5 Teams in Best Position to Trade Up in 2014 NBA Draft
The 2014 NBA draft class is one of the most highly regarded we've had in years. That alone should lead to some moving and shaking on draft day, particularly since a few select teams hold a lot of the cards going in.
David Aldridge at NBA.com broke it down here:
Teams currently without a first-round pick next month: Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards, New Orleans Pelicans, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks. The Pelicans, Nets, Knicks, Trail Blazers and Warriors are currently out of the Draft altogether, with no second-round picks, either.
With so much of the draft day ammunition belonging to teams already in the lottery, we could see a lot of trading up.
Let's take a look at five teams that might be the most likely to combine or trade other assets in order to move up in the draft.
With the 14th, 18th and 27th picks in this year's draft, cap space, expiring deals and a few enticing young talents already on the roster, the Phoenix Suns are the prime threat to move up into the lottery.
Combining those assets may indeed be the plan, as the Suns won't have enough playing time for three rookies anyhow.
Here's what Suns general manager Ryan McDonough told Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com earlier this season:
I think one of the things that’s important for people to realize is that we may not draft four players even if we have four picks.
Our preference would probably be to maybe package a few of them. We’re obviously all looking for stars and we feel like we can put together a package as good, if not better, than any other team in the league if and when a star becomes available. That’s kind of generally what we’ve wanted to do, not only with our draft-pick situation but also with the cap space that we’ve acquired.
Keep an eye on the Sacramento Kings at pick No. 8 as a potential trade partner. If Phoenix could take on an expiring contract (like Jason Terry or Travis Outlaw) and help alleviate some of the luxury tax concerns for the Kings, this might be a good pairing. Something along the lines of Outlaw, the 14th and 27th pick could work.
It could all depend on who is available at that spot. If an athletic power forward like Aaron Gordon or a potential stretch big man like Noah Vonleh is on the board, Phoenix could strike.
The Orlando Magic are sitting pretty with the fourth pick, but it's very well possible that two players are ranked higher on their draft board than anyone else: Andrew Wiggins and Dante Exum.
If that assumption is indeed correct, it's probably because of need as much as it is talent. While Jabari Parker looks like a dynamic stretch 4, the Magic already have a similar young player in Tobias Harris on the roster. And while Joel Embiid could be a franchise center, Nikola Vucevic has proved to be a pretty solid starter in his own right.
Would positional concerns be enough to motivate the Magic into taking matters into their own hands and guaranteeing themselves either Wiggins or Exum?
It's tough to say, but with a serious need at point guard with Jameer Nelson on his last legs and Victor Oladipo being more of a combo type, you can see how easy it would be to become enamored with Exum. And while Maurice Harkless has had his moments, adding a wing like Wiggins would be a perfect talent grab and fit for what Orlando needs.
So how could the Magic do it? By offering the fourth and 12th pick to the Milwaukee Bucks, a team that could probably find a fit for any of the top five talents on most draft boards. The Bucks could really use some depth as well, and if there isn't a clear-cut distinction between the top players for them, this might be a favorable deal for both teams.
This all depends on whom Orlando falls in love with, but if the opportunity to nab its guy is available, it'll be armed with the assets to make it happen.
While it's not always easy to turn multiple picks in the middle of the first round into a lottery choice, the Chicago Bulls may have a chance at pulling that off this year.
The Bulls have the 16th and 19th picks in the draft, which could be used in a variety of ways. While the bench certainly needs help, and acquiring cheap rookie scale players is a great route to accomplish that, the Bulls may be angling for a massive free agent like Carmelo Anthony this offseason.
If that really is the plan, Chicago could move one or both of its picks for a future first-round selection. Since the depth of this class is pretty solid, banking an asset to use in a sign-and-trade while not taking on any extra salary this year might be a smart move.
The Bulls might also be able to move up a bit with a team like Minnesota if there's a swingman they're enamored with. James Young, Nik Stauskas and Gary Harris should all be available in the 10-14 range, and Chicago could use the wing shooting whether Melo is the target or not.
There are a few different ways for Chicago to go here, but don't be surprised if it makes moves with these two middle picks.
The Utah Jazz might be in a tough spot with the fifth pick in the draft. If Wiggins, Embiid, Parker and Exum are the top four picks off the board, the Jazz will have a tough choice on their hands.
Could Julius Randle play alongside Derrick Favors, who was re-signed to a lengthy deal last offseason? Would a backcourt of Trey Burke and Marcus Smart have enough shooting to survive? What would Noah Vonleh mean for Enes Kanter's role?
That doesn't even include Gordon Hayward, a restricted free agent who could be looking at somewhere close to a max offer.
While Utah very well could just take the best player available, it also has a late first-rounder (23rd pick) and some future first-round picks via Golden State to move up if it so desires. If Orlando gets stuck at pick No. 4 with multiple options, maybe Utah would consider jumping up a single pick and paying handsomely to do so.
Utah doesn't seem like a big threat now, but it has the pieces to make a small jump up in the draft.
With the sixth and 17th picks in this year's draft, as well as everything short of Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King's firstborn son going forward, the Celtics are in prime position to move up a few spots in this year's draft.
If Celtics GM Danny Ainge feels the heat to get a young star in place next to Rajon Rondo immediately and doesn't think there will be one available at pick No. 6, a move could be made.
We've identified the Milwaukee Bucks as a target to move back in the draft, but the Philadelphia 76ers might be an option as well. If the first two picks go Wiggins-Parker, then Philly might be amenable to moving down from the third pick, as it may already have its dominant big guard like Exum in Michael Carter-Williams, as well as its rim-protecting center like Embiid in Nerlens Noel.
Make no mistake: The Celtics would have to pay handsomely to get their hands on a potential franchise center like Embiid, who would be a perfect fit in Boston. We're probably talking two future first-round picks just to move up three spots in the draft, but again, Boston has plenty of picks stocked in the cupboard to play with.
Once the Cleveland Cavaliers make the first selection, this draft could really get crazy. It wouldn't be much of a surprise if Ainge and the Celtics were at the heart of it.
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