NBA Trade Rumors: Rounding Up Buzz on Potential 2018 Draft Deals and Plans

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 21, 2018

MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 2: J.B. Bickerstaff, Head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies and General Manger Chris Wallace of the Memphis Grizzlies address the media during a Press Conference on May 2, 2018 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
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It's not uncommon to see teams making big moves in the lottery portion of the NBA draft. Current and future Hall of Famers such as Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen have had to change hats on draft night.

This year's draft class looks excellent at the top, with 7'1" center Deandre Ayton and potential triple-double machine Luka Doncic leading the way. Others have great resumes leading into draft night as well, which could foreshadow a night of dealing.

Here's a look at a few rumors around the league and what they could mean for teams when the draft rolls around on June 21.


Memphis Grizzlies Looking to Trade Out of No. 4 Pick?

The Memphis Grizzlies were tough-luck losers in the NBA draft lottery, dropping from No. 2 pre-drawing to No. 4 afterward.

Per Sean Deveney of Sporting News, "the buzz around this week’s predraft combine here is that the Grizzlies are ripe for a move out of the No. 4 spot. The preference would be to move into the top two and take Ayton or Doncic, but it's a long shot that Phoenix (No. 1) or Sacramento (No. 2) would be willing to deal out of their spots."

Deveney went on to say that a move down is most possible, with the focus then turning to a wing such as Mikal Bridges of Villanova or Miles Bridges of Michigan State.

The Grizzlies could see Real Madrid guard Luka Doncic, who is largely considered one of the top two prospects in this year's draft, fall to them at No. 4. Per Jonathan Givony of ESPN"the growing consensus among NBA decision-makers in attendance at Stark Arena in Belgrade is that the teams drafting behind the Phoenix Suns at No. 1, the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks are likely to pass on European prodigy in favor of American frontcourt players."

If that ends up being the case, there's no reason for the Grizz to deal away the fourth pick, as they'd be getting a near-consensus top-two prospect at No. 4 overall.

That being said, if Ayton, Doncic and one of the draft's better bigs go in the top three, then a trade down  seems plausible. A trading partner may not be too hard to find, as a team drafting in the back end of the lottery could be in love with the defensive tenacity of Texas center Mohamed Bamba or the scoring and rebounding potential of Duke forward Marvin Bagley on the next level. Others have superstar potential as well.

As far as a trade up goes, that doesn't seem likely. Other teams who might want to move to No. 1 have more to offer than the Grizzlies, and the Suns and Kings may just be best served standing pat and taking elite prospects anyway.


Los Angeles Lakers Open for Business?

The Los Angeles Lakers have an exciting young group of players in addition to tons of cap space in the coming years. They have numerous options to try to improve the roster, and Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times provided more information on that front:

"While they like their young core and would prefer to keep those players growing together, they have told teams no player is untouchable in trades, according to multiple sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of trade and free-agent negotiations.

"To be clear, the Lakers are not actively shopping any of their players. They are willing to listen to offers and could move one of them — even a member of the talented young cadre of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram or Josh Hart — if an offer blows them away."

Ultimately, the most likely Lakers plan involves them keeping that young talent and acquiring a free agent (or two) to a max contract, such as Paul George.

But it's also conceivable that an offer that "blows them away" involves a team looking to deal a high draft pick in a package for one of their young players. While the draft has some intriguing first-round prospects, it seems a little top-heavy at first glance.

Doncic and Ayton look like they are on a plane by themselves, followed by a second tier involving Duke forward Marvin Bagley, Texas center Mohamed Bamba, Michigan State forward Jaren Jackson, Duke forward Wendell Carter and Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. in some order.

If a lottery team outside that top seven isn't in love with anyone who drops, it could offer a package including (but not necessarily limited to) a pick and an established veteran to the Lakers for one of young stars.

However, as Ganguli said, the Lakers aren't actively looking to trade away any of their players, and it's hard seeing any of them leave via trade when the team doesn't have to give up anybody if it goes the free agency route.

Barring a team blowing away the Lakers with an incredible Godfather offer, look for them to stand pat until free agency begins in July.


Issues Between Karl-Anthony Towns and Minnesota?

Something might be off in Minnesota, where there are murmurs that not all is well between center Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves.

Speaking on the Lowe Post podcast (h/t Alex Squadron of SLAM Online), Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst of ESPN spoke on the topic.

Lowe said the two sides are "not in a good place internally," while Windhorst offered the following: "I don't think Anthony Davis is going anywhere any time soon. But Karl Towns…now that might be a different story."

Here's where it gets a little more interesting. Per a tweet from Rachel Nichols of ESPN, Towns liked an Instagram reply of Suns guard Devin Booker, who reacted to a Bleacher Report article discussing the comments made by Lowe and Windhorst:

Rachel Nichols @Rachel__Nichols

#NBATwitter is basically Inception and I am here for it https://t.co/J96rSIxMX5

Of course, that could mean nothing. But as Kellan Olsen of Arizona Sports noted, Booker also tweeted out a picture of Towns in a Suns jersey. He also reported these following comments from Suns general manager Ryan McDonough regarding potentially trading the No. 1 pick:

"We're certainly open to that. We'll consider it. Obviously, we'll have more information closer to the draft than we do today, after we go through the workout process and the interview process and we get the medical physicals. So we’re open to that.

"I think if you look around the NBA, as far as the veteran players, there are probably a few players we’d consider trading the pick for, not...just pick for player No. 1. So it'll be a busy month for us."

To be clear, there is no Towns-Suns rumor on the horizon, and this could all be a ton of smoke and much ado about nothing prior to the Suns just standing pat and picking Deandre Ayton, who has the potential to be one of the best (if not the best) centers in the NBA. That seems like the most likely scenario at this juncture.

Still, if something is amiss in Minnesota, then a Suns-Towns trade involving the No. 1 pick isn't implausible.


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