- If the Clippers are able to re-sign free agents Marcus Morris and Montrezl Harrell, they’re likely to bring back virtually the same team next season, John Hollinger of The Athletic predicted in a conversation with fellow Athletic writer Jovan Buha. Hollinger believes in that scenario the only additions will be a second-round draft pick and a minimum-contract point guard to replace Reggie Jackson.
- The eight teams not included in the Orlando restart will be the top eight teams in the lottery standings.
- The 9-14 spots in the lottery will be made up of the six teams that don’t make the playoffs following this summer’s “seeding games” and possible play-in tournaments. Their seedings and odds will be based on their records as of March 11.
- The rest of the first round will be sorted by record, as usual. The order will be based on teams’ regular season results and the results of the eight seeding games this summer.
With those rules in mind, we have a pretty good sense of how traded first round picks for 2020 will be affected, so let’s take a closer look…
Picks whose fates have essentially been decided:
Cavaliers‘ first-round pick (traded to Pelicans if not in top 10)
- As the league’s second-worst team in 2019/20, the Cavaliers can’t fall below sixth in the lottery, so they’ll keep their pick, which will land anywhere from No. 1 to 6.
Sixers‘ first-round pick (traded to Nets if not in top 14)
- The Sixers have a nine-game lead on Orlando, which means they’ve now clinched a playoff spot and will send their pick to Brooklyn. It’s currently projected to land at No. 19 or 20, but it could move up or down based on this summer’s seeding games.
Pacers‘ first-round pick (traded to Bucks if not in top 14)
- Like the Sixers, the Pacers have now clinched a playoff spot, which assures they’ll send their pick to Milwaukee. This pick is also currently projected to land at No. 19 or 20 (Philadelphia and Indiana are tied at 39-26), but it could move higher or lower once play resumes.
Rockets‘ first-round pick (traded to Nuggets)
- This pick is unprotected, so the Rockets will send it to Denver. At 40-24, the Rockets are tied with Oklahoma City, putting their pick in line to be No. 21 or 22. They’re bunched up with a few teams in the standings though, so that could change when play resumes.
Jazz‘s first-round pick (traded to Grizzlies if it falls between 8-14)
- The Jazz have now clinched a spot in the postseason, so they’ll keep their pick for at least one more year. It’s currently projected to be No. 24 overall, but that may change.
Nuggets‘ first-round pick (traded to Thunder)
- An unprotected pick, the Nuggets’ first-rounder is currently projected to be No. 25. They’ll send it to Oklahoma City.
Clippers‘ first-round pick (traded to Knicks)
- This is another unprotected selection, which the Clippers will send to New York. For now, it projects to be No. 27.
Bucks‘ first-round pick (traded to Celtics)
- The Bucks, who will send this pick to Boston, have a four-game lead for the NBA’s best record, so this selection will likely be No. 30, though it could theoretically move up a spot or two.
Picks whose fates remain up in the air:
Nets‘ first-round pick (traded to Timberwolves if not in top 14)
- At 30-34, the Nets have a half-game lead over Orlando and a six-game cushion over Washington. If they slump when play resumes, there’s a scenario in which they lose their playoff spot. The Magic would have to pass them and the Wizards would have to pull to within four games before beating Brooklyn twice in a row in a play-in tournament.
- If the Nets miss the playoffs, this pick would end up at either No. 13 or 14 in the lottery standings, and Brooklyn would keep it.
- If the Nets hang on a clinch a playoff spot, it figures to be the No. 15, 16, or 17 pick, and they’ll send it to the Timberwolves.
Grizzlies‘ first-round pick (traded to Celtics if it’s not in top six)
- The Grizzlies have a 3.5-game lead over three Western teams (Portland, New Orleans, and Sacramento), with a four-game cushion over San Antonio and a six-game cushion over Phoenix.
- They’re in position to secure a playoff spot, and if they do, they’ll send this pick to the Celtics. It would fall between Nos. 15-17.
- If the Grizzlies lose their playoff spot, they’ll move to No. 14 in the lottery standings. In all likelihood, the pick would end up there and they’d still have to send it to Boston. However, they’d have a minuscule chance (2.4%) of moving into the top four via the lottery, in which case they’d keep the pick.
Thunder‘s first-round pick (traded to Sixers if not in top 20)
- Based on the Thunder’s current 40-24 record, this pick currently projects to be No. 21 or 22, in which case OKC would have to send it to Philadelphia.
- However, if the Thunder lose ground during this summer’s seeding games, they could be surpassed in the standings by as many as three teams, meaning the pick could end up in the No. 18-20 range. In that case, Oklahoma City would keep it.
