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Draft Preview

NBA Draft News and Rumors

Updated On: June 16, 2019, 10:16 pm ET

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.


Golden State Warriors: Draft Picks Nos. 28, 58

The Warriors face myriad obstacles as they try to patch together another championship contender. In free agency, they'll try to retain Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Both of those stars should get max contract offers from multiple teams, even though Durant is expected to miss the 2019-20 season and Thompson could be out 9-10 months. Most of the frontcourt will be in free agency, too, including DeMarcus Cousins, Kevon Looney, Andrew Bogut and Jonas Jerebko. Shaun Livingston could retire and it's unclear if Golden State will keep restricted FAs Quinn Cook and Jordan Bell. There's not much these two draft picks can do to clarify things in the near-term, but the Warriors do reportedly have "serious interest" in Dylan Windler (SF, Belmont).


Houston Rockets: Draft Picks...none

Houston doesn't currently have any picks, though they could buy or trade for one. They aren't twiddling their thumbs, of course, having claimed Deyonta Davis off waivers. The Celtics have also been "pretty seriously" inquiring about Clint Capela, but there's no reason to think Houston would entertain a deal for him. The Rockets recently worked out Ky Bowman (PG, Boston College) and Aubrey Dawkins (SG, UCF), Shamorie Ponds (PG, St. Johns) and others, presumably in case they can trade or buy their way into the second round.


Indiana Pacers: Draft Picks Nos. 18, 50

The Pacers have a few picks and plenty of other decisions to make, including the free agency of Bojan Bogdanovic (reportedly a target of the Spurs), Thaddeus Young, Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, Tyreke Evans and Kyle O'Quinn. None of those guys are restricted, either, so we could see a very different Indy roster next season. Tyler Herro (G, Kentucky) and Luka Samanic (PF, Croatia) were among dozens of players to visit Indiana across 7-8 different workout sessions, but there's no clear consensus of who they'll target at No. 18.


Los Angeles Clippers: Draft Picks Nos. 48, 56 (Portland)

The Clippers lost the rights to the No. 20 pick when they made the postseason, but they still have a pair of second-rounders to work with this summer. They were one of at least eight teams to work out Ky Bowman (PG, Boston College), and he could be a target with their No. 56 pick -- ESPN has him at No. 70 on their overall board and he's not a lock to be drafted. No matter where they go with these picks, the real focus is free agency -- they're viewed as a prime candidate to lure Kawhi Leonard out of Toronto and have tons of salary space to pursue other FAs. In fact, only six players are under guaranteed deal for 2019-20 -- Danilo Gallinari, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landry Shamet and Jerome Robinson.


Los Angeles Lakers: Draft Picks...none

Prior to pulling off a massive deal for Anthony Davis, the Lakers were making headlines for the wrong reasons. After missing the playoffs in LeBron James' first season in L.A., the franchise watched Magic Johnson abruptly resign as team president, followed by Luke Walton's firing a few days later. Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka have filled the decision-making void, steering the hiring of head coach Frank Vogel with Jason Kidd as a "prominent assistant." That should be interesting. The Lakers' immediate plan crystallized in the Anthony Davis deal -- get LeBron superstar teammates and immediately vie for a championship. L.A. gave up tons of talent and assets to get Davis, sending out Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks including this year's No. 4. They'll be spectators on draft day, but also have the cap space to add a third star in free agency, while filling out the roster with role-player veterans. It's an all-in gambit that may have been L.A.'s best (or only) move to maximize their championship window with 34-year-old LeBron.


Memphis Grizzlies: Draft Pick No. 2

The Grizzlies are reportedly still debating their pick at No. 2. Ja Morant is the likely choice, giving Memphis a franchise-caliber point guard who can take over if/when Mike Conley is traded -- Woj reported that Utah, Indiana and Boston are all interested. Morant had arthroscopic right knee surgery on June 3, which could force him to skip Summer League, but the initial timetable was just 3-4 weeks. In short, it's not the type of procedure that would make Memphis pause. The alternative at No. 2 is R.J. Barrett, viewed as another can't-miss prospect, but the Grizzlies' reported interest in him feels like due diligence more than anything.


Miami Heat: Draft Pick No. 13

The Heat met with Romeo Langford (SG/SF, Indiana) this week, and he's also met with the Hawks, Cavs, Wolves and others. The Heat also worked out Keldon Johnson (SF, Kentucky), Sekou Doumbouya (PF, Guinea), P.J. Washington (PF, Kentucky), Tyler Herro (G, Kentucky), Kevin Porter Jr. (SG, USC), Nassir Little (SF, N. Carolina), and Trey Mourning (SF, Georgetown), the son of Alonzo. In other news, Goran Dragic picked up his 2019-20 option for $19.2 million, which doesn't help the team's salary cap situation, but there's no guarantee he'll be in Miami next season. His agent said that although Heat president Pat Riley "likes Goran and his character and his game," the team wouldn't assure Dragic that he won't be traded. Few teams will be clamoring for Dragic, given his salary, injury history and declining play, but expect to hear his name come up throughout the summer.


