NBA Draft 2012: 5 Teams That Must Trade Up

Oliver ThomasContributor IJune 26, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: 5 Teams That Must Trade Up

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    The only sure bet for the 2012 NBA Draft is that the New Orleans Hornets will select Kentucky's Anthony Davis with the first-overall pick.

    After that, the field of prospects gets a bit murky because many teams could move up into the draft lottery.

    In order to gain talent, sacrifices must be made. The only question is whether the risk is worth the reward.

    For five NBA franchises, it is.

    Here are the teams that must trade up in the NBA draft on June 28.

Boston Celtics

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    With the Big 3 facing demolition, the Boston Celtics have some serious decisions to make. To rebuild or re-sign is the name of the game.

    Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley, E'twaun Moore, Sean Williams and JaJuan Johnson are the only players currently inked for another season, courtesy of Shamsports.com.

    That said, the draft is the place where the C's could make a preemptive strike for next season.

    Standing at picks 21, 22 and 51, Boston is in line to acquire above-average talent. Yet, the temptation of packaging two first-round picks to move up into the draft lottery is very enticing.

    According to John Schuhmann of NBA.com, trading up makes sense for the Celtics:

    With Rondo and Bradley, the Celtics' backcourt is set. But they need as much help as they can get on the front line. There should be some talent and size in the late first round, but Danny Ainge might want to explore any opportunities to package his two picks to get more of an impact player than what they can find at 21 or 22.

    Salary cap space is on the Celtics side, but age is not. Therefore, drafting a young top talent seems like a logical decision for general manager Danny Ainge and head coach Doc Rivers. The Celtics are in a perfect position to get a deal done.

Houston Rockets

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    The Houston Rockets own the rights to picks 14, 16 and now, 18. Although, three middle-of-the-pack first-rounders is not as exciting as one elite prospect.

    On June 26, the Rockets traded Chase Budinger to the Minnesota Timberwolves in return for the No. 18 draft choice, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.com.

    Holding onto a nice bounty of draft picks, the Rockets could become serious threats to trade up.

    Houston is still suffering from the void that center Yao Ming left when he retired. Samuel Dalembert has been plugged in, but perhaps the time has come to prep for the future.

    According to Chad Ford and Marc Stein of ESPN.com, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is targeting Connecticut seven-footer Andre Drummond. Ford and Stein's sources say that at least two teams could be potential trade suitors for Houston:

    Although sources stressed that no deal is imminent, Sacramento (No. 5) and Toronto (No. 8 ) have let Houston know that their top-10 selections are available. Sources say that the Rockets, in turn, have made both of their first-round picks available (No. 14 and No. 16), but the key to any trade going through could be point guard Kyle Lowry. 

    Now that the draft rights to pick 18 are in the fold, the odds of Houston leapfrogging the draft seem very likely.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    The Milwaukee Bucks presently hold ownership of picks 12 and 42 in Thursday's draft. Although, that may not make the organization content.

    Guards Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis could use some pieces around them. Since Andrew Bogut's departure, the squad's post presence has been relatively thin.

    Gery Woelfel of the Journaltimes.com reports that Milwaukee is looking for a trade partner in order to move up in the draft.

    According to Woelfel, possible teams looking to exchange picks with Milwaukee include the New Orleans Hornets at No. 10 and the Golden State Warriors at No. 7.

    At this point, the Bucks would benefit from a bold move. As of now, they're not a playoff team.

    NBA.com's John Aschburner also contemplated the possibility of a trade while addressing Milwaukee's needs:

    Size and athletic ability are priorities. Names floating for the Bucks at this spot include North Carolina's Tyler Zeller, Illinois' Meyers Leonard or Baylor's Perry Jones III. Keep in mind that Milwaukee GM John Hammond has been an active trade participant at draft time over the past several seasons.

    Don't be surprised if the Bucks pull the trigger on a draft-day deal.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Good things take time. Just ask the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    Two years after losing LeBron James in free agency, the Cavs are in rebuilding mode. And, they're in a great position to do it. Carrying Nos. 4, 24, 33 and 34 in this year's draft, Cleveland's roster will be looking quite different in 2012.

    But, the Cavaliers could combine their top two choices in a deal to move up even further.

    According to The Associated Press' sports staff (via The Plain Dealer), the Charlotte Bobcats may have an ally in the Cavaliers. The Bobcats have reportedly been looking to trade out of the No. 2 spot, and the Cavs have been looking to trade up.

    In fact, Cleveland even offered all of their draft picks to the New Orleans Hornets for the first pick earlier in June. The Hornets declined the proposal, per the Sporting News.

    2011 first-overall draft pick Kyrie Irving and fourth-overall selection Tristan Thompson would benefit from other contributors stepping into the mix. Managing four of the first 34 picks, Cleveland could very well make that happen.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    The Los Angeles Lakers are entering a period of uncertainty. Kobe Bryant is 33 years old and according to Hoopshype.com, Pau Gasol will earn almost $40 million over the next two years.

    To make matters worse, the Lakers only have one draft pick in 2012: Mr. Irrelevant. With the rights to pick No. 60, Los Angeles faces an ultimatum. The franchise can either sit back or make something happen.

    Fox Sports' Sam Amico reported on Twitter that the Lakers could very well move up in the draft:

     

    Lakers "making real push" to get into 1st round of NBA Draft, says EC exec. Word is they like the Baylor guys: Perry Jones & Quincy Miller.

    — Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) June 21, 2012

     

    In order to land either Baylor's Perry Jones or Quincy Miller, the Lakers must find a way to sneak into the middle of round one. DraftExpress.com projects Jones to go at No. 15 and Miller at No. 23. Both players stand over 6'10", signifying what the Lakers want to do in 2012.

    If the Lakers trade up, it will be because a primary piece of the puzzle has been moved. It may occur, it may not, but a big move is something to watch out for come the NBA draft.