There’s a lot of intrigue and excitement heading into the 2015 NBA Draft on Thursday, but a lot of it, believe it or not, has little to do with the actual picks.
Rather, it has to do with potential trades.
“There’s obviously a lot of talk about the draft, but I’ve been talking to executives, and they say that there is going to be a lot of trades in the next 24 hours,” Basketball Insiders managing editor Alex Kennedy said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “They’re anticipating that. They’ve been saying that for the last few days – that this is going to be a very crazy couple of days. A lot of teams are looking to move up or move down (in the draft), and a lot of teams are looking to trade players. We saw Nicolas Batum get traded today for the Hornets. That’s obviously a big move. He’s a key player. He was a big part of the Blazers, so that’s a big move. Obviously DeMarcus Cousins, his name is coming up. We saw Jeremy Lamb may end up on the Hornets as well. We already saw a Lance Stephenson trade recently. There’s been a lot of trades lately, and I think it’s just the first of many dominoes to fall. I think we’re going to see many more trades tomorrow and possibly after that.”
But why? Why are there so many teams looking to move up or down and go the free agency/trade route as opposed to the draft route?
“Well, I think part of it is the salary cap going up,” Kennedy said. “I think teams are willing to take on some big contracts. Usually in the past, teams won’t take on a big contract just because they want to maintain their flexibility. But with the salary cap going up next year significantly, teams feel okay taking on big deal, especially because soon that contract will look like a bargain. I think Batum is a pretty good example of that. His contract isn’t that bad, so it seems like Charlotte can justify taking it on. It’s also expiring, so they had cap space. It made sense to bring him in. And then in terms of moving up and moving down, I think this draft is really interesting. The top three players, I think, are pretty much set in stone when you talk about Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell. And then after that, really there’s a big drop off.”
Which means the New York Knicks might be sitting pretty unpretty at No. 4.
“They’re trying to figure out who to pick, and they really haven’t narrowed down their list yet,” Kennedy said. “They’re talking about Justise Winslow, Willie Cauley Stein, Emmanuel Mudiay, Kristaps Porzingis – they have a long list of guys that they’re looking at, and the same can be said for a lot of teams in the top 10. So I think some of those teams that just haven’t fallen in love with a player, they’re considering trading down and seeing if they can pick up an extra asset or extra player and then maybe drafting someone a little bit later on rather than reaching for someone that may be available later in the draft.”