One day before the 2016 NBA Draft commences, the league’s trade market is heating up and several big-name players could be on the move come Thursday night. The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers reportedly continue to seek trade partners for their glut of young players and draft picks while the newly crowned NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers are entertaining offers for power forward Kevin Love.
The Celtics, coming off their best season in five years with 48 victories, are hoping to add several veterans to rise up in the Eastern Conference. Boston is offering up its No. 3 overall pick for Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler, Milwaukee Bucks swingmen Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton, or even Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward, according to ESPN.
All those offers were reportedly turned down, and Celtics president and general manager Danny Ainge reportedly pursued Butler just before the trade deadline in February.
The Celtics are also turning down overtures, specifically from the Sixers. ESPN also reported that Philadelphia, which owns the No. 1 overall selection and will pick Ben Simmons, is trying to acquire Boston’s No. 3 selection in exchange for last year’s No. 3 pick and big man Jahlil Okafor or center Nerlens Noel. Boston has thus far resisted.
Hayward, who led the Jazz in scoring with 19.7 points per game and has a very salary-cap friendly contract with just about $33 million owed to him over the next two seasons (though he can opt out next year), has also caught the eye of the Phoenix Suns but Utah isn’t interested in moving the 26-year-old.
Following Phoenix’s reported interest, another report surfaced that Hayward is unhappy in Utah and desires a trade. Boston would seem like a reasonable landing spot for Hayward, who played under head coach Brad Stevens at Butler.
And the Bucks have reportedly labeled Middleton, Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo as “untouchables.”
The Cavaliers, fresh off staging the first comeback from a 3-1 series deficit in an NBA Finals and celebrating the first championship in franchise history, are reportedly open to dealing Love. The 27-year-old inked a five-year, $113 million extension with Cleveland just last summer, but he labored in the postseason and at times the Cavs’ offense was stagnant when he was on the floor.
Cavs general manager David Griffin even admitted his squad wasn’t supposed to beat a team like the Golden State Warriors as currently constructed.
"This team did not fit particularly well for playing Golden State, and that's my fault," Griffin said. "But against the East, we were historically good. Now that we've experienced this, I'm very confident this group has its best basketball in front of it. They know what they have now."
Speaking on “The Lowe Post" podcast, ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst said Boston actually seems like the best trade partner for the Cavs, given the young guards at their disposal.
"The Celtics is the trade that has made sense for six months," Windhorst said. "I happen to know the Cavs really like Avery Bradley and to me, I would want Marcus Smart and I would want one of the draft picks. You're not getting the high pick obviously, but you want one a draft pick."
Neither Bradley nor Smart have been linked to serious speculation before, and both serve as excellent defensive help for leading Boston scorer Isaiah Thomas. Bradley’s also under contract until 2018 for less than $9 million per season and Smart until 2019 on the rookie scale, so dealing either now wouldn’t be very cost-effective as Ainge spent years keeping Boston's cap clean and cheap.