Expect Trades on Draft Day

Title: Expect Trades on Draft Day
Date: June 26, 2008
Original Source: Hoops Addict
Synopsis: This was a Hoops Addict article, explaining my expectation that the NBA Draft would feature a lot of teams trading picks and maneuvering for position.

This year’s NBA Draft could provide a trading frenzy the likes of which we are yet to see.

Last year on Draft Day, there were 12 trades registered. Names included Steve Francis, Channing Frye, Jason Richardson, Zach Randolph, Wally Szczerbiak, and Ray Allen. In 2006, there were 15, including very few established names but a great deal of pick swapping. Prior to those two years, there had been very little Draft Day trade activity for several years.

Why the sudden change in philosophy? Well, there’s not really any clear cut reason. One could be that each of the past two drafts have been deep in mid-level talent, creating more opportunity for trading between draft positions to secure the player that fits your team. Another could be that the last two drafts have lacked consensus entirely, making GMs unsure on Draft Day, enticing them to make moves.

But another reason, and it is the most likely, is that Draft Day has been discovered by front offices as the official start to your season. Not only do you potentially have a draft pick to add to your roster, you’re also a few days away from the official start of the season in salary cap terms. It makes sense then that it is also the unofficial start of trading season. Simple managing logic would dictate that you’d rather make a draft pick knowing what your needs are than not, so scoring a big deal on Draft Day instead of on July 9 or later is a huge deal when it comes to franchise planning.

So the trend seems to be heading toward more Draft Day movements. Additionally, this past season set a whole new precedent for trading. After the major Allen Iverson trade had mixed results, many thought the league would revert back to being gun-shy about trading superstars. Instead, the league went haywire this past season and we saw the likes of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Zach Randolph, Pau Gasol, Jason Kidd, Ben Wallace, Mike Bibby, and Shaquille O’Neal all dealt. Some worried that it was too much at once, and that the league would revert to its old ways because, well, not every team that made a big trade could win the title.
Still though, the runners up made a splash acquiring Pau Gasol, and the Champions are the new blueprint for risk-reward trades.

The fact that a trade on Draft Day, since you have more assets than at most any other time in the season, can net you a greater return is a huge advantage to GMs looking to acquire a missing piece. Offering draft choices in a trade offers hope to the other franchise and gives them a modicum of extra control in the trade.
On the other hand, the fact that Draft Day potentially offers you the greatest returns is enticing to GMs looking to rebuild, too. Obviously, the Draft is the best time to acquire draft picks, and the calendar scheduling is such that it could entice risk-averse GMs to trade for a proven star with a steady contract rather than trying to lure and sign a free agent.

The Draft is, essentially, the perfect storm for trading. The trend is towards more trading, the NBA has broken down all trade barriers, and the date makes the most sense for GMs in any position. Yes, the Draft is a day of renewed hope for many franchises and fan bases, but it might also be the best day of the year for front office executives.

We’ve already seen three deals go down, with the #27 pick being sold (from New Orleans to Portland) and the #20 pick being dealt for a future pick (from Denver to Charlotte), plus the imminent T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, and the #17 pick for Jermaine O’Neal trade between Toronto and Indiana. That last one could re-ignite the flame on the reaction chain that was last year’s trade deadline, too.

Be sure to check out Blake Murphy’s site, The On Deck Circle, on Draft Day, where he’ll be live-blogging the entire draft.

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