As the Pistons get their search for a general manager underway, Eric Woodyard of ESPN (Twitter link) hears from multiple sources that the team hasn’t requested to interview Tayshaun Prince. Currently the VP of basketball affairs for the Grizzlies, Prince was part of Detroit’s 2004 championship team and there was speculation he’d be a GM candidate, but he wasn’t on the team’s initial interview list, according to Woodyard.
As for candidates who might actually be on the Pistons’ list, sources tell Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (Twitter link) that former Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough, former Atlanta GM Wes Wilcox, and current Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes are among those receiving some consideration. However, Bondy cautions that the search will likely be “extensive,” so that list is far from exhaustive.
Here’s more on the Pistons:
- With the Pistons’ season on the verge of coming to an end, Rod Beard of The Detroit News takes a player-by-player look at some of the offseason decisions facing the franchise. Only Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya have fully guaranteed salaries for next season, though as Beard notes, it’s a safe bet that a few other players will be back.
- In his latest mailbag, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com addresses the timeline for the Pistons’ GM search and how the team will handle not being part of the NBA’s resumption, among other topics.
- Earlier this afternoon, we passed along word that the Pistons are becoming the 29th of 30 NBA teams to reopen their practice facility for individual player workouts — they’ll do so on Thursday.
If the NBA decides to eliminate conferences for this year’s playoffs, it could clear the way for a Finals matchup between the Lakers and Clippers, which Hall-of-Famer Jerry West believes would be the “ultimate competition,” relays Melissa Rohlin of Sports Illustrated. West, a Clippers consultant who spent decades with the Lakers as a player, coach and executive, discussed the possibility during an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show.
“I think in Los Angeles, they have so many Laker fans. My goodness,” West said. “The enormous success that the Lakers have had over the years, they are a really good team now, two of the best players we’ve seen in a long time on one team. I think it would be incredible for the people in the west. I’m not sure how that would go over for the teams back east who want to see their respective teams get an opportunity to play.”
West would like to see all teams play nine or 10 more games before the playoffs begin. He also supports having two bubble sites, putting all the Western teams in Las Vegas and the Eastern teams in Orlando.
There’s more from L.A.:
- Lakers guard Alex Caruso believes the rivalry between the two franchises is more important to the fans than the players. He discussed the dynamics involved during an appearance on The Lowe Post podcast with ESPN’s Zach Lowe (hat tip to Silver Screen and Roll). “That’s not to diminish how big of a rivalry the battle for L.A. is, just in a sense of history and how long it’s been a Clippers vs. Lakers thing,” Caruso said. “But them being as good as they are this year doesn’t add any more, I don’t know … I feel bad saying it because it’s obviously one of the biggest matchups and names in the game playing against each other, but I’m sort of robotic in the sense of ‘this is another game.’ I know what they’re gonna bring, and we gotta know what we’re gonna bring to prepare for it.”
- Although Anthony Davis‘ preference to play power forward is well known, the Lakers will probably need him at center in the most important moments of the playoffs, writes Pete Zayas of The Athletic.
- Clippers coach Doc Rivers has been “Doc on demand” as a motivational speaker during the hiatus, notes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Rivers’ appearances have included virtual meetings with three NFL teams, the Bears, Rams and Colts.
As the top-seeded team in the Western Conference when the NBA went on hiatus in March, the Lakers have a vested interest in what form the league will take upon its return this summer. With that in mind, Brett Dawson, Bill Oram, and Brian and Andy Kamenetzky of The Athletic explore how each of the proposed playoff formats would impact the Lakers and discuss which ones the team might favor.
The Athletic’s panel agrees that the Lakers, who are already losing home-court advantage – assuming the NBA resumes play in Orlando with no fans in attendance – would be opposed to a World Cup-style, play-in pool, which would increase the likelihood of a top team being knocked out early in the postseason.
However, The Athletic’s writers think L.A. would be all over the idea of reseeding the playoff teams one through 16, regardless of conference. In that scenario, the Lakers wouldn’t have to get past the Clippers to get to the NBA Finals — they’d instead be pitted against the Jazz or Rockets in round two and likely the Nuggets or Raptors in the semi-finals.
Here’s more on the NBA’s Los Angeles teams:
- Lakers guard Danny Green has stayed busy during the NBA’s layoff in part due to his role as the team’s union representative, writes Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. It’s a responsibility Green takes seriously, having kept his teammates up to date on the latest discussions between the NBA and NBPA. “I care about the game of basketball and the next generation and want to make it better for them,” Green said of his NBPA role. “I’ll be, in the future, the old guy. It’s a fraternity you gotta make sure that it comes full circle where everybody is getting taken care of.”
