The Day After The Day Before
The NBA had a fairly wild day before the NBA draft with two trades shaking up the offseason landscape.
First up, the Jazz got George Hill, shipping the #12 pick to Atlanta, who sent Jeff Teague to Indiana.
At first, I hated the trade for the Jazz because I thought the #12 pick could have fetched more than George Hill. But I do have to confess that I’ve somewhat inexplicably never been a believer in Hill and he is better than I give him credit. I still don’t think he necessarily moves the needle for the Jazz but he’s certainly a step up from their point guard carousel this past season.
Atlanta gets a lotto pick for a guy they’ve been looking to trade for the last year or so and who was likely leaving town after the year when his contract was due. No way to complain about this one, although I’m not a big believer in Ze German Rondo, Dennis Schröder to whom they’ve handed the keys of the offense.
I’m a fan of Teague who should literally feel at home with the Pacers since he’s from Indianapolis. I’m not so sure about how he and Monta Ellis fit alongside one another but, then again, I wouldn’t be opposed to the Pacers looking to move Monta. I still like Monta and he could be a difference maker on the right squad but, with Teague in tow, they could look to get a younger shooting guard.
While that trade made some ripples amongst avid NBA fans, the next deal of the day became a headline on all sports pages as the Knicks acquired Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday, and a 2017 2nd rounder for Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, and Jose Calderon.
In terms of name recognition, the Knicks won the deal. They always seem to win deals on this end but it’s rarely panned out to much actual success outside of jersey sales. Still, the 27 year old Rose could turn back the clock a bit and prove to be a guy who elevates the Knicks into playoff contention. Also, Rose and ‘Melo are the kind of guys who could help recruit another star to New York. In the end, it’s a no brainer for the Knicks because, if Rose doesn’t pan out, his contract is up after this year. And if he does, then they just stole a quality player for the little they had on their roster to offer.
This might make it sound like I’m down on the deal for Chicago but it probably was the best they could do and, personally, I think they had to do something. Rose wasn’t happy. He wasn’t gelling with Jimmy Butler, the new leading man for the Bulls. Getting a starting center (albeit somewhat overpaid) in Lopez and a potential workmanlike starting point guard in Grant isn’t bad. (Calderon’s best days are behind him; he was just there to make the contracts match.) The Bulls weren’t in an ideal situation to make a trade and made a less than ideal trade but it’s a perfectly reasonable return given Rose’s injury concerns and expiring contract. Also, Lopez has some value as a rugged defensive minded big and fills a need in Chicago now that Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah are leaving.
So where does that leave us tomorrow? Well, let’s bang out a quick and fun mock draft to see how things could shake out.
- Sixers: Ben Simmons — The Sixers have all but announced that they’re taking Simmons.
- Lakers: Brandon Ingram — Again, word is that, unless some sweetheart deal comes their way, Brandon Ingram will be the pick.
And here is where things get interesting because pretty much everyone in the rest of the lottery is looking to move their pick for a veteran. And while there’s some interesting talent in the second tier of this draft, it’s not so enticing that anyone will give up a top veteran for a pick.
3. Nuggets (from Celtics): Jamal Murray — The Nuggets swap Danilo Gallinari, Jusuf Nurkic, #7 pick for Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, James Young, #3, #16. Danny Ainge’s dreams of a monster deal have been rebuffed so he opts to get Gallinari, who he has gone after before, and Nurkic, who looked good in his rookie season but struggled with injuries and was overshadowed by Nikola Jokic and became kind of expendable. The Nuggets move up in the draft so they can get first shot at the second tier guys and jump up to #16 where they could add another talented player.
With the #3 pick, the Nuggets nab Murray, who could be the ideal complement to last year’s #7 pick Emmanuel Mudiay.
4. Suns: Dragan Bender — With three picks and Eric Bledsoe being on the block, the Suns could be very active on draft day. I’m not sure they’ll be able to swing a major deal, which leaves them having to take someone at #4. Jaylen Brown and Marquese Chriss are options but I think Phoenix opts for this year’s International Man of Mystery with a name made for a Bond villain.
EDIT: What would it take for the Suns to nab Marc Gasol? If the Grizz don’t want to tank, would Bledsoe or Knight, Chandler, and #4 be enough for Gasol and Brandan Wright? Would they have to throw in the #13 as well? A lineup of Bledsoe/Knight, Hield (at #4), Z-Bo/Ellenson (#13), and Chandler wouldn’t be too shabby. Use their cap space to go after a small forward. (Or draft one at #13 or #17.)
5. Timberwolves: Kris Dunn — Before the draft, the Wolves agree to send Pretty Ricky Rubio to Sacramento for Willie Cauley-Stein. (The salaries don’t match but I think the Kings will be under the cap and can eat some salary.) Minny moves on from the Rubio Era and land a big man who could allow Karl-Anthony Towns to play the PF spot. The Kings get an exciting pass-first PG, who also can play some defense.
As for the pick, Dunn isn’t ideal. Yes, he fits Coach Thibs’ defense-first approach but his shooting and turnovers need to improve if he’s going to stay out of Thibs’s doghouse. I could see them making another deal with the #5 to get a veteran PG but, at this point, I’m not sure what that deal would be. Dunn has his suitors (I thought about Dunn for Nerlens Noel but the Sixers didn’t have enough to sweeten the deal) so it should be easy to move him if they want to make a deal for a vet later in the offseason.
6. Pelicans: Buddy Hield — I’m sure New Orleans would love to move this pick for a veteran but when Hield lands here, it’s probably too good to pass up. He’s a great fit to replace Eric Gordon and should be ready to step in and help out Anthony Davis from Day 1.
