2018 NBA Draft

Top Prospect Michael Porter Jr. Likely Out For Season

Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. is set to undergo back surgery on Tuesday and will likely miss the remainder of the college season, the program announced today (via Twitter). According to the announcement from the school, the procedure – a microdiscectomy of the L3-L4 spinal discs – has a projected recovery time of three or four months.

Porter suffered the injury just two minutes into Mizzou’s season opener on November 10, and the team had been tight-lipped about the nature and severity of the ailment since then, simply calling it a leg injury. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman had reported on Monday (via Twitter) that Porter was meeting with a specialist, so the decision to undergo surgery may have been finalized at that point.

Porter, a freshman, is considered one of the top prospects for the 2018 NBA draft, with Jonathan Givony of ESPN recently ranking him second in the class, behind only Luka Doncic. While the school says (via Twitter) the 6’10” forward is expected to make a full recovery, back problems have a tendency to pop up again down the road — NBA teams will certainly be keeping a close eye on Porter’s rehabilitation process.

It remains to be seen how the injury will impact the freshman’s draft stock, with Doncic, Marvin Bagley III, and DeAndre Ayton among the other players who had been battling Porter for the No. 1 spot. For now though, the focus is on the youngster’s well-being, as Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin said in a statement.

“Our top priority as a program is the well-being of our student-athletes, so Michael beginning this process to be 100% healthy is important to all of us,” Martin said. “Our focus has been on Michael’s well-being, just like every other player in our locker room.”

And-Ones: NBA Draft, International Play, Oliver

The NBA Draft is seven months away but that doesn’t mean hoops writers can’t weigh in on what Sam Vecenie of The Athletic refers to as a year-round process. The scribe’s initial mock draft does a fine job weighing in on the biggest prospects on the draft radar while digging admirably deep for a comprehensive 60-pick projection.

Expected to fall in the No. 1 slot is the much-hyped Slovenian star, Luka Doncic. The Real Madrid swingman has shown a remarkable feel for the game at a young age and could make an impact for a team like the Bulls, who currently sit most likely to land that top spot come next June.

It’s after the first pick where Vecenie’s mock gets particularly interesting. The writer opts to put Arizona big man DeAndre Ayton in the No. 2 spot, ahead of the likes of Marvin Bagley III and Michael Porter Jr.

With analysis for each of the first 30 projections, the early look at the draft can’t be missed. Especially considering that he has college basketball’s biggest villain, Grayson Allen, falling directly into the laps of the world champion Warriors.

There’s more from around the league:

  • The number of fringe NBA players who opt to sign overseas in international leagues following NBA training camps has dropped precipitously. Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype writes that the trend can be attributed to a depressed European economy and the leaps and bounds that the G League has made over the course of the past 10 years.
  • The fifth edition of FIBA’s 3×3 World Cup will take place June 8-12, the governing body’s official site says. This year the competition will take place in the Philippines.
  • A Rockets training camp invitee has been picked up by the G League affiliate of the Bucks. Chris Reichert of 2 Ways, 10 Days tweets that the Wisconsin Herd have claimed Cameron Oliver off waivers.

Anfernee Simons May Skip College, Enter Draft

Anfernee Simons, projected as a top 10 recruit in the high school class of 2018, is “strongly considering” bypassing college and entering the NBA draft, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN.

Simons would be eligible because he is in the middle of a post-graduate year at IMG in Florida, which amounts to a fifth year of high school. The 6’4″ shooting guard graduated from high school last year, his prep school coach confirms, and will turn 19 in June, which meets the NBA’s qualifications for the draft.

“Some people have brought it to my attention,” Simons told ESPN. “As long as the opportunity is there, I will do it. I can see myself going to the NBA combine, if I have enough teams to actually invite me or recommend me for the combine and enough teams want to bring me for workouts. I really need to hit the weight room hard and get a little stronger.”

Currently listed as No. 8 in ESPN’s ranking of the top college prospects, Simons has already attracted the attention of several NBA teams. Six franchises sent scouts or executives to watch him at this weekend’s National Prep Showcase in Connecticut.