- Jovan Buha and John Hollinger of The Athletic dig into the Clippers‘ outlook beyond this season, with Hollinger arguing that retaining Marcus Morris should be a top priority for the club after surrendering a first-round pick for him at the trade deadline. The team also figures to try to re-sign Montrezl Harrell, though Hollinger notes that there are a number of potential center alternatives on the free agent market if the Clips get outbid for Harrell.
- In case you missed it a few weeks ago, we previewed the Lakers‘ and Clippers‘ salary cap outlook for the 2020/21 season, taking a closer look at how much spending flexibility each team will have this offseason.
The Pistons will focus on external candidates in their search for a new general manager, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. The new GM will work alongside senior advisor Ed Stefanski to chart a course for the future of the franchise, while Malik Rose and Pat Garrity will be retained as assistant GMs.
Edwards identifies several potential candidates for the position: Pelicans assistant GM Bryson Graham, former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox, Jazz GM Justin Zanik, Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes, who was considered for the GM job in Chicago, and Thunder VP of basketball operations Troy Weaver. Edwards also suggests that University of Memphis assistant coach Mike Miller, who had Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem as an agent during his playing career, could be brought in as another assistant GM.
There’s more from Detroit:
- Rod Beard of The Detroit News agrees on Hughes and Weaver and offers a few other candidates who might be in play. Shane Battier grew up in the Detroit area and serves as VP of basketball development and analytics with the Heat, but Beard believes it would be difficult to talk him into leaving Miami. Chauncey Billups is a Pistons hero from his playing days and has been considered for other front office openings. Tayshaun Prince, who teamed with Billups on the 2004 championship team, became VP of basketball operations for the Grizzlies last year. Celtics assistant GM Michael Zarren has spent 14 years with the organization and has turned down other opportunities, but Beard believes the Pistons should contact him.
- Working Luke Kennard back into the rotation would have been a priority if the season had continued, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Kennard, who had been battling tendinitis in both knees since December, was set to return in the Pistons’ next game when the hiatus was imposed. With Kennard about to enter the final year of his rookie contract, Detroit will have to decide soon whether to make a long-term commitment or try to trade him, and Langlois sees his shooting skills as an important element for a rebuilding team.
- The Pistons may have other priorities at point guard that will prevent Jordan Bone from earning a roster spot next season, Langlois adds in the same piece. Derrick Rose has another year on his contract, and Langlois expects the team to find a veteran to complement him. Also, there will also be plenty of opportunity to fill the position in a draft that’s heavy on point guards. Bone saw limited time in 10 NBA games as a two-way player this season, but averaged 19.9 points per 36 minutes and shot 38% from 3-point range in the G League.
- The Clippers, too, have been holding safe private workouts and on-court practices involving a limited number of players, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium in the same video conversation (Twitter link). The identity of the Clippers players participating was not disclosed.
- Jovan Buha of The Athletic identifies some frontcourt free agents the Clippers could target during the offseason if they lose some combination of Montrezl Harrell, Marcus Morris, and JaMychal Green.
- In an interview this week with TNT’s Ernie Johnson, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers shared his side of a story J.J. Redick has told before, describing how the club’s deal with Redick in 2013 was nearly scuttled due to then-owner Donald Sterling‘s apparent aversion to white players. Kurt Helin of NBC Sports has the story, with Rivers’ comments.
- The Clippers’ workout plan during the stoppage of play should have them well-prepared whenever practices and games resume, as Jovan Buha of The Athletic details. The Clippers held weekly group workouts over Zoom as well as chats with famous athletes, along with creating personalized home workout rooms for each player. The organization ordered equipment to ensure each player could work out from home via video calls with individualized player-coaches and strength trainers.
The Clippers are among the teams reopening their practice facilities on Monday, as first reported by Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. The Pelicans, reported last week to be targeting May 18 as their reopening date, are also moving forward with that plan, as Christian Clark of The New Orleans Times-Picayune writes.
As has been the case for teams around the league, the Clippers and Pelicans will face strict regulations from the NBA as players return to their facilities for voluntary individual workouts. No more than four players can be in the building at a time, and their workouts are limited to one hour. They also have to undergo temperature checks before entering the facility and wear masks when they’re not engaged in physical activity.
More than half of the NBA’s teams are now known to have reopened their respective facilities. We count 16 clubs so far, though it’s possible that number is even higher if some teams have reopened their buildings without publicizing it.
The Bucks, Cavaliers, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Jazz, Kings, Lakers, Magic, Nuggets, Pacers, Raptors, Rockets, and Trail Blazers have also reopened their practice facilities.
[UPDATE: The Thunder have reopened their practice facility as well.]