Yesterday, the Minnesota Timberwolves agreed to send Mike Miller and Randy Foy to Washington. Oleksiy Pecherov, Etan Thomas and Darius Songaila will be sent to Minnesota, but it is Washington's fifth-overall draft pick that is causing the most excitement for NBA fans.
Minnesota's trade, along with others, could create a shake-up that effects much of draft's top ten picks.
1. L.A. Clippers: Blake Griffin
Nothing will change at the top, barring a huge and unexpected trade.
2. Memphis trades the No. 2 overall pick to Minnesota for the No. 5 and No. 18 overall picks. Minnesota selects Ricky Rubio.
With consecutive selections in the fifth and sixth (as well as the eighteenth) slots, Minnesota is in position to be a major player on draft day, as it was last year with the Mayo-Love trade.
Ironically, it is the Memphis Grizzlies who are the targets of Minnesota's interest again this year. The eighteenth-overall pick, acquired from Miami in the 2007 Ricky Davis trade, will no doubt be packaged with either the fifth or sixth pick to entice the Grizzlies to part with their first draft choice, number two overall. Minnesota would then use the second selection to take Ricky Rubio.
Even though they'd be giving up Foye and Miller, the Wolves would be in great shape if Rubio lives up to his potential. For Hasheem Thabeet, a Wolves-Grizzlies trade could prove costly.
According to the 2009-2010 rookie pay scale, the second pick will make approximately one million dollars per year more over three years than the fifth pick. How would Thabeet, once thought to be lock for the top-three, slide to fifth (or lower)?
3. Oklahoma City: James Harden
Minnesota would trade up for one reason only—Rubio, leaving Oklahoma City to decide between James Harden and Thabeet. The jury is still out on whether or not Russell Westbrook is a true point guard. But Oklahoma City might give their former number-four pick some slack and try to keep developing him at the one, considering the high draft choice they recently invested in him.
Harden would allow the Thunder to continue to field a dynamic team, and would form a formidable trio with Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Thabeet, for all the rebounding and defensive presence he would bring to the team, would probably clog the offensive flow of the Thunder as much as he would clog the middle on defense.
4. Sacramento: Tyreke Evans
Sacramento is no doubt hoping that Rubio will fall to them on draft day (the latest Draft Express mock draft somehow has Ricky falling to number five), but in this scenario it would be impossible.
There are rumors of a Francisco Garcia-Jason Thompson trade for the number two pick, but the Kings would probably be happy to take Tyreke Evans, who would form a tall back-court with Kevin Martin, especially if the team could find a taker for Beno Udrih.
5. Memphis (from Washington via Minnesota): Hasheem Thabeet
If Memphis received the fifth pick in the hypothetical trade with Minnesota, they could take Thabeet, a player they are no doubt considering at number two, at a cheaper price. If Darko Milicic is really about to be traded to the Knicks, Thabeet paired with Marc Gasol would reestablish Memphis' superior size up front.
Detroit is rumored to have some interest in Thabeet—which would make quite a bit of sense considering Thabeet could be a 7'3" Ben Wallace. But Joe Dumars might want to save trade assets for a run at forwards Paul Milsap or Carlos Boozer, instead opting to draft B.J. Mullins at the Pistons' regular draft spot.
6. Minnesota: Stephen Curry
Having traded Foye and Miller, the Wolves will no doubt be looking for replacements for one or both. If they chose Rubio, the point guard position would be solved. Now, they could choose to replace Miller's shooting with Stephen Curry. A Rubio-Curry back-court might lack athleticism, but would still have the potential to be extremely dynamic, since Curry's touch from the outside would make it easier for Rubio to pass inside to Al Jefferson.
A trade with Knicks would be possible, in which case the Wolves might try to go with an explosive athlete like DeMar DeRozan to compliment Rubio at number eighteen.
7. Golden State: Jordan Hill
The Golden State Warriors are always an enigma on draft day, but the possible trade of Jamal Crawford for Acie Law IV and Speedy Claxton makes predicting their 2009 draft even harder than it was a few days ago.
Claxton could be quickly turned around, as Fabricio Oberto was by the Bucks, perhaps altering the draft further, but a trade might also come after as well, especially if it's for a veteran.
Don Nelson, true to form, has thrown out many names that the Warriors are supposedly interested in. Acie Law hasn't developed into much of a player in limited action in Atlanta, but is supposedly a long-time target of Nelson. So it's possible that a point guard is officially out of the question. In this case, Jordan Hill would be a viable option.
Law, who has an expiring contract with a team option for another year at around two million dollars, is not very athletic, and might join the Marcus Williams Bench Club next season. Even if Monta Ellis is the starting point guard next season, he will need a backup, and Law is probably not a long-term solution.
Brandon Jennings would seem to be the kind of player the Warriors would seek out, as would DeMar DeRozan. And although Jennings' stock seems to be falling over the last few years and DeRozan is a wing, they would still probably be strongly considered by Golden State. Hill, though, fills a need also and placates Monta Ellis at the same time.
8. New York: Brandon Jennings
If the Knicks can't get Rubio or Curry, they could take a guard whose upside and athleticism could make him a great compliment to you-know-who. Other than Don Nelson, Mike D'Antoni runs one of the most open offenses in the league, making Jennings a good fit.
9. Toronto: DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan could become a very good defender, and can score inside from the guard position. His lack of three-point range could hurt after the Jason Kapono trade, but he excels in quite a few areas that the Raptors are lacking in.
10. Milwaukee: James Johnson
After trading Yi to the Nets last year, and now Richard Jefferson to the Spurs, Milwaukee gets a well-rounded forward who has both range and potential.
11. New Jersey: Terrence Williams
In a future, Vince-Carter-less lineup, Williams' rebounding and passing skills could lead to many fast-break opportunities for Devin Harris.
12. Charlotte: Jonny Flynn
Flynn is the same size as Allen Iverson. Larry Brown will appreciate the fact that Flynn posses the will to get the rim as A.I., and can also pass the ball when a teammate is open. Obviously Jonny is not expected to reach Iverson's levels, but he has many traits that might help a young team get to the playoffs.
13. Indiana: DeJuan Blair
Last year's draft pick, Roy Hibbert, has height but not enough strength (yet). Blair is short for a forward, but even so, can probably grab rebounds and fight through traffic in a way that Hibbert can't.
14. Phoenix: Earl Clark
A point guard still on the board at number fourteen this year will probably be much better than one that's around at this point next year. But Jrue Holliday didn't play the point in college, and Jeff Teague turns the ball over too often to be a successor to Steve Nash.
Shaq's trade to Cleveland will probably have the biggest effect on the NBA in the short term. But trades of draft picks could determine whether five or six franchises frequent the playoffs or Seacaucus in future springs.