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NBA Draft News and Rumors

by Ryan Knaus

The Finals ended only a few days ago, but already we’ve already seen a blockbuster trade sending Anthony Davis to the Lakers and the NBA draft is less than a week away. Today's column goes over every team’s draft picks, who they might be targeting, trade rumors, workouts and front-office murmurings. It's all fair game. The draft doesn’t exist in a vacuum, of course, so I’ll weave in roster needs, free agency details, financial situations, and more. It's important to note that teams don't want to telegraph who they'll draft, obviously, so we're left reading the tea leaves from beat writers...and the ever-present Adrian Wojnarowski. With 30 teams to cover and a wide array of topics in play, let's get right into an overview of what we know with the draft less than a week away.

 

For more draft-specific content, Rotoworld has you covered:

2019 Draft Preview

Jonas Nader’s Mock Draft

Raphielle Johnson’s Mock Draft

Mock Draft Breakdown Podcast

 

[Parentheses denote the team that originally held the pick]

 

Atlanta Hawks: Draft Picks Nos. 8, 10 (Dallas), 17 (Brooklyn), 35, 41 (LA Lakers), 44 (Charlotte)

The Hawks may have telegraphed their intentions in early June, trading Taurean Prince to the Nets in a deal that brought back Allen Crabbe and a pair of first-round picks in 2019 and 2020. They took on short-term salary from Crabbe, but the picks were the real prize -- they now have a league-high six picks in the draft. You can't accuse GM Travis Schlenk of lacking a coherent strategy. According to Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo, Atlanta's "primary target would seem to be Jarrett Culver." The Hawks also worked out Nassir Little (SF, UNC) KZ Okpala (SF, Stanford) and Sekou Doumbouya (PF, Guinea), among others. No matter who they target they're almost certain to flip a few draft picks. “It’s no secret with our three second-round picks we are going to try to package them and move up if we can," Schlenk said. It doesn’t get clearer than that.

 

Boston Celtics: Draft Picks Nos. 14 (Sacramento), 20 (LA Clippers), 22, 51

The Celtics are unlikely to stay quiet. They have three first-round picks but also have a 'win-now' mentality, even if they don't pull off a blockbuster deal for Anthony Davis. That could lead them to trade at least one pick, with Woj suggesting all three picks are in play. "You may see one, two, maybe all three of these picks packaged in deals and trades," he said. "Boston's not looking to get younger in a lot of spots." Danny Ainge and the Celtics are always fascinating to watch, as they've been willing to engage in huge trades, while showing admirable restraint in other situations. Al Horford has a $30.1 million player option, Kyrie Irving's future is uncertain as an unrestricted free agent, and Marcus Morris will also be a FA. The draft is only the start of the offseason machinations in Boston. If they do keep one or more of their late-first picks, they may have interest in 7'3" Bol Bol (C, Oregon).

Brooklyn Nets: Draft Picks Nos. 27 (Denver), 31 (New York)

The Nets dealt their first-round pick to Atlanta in a multi-faceted deal that brought back Taurean Prince, so they're left with No. 27 and an early second-rounder. No matter who the Nets target here, they're unlikely to expect instant production. This is a team that just made the playoffs with a 42-40 record and could be getting Kyrie Irving in free agency. With plenty of in-house development expected from guys like Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Rodions Kurucs, whomever they draft can be viewed as a longer-term luxury. They've worked out plenty of players, of course, including Terry Harris (SF, N. Carolina). That's particularly interesting because The Athletic has reported that Brooklyn and free agent Tobias Harris (Terry's older brother) have "mutual free agent interest."

 

Charlotte Hornets: Draft Picks Nos. 12, 36 (Washington), 52 (OKC)

The Hornets have a big decision to make regarding Kemba Walker, who recently said he'd be willing to take less than the super-max salary to help the Hornets build a winning roster around him. He will reportedly be a "top target" for the Lakers in free agency, who could pitch joining a LeBron/AD team to immediately vie for supremacy in the West. Charlotte is still in the driver's seat with the ability to pay him more than other teams. Perhaps trying to make a return more appealing for Kemba, GM Mitch Kupchak said he's "talking to a lot of teams" about moving up in the draft lottery. “Historically, if you look at what it costs to move up four slots or two slots or five slots, a lot of times it’s expensive," Kupchak said. As for who they might target at No. 12 (or higher), he hopes to be in position to draft "the best player" rather than filling specific team needs. Even so, it's worth noting that Kupchak and coach James Borrego have both emphasized the need to improve their interior defense.

