Tonight’s NBA draft lottery is highly anticipated due to the hype surrounding projected No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama. However, some league executives are more focused on the trade implications for the team that lands the top selection, noting that quality centers could be dealt to free up playing time and address other parts of the roster.
“I’m as interested in what comes after the lottery as the lottery itself,” one general manager told Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. “This could be a tidal wave after it gets decided.”
For example, if the Pistons land the top pick — which they have a 14% chance to do — an Eastern Conference executive speculated that Detroit could get an impressive return for Jalen Duren, who was recently named to the All-Rookie Second Team. However, it’s worth noting that the Pistons have shown no desire to move Duren to this point after trading for him during last June’s draft.
“They probably could get a top-10 pick for him this year,” the executive said. “He has a lot of Robert Williams qualities, and he is like Williams because it might take a little time to polish. You can’t really play him and Wemby together, so he’d have to go. It would be crazy to see the market on him, he is still mostly upside.”
Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:
- Twenty-six clubs have been eliminated from title contention, but that doesn’t mean anyone is taking time off. In an interesting article for The Athletic, former league executives Seth Partnow and John Hollinger discuss the busiest time of the year for NBA front offices — the stretch that starts with the draft combine, which is currently ongoing, and runs through the first couple weeks of free agency.
- Three of the past four championship-winning coaches are no longer with their former teams. The recent spate of dismissals — including Nick Nurse, Mike Budenholzer, Monty Williams and Doc Rivers — has left a negative imprint on some of the longest-tenured coaches, as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes. “It’s disturbing,” said Erik Spoelstra, who has been the Heat’s head coach since 2008. “Doc’s a Hall of Famer. … There’s only so many teams that can advance. It’s just a really hard thing to do. Yeah, it’s been a tough couple weeks, hearing the news of just some really surprising firings.”
- The All-EuroLeague First and Second Teams were recently announced (Twitter links), and several former NBA players made the cut. The First Team features Walter Tavares, Mathias Lessort, Lorenzo Brown, Sasha Vezenkov and Dzanan Musa, while Darius Thompson, Kevin Punter, Nikola Mirotic, Wade Baldwin and Mike James comprise the Second Team. A recent rumor indicated that Vezenkov, whose NBA rights are controlled by the Kings, is seriously mulling the possibility of coming stateside and making his debut next season.
- Leonard Solms at ESPN.com profiles Samkelo Cele, who is hoping to become the second South African-born player to reach the NBA (the first was Steve Nash). Cele is currently competing in the Basketball Africa League.