1 Trade for Every 2022 NBA Draft Lottery Pick

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2022

1 Trade for Every 2022 NBA Draft Lottery Pick

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    Find yourself missing the chaos of not knowing the 2022 NBA draft lottery order? We feel you. But don't fret. Now that the lottery is set, a whole new frenzy of hypotheticals takes center stage: fake trades involving those picks.

    Knowing the draft order makes this exercise more meaningful. We have a better understanding of which teams might be willing to move up, move down or consolidate selections into veteran talent.

    Unlikely leaps will be made throughout this process, most notably at the top of the draft ladder. No one envisions the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder or Houston Rockets punting on a top-three pick. The types of proposals made on their behalf will be built accordingly.

    Please do not confuse these trade ideas as endorsements. Nor are they meant to be lopsided. This is purely a look at what transactions could look like if every lottery pick was going to be dealt.

    (Note: We'll assume all of these deals are completed in the new league year, when the picks will be moved as actual salary, the Stepien Rule doesn't apply to 2022 selections, and teams are working within 2022-23 cap sheets.)

Oklahoma City and Orlando Swap Places

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    Orlando Magic Receive: No. 2 pick, No. 12 pick, Washington's 2023 second-round pick

    Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: No. 1 pick

    The majority of NBA teams "firmly believe" Orlando will be taking Jabari Smith Jr. with the No. 1 pick, according to ESPN's Jonathan Givony. That gives the Magic some wiggle room to pick up additional assets and get their guy if they don't believe the Rockets or Thunder will do the same at No. 1.

    Oklahoma City is a good bet to fall under that umbrella. Chet Holmgren makes too much sense for a team that takes swings on length and could use a long-term defensive anchor in the middle. Paolo Banchero is the more sensible option if the Thunder are smitten with sized-up offensive anomalies.

    Surrendering the No. 12 pick and a Washington second-rounder is a reasonable price to pay if Oklahoma City has one of the three bigs significantly higher than the other two and wants to guarantee Houston can't rip the rug out from under it. Team president Sam Presti has a trillion other first-rounders up his sleeve in the years to come, along with enough fliers, prospects and general mystery boxes already on the roster to placate upside-over-everything purists.

    Orlando should pounce here if its dead set on Smith and certain Oklahoma City isn't angling for him. It could even justify taking less—like Kenrich Williams and No. 30—if it's confident in the order. Dropping one spot is a lot different than tumbling down two.

    Speaking of which...

Houston Tries to Move Up

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    Houston Rockets Receive: No. 1 pick

    Orlando Magic Receive: No. 3 pick, No. 17 pick, Brooklyn's 2024 first-round pick (top-six protection)

    The Rockets are following the same principle as the Thunder in our first hypothetical: They have a singular infatuation with Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith Jr., and they don't want Oklahoma City and Orlando making the decision for them.

    Going from No. 3 to No. 1 should cost noticeably more than if the Rockets owned No. 2. This whole scenario again assumes the Magic are irreversibly obsessed with Smith and know the Rockets won't select him. But they still have to be compensated for giving the Thunder partial control of their fate, since they'd need to pass on Smith, as well.

    Orlando is making out quite well if it can stomach the risk. Snagging an extra first-rounder is always smart for a franchise in the unfinished stages of a rebuild, and the Brooklyn Nets are juuust combustible enough for that 2024 pick to be a choice asset the Magic can keep or dangle in subsequent trades.

    Houston is ponying up a pretty penny. That's what you do if you're in love with Banchero or Holmgren dramatically more than the other. The Rockets also have some runway when it comes to giving up No. 17, since they brought in four first-round prospects last year. That Nets selection is attractive as hell and tough to forfeit, but it's protected against Brooklyn going totally belly up and, therefore, inoculates the Rockets against disastrous FOMO.

Sacramento and Detroit Mix It Up

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    Sacramento Kings Receive: Jerami Grant, No. 5 pick

    Detroit Pistons Receive: Richaun Holmes, Moe Harkless, No. 4 pick, 2023 first-round pick (top-10 protection in 2023; lottery protection in 2024; turns into two seconds after)

    The Kings aren't your typical team drafting fourth overall—and not just because they're, you know, the Kings. They just made a trade that inferred a win-now timeline. It is not the most clarifying of win-now trajectories, to be sure. But jettisoning a stud 22-year-old not even halfway through his rookie-scale deal for the older and more expensive Domantas Sabonis implies at least a modicum of urgency.

    This package attempts to straddle both sides of the fence. The Kings aren't standing pat, but they're not catapulting themselves outside the top of the draft altogether.

