: If the Miami Heat's recent activities are any indication, they are not going to select Kansas State forward Michael Beasley with the No. 2 pick in Thursday's NBA draft.
With the first selection, the Chicago Bulls are leaning strongly toward drafting Memphis point guard Derrick Rose. While the Bulls say they won't announce their decision until draft night, Bulls GM John Paxson admits that Chicago is "probably leaning a certain way."
ESPN.com has been reporting since the draft lottery that Heat president Pat Riley has reservations about Beasley. While Beasley is a talent, Riley seems to be uncomfortable with his personality and seems dead set on finding a point guard to pair in the backcourt with Dwyane Wade.
To that end, Riley staged two separate secret workouts in Miami on Tuesday. The first, a source told ESPN.com, was for Arizona point guard Jerryd Bayless. The second was for USC guard O.J. Mayo, who confirmed to ESPN.com that he worked out for the team.
Sources told ESPN.com's Andy Katz on Tuesday night that Mayo was even told by Heat brass -- which included Riley, general manager Randy Pfund and coach Erik Spoelstra -- that he is in contention to be selected outright at No. 2.
But there are also indications the Heat are shopping that pick and could select Mayo or Bayless lower after acquiring another asset.
After the Heat were informed that Shawn Marion would not opt out of his contract, sources said Riley began calling teams looking for serious offers for the second pick.
The Heat then brought in Mayo and Bayless. Both workouts lasted about 90 minutes. It's the second time the Heat have worked out Bayless and Mayo, and according to sources, Riley believes both are special talents.
Bayless had an "amazing" workout, according to the source. He "shot the lights" out and performed even better than he had in his first workout for the Heat. They believe he can be a full-time point guard in the pros, similar to Chauncey Billups.
The source said Mayo was also "great," and in addition to shooting the ball well, he performed well in some of the ballhandling drills. The Heat believe Mayo could be a Gilbert Arenas-type point guard.
The same source said Riley is enamored of Mayo's and Bayless' shooting ability and believes Mayo, like Bayless, can be a point guard in the NBA.
In addition to any questions about attitude, a number of high-ranking NBA sources told Katz that one of the main reasons the Heat wouldn't select Beasley is the hope that they will land Utah's Carlos Boozer in a year when he can opt out of his contract. Boozer has a home in Miami.
With the Heat now identifying two lottery picks that they would be comfortable with, and with questions about Beasley, it's looking more and more likely like they are going to trade their pick.
So the question is ... who is going to win the Michael Beasley sweepstakes? After talking to numerous sources around the league, here are the top four contenders:
1. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies have a huge hole at the power forward position (since trading away Pau Gasol) and see Beasley as an elite talent to pair up with Rudy Gay.
The Grizzlies can offer a number of deals that could entice Miami. They could include the No. 5 pick, Mike Miller and the Heat's choice of either Kyle Lowry or Mike Conley. Adding Miller and a point guard would allow the Heat to be very flexible with who they draft at No. 5. They could add another guard like Bayless or they could go big with a player like Brook Lopez or Kevin Love.
2. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers can offer the Heat someone Riley desperately covets: Elton Brand. A swap of the No. 2 pick and Marion for Brand and the No. 4 pick works under the salary cap and helps both teams with their needs. Why would Riley pull the trigger on that trade now, when he could just make a run at Brand in free agency next summer? Sources said the Heat would like to get Brand to Miami as soon as they can and lock him up to a long-term extension this fall. At No. 7, it's possible the Heat could still get Bayless.
The Clippers like Marion and Beasley, but they could actually use the No. 2 pick to grab Mayo. Mayo has been coveted by the Clippers for a while.
The Heat would have to weigh their interest in Brand against their desire for Boozer in 2009 in this scenario, however.
3. Seattle SuperSonics
Kevin Durant covets Beasley as a teammate. They were best friends growing up and want to play together. The Sonics think he's the perfect complement to Durant. They'd be willing to take back more salary to make it happen.
Sources say the Sonics are offering the expiring contract of Chris Wilcox, Johan Petro and the No. 4 pick to Miami for the No. 2 pick and Mark Blount. The move would save the Heat some serious money, putting them well below the cap in the summer of 2009.
The Heat would prefer Jeff Green in the deal instead of Wilcox and Petro, but it doesn't appear the Sonics are willing to go that far, even if the Heat dropped Blount from the equation.
A source close to Seattle told Katz that Miami hasn't called about a deal as of Tuesday.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Wolves have been hoping and praying that Beasley somehow falls to them at No. 3. While he's not a perfect fit, they could move Al Jefferson to the 5 and have one of the highest-scoring front lines in the league. However, Beasley falling to No. 3 looks unlikely -- unless the Heat do pull the trigger on Mayo outright at No. 2. Can the Wolves put together a package that works if Beasley doesn't fall?
The Wolves have a few assets that could entice Miami. They actually hold the Heat's 2009 first-round pick, which is top-10 protected. They also have a player that the Heat have interest in: last year's lottery pick, Corey Brewer. If the Wolves really want Beasley, perhaps a return of the Heat's first-round pick and/or Brewer could make it happen.
A source close to Minnesota told Katz, however, that the Heat and the Timberwolves have talked but there was no deal that worked for both teams as of Tuesday night. Sources close to both Seattle and Minnesota also said that they would take Mayo if he was on the board when they selected.