Givony doesn’t expect Simons to help a team right away, adding that anyone who selects him would be getting a long-term prospect. However, players in similar situations have been taken early before, with the Bucks’ Thon Maker a recent example, and someone might be willing to gamble on Simons if he decides in April to put his name in the draft.

And-Ones: G League, Draft Lottery, Wiltjer, Davis

The NBA G League season will tip off on Friday night, with a record-setting 26 teams set to compete this year. While that still leaves a handful of NBA clubs without affiliates of their own, G League president Malcolm Turner tells Sam Amick of USA Today that he’s confident the number of teams in the league will increase to 30 within the next couple years.

“It’s not out of the question that we may find ourselves launching another four teams for [the 2018/19 season] to get us to 30. But I think the realistic timeframe is ’19/20,” Turner said. “Washington is already confirmed for ’18/19. It’s been well reported that New Orleans, where they stand in the process. We expect they will announce within the next month or two, and Portland and Denver are also well down the road in the process of doing it as well, and so we’re excited about that.”

Turner is also encouraged by the fact that the average distance between NBA teams and their affiliates has come down significantly in recent years, allowing franchises to make better use of those affiliates. According to Turner, as recently as five years ago, the average distance between an NBA team and its G League affiliate was about 550 miles — now it’s approximately 120 miles.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Rather than holding the 2018 draft lottery in New York next spring, the NBA will have the event take place in Chicago on May 15, followed by the combine – also in Chicago – from May 16-20, the league announced on Thursday.
  • Within his latest article for ESPN.com, Zach Lowe wonders if the Magic could be a viable landing spot for Eric Bledsoe, and takes a look at how the Kings‘ veteran free agent acquisitions have underachieved so far.
  • Former Rockets forward Kyle Wiltjer signed a one-year deal this week to play with Olympiacos in Greece, as Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops.net details. Wiltjer was in camp with the Raptors this fall and was set to play for Toronto’s G League team before deciding to head overseas instead.
  • Veteran big man Glen Davis, who recently signed a G League contract, wasn’t claimed by a team on waivers and will now enter the available player pool, a source tells Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link). G League teams set their opening-night rosters this week and likely aren’t looking to make changes right away, so Davis may have to be patient as he waits for an opportunity.

2017/18 NBA Reverse Standings

Throughout the 2017/18 NBA season, Hoops Rumors will be maintaining a feature that allows you to keep an eye on what the 2018 draft order will look like. Our 2017/18 Reverse Standings tool, which lists the NBA’s 30 teams from worst to first, will be updated daily to reflect the outcomes of the previous night’s games.

Our Reverse Standings take into account playoff teams in each conference, so they’re essentially a reflection of what 2018’s draft order would look like with no changes to lottery position. In addition to not considering the results of the lottery, our tracker lists teams in random order when they have identical records. At the end of the year, those ties would be broken via random drawings.

Traded first-round picks are included via footnotes. For instance, the note next to Miami’s pick says that the Heat will send their pick to the Suns if it’s not in the top seven. As of today, Miami is tied for the NBA’s eighth-worst record, meaning that pick would head to Phoenix.

Our Reverse Standings tracker can be found at anytime on the right sidebar under “Hoops Rumors Features” on our desktop site, or on the “Features” page in our mobile menu. It’s a great resource not just for monitoring a team’s draft position, but also for keeping an eye on whether or not traded picks with protection will be changing hands in 2018. So be sure to check back often as the season progresses!

Note: Mobile users are advised to turn their phones sideways when viewing the Reverse Standings in order to see team records and lottery odds.

And-Ones: Lottery, 2018 Draft, Doncic, Hood

The NBA’s Board of Governors will vote next week on whether or not to institute draft lottery reform starting in 2019, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has followed up on the proposal with a few more details. As Wojnarowski explains in his piece, the league’s efforts to rework the draft lottery system are a response to fan feedback on tanking — many fans have indicated that frequent tanking makes them less interested in the NBA.

