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2023 NBA Draft: Tracking News Around the League Leading up to Free Agency

From Bradley Beal choosing the Phoenix Suns to the Wizards also dealing Kristaps Porzingis to the Zion Williamson sweepstakes, we’ve got your back this week.

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NBA: Washington Wizards at Dallas Mavericks Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve finally made it, friends.

Now that the 2022-23 NBA season is officially in the books, it’s time to track some potentially seismic offseason movement. Our Jack Borman previewed some league-wide storylines to follow this week, covering New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson, Portland Trail Blazers legend Damian Lillard, Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, the Dallas Mavericks impending reload, and more.

But in this thread we’ll be following news as it comes in live, whether it is Minnesota Timberwolves related news or otherwise.

Let’s get into it.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Minnesota Timberwolves Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards Are Going Full Rebuild

Bradley Beal

Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal finally acquiesced to the team’s desire to tank and used the power of his no-trade clause to steer his way to the Suns.

Phoenix will receive Beal, Jordan Goodwin, and Isaiah Todd, while Chris Paul and Landry Shamet are headed to D.C., according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. His ESPN colleague Zach Lowe reported on his podcast earlier this week that the Suns will likely send most, if not all, of their six future second-round picks to the Wizards in addition to Paul and Shamet.

Kristaps Porzingis

Update as of Wednesday at 3:30 PM CT:

The Boston Celtics are closing in on a deal to acquire Wizards big man Kristaps Porzingis in a deal that would send Boston guard Malcolm Brogdon to the Los Angeles Clippers and Celtics forward Danilo Gallinari to the Wizards, with Marcus Morris and draft compensation to the Wizards, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, along with team beat reporters Jared Weiss (Celtics), Josh Robbins (Wizards), Law Murray (Clippers) and Jay King (Celtics).

Update as of Wednesday at 3:50 PM CT:

Woj is reporting that the Clippers are sending Amir Coffey and the No. 30 overall pick in Thursday’s draft to the Wizards in addition to Morris, and that the three sides “still have more work to do on an agreement.” Porzingis would also opt into his $36 million player option for next season to make the trade happen.

Update as of Wednesday at 4:15 PM CT:

Boston Globe Celtics writer Adam Himmelsbach is reporting that the deal likely marks the end of Grant Williams’ time in Boston, despite the impending free agent not being included in the deal.

Update as of 9:37 PM CT:

Well, nevermind (maybe?). After getting deep into talks this afternoon, the trade between the Wizards, Clippers and Celtics has fallen apart. Marc Stein added some clarity and context to the situation:

However, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the sides are working under a midnight ET deadline on Kristaps Porzingis’ $36 million player option. Wojnarowski is also reporting that Wizards are still working to get Porzingis to the Celtics in an opt-in and trade scenario, but it won’t be a three-team deal involving the Clippers.

Update as of 11:17 p.m. CT:

The deal has been completed! Per Woj, Kristaps Porzingis is opting into his $36 million option and will be traded to the Boston Celtics. In addition to that, the Memphis Grizzlies will send Tyus Jones to the Wizards as part of the three-team deal. To add to the surprise, Marcus Smart is headed to Memphis to join the Grizzlies, Wojnarowski and Charania say.

The Grizzlies, without Ja Morant for the first 25 games of the season due to suspension, now have a battle-tested point guard in Smart that can mentor their young roster and help lead in the postseason.

The Celtics will also receive first-round picks from the Grizzlies, per Woj. Memphis will send 2023 and 2024 first-round picks to Boston.

Washington receives: Tyus Jones, 2023 second-round pick (No. 35) from BOS

Boston receives: Kristaps Porzingis, 2023 first-round pick (No. 25) from MEM, 2024 first-round pick (top-four protected) via Golden State from MEM.

Memphis receives: Marcus Smart

Update as of Thursday at 10:45 AM CT:

After initially including Brogdon in the Porzingis deal, Boston now will be unable to trade Brogdon in any move in the interim, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

Los Angeles Clippers v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Future in Los Angeles

Paul George

Marc Stein reported on Tuesday that the Los Angeles Clippers are exploring the trade value of eight-time All-Star and four-time All-Defensive Team selection Paul George.

League sources tell The Stein Line that the LA Clippers have left various rival teams with the impression through their Draft Week conversations that they are, at a minimum, attempting to gauge Paul George’s trade value.

