Just two days before the 2021 NBA Draft begins at Barclays Center, teams in the league regularly negotiate deals throughout the first round, both in an effort to secure preferred leads and improve their positioning. before next week’s free agency period.
With the number of front offices considering their rosters a trade or an addition to cement their status as title contenders – such as Phoenix acquiring Chris Paul and Milwaukee with Jrue Holiday – the opportunity to pursue a 2022 championship that is seen as open to the taking seems to be the common thread of this week of activity.
And the next member of the All-Star-caliber squad currently considering being available: Oklahoma City point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is suddenly eligible to sign a five-year, $ 168 million extension. at the rookie scale this summer. It would appear, however, that any interested team should respect the Thunder’s hefty asking price. “It’s going to take a long time to get it, but it’s not impossible to get anymore,” said a team manager.
It would present a categorical change in the Thunder’s approach to Gilgeous-Alexander from the 2020 draft last August, sources said, when the four teams selected in the top four picks contacted OKC about the 23-year-old. and were quickly repelled by Thunder officials.
Flashing forward to this summer, where Oklahoma City proactively called Detroit to offer Gilgeous-Alexander plus the No.6 pick for the No.1, sources said, in a bid to land Cade Cunningham – the executive. Jonathan Wasserman de B/R first mentioned on Monday. Since the top draft draw in June, Detroit has consistently let rival teams know it needs a first in this year’s draft, future draft ammo and an established young star.
The OKC is still expected to look for ways to advance in the first round, with a Thunder-centric trade sending the No.16 and 18 picks to Charlotte for the No.11 as a deal structure to watch, sources said. Team officials feel Oklahoma City and Toronto are also exploring options to trade picks # 4 and # 6.
By all accounts, Bradley Beal is still weighing his future with the Washington Wizards two days before the draft, but league staff increasingly expect the All-Star goaltender to still be able to choose to stay with the Wizards at the moment. Winning and winning in the nation’s capital has long been Beal’s top priority, and Washington’s ability to offer a fifth year to its next deal using Bird’s rights next summer could ultimately net Beal an additional $ 54 million. over the term of this contract.
Still, Beal’s potential domino reaching the free market looms over business conversations around the NBA, especially regarding Toronto’s talks ahead of the Raptors’ No.4 pick, Golden State’s options with No.7 and 14 picks. , as well as Philadelphia’s continued efforts to assess the business value of Ben Simmons. And league officials contacted by B / R continue to mention the possibility that the Sixers will retain Simmons, should a desirable offer still not come up during the draft, in the hopes that Damian Lillard will eventually seek to leave Portland. The talks between the Raptors and Sixers are considered the most advanced of any early conversation Philadelphia has had for the 25-year-old All-Star.
And to clarify: The Sixers brass have indeed maintained contact with Simmons and his representatives, meeting notably in Chicago during the combine, but not too different from past offseason, Philadelphia has so far not been able to collaborate. with his Defensive Player of the Year nominee on a summer player development plan, sources said. The overwhelming wait around the NBA remains that Philadelphia will trade Simmons before training camp begins.
Sacramento’s # 9 pick continues to be considered available as well. While Memphis accepted Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams contracts as part of the prize to move from pick 17 to pick 10, San Antonio (No.12) and Indiana (No.13) are still seen as prime candidates to return to their mid-teens or early 20s for good value.
The New Orleans deal appears directly intended as a way to clear a salary cap space for an aggressive offer for Kyle Lowry in free agency. The Lakers, Sixers, Mavericks and Heat all remain linked by league sources as potential Lowry contenders, which will be just one part of a market crowded with playmakers. New Orleans, like every other team we just mentioned, would target Spencer Dinwiddie if Lowry chose to play elsewhere. The rotation of this leader carousel will also have an impact on Lonzo Ball and Dennis Schroder’s landing spots.
Dallas has actively explored business scenarios involving Josh Richardson, sources said, in case the swingman opts for his 2021-22 player option. The Mavericks must make their own efforts to free up salary space for a planned wave of free agency that still seems to prioritize the retention of Tim Hardaway Jr. in addition to other Dallas activities.
The Mavericks are also seen as a possible landing point for Jazz guard Mike Conley, although the league has a firm belief that Utah will be successful in their attempts to cut his salary and offer Conley a substantial deal.
The Jazz continue to discuss Joe Ingles and Bojan Bogdanovic, while Royce O’Neale, due to his lower cap number and solid two-way success this season, is unlikely to be included in an exiting package. ‘Utah. The Jazz remain engaged in talks about trading the No.30 pick to send Derrick Favors salary elsewhere, sources said.
Houston (Nos. 23, 24) and New York (Nos. 19, 21) have continued their efforts to move into adolescence, while Brooklyn also appears active in talks to pass No. 27, with the Nets offering a sniper guard. Landry Shamet, according to sources. Would a team like Indiana be ready to back down so far? The Pacers are also discussing Aaron Holiday with rival teams, sources said.
And in front-office news, after it was widely rumored that Dallas was targeting a CBA-minded lieutenant to join new president of basketball operations Nico Harrison, the Mavericks hired Andrew Baker, an official. the Brooklyn Nets, a respected salary cap strategist, for a leadership role in the new Dallas front office, sources said. Meanwhile, back in Boston, the Celtics continue to be linked with Landry Fields in their search for a GM under new chairman Brad Stevens, but two other names to watch are Nets assistant general manager Jeff Peterson and Pelicans Assistant General Manager Bryson. Graham.
Jake Fischer covers the NBA for Bleacher Report and is the author of Built to Lose: How the NBA’s Tanking Era Changed the League Forever.