Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE.
Cleveland sends the No. 4 and 33rd picks to Charlotte for the No. 2 pick.
Stuck at the fourth overall pick, Cleveland is in a precarious position. Do they stand pat at No. 4 and let Charlotte and Washington dictate the pace of the draft and simply select the best player available? Or should they regain control by moving up in the draft and subjecting their counterparts to the remains?
If Cleveland opts to stand pat, their choice would come down to, most likely, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes. Instead of putting themselves in a difficult bind — Barnes is one Kyrie Irving’s closest friends, only further complicating matters and MKG appears to be a seamless fit alongside Irving and Tristan Thompson — maybe they entertain the possibility of trading up two spots with the Charlotte Bobcats to avoid a difficult decision and, theoretically, acquire a better player.
The only thing standing in the way of this deal is Charlotte’s insistence on Cleveland’s 24th pick instead of the 33rd (or 34th pick). Charlotte is reportedly not in love with anyone, though they’d probably take Thomas Robinson if this deal falls through. The deal also makes intuitive sense because Charlotte is guaranteed to select Robinson or Barnes, presumably the two highest players on their board, at the fourth slot. Cleveland would likely take Bradley Beal and build a solid core revolving around the brilliance of Irving, the high motor of Thompson and the seemingly limitless amount of options (including floor spacing) that stem from Beal’s Ray Allen-like shooting ability.
Charlotte sends Tyrus Thomas and No. 2 pick to Sacramento for No. 5 pick.
Again, Charlotte isn’t in love with the second pick. They were certainly be content with selecting Robinson though it’s more beneficial to their cause if they are able to unload an unfavorable contract (and Thomas’ three-year deal worth approximately $26.1 million certainly qualifies as a bad contract) and still put themselves in a position to acquire a valuable cog in their future rotation.
After the fifth pick, the talent level drops off dramatically. Andre Drummond seems to the exception; he’s talented enough to be drafted with the second pick but, because of his onerous deficiencies (work ethic, especially), will likely be selected outside the top five. Plus, Drummond is an awful fit with Sacramento. Pairing him with DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans is a recipe for disaster.
Anyway. The fifth pick holds tremendous value in this draft hence Sacramento’s incentive to at least explore the market. I’m not sure if taking in Thomas’ contract is necessarily worth the price of moving up three spots but the possibility of a Robinson/Cousins frontcourt is pretty appealing. (Side note on Thomas: He did post an above-average 18.2 PER while blocking a shot on 6.2% of Charlotte’s possessions two years ago. Those numbers dipped dramatically this season.) Robinson is regarded as one of the most pro-ready prospects in the draft and his inexorable energy and adherence to the greater good could fit with the highly volatile Cousins. So, yeah, there’s that.
Houston sends Kyle Lowry, No. 14 and 16 picks to Sacramento for Tyreke Evans and No. 5 pick.
Houston’s incentive in this deal is to move up into the top five, presumably to select potential laden big man Andre Drummond to entice Orlando. It would be quite fitting that Drummond, whose hailed as the next Dwight Howard from some pro scouts, would replace Howard. Coupled with the 18th pick they acquired when they flipped Chase Buddinger to Minnesota combined and other assets, Houston poses one of the best values for a disgruntled superstar.
One thing impeding this deal? Dwight Howard said he isn’t interested signing long-term with Houston. It should be noted that Howard said the same thing about Orlando before he succumbed to the pressure when he waived his ETO (Early Termination Option). So, really, Howard’s word isn’t as reliable as it would seem. Escaping the qualms of mediocrity is worth the risk for losing a superstar after one season.
Evans, who logged 30% of his minutes at small forward last season, voiced his displeasure with his new role in Sacramento. He prefers to return to a more central part of the team, one where he’s able to create for himself with impunity and not worry about playing off the ball. Evans is best utilized when he’s freed from all responsibilities other than drawing fouls and shooting inefficient long 2-pointers.
Evans is not a point guard. In Sacramento’s defense, Isiah Thomas is a much more effective option with the ball. Thomas finished as the fifth most efficient ball-handler in pick-and-rolls and scored 0.18 points per possession more than Evans in isolations.
Considering Sacramento likely won’t retain Evans when he’s set to enter restricted free agency next offseason, this could be their way out. Kyle Lowry, an effective rebounder and pick-and-roll handler himself, and a couple of mid-lottery picks isn’t such a bad consolation prize.
If Houston doesn’t pull off this deal, they will have another suitor to trade up in the top 10.
Houston sends Lowry, No. 18 pick to Toronto for No. 8 pick.
The eighth pick isn’t as enticing so Houston won’t have to add their 14th and 16th picks in this deal. They may still be able to draft Drummond, his frightening volatility potentially playing in their favor.
Instead of Dion Waiters or Daman Lillard, Toronto receives a talented 26-year-old point guard and the 18th pick. They’d be able to amnesty Jose Calderon (owed $10.6 million this year) or, if they choose, flip Calderon’s expiring deal to another team without being completely screwed at the point. This would conceivably eradicate their chances of landing Steve Nash though, in my opinion, Lowry is a better fit for a developing team than Nash. Plus, I don’t want Nash to toil on another abominable team at the end of his career. Royce White and Moe Harkless would be realistic fits for Toronto with the 18th pick.
Houston sends Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and No. 5/8, 14 and 16 picks to Orlando for Dwight Howard.
(Disclaimer: Houston would either need to complete one of the two aforementioned trades.)
This is a HUGE haul for Orlando. They’d be hard pressed to turn this deal down and, thus, Houston would then focus on building around Dwight before he makes yet another decision. Martin’s expiring deal, Scola’s underrated offensive game, Andre Drummond/draft pick and two other picks is an incredibly hard deal to turn down.
If you haven’t noticed, Houston is probably going to be a huge player in this years NBA Draft. It isn’t whether Houston makes a deal, it’s which deal they pull off and (potentially) the huge deal they create later.
The landscape of the entire NBA could be irreparably altered if Darryl Morey has his way.
Article by Quixem Ramirez of airalamo.com, FanSided’s San Antonio Spurs blog.