Previous reports indicated that the top three lottery seeds will only have a 14% chance each at the No. 1 pick. According to Wojnarowski, the odds for the bottom lottery seeds (the teams that just miss the playoffs) will still be very long, so the NBA isn’t worried about teams tanking out of a playoff spot in the hopes of landing a top lottery pick.

Notably, teams in the seven to nine range in the lottery standings would benefit from the NBA’s reform proposal, with their chances of landing a top-three pick increasing by 8-9% apiece.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NBA:

  • With the 2018 NBA draft still nine months away, Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) has published a new mock draft, featuring Luka Doncic shooting up the No. 1 spot after a terrific EuroBasket performance. Michael Porter, Marvin Bagley, DeAndre Ayton, and Mohamed Bamba round out the top five behind Doncic, who was recently profiled by ESPN’s Mike Schmitz.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe identifies six players who he’ll be keeping an eye on this season, while Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer singles out three players who may be in line for breakout years. One player who shows up on both lists? Jazz swingman Rodney Hood.
  • In an interesting piece for ESPN, Darren Rovell and Bobby Marks break down how much the league’s top earners will actually take home in 2017/18 after taxes, agent fees, and other deductions.
  • Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders examines how many teams currently at or above the luxury tax line will be genuine contenders in 2017/18.

Cavs Not Ruling Out Trading Nets’ 2018 Pick

The Cavaliers’ haul in the Kyrie Irving blockbuster included one of the NBA’s top scorers, a solid two-way wing on one of the league’s most affordable contracts, and a young big man with legit upside. Nonetheless, the crown jewel of the deal from Cleveland’s perspective may have been the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick, which is unprotected.

While that first-rounder will prove very useful if the Cavs need to retool their roster following the 2017/18 season, GM Koby Altman tells Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net that the team will consider every option for the pick — including trading it.

“When we acquired it, we had every intention of keeping it and using it,” Altman said of the Nets’ pick. “But I also think we have a responsibility to see to what’s out there. I think there will be tremendous interest. We have a responsibility to listen to calls.”

Even if the Cavaliers decide to hang onto the Nets’ pick, having it available gives the club more flexibility when it comes to making other trades. As we discussed earlier this week, the Cavs have traded their 2019 first-round pick, so normally they’d be prohibited from trading their 2018 first-rounder due to the Ted Stepien Rule. But with a pair of first-round picks now in hand for ’18, Cleveland has the freedom to move one of the two.

“A big thing we really valued when making the trade is the fact that it is unprotected,” senior director of basketball operations Brock Aller told Amico. “So looking at it, we have the flexibility to trade our own pick, or the pick we received (via the Nets).”

As Aller notes, that lack of protection is crucial — if the Celtics had placed even top-one protection on that Nets pick, the Cavs would have had trouble trading their own first-rounder, since there would have been a chance of being left without a first-rounder for two consecutive future years in that scenario, violating the Stepien Rule.

Ultimately, I’d expect the Cavs to hang onto the Nets’ pick and dangle their own first-rounder in trade talks as the deadline nears. However, if a star player becomes available or if LeBron James commits to staying in Cleveland beyond this season, the idea of trading that Brooklyn first-rounder would likely become more feasible.

Trade Restrictions On Future Draft Picks By Team

When trade scenarios are proposed and discussed throughout the season by NBA fans and observers, it’s easy enough to suggest that a team ought to throw in an extra first-round pick or two to sweeten the pot. However, sometimes it’s not quite that simple.

The NBA’s Ted Stepien Rule, named after a former Cavaliers owner who was fond of trading draft picks, prevents teams from trading away future first-round selections in back-to-back years. In other words, a club can’t be without at least one first-round pick (its own or another team’s) in consecutive future seasons. A team can still trade its first-round pick every year if it wants to, but if that club has already dealt away its 2018 first-rounder, it will have to wait until after the ’18 draft to trade its 2019 pick.

In some instances, this rule can be applied fairly easily. For example, the Lakers have traded away their unprotected 2018 pick. That prevents the club from trading its 2019 first-round pick unless it acquires a separate 2018 first-rounder. After the 2018 draft though, those restrictions disappear.