    Richaun Holmes and a protected first-rounder seems like a lot to give up at first glance. It's not. Sacramento still gets a chance to draft inside the top five, and Jerami Grant is the best player in this deal (for now). That additional first-rounder, meanwhile, is safeguarded against the Kings continuing to Kangz. And, no, they shouldn't care about footing the bill for Grant's extension. They need wing defenders who don't torpedo their offense. Grant actualizes that criteria to borderline perfection.

    Detroit shouldn't have any qualms with this return unless it has no preference of prospect outside the top three or doesn't see a use for Holmes. Minimizing the latter's value would be a mistake. He gives the Pistons functional diversity out of the pick-and-roll thanks to his nifty push shot and should make sweet music with Cade Cunningham, and his contract is beyond team-friendly (three years, $36.1 million).

    Sacramento could technically balk at including Holmes and an additional first. But the former's value is compromised by the acquisition of Sabonis. If the Kings aren't married to Jaden Ivey as a potential fit beside De'Aaron Fox or as his successor, this is a move worth exploration.

Indiana and New Orleans Change Places

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    Indiana Pacers Receive: Naji Marshall, No. 8 pick, No. 41 pick, 2023 first-round pick (lottery protection for two years; turns into two seconds if not conveyed)

    New Orleans Pelicans Receive: No. 6 pick

    Pacers team president Kevin Pritchard intimated his team would take an aggressive approach to the draft and trade markets after landing at No. 6 in the lottery. This...is not that. But it's more realistic.

    Trading up is no doubt Indiana's prerogative. Good luck with that. The top-three picks are off-limits, and getting Sacramento (No. 4) or Detroit (No. 5) to part with its selection will take more than Malcolm Brogdon's bloated deal (three years, $67.6 million). Are they prepared to use Myles Turner or future first-round equity to move up? I'd guess no.

    Dipping two spots in exchange for an extra first, a second and a flier on Naji Marshall (who teased awesomeness in 2020-21) is perfectly reasonable if the Pacers aren't moving themselves out of a player they desperately like. Breaking bread with the Pelicans makes zero sense if Jaden Ivey falls to them—at this price anyway.

    Conversely, the Pelicans need to looove someone and fear he won't be there at No. 8. The six to 10 range is stocked with neat-o fits like Keegan Murray, Dyson Daniels and Bennedict Mathurin, but if they consider one significantly higher-end than the others, they have the expendable assets and depth chart to take him and bring him along at their leisure.

    Another permutation of this deal looms, depending on how much the Pelicans want to move up. Kira Lewis Jr. can be subbed in for the 2023 pick. He is working his way back from a torn right ACL and hasn't enjoyed a ton of success at the NBA level, but his north-south handle travels at the speed of sound, and there could be something to a backcourt partnership with Tyrese Haliburton.

Portland Diversifies, and San Antonio Jumps

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    Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Josh Richardson, No. 9 pick, No. 25 pick

    San Antonio Spurs Receive: Justise Winslow, No. 7 pick

    Damian Lillard's face after Portland wound up at No. 7 said it all: He wanted a higher pick and the juicier trade value that came with it. That disappointment invariably doesn't change anything. The Blazers still need to shop this selection for immediate help if they plan on rebuilding around Dame.

    Swathes of Pistons fans are already scouting who'd be the best fit for their team at No. 7. They might get their wish. But the Blazers need to aim higher or expand the scope of their Jerami Grant pursuit. Flipping the No. 7 pick for him outright would be an overpay.

    Adding Josh Richardson, who was quietly solid last season, while dropping down just twos spots and netting another first in the process is far more palatable. They will need to use part of their CJ McCollum trade exception or actual cap space to complete this deal, but it doesn't preclude them from turning around and entering the Jerami Grant sweepstakes or talks for another splashy non-star.

    The Spurs might be overpaying to jump two spots, but it's not by much. Also: They can afford it. They have three first-rounders in this draft, and Richardson is most likely a rental for them with so many other guard-swingman-wing types on the roster.

    If there's someone the Spurs deem can't-miss who won't be available at No. 9—*fires up the Bennedict Mathurin signal*—then this is a more-than-reasonable cost of entry. San Antonio also happens to increase its cap space with this deal, a financial gain that comes in handy if it wants to dole out a max contract during free agency.

New York and Charlotte Reshape Their Books

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    New York Knicks Receive: Gordon Hayward, No. 13 pick, No. 15 pick

    Charlotte Hornets Receive: Evan Fournier, Mitchell Robinson (sign-and-trade), Kemba Walker, No. 11 pick

    Reflexive reactions won't understand why the Hornets are parting with No. 13 and No. 15 to hop up two spots and for the right to pay Evan Fournier. Fortunately, that's not actually what they're doing.