Governor Steve Ballmer has poured $2 billion into the brand new Intuit Dome, which is set to open at the start of the 2024-25 season, and there’s no question that pressure exists to put a winning team on the floor to drive maximum possible fan interest to the state-of-the-art venue. If paying $2 billion wasn’t enough, Ballmer will pay an estimated $140 million luxury tax bill for the 2022-23 Clippers, in addition to the team’s $191 million team salary, per Spotrac.

George, who turned 33 last month, hasn’t played more than 60 games in a season since 2018-19, when he averaged a career-high 27.4 points per game for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The L.A. area native has had better luck staying healthy than superstar teammate Kawhi Leonard — who has been plagued by knee and leg injuries for the better part of the last five years — and may have more trade value at this point as a result, thus prompting trade feelers from the Clippers’ front office.

Lowe for fun (not reporting anything) floated a George for Trae Young swap on his podcast this week, which would certainly satisfy the Clippers’ aim of getting younger and potentially more marketable, but I’m not sure it actually makes Los Angeles a more competitive team during their opening season in Inglewood in 2024-25.

Update as of Wednesday at 4:10 PM CT:

Chris Paul

NBA on TNT and Bleacher Report Senior NBA Insider Chris Haynes reported soon after the Beal trade was announced on Sunday that Chris Paul would likely be rerouted in a trade and that the Clippers were expected to pursue him.

That surely has to change now considering that L.A. is acquiring Brogdon in the Porzingis deal. The Wizards finding a trade partner will be difficult considering that Paul’s $30,800,000 salary will now be fully guaranteed for this upcoming season, so it could open the door for CP3 to get bought out and choose between point guard needy contenders such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat (if they don’t swing for Lillard), and, ironically, the Celtics.

Update as of Thursday at 2:15 PM CT:

Paul has been dealt to the Golden State Warriors for Jordan Poole and draft compensation.

2023 NBA Finals - Miami Heat v Denver Nuggets Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Nuggets General Manager Calvin Booth Remains Active

We were treated to a surprise Woj Bomb on Wednesday afternoon when he announced the Nuggets were trading the least favorable of its 2024 first-round picks to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for the No. 29 and No. 32 overall selections on Thursday night.

The move came shortly after beloved Nuggets role player Bruce Brown officially declined his $6.8 million player option. Brown is eligible to re-sign with Denver for a maximum of $7.8 million for 2023-24 — in what would likely be a 1+1 deal — before hitting free agency again next season and potentially returning to Denver long-term on a four-year deal worth more than the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($12 million/year).

While the move certainly does not preclude Denver from bringing back their do-it-all wing, it may offer them protection in the event they are unable to do so. Booth last year selected Christian Braun, who was fantastic in key spots in throughout the team’s title run, No. 21 overall. Given the new collective bargaining agreement’s team-building restrictions for teams with three max players, getting as many bites at the apple as possible with respect to rookie scale contracts and second-rounders will be key, and Booth is putting on a clinic so far this summer with how to best position his team for the future.

Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers

Update as of Wednesday at 6:06 PM CT

The consistently-swirling drama surrounding Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard might finally be calming down (for now).

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Portland has “shut down anybody who has called for Damian Lillard,” Wojnarowski announced on the Pat McAfee show on Wednesday afternoon.

Portland has the assets (Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe and this No. 3 pick) to create a very intriguing trade package, but they seem to be approaching things cautiously, even if it means bringing in a star player that can help Lillard right away.

A hypothetical trade that involves Karl-Anthony Towns in exchange for the No. 3 pick has been discussed by fans, but there’s no evidence that the Timberwolves have engaged in talks of anything of the matter. In fact, reporting confirms that Minnesota is all but set on ‘running it back’ with their core group from last season.

Portland turning away calls for Lillard doesn’t eliminate the possibility of the team trading the No. 3 overall pick in tomorrow’s NBA Draft — if anything it might increase the likelihood — but it solidifies the idea that the Blazers are looking to build a win-now squad around their star.

Jerami Grant will be an unrestricted free agent, and after a season in which he averaged 20.5 points per game and shot just over 40% from beyond the arc, the Blazers seem willing to pay him a hefty new salary in a potential new deal. Grant also brings defensive and positional versatility that proved valuable with Blazer lineups that lacked defensive ability last season. Retaining him would be a step in the direction of building a team that can be successful next season.

