Hoops Rumors Originals

Free Agent Stock Watch: Atlantic Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Atlantic Division:

Blake Griffin, Nets, 32, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $1.23MM deal in 2021

Well, Griffin proved he could still dunk after agreeing to a buyout with the Pistons and joining the Eastern Conference favorite. He’s also proven that he’s a shadow of the All-Star performer who carried Detroit into the playoffs just two years ago. Other than a 17-point outing against his former team and drawing some charges, Griffin has made a minimal impact with Brooklyn. He went scoreless in 41 minutes of floor time against the Lakers and Timberwolves this week before getting rested on the second game of a back-to-back. Griffin might go from a max player to a veteran’s minimum backup as soon as this offseason.

Dwight Howard, Sixers, 35, C (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2020

Speaking of former perennial All-Stars playing on a veteran’s minimum contract, Howard has managed to stay healthy again after playing just nine games for Washington two seasons ago. Howard helped the Lakers win last season’s title but his production has dropped as a second-unit center in Philadelphia. His turnovers are up and his field goal percentage is down, though he does lead the league in one category – most technical fouls. Howard has nearly as many turnovers (12) as shot attempts (16) in the last six games. Perhaps Howard will get another minimum contract to stay in the league but it appears the end is near for an NBA career that began in 2004.

Reggie Bullock, Knicks, 30, SF/SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $8.2MM deal in 2020

While the playing time of the Knicks’ younger players has fluctuated quite a bit under Tom Thibodeau, Bullock has been a steady presence in the starting lineup. He’s the quintessential 3-and-D player, spacing the floor offensively and providing hard-nosed defense at the other end. Bullock is attempting 8.1 field goals per game, with 5.6 of them beyond the arc. He’s made 39.9% of his long-range attempts, connecting with incredible consistency. He drained 40% in both January and February, 40.5% in March and 43.1% this month. He’ll be in demand when he hits unrestricted free agency this summer.

Gary Trent Jr., Raptors, 22, SG/SF, (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.92MM deal in 2018

The Raptors traded away Norman Powell to the Trail Blazers in part because they weren’t sure they could re-sign him in unrestricted free agency. Trent, one of the two players they acquired for Powell, will be a restricted free agent this summer. While Toronto can match any offer, the team may have a dilemma if another suitor makes a big offer to the young sharpshooter. He’s averaging 17.4 PPG in 11 games with the Raptors, including a 44-point eruption against Cleveland on Saturday when he missed just two of 19 field-goal attempts. He tossed in a clunker against Atlanta on Tuesday but no doubt, Trent is hitting restricted free agency at a very good time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Community Shootaround: Eastern Playoff Race

We’re one month away from the end of the NBA’s 2020/21 regular season, which means we’re entering the home stretch of the postseason race. And the introduction of the play-in tournament adds an extra wrinkle to this year’s playoff push.

In the Eastern Conference, as has been the case for months, three teams have set themselves apart from the pack — three games separate the top-seeded Sixers (38-17), Nets (37-18), and Bucks (35-20), with Milwaukee holding the No. 3 spot by a comfortable 5.5-game margin.

The next tier of the East starts with the Hawks, who have played well since Nate McMillan replaced Lloyd Pierce on the sidelines and currently have a 30-26 record. They’re tied with the Celtics (30-26), and both teams are a game up on the Knicks (29-27).

If the season ended today, those would be the six teams assured of a playoff spot, since the play-in tournament involves the four teams between seventh and 10th. That’s bad news for the seventh-seeded Heat (28-27), who will need to move up at least one spot in the standings to avoid having to earn their postseason berth in a play-in game. The Hornets (27-27) and Pacers (26-28) also remain very much in the hunt for a top-six seed, but would be play-in teams if the standings don’t change.

Finally, the 10th spot in the East remains very much up for grabs, in what has been the least inspiring part of this year’s playoff race. The Bulls (22-32) are still the No. 10 seed for the time being, despite losing four in a row and and 10 of their last 13. That’s only because the Raptors (22-34) have been in an even worse slump, having lost 19 of their last 25 games. Both teams are currently missing key players, including Zach LaVine and Kyle Lowry.

