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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 at 12:00 AM

THE NBA DRAFT - TRADE TALK ALL AROUND PLUS ARE THERE ANY REAL "FRANCHISE PLAYERS" ON THIS YEAR'S BIG BOARD? ...

BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES: THE BEST THREE POSITION PLAYERS YOU'RE NOT HEARING ANYTHING ABOUT

Hey, before you even ask ...Our Jim Sez NBA Mock Draft is ready to roll come Thursday morning, so don't miss out on that "must read" column and remember we'll follow it all up on Friday with a draft re-cap!

Now, let's get down to business here in the immediate hours leading up to Thursday night's NBA Draft from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn:

There's loads of trade talk making the rounds in NBA-land - in fact, not all of it involves San Antonio Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard - but we'll get to him in a moment after we tackle the topic of the top three picks ... folks, we just don't see #1 Phoenix, #2 Sacramento nor #3 Atlanta dealing out of those premier draft spots although anything's possible. Word is that the Suns, the Kings and the Hawks have latched onto "their guy" and hard to believe anything's gonna shake up the #1-2-3 draft order but we'll go on record to state #4 Memphis and/or #5 Dallas could be in the market for a swap.

The Los Angeles Clippers have the #12 and #13 draft picks and there's some chatter that LA's "other team" could deal away one of those picks and some warm bodies to move into either the #4 or #5 spot with the Clips allegedly eyeballing Texas C/F Mo Bamba - if this scenario takes place then the Clippers are "live" to get their hands on free agent LeBron James. We could see Dallas trading down from #5 with the Clippers and revamping its Mavericks' team quickly.

There's also a possibility - however small - that the Los Angeles Lakers could be looking to move last year's #2 overall pick PG Lonzo Ball to accommodate King James and so don't sleep on the shot that Ball along with the #25 overall pick could get moved to New York Knicks at pick #9. Fact is the Knicks have a batch of point guards but - get this - they don't really like any of 'em from last year's rookie flop Frank Ntilikina to one-time first-rounder of the Denver Nuggets' Emmanuel Mudiay to former Utah Jazz cast-off Trey Burke. If Ball were to come to NYC and be the on-court leader for new head coach David Fizdale, it could bring Madison Square Garden back to life (even if Ball shoots his usual 5-of-15 or thereabouts from the floor!).

Okay, so what about Mr. Leonard? The specter of where he goes next is casting a major shadow over this entire NBA Draft and we've heard him going anywhere from Philadelphia to the Los Angeles Lakers to the aforementioned Knicks ... but if James stays put in Cleveland then it's very possible that Leonard will join 'em with the Cavaliers. So maybe that doesn't instantly make Cleveland a so-called "super-team" but how would a James-Leonard-DeAndre Jordan triumvirate strike you if that could eventually play itself out? Va-va-va voom!

In other NBA Draft News/Notes ...
Wondering for a long time whether or not there's a true "franchise player" in this draft: The Phoenix Suns are expected to nab Arizona C Deandre Ayton with the numero uno pick but we shy away from believing that the Suns will be able to build a big-time winning team 'round him and ditto for the likes of Duke PF Marvin Bagley III, Slovenian two-guard Luke Doncic and/or the aforementioned Bamba - all of whom figure to get drafted in some order in the top five.

Can Missouri F Michael Porter overcome his recent back issues and become a perennial all-star ... how about Oklahoma G Trae Young? Hmm, right now we see maybe 8-to-10 "difference-makers" out there in this year's NBA Draft but no Kevin Durant, no Stephen Curry and - obviously - no LeBron James.


Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are winning big with Major League Baseball action every day. So, make sure you cash in big right here online or 1-800-323-4453. Pile up the profits as we head towards another great NCAA Football / NFL season straight ahead!


THE BASEBALL REPORT

Maybe the good folks at the MLB Network occasionally will give you some insight into the "off-Broadway" type players out there but gotta say we're just not hearing nearly enough about a few everyday position players that deserve a round of applause:

BRANDON NIMMO, OF, New York Mets - And to think that the Mets allegedly turned down winter-time trade offers involving then-Pittsburgh Pirates/now-San Francisco Giants OF Andre McCutchen for this lefty-swinging / play-all-the-outfield-positions handyman! In case you missed it, Nimmo made his return to his "neck of the woods" (he was reared in Wyoming) with an inside-the-park home run and conventional dinger while getting four hits and four RBI in Monday's 12-2 series-opening win at the Colorado Rockies. No doubt that Nimmo has been the Mets' best everyday player this year - yes, we hear the anti-Mets jokes - and he has 12 HR even though he was a role player for the first few weeks of this current campaign.

JOSE MARTINEZ, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals - Let's face it: Most MLB fans don't know anything about this 28-year-old who just returned from paternity leave the other day. Martinez is hitting .314 with 10 HR and 42 RBI with 32 runs scored and note the keen .381 on-base percentage. Yet, nary a word is uttered about Martinez who is a key cog in the Redbirds' attack - this dude absolutely crushes lefthanded pitching as he seems to hit everything hard against southpaw slingers.

EDDIE ROSARIO, OF, Minnesota - The Twins keep muddling 'round the mediocre American League Central pack but don't blame any of that on this four-year pro from Puerto Rico. The 26-year-old Rosario fell a triple shy of the cycle in last Saturday's 9-3 win against Cleveland and he's now hitting .321 - that's tied for fifth-best in the AL - with 50 runs scored and 46 RBI to go along with 16 home runs. Folks, Rosario is one of the AL's top 10 batters right this minute and yet the media at large doesn't have a clue who he is!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Catch our Jim Sez NBA Mock Draft next!

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