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Mocking The Pacers And The Draft: Promises, Promises

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In his Mock Draft 6.0 Edition, Chad Ford speculates on who the Pacers will draft come late June.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Great Debate of "Who promised Cameron Payne?" rages on. In one corner, you have the Oklahoma City Thunder who've made promises to players in the past, and have proven adept at turning the NBA Draft in their own little science experiment. In the other corner, you have the Indiana Pacers, a team with its own history of a promise (thanks for the link full sail), and incidentally, is the only team for which Cameron Payne has publicly auditioned.

Caught in the middle of all of this is Payne, who pleads no knowledge of a promise, yet he's no longer working out for teams. In the meantime, he's decided to take on his athleticism skeptics by sporting some Windmill Game:

What can you say? There's nothing quite like pre-Draft chatter; especially when we're still three weeks out from the Big Event. It only helps fuel fan interest and web clicks. 

Chad Ford tackled the "promise" rumors in his latest mock draft (released today), and feels confident that nothing will deter Larry Bird from nabbing his guy:

Larry Bird is promising to shake things up this summer and a big target will be in the middle. Assuming they can move Roy Hibbert in a trade, they'll have needs for a mobile big man. Both Myles Turner and Kaminsky could make some sense for them. But I am hearing lots of buzz out of Indiana that the team loves Payne and wants to pair Paul George with a quick, young, high basketball IQ point guard who can get to the basket. Payne has been rocketing up NBA team boards after declaring for the draft. A number of rival GMs believe the Thunder might already have promised to take him at No. 14. But I'm not sure he gets there anymore. Even teams as high as the Kings, Nuggets and Hornets are now showing interest.

At this point, it would almost seem strange for Payne not to end up in Indy. There are too many rumors swirling, too much smoke billowing to write off the connections as conjecture or coincidence. But that's the beauty of the process: there's still a lot of time until June 25th. Other prospects will be evaluated and re-evaluated, meaning there'll be plenty more opportunities for 100-million-dollar player decrees. The only question is, who'll be next?