Chicago Bulls: Draft Picks Nos. 7, 38

It's increasingly clear that Kris Dunn isn't a long-term answer at point guard, and Chicago is widely expected to pursue that position in the draft. Coby White might be an option but it doesn't help that the Suns, who also need a PG, have the No. 6 pick. The threat of having their preferred target(s) sniped just before they're on the clock could inspire the Bulls to trade up, and it sounds like they're being aggressive in talks. "There’s a growing belief around the league that the Bulls are open to trading anyone and anything not named Lauri Markkanen or Wendell Carter Jr.," Darnell Mayberry wrote recently in The Athletic. Somewhat surprisingly, given the presence of those two young bigs, the Bulls are reportedly "intrigued" by Jaxson Hayes (C, Texas). If all else fails in the pursuit of a potential franchise PG, they can always fill the gap temporarily with Patrick Beverley, who appears to be lobbying for a contract in Chicago.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers: Draft Picks Nos. 5, 26 (Houston)

Adrian Wojnarowski said the Cavs' lottery pick "is going to be in play, [possibly] to move down in the draft and get another pick." He cites the Hawks as a pick-rich team that could multiple picks to move up. If they keep the pick, ESPN's Mike Schmitz feels they should take Darius Garland (Vanderbilt, PG) at No. 5. The assumption there is that Garland would fit well alongside Collin Sexton in the backcourt. They did work out Jarrett Culver (SG, Texas Tech), who has also visited with the Knicks, Bulls and Suns. According to The Athletic, coach John Beilein "is a fan" of De'Andre Hunter (PF, Virginia), but it remains to be seen how much his preferences might influence the Cavs' draft-day decisions.

 

Dallas Mavericks: Draft Pick No. 37

It's truly another phase of life for the Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki has retired and veteran guards J.J. Barea and Devin Harris are unrestricted FAs. The Mavs' immediate focus in free agency will be locking up Kristaps Porzingis, who joins Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith as restricted FAs. Free agency will be the primary focus for the Mavs, therefore, and they're even expected to pitch Kemba Walker on joining their rebuilt team. Point guard may be a point of emphasis, and they've worked out Shamorie Ponds (PG, St. John's), but nobody they take at No. 37 is likely to have fantasy appeal.

 

Denver Nuggets: Draft Picks...none

All is quiet in Denver these days. They have no draft picks and are basically locked and loaded for the 2019-20 season, with 11 players under guaranteed contracts. That doesn't include Paul Millsap, whom the Nuggets can keep with a $30 million team option (they might also try to restructure the deal by offering Millsap more years at a lower annual rate). It's still possible the Nuggets will make waves on draft night, according to GM Tim Connelly. "I just think we wouldn't be doing our job if we don't circle that night," he said. "Not just for the potential of getting into the draft and selecting someone [but also for] potentially making trades and augmenting our roster."

 

Detroit Pistons: Draft Picks Nos. 15, 45

The Pistons need depth across the board, but perhaps nowhere more glaringly than on the wings. As things stand, it's just Luke Kennard, Bruce Brown, Langston Galloway and Khyri Thomas. They've worked out dozens of players but we've yet to hear much about which guys might be preferred targets at No. 15. As of right now, Rotoworld's Jonas Nader has Detroit landing Romeo Langford (SG/SF, Indiana), while Raphielle Johnson has them getting P.J. Washington (SF, Kentucky). It's no coincidence that both think the Pistons will aim for a wing player.

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Ryan Knaus
Despite residing in Portland, Maine, Ryan Knaus remains a heartbroken Sonics fan who longs for the days of Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel. He has written for Rotoworld.com since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter.