The latest draft rumors from around the NBA.
Markelle Fultz (PG/SG, Washington)
Matt Moore of CBS Sports ranks Fultz as the second best off-season acquisition in the NBA. His list is 30 players long and includes current NBA free agents and trade targets. An excerpt from Moore’s article
Choosing between Fultz and Jimmy Butler is just as fascinating. If you want George or Butler, it’s to compete for championships immediately. You want Fultz for the future. You get a No.1 overall pick projected as a potentially elite player on a rookie deal for four years, then a max extension for another five. That’s nine years with Fultz as a franchise guy. That comes with uncertainty because the draft is a crap shoot. But so is the potential. What if Fultz is a top-five player in five years?
It’s no surprise that Moore-@HardwoodParoxysm on Twitter– has Fultz rated so high. His ceiling and contract value as a rookie makes him quite an intriguing prospect.
Moore’s colleague Sam Vecenie recently said that Fultz’ floor is a Top 20 scorer in the NBA. I repeat that he thinks that is his FLOOR.
The Game Theory podcast starts bringing up Markelle Fultz’ scouting report at the 15:58 mark of the podcast here (Game Theory).
Lonzo Ball (PG, UCLA)
There are whispers from NBA writers and scouts that Lonzo Ball’s learning curve and ball handling deficiencies concern executives far more than Ball’s overbearing father does.
UCLA barely ran any pick and roll sets in their offense which has Ball a bit behind his competition when it comes to being a lead guard for an NBA-styled offense.
Additionally, Lonzo Ball’s handle is a bit loose and casual at times. Ball is already considered to have less wiggle in half -court sets than most guards so this combo of weaknesses could really pose some problems against on-the-ball pressure in the NBA.
Knicks and Blazers are talking trade
Sean Deveney of the Sporting News is reporting that the Blazers are interested in shedding some salary before the off-season gets underway.
Portland has three first round draft picks this year at picks 15, 20 and 26. They would like to use one or two of those picks to help lure a team into taking on a bad contract. The Blazers currently have $133 MM in guaranteed deals next season and desperately needs some cap relief so they can avoid paying a huge luxury tax penalty.
With three years and $53.6 MM left on his deal, Evan Turner could be the type of player Portland wants to move.
One team showing interest in the Blazers picks is the Knicks. New York is ready to add talented youth around burgeoning star Kristaps Porzingis.
The Knicks currently have a projected $19.8 MM in cap space according to Basketball Insiders and could take on a salary to make this trade happen.
Could the Sixers trade down?
Most people expect the Sixers to select a wing player like Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum with their 3rd pick in the draft. However, Malik Monk is probably the best fit for Philadelphia’s roster.
There are concerns over the hitch in Jackson’s shot while Tatum could be another ball dominant player for Philly. They already have Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid with the latter of the two suppressing their ball movement. Dropping another ball-stopper on the floor could stagnate the offense.
Monk is the better fit because he can score off the catch far better than Tatum or Jackson. The shooting guard doesn’t need the ball in his hands to produce points.
The question is whether they’re willing to take Monk with the third pick when they could easily trade down and still get him at picks 4 through 7.
Teams are calling Danny Ainge about the Celtics #1 pick
Danny Ainge said “a handful of teams” has already expressed interest in acquiring the No. 1 choice from the Celtics, and those suitors are probably just getting started.
“There’s two things that are happening,” Ainge said. “I think the value of [the pick] increases the closer you get to the draft is one, and two is we really need to know the value of the whole draft, because some of the conversations that you have are trading down in the draft and trading picks for players, moving backward and so forth. So we’re in the process of evaluating the whole draft, and we’re fielding phone calls.”
While I don’t believe Danny Ainge will trade down from the top pick, I do think he should keep his options open. If he can get a haul and shed some salary just to move back a handful of spots it may be worth it. It would take an enormous return, though.