Chicago’s and Toronto’s struggles have opened the door for seemingly lottery-bound teams like the Wizards (21-33) and Cavaliers (20-35) to remain in the mix for that No. 10 seed. Whichever club claims that spot would need to win two play-in games to make the postseason, but that’s not inconceivable, given the competition.

What do you think? How do you expect the top six (and top three) seeds to play out in the East? Which four teams will end up in the play-in tournament, and which two will survive?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your predictions!

Pistons, Grizzlies, Thunder Carrying Most 2020/21 Dead Money

All 30 of the NBA’s teams are carrying some sort of “dead money” on their respective books for the 2020/21 season. Dead money is the guaranteed salary paid or owed to a player who is no longer under contract with the team.

In some cases, teams are carrying cap hits for players whom they released several years ago. That’s the case in Indiana, for instance, where the Pacers have a $2,245,400 cap charge for Monta Ellis this season, despite cutting him way back in July of 2017.

In other situations, the dead money is a result of having waived a player more recently. The Pistons, for example, created this season’s single largest dead money cap hit when they bought out Blake Griffin, who is still counting for $32,670,565 against Detroit’s team salary in ’20/21.

Other dead money charges are far more modest. For instance, expired 10-day contracts technically count as dead money, but none of those are worth more than $110,998.

While some teams will add a little more dead money to their caps in the coming weeks when 10-day deals expire or certain players are released, it’s safe to assume that nearly all of this season’s most significant cuts have already been completed. With that in mind, we’re taking a look below at the teams carrying the most dead money for 2020/21.

Carrying a substantial amount of dead money doesn’t necessarily indicate that a club has managed its cap poorly. For instance, the Thunder and Knicks, two of the teams near the top of the list below, have the two smallest team salaries in the NBA this season.

Because they haven’t had any hard-cap or luxury-tax concerns, Oklahoma City and New York could comfortably afford to waive multiple players with guaranteed salaries in order to make room for new players, without worrying about the associated costs. The Thunder have certainly done that — their $36MM in overall dead money comes from 12 different players.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Warriors and Clippers are among the teams with the least amount of dead money on their books, which makes sense too. Golden State will have the league’s highest tax bill, while L.A. has been up against a hard cap for much of the season, so both teams have wisely avoided making any major commitments to players who won’t finish the season on the roster.

Here’s the full list of 2020/21 dead money by team, as of April 16:

  1. Detroit Pistons: $38,806,272
  2. Memphis Grizzlies: $36,052,708
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder: $35,926,004
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers: $30,396,254
  5. San Antonio Spurs: $24,804,677
  6. New York Knicks: $20,260,505
  7. Sacramento Kings: $9,655,830
  8. Charlotte Hornets: $9,043,478
  9. Los Angeles Lakers: $7,599,241
  10. Toronto Raptors: $6,818,018
  11. Houston Rockets: $6,017,104
  12. Miami Heat: $5,564,670
  13. Milwaukee Bucks: $5,034,894
  14. Portland Trail Blazers: $4,757,775
  15. Orlando Magic: $4,268,128
  16. Washington Wizards: $4,222,815
  17. Indiana Pacers: $3,862,401
  18. Denver Nuggets: $2,000,000
  19. Philadelphia 76ers: $1,642,981
  20. Brooklyn Nets: $1,635,825
    • Note: This figure doesn’t include LaMarcus Aldridge‘s $554,988 cap hit, since he remains on the roster, for now, after announcing his retirement.
  21. Dallas Mavericks: $1,620,564
  22. Boston Celtics: $1,131,937
  23. New Orleans Pelicans: $1,054,478
  24. Phoenix Suns: $785,285
  25. Utah Jazz: $770,433
  26. Atlanta Hawks: $744,684
  27. Minnesota Timberwolves: $685,340
  28. Golden State Warriors: $666,667
  29. Los Angeles Clippers: $110,998
  30. Chicago Bulls: $97,261

Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Community Shootaround: Defensive Player Of The Year

A year ago, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award, with Lakers big man Anthony Davis and Jazz center Rudy Gobert finishing as the second- and third-highest vote-getters, respectively.

