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RUMOR ROUNDUP: Will Nets pick at 21 and 22 Thursday night? It seems unlikely

It’s getting closer and there have been a couple of trades — none involving the Nets — that signal action is ramping up.

NBA Draft 2022 at Barclays Center in NY Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Draft is now less than 36 hours away and for the moment, as far as we know, the Nets still have the 21st, 22nd and 51st picks but it seems increasingly unlikely that those will be their picks come Thursday night.

It also seems unlikely that the Nets will head in camp with both of their 3-and-D wings on the roster.

“They’re talking to teams about firsts for Dorian (Finney-Smith),” a league source told NetsDaily Wednesday morning. “Same for Royce (O’Neale). Trying to take 21 and 22 with one of those guys to move up.”

Asked who the Nets covet if they get a higher pick, the source replied, “no idea.”

Brian Lewis had similar information, providing details on which spots the Nets may be aiming for.

[W]hat’s crystal clear is that the Nets are determined to move up from least one of their two picks near the bottom of the first round...

At least four teams between picks Nos. 10 and 16 — Dallas, Oklahoma City, Atlanta and Utah — are open to the idea of trading. How receptive they’d be to anything the Nets have to offer is a different story.

While moving up is an option, one or both of those first-round picks could also be packaged with O’Neale or Finney-Smith to acquire a veteran.

Lewis also noted that the Nets have had offers for both veterans in the past.

A source told The Post the Nets rejected an offer of two first-round picks for Finney-Smith last season, while O’Neale reportedly could’ve fetched a first. What is their value now?

Marc J. Spears of ESPN and Andscape another data point that supports the narrative that Marks wants to move up. Spears reports that Dereck Lively, the 7’1” Duke center, worked out for the Nets in Brooklyn Tuesday. Lively is mocked at No. 10 by ESPN and Tankathon, 11 by The Ringer. He would be the highest ranked prospect known to have worked out in Brooklyn.

Zach Lowe on his Lowe Post podcast said the Nets are asking a high price for DFS or O’Neale and suggested that Cleveland which is desperate for wings might be interested. However, the Cavs only have a second round pick at No. 49. He also suggested that dumping either 3-and-D to move up in the draft would help the Nets with cap flexibility.

“The Nets do need to save money. Once they have Cam Johnson back they’re near the tax, I could see one of those guys moving in a cost-cutting move that gets draft picks,” Lowe said. “From what other teams are asking, they’re asking a ton - real first round pick equity.”

Indeed, while the top of the first round seems certain, even if the order is still in flux, the middle of the first round is squishy. And with so much smoke about the Nets picks — ESPN reported Tuesday that the Nets are “extremely active,” it seems the best bet is that Sean Marks, master of the Draft Day surprise, is likely to add to his reputation.

Also, all that speculation suggests strongly that the Nets covet someone who will not be on the board when the Nets first send their notification by coded message to the NBA. It’s hard to tell who that might be. Is it Frenchman Bilal Couliaby, a 6’7” wing who was No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama’s teammate and is as fast a riser as there is, now projected for the lottery.

The Nets keep their cards close to their collective chest, not even identifying which prospects have walked through the doors of HSS Training Center in Sunset Park.

Hoopshype, which tracks workouts using social media, reports that 32 prospects have been in. The real number, based on history and having three picks, is likely twice as big. (The Nets also use workouts to scout potential two-way players and Summer League invites.)

Per Hoopshype, the highest ranked prospects after Lively who’ve worked out for Marks et al are expected first-rounders Brandin Podziemski, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Maxwell Lewis, Colby Jones and Andre Jackson, as well as potential first-rounders such as Terquavion Smith, Jalen Wilson and Jordan Walsh. All of them are shooting guards or wings and none of them are projected higher than 24. Sam Vecenie reported Wednesday the Nets have worked out Marquette wing Olivier-Maxence Prosper more than once and have real interest. Vecenie mocks Prosper at No. 21. The Ringer writer also suggested that the Nets have interest in Jaquez, the 6’7” UCLA wing.

Of course, what happens Thursday will give fans a hint at what the rest of the off-season. While it appears development is the priority, the Nets are also still interested in what happens in Portland. Said the league source, “the Lillard stuff is real,” referring to the Nets interest in Damian Lillard. Of course, Lillard has to ask out and at this point, there’s no guarantee that will happen.

Moreover, Woj reported during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday afternoon that Portland has been shutting down calls for Lillard.

“The Blazers have shut down anybody who has tried to call about the possibility of trying to trade for [Lillard],” Wojnarowski said.