Let’s Make A Deal: With the NBA Draft just two days and less than 10 hours away, teams are now in full on “deal making” mode. This usually results in a lot of chatter and very little action. What’s becoming clear in the talk is that a number of teams at the top of the draft would like to move around and there are some real assets in play. Let’s take a look at what’s in play as of today:
Cleveland Cavaliers: With the top overall pick in their pocket and the literal pick of the litter, the Cavs have started to entertain what else they could get for the top pick instead of their choice of players. There is a report from Cleveland that the Utah Jazz have made a hard push for the top pick with an offer said to include Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and the fifth overall pick. Such a package would be a massive haul for the Cavaliers, who would rather move toward proven veterans given the state of their roster. The Cavs have had a number of teams approach them about the top pick and even with a haul like that on the table, it seems they are still holding the line.
The Cavs are said to be leaning toward Jabari Parker with the top overall pick, if they keep it, but there is a still a lot of deal making time to be had so whether or not the Cavs will ultimately hold the top pick on Thursday is still very much up in the air.
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Orlando Magic: The Orlando Magic are absolutely open for business, as one rival executive put it. Although there have been several reports suggesting specific packages and offers, sources close to the process say the team isn’t nearly that close to a deal to be hammering on specifics. The Magic are said to have the entire team on the table for the right combination of assets. The Magic hold the fourth and 12th picks in Thursday’s draft and have been angling to move up in the draft, possibly into one of the top two picks. Sources say there really is not much that’s off limits in talks and that Orlando is willing to listen to overtures on their own picks in trade down scenarios too. The Chicago Bulls have been linked most prominently to a deal with Orlando involving shooting guard Arron Afflalo, although sources say that’s not likely happening on draft night, but it’s still very much in play. The dark horse to obtain Afflalo still remains the Charlotte Hornets, who have long coveted him and are willing to give up the ninth pick and a roster player to do it.
Like the Cavaliers, the Magic have a number of options they are weighing, but the smart money says despite the chatter the Magic likely end up where they are at with four and 12, but they are working through the process and are willing to deal.
Keep an eye on Jameer Nelson on draft night; his $8 million contract is only partially guaranteed for next season, meaning for $2 million in cash, a team could clear $6 million in cap space. For those teams looking hard at free agents like Carmelo Anthony, Nelson’s contract is fairly attractive.
Boston Celtics: The Celtics are sitting on the sixth and 17th picks in Thursday’s draft and would love to package them with a roster or player or two and get a serious player in return. The Celtics have been at the Minnesota Timberwolves regarding Kevin Love, but that seems to be at a standstill mainly because of the Timberwolves. There is a belief that as the draft starts to unfold and the true value of Boston’s picks become real with players available, that things may change.
If the Celtics reach for an odd selection at six that may be the telltale sign that they have a deal with someone else.
Equally the Celtics have made it clear that both of their picks are obtainable, so someone wanting to move to the sixth pick could find a willing partner in Boston.
Equally there is a sense that if Kansas big man Joel Embiid is on the board at six, the Celtics would draft him. However, there continues to be reports from teams that are hearing about the details of Embiid’s medical review and even the Celtics may be scared away from him at six. At 17, that’s an entirely different story.
The Celtics are being very active, which is usual for them at this time of year. However, it seems they are not willing to move on a major deal until Minnesota moves Love, but they may be willing to do some minor deals including moving the non-guaranteed $5.28 million contract of Keith Bogans. Like Nelson he is expected to be moved on draft day to a team looking to clear cap space.
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Utah Jazz: The Utah Jazz are not going to sit quietly and wait for their turn. They have been extremely active. The Jazz have not been overly excited to be sitting on the fifth pick in this draft class and have been at all three teams sitting at the top. Their target surprisingly is not Jabari Parker, as much as fans may want to see Parker in Salt Lake City, sources say their ideal target is Andrew Wiggins.
As covered above, the Jazz are believed to have made a whopper of an offer to Cleveland looking to pry the top overall pick loose. It’s believed they have a similar offer on the table to the Milwaukee Bucks and to the Philadelphia 76ers, assuming one of them can deliver Wiggins.
Parker is not completely out of the discussion for Utah, neither is Australian guard Dante Exum.
In addition to the fifth pick, the Jazz also hold the 23rd pick, which they have been actively shopping. When you hear about teams trying to obtain a first rounder this is one of the picks that could be had.
Typically when a team is this aggressive about trying to make a deal, they usually make one, so do not be surprised to see Utah move out of the number five spot. The question is what will they really give up to do it?
Philadelphia 76ers: Much like the Jazz, the 76ers are feeling a little squeamish about the third spot. They too have had eyes for Andrew Wiggins and there was a sense that he would fall to them at three, and then Embiid required foot surgery. The Cavs seem to have zeroed in on Parker or Wiggins if they keep the top pick, leaving the 76ers to catch whatever falls to them at three and it’s believed the Bucks are leaning towards Parker or Exum. Philadelphia wouldn’t be crushed to land Exum; they are very high on him, however if surrendering the 10th pick or a roster player like Thaddeus Young could get them Wiggins they seems open to pulling the trigger.
