Teams That Owe 2015 First-Round Picks

The protections attached to traded draft picks are becoming increasingly complicated as front offices seek greater precision in their asset management. The whims of the draft lottery, not to mention the unpredictability of future seasons, make it difficult for teams to gauge just what they’re giving up or what they’re receiving. It’s of particular concern for first-round picks, since the talent gulf between the top pick and the 30th overall pick is almost always vast. There’s a significant difference between players available at No. 31 and No. 60 most years, too, but none of them usually carry the franchise-altering potential that often comes with the players at the top end of the first round.

Teams in recent years have sought to add clarity to what they’re exchanging when they swap draft picks, adding protections that apply to multiple ranges in the draft order. The Rockets receive a first-round pick from New Orleans this year, but if the Pelicans draw a position in the top three selections, or if the pick ends up between No. 21 and No. 30, New Orleans keeps its pick. Similar “double protection” is attached to the first-rounder the Grizzlies owe the Cavs. Other teams have simply agreed to a simple exchange of their first-round selections, but the Cavs attached protection to Chicago’s right to exchange 2015 first-round picks with them.

Thus, it can be hard to understand who gets what in a year in which as many as 11 of the 30 first-round picks may change hands. It’s likely a smaller number of first-rounders will actually be conveyed this season, not counting the 2015 picks that teams might trade between now and draft night. In any case, here’s as simple a look as possible at the teams that owe 2015 first-round picks.

  • Cavaliers — If the Cavs make the playoffs, the Bulls have the right to switch their pick with Cleveland’s.
  • Clippers — They owe their pick to the Celtics.
  • Grizzlies — If the Memphis pick falls anywhere from No. 6 through No. 14, it goes to the Cavaliers.
  • Heat — If Miami’s pick falls outside the top 10, it goes to the Sixers.
  • Kings — If Sacramento’s pick falls outside the top 10, it goes to the Bulls.
  • Lakers — If the Los Angeles pick falls outside the top five, it goes to the Suns.
  • Nets — The Hawks have the right to switch their pick with Brooklyn’s.
  • Pelicans — If the New Orleans pick falls anywhere from No. 4 through No. 19, it goes to the Rockets.
  • Rockets — If Houston makes the playoffs, it owes its pick to the Lakers.
  • Sixers — If Philadelphia makes the playoffs, it owes its pick to the Celtics.
  • Timberwolves — If Minnesota’s pick falls outside the top 12 selections, it goes to the Suns.

RealGM was used in the creation of this post.

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