NBA Trade Rumors: Examining Top Draft-Day Buzz for 2021 NBA Draft

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2021

NBA Trade Rumors: Examining Top Draft-Day Buzz for 2021 NBA Draft

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    Draft day has arrived in the NBA, and the early first-round picture is beginning to become clear. The Detroit Pistons own the No. 1 overall pick and appear to be closing in on a target.

    According to ESPN's Jonathan Givony, committing to Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham at No. 1 "could be imminent."

    "Ownership and the front office are on the same page, while the fact that Evan Mobleyโ€”a favorite of GM Troy Weaverโ€”has been unable to visit for a workout, might be an indication of which way things are heading in Detroit," Givony wrote.

    However, Detroit does have the option of trading the top selection. According to Shams Charania of Stadium, the Houston Rockets are interested in moving up from No. 2. A deal for the top pick could happen, and it may not be the only trade to take place Thursday night.

    Let's examine the latest NBA trade buzz.

Rockets Looking to Trade Up for Cunningham

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    Cunningham may be the pick for the Pistons. He's apparently the top target for the Rockets and a player they consider worth trading up to acquire.

    "I'm told they're aggressively pursuing Detroit's No. 1 overall pick," Charania said on Draft Decisions. "The Rockets have done extensive research on presumptive No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham, and that's a player they would target if they were able to land the No. 1 overall pick.

    While Cunningham doesn't loom over the rest of the draft class as Zion Williamson did a couple of years ago, he does appear to be as close to a sure thing as teams are going to find in 2021. Detroit isn't going to let the chance to draft Cunningham go at a bargain-basement price.

    "Since drawing the top selection in June, Detroit has consistently messaged to rival teams it would need a first in this year's draft, future draft ammo and an established young star," Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer wrote.

    There's a slim chance that Houston lands Cunningham at No. 2, but with the Pistons close to making their decision final, the Rockets likely have to move up to get him.

Multiple Teams In on Ben Simmons

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    If anyone knows the pressure Cunningham could face, it's Ben Simmons. The Philadelphia 76ers standout was the top choice in the 2016 draft and has been met with high expectations throughout his NBA career.

    The 76ers seem to believe that Simmons has not met those expectations. According to The Athletic's Sam Amick, the 25-year-old could soon have a new home.

    "While Portland's Damian Lillard and Washington's Bradley Beal both appear to be in their respective holding patterns when it comes to possibly requesting a trade, it's looking increasingly likely that Philadelphia's Ben Simmons will be on the move," Amick wrote.

    Simmons and the 76ers fell short against the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs, and the two could be on divergent paths. According to Amick, the Washington Wizards, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors are among the teams interested in plucking Simmons out of Philadelphia.

Lakers Could Be Draft-Day Trade Players

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    The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to maximize their window with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

    "The Lakers have a healthy appreciation for James' basketball superpowers and are well aware they won't last forever," Amick wrote.

    To do so, Los Angeles could initiate one or more trades on draft night. The Lakers have already offered up Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as potential trade chips.

    "They have literally offered Kyle Kuzma and KCP," Wojnarowski said on ESPN's Woj and Lowe: Trade Deadline Specialย (h/t Jacob Rude of SB Nation). "Almost every team I've talked to in the league has been offered some combination of Kuz and KCP, sometimes both of them, sometimes one of them."

    While acquiring a veteran may be L.A.'s goal, the Lakers could also look to maneuver down the draft board.

    "With a big group of combo/scoring guards bunched together in the early 20s through early 30s, NBA executives say the Lakers have explored the option of moving down a few slots from the No. 22 pick while acquiring one or more second-round picks," Jonathan Givony of ESPN and DraftExpress tweeted.

    The Lakers, it seems, could be active over the next 24 hours or so.