5 NBA Teams Targeting Future Draft Picks Entering 2014 Trade Deadline

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterFebruary 19, 2014

5 NBA Teams Targeting Future Draft Picks Entering 2014 Trade Deadline

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    There are some teams that use the NBA trading deadline to improve for the second half of the year. And there are others that use it to build for the future. 

    These are the sellers—the teams that are thinking big picture. And given the projected strength of the 2014 draft, picks are what they all want. 

    These teams have talent that's just no use to them—and they're going to see if they can flip it to improve their lottery and draft position. 

Boston Celtics

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    You can never have enough draft picks when operating in rebuilding mode. I'm not sure how badly the Boston Celtics want to trade Rajon Rondo, but given the new direction of the team and the heavy interest around the league, it doesn't hurt to see what they can squeeze out of desperate bidders. 

    And according to Sam Smith of Bulls.com, the asking price they've set is two first-rounders. 

    But the key to the Celtics landing picks will likely come down to Rondo's willingness to re-sign with Boston's trade partner. A team probably won't hand over picks unless it knows Rondo won't bolt in free agency.

    According to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun, the Toronto Raptors are the latest team to show interest in Rondo. And with four first-round picks over the next three years, they actually might have a few to blow. 

    But whether it's the Raptors, the Atlanta Hawks or even the always-willing New York Knicks, the Celtics will be on the hunt for even more first-round picks to add to their collection. And Rondo has the star power to get them. 

Philadelphia 76ers

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    The Philadelphia 76ers want your draft picks, and they're willing to sell Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Knowing they can't get any difference-making talent in return, they probably won't want anything back that messes with cap space. So they'll be targeting first-round picks.

    They've currently got their own and the New Orleans Pelicans' 2014 first-rounder from the Jrue Holiday trade last June. But the more picks they get, the more assets they acquire—and more assets equates to options and rebuilding flexibility. 

    With three picks and plenty of cap room, the Sixers could get really creative. 

    According to Sam Amick of USA Today, the Charlotte Bobcats and San Antonio Spurs have both been mentioned as possible trade partners for Turner, as have the Phoenix Suns, who could own up to four picks in this year's first round. 

    Look for the Sixers to try to pry a draft pick from a playoff team in need of an offensive punch.

Houston Rockets

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    The Houston Rockets have an asset on their hands that should be more valuable to other teams than it is to them. 

    There's just no room for Omer Asik to flourish in Houston with Dwight Howard taking up all of that time and space in the paint. And given his reputation as a terrific rebounder and post defender, there should be interest in Asik's services. 

    CBS Sports' Ken Berger reported that the Rockets' asking price is a first-round pick, while also reporting they were talking to the Philadelphia 76ers, who have two picks in this year's first round. 

    However, given Philadelphia's plan to rebuild, trading a pick just wouldn't make sense. 

    You almost have to wonder whether Houston has hurt Asik's trade value—he's making over $8 million a year and he's averaging under four points a game. 

    At this point, I'm not sure how many teams will be willing to give up a first-rounder to absorb that salary. But given Houston's reluctance to just make something happen, that's what it appears it's going to take. 

    We'll see shortly if anyone actually bites. My guess is no.

Toronto Raptors

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    Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

    The Toronto Raptors have something the New York Knicks desperately want. And based on earlier discussions back in December, New York knows what it has to give up. 

    "It comes down to, can they talk themselves into getting rid of a first-rounder or [Tim] Hardaway Jr. for [Kyle] Lowry?" one league source told ESPN's Ian Begley. 

    Lowry will be a free agent this summer, and if the Raptors are able to land a first-round pick for him before he hits the market, you'd have to consider that a score. 

    However, with the Raptors currently occupying the No. 3 seed in the East, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports they haven't been as reluctant to move Lowry.

    Still, the Raptors need to be thinking long term here and ultimately use Lowry's recent surge to entice a first-round pick out of someone. Toronto is playing well, but it's no threat to make any real playoff noise. 

    We've seen Toronto's general manager Masai Ujiri toy with Knicks owner James Dolan before, when he squeezed out every last asset from New York as Denver's GM during the Carmelo Anthony trade. 

    So far, we've heard the Knicks have also expressed interest in Atlanta's Jeff Teague, per Ian Begley, but given the length of his contract, that just doesn't seem like a likely match. Begley has suggested a three-team deal, which would have Atlanta sending a pick to Toronto to "satisfy the Raptors' demand for a pick," and the Knicks sending Iman Shumpert to the Hawks.

    Either way, the Raptors have an expendable asset with value in Lowry, and if the Knicks miss out on Teague, it might cause them to panic and feel more willing to deal a first-rounder.

New Orleans Pelicans

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    After trading away their 2014 first-round pick in the Jrue Holiday deal, the New Orleans Pelicans might want to re-up. 

    CBS Sports' Ken Berger reported they were shopping Anthony Morrow for a pick, although it would be hard to imagine a team willing to deal a first-rounder. However, the Pelicans do have some other players who might be of interest around the league. 

    Despite their struggles in New Orleans and their inability to move the needle, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans could both hold value for the right team. 

    The Pelicans also own the rights to D-League star Pierre Jackson, who could make for an enticing cherry on top of any deal or counter. Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal most recently reported the Cavaliers were interested in Jackson.

    The fact is, New Orleans has a lot of expendable talent that it hasn't been able to convert into wins. If they can convert it into draft picks, it might help their rebuilding efforts moving forward.