Update June 26th 10 27 A.M. EST: Exum officially declined the workout.
Dante Exum has declined to fly to Cleveland for a workout today according to a source
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 26, 2014
Update 6:35 PM EST: Exum hasn’t left yet, and may not go at all.
— Dei Lynam (@dlynamCSN) June 25, 2014
Cavs have offered to send a private jet to NY to pick up Dante Exum for workout in Cleveland,source said.Exum still undecided if he is going
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 25, 2014
Even as recently as early this afternoon, the notion that Andrew Wiggins could fall to the 76ers at the 3rd overall pick seemed like an impossibility. As has been the case with this entire pre-draft process, new developments may have thrown a wrench into that school of thought and there is hope, albeit a sliver, that Philadelphia may still be able to land their top target.
According to ESPN’s Andy Katz, the Cleveland Cavaliers are willing to send a private jet to New York City to pick up Australian guard prospect Dante Exum and bring him in for a private workout in the hours leading up to the draft.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 25, 2014
It has yet to be determined whether or not Exum will make the flight back to Ohio on the eve of the draft, as he has in New York with his family along with over a dozen other top prospects. Nevertheless, a franchise with the top pick in a draft with a player like Wiggins who one could easily make the argument for as the logical choice at number one would not allocate these types of resources if they were blowing smoke. There have been reports of some uncertainty with how the organization plans on using the pick. Though it is tough to imagine Cleveland taking the unproven Exum with their first overall pick, it does inspire some more hope that the 76ers might be able to move up to the first pick without having to pay an arm and a leg for it.
Though it might be confusing, this actually makes more sense than one might think. The Cavaliers cannot afford to mess up another first overall pick after the Anthony Bennett fiasco of last season. For all of Andrew Wiggins’s talents and gifts, many see the Kansas product as a few years away from contributing on a playoff contender. With Jabari Parker essentially signed, sealed, and delivered to the Bucks (and perhaps not to fond of his fit with the Cavaliers), there really is not a ‘safe’ pick for Cleveland at the top of the draft. Franchise player and former 1st overall pick Kyrie Irving is on an option season for 2014-2015, and it is unclear whether he would be willing to accept a max contract if he did not see the Cavaliers as a team that appeared ready to become a consistent playoff contender.
Conversely, the 76ers are an ideal destination for a project like Wiggins with a high ceiling. They have committed to building for the future and currently play an uptempo style that would allow Wiggins to develop a comfort level sooner than what would probably be a more constructive system in Cleveland. The 76ers also have the ammunition to assure the Cavaliers that they can still select a player like Exum, something that the Magic or Jazz cannot do. Whether it meant sending Thaddeus Young, the 10th overall pick, or maybe even a combination of the two; Cleveland would still be able to get an immediate impact player and an additional asset to add to their roster.
There is also still the possibility that the Cavaliers simply would take Exum first overall. Perhaps Sam Hinkie’s tight-lipped strategy has forced the hand of Cleveland and their apparently divided draft room. Many point to the lack of cohesiveness as the cause of the disastrous results of last years draft. The Cavaliers brought in an entirely new front office to assure that incidents like that did not happen any more. Though owner Dan Gilbert denied any sort of fissure within his brain trust, this aggressive attempt to try to squeeze one last workout in only indicates a level of indecision that he stated was not the case. Given Irving’s scoring ability and polished game, a backcourt of Exum and him makes a lot more sense than the redundancies of Michael Carter-Williams and Exum. Especially since it is unclear as to what the future of Dion Waiters is with the club, Exum could be a better fit in Cleveland than Wiggins or any other prospect.
It is possible that the Cavaliers would not be impressed enough with Exum to feel comfortable enough bringing him on board with a high pick. Nevertheless, this is not just another smokescreen. This is a team trying to gather additional information that they possibly did not see necessary before. Translation: there is still a sliver of hope that Andrew Wiggins could be a member of the 76ers by the end of Thursday night.