It’s finally draft day, one of the most exciting days on the NBA calendar. This one has the possibility of being even more out there than usual, with many connected observers expecting a large number of trades. In part, this is because several teams have multiple first round picks that they could look to consolidate or exchange for players, in part because there seems to be a wider than usual range of opinions on the available players, motivating some teams to move up and others to move back, which is conducive to completing deals.
There has, of course, already been off-season fireworks, beginning with the trade of Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. That gives the New Orleans Pelicans control of the top of the draft, with their own first pick, and the fourth pick obtained in the deal. Rumors are strong that they are looking to move that pick, and there are plenty of teams motivated to move up, primarily for point guard Darius Garland. Our Puppies are among the teams rumored to be interested, though it seems exceedingly unlikely they have the juice to get it done.
On Wednesday, the long-rumored Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz trade finally happened. The Jazz send Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, Grayson Allen, the 23rd pick today, and a 2020 protected first to the Grizzlies for Conley. This is a risk well worth taking for the Jazz, who now feature a back court of Conley and Donovan Mitchell, easing the load on Mitchell and giving the Jazz a dynamic back court and the potential for the best defense in the league. With the West in some chaos now, the Jazz are well-positioned to strike.
In other news, Al Horford has opted out of his final year with the Celtics, and surprisingly looks likely to head elsewhere. The thought was he would negotiate a longer-term deal with the Celtics, but apparently that isn’t going to happen. Whether this comes as a surprise to Horford or not I couldn’t say.
The C’s are on the verge of losing both Horford and Kyrie Irving, and seeing their plans collapse, though they are not without talent even without those two. Apparently among the issues that led to things disintigrating in Boston was the belief among some of the players that Brad Stevens was showing favoritism to Gordon Hayward as he worked his way back from injury.
Elsewhere, the Thunder are rumored to be looking to move salary along with their pick, and Steven Adams among others is said to be available.
The Bucks have traded Tony Snell to the Pistons in a salary saving move. They are sending the 30th pick to the Pistons, and taking Jon Leuer back. It saves the Bucks a couple of million this summer, and gets them off Snell’s 2020-21 player option.
As for the Wolves, who hold the 11th and 43rd pick at this writing, anything and everything seems in play. It’s clear they would like to move up for a point guard, either Garland or Coby White. We got this Stein tweet on Wednesday evening:
The Timberwolves have been aggressive in their attempts to move up in the draft from No. 11 and are among the teams that have discussed acquiring No. 4 from New Orleans, league sources say— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 20, 2019
Hard to imagine the Wolves could make the best offer for that pick. If they do, it probably means Robert Covington, which I absolutely would not do.
They also seem prepared to trade down if the opportunity presents itself. Various rumors have them trying a varying levels of intensity to move Andrew Wiggins, something that might prove prohibitively expensive, at least in their view.
(Aside: NBA reporter Ramona Shelbourne said on ESPN’s The Jump on Wednesday that she thinks the Wolves can find a taker, that teams are more willing to take on money for a young player than an older one. That some team will still think they can unlock him. We’ll see.)
I would put the likelihood of them drafting and keeping pick 11 at around 50 percent, and it’s only that high because deals are often very difficult to consummate, even when you get them to the finish line.
But it was Shams breaking the huge news on Wednesday:
Sources: Space Jam 2, starring LeBron James, is expected to feature key roles for Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis and Klay Thompson and WNBA stars Diana Taurasi and Nneka Ogwumike. Several more NBA and WNBA players, including Chiney Ogwumike, are expected to play roles in film.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 20, 2019
We’ll have more throughout the day as events warrant, and of course complete coverage.