NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding 2022 Lottery Teams

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 24, 2022

NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding 2022 Lottery Teams

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    The 2022 NBA offseason has arrived for 26 of the league's 30 teams.

    With the draft slated for June 23 and free agency starting shortly thereafter, decision time looms close enough for clubs to start considering their Plan A priorities, Plan B backup plans and Plan Z, break-the-emergency-glass-already disaster scenarios.

    Those discussions are being held as we speak, and luckily some of them have trickled their way into the trade rumor mill.

    We'll spotlight three trade rumors here involving clubs with lottery picks.

A Pair of Top-10 Picks Up for Grabs

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    For many, a top-10 pick serves as the bridge to a brighter tomorrow. Others don't want to wait that long, though, and instead view it as an avenue toward a rapid recovery.

    Both the Sacramento Kings, who have the No. 4 pick, and the Portland Trail Blazers, who have No. 7, apparently fall into the latter. Executives and scouts think each pick "could be available in a trade," per Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic.

    While one can debate the merits of moving these picks, the sentiment behind the reported willingness to discuss them isn't hard to follow.

    Sacramento has been saddled with a record-setting 16-year playoff drought and wants to end it immediately. As ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported, the primary objective for new Kings coach Mike Brown is ending that run.

    As for Portland, the Blazers hope to quickly pivot away from their second-half tank job and put playoff-caliber supporting pieces around 31-year-old cornerstone Damian Lillard.

Thunder, Spurs Loom as Potential Trade-Up Candidates

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    Usually, once the draft order is set, word starts to trickle out about which teams might be willing to move down (or out of) the draft. Of course, those trades can only happen if other clubs are angling to move up.

    Enter the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder.

    Those two teams—along with the Memphis Grizzlies—have been mentioned as "teams to monitor for trade-up scenarios," per B/R's Jake Fischer. The Spurs (Nos. 9, 20 and 25) and Thunder (Nos. 12 and 30) both have multiple first-round picks, including one in the lottery. That could be enough ammunition to rocket up the draft board if the right prospect catches their eye.

    Perhaps the most intriguing angle in all this is whether the Spurs and Thunder will be chasing the same prize.

    San Antonio has long pushed for maximum competitiveness, which could make it more risk-averse and more concerned about team fit. Oklahoma City, meanwhile, might seek high ceilings over everything given the state of its rebuild and age of its roster.

Mo Bamba Might Be Out in Orlando

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    When the Orlando Magic snagged the first overall pick, they created a path to a blue-chip frontcourt prospect.

    They also potentially cleared the runway for the departure of a former blue-chipper from a soon-to-be-crowded frontcourt collection.

    With Orlando presumably deciding between Auburn's Jabari Smith Jr., Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren and Duke's Paolo Banchero, the feeling among league personnel is that Mo Bamba, the No. 6 pick in 2018, "is likely to depart the franchise," per Fischer.

    Bamba, 24, already loomed as a flight risk, given the presence of Wendell Carter Jr. and the potential return of Jonathan Isaac, who hasn't seen the floor since suffering a torn ACL in 2020.

    Adding a No. 1 pick to the mix will only create further congestion, so it feels relatively safe to assume Orlando's lottery jackpot probably punched Bamba's ticket out of town.