It’s assumed that Portland will continue to be active before, during and after the draft, in a summer that’s pivotal for the organization as they teeter between entering a full rebuild without Lillard or building around their loyal cornerstone (reporting makes the latter seem true).

Update as of Thursday at 10:55 AM CT:

NBA teams are preparing their offers for Lillard, according to Windhorst, in the event that the Blazers make selection at No. 3.

USA Today

The Sweepstakes for a Familiar Face

Update as of Wednesday 8:26 PM

Multiple reports have suggested the Grizzlies are gauging the trade market for 27-year old former Apple Valley Eagle Tyus Jones. Along with the Chicago Bulls, the Wolves are rumored to be one of the handful of interested teams, both according to Yahoo’s Jake Fischer, and more recently, SKOR North’s Darren “Doogie” Wolfson.

“I’m led to believe, just like last summer, that the Wolves have legit interest in Tyus Jones,” Wolfson said on his latest “Scoops” segment on SKOR North.

It’s clear in gauging the market that the Memphis Grizzlies would want a wing in return. Jones has been nothing short of fantastic filling in for Ja Morant when he isn’t in the lineup, and unless Memphis would want to cash him in for a position of need, it would make no sense with Morant’s newly-announced 25-game suspension.

Jones is in a contract year, and Taurean Prince would almost certainly be on the move in this instance. Whether sooner or later, the Wolves will have a decision to make on 35-year old Mike Conley and make a move towards a starting point guard of the future next to Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels. If Jones were to be the decision this summer, it would make the 2024 offseason incredibly interesting with the current money on the books for the Wolves.

Update as of 11:17 PM CT:

Jones has been traded to the Wizards as part of the Porzingis to Boston move.

Golden State Warriors v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Mayhem in Golden State

Update as of Thursday at 2:15 PM CT:

According to Charania, the Golden State Warriors are sending guard Jordan Poole, Ryan Rollins, a 2030 protected first-round pick and a 2027 second-round pick to the Washington Wizards for Chris Paul.

Given the 1:1 salary match, I’d expect this to be folded into the Beal trade, but time will tell.

According to Bobby Marks of ESPN, the deal cannot be completed until July 6.

Getty Images

Draft Day Movement

A first round, one-pick position swap has taken place between the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards.

According to Shams Charania of the Athletic, the Pacers are drafting and trading french prospect Bilal Coulibaly to Washington at pick seven. Coulibaly is the now former teammate of Victor Wembanyama.

In exchange, the Wizards are doing the same one pick later at pick eight with Jarace Walker out of Houston. Walker is a former top-20 high school player and a one-and-done for Kelvin Sampson’s Sweet Sixteen squad.

The Wizards will send two future second round picks to Indiana for the move.

Adding to the recent movement on the draft board, we have another trade at the 10th pick.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have acquired Davis Bertans and the No. 10 pick in exchange for the No. 12 overall pick. The Thunder then selected Kentucky guard Cason Wallace to add to their young roster.

Bertans and the final two years and $33 million — early termination option for $16 million for 2024-25 — on his current contract will head to Oklahoma City, while the Thunder add another young player to a backcourt that already features Jalen Williams and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

The move has important financial implications for Dallas, as they move off Bertans’ contract and will now have the full midlevel exception and a $17 million trade exception. The path to re-signing Kyrie Irving and continuing to build a win-now roster becomes clearer.

Getty Images

More Maverick Activity

One of the main priorities for the Sacramento Kings this offseason was to move Richaun Holmes’ contract.

After a productive three-year stretch concluding after the 2021-22 season, Holmes fell out of the Kings’ rotation and played in just 42 games last season. He’s set to make just over 12 million dollars this coming season, and has a player option for the same amount for the following.

The Dallas Mavericks ended up being Holmes’ next destination, as the Kings sent Holmes and their 24th pick (Marquette standout Olivier-Maxence Prosper) to big D.

Dallas, by way of their earlier trade with Oklahoma City in dumping Davis Bertans, are using their Traded Player Exception in this deal. The exception allows Dallas to acquire the salary slot left behind by Bertans, while being over the salary cap.