Written by: LaShawn Encarnacion aka The Dark Knight of Sports
Tonight is the NBA Draft where incoming NBA prospects wait for their name for a team to call their name. Players like Kentucky’s Karl Anthony-Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker. Players like Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, players like Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow. Players like Arizona’s Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and even great players like The Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell and Louisville’s Montrezl Harell. Even international players like China’s Emmanuel Mudiay and players from Spain like Mario Hezonja and Kristaps Porzingis, all have a chance tonight of making their NBA dreams come true.
Here is last year’s NBA Draft, which proves anything can happen come draft night.
But that for all NBA franchises is just one piece to this off-season puzzle. A piece in a much larger puzzle which is putting the team together that can win NBA titles. If the Cleveland Cavaliers proved this past season in their loss to the Golden State Warriors is that one man cannot win a championship by himself. Even with all the injuries, primarily to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, not having the proper backups left LeBron James undermanned and overwhelmed against a much more complete team in the Golden State Warriors.
The “Opt” word can be good and bad in the world of sports. It is legal contract jargon that goes like this. If a player has an “option” to their deal, it means that they have the power to either stay with the team or the team can choose to keep them “OPT-IN” OR the player or team can say no thank you and “OPT-OUT.”
Now that THAT is clarified lets get into whose opted in and whose opted out:
Cleveland Cavaliers PF Kevin Love: The biggest free-agent so far when it comes to offensive productivity. The biggest knock throughout Love’s is the lack of defense, but that will stop stop Love from receiving a huge pay day from whichever team decides to get him. Cavaliers, Lakers and Celtics are prime candidates.
Portland Trailblazer PF Larmarcus Aldridge: Very argubly the second hottest free-agent on the market currently. Aldridge has continue to improve his play after coming back from what seemed to be a career-threatening injury a couple season’s ago. The Knicks, Spurs, Mavericks and Trailblazers are have their eyes on him.
Brooklyn Nets PF Thaddeus Young: A very underrated player, Young gave the Brooklyn Nets some much needed offense since the struggles of their key pieces of Deron Williams and the injury of Brook Lopez haunted them once again.
Charlotte Hornets Al Jefferson has decided to opt IN and stays with the Hornets as does New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon and Memphis Grizzlies forward Jeff Green and the Cavaliers have decided to keep the option of center Timofey Mosgov.
Trades, trades trades. The third piece to the puzzle that is the path to winning a championship. This is where things get interesting. Trades can happen come draft day itself, before the draft and after. So lets get into some trade talks and rumored talks.
First the obviously done deals:
Charlotte Hornets and the Los Angeles Clippers: Clippers traded center Spencer Hawes and SF Matt Barnes to the Hornets for guard Lance Stephenson.
Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks: The Pistons traded SF Caron Butler and PF Shawne Williams to the Bucks for forward Ersan Ilyasova.
Now here is where things get tricky and when pieces to the puzzle get combined.
The Charlotte Hornets and the Portland Trailblazers: The Hornets first claimed the option on guard Gerald Henderson and then packaged him and PF Noah Vonleh for stretch wing Nicolas Batum.
This move opens up $43,000,000 in cap space which makes the Trailblazers able to bid to re-sign LaMarcus Aldridge.
There is also a hot rumor right now that Sacramento Kings are willing to trade their all star center DeMarcus Cousins to the Los Angeles Lakers for their #2 draft pick and other pieces.
All players with opt out clauses have until July 1st to make their decisions. One player who has that decision to make is the Heat’s franchise player, the man known as Dwyane Wade.
So while some moves have been made, the REAL moves begin tonight in the NBA Draft. With the buzz over the top 3 picks this season, expect a lot of movement at the top, especially if the rumor about Cousins is true.
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