The 2014 NBA draft is expected to be one of the deepest in recent memory.
Kansas' Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid and Duke's Jabari Parker all seem like safe bets at the top of almost everyone's draft board.
There will almost inevitably be other stars who emerge from the rest of a deep draft class as well.
Even with those promising prospects waiting to land in their first NBA cities as professionals, some teams are better off moving all or one of their first-round picks.
The reasons vary, but here are three teams and the case for each to move their first-round picks.
It's no secret: The Bulls seem primed to make a run at signing Carmelo Anthony if he opts out of his deal with the New York Knicks as expected. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported Chicago's rumored intentions on May 1.
The $5 million increase in the salary cap next season helps the Bulls increase their offer without going deep into the luxury tax, but the team would still be cash-strapped—by NBA salary-cap standards—if it attempts to woo Anthony.
Amnestying Carlos Boozer has been a foregone conclusion for months, but expect the Bulls to try and trade him first. Using the amnesty would be a last resort to getting some portion of his contract off the team's books.
A trade could allow the Bulls to dump the entire $16.8 million owed to him on a team that is willing to take on his expiring deal. Realistically, they would have to offer something else alongside Boozer to entice a team to carry his deal for a season.
That something else could be one or both of Chicago's first-round picks. The Bulls could find a player or two at No. 16 and No. 19 who could help the team but not as much as Anthony.
Two first-round picks carry a financial commitment because their contracts are guaranteed. If the Bulls hope to sign Melo, they will need every penny they can salvage.
The amount it will take to sign Anthony isn't known, but he has said money isn't the deciding factor, per ESPN New York:
As far as the money, it don't really matter to me. If I go somewhere else, I get paid. If I stay in New York, I get paid. As far as the money goes, it's not my concern. My concern is to be able to compete on a high level, a championship level, coming in this last stretch of my career. I want to compete at that level.
The Bulls can offer him a chance to do that, but Chicago has some work to do to set the table.
By trading Boozer and their first-round picks, the Bulls could clear enough space to offer Anthony a salary that wouldn't be grossly beneath what he could get by staying in New York.
Bleacher Report's Kelly Scalleta talks about a scenario that involves the Bulls and Knicks dealing:
Chicago could offer the Knicks Carlos Boozer, their two first-round picks this year, their protected Sacramento Kings pick, and agree to take back Raymond Felton's bad contract.
If the Bulls did all that, and Anthony took a contract to make the salaries match, he would make $17.24 million in the first year of a four-year, $73.63 million deal. That would still be a significant pay cut, but it’s not an insulting one.
The Knicks would get three picks to build with as well as Boozer's expiring deal and dump Felton's contract. This would put them in position to be a major player in the 2015 free-agent market.
It might sound like jumping through hoops, but the Bulls desperately need a player who can put the ball through one.
Chicago might have to take this route to reach a championship level.
Phoenix has three first-round picks in the 2014 NBA draft, but it seems highly unlikely it will keep all of them.
Based on their 48-34 record during the 2013-14 season, the Suns aren't so far off contending that they need to keep all of those picks to rebuild.
Per Spotrac.com, they are scheduled to have $30,713,215 in cap space this offseason. That and the job Jeff Hornacek did in his first year as head coach should lure potential free agents this season and in the near future.
Phoenix needs a veteran big man, perhaps a player like Pau Gasol, to take the next step. The team could also stand to add some depth to the bench. A mix of veterans and rookies is probably ideal.
Moving one or two of the first-round picks could help to add an important veteran for Phoenix's playoff push next season.
Back in December 2013, Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com reported:
The Suns, obviously encouraged by a promising start and with several attractive assets at their disposal, are making it known around the league they are open to trading one or more picks in the loaded 2014 draft if they can get an established star capable of making an impact now.
It stands to reason that the Suns would still be open to moving the picks in an effort to make a big jump in the Western Conference standings next season.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Kendrick Perkins' contract mercifully comes off the books after the 2014-15 season. That will clear $9,154,342, per Spotrac.
OKC also has two picks in the first round of the NBA draft. Though the picks are in the 20s (21 and 29), they could hold some value in a deep draft.
Getting younger isn't a major concern for the Thunder right now. As long as Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka are there, the team will be in a win-now mode.
Adding the proper veteran pieces will be key to driving them back to the NBA Finals and ultimately a championship. Trading one or both of those picks could help bring that veteran presence.
Close to this season's trade deadline, Zach Lowe of Grantland talked about the possibility of the Thunder moving one of their draft picks:
The Thunder have their own pick, some interesting young guys, and a valuable future first-rounder from Dallas. Oklahoma City knows it has a chance to win the title right now, and if it could find a wing player on the right contract that could really boost those chances, I suspect it would think very hard about pulling the trigger on at least its own first-rounder.
While the thought that OKC would trade one of its picks isn't far-fetched, it seems more likely the object of their desire might be a low-post scorer.
Perhaps including Perkins in a deal with one or both of the picks could land the Thunder that much-needed commodity.
It's early, but let the speculation begin.
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