How NBA Teams with Extra Draft Picks Can Swing Deals This Season
Draft picks have never been more valuable than they are now.
The 2014 draft class is one of the most highly regarded classes in years, and the more punitive tax of the collective bargaining agreement has teams pining for cheap sources of production more than ever.
Having an extra draft pick this season is a luxury, but not all future picks are created equal. Some picks simply won't be conveyed due to heavy restrictions, and other picks are from good teams destined to land in the back of the first round. There are only a few real golden tickets out there.
Still, these 11 teams with extra picks owed will all have a decision to make. Should they trade the picks to get help on the court now, or stay patient and see what this heralded draft class has to offer?
All draft pick information is courtesy of RealGM.com.
The Pick: 2014 first-round pick via Brooklyn Nets. Brooklyn will owe the less favorable of its own 2014 pick or the Atlanta Hawks' 2014 first-round pick via Atlanta's right to swap first-round picks with Brooklyn.
This is the first of the Boston Celtics' treasure trove of draft picks coming from the Brooklyn Nets in the blockbuster deal for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, and it's likely to be the least valuable of all the picks owed.
This pick from Brooklyn should fall somewhere in the mid-20s or so, but Boston's own pick should almost certainly be in the lottery. That should provide some decent flexibility come draft day, as Boston might be able to use the later pick as trade bait to move up a few selections in the lottery if the right opportunity presents itself.
Another option might be for the Celtics to tie the pick to some dead-weight salary in order to clear the future books. Both Gerald Wallace ($10.1 million) and Courtney Lee ($5.67) are on the ledger in the 2015-16 season, and cap space still means a lot to Boston whereas it might not for other rebuilding teams because of the large market.
Teams desperate for young talent at any cost might be willing to take on a a mid-range contract like Lee's in exchange for this 2014 draft pick, but Boston could certainly use the young talent as well. Unless Wallace can somehow be moved along with it, the Celtics will likely hang onto their extra pick from Brooklyn.
The Picks: 2014 first-round pick via Portland Trail Blazers, 1-12 protected. 2014 first-round pick via Detroit Pistons, 1-8 protected.
Well look who could be the cat's meow at next year's draft! The Charlotte Bobcats could conceivably have three picks in the top 15 of a loaded draft class next year if everything breaks the right way for once.
The good news for Charlotte in that regard is that this offseason went about as perfectly as it could have possibly hoped for.
The Portland Trail Blazers improved their depth enough to place them in the playoff chase and likely out of the first 12 picks of the draft, which would send their pick to Charlotte.
That could mean two juicy, late lottery or early mid-round picks are headed to Charlotte. So long as the Bobcats finish in the bottom 10 of the league, they'll have their own draft pick as well. If Al Jefferson makes the Bobcats just good enough, however, that pick will be shipped out to Chicago.
It may be tough for Michael Jordan and Co. to remain patient and wait for the lottery once again, but more opportunities for a potential franchise-altering trade that brings in established players should come after the season. The Bobcats already have decent options at every position, but they need a star who could be found using these extra picks, one way or another.
The Pick: 2014 first-round pick via Charlotte Bobcats, 1-10 protected.
Thank you, Tyrus Thomas. The wacky thing about trades for future draft picks is sometimes they aren't conveyed until many years down the line. Thomas isn't even in the league anymore, but the Chicago Bulls could have a pick right outside of the top 10 because of a trade with Charlotte that went down years ago.
Nobody liked the curious Al Jefferson acquisition by the Bobcats more than the Bulls did. Not only did it take a premier low-post scorer away from a potential contender, but it also greatly improved the chances that Charlotte's pick will come over this year.
With Luol Deng's contract expiring, the Bulls could be looking for a cheap wing replacement in the draft, and this pick from Charlotte could be the ticket.
Either way, the Bulls are very unlikely to deal Charlotte's pick this season. Cheap production is something a tax-weary ownership group will covet, and the Bulls are already a championship contender with very few holes to fill right now as is.
Chicago should keep hanging on to this pick, as it will only be top-eight protected in 2015 or completely unprotected in 2016 should it not be conveyed this season or next. It's a fine wine of a draft pick.
The Pick: 2014 first-round pick via Sacramento Kings, 1-12 protected.
Apparently, trading first-round picks for athletic power forwards was popular a few years back. This time it's J.J. Hickson who is responsible for the Sacramento Kings owing the Cleveland Cavaliers a first-round draft choice.
Although it's extremely unlikely it will be conveyed this year, this pick is top-10 protected all the way through 2017. Basically, as soon as Sacramento isn't one of the worst 10 teams in the league, Cleveland will get its selection.
That might take a while, though, and perhaps Cleveland would be wise to use the pick as trade bait to improve the roster now.
Cleveland needs a small forward who can hit from behind the arc and take the toughest defensive assignment every night, so perhaps combining the pick with Anderson Varejao to try to snag Nicolas Batum from the Portland Trail Blazers might be an option worth exploring.
Cleveland might be hanging on to Varejao and a pipe dream that LeBron James will come back, though, and Portland might not be ready for big changes unless it doesn't make the playoffs again this season. Still, it gives you an example of what the pick could help potentially bring back. Out of all the extra picks owed, this one seems the most likely to be dealt.
The Pick: Unprotected 2014 first-round pick via New York Knicks.
The Denver Nuggets are somehow still ridiculously deep thanks to a lot of young talent, but without some creative wheeling and dealing, this is a team that might be too good to earn valuable draft picks, but not good enough to contend for championships.
Because the Nuggets lack cap space going forward and are dumping big money into question marks like JaVale McGee and Danilo Gallinari, a cheap lottery ticket may be the best option. If the Nuggets could find a cheap source of scoring and playmaking through the draft, that would be ideal.