Antetokounmpo is a perennial candidate for the award, but he has missed a little time with injuries this season and Milwaukee’s defense in 2020/21 (109.6 rating; sixth in the NBA) isn’t as dominant as it was last season, when the team ranked first with a 102.5 defensive rating. He’ll probably get some votes, but he’s unlikely to repeat as the DPOY.

The Lakers have the league’s best defensive rating so far this season (105.5), and Davis has played a major part in the unit’s success when he’s healthy. But he has only played in 23 of L.A.’s 55 games so far and remains sidelined for the time being, essentially removing him from the DPOY conversation.

Of last year’s top three finishers then, Gobert looks like the best bet to take home the award in 2021. He has won it twice already, and the Jazz have the NBA’s best record at 41-14. Gobert, as usual, has anchored their defense, which is the league’s fourth-best (107.6 rating), and he’s leading the league in DRPM (defensive real plus-minus) by a wide margin.

Still, Gobert isn’t a lock to earn Defensive Player of the Year honors. He has struggled to slow down many of the league’s top centers in their head-to-head matchups this season, allowing Nikola Jokic to average 41 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists in his two games against Utah, while Joel Embiid racked up 40 points and 19 boards in his lone matchup with Gobert.

Another Sixers All-Star, Ben Simmons, scored 42 points against Gobert and the Jazz in the game Embiid missed, something he recently pointed out on ESPN’s The Jump when making his own case for Defensive Player of the Year.

“I’m one of those guys who can guard one through five,” Simmons said, per Ky Carlin of SixersWire. “Obviously, there’s a lot of respect for Rudy. I know what he’s capable of. I know he’s great down there in the paint, but he’s not guarding everybody and that’s just what it is. He guarded me in Utah…I had 42, and apparently I’m not a scorer. It is what it is, but I have a lot of respect for him. At the same time, I think it’s mine this year.”

Simmons, who finished fourth in the 2020 vote, has been a key part of the NBA’s second-best defense this season (106.6 rating), and his versatility makes him an intriguing candidate to win the award. However, as Rich Hofmann and Andrew Patton note in a piece for The Athletic, Simmons doesn’t necessarily stack up well to other top candidates based on publicly available advanced stats, even if those stats perhaps underrate his contributions.

Pacers center Myles Turner has a legitimate case for Defensive Player of the Year honors this season, posting an eye-popping 3.5 blocks per game to lead the league. He ranked second in Steve Aschburner’s recent breakdown of DPOY contenders at NBA.com. Still, Indiana is a sub-.500 team (26-28) with a middle-of-the-pack defense (111.5 rating; 13th in NBA), which will work against Turner’s case.

Hawks center Clint Capela has been making a strong push for DPOY consideration as well, as Chris Kirschner of The Athletic details, ranking in the top two or three in a handful of advanced stats, as well as third in the NBA in blocked shots (2.2 per game). Although the Hawks’ defensive rating (112.1) is just 19th in the league, that’s a significant improvement on last season’s showing (28th), as Capela has been discouraging shots around the rim, and has been better at preventing the attempts that are made.

What do you think? Who would be on your three-man Defensive Player of the Year ballot, and who do you view as the frontrunner? Which players not mentioned above would you consider?

Head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Checking In On Traded 2021 First-Round Picks

It’s been nearly two months since we checked in on the status of 2021’s traded first-round picks, and there have been plenty of shifts in the NBA standings since then. Those changes have an impact on where in the draft certain traded picks will land, as well as whether or not some protected picks will change hands at all.

With just over a month left in the 2020/21 regular season, it’s worth revisiting the traded first-round picks for 2021. With the help of our reverse standings tool, here’s our latest look at which of those traded picks are most and least likely to change hands, and which ones are still up in the air:

Picks that will definitely change hands:

  • Knicks acquiring Mavericks‘ pick (unprotected).
  • Rockets acquiring Bucks‘ pick (top-nine protected swap).

