THE NBA DRAFT'S TONIGHT

THE NBA DRAFT’S TONIGHT AND WHAT ARE THE REAL STORYLINES AFTER N’ORLEANS NABS ANTHONY DAVIS? ...

THE BASEBALL REPORT: THE YANKEES’ PAIN IS SOMEBODY’S GAIN AS BRONX BUNCH IN MARKET FOR A STARTING PITCHER

Let’s just say there’s a whole lot of stuff happening in/around the NBA this evening:

No doubt that shortly after 7 pm. ET time tonight NBA Commissioner David Stern will step up to the microphone and declare ...

“And with the first pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the New Orleans Hornets select forward Anthony Davis from Kentucky.”

There will be polite cheers for the star of the national champ UK Wildcats inside the Prudential Center in Newark (and don’t ask us why it’s here when the New Jersey Nets have booked out of town for Brooklyn!) and than things really figure to get interesting.

Naturally, one major storyline is that the Houston Rockets right now own the draft’s 12th, 16th and 18th selections and all signs indicate that they are willing to trade all of the above picks to Orlando for megastar center Dwight Howard even though the stat-sheet stuffing Howard says he’s not guaranteeing his address beyond this 2012-13 season ... so is it worth the gamble for the Rockets?

We say nay.

Instead, it makes a whole lot of sense for Houston to deal away a couple of these picks to get into the #2 hole in this draft – that would require a deal with the Charlotte Bobcats – but than who would be the apple of the Rockets’ eye?

Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ... Florida two-guard Bradley Beal ... or perhaps a long-shot type like Weber State point guard Damian Lillard?

Then there’s other trade news making the rounds as we approach zero hour on this NBA Draft:

The Los Angeles Lakers are said to shopping F/C Pau Gasol and defensive stopper Metta World Peace (a/ka/a Ron Artest) and there has been some talk that the Hollywood duo could wind up in Toronto where the Raptors would than deal away the #8 overall picks plus more bodies/ draft picks.

If this happens, the Lakers would be praying that the aforementioned Lillard stays put until the eighth pick.

Finally, the news last night that Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers told media folks that he believes Kevin Garnett will return for at least one more season could convince GM Danny Ainge to keep that “old gang” together for one more run and don’t forget the Celts right now own draft picks #21 and #22.

Might Ainge be willing to package both picks to the hated Lakers for Gasol and World Peace (with other considerations going back to the Lakers, of course)?

Think about a real savvy, veteran Celtics team next year that might consist of Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Gasol and World Peace (and conceivably Ray Allen, but not likely there) and who’s to say that core of a group can’t stand toe-to-toe with the Miami Heat come playoff time?

It’s must-see TV on ESPN. Make sure you have a cold beverage and some popcorn for three-plus hours tonight!

Now hear this ...

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have put a highly successful 2012 NBA Playoffs in their rear-view mirror and now our attention’s 100 percent focused on all the Major-League Baseball Winners!

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THE BASEBALL REPORT: SABATHIA & PETTITTE ON THE SIDELINES FOR RED-HOT YANKEES

When is the last time a three-game sweep actually felt like a loss?

The answer is yesterday in The Bronx – the New York Yankees held off the Cleveland Indians 5-4 to wrap up a straight sets series but in the process Bombers LHP Andy Pettitte fractured the fibula near his left ankle and was declared out for a minimum of six weeks (likely longer) and that happened after the Yanks announced that ace lefty CC Sabathia would miss at least his next two starts with a strained groin. Both Pettitte and Sabathia were placed on the 15-day DL and, sure, maybe you’re not exactly feeling sorry for a Yankees team that has won 25 of their last 32 games overall but GM Brian Cashman was just saying the other day that he loved the current makeup of his team and didn’t think he would have to make any deals.

Think again, Mr. Cashman.

Okay, so you’ve no doubt already seen some of the “usual suspects” that are expected to be mentioned as trade bait coming over to the Yankees:

Chicago Cubs RHP Matt Garza (3-6, 4.06 ERA) is right on top of the supposed wish list as are Philadelphia Phillies RHP Joe Blanton (7-6, 4.87) and Houston Astros LHP Wandy Rodriguez (6-5, 3.52) but none of the above are real “difference-makers” and so here’s where Cashman gets daring and really earns his sheckles:

The Yankees should make a Grade A offer to the Phillies for LHP Cliff Lee (yes, still without a win this year but not all his fault) or to the Chicago White Sox for RHP Jake Peavy (6-4, 2.84) and part with a top pitching prospect in the minors – think about it:

The Yankees next year should get RHP Michael Pineda back after his lost year here in 2012 and probably won’t have Pettitte on their team in 2013 and so go for the gusto with either Lee or Peavy (or maybe both!) and try to win in a year when Tampa Bay’s offense is hurting, Boston’s starting rotation is shaky and the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels and even the two-time American League champ Texas Rangers are all grossly overrated.

Maybe the Yankees’ pain right now will be someone else’s gain but – you know what – a rotation in October that includes Sabathia, Pettitte, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and either Lee or Peavy will be ultra-tough toe beat ... agree?

NOTE: Get our NBA Draft Notes in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez.

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