In other cases though, the Stepien Rule creates trickier challenges. For example, like the Lakers, the Rockets have traded away their 2018 pick, but Houston put top-three protection on its selection. That top-three protection extends through 2023 before the pick becomes unprotected in 2024.

It’s almost a certainty that Houston’s first-rounder will simply change hands in 2018, since the club is expected to be one of the NBA’s best and the pick figures to fall in the 20s. But because it’s not a sure thing, the Rockets are only allowed to conditionally trade their 2020 pick — there’s a chance that the 2018 pick could be protected and the 2019 pick would then be the one to change hands, so if Houston sent out its unprotected ’20 first-rounder, the team would be without future first-rounders in back-to-back years. So if the Rockets trade their 2020 pick this season, it must include language that calls for it to be pushed back one year for every year that the 2018 pick is (hypothetically) retained.

Confused? We’re here to help. Below, we’ve detailed whether each of the NBA’s 30 teams have any restrictions facing them during the 2017/18 season if they want to trade a first-round pick. Some teams’ restrictions are more complicated than others, so if you have any questions, jump into the comment section to ask.

Here’s the full breakdown:

Atlantic

  • Boston Celtics: No trade restrictions
    • Owed extra picks in 2018 and 2019.
  • Brooklyn Nets: Can’t trade 2019 pick (2018 pick traded).
    • Owed Raptors’ 2018 pick, but not guaranteed to receive it, since it’s top-14 protected.
  • New York Knicks: No trade restrictions.
  • Philadelphia 76ers: No trade restrictions
    • Owed an extra pick in 2018 or 2019, making them eligible to trade their own picks in both years.
  • Toronto Raptors: Can’t trade 2019 pick (2018 pick traded). Can only trade future picks conditionally (traded 2018 pick is protected through 2023).

Central

  • Chicago Bulls: No trade restrictions.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: Can’t trade 2020 pick (2019 pick traded). Can only trade 2021 pick conditionally (traded 2019 pick is protected through 2020).
    • Owed an extra 2018 pick, making them eligible to trade one of the two.
  • Detroit Pistons: No trade restrictions.
  • Indiana Pacers: No trade restrictions.
  • Milwaukee Bucks: Can’t trade 2019 pick (2018 pick traded). Can only trade 2020, 2021, and 2022 picks conditionally (traded 2018 pick protected until 2021).

Southeast

  • Atlanta Hawks: No trade restrictions
    • Owed extra picks in 2018 and 2019.
  • Charlotte Hornets: No trade restrictions.
  • Miami Heat: Can’t trade 2019, 2020, or 2022 picks (2018 and 2021 picks traded).
  • Orlando Magic: No trade restrictions.
  • Washington Wizards: No trade restrictions.

Northwest

  • Denver Nuggets: No trade restrictions.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: Can’t trade 2019 pick (2018 pick traded). Can only trade 2020 and 2021 picks conditionally (traded 2018 pick is protected through 2020).
    • Owed Thunder’s 2018 pick, but not guaranteed to receive it, since it’s top-14 protected.
  • Oklahoma City Thunder: Can’t trade 2019 pick (2018 pick traded). Can only trade 2020 and 2021 picks conditionally (traded 2018 pick is protected through 2020).
  • Portland Trail Blazers: No trade restrictions.
  • Utah Jazz: No trade restrictions.

Pacific

  • Golden State Warriors: No trade restrictions.
  • Los Angeles Clippers: Can’t trade 2018 or 2020 pick (2019 pick traded). Can only trade 2021 pick conditionally (traded 2019 pick is protected through 2020).
  • Los Angeles Lakers: Can’t trade 2019 pick (2018 pick traded).
  • Phoenix Suns: No trade restrictions
    • Owed extra picks in 2018 and 2021.
  • Sacramento Kings: Can’t trade 2018 or 2020 pick (2019 pick traded).

Southwest

  • Dallas Mavericks: No trade restrictions.
  • Houston Rockets: Can’t trade 2019 pick (2018 pick traded). Can only trade future picks conditionally (traded 2018 pick is protected until 2024).
  • Memphis Grizzlies: Can’t trade 2018 or 2020 pick (2019 pick traded). Can only trade 2021 and 2022 picks conditionally (traded 2019 pick is protected until 2021).
  • New Orleans Pelicans: No trade restrictions.
  • San Antonio Spurs: No trade restrictions.

