The unpredictable nature of Thursday's 2015 NBA Draft all begins with the Los Angeles Lakers. Even though he and the team have denied reports, it’s widely believed the Minnesota Timberwolves will select Kentucky big man Karl-Anthony Towns No. 1 overall. After Towns, it's unclear who might be picked when the Lakers are on the clock.
General manager Mitch Kupchak has stated that it would take a great offer to trade the No. 2 selection, but one might have presented itself. In recent days, several reports say the Lakers are trying to acquire Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings ownership and team president Vlade Divac don’t want to deal Cousins, who just made his first All-Star team this last season while averaging 24 points and 12 rebounds a game, but Yahoo Sports reported new head coach George Karl is trying to convince Sacramento to part with the high-scoring big man.
For the Lakers, the move makes a lot of sense. Rather than spend the second overall choice on a young and unproven big man like Duke’s Jahlil Okafor or a flashy guard like Emmanuel Mudiay, and wait for either to develop, the Lakers can make a big push in 2015-2016 with Cousins and a now healthy Kobe Bryant.
These kinds of stories will continue to trickle out when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver takes the podium at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and what the Lakers ultimately decide will set the stage for the rest of the night. How they pick or trade will specifically determine the fate of the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 3, the New York Knicks at No. 4, and dictate the order for the rest of the lottery.
Here’s a number of recent stories that show where lots of teams, including the Lakers, stand in their preparations for the draft.
Latest news and rumors
- Boston Celtics VP and GM Danny Ainge told the Boston Globe: “There should be a lot of movement on draft night, so stay tuned.” Ainge added the Celtics are trying to move up with their No. 16 and No. 28 overall picks.
- Specifically, the Los Angeles Times reports Boston offered point guard Marcus Smart and their two first-rounders to the 76ers for big man Nerlens Noel and the No. 3 overall pick. It’s believed the Celtics are in the market for a rim-protector, but if they offload Smart and move into the top four they could replace him with either Mudiay or D’Angelo Russell.
-The Kings’ ceaseless search for a point guard might end if they can pry Ty Lawson from the Denver Nuggets. CBS Sports reports the two teams have spoken about a deal, but no serious framework has taken form. Under Karl, who coached Lawson in Denver, the Kings offense should be more organized and exciting.
- CBS also reported the Houston Rockets are looking to acquire a second first-rounder to pair with their No. 18 overall selection. The report stresses the Memphis Grizzlies at No. 25 and San Antonio Spurs at No 26 could be in the market as they try to stash away salary cap space.
- The Knicks could trade down from the No. 4 pick, and the Detroit Pistons at No. 8 could be looking to move up, according to Detroit News.
- The Phoenix Suns have also expressed interest in New York’s pick, with Sporting News reporting Phoenix went so far as to offer point guard Eric Bledsoe and the No. 13 pick this year for the No. 4.
- Another team that could trade down is the Orlando Magic at No. 5. Team general manager Rod Hennigan told the Orlando Sentinel the Magic have spoken to “a half-dozen” teams interested in their pick.
- Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 pick two years ago, could be traded by the Timberwolves according to ESPN. Bennett is owed $5.8 million in 2015-2016, and there is a team option on his $7.3 million salary in 2016-2017.
- The champion Golden State Warriors face some salary cap questions, especially when it comes to re-signing forward Draymond Green. They’re already trying to move David Lee and his expiring deal, while trying to avoid what Grantland tabulated could be a $50 million luxury tax bill. But the report stressed the Warriors, who hold the No. 30 pick in this year’s draft, won’t trade two first-round picks to avoid the tax line.
- Kristaps Porzingis might be the most intriguing player in the draft. According to multiple reports, the Latvian big man might be drafted earlier than most experts previously expected. Chad Ford of ESPN ranked Porzingis behind only Towns.