Milwaukee Bucks: Draft Picks No. 30

Milwaukee has a workout scheduled with Jalen Lecque (PG/SG, Brewster Academy), an athletic 19-year-old who will jump to the NBA after spending five years in high school. He's only 6'3" but has a 6'7" wingspan, so potentially he could play both guard positions. The Bucks, clearly, aren't afraid to gamble on unproven guys with upside as huge as their wingspan. The No. 30 pick is unlikely to contribute much on a team with championship aspirations, of course, and the key for Milwaukee will be free agency. Brook Lopez, Nikola Mirotic, Khris Middleton and George Hill will be unrestricted FAs, while Malcolm Brogdon will be restricted.


Minnesota Timberwolves: Draft Picks Nos. 11, 43 (Miami)

The Wolves may have promised Rui Hachimura (PF, Gonzaga) that they'll take him if he's available at No. 11. He'd be a sensible long-term fit alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and fills an immediate positional need with Taj Gibson, Anthony Tolliver and Luol Deng all headed into free agency. They're also among the teams to meet with Romeo Langford (SG/SF, Indiana), Sekou Doumbouya (PF, Guinea) and Narris Little (SF, UNC). They also got a workout with Coby White (PG, N. Carolina), though White is expected to be gone before the No. 11 pick.


New Orleans Pelicans: Draft Picks Nos. 1, 4, 39, 57 (Denver)

Zion Williamson (PF, Duke) is heading to New Orleans. The Pelicans' stroke of luck in the lottery didn't convince Anthony Davis to retract his trade demand, and they wound up getting a major haul of talent and picks for AD. The loss of a small-market superstar will be far easier for the Pelicans to manage with Zion inbound, as well as Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and three first-round picks. One of those picks was the No. 4 in this draft, and Pelicans GM David Griffin is already fielding offers for the pick from other teams. Whether they keep it or flip it, New Orleans is negotiating from an enviable position. Williamson's arrival also means they may not even try to retain Julius Randle, who will assuredly decline his $9.1 million option in favor of free agency.


New York Knicks: Draft Picks Nos. 3, 55 (Houston)

The Knicks are expected to make a splash in free agency this summer, and their rebuild got a major boost in the draft lottery. With the No. 3 pick in hand, R.J. Barrett is the obvious target. There's a consensus around the top three picks (Williamson, Morant and Barrett), and nothing that's happened since the lottery has changed the narrative. Barrett himself said of New York, "This is the place I want to be." Where they go after that is unclear -- they may offer Kevin Durant a max contract despite his Achilles injury, and Woj said they're one of the "most likely" teams to pursue Kemba Walker. That makes sense with Kyrie Irving apparently leaning toward Brooklyn, though Ian Begley of SNY basically said the opposite: "Some opposing execs monitoring Charlotte's free agent situation believe, currently, that if Walker chose to sign somewhere outside of Charlotte, going to New York isn't a likely outcome for the point guard." It won't take long for the chips to fall.


Oklahoma City Thunder: Draft Pick No. 21

Woj expects the Thunder to be "aggressive in trade talks" regarding the No. 21 pick, given that they are "in an absolute win-now mode." In that vein, SI.com reports that the Thunder have been "exploring attaching [the No. 21] pick to a contract in trade scenarios to help offload salary." That brings up a critical point -- OKC is hamstrung financially this summer. They project to be nearly $40 million over the salary cap, the most onerous payroll both overall and in terms of the luxury tax. Developing a potential role player with the No. 21 pick won't be nearly as important as easing the financial crunch and adding instantly productive veterans this summer, particularly shooters. Don't be surprised if this pick isn't in OKC's control on draft day.


Orlando Magic: Draft Picks Nos. 16, 46 (Brooklyn)

The Magic have been busy with at least four pre-draft workouts, including Bruno Fernandez (C, Maryland), Keldon Johnson (SG, Kentucky), Cameron Johnson (SG, North Carolina) and Mfiondu Kabengele (PF/C, Florida State). There are also some mock drafts that have Orlando taking Talen Horton-Tucker (SG, Iowa State) with their second-round pick. He also worked out for the Magic in June, so there's some weight to the idea. They're also expected to look at journeymen Marcus Foster and Erik McCree during Summer League, after both guys played overseas in 2018-19.


Philadelphia 76ers: Draft Picks Nos. 24, 33 (Cleveland), 34 (Chicago), 42 (Sacramento), 54

Sixers GM Elton Brand took a big swing last season, trading for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris in a bid to win a championship. The team never fully cohered and Philly didn't have enough shooters to balance the court, though it didn't help that Joel Embiid was banged up for the postseason. After being eliminated by the eventual-champion Raptors, they're left with massive questions. Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, J.J. Redick and T.J. McConnell are all unrestricted FAs. The only guys with guaranteed deals are Embiid, Ben Simmons, Zhaire Smith and Jonah Bolden. My point is that it might make sense for Philly to package a pick or two for a veteran who can contribute immediately. They could also look for more mature college guys to chip in right away, but the thinking is opaque. As Sixers writer Kyle Neubeck noted this week, "The Sixers have only had a few guys in [for workouts] who could even credibly be considered at pick No. 24. If they have their sights set on a specific player, they have hidden it fairly well."


