With the NBA draft, free agency and hot stove heating up, teams have been rapidly exploring ways to improve their rosters for next season.
In fact, even the defending NBA champions could be in the mix for some trades.
The Warriors are expected to try to trade forward David Lee, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Sources told Stein the team considers it unfair to continue to use Lee in a reserve role and prioritizes restricted free agent Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes ahead of him.
Sources said the Warriors have privately acknowledged to Lee and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, that it would be unfair to the former All-Star to ask him to continue to serve in a limited role next season after Lee accepted his diminished minutes without complaint all season.
The Warriors are nonetheless expected to aggressively explore the trade market for Lee in conjunction with the NBA draft on June 25 and with free agency starting July 1. Sources say Golden State is determined to match any offer that comes for Green in restricted free agency and also intends to discuss a contract extension with forward Harrison Barnes, which only increases the likelihood that Lee moves on.
Lee, 32, is slated to earn $15.4 million next season, a salary not suited for a backup forward. Last season, he averaged 18.4 minutes per game in just 49 appearances in the season, although he did make big contributions in the Warriors’ Game 3 loss to Cleveland in the NBA Finals.
Green is the player Golden State aims to dish out its cash to, and it appears as if Barnes is next on that list. The Warriors need to use the cash currently allotted for Lee in order to serve up contracts to the younger forwards.
Though he has been an All-Star before, if the Warriors are going to try to repeat as NBA champions they need to retain their key contributors. Lee has been a rock-solid role player at times, but in no way do his minutes compare to that of Green’s and Barnes’.
Lawson On The Block, But No Takers?
Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders first reported Lawson could be dealt out of Denver, citing his waning confidence in the organization. However, the destinations appear to be few and far between.
"Rumors persist Sacramento coach George Karl will make a play for Ty Lawson, who played for Karl in Denver," Woelfel said.
However, there appears to be a holdup in a potential deal.
According to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, the Nuggets have been trying to make a deal, but they cannot get the Kings or any other NBA team to make an offer.
“Nuggets have been trying to make that deal regardless, but so far they can't get Kings (or anyone else for that matter) to bite on Lawson,” Ford said.
It’s interesting to hear as much considering Lawson, 27, is one of the best young point guards in the league. Last season, he averaged 15.2 points and 9.6 assists per game.
Lawson played for Karl when the two were in Denver and advanced to the playoffs each year from 2010-13 before Karl was fired that June.
In Sacramento, Darren Collison is penciled in as the Kings’ starting point guard. Collison has been a backup for the bulk of his career and Lawson is a superior option. Paired with DeMarcus Cousins under Karl’s watch, the Kings could be in line for vast improvement.
Still, teams could potentially be sour on Lawson given the attitude he’s taken during this turnover in Denver. Teams may be fearful of acquiring him, even the Kings, where he’s a natural fit.
Celtics, Hornets Deal In The Works?
According to Ford, the Hornets are likely to trade out of the No. 9 spot in order to move back to acquire a veteran and draft a player they like more in the mid- to late teens. Ford reported the Boston Celtics could be a team willing to make a deal.
The Hornets also really like both Kelly Oubre and R.J. Hunter. I'm told they'll explore options to trade back into the mid to late teens if they can land a valuable veteran as well for the No. 9 pick. One team to watch in that scenario? Boston. They've been exploring moving up for a while and would especially be thrilled if Willie Cauley-Stein was still on the board.
Oubre and Hunter are prospects likely to come off the board in the mid- to late portion of the first round next Thursday, so there’s no sense in staying put and drafting those players too early with the ninth overall pick.
The Celtics have been oft mentioned as a team willing to move up in the draft to land one of their coveted players, such as Cauley-Stein.
Cauley-Stein is projected to be a top-10 pick, so the Celtics moving from pick No. 16 to pick No. 9 theoretically puts them in a position to nab their man.
Boston has been connected to him for quite some time. A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England previously reported there are “growing signs” that the Celtics have interest in Willie Cauley-Stein but would have to move up in the draft to land the former Kentucky star.
That move certainly makes sense, considering power forwards Brandon Bass and Jonas Jerebko are both free agents this summer, according to Spotrac.
By moving into the top 10, the Celtics could put themselves in a position to select either Cauley-Stein or fellow big man Myles Turner depending on who is still on the board.
On the other end of the deal, by swapping first-round picks, the Hornets could land either Oubre or Hunter at pick No. 16, meaning both teams benefit from the swap.