NBA trade rumors: 5 teams that will be active on draft night

Profile Picture: Dan Halverson

Dan Halverson

November 16th, 2020

The NBA is a league that garners nearly as much interest in its offseason as it does its actual season, largely thanks to the importance that each unique personnel decision has on a team’s future. As part of that offseason, we get the NBA draft, trades, and free-agent signings, each of which summon a flurry of opinions on how wise the decisions were.

While the NBA draft is most exciting for the influx of new talent it brings into the league, it also serves as a catalyst for teams looking to execute trades amongst the turmoil. Let’s take a look at five teams most likely to make moves on NBA Draft Night as they look forward to the 2021 season and beyond.

1. Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks have been favorites in each of the last two seasons, only to fall badly in the playoffs. They have one of the brightest, youngest stars in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo, but recent NBA history indicates that superstars without equals on their own roster are prone to skip town to team up with better talent.

With that in mind, the Bucks will be mindful to compliment Antetokounmpo with pieces he feels give them the best chance to win. The Bucks have been rumored to have eyes on Pacers guard Victor Oladipo as well as Bogdan Bogdanovic and Jrue Holliday. Eric Bledsoe would be the likeliest departure in such a scenario, as the Bucks look for a bigger-bodied playmaker to complement their max-level star.

2. Detroit Pistons

The crux of the Pistons’ current situation is that Blake Griffin and his contract don’t make sense for the long-term outlook of the franchise. Griffin is past his prime and yet still makes enough in annual salary to limit the Pistons’ opportunity to bring in other, younger options. Discarding Griffin and continuing the rebuild with younger, cheaper players feels like an inevitable outcome.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves

There is no doubt that having the first overall pick in the draft is a privileged and envious position, and one that also results in endless speculation on the decision-making process of the franchise that holds it. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Zion Williamson are all No. 1 picks from the last 20 years that left fans excited and fulfilled. Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins, and Markelle Fultz are No. 1 picks that left their fans just the opposite. It is a heavy burden, and one that forces franchises to consider if trading away the pick makes more sense than creating the kind of pressure that comes with the selection.

In this year’s draft there is no clear-cut best choice, so trading down might make more sense for a franchise that is looking to find the right piece to fit around D’Angelo Russell and former No. 1 pick Karl Anthony-Towns. The Timberwolves are reportedly very high on Iowa State guard, Tyrese Haliburton, and with the other top three candidates to go first overall not appearing to be ideal matches in Minnesota, the team with the No. 1 pick in the draft will likely leverage its value to get what makes more sense for the franchise.

4. Phoenix Suns

If you recall back to the early days of the 2020 NBA bubble, before the playoffs and all of the excitement that came with it, the Phoenix Suns’ young roster made waves by going 8-0. That success almost certainly sparked a belief within the franchise that the future wasn’t as far away as they might have originally thought and the opportunity to win now could be realized with one major move.

The undeniable reason for their bubble success was young guard Devon Booker, a sharpshooter that can also get to the rim, and Booker also has former No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton to support him. The Suns are reportedly looking for a major upgrade at point guard as they attempt to claw their way out of the deep Western Conference basement and into the spotlight with their two young stars. Veterans Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook have both been rumored as potential big name targets for the Suns.

5. Houston Rockets

The Rockets franchise is currently in a state of turmoil, and where there is turmoil, there are trade rumors. Former general manager Daryl Morey is now in Philadelphia, and former head coach Mike D’Antoni is in Brooklyn, where he is serving as an assistant to Steve Nash. Their two stars, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, are arguably two of the more polarizing players in the league for players and fans alike, and rumors suggest both are looking to get out.

While the official franchise communication is that they plan to run things back with the existing roster, it’s impossible to deny that a changing of the guard at the GM and head coach position will cause change in the starting five as well. The latest rumor is that Harden is interested in joining forces with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in Brooklyn.

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