The 2017 NBA draft class has the potential to be one of the best in league history. It's hard to see this class rival 1984 (highlighted by Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and John Stockton) and 2003 (featuring LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade), but don't be surprised to see a lot of players have long, prosperous NBA careers.
Given the talent in this year's player pool, NBA teams will try to trade up into the top five of the draft. In fact, Philadelphia 76ers general manager Jerry Colangelo told Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic (h/t NJ.com) that he already received an offer for the third overall selection.
Therefore, keep an eye out for any draft trade rumors, as some of them may come to fruition.
Here are three recent ones exactly one month before the NBA draft occurs on June 22.
Teams Looking To Trade for D'Angelo Russell
One could make a case that five of the best 10 prospects in this draft are point guards. With the Lakers holding the second pick in this year's NBA draft, they may look to take one of those prospects (UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball being the most obvious choice for numerous reasons).
If the Lakers choose a floor general, they then have to decide whether to keep incumbent guard D'Angelo Russell or move him for other assets.
According to Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated, teams are interested in the former Ohio State star: "With the Los Angeles Lakers coming away with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft following Tuesday night’s lottery, multiple NBA teams are evaluating trade packages for D'Angelo Russell, league sources told SI.com."
Russell is only 21 years old, and the Lakers invested a second overall pick when they drafted him in 2015. At the very least, they should try to pair a point guard with Russell and see if it works out.
Russell is sometimes explosive on offense, as noted by a few excellent performances this season (40 points versus Cleveland, 32 in 31 minutes against the Nets). He may be better suited to play as a full-time shooting guard alongside an excellent pass-first distributor like Ball. That pairing could certainly work.
The Lakers should listen to trade talk, but unless they receive an offer they simply can't turn down, then they should take Ball and see how it works with Russell next year.
Celtics Likely Staying Pat at No. 1
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Celtics will very likely hang onto the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft:
"Nobody I've talked to expect the Celtics to trade the No. 1 pick. Beyond the fact they reportedly love Markelle Fultz, using the No. 1 pick builds them for the future. Don't forget: They have the right to swap first-round picks with the Nets again next year. Why not keep drafting for the future, for when the LeBron James reign ends. (It will end sometime, right?)"
Jimmy Butler and Paul George have been connected to the Boston Celtics for what seems like forever, but at this point, it doesn't look like either of them will be in Boston any time soon.
The Celtics simply don't need to make that move. According to HoopsHype, the C's only have $70,468,674 committed against the 2017-18 salary cap next season, meaning they have more than $30 million of cap room before they even hit the NBA's cap number of $101 million.
Therefore, the right play may be to take the best overall player on their board (the obvious guess is that would be former University of Washington point guard Markelle Fultz) and go after Utah Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward or Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin in free agency.
Hayward makes the most sense, especially because he played under Celtics head coach Brad Stevens when the two were at Butler.
If Fultz and Hayward join a Celtics team that already made the Eastern Conference Finals without them this year, then Boston should be a considered a co-favorite with the Cleveland Cavaliers to represent the East in the NBA Finals next year.
Knicks Looking at Acquiring Another First-Rounder
As said before, this draft is loaded with talent. Players who won't be taken in the lottery this year could have gone in the top five in previous seasons.
The depth is phenomenal, like in 2011 when Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler and Isaiah Thomas went 15th, 30th and 60th in the NBA draft.
Therefore, teams with multiple first-round picks are at a big advantage this year, as they can potentially acquire two key contributors for their rotations next year.
The Knicks hold one first-round draft pick right now (the eighth overall selection), but they need a lot of help. They haven't made the playoffs in the last four seasons and just finished 10 games out of the final spot in the Eastern Conference postseason this year.
Therefore, this note from Ian Begley of ESPN.com should come as no surprise based on the comments by Knicks president of basketball operations Phil Jackson:
"Jackson added, though, that the Knicks will keep their options open, including possibly trading their pick. They have also discussed the option of acquiring another first-round pick through trade, according to sources. Some members of the organization like North Carolina's Justin Jackson, a projected late first-round pick."
The Knicks have a frontcourt duo they can build around in Kristaps Porzingis and Wily Hernangomez, but the longer-term future at point guard, shooting guard and the wing is murkier. At this point, envisioning Carmelo Anthony staying much longer is difficult given comments made by Jackson in mid-April: "We have not been able to win with him on the court at this time and I think the direction with our team is that he is a player that would be better off somewhere else and using his talent somewhere he can win or chase that championship."
They need to find young players at those positions to join the core of KP and Hernangomez and hope it works out. Priority No. 1 is getting a point guard with Derrick Rose now a free agent and very likely headed out of town, and priority No. 2 is acquiring some scoring help on the wing.
If the Knicks can find a suitable deal to get another pick in this draft in order to hit both those goals, then they should go for it.