    Breaking up Gordon Hayward's $30 million-plus salary into multiple cheaper contracts is extremely valuable when Terry Rozier's extension is about to kick in and Miles Bridges could command near-max money as a restricted free agent. Fournier has three years left on his deal, but the final season is a team option. He will run Charlotte $36.9 million through 2023-24, a little more than half of what Hayward earns over that same span ($61.6 million).

    Pay little attention to Kemba Walker's return. He's on an expiring contract and included for salary purposes, since base-year compensation impacts any Mitchell Robinson sign-and-trade. This deal assumes a $12 million starting price point for the big man, which means he'd count as only $6 million in outgoing salary for the Knicks.

    Charlotte shouldn't be deterred by the extra body in Kemba. He can be rerouted or bought out. (He doesn't need to be included at all if they're willing to pay Robinson $16 million in Year 1 and have his contract descend from there.) Getting out from under Hayward's deal while nabbing a viable center and rising two spots in the lottery is a good collective piece of business.

    New York's side of the equation is easier to understand. Hayward may be injury-prone, but he has a much higher ceiling as a facilitator, self-creator and defender than Fournier. He costs only a hair more next season than Kemba and Fournier combined, and what remains of his on-ball skills will alleviate a good deal of pressure on the rest of the offense—including, and most importantly, RJ Barrett.

    This doesn't count as the Knicks short-circuiting their future, either. They're divesting one first-round pick into two. They can use those in other deals or lean further into the youth movement. Moving Robinson isn't pain-free, but keeping him doesn't qualify as a no-brainer. New York would function more seamlessly with a big who stretched the floor or possessed any sort of decision-making skills on the roll. He can be replaced or approximated in the draft or free agency.

Washington and OKC Pull Off the Late-Lottery Swap

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    Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: No. 10 pick

    Washington Wizards Receive:  No. 12 pick, No. 30 pick

    Who needs superstar trades with blockbusters like this?

    Trading down seems counterintuitive for the Wizards, knowing they and Bradley Beal remain committed to one another. But you're not bagging a co-star with the No. 10 pick. Parlaying it into two firsts while only sliding two spots lets them deepen their rotation on the cheap without entirely skirting the value of drafting inside the late lottery.

    Seeing the Thunder give up more picks than they're getting without securing the No. 1 spot is weird. It is not egregious.

    Climbing up to No. 10 allows Oklahoma City to roll the dice on another prospect who might not last until 12, and the cost is negligible. The Thunder would be down one first-round pick, but there's a good chance anyone they're pining for at No. 30 will be on the board at No. 34. Consolidating this year's draft selections only makes it easier to navigate their jam-packed depth chart.

Cleveland Upgrades the Wing Rotation

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    Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Jerami Grant

    Detroit Pistons: Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman, No. 14 pick

    Chris Fedor identified Jerami Grant as a person (among many) of interest for the Cavaliers on a recent episode of the HoopsHype Podcast with Michael Scotto. Their intrigue is not beyond debate, but it's not unwarranted either.

    Skeptics will harp on the makeup of Cleveland's team. Is Grant that much of a shooting upgrade on the wings? And can the Cavs afford to re-sign him when they already paid Jarret Allen, have Collin Sexton entering restricted free agency and need to start prepping for Darius Garland's next deal? Caris LeVert is in the final year of his contract to boot.

    Cleveland can figure out the cap-sheet math later. Kevin Love comes off the books before new deals for Grant, LeVert and Garland would take effect. That helps. Few believe the Cavs will pay both Sexton and LeVert long term anyway. That helps, too.

    Grant is also really good. And hey: That helps, as well. He covers a larger positional spectrum than Isaac Okoro on defense and is both the more efficient and higher-volume outside shooter. Cleveland can lament the loss of its bottom-of-the-lottery pick, but finding a player at No. 14 who turns out to be as good as Grant is the better-than-best-case scenario. This is a move that reflects the Cavs' heightened expectations without undermining its future. Grant (and others) can always be traded later if things don't pan out.

    Detroit shouldn't need anything else to green light this package. It's getting a young player who defends his butt off and has ball skills Cleveland never fully explored, a lotto pick and the expiring contract of Cedi Osman (non-guaranteed in 2023-24), who should beef up the offense's floor spacing in lineups with Cade Cunningham.


    Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of NBA.comBasketball ReferenceStathead or Cleaning the Glass. Salary information via Spotrac.

    Dan Favale covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@danfavale), and listen to his Hardwood Knocks podcast, co-hosted by NBA Math's Adam Fromal.


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