Wednesday, May 17, 2017
This one is an easy one. They are playing in the Eastern Conference Finals and are getting the top pick in the draft in a little over a month. Danny Ainge, the Boston GM is looking like a genius. The Celtics had the right the right to swap their first-round and second-round picks for the Nets' first-round pick from the 2013 trade that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn. So the Nets got two older players for the 2013-14 season, one in which the Nets made the playoffs, but were bounced in the 2nd round by the Heat. Boston was a bad team that year, but now here we sit three seasons later, the Celtics are the best team in the East (along with Cleveland) AND have the top pick in the draft. Oh yeah, and Boston has a laundry list of flexible contracts, young prospects and now the No. 1 pick to drive their pursuits of trades and high-profile free agents.
This turns out to be a good thing for the Lakers. They sit in a perfect chance to take the hometown kid in Lonzo Ball at two. Ball is good, there's no doubt about that, even though there will be the headache of dealing with Ball's father Lavar. All signs point to Ball staying in Los Angeles, and the Lakers can add an up-tempo, pass-first shooter who looks like a natural fit in coach Luke Walton’s offense. It will be done now, without nearly as much criticism had they say fallen to the third overall pick.
This one is almost a gimme, its too easy. When the trade was made, it looked like it might be the move to help get the Nets over the hump and take down the mighty Heat. Well now it turns back and it looks like it bit them in the ass four years later. Despite losing more games than any other team this season, the Nets will pick No. 27, behind every other Eastern Conference team with a first-round pick this year. Of course, it gets worse. The Nets must also convey their 2018 first-round pick to the Celtics, even if they finish with the league’s worst record again. Just to kind of add more salt to the wounds, the draft this year is at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn
Russell, LA’s 2015 No. 2 pick, remains stuck in purgatory after two seasons: He hasn’t broken through as a star-to-be and he hasn’t busted out. After struggling as a rookie under coach Byron Scott and repeatedly facing questions about his maturity and commitment to defense, Russell briefly found himself benched in March—a minor red flag regarding his assumed status as LA’s point guard of the future. If the Lakers do draft Ball, they will do so knowing they must commit to him as a pace-setting, distribution-minded floor general. That means Russell will either need to be moved off the ball, a workable possibility, or shipped out of town. Given that Russell is still only 21, this qualifies as a “Life comes at your fast” predicament, like the one that his fellow 2015 lottery pick, Emmanuel Mudiay, is experiencing in Denver.
Now then, lets switch gears to the New York Knicks. This is now the 3rd time in the last twenty years that the Knicks have held the 8th pick, in 2009 they took Jordan Hill and in 2005 they took Channing Frye. Based on history, if the Knicks come away with a solid roleplayer with the eighth pick, they should be happy. They cannot under any circumstances afford to gamble and wind up with someone like Joe Alexander who gives them nothing. Finding an All-Star would be an aberration. If they can find a guy who can complement with KP then they will be plenty happy. Lauri Markkanen of Arizona and Jonathan Isaac of Florida State are the early names I'm hearing linked to possibly be the best fit for the Knicks, or at least that would fit Phil's description best of what he wants for this team.
Now comes the hard part. Finding the right guys for the right teams. That will all be decided on June 22nd!
Posted by Matthew A. Solomon at 6:05 PM