NBA draft season is coming. The lottery is on May 16. This is the time of year that screams it’s trade season. We’ve already dipped our toes into the water with Phil Jackson ravaging Carmelo Anthony in a press conference and Paul George telling teammates he wants to wear purple and gold (more on both later), but that’s just the start to the oncoming wave of rumors.
This list takes a look at eight players (one of whom is still a future draft pick — and no, that’s not cheating), who will be painted with those rumors over the next two months. The Woj bombs won’t start dropping until the lottery, but consider this your cheat sheet to trade season.
From Anthony to Wilson Chandler, everyone on this list has either had trade rumors come their way or can be expected to over the next two months. For those who are less likely to be traded over that time frame, expect rumors to come in the summer, once free agency starts.
One of the NBA’s greatest virtues is the soap-opera quality to its trades, draft, free agency and culture. These players will take up space in the early months of Season 71. Without further ado, here they are.
The Brooklyn Nets’ 2017 first-round pick
This is the single-most important asset in the National Basketball Association right now as it relates to potential trades. The Boston Celtics hold this pick as a result of a 2013 trade with the Nets that sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and D.J. White to Brooklyn in exchange for some marginal players, the Nets’ 2014, 2016 and 2018 first rounders — unprotected — and swap rights for this year’s first rounder.
That means the Celtics have a 25-percent chance of holding the first overall pick this season after Brooklyn finished with the worst record.
There have been trade rumors surrounding this pick for a couple years, but it’s crunch-time now. There’s pressure on Celtics GM Danny Ainge to turn it into a superstar, but he could just as easily draft point guards Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, two players sure to be stars soon.
Boston can be involved in trade talks for any big name thanks to this pick — including the rest those on this list. Ainge won’t part with it easily. The Celtics reportedly made a godfather offer at the trade deadline to the Indiana Pacers for Paul George, which then-Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird turned down. Other than that, he’s refused to deal it.
As the draft grows nearer, that could change. If the pick falls below the top-two, Ainge could scramble to deal it if he thinks Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum — the likely third and fourth picks — aren’t sure things. He may get a call from the Knicks about Kristaps Porzingis or from the Pacers hoping to revive a George deal.
Rumors will swirl around this pick, and its ultimate destination will decide not just Boston’s future, but potentially the future of the league as a whole.