Now that the NCAA’s Men’s Basketball Tournament is over, it’s time to think about the 2015 NBA draft. If you root for a team like the New York Knicks or the Minnesota Timberwolves, you may have been thinking about June 26, 2015 for a while now. Your team’s name is called and a tall young man walks across the stage. He puts on a hat with your team’s logo and he shakes the commissioner’s hand. At first, he’ll represent hope for your favorite franchise, but soon the season will start and he’ll help lead your team to success. Of course, if your team doesn’t have their first round pick in this year’s draft, they cannot participate. This post is here to clarify what’s going on for the teams that were involved in trades where their 2015 pick was potentially conveyed to another team.
Every year after the NBA season is over, the NBA holds a draft for incoming prospects. The draft is for international players as well as collegiate talent. Each team has one pick in each of two rounds.
The first 3 picks in the first round of the NBA draft are determined by a lottery system. The 14 teams that do not make the playoffs are entered in a weighted lottery where a team’s chances of winning are correlated with the reverse order of their place in the standings. The worst team in the league has a 25% chance of getting the first pick and the 14th worst non-playoff team has a less than 1% chance of getting that pick. After that, the picks are decided in reverse order of their place in the standings. The 4-14 picks are all teams that didn’t make the playoffs and the 15-30 picks are all teams that did.
However, every team doesn’t participate because teams are allowed to trade their picks before and during the draft. Every team knows that they will have a first and second round pick available each year and so they can trade those picks to other teams. Since teams don’t know what order they will pick, teams will often add some protection to the pick. For example, a team could trade their 2020 first round pick with 1-5 protection. This means that after the lottery, if the pick is the sixth pick or worse, the trade goes through. If the pick is anywhere from first to fifth, the pick does not get traded. Usually, there are other provisions added. If the pick doesn’t get conveyed this year it might be unprotected for 2016, for example
For this post, I’m classifying the 2015 trade conveyances into 3 groups. The first group is for picks that are definitely going to another team. The second group is for picks that may go to another team. The last group are for picks that could have been conveyed, but will not.
Picks that will be conveyed
Brooklyn swaps its 2015 first round pick with Atlanta
The beginning and end of any discussion about the Brooklyn Nets has to be the ridiculous state of their future draft picks. The Brooklyn Nets epitomize “mortgaging your future.” Their unprotected 2016 pick is going to Boston. Their 2017 pick is eligible to be swapped with Boston’s pick. The 2018 unprotected pick is going to Boston. The players who the Nets traded those picks for, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, are no longer with the team. The next few years could be dark for Brooklyn.
The 2015 pick swap with Atlanta is a byproduct of the Joe Johnson trade on July 11, 2012. Joe Johnson is still under contract until the end of next season. The Nets traded for the right to pay Joe Johnson 24.89 million dollars per year. The Nets might have a lottery pick by the end of the year and the Hawks are locked into the number twenty nine pick.
Los Angeles Clippers to Boston Celtics
The Clippers traded their unprotected first round pick to Boston for Doc Rivers. So far it has been money well spent. The Clippers are trading a non-lottery pick.
Picks that may be conveyed
Miami Heat to Philadelphia 76ers
The pick is 1-10 protected in 2015 and 2016; if not
Unprotected in 2017
The Heat are in an interesting quandary. They worked hard all year. Last summer, they lost Lebron but ever since, they’ve done everything to be a solid team. Dragic, Wade, Deng, Bosh and Whiteside is a formidable starting lineup. Unfortunately, injuries have crushed them this year. If they lose the rest of their games, they will probably keep their pick. If they win the rest of their games they could have the 7th seed in the playoffs and a matchup against Lebron’s Cavaliers. The fan base would likely be excited about getting revenge, but given the state of their team, they need the pick more than a potential feel good playoff series.
New Orleans Pelicans to Houston Rockets
The pick is 1-3 and 20-30 protected in every year from 2015 through 2020; if not
2020 and 2021 second round picks
The Pelicans have a combination of the Nets bets on the future and the Heat’s injury woes. Davis, Anderson, and Gordon missed a ton of games due to injury. Jrue Holiday only played 37 games this year. Evans and Asik played 70 plus games.