Phoenix Suns: Draft Picks Nos. 6, 32

Ever since the departure of Eric Bledsoe in Nov. 2017, the Suns have lacked a reliable point guard. That's led to all manner of experimentation and stop-gap options, including using Devin Booker as a makeshift PG for long stretches. While that may have accelerated Booker's development as an unselfish passer, it's clear that Phoenix still needs a true table-setter for Booker, Deandre Ayton, Josh Jackson and others. That opens the door to Coby White (PG, North Carolina) going at No. 6. According to Sports Illustrated, the Suns are also "known to be extremely high on Jarrett Culver." Suns writer Duane Rankin adds that he's heard Phoenix is "eyeing forwards De'Andre Hunter, Jarrett Culver [and] Cam Reddish."


Portland Trail Blazers: Draft Pick No. 25

With one pick late in the first round, Portland won't be relying on the draft to take the next step in 2019-20. The roster is mostly set, though questions loom about Jusuf Nurkic's health and whether they'll retain free agents Al-Farouq Aminu, Enes Kanter and Rodney Hood. The most prominent prospects they've worked out include KZ Okpala (SF, Stanford), Lugeuntz Dort (SG, Arizona State), Shamorie Ponds (PG, St. Johns) and Jaylen Hoard (PF, Wake Forest). Okpala and Dort are the best bets to go at No. 25. Dort would bring size and strength to the backcourt with the ability to guard multiple positions, though Okpala may have higher upside and is already far more polished as a scorer.


Sacramento Kings: Draft Picks Nos. 40 (Minnesota), 47 (Orlando), 60 (Milwaukee)

The Kings don't have first-round draft picks, but they could trade their way in. Willie Cauley-Stein is one possible trade chip, and as reported in The Athletic, "The Kings are still expected to peruse the open market for a starting center." For now, they've been conducting plenty of workouts, including an upcoming one on Monday with Shamorie Ponds (PG, St. Johns), who has seemingly worked out for every team in the league. Or, you know, his agent just wants to create the illusion of widespread desirability.


San Antonio Spurs: Draft Picks Nos. 19, 29 (Toronto), 49

All we really know about the Spurs' thinking is who they've invited for workouts. So far, that includes overseas prospects Sekou Doumbouya (PF, Guinea), Goga Bitadze (C, Georgia) and Luka Samanic (PF, Croatia). No surprise there, since San Antonio has a long track record of locating, drafting and grooming foreign-born talent. The majority of the Spurs roster will return next season, with Rudy Gay as their most prominent free agent, and it's unlikely the No. 19 or 29 picks will make a fantasy impact next season. The Spurs project as a playoff team and they'll still be under the steady hand of Gregg Popovich -- he lost two key assistants (Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka) but has still agreed to a lucrative three-year extension. As we saw with Lonnie Walker IV last season, Pop doesn't give rookies a long leash.


Toronto Raptors: Draft Pick No. 59

The Raptors can take a moonshot with the No. 59 pick, since they'll probably just stash the player overseas. After a triumphant season that ended with the Larry O'Brien trophy in Toronto, the overwhelming priority this summer will be retaining Kawhi Leonard. Interestingly, the team may also face competition to retain the architect of this championship roster -- the Wizards are reportedly hoping to lure away GM Masai Ujiri. Unless a trade comes into play, the Raptors should be an afterthought on draft day.


Utah Jazz: Draft Picks Nos. 23, 53

Ricky Rubio is a free agent and it doesn't sound likely that he'll return with Utah, especially since he was frequently mentioned in trade rumors last season. Woj suggested in ESPN's Mock Draft Special that the Jazz could be "very active in the trade market [and] free agency" as they seek a long-term solution at point guard, so the No. 23 pick could come into play. Mike Conley is one prominent guy they could target, as he'll almost certainly be available in trade talks. The trade angle was confirmed by Jazz writer Tony Jones ("The Jazz, according to sources, will be active on the trade and free-agent markets") and they'll be a team to watch closely in the coming weeks.


Washington Wizards: Draft Pick No. 9

The Wizards will have plenty of intriguing options in the latter half of the lottery, and the direction they go is unclear. If they exercise a team option for Jabari Parker, they'd have over $100 million committed to four players next season: Parker, John Wall, Bradley Beal and Ian Mahinmi. This is a team ripe for a tear-down, a process they might be willing to jumpstart with a change of leadership -- they're reportedly preparing a massive offer to lure away Raptors GM Masai Ujiri, to replace Ernie Grunfeld. They've had plenty of workouts in recent weeks, but it won't be until Monday that they get high-profile guys with Nassir Little (SF, UNC) and Coby White (PG, N. Carolina).

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