Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio tweets today that the Cavs are working on a deal that would allow them to acquire a lottery pick. It's the latest example of a team seeking long-term gain at the trade deadline, when GMs must decide whether they're seeking assets for an immediate playoff run or trying to build for future success. No move is quite as focused on the future as acquiring a draft pick. Players who have never played in the league are unknown quantities, no matter how precise scouting has become, and so these deals are high-risk, high-reward for executives on both sides of the transactions. No first-round picks changed hands at the quiet 2007 deadline, but in the four years since, several key contributors to NBA teams today have been dealt, as first-round draft picks, within a week of the deadline.
The Cavs were involved in perhaps the most prominent recent example when they acquired a pick at last year's deadline. That draft choice wound up No. 1 overall, and the Cavs used it on Kyrie Irving. The Cavs figure in a longstanding rule concerning first-round draft pick trades as well. The so-called Ted Stepien rule, named after the former owner of the Cavs, was instituted in the 1980s and holds that no team may trade its first-round picks in consecutive years. Stepien was fond of doing so, and left his team without a mechanism to rebuild when those deals didn't pan out.
The list below shows the team that gave up the pick at the deadline as well as the team that acquired it, and the player upon whom the pick was eventually used. In many cases, the team that acquired the pick eventually traded it again in another transaction, so some the players listed didn't play with either of the teams by their names. Still, this gives you an idea of just what teams are giving up, and just what other teams are getting, when a first-round pick is included in a trade.
- Tobias Harris, as 2011 pick: Bobcats to Trail Blazers
- Kyrie Irving, as 2011 pick: Clippers to Cavaliers
- Nikola Mirotic, as 2011 pick: Suns to Rockets, Rockets to Timberwolves (traded in two separate deals)
- Enes Kanter, as 2011 pick: Nets to Jazz
- Norris Cole, as 2011 pick: Raptors to Bulls
- Donatas Montiejunas, as 2011 pick: Jazz to Grizzlies
- Lazar Hayward, as 2010 pick: Cavaliers to Wizards
- Taj Gibson, as 2009 pick: Thunder to Bulls
- DeMarre Carroll, as 2009 pick: Magic to Grizzlies
- Rodrigue Beaubois, as 2009 pick: Spurs to SuperSonics
- Ryan Anderson, as 2008 pick: Mavs to Nets
- Jordan Crawford, as 2010 pick: Mavs to Nets