The only unprotected traded pick for the 2021 draft, the Mavs’ selection currently projects to be the No. 21 overall pick. That would be a reasonably good outcome for the Knicks, but there’s even more upside here — since Dallas is currently the No. 7 seed in the West, a win in the play-in tournament may be necessary to secure a playoff spot.

The NBA has yet to clarify exactly how draft positioning will be affected by the play-in results, but presumably if the Mavs don’t clinch a postseason berth in the play-in, that pick would move into the lottery.

Meanwhile, the Rockets will acquire the Bucks’ pick, currently projected to land at No. 24 overall, in a swap for their own second-rounder (No. 32, for now).

Picks that definitely won’t change hands:

  • Grizzlies acquiring Jazz‘s pick (1-7 and 15-30 protection).
  • Pelicans acquiring Lakers‘ pick (8-30 protection).
  • Rockets acquiring Pistons‘ pick (top-16 protected).

The Jazz are definitely making the postseason and the Pistons definitely aren’t, so their picks (currently projected to be No. 30 and No. 4, respectively) won’t change hands.

The Grizzlies should at least be able to count on getting Utah’s first-rounder in 2022, when it will become top-six protected. It may be a while before the Rockets get a pick from Detroit though — that first-rounder remains heavily protected in 2022 (top-16), 2023 (top-18), and 2024 (top-18) before those protections start to loosen a little.

As for the Lakers‘ pick, it isn’t technically a lock yet — there’s theoretically a scenario in which L.A. misses the playoffs and then moves into the top four in the lottery, sending its pick to the Pelicans. But that’s an extreme long shot. The Lakers’ pick is at No. 23 for now.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Knicks have the ability to swap their own 2021 first-rounder for the Clippers‘ pick. At the moment though, New York’s pick would be No. 15 and L.A.’s would be No. 26, so that won’t happen.

Still up in the air:

  • Warriors acquiring Timberwolves‘ pick (top-three protected).
  • Magic acquiring Bulls‘ pick (top-four protected).
  • Thunder acquiring Warriors‘ pick (top-20 protected).

That Timberwolves pick will be a fascinating one to watch in the lottery. If Minnesota finishes with a bottom-three record, there will be a 40.1% chance it remains in the top three.

The Warriors will actually be rooting for the Wolves to finish with the NBA’s worst record, since in that scenario, there’s a 59.9% chance the pick lands at No. 4 or No. 5. If the Wolves instead have the third-worst record, the pick would be just as likely to land in the top three, but could slip as far as No. 6 or No. 7.

The Magic will have a good chance of landing the Bulls‘ pick, which currently projects to be the No. 10 overall selection. If Chicago remains in that spot, there would only be about a 14% chance of the pick moving up into the top four.

Golden State’s own pick, which currently projects to be No. 13, is unlikely to be sent to the Thunder unless the Warriors get hot late in the season. Assuming the Warriors’ first-rounder is protected, Oklahoma City would instead receive Minnesota’s second-round pick (currently No. 31).

Latest on the Rockets/Thunder/Heat/Blazers/Nets situation:

As a reminder, this series of trades and pick swaps is too convoluted to fit cleanly into any of the above sections. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

  1. The Thunder will have the right to swap either their own first-round pick or the Heat’s first-round pick for the Rockets‘ first-round pick, but only if Houston’s pick doesn’t fall in the top four. In other words, if Houston gets a top-four pick, the Rockets will keep their own first-rounder; if not, the Thunder will get the two most favorable picks of their own, the Heat’s, and the Rockets’, and Houston will get the least favorable.
  2. Once the first step is complete, the Rockets will be left with at least one first-round pick, and almost certainly two, since they’re also owed the Trail Blazers‘ first-rounder (top-14 protected). They would then have the right to swap either of those picks for the Nets‘ first-rounder (unprotected).

