It's officially the week of the 2023 NBA Draft, and with three days remaining until the clock starts, we still know very little about what will happen after San Antonio selects Victor Wembanyama No. 1 overall. The rumor mill is hotter than ever on both the draft and free agency fronts, so let's take a look at some of the hottest rumors of the day and what they could mean for the offseason.
Blazers eyeing Raptors forwards?
The Portland Trail Blazers are racing against the clock to add veteran help. They've been trying to deal the No. 3 overall pick for immediate upgrades to help put a winner around Damian Lillard, but thus far, they've been unable to find a deal. Two early targets—Mikal Bridges and Jaylen Brown—do not appear to be available, and while a Pelicans package built around Zion Williamson or Brandon Ingram can't be ruled out, such a deal would depend on Scoot Henderson, not Brandon Miller, being available at No. 3.
Here are two more names to keep an eye on, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated: Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby of the Toronto Raptors. Trading one of them makes sense for the Raptors. Both can become free agents next offseason. Both play forward, and one Toronto forward slot moving forward is earmarked for Scottie Barnes. Nick Nurse played several forwards at a time, but he is no longer Toronto's coach. However, according to Mannix, the Blazers, to this point, have not been willing to give up that No. 3 overall pick in such a deal. Plenty can change between now and draft now, though, and the Blazers will probably need to give up No. 3 if they hope to make a substantial upgrade.
Clippers pairing Chris Paul with Russell Westbrook?
One of the primary seats available in this offseason's game of point guard musical chairs is in Los Angeles, where the Clippers are continuing their seemingly never-ending search for a floor general. Their latest target appears to be an old friend: Chris Paul, whom the Wizards are trying to reroute to a contender after their blockbuster acquisition of Bradley Beal. In theory, Paul's arrival should dislodge the incumbent Clippers point guard, Russell Westbrook, but that doesn't necessarily need to be the case, as The Athletic's Law Murray reports that the Clippers wouldn't close the door on bringing back the 2017 MVP even if they did acquire Paul.
Paul and Westbrook probably don't make sense playing together, but their wildly differing skill sets could give the Clippers different looks in different parts of the game. Westbrook injects an element of pace and rim pressure into games that Paul simply can't anymore. The Clippers need someone to do that, though Terence Mann also provides a bit of it. Paul is much more measured, a steadier hand and more reliable shooter, playmaker and overall offensive presence. Both Paul and Westbrook are near the end of their Hall of Fame careers, and neither should be playing 30 minutes every night anymore. In theory, a timeshare between the two makes some sense.
Harden headed back to Philly?
A month ago, James Harden's return to Houston felt like a lock. Now? It's not so certain. "I bet if you poll 50 front office executives, the majority of them would guess he's going back to Philly," ESPN's Zach Lowe said on his podcast Monday. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer added that the Sixers are more optimistic that he will re-sign, though that belief varies depending on who you talk to.
If Harden's goal is to win a championship, Philadelphia is a better bet than Houston. If Harden's priorities lie off of the court rather than on it, Houston has the advantage. It could ultimately come down to who is willing to pay him the most money. Philadelphia has the advantage on that front due to his Bird Rights, but at this point, it's anyone's guess.