Information from RealGM was used in the creation of this post.

And-Ones: M. Robinson, Mayo, Eurobasket

Five-star recruit Mitchell Robinson, who initially enrolled at Western Kentucky, has left the program and is not expected to play college ball in 2017/18, according to Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports. Jon Rothstein of FanRagSports had reported several days ago that Robinson was considering sitting out the season in order to prepare for the 2018 NBA draft.

Robinson, a seven-footer who is considered a likely first-round pick next summer, had been considering transferring to Kansas or another school, but would probably have had to sit out the 2017/18 season anyway in that scenario, Forde notes. Robinson could opt to go the Terrance Ferguson route and play in another professional league for one year, but a high-level European club is unlikely to rent the young center for a single season, tweets ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla.

As we wait to see what the future holds for Robinson, let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world…

  • As we detailed earlier in the week, O.J. Mayo‘s two-year ban from the NBA ensures that he’ll sit out at least one more season. However, that ban doesn’t preclude him from playing in the G League. Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days looks into whether it makes sense for Mayo to suit up for a G League club this season in an effort to rehabilitate his image and stay on the radar of NBA teams.
  • This week’s Kyrie Irving mega-deal is the latest signal that the NBA is becoming a year-round league, Sam Amick writes in an interesting piece for USA Today. As Amick observes, the non-stop drama of the NBA offseason is good news for commissioner Adam Silver, who has expressed a desire to rival the NFL in terms of popularity.
  • With the 2017 Eurobasket tournament around the corner, several teams are finalizing and announcing their rosters. Via Sportando, here are the 12-man squads for Spain and Lithuania, each of which feature multiple NBA players.
  • After playing Summer League ball for the Knicks, undrafted rookie Canyon Barry will begin his professional career in Finland. The son of Rick Barry spoke to Ian Begley of ESPN.com about his father’s influence on his game, including his free-throw shooting style.

Cavs, Celtics Swap Kyrie Irving For Package Including Isaiah Thomas

9:39pm: The trade is official, the Cavs confirmed in a press release. The Celtics also issued an announcement confirming the deal.Kyrie Irving vertical

6:23pm: The Celtics and Cavaliers have reached an agreement on a deal that will send Irving to Boston in exchange for a package headlined by Thomas, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter). Brian Windhorst of ESPN first reported (via Twitter) that the two teams were on the verge of a deal.

According to both Charania and Windhorst, the Cavs will receive Crowder, Zizic, and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick (unprotected) in addition to Thomas. Charania also tweets that Irving will waive his trade kicker so that the deal can be completed. Here is Charania’s full story.

5:47pm: Boston center Ante Zizic is also expected to be part of a potential deal with Cleveland for Irving, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Bobby Marks of ESPN adds (Twitter link) that receiving Thomas, Crowder, and Zizic for Irving would save the Cavs $19MM in taxes. The team’s projected tax bill would lower from $78.4MM to $59.2MM.

5:30pm: The Cavaliers and Celtics are actively discussing trades centered around Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski adds that the two sides are discussing the inclusion of Jae Crowder as well as the addition of future draft picks heading from Boston to Cleveland.

Irving requested a trade from Cleveland last month and included a short list of destination which he would prefer to be dealt to should the team honor his request. Boston was not on that list, but all of the teams—Spurs, Heat, Wolves, and Knicks—with the exception of New York have strong coaching structures in place. The Celtics also have that element with Brad Stevens running the show, so it’s possible Irving would be open to a trade to the New England area.

Of course, Irving does not wield a no-trade clause, meaning the Cavs could ostensibly deal him anywhere they prefer. However, it was previously reported that the team was working with Irving to find a solution that worked for both sides.

Thomas is entering the last season of his contract, one that will pay him just over $6.26MM for the 2017/18 campaign. He should see a massive raise with his next contract, possibly approaching the max, which is something that could negatively impact his trade value.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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