The excitement for the 2014 NBA draft is through the roof, but it is the rumors that are circulating that have raised expectation levels surrounding Thursday’s festivities even more.
With teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks all reportedly interested in draft-day trades, this year’s event from Brooklyn could be the wildest in recent memory.
Here is the latest trade chatter surrounding the 2014 NBA draft.
Los Angeles Looking to Trade Away the No. 7 Pick?
The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off an abysmal season, but the fans may be treated to a huge offseason if the team’s reported plans come to fruition. Those plans could include trading away the No. 7 pick and veteran point guard Steve Nash.
According to Ramona Shelburne, Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN.com, Los Angeles could be setting the stage for a blockbuster offseason with a trade on draft day:
The Los Angeles Lakers, meanwhile, had begun exploring such machinations even before the opt outs of James and Anthony had become known, according to ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne.
The Lakers have been trying in recent days to package the No. 7 overall pick in Thursday's draft with the expiring contract of Steve Nash (who's owed $9.7 million next season) to free up enough room to offer James and Anthony at least $16 million each next season to join forces with Kobe Bryant, Shelburne reported.
The Western Conference would be put on notice if the Lakers could find a way to add both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony to a roster that already includes a future Hall of Famer in Kobe Bryant.
Los Angeles must make a serious offer to the current crop of free agents in order to win now, and with the team's championship history, James or Anthony could decide to take their talents to LA if there is enough room fiscally.
Trading Nash would free up the space necessary for the Lakers to potentially sign two blockbuster free agents after July 1.
Cavaliers and Magic Close to Making a Deal?
The Cleveland Cavaliers have the top pick in the draft, but there is no assurance that the organization will actually make the selection. With plenty of interest in moving up to No. 1 overall, the franchise is willing to make a deal.
One of the teams reportedly making the most noise about a trade is the Orlando Magic.
According to ESPN’s Chad Ford, the Cavaliers are working the phones for a potential follow-up trade if the organization moves the No. 1 overall pick to Orlando:
Sources: Cavs were calling around offering teams Orlando's picks at 4 & 12 for players last night. Interesting— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 26, 2014
Magic would take Jabari at 1 I'm told. But deal isn't done. Cavs were just gauging value of 4th & 12th pick. Sixers also upping offer for 1— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 26, 2014
It should be hard for Cleveland to pull the trigger on a possible deal due to the fact that they have the choice between two potential stars in the NBA with Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins.
Trading away this pick is far from a lock.
The Cavaliers should be looking to get better over the long-term, and while moving the No. 1 selection this year would likely be a step backwards for the 2014-15 season, it would yield more potential stars down the road.
There is almost no way Cleveland can screw this up. Right?
New York Knicks Looking to Trade for a First-Round Pick?
When Carmelo Anthony decided to test the open waters of free agency, the New York Knicks knew it was time to start making moves to free salary-cap space and start rebuilding the team in Phil Jackson’s vision.
ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting that the Kicks are shopping shooting guard Iman Shumpert for a pick late in the first round:
Hearing: Knicks have explored possibility of swapping Iman Shumpert for late first-round pick heading into Thursday's draft— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 23, 2014
Ford explains who the franchise is likely targeting:
P.J. Hairston the likely target MT @ESPNSteinLine: Hearing: Knicks have explored possibility of swapping Iman Shumpert for late 1st rounder— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 23, 2014
Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck is also reporting that New York wants into the first round:
One rival exec says he could see Knicks getting into first round by flipping Larkin. Something to watch for.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) June 26, 2014
Shumpert has plenty of upside, but Jackson has a clear vision for this team.
With the desire to build the team from the ground up through the draft and free agency, the team's game plan must be to move existing players and contracts that don't fit the model in which the organization is going forward.
Regardless of who will be moved, it is clear that New York is desperate for a selection in the first round.