to the class of 2008. Both Ford and Phoenix guard Leandro Barbosa are mentioned as possible answers via the trade route. Just who the Raptors would get back in return was not addressed.

Gotham's Daily News, not to be outdone by the Post, refutes the ESPN rumour of Ford going to Phoenix for Diaw, suggesting the Suns have no interest in anyone on the Raptors roster. That supposedly has Toronto's front office scurrying to try and involve a third partner in a potential three-team deal.

Confused? You're not alone.

Even members of that Raptors front office admit to being somewhat dazzled by all the bodies that have passed through the Air Canada Centre in the past few weeks of draft prep.

GM Bryan Colangelo, the man who will have the final say, is not talking these days and is not expected to break his silence until a pre-draft session with the local media tomorrow.

But the fact that the Raptors' workouts of late have been predominantly late first round to second round candidates strongly suggests he's not expecting to make a pick at No. 17.

PARKER IN DEMAND

Raptors guard Anthony Parker has one year and $4.55 million US left on his deal with the Raptors but reports out of Greece suggest Olympiacos is interested in luring the former Maccabi Tel Aviv standout back to other side of the Atlantic.

Parker is quoted on Solobasket.com saying: "It's still too early to say anything. I have Olympiacos' offer in my mind, but I still belong to the Raptors so it's not easy."

DRAFT NAME TO WATCH

Congo's Serge Ibaka, an 18-year-old, 6-foot-10, power forward who wowed a number of onlookers at a workout in Treviso, Italy, earlier this month, has made his way overseas and is conducting workouts for NBA teams this week.

The Raptors were suitably impressed by Ibaka in Treviso but for the moment do not have any other workouts scheduled.

COMRADE GARBO?

There is talk former Raptor Jorge Garbajosa is considering a deal with CSKA Moscow.


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