The regular season ends a week from Wednesday, and by now most of the playoff spots and non-lottery draft order have been decided. A team’s place in the draft order can mean a lot when there are protections attached to a pick that’s been sent out in a trade. There are two first-round picks that could change hands or stay put based on the final days of the regular season, as we chronicled last week, and there are also second-round picks still up in the air. The protection clauses attached to some of them are complex, so we’ll dive in and analyze each of the three cases individually:
- The Clippers owe their second-round pick to the Lakers if it falls from No. 51 through 55 and the Nuggets if it’s 56th through 60th. The Clips can’t finish with a record outside of the top 10 in the league, which they’d need to do to keep the pick. Still, whether it goes to the Lakers or the Nuggets is anybody’s guess. It would go to the Nuggets as it stands, but the Clippers are only a half-game better than the Spurs, with the Blazers and Cavs right behind them. So if any of those teams passes the Clippers, the pick goes to the Lakers.
- The Wizards owe their pick to the Celtics, but only if it falls from No. 50 to No. 60. Washington would pick 49th if the season ended today, but the Raptors are only one game better, and the Mavericks and Bulls are tied at one game above Toronto. So, while the Wizards could improve their playoff seeding, it could cost them their second-rounder. Washington’s obligation to the Celtics would end if the pick doesn’t convey this year, so it all comes down to the final games of the season.
- The Trail Blazers and Bulls will be giving up their second-rounders this year, but the teams that get those respective picks could switch places. The Magic get whichever pick is better, and the Cavaliers get the other one. Chances are that Chicago’s pick will be going to Orlando and Portland’s to Cleveland, since the Blazers have a four and a half game lead on Chicago. Still, the Bulls aren’t mathematically eliminated from passing the Blazers just yet.
RealGM was used in the creation of this post.