As of today, the Rockets have the second-worst record in the league, giving them a 52.1% chance of having their pick land in its top-four protected range on lottery night. In that scenario, Houston would keep its first-rounder (tentatively No. 2) and would get the Trail Blazers’ pick at No. 22. The Thunder would keep their own pick (No. 6, pending lottery results) and receive the Heat’s first-rounder (No. 17), while the Nets would hang onto their own selection (No. 27).

On the other hand, if the Rockets’ pick falls outside of the top four, the Thunder would acquire it along with their own first-rounder, while Houston would get Miami’s pick at No. 17.

No matter how the rest of the season plays out, it’s safe to assume that lottery night on June 22 will have massive implications for the Timberwolves, Warriors, Rockets, and Thunder, and potentially for the Magic and Bulls as well.

While the Pistons, Cavaliers, and a handful of other lottery teams will also be invested in the results that night, the outcome won’t be quite as all-or-nothing for those clubs.

Hoops Rumors’ 2021 10-Day Contract Tracker

A handful of the players who have signed contracts since the All-Star break have signed rest-of-season or multiyear contracts, but the most common form of signing has been of the 10-day variety. Currently, 14 players around the NBA are on active 10-day deals, including veterans like DeMarcus Cousins (Clippers), Isaiah Thomas (Pelicans), and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Trail Blazers).

Hoops Rumors has created a database that allows you to keep on top of those deals, tracking every 10-day signing all season long.

Besides featuring all of this year’s 10-day deals, our 10-Day Contract Tracker includes information on all 10-day contracts signed since the 2006/07 season, giving you a chance to identify trends regarding your favorite teams and players. The search filters in the database make it easy to sort by team, player and year. For instance, if you want to see all the 10-day contracts that the Lakers have signed in recent years, you can do so here.

You can also see whether a player and team signed a second 10-day contract, or if those short-term deals led to an agreement that covered the rest of the season. Our tracker, which is updated when a 10-day signing becomes official, also notes which 10-day deals remain active, saving you from having to figure out whether a particular contract ends on Wednesday or Thursday.

A link to our 10-Day Contract Tracker can be found at any time in the right sidebar under “Hoops Rumors Features” on our desktop site. On our mobile site, you can find it on our “Features” page. We’ll be keeping it up to date for the rest of the season, so be sure to check back to keep tabs on the latest signings as they become official.

Players Waived After Friday Won’t Retain Playoff Eligibility

During a typical NBA league year, a player must be waived by March 1 in order to retain his postseason eligibility for a new team. However, due to the late start in 2020/21, that date has been pushed back to Friday, April 9 — today.

That means that any player who remains on an NBA roster after today won’t be eligible to suit up in the postseason for a new team, though there are a few exceptions to that general rule.

Crucially, a player who is currently on a 10-day contract represents one such exception. For instance, once DeMarcus Cousins‘ 10-day deal with the Clippers expires next Wednesday, he’d still be able to re-sign with L.A. or join a new team and be eligible to play in the postseason, since he’s not being placed on waivers after April 9.

Here’s the list of players currently on 10-day contracts who will retain their playoff eligibility when their current deals expire:

It’s also worth clarifying that a player didn’t have to sign with a new team by April 9 to be playoff-eligible — he simply has to be placed on waivers by 11:59pm ET on Friday. As long as a player who fits that bill signs with a new team by May 16, the final day of the regular season, he can play in the postseason.

This April 9 deadline is one reason why we’ve seen a flurry of roster moves as of late. Within the last week alone, DaQuan Jeffries, Ben McLemore, Justin Jackson, Jerome Robinson, Gary Clark, Khem Birch, Ignas Brazdeikis, Darius Miller, and Patrick McCaw have been released. More players could join that list today.

All of those players will be playoff-eligible if they join a new team (Jeffries and McLemore already have), but anyone on a standard contract who is waived after today won’t be.

As for two-way players, this is the first season in which they’ve been eligible to play in the postseason at all, so the rules pertaining to them aren’t entirely clear. However, since they also pass through waivers, my working assumption is that they’ll be subject to the same rules as players on standard deals — any waived after today likely won’t be able to participate in the postseason.

