With the 2016 NBA draft just three days away, trade talks figure to heat up around the league this week, and there’s a chance we could see plenty of action on Thursday night. One prominent agent tells Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times (Twitter link) that he expects several trades to be made around the draft, with some star players potentially involved.
While first-round picks are always desirable trade assets, the value of those selections has increased even more this year. The salary cap is expected to rise by upwards of $24MM for the 2016/17 season, but rookie salaries will only increase marginally, making those four-year rookie contracts one of the best bargains in the sport. And as it turns out, five NBA teams control nearly half of those first-round picks — four clubs have three first-rounders apiece, while a fifth club holds a pair of them.
Outside of teams in the process of a complete rebuild, there generally aren’t many clubs interested in adding more than a couple rookies to their roster. As such, the teams holding multiple first-rounders (and, in some cases, some second-rounders as well) figure to receive plenty of inquiries this week about those picks, and could be involved in draft-night trades.
Here’s a breakdown of the five teams holding multiple first-round picks:
Picks: 3rd, 16th, 23rd
The Celtics’ three first-rounders pale in comparison to their five second-rounders, and the fact that Boston holds eight total selections in this year’s draft means that a trade is probably inevitable. The No. 3 overall pick is in play, though the team reportedly hasn’t yet found a deal it likes involving that pick. The C’s have the option of packaging multiple picks if it means acquiring an impact player, which could be appealing to a team with one big trade chip that wants to land a handful of assets.
Picks: 7th, 15th, 19th
The only team with three top-20 picks, the Nuggets are also the only team in this group of five without a D-League affiliate. That means selecting a project at No. 15 or 19 with the intention of developing him in the D-League isn’t really a viable approach. It also makes Denver a prime trade candidate, though the team could also use its 15th or 19th pick on a draft-and-stash player, since there are a handful of international prospects projected to potentially come off the board in that range.
Picks: 1st, 24th, 26th
The 76ers aren’t moving the No. 1 pick, and they’re probably not in win-now mode quite yet, meaning they could conceivably keep their two mid-20s selections as well. Still, with a new GM (Bryan Colangelo) in charge, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team shift its approach this year, and trade one of those selections for more immediate help, rather than stashing a prospect or dealing the pick for a future first-rounder.
Picks: 4th, 13th, 28th
Executive and agents around the NBA expect the Nets to acquire a first-round pick, and I could easily imagine them making their first call to Phoenix to talk about that 28th overall pick. There’s a reasonable chance that the Suns move that selection, and No. 13 could be in play as well. I’d expect Phoenix to keep No. 4 though, giving them the opportunity to add a prospect like Marquese Chriss or Dragan Bender.
Picks: 9th, 27th
General manager GM Masai Ujiri has indicated that the Raptors are open for business when it comes to their first-round picks, joking that there’s a clause in Dwane Casey‘s new extension forbidding the team from adding multiple rookies to the 2016/17 roster. Of the two picks, No. 27 is more likely to be moved, but if Toronto has the opportunity to trade for a veteran power forward that could immediately slot into the starting lineup, No. 9 will certainly be in play as well.