Take your mind back to 2014 when LeBron James ended up landing back in Cleveland with the Cavaliers. It was a ludicrous summer, one that in hindsight makes The Decision seem tame. LeBron’s choice immediately impacted the NBA draft as Cleveland’s choice of Andrew Wiggins with the first pick led to him being shipped, albeit after a mandatory waiting period, to Minnesota for Kevin Love. Two years later, the Cavs had their first championship.
That’s the level of crazy to bear in mind over the next couple of weeks. There are moves that get front and centre, like where is LeBron going this time, and then there are huge ones with the potential to deliver a massive shock. The Spurs may be the most likely to shock the NBA world as rumors continue to swirl that Kawhi Leonard is available for the right price. And Leonard is not the only All-Star who could find himself with a new home. The Clippers could package DeAndre Jordan with the 12th/13th overall picks to move up, while the Raptors clearly need to modify their current roster to become a title contender, which means potentially moving on from one of Kyle Lowry/DeMar DeRozan. Although betting on the NBA Draft hasn’t be rolled out on all sportsbooks, Sportsbettingdime monitors which online betting sites do offer the best available bonus options as the NBA season draws closer to the finals.
Now think about the impact this could have on the top names in the draft. You look at, say, DeAndre Ayton and the odds are he hangs about where he is because the Suns aren’t quite ready for the big run but drop down a spot or two and it all gets very interesting. Sacramento at two look anything but appealing to Leonard yet San Antonio could force his hand and it’s not exactly out of character for the Kings to go big and overpay in terms of assets. With the second pick, the Spurs would be able to address their age issues in the back court quickly. Luka Doncic under Gregg Popovich would have people salivating unlike as it is. If they played their cards really well, they could turn it into more assets than just Doncic. Leonard’s got the credentials for the Spurs to downright rob a team in need if they want to.
Beyond that there’s the knock on for every other young head coming through or who has recently made a breakthrough. Think about Dario Saric in Philadelphia. If LeBron lands there, as seems to come up oh so often, and the Sixers manage to keep the Croat he could easily end up mirroring his countryman Toni Kukoc as the ultimate luxury sixth man on a team. It may mean reduced minutes for the Homey but it would also mean a better shot at a ring and, crucially, allow himself to be in position for a major leap at his next contract.
Finally, there’s the small matter of the veteran fallout. All signs point to Kevin Durant staying with the Golden State Warriors yet any exit from there has to beg questions of what happens to the spare parts. There is no direct replacement for a player of KD’s level so the Dubs would certainly be looking to bring in assets that replace his production. This means other bodies move…this means…farewell to Zaza Pachulia.
It’s going to be an interesting few weeks.
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