It's tougher to find that when you're picking in the 20s, and the Nuggets will have only one shot since the less favorable between New York's pick and their own will go to the Orlando Magic this season.
Still, in a deep draft, it's certainly possible that the right wing player could fall. Since the Nuggets are essentially locked in with their core through the 2015-16 season in terms of salary, that might be the best hope barring a few blockbuster deals.
The Pick: 2014 first-round pick from Philadelphia 76ers, 1-14 protected.
Remember Fran Vasquez? He was taken by the Orlando Magic with the 11th pick in the 2005 draft, but he never came over.
Basically, this pick that the Philadelphia 76ers owe the Miami Heat is the Fran Vasquez of draft picks. It's never coming over.
This pick is lottery-protected in 2014 and 2015, and the chances Philadelphia makes the playoffs in the next two seasons are slim and none. Per the protections, Miami will instead get Philly's 2015 and 2016 second-round picks, barring any miraculous playoff appearances by the 76ers.
Unless something crazy happens in Philadelphia this offseason, this pick won't be considered any more valuable than two second-round picks would be.
A financially constricted and contending team like Miami will still gladly take the non-guaranteed chances, particularly when you consider these picks should be at the very top of the second round.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Pick: 2014 first-round pick via Dallas Mavericks, 1-20 protected.
Here's another pick that will likely roll over to the next season. It's hard to picture the Dallas Mavericks finishing with a top-10 record this year, and it may be a while before Oklahoma City gets to use this one, as it's top-20 protected all the way through 2017 and then finally unprotected in 2018.
That's not the best news for Oklahoma City, as it could use all the help it can get right now. If young players like Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams don't pan out, the Thunder might have a hard time finding valuable contributors without going over the luxury tax, which seems imperative to ownership at this point.
If this pick were to be traded, it would most likely have to wait until Kendrick Perkins' contract is finally an expiring one next season. It's hard to imagine the Thunder moving any other parts of the core or adding much salary, so tying the pick to Perkins to bring back a legitimate big man or quality scorer off the bench would probably make the most sense next year.
The Pick: 2014 first-round pick via Denver Nuggets. Denver will owe Orlando the less favorable of its own pick and New York's pick.
If the Orlando Magic would like to see two playoff teams from last year fail this season, it would be the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks.
Orlando has done a nice job acquiring assets, and this will be another come draft day. Although it's more likely this pick ends up in the early to mid-20s of the first round, Orlando could use this pick (and its own 2014 pick) to put a true point guard next to Victor Oladipo and add depth on the wing to supplement what already looks like a pretty dangerous frontcourt.
Trading draft picks hasn't been a part of the "Thunder Model," so don't expect former OKC front office man Rob Hennigan to deal this pick for any current asset. While it could be used to help the Magic move up in the lottery if need be, it seems more likely that Orlando just uses this pick from Denver or New York in the traditional way.
The Pick: 2014 first-round pick via New Orleans Pelicans, 1-5 protected.
We've reached what might be the most valuable non-player asset acquired in quite some time.
While Jrue Holiday is certainly a good player, the Philadelphia 76ers kicked their rebuild off right by acquiring a pick that could very well end up near the first half of the lottery while also diminishing the talent on the team so as not to owe Miami a first-round pick in the next two years.
This was some pretty smart maneuvering by new general manager Sam Hinkie, who might have set his team up with the best chance to get the first pick in addition to what could be a top-10 pick.
This pick is top-five protected until 2020, but it will most likely be conveyed this season. The 76ers are so far away from contending that no trade for a player will be appealing, so instead, they'll likely use their own pick and this pick from New Orleans to build a young core around Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel.
If the thought of getting Andrew Wiggins and someone like Jabari Parker isn't appealing, I don't know what is. This will be a brutal 82 games for the 76ers, but the future is extremely bright.
The Pick: First-round pick via Minnesota Timberwolves, 1-13 protected.
This one could go either way. The Minnesota Timberwolves appear to be right on the border of making the playoffs, and Phoenix will certainly be hoping they make it. If Minnesota's pick isn't conveyed this year, it will be top-12 protected in 2015 and 2016 and then turn into second-round picks after that.
The Suns are another team that's in the very early stages of a rebuild. Although this is a team that sold first-round picks for a long time and punted the future whenever it got the opportunity to do so, new general manager Ryan McDonough has appeared to put a stop to that.
Because Phoenix doesn't have any damaging contracts going forward, it's highly unlikely the extra pick from Minnesota will be used to shed any deals or acquire any pieces. This is supposed to be a deep draft, and Phoenix is in great position to take advantage with the aid of the extra selection.
The Pick: Unprotected 2014 first-round pick via Golden State Warriors.
The Golden State Warriors certainly didn't shy away from making a bold move this offseason. The price for Andre Iguodala ended up being a steep one, as the Warriors will send out two completely unprotected picks in 2014 and 2017 to the Utah Jazz.
While the Warriors should certainly be a contender over that time frame, that will still depend quite a bit on Stephen Curry's balky ankle and Andrew Bogut's balky everything. There's a risk in not retaining at least some protection with those picks.
From Utah's side, meanwhile, the Jazz have about as clean of a slate as it gets next year. We'll see what happens with Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward if they make it to restricted free agency, but Utah is finally strapped in for the long-awaited rebuild.
Although it may be tempting to use Golden State's pick to acquire a point guard in Trey Burke's absence, the results on the court this year don't matter much in the grand scheme of things. Utah could use another capable scoring on the wing eventually, and this pick as well as its own pick in 2014 should help address that.
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