Anything goes for Raps

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

With so much speculation swirling in the build up to Thursday's NBA draft, so little is known.

With so much gamesmanship rampant at this time of the year, even those who claim to know don't because these self-anointed mavens are either being used by some team executive to push an agenda or are merely grasping at straws to justify their existence.

All that is known is that anything involving any team remains a possibility, creating an environment that has the potential to be one of the most volatile drafts in NBA history.

Adding to the air of uncertainty is the free-agent frenzy that awaits on July 1, a date that has been set aside for months as a time of dramatic change.

No team is immune to rumours, whether that team is the reigning two-time champion Lakers, NBA finals finalist Boston Celtics or the Raptors.

The Raptors can move in so many different directions that it's foolhardy to even speculate on what might happen when virtually anything can happen.

Depending on the time of day, the Raptors will either keep their 13th overall draft slot, move up, move down or move completely out of the draft.

Nothing that comes out of the mouth of a club official should be taken as gossip because it makes absolutely no sense to tip ones' hands, not when this time is reserved as a period of deception and lies.

Prospects are dissed, others are praised and somewhere in between lies the truth.

The Raptors enter Thursday night as one of the most intriguing teams given the many directions Toronto might want to pursue.

About the only name not connected to some rumour is Andrea Bargnani, the closest asset the Raptors have as untradeable.

It's unlikely Chris Bosh will get moved by Thursday, but it's more likely the seeds of a Hedo Turkoglu move will be deep rooted.

And don't ever rule out the possibility of a mega deal involving both players and multiple teams.

That is how dramatic the coming days and weeks promise to be, the dynamics changing by the day, names getting switched at a fever pitch.

The betting here is the Raptors will trade down, acquire as many cheap assets as possible in a complete rebuild of a franchise that will test the paying public's patience.

This is only a hunch, a gut feeling about a core group, which includes Jose Calderon, that simply must be gutted.

If you listen to the silence emanating from Raptorland or pay any attention to the insignificant words expressed when a draft-eligible player comes through town, it all points to some major move in the making.

What that move is and what pieces will get sacrificed is all open to debate.

Two teams, Minnesota and Memphis, own three first-round picks. New Jersey and Oklahoma City have two picks in the first round and myriad teams are open for business.

Charlotte, Cleveland and Denver have no picks in the two-round draft, leading some to speculate that each will attempt to get into Thursday's sweepstakes.

The most impactful off-season trade involved Sacramento and Philadelphia.

The Kings got Samuel Dalembert and his inflated contract, which comes off the books next summer, while the Sixers added to their mix through subtraction.

The Kings, if you believe chatter by unnamed sources, was a preferred destination of the malcontent Turkoglu.

If you're the Kings, and even if you did draft Turkoglu, why add a selfish ball hog to a team that already features Tyreke Evans, who needs to have the ball in his hands to be effective and for the league's rookie of the year to evolve?

You don't, which is why the only way Toronto can move Turkoglu and his onerous contract is via a sign and trade involving Bosh.

Whatever happens, whichever player gets peddled and regardless of how minor or major a deal is perceived, plenty is brewing in basketball.

The good news is that all this talk and guessing, speculating and posturing will soon end.

FRANK.ZICARELLI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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