7. Celtics: Marquese Chriss — While Ainge wasn’t able to land a superstar with his picks, a future frontcourt of Nurkic and Chriss has through-the-roof potential. I think the Celtics pursue Pau Gasol to handle the PF spot in the short term while Chriss learns the pro game.
8. Kings: Domantas Sabonis — Kings GM Vlade Divac is supposedly friends with Sabonis’ dad, which is enough for me. Although, to be fair, Sabonis is also a tough as nails, high effort guy who is exactly what the Kings need.
9. Raptors: Skal Labissiere — Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has shown that he’s not afraid of reaching for a player and Skal, who was once considered a potential #1 pick, has some potential but also fits exactly what the Raptors could use at the PF spot. He might not be able to help immediately but he’s a nice potential building block alongside Jonas Valuncianas and DeMar DeRozan (who I assume will re-sign with them.)
10. Sixers (from Milwaukee): Jaylen Brown — When Brown slides to #10, the Sixers call up and offer up Nerlens Noel for the Bucks’ pick. Noel provides a great complement to Jabari Parker in the frontcourt and sets up the Bucks as one of the more promising young teams in the East. The Sixers meanwhile get some much needed scoring help and a smart, hard working kid in Brown who could team with Ben Simmons to be one hell of a forward tandem.
11. Magic: Jakob Poeltl — I think the Magic would have preferred Skal but Poeltl could be a nice addition, especially if they look to make a blockbuster trade using their current center, Nikola Vucevic. The Magic need to do something because their young guys are all reaching the end of their rookie deals and it’s hard to explain why you’re spending to keep a nice but not that great core that hasn’t been able to win much at all lately.
12. Hawks: Timothe Luwawu — Word is that the Hawks might want to look to save money during the draft in order to have more to spend on retaining Al Horford and signing another FA. Luwawu is a talented player they can stash overseas for a couple of years. (I don’t know much about the foreign prospects so feel free to replace this name with any of the top Euro prospects.)
13. Suns: Henry Ellenson — Phoenix continues to build their frontcourt with Ellenson.
14. Bulls: Tyler Ulis — I know, I know. This is WAAAAY too high for Ulis, but I just love the kid and think he could be a nice boost of energy for the Rose-less Bulls.
15. Nuggets: Deyonta Davis — With back-to-back picks, the Nuggets role the dice on the young Spartan with a high ceiling.
16. Nuggets: Furkan Korkmaz — The Nuggets roll the dice again, this time on the 18 year old Turkish sharpshooter who they can probably keep overseas for a year or two. Mudiay, Murray, and Korkmaz is a high ceiling, low floor group but they should be exciting as shit if they pan out.
17. Grizzlies: Wade Baldwin — With reports coming out that Mike Conley might be looking for a max deal, it’s probably a good time for Memphis to invest a pick on a point guard.
18. Pistons: Malik Beasley — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope showed some signs of life in the playoffs but it’s time to give him some competition.
19. Nuggets: Denzel Valentine — Just strikes me as a guy that Mike Malone will love and someone who’ll benefit from being coached up by Malone.
20. Pacers: Cheick Diallo — A Diallo/Myles Turner frontcourt could be very, very interesting in the near future.
21. Hawks: Ivica Zubac — The Hawks could look for a cheap backup PG at this point but I’m going to stick with them looking to save coin and going for guys they don’t have to bring over this year.
22. Hornets: Demetrius Jackson — Jeremy Lin is a free agent so they nab Jackson as a backup to Kemba Walker.
23. Celtics: Thon Maker — OK, realistically, this is usually where Danny Ainge likes to take an older, skilled player like Brice Johnson, especially if he’s already spent a pick on a raw, young prospect. And it’s where I always get upset that he passed on the flashy, questionable guy. Sometimes it works out, like when he passed on Perry Jones III. Sometimes it doesn’t, like when we passed on DeAndre Jordan. I just would rather roll the dice on Maker, who could benefit from working with Brad Stevens.
24. Sixers: Dejounte Murray — With the frontcourt sorted out with Okafor, Simmons, and Brown (not to mention Embiid and Saric), it’s a no-brainer to use this pick on the sliding Murray. He doesn’t help their shooting any but, at this point, you’ve got to jump on a high ceiling guy like this. Especially when you’ve got another pick coming up soon.
25. Clippers: Malachi Richardson — Realistically, I think Tyler Ulis will end up here since the Sixers need a backup point guard but since Ulis is gone, I’ll have LA take Richardson. He fills a need and I was a fan of Pooh Richardson back in the day. Malachi Richardson just seems like the name of someone who’d play for the Clippers.
26. Sixers: Caris Levert — Early mock drafts last year had him as a lotto pick. Injuries and disappointing play followed and now he’s lucky to be in the first round. But the kid’s got good size and can shoot the ball so let’s add him to the Sixers and see what he can do.
27. Raptors: DeAndre Bembry — A smart, jack of all trades, you’d like a better shooter alongside DeMar DeRozan but he’s a nice pickup this late and if Skal pans out as a shooter from the 4 spot, it might make Bembry’s questionable shot less of a problem.
28. Suns: Ante Zizic — Suns take the Euro big who they can keep overseas.
29. Spurs: Brice Johnson — An efficient player who could be able to offer what little David West brought to the table last year.
30. Warriors: Juan Hermangomez — If the Warriors are going to make a play for Durant, they need every penny possible so they’ll take someone who isn’t coming over this year.
31. Celtics: Petr Cornelie — The C’s don’t need to add more kids to their roster so they take the young stretch 4 from France.