With the 2013 NBA draft just over one month away, 60 of the top young players in the world are prepared to go from prospects to rookies. Before those players find a home, however, we would be remiss to ignore the possibility that trades will shape the way the draft transpires.
The question is, which NBA franchises could pursue trades on draft day?
Certain teams have strong draft position, but unless they win the NBA draft lottery, will be looking to move down. With a generally weak class, it's not hard to see why teams are looking for the greatest value they can find.
Another option is for teams to trade up, as they may covet a specific prospect and not want them to fall out of reach. For those simply looking to add the greatest value possible, they could capitalize on the fact that they possess multiple first-round picks.
Regardless of why they do it, there are multiple teams in line to be active on draft day.
First, here is a look at the projected draft order prior to tonight's lottery:
1. Orlando Magic
2. Charlotte Bobcats
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
4. Phoenix Suns
5. New Orleans Pelicans
6. Sacramento Kings
7. Detroit Pistons
8. Washington Wizards
9. Minnesota Timberwolves
10. Portland Trail Blazers
11. Philadelphia 76ers
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors)
13. Dallas Mavericks
14. Utah Jazz
15. Milwaukee Bucks
16. Boston Celtics
17. Atlanta Hawks
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets)
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers)
20. Chicago Bulls
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors)
22. Brooklyn Nets
23. Indiana Pacers
24. New York Knicks
25. Los Angeles Clippers
26. Minnesota Timberwolves
27. Denver Nuggets
28. San Antonio Spurs
29. Oklahoma City Thunder
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat)
According to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, the Atlanta Hawks may pursue a trade on draft day. In a draft that is considered to be weak, the Hawks are looking to capitalize on the opportunity to maximize their value.
They're doing so by pursuing the opportunity to trade up.
Meanwhile, the Hawks embark on the offseason with a whopping seven unrestricted free agents, highlighted by power forward Josh Smith. It’s believed that Hawks general manager Danny Ferry is aiming to reshape the entire roster.
The Hawks own back-to-back picks in the first round (Nos. 17 and 18), and may be willing to package them together for the sake of moving up, insiders said.
For a team in a rather immediate rebuilding process, the options are limitless.
This is mere speculation, but there is also the possibility for Atlanta to trade down in the draft. This could be achieved by keeping one of their mid-first-round picks and dealing the other to a team with multiple towards the back end of the first round and early in the second round.
It's all about weighing options for Atlanta, and they have quite a few.
According to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, the Charlotte Bobcats could trade down on draft day. This may come as a surprise, as teams rarely opt to take that route, but Bonnell reports that Charlotte is not alone in this pursuit.
A weak draft class has some franchises wondering how much value they can find.
This might be just zealous due diligence. General manager Rich Cho is meticulous to a fault, so chatting up too many draft prospects could be in his wheelhouse. But there was something that raised my radar about how curious the Bobcats seem to be about players who could be drafted 10th through 20th.
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.
That opens the door for a variety of different trade options.
As it presently stands, the Bobcats hold the rights to the second overall draft choice. That could change at the draft lottery, but until that happens, Charlotte appears dead set on weighing all of their options.
That includes trading down.
Los Angeles Lakers
According to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, the Los Angeles Lakers are looking to trade up in the 2013 NBA draft. This shouldn't come as a surprise, as L.A. lost yet another season due to inferior athleticism.
Going on without a single first round draft choice is hardly the ideal route to take to improve in that capacity.
As for the Lakers, their lone pick doesn’t come until midway through the second round (No. 48 overall). But, as usual, they’re supposedly willing to trade big man Pau Gasol in attempt to get younger. That may mean obtaining a pick, a younger player and a contract.
If they're willing to trade Pau Gasol, one can't help but think that L.A. is thinking big—very big.
Gasol may be aging, but he's still an elite player that can be the difference between a team's contender and pretender status. For a young team, Gasol could be the player that leads them to a postseason appearance.
For that reason, one can't help but imagine that L.A. would be looking for a lottery pick—and an early one at that—if they were to deal Gasol for a draft pick.
Portland Trail Blazers
According to Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest, the Portland Trail Blazers are eying shooting guard Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Hoosiers. Seeing as the Blazers are currently slated to pick at No. 10 and Oladipo could go in the top five, that poses a bit of an issue.
Per Haynes, the Blazers are considering moving up to draft Oladipo—and he wouldn't mind that one bit.
Sources close to the prospect say the Trail Blazers, among a few others teams, “really like him” and are “considering moving up to get him.”
“I would really love to go to Portland, and I'm not just saying that,” he said convincingly to CSNNW.com. “I hope, and I don't think I'm dropping that far, but if they decided to move up somehow, I think that would be a great situation for me. It's a place where you can just concentrate on basketball.”
I've already gone on record as saying that Oladipo is the best player in this draft, so I have no qualms in supporting Portland's attempts.
This would be an interesting move on Portland's behalf, as they currently have two-way threat Wesley Matthews at shooting guard. For a team that ranked dead last in bench scoring and saw their starting lineup fall victim to fatigue, however, creating depth at the 2 is a key.
It's worth noting that Portland owns the No. 10, No. 39, No. 40 and No. 45 draft choices.
Take these suggestions with a grain of salt, but there are numerous teams in position to execute trades on draft day. Those squads include the Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder and Phoenix Suns.
It's all about quantity and need, here.
In the case of the Suns and Pelicans, both teams have perceived stars that underachieved in 2012-13. That statement is in reference to Michael Beasley and Marcin Gortat for Phoenix, and Eric Gordon for New Orleans.
If they target a prospect that appears to be out of reach, a trade could be in sight.
In the case of the Cavaliers and Timberwolves, they're two teams that appear to be far off of postseason contention. Even if they were to remain healthy, their current cores appear to be a star addition away from legitimacy.
Minnesota could trade up—they own the No. 9, No. 26, No. 52 and No. 59 picks—while Cleveland could trade in either direction—they pick No. 3, No. 19, No. 31 and No. 33.
The most intriguing option here is the Thunder, as they own the No. 12, No. 29 and No. 32 overall selections. Not only could they trade up to the middle of the first round with their second and third picks, but they could trade into the top 10.
The rich could get richer.