With 26 teams now eliminated from title contention, much focus has shifted to the NBA offseason and what those teams plan to do prior to the draft on June 27.
For those teams that fell short of the ultimate prize, this is a time of reevaluation, planning and forward thinking. This is a time to make some decisions.
Some of those decisions will involve coaching changes and roster moves, but every organization in the league must be prepared to improve through the draft. With a premium placed on lottery selections—and finding the right players outside the top 14 picks—general managers are scrambling to craft a plan for acquiring the players they want.
But some of those general managers are looking at poor draft position. For those teams, this is a time to consider making some decisive moves to put their team in the best position to make a splash in the draft.
Let’s take a look at some rumors from around the league and identify a few squads looking to potentially move up or down the draft board to acquire the players they want in the 2013 NBA draft.
Portland Trail Blazers
The 2013 campaign was a disappointing season for the Portland Trail Blazers, but they have a solid foundation on which to build for the future. With Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard and leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge in place for next season, general manager Neil Olshey should be focused on finding another talented scorer to lead his team through the playoff barrier in the Western Conference.
According to Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com, Olshey may have a target in mind. Sources indicate the Trail Blazers “really like” Indiana swingman Victor Oladipo and may try to move up in the draft to acquire him.
The draft lottery on May 21 will give a clearer indication, but Portland is currently slotted for the No. 10 pick in the draft—a position in which it will likely have to trade up to obtain the athletic perimeter scorer. Should the Trail Blazers not crack the top five when the ping pong balls are drawn, Olshey may have to get creative to trade up.
This year’s draft isn’t being lauded for its elite talent, though, and with the recent success of non-lottery picks like Kenneth Faried and Chandler Parsons, there may be a bevy of teams hoping to add extra picks by moving back in the first round—like the Charlotte Bobcats.
According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, the Bobcats may be interested in moving out of the top five—a rare occurrence in a draft that typically focuses on top-tier talent:
Here’s what I noticed: The Charlotte Bobcats, a team assured of drafting no lower than fifth in the first round and having no second-round pick, seem oddly curious about players projected to be drafted in the middle of the first round.
So I asked several writers covering teams with similarly high picks if they thought their general managers were receptive to trading down. “Absolutely,” I kept hearing.
Every general manager will be doing his due diligence prior to the draft, and the talk of trading down may simply be a smokescreen to keep other teams on their toes, but there could be some validity to the rumors if the Bobcats have their heart set on a player who isn’t a projected top-five talent.
Bonnell offers an observation involving one of those potential players on Twitter:
Bobcats have interviewed Gonzaga 7-footer Kelly Olynyk, who figures to go no higher than 11th. Trade-back scenario?— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) May 16, 2013
As is the case with Portland, what Charlotte ultimately decides to do will hinge on how the draft lottery plays out, but it’s hard to imagine a top-five team willingly trading back in the first round, even in a weak draft class. The Bobcats can’t afford to get too creative and miss out on a proven talent and future building block.
Los Angeles Lakers
It’s hard to put a positive spin on the Los Angeles Lakers’ season. Despite adding superstar talent this offseason, the Lakers floundered much of the year and met their fate at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, as Kobe Bryant watched on with a season-ending injury.
There’s no timetable for Bryant’s return and general manager Mitch Kupchak will have his hands full with trying to retain Howard. What that means, however, is Pau Gasol may be the odd man out in Los Angeles.
NBA Draft Combine notes: Lakers, Hawks appear to be on lookout for lottery pick. tinyurl.com/axngod9— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) May 17, 2013
The unrest involving Gasol in Los Angeles has been palpable, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that the team could look to move him this offseason. With Bryant’s 2013 future in question and the prospect of potentially losing Howard to free agency, Kupchak has to be willing to reshape his roster and get younger through the draft.