The 2012 NBA Draft Lottery is Wednesday in Times Square, New York City. This means the NBA draft is right around the corner—the event where every NBA team will look to replenish themselves with an influx of youth or trade for veterans with their valuable draft picks.
Lottery franchises don't always love the players available to pick. Instead of choosing a player who might work out for them, franchises sometimes opt to deal their pick to a playoff team looking to add youth.
Just a year ago, in the 2011 NBA draft, the Indiana Pacers selected Kawhi Leonard from San Diego State. Shortly after being drafted, Leonard was traded to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for George Hill.
The trade worked out brilliantly for both teams. Leonard emerged as the starting small forward for the Spurs following the Richard Jefferson-Stephen Jackson trade. Leonard finished fourth in the 2011-12 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award voting under the watch of coach Popovich, who knows how good Leonard can be.
Hill finished in second place for last year's Most Improved Player of the Year award. On the Spurs, Hill stepped up and took the role of starting point guard as Tony Parker battled injuries. Following the trade to the Pacers, Hill became the starting point guard for the Pacers.
It's not rare for an NBA franchise that had just made the playoffs to trade for a lottery pick. It's a quick way to revitalize an aging roster. A team can go from young to old quicker than most general managers realize.
Lottery teams are oftentimes willing to trade out as well. Think of how the Boston Celtics created their current roster. Before the Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the team finished the season with a record of 24-58, second worst in the NBA.
Like the Spurs a season ago, the playoff teams that'll try to trade for a draft lottery pick will be ones with multiple young trade assets. Without further ado, here's the list of NBA playoff teams that will look into trading for a draft lottery pick.
Roster wise, the Indiana Pacers are in a good spot. They have players coming off the books (Leandro Barbosa, Louis Amundson) and valuable trade pieces (Darren Collison, Paul George).
What's interesting about the Pacers is they have a collection of talent, but none of it is overwhelming. They're the Denver Nuggets of the Eastern Conference with less of an identity. A deep roster, much like the Pacers have, can lead to a high playoff spot but not much else.
As much as basketball is a team sport, talent usually wins out. In the second round, were the Miami Heat the better team or did they have the two best players in the series?
The Pacers' management needs to decide if their core of players is good enough to make the "extra" leap. In a conference with Derrick Rose, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the Pacers need a guy who has the confidence to go toe-to-toe with the best.
This doesn't mean the Pacers need a superstar. Every NBA team could use a superstar. The Pacers need someone like Jason Terry or an "in-his-prime" J.R. Smith—as Grantland.com's Bill Simmons likes to call them, an Irrational Confidence Guy. An Irrational Confidence Guy is the player who's not one of the team's best, but when he's playing well, he'll have stretches in games where he can play with the best of them.
For the most part, the Pacers roster is made up of younger guys with trade value. Teams would kill for opportunity to acquire George. A trade up for a lottery pick is not out of the realm of possibility for the Pacers. A player like Austin Rivers from Duke or Jeremy Lamb from UConn could be game-changers for the Pacers.
The Pacers need to decide if Granger is a go-to guy. He gets paid like one, but in the Round 2 series against the Heat, it was clear Granger's nowhere near the player James or Wade is. Moving Granger will be difficult because of his contract, though.
George looks to be the better option to build the team around, but Granger has been billed as "the guy" for the past two seasons. Moving Granger for a draft pick and offering Eric Gordon, a restricted free agent, a large contract, could be the smart move.
The question is: Do the Pacers have the guts to move on from a guy they billed as a "superstar."
Similar to the Pacers, the Philadelphia 76ers are rich with young, tradeable talent. The Sixers roster is extremely talented; they just have too many of the same type of players. Because of their roster, the Sixers are great at playing the fast break and locking down opposing teams' backcourts.
But when opposing teams can force the Sixers to play out of their style, they struggle.
The Sixers wings and guards consist of Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday, Craig Brackins, Thaddeus Young, Louis Williams and Andre Iguodala. Next season, these six players will make a combined $38,618,311.
In 2012-13, the salary cap is guaranteed to be at least $58.044 million. It's hard to imagine the Sixers keeping all six of these players, especially with the help they need in the low post.
The most obvious player to trade would be Iguodala because of his large contract. Like Granger, Iguodala is paid like a franchise player even though he is not—his $14,718,250 salary for next season is overpriced.
A lottery team with cap space—the Sacramento Kings, for example—could consider trading for Iguodala if they're unlucky in the draft lottery. If the Kings unluckily get the No. 7 pick in the NBA draft, would they be better served to pick a player who could be a bust or trade their pick to the Sixers for Iguodala and trade Tyreke Evans for either a pick or players?
Be prepared: The one team you won't stop hearing about all summer is the Orlando Magic.
The Magic circus is set to begin immediately following the NBA Finals. The Magic-Dwight Howard situation is destined to end in the worst way possible.
As much as Howard wants to believe he has power in this situation, he doesn't. He's soured his relationship with the Magic to the point of no return and he will not be playing for the Magic next season—that's a fact.
The Magic shouldn’t even consider the teams that Howard has suggested. The franchise needs to act in its own best interest, even if that means sending Howard away to a team like the Golden State Warriors. Let Howard waste away another season on another team.
If the Magic do decide to act in their own best interest, they should open up all trade offers for Howard before the draft. Who knows, maybe the Warriors will be willing to trade their lottery pick for a one-year Howard rental.
Other than an Andrew Bynum trade with the Los Angeles Lakers, the best offer the Magic could get is a high draft pick along with players to rebuild their team around.
The Memphis Grizzlies have a lot of money tied into their top players. Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol will make a combined $54,031,891 in 2012-13. That's a lot of money going to a power forward past his best days, an above-average small forward that's paid like a go-to guy and an average point guard.
The Gasol deal is a steal, though. He's one of five legitimate centers in the NBA and the Grizzlies have him tied up until 2014-15.
The Grizzlies roster is aging quickly. O.J. Mayo is likely gone and the Grizzlies have Gay and Randolph on the books until 2014-15. With the two of them making a boatload of money, it will be hard for the Grizzlies to reload unless they trade one of the two.
Gay is more valuable and he'd be easier to trade. After Randolph's recent playoff performance, he no longer appears to be a guy worth $16,500,000 a year. As mentioned before, would a team like the Kings or the Toronto Raptors consider trading their draft pick for Rudy Gay? Would the Grizzlies make that trade?
If the Grizzlies believe their core roster can compete for an NBA championship next season, then they should keep the roster intact. If not, the Grizzlies need to seriously consider moving Gay when his trade value is still high.
Think about this way: Can the Grizzlies win a title with Gay as their best player? Hasn't Gay already reached his ceiling? Trading Gay for a lottery pick and cap space could be a smart move.
The reason the San Antonio Spurs could make a move for a lottery pick is because they've made big trades in the draft before. Just a year ago, the Spurs traded one of their key players, George Hill, to the Pacers for the No. 15 pick, Kawhi Leonard.
It was a risky move. Hill is a proven NBA player and Leonard was a college star from the Mountain West Conference, but the Spurs saw something and made the move. If the Spurs see a player they know will flourish on their team, they will make a move to acquire him.
The Spurs will likely won't trade for a top lottery pick, but a trade for a pick in the 11-14 range is not out of question. The Spurs would be able to draft Jared Sullinger if they could acquire a pick in that range.
Gregg Popovich is the perfect coach for a player like Sullinger. Sullinger's not blessed with freakish athletic abilities, but he's smart and someone that Popovich could get the most of.
If Popovich can turn DeJuan Blair into a good NBA player, he can do the same for Sullinger.