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ESPN NBA insider: If Phoenix Suns want Frank Kaminsky, they’ll probably have to trade up

LISTEN: Chad Ford, ESPN NBA draft insider

Draft day is upon us, which means months of speculation will finally turn into facts.


For the Phoenix Suns, the speculation has been even tougher to pin down. Picking 13th overall, there is literally no way to know who will still be available when they are on the clock.

Most mock drafts have them taking Wisconsin forward Frank Kaminsky, a player the Suns worked out earlier this month and fans would seem to want the team to select.

But if Frank “the Tank” is to don Suns orange, ESPN NBA insider Chad Ford is confident they’ll have to be picking somewhere other than 13th.

Ford, speaking with Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday morning, says the Suns will need to trade up.

“I’m pretty confident right now that his floor is Charlotte at nine,” Ford said.

The insider pointed to a trade that went down Tuesday between the Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers that saw Nicolas Batum go to Charlotte while Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh went to Portland.

“When the Hornets made that trade last night and traded away Noah Vonleh, they made that deal in part to add shooting, veteran shooting, with Nic Batum, and they’re also going to get Jeremy Lamb in a separate deal,” he said. “They weren’t necessarily comfortable with (Kentucky guard) Devin Booker there at nine, at least being their primary shooter. They could take him, but not as their primary guy — they didn’t want a rookie to be able to handle all of that.

“(Hornets owner) Michael Jordan loves Frank Kaminsky, I think that’s the way they are leaning at nine.”

The 2015 Naismith College Player of the Year who also won the John R. Wooden and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year awards, Kaminsky averaged 18.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists while leading the Badgers to the NCAA Tournament championship game.

At 7-foot-1 and 240 pounds with range out to the 3-point line, Kaminsky is easily one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft. Opinions of him are varied, of course, which is why so many have him lasting to the Suns at 13 while others, including Ford, see him going sooner.

“That might be too low,” Ford conceded of his prediction of Kaminsky being picked ninth. “(VIce president of basketball and franchise operations) Vlade Divac loves Frank Kaminsky. Had a great workout in Sacramento. There’s been some talk about the Kings taking him at seven, and you know Vladi Divac loves skilled seven-footers and loves Frank Kaminksy.

“And Phil Jackson absolutely loves Frank Kaminsky as well, and the picture that I got in the Knicks front office right now is long-time staffers who have done this drafting thing for a long time, begging Phil Jackson, ‘We can’t take Kaminsky at four, we can’t do it.'”

The draft is set to begin at 4:30 p.m. Arizona time, with the Suns are expected to make their selection around 5:45 p.m.