Knicks’ Jared Harper Looking To Build On All-NBAGL Season

Knicks two-way guard Jared Harper has shifted his focus to the rest of the 2020/21 NBA season after an impressive stint in the G League bubble, one that earned him an honor few players obtain: a spot on the All-NBA G League First Team.

Harper, a 5’10” point guard who went unselected in the 2019 draft, spent part of last season on a two-way contract with Phoenix before being claimed off waivers by New York in June. After signing a new two-way deal with the Knicks in the offseason, the 23-year-old has seen limited action at the NBA level, but he excelled in the G League with Westchester and is enjoying his time on an NBA roster.

“It’s definitely been a great experience,” Harper told Hoops Rumors in a phone interview. “For one, just being able to be in the NBA. Two, being with an organization as storied as the Knicks and all that goes along with it. Just the opportunity of making history. We’re trying to make a push to continue to stay in the playoff race and go from there. I think there are a lot of positives in this situation.”

In 12 G League contests this season, Harper increased his averages nearly across the board, recording 21.3 points (up from 20.2) and 7.0 assists (up from 5.5) per game. His shooting also improved, going from .413/.362/.787 as an NBAGL rookie to .473/.403/.854 in his second year.

“I just think that next year (helped),” Harper said. “Last year I was able to learn a lot just by playing professional basketball on the fly, even though I was able to play well. But coming into this year, I saw areas that I needed to improve to help me be more efficient — passing the ball, or even scoring.

“Better yet, just trying to win more games. So I think I just took what I did well last year and tried to perfect those things. Plus the things I didn’t do as well, I tried to make better, so everything overall would come together.”

Along with Harper, the G League First Team consisted of Kevin Porter Jr., Mamadi Diakite, Moses Brown, and MVP Paul Reed — all players who are on standard NBA contracts or two-way deals. Every member of the Second Team and Third Team is also under contract with an NBA team or has previous NBA experience. The overall talent level in the bubble made his spot on the First Team this season even more special, Harper said.

“It’s definitely great just knowing how much talent was down in the G League bubble this year,” he explained. “To be recognized as one of the top players down there is just helping me get closer to my goal of being able to play on an NBA court.”

The Knicks have exceeded expectations under head coach Tom Thibodeau this season and currently hold the eighth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 25-27. The team is just two games behind the fourth-seeded Hornets and could make the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

Harper hasn’t received many chances on the court to contribute to the Knicks’ playoff push so far, having appeared in just four NBA games this season. However, he has gotten the opportunity to learn from veteran guards such as Derrick Rose and Alec Burks, and he has remained supportive of his teammates in practices and on the sidelines. The plan now, he says, is to stay ready in case his number gets called on a more regular basis.

“When I get my opportunity with this team, I just want to take full advantage of it,” Harper said. “My main priority is to continue to get better and do anything I can do to help us make it to the playoffs. Whatever that role will be, that’s my main goal.”

Salaries For 10-Day Contracts In 2020/21

When a team signs a player to a 10-day contract, it can theoretically use cap room or an exception to pay him more than the minimum salary. However, in practice, that essentially never happens — virtually every player that signs a 10-day deal receives a prorated portion of the minimum salary.

The minimum salary in a given season differs from player to player, based on his years of NBA experience entering the season. For instance, in 2020/21, a rookie on a full-season minimum deal will earn $898,310, whereas a 10-year veteran who is earning the minimum will make $2,564,753.

[RELATED: NBA Minimum Salaries For 2020/21]

The same is true for 10-day deals. A rookie will earn significantly less over the course of his 10 days with a team than a tenured NBA veteran will.

Because the 2020/21 season is 146 days long, a player’s full-season minimum salary can be divided by 146 to calculate his daily salary. From there, it’s just a matter of multiplying by 10 to determine his salary on a 10-day contract.