The 76ers have also been linked to a deal with the L.A. Lakers that would net them the seventh pick in exchange for Michael Carter-Williams, Young and two of Philly’s five second round picks. It’s believed the 76ers would also take on the contract of Steve Nash.
The logic of the deal, according to sources, is the 76ers trade their third and 10th pick to move up, while landing the seventh pick from the Lakers to walk out of the draft with two top players.
This deal seems like it would be contingent on Philly getting the player they want at the top.
NBA teams are prohibited from trading draft picks in consecutive years. Once the draft begins the Lakers are allowed to deal their pick, or more importantly a player they select with the pick.
Several teams have been at both the Lakers and the Sixers for a deal involving their picks and were turned away, so there is a sense this deal, or some variation of it, is very much in play.
LA Lakers: As mentioned above the Lakers are not holding firm with the seventh pick. In fact, they have shopped it as hard as almost any team in the league. The challenge for the Lakers is until players start to fall into slots their pick is not overly attractive.
There is a sense that the Lakers have three or four deals they could do with the seventh pick, including several “move down” scenarios. The Lakers have been looking at several draft prospects that project significantly lower than their seventh pick, so they have done their homework on moving down.
The Lakers are also very much open to moving the seventh pick to offload the guaranteed contract of Steve Nash. It’s unclear if any of the teams with cap space would take on the deal, although as mentioned above there is a belief the Lakers could trigger a deal with Philadelphia.
As thing stand today, the Lakers have three fully guaranteed contracts: Kobe Bryant ($23.5 million), Steve Nash ($9.701 million) and Robert Sacre ($915K). Nick Young holds a player option worth $1.227 million, which he is expected to decline. The Lakers have the option to restrict pending free agents Kent Bazemore and Ryan Kelly and hold a non-guaranteed option on Kendall Marshall worth $915,000. Given the cap hold rules, the Lakers are likely to hang on to Marshall, Bazemore and possibly Kelly, giving them a likely salary cap number in the $37 million range. Dumping Nash with little in return would get them to roughly $27 million in salary commitments plus whatever they take back for Nash.
In a conservative way, the Lakers could get to $30-$35 million in usable cap space if they can offload Nash and the guaranteed salary of the seventh pick.
The Lakers seem motivated to make a deal, the question becomes can they find a willing partner?
Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves have been busy. Not just on the Kevin Love front, which according to sources likely is going nowhere as Flip Saunders proclaimed early on in the process. The Wolves have also been sniffing around with their own draft pick, the 13th selection. The Wolves are said to covet a knock down shooter and may find a couple of candidates there at 13, however they seem more than willing to move down and return themselves a veteran asset.
The Wolves are in “win now” mode, according to several teams that have tried to extract Love, and they are willing to trade out of the 13th pick altogether if it gets them something they can bank on.
It’s believed that Jose Barea ($4.519 million), Corey Brewer ($4.702 million) and Alexey Shved ($3.15 million) could all be had on draft night along with the 13th pick to either move up to obtain a serious draft prospect or to move out and return a solid proven veteran.
Most of the teams that have made passes at the Wolves regarding Love are expected to re-visit on draft night, but sources near that process said that the Wolves’ stance is that virtually everything they are being offered will be available to them in July and that they may re-open talks then, but for now Love seems to be somewhat off the table, unless the offers get dramatically better.
Chicago Bulls: The Bulls are also not sitting out the draft transaction window. They have been active in trying to combine their two draft selections, the 16th and the 19th picks. The sense is they’d rather have one player from this draft class a little further up the draft board and have been targeting the 11th pick from the Denver Nuggets and the 13th pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Bulls have also made runs at Minnesota regarding Kevin Love, with an offer believed to be centered on Taj Gibson, Tony Snell and their two first-round picks.
The Bulls have also been linked to Magic guard Arron Afflalo, also believed to be centered around those same picks. There has been some speculation that Chicago might be trying to dump Carlos Boozer on the Magic in exchange for Afflalo and Jameer Nelson, offering their picks and possibly Snell as sweeteners.
The Bulls are absolutely kicking the tires on a number of fronts, so they are expected to be active on draft night, if only in trading their existing picks.
Chicago is considered one of the frontrunners to land Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, although Bulls sources warned that they have been down this free agent road before, and while they are absolutely ready to present to free agents they are not putting all their eggs or assets into one basket.
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Phoenix Suns: The Phoenix Suns are equally active, looking at options on both the 13th pick and the 27th pick. Sources close to that situation say the 27th pick is likely going to be flipped on draft night for a future asset, but that the Suns are still very much open to deals involving not only their two picks, but players on their roster.
There has been some scuttle that Phoenix might be open to moving Goran Dragic, although Suns sources adamantly denied that Dragic was available.
There is a sense, however, that other parts of the Suns roster could be had for the right return.
The Suns are sitting on a potential mountain of cap space and want to get involved in the free agent run, including what’s believed to be an aggressive pitch to Carmelo Anthony.
The Suns have also been at the Minnesota Timberwolves regarding Kevin Love, but have found their assets are not as attractive to Minnesota as some of the other suitors, mainly because the Wolves covet proven veterans not younger players.
The Suns are very much in play as we march up to the NBA Draft. At worst, they are moving their second first round pick and best they could get involved in bigger move up or move out kind of trade, especially if it yields the right kind of impact veterans.
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