It’s looking more like Dragan Bender will be available to the Suns

Jun 14, 2016, 5:30 PM | Updated: Jun 15, 2016, 11:34 am

It’s looking more and more likely Croatian hybrid forward Dragan Bender will be available for the Phoenix Suns and their fourth overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s John Gambodoro said he expects the 7-foot Bender to be on the board for the Suns after the Sixers, Lakers and Celtics make the first three selections.

“He will be there at four,” Gambodoro said Monday on the Burns and Gambo show. “Mark it down. He’s there at four if they want him.”

On Tuesday, Gambodoro added that he doesn’t expect Phoenix to take California swingman Jaylen Brown, who has already worked out for the Suns, or Providence point guard Kris Dunn at No. 4.

Brown’s stock has taken a hit following his offensive struggles toward the end of his college career for the Golden Bears.

Dunn is reportedly avoiding both the guard-heavy rosters of the Celtics and Suns because he desires immediately playing time. He is refusing to work out for a number of teams and is not opening his medical records to certain teams as his agents attempt to dictate where he lands.

But when it comes to Bender, the expectation he’ll remain in the green room by the time Phoenix is ready to make its decision is a recent development.

When the NBA Draft Lottery revealed the Suns would pick fourth, it appeared they were on the outside looking in at the chance of drafting a top-tier talent.

Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram were a lock to go first and second and remain so, but Bender lurked as the third-best prospect in the field heading into the NBA Draft Combine.

Weeks later, it’s looking more like the Suns could have a chance to draft Bender for two reasons: Marquese Chriss has leapfrogged from a borderline first-round choice into the top-5, and Kentucky sniper Jamal Murray has inched up the lottery thanks to strong workouts.

According to European reporter David Pick, the Suns will work out Bender this Saturday.

They have yet to get up-close looks at several other high-lottery options, and those workouts will dictate their ultimate decision, as will any moves ahead of them in the draft.

While it would surprise if the Sixers and Lakers would move out of the first two slots — or pick anyone other than Simmons and Ingram — the Celtics have reportedly considered moving the third pick.

But if they remain at No. 3, it looks less and less like they have an interest in picking Bender. Gambodoro isn’t the only one predicting the face-up forward will remain on the Suns’ board by the time they pick. Draft Express,, CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated all have the Celtics taking a pass.

Then again, Boston’s tune could change after it works out Bender. That is scheduled for Tuesday, according to Pick.


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