Using that formula, here’s the full breakdown of what salaries for 10-day deals look like in ’20/21:

Years in NBA Salary
0 $61,528
1 $99,020
2 $110,998
3 $114,990
4 $118,983
5 $128,963
6 $138,945
7 $148,926
8 $158,907
9 $159,698
10+ $175,668

Because the NBA doesn’t want teams to avoid signing veteran players in favor of cheaper, younger options, the league reimburses clubs who sign veterans with three or more years of experience to 10-day, minimum-salary contracts.

Those deals will only count against the cap – and against a team’s bank balance – for $110,998, the minimum salary for a player with two years of experience. So a player with three years under his belt would have the same cap charge as a player with 12 years of NBA experience.

Here are a few examples based on 10-day deals that are currently active:

Player Team Years Salary Cap hit
Devin Cannady Magic 0 $61,528 $61,528
Damian Jones Kings 4 $118,983 $110,998
DeMarcus Cousins Clippers 10 $175,668 $110,998

2021’s Most Valuable Traded Second-Round Picks

Fans of lottery-bound NBA teams will be keeping a close on the league’s reverse standings down the stretch because of the effect they’ll have on the draft order and lottery odds for the 2021 first round.

However, it’s not just the first round of the draft that’s worth keeping an eye on. Those reverse standings will also dictate the order of the draft’s second round, and an early second-round pick can be nearly as valuable as a first-rounder.

Traded first-round selections will ultimately be more valuable than any second-rounder, but it’s still worth taking a closer look at some traded 2021 second-rounders that project to be quality picks.

[RELATED: Traded Second-Round Picks For 2021 NBA Draft]

Here are a few of those traded picks:

From: Minnesota Timberwolves
To: Oklahoma City Thunder or Golden State Warriors
Current projection: No. 31

The top-three protected first-round pick the Timberwolves sent to the Warriors in last February’s D’Angelo Russell trade rightly gets most of the attention, but it’s worth remembering that Minnesota also included its 2021 second-rounder in that deal.

It’s not a lock that Golden State will receive that pick, however. If the Warriors’ 2021 first-round selection lands in the top 20 (it projects to be No. 13 for now), they’ll keep that pick and instead send the Wolves’ second-rounder to the Thunder as part of last November’s Kelly Oubre trade agreement.

From: Houston Rockets
To: Milwaukee Bucks
Current projection: No. 32

As part of last month’s P.J. Tucker trade, the Rockets gained the right to swap their own 2021 second-round pick for Milwaukee’s 2021 first-rounder. Currently, Houston’s pick projects to be No. 32, while Milwaukee’s would be No. 26.

If the Bucks keep winning and the Rockets keep losing, Milwaukee might end up not having to move down very far at all on draft day. If the Rockets get hot or the Bucks slump though, the difference between the two picks could be 10 spots or so.

From: Detroit Pistons
To: New York Knicks
Current projection: No. 33

The Pistons originally gave up this pick (and their 2023 second-rounder) on draft day in 2018 in order to acquire the draft rights to Khyri Thomas, the 38th overall pick, from Philadelphia.

Thomas is no longer a Piston and this second-rounder has since been flipped multiple times. The Sixers included it in the package they sent to the Clippers for Tobias Harris in 2019, then the Knicks acquired it as part of their return for Marcus Morris at the 2020 deadline.

From: Washington Wizards
To: New Orleans Pelicans
Current projection: No. 35

From: Cleveland Cavaliers
To: New Orleans Pelicans
Current projection: No. 36

The Wizards’ second-rounder was originally traded to Utah during the 2016 offseason for Trey Burke. The Cavaliers acquired it from the Jazz in a 2018 swap involving Korver and Alec Burks, then flipped it to Milwaukee along with George Hill in a three-team trade just one week later. Two months after that, it was one of four future second-round selections the Bucks sent to New Orleans in a deal for Nikola Mirotic.

As for the Cavaliers’ pick, it was first traded first to the Hawks in 2017 for Kyle Korver, then to New Orleans during the 2019 draft when Atlanta moved up for De’Andre Hunter. It was initially meant to be a 2019 first-rounder, but since it landed within its protected range (top 10) for multiple years, it eventually turned instead into a pair of second-rounders, including Cleveland’s 2021 pick.