Speaking of Asik, the trade that the Pelicans made to obtain Asik’s services was for their 2015 pick. If the Pelicans make the playoffs they will lose their pick. If the Pelicans miss the playoffs, they will only keep their 2015 pick if they win the lottery.
Oklahoma City to Philadelphia 76ers
The pick is 1-18 protected in 2015; if not
1-15 protected in 2016 and 2017; if not
2018 and 2019 second round picks
Oklahoma City traded this pick in the trade that landed them Dion Waiters. Not only is the trade a great idea, but there’s a chance that the Thunder could still keep their pick. Even if Oklahoma City keeps their playoff spot in the West, they are currently would have the 18th pick, allowing them to keep their draft pick. If they advance to 19th, then Philadelphia gets their pick.
Houston Rockets to Los Angeles Lakers
1-14 protected in 2015; if not
1-10 in 2016 and 2017; if not
1-5 in 2018 and 2019; if not
1-3 in 2020; if not
unprotected in 2021
The Rockets will convey this pick. This pick was traded as part of the deal that sent Jeremy Lin to Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Lakers to Philadelphia
1-5 protected in 2015; if not
1-3 protected 2016-17; if not
This is the most interesting story of the draft lottery. Los Angeles traded their pick for Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash. Steve Nash was injured for most of this season and is currently retired. With the dearth of talent and litany of injuries that the Lakers have suffered through this year they NEED this pick.
Even the good news for the Lakers is bad. On one hand, they have been appropriately bad this year. The Lakers are currently the 4th worst team in the league. Worst case scenario, they end the season with more wins than Orlando and have the 5th pick. But the lottery may end in tragedy for the Lakers. If enough teams pass them, they could still end up trading their 2015 pick away. If they are in 5th place, they only need 1 team to pass them. If they are in 4th place they need 2 teams to pass them. If they are in 3rd place they need 3 teams to pass them.
Of course, if the Lakers were to win one of the top 3 spots in the lottery, then they keep their pick. Of course, their pick is top 3 protected for the next 2 years and unprotected after that, so LA needs to improve in a hurry.
Cleveland Cavaliers swap picks with Chicago Bulls
1-14 protected in 2015; if not
The pick is extinguished
Cleveland offered a pick swap in Luol Deng trade. With one Cleveland win, or a Chicago loss, Cleveland wins the division title and ensures that the Bulls won’t do a pick swap. This pick is extinguished if the Bulls don’t swap this year.
Picks that will not be conveyed
Philadelphia 76ers to Boston Celtics
1-14 protected in 2015; if not
2015 and 2016 second round draft pick
The Sixers have clinched a lottery pick. The Celtics will have to settle for the 2015 and 2016 second round picks.
Sacramento Kings to Chicago Bulls
1-10 protected in 2015, 2016 and 2017
Second round pick in 2017.
The Kings will keep their pick for another year. The Kings have clinched missing the playoffs. They have the second longest playoff drought in the league. This pick was a part of the Omri Casspi-JJ Hickson deal from 2011. The orginial trade was done so long ago that Casspi is now back on the Kings.
Memphis Grizzlies to Denver Nuggets
1-5 and 15-30 protected in 2015 and 2016
1-5 protected in 2017 and 2018
Unprotected In 2019
Memphis has clinched the playoffs, which is why the pick won’t be conveyed this year. The original trade for this pick sent Jon Leuer to the Grizzlies.
Dallas Mavericks to Boston Celtics
1-3 and 15-30 protected in 2015
1-7 protected in 2016-2020,
Unprotected in 2021
This was part of the Rondo trade. The protections are more limited over the next 5 seasons and the pick becomes unprotected in 2021.
Minnesota Timberwolves to Boston Celtics
1-12 protected in 2015 and 2016; if not
Second round draft picks in 2016 and 17
The trade that birthed this pick was in 2012. Robin Lopez went to New Orleans, Andrei Kirlienko went to Minnesota and Wesley Johnson went to Phoenix. None of those players are currently playing for those teams. The Timberwolves have the longest playoff drought in the league and they aren’t likely to end that drought next year.