The NBA lottery wasn't an anamoly, it was a sign. This offseason is going to be the craziest in recent memory and the fact that three teams jumped up to take the top three slots of the lottery only made things crazier. Currently there are good players who can become free agents, great players who are on the block, bad teams trying to decide if they should rebuild or try to win now, and very good teams wondering what move will help them become great. Draft day 2007 is going to be an interesting one. Let's look at who has what and where they might be headed.
1. Portland selects Greg Oden:
Yes, Kevin Durant fills their current roster better but you don't pass up Greg Oden because you have Zach Randolph and LaMarcus Aldridge. So after taking Oden, the first order of business in Portland is to find a new home for Zach Randolph and Darius Miles. In the case of Miles, if New York doesn't bite on a deal for Malik Rose or some sort of Jerome James and Nate Robinson for Miles and the 37th pick type deal, the Blazers will likely have to bite the bullet and buy Miles out. That leaves Z-Bo.
Dallas and Chicago need low post threats but neither team seems likely to add a possible malcontent. The Lakers could use a low post scorer but they need defense more than that, which isn't Zach's cup of tea. Kevin McHale never met a headcase or a bad contract he wouldn't trade for but he'd have to give up the #7 pick for Zach which might seem steep. In the end, the best deal might be to offer one headcase for another.
The Sacramento Kings could deal Ron Artest and Kenny Thomas for Zach Randolph. The Kings get a low post scorer that they haven't had since Chris Webber and dump Artest, who has never fit in. Portland takes on the premiere basketcase in the NBA but he can opt out of his final year (which is 2008/9) so it might be a one year flyer. And if it works out, an Artest, Aldridge, Oden frontcourt could be tough to score on.
One of the other issues for the Blazers is Raef Lafrentz's player option on his contract. I'm not sure if it's against the rules but if I was the Blazers owner, I'd broker a deal to pay Raef most of the money due to him if he agreed to opt out of his contract. If he did that, the Blazers could make a run at free agent Rashard Lewis to fill the three spot.
2. Seattle selects Kevin Durant:
Oh what a difference one slot makes. With Greg Oden on the team, Seattle could convince Rashard Lewis to stay and keep Ray Allen happy. However by winning the second pick, odds are that one of those two might be going to Disney World. 'Shard probably won't want to stick around when the new savior plays the same position and Allen probably won't want to wait for Durant to get acclimated to the NBA.
The Sonics don't have much say in the Lewis situation. He could just go and sign with Charlotte and there's nothing the Sonics can do. Only time can tell what will happen there. Ray Allen, however, is under contract so the Sonics control their own destiny. They could deal him to Orlando but all the Magic have to offer is Jameer Nelson and a sign-and-trade of Darko Milicic. (Although, in term's of Rashard Lewis, a Darko for 'Shard swap would be better than losing Lewis for nothing.) The Grizzlies could offer the #4 pick and Hakim Warrick but the Sonics would likely have to take on Brian Cardinal's crap contract. Frighteningly, the deal that could pan out is Wally Szczerbiak, the #5 pick, Gerald Green, Delonte West, Sebastian Telfair (likely to be waived immediately), and Brian Scalabrine for Ray Allen, Earl Watson, and Robert Swift. Personally, I'm not a fan of this but I could see Ainge pulling the trigger on that deal.
3. Atlanta selects Mike Conley Jr.:
Lord knows what Billy Knight might do but I think that he has to go with a point guard first. With a bevy of young talent and the #11 pick, he could easily try to move up to grab a better draft pick. Then again, if Knight focuses on the fact that he is going to lose his draft pick next year, he might want to force the issue. Ironically, one of his best targets might be Pau Gasol, the man the Hawks dealt away last time they had the #3 pick and forced the issue (they dealt Pau, Brevin Knight, and Lorenzen Wright for Shareef Abdur-Rahim). Still, I think the PG position is extremely important and the Hawks can't afford to blow another opportunity at bringing in a potential elite PG.
4. Houston via Memphis selects Yi Jianlian
The Grizzlies, like the Celtics, have to figure out if they want to win now or rebuild. And the Grizzlies, like the Celtics, will likely opt for winning now. Odds are that they won't be able to get what they want for Gasol (especially if Ben Gordon and Luol Deng is the going rate) so they will likely look to move the pick. While this deal would never happen, I think the best deal for all teams involved could be Mike Miller, #4, Brian Cardinal, and Hakim Warrick for Tracy McGrady. The Rockets become Yao's team and Miller would be a perfect complement. Warrick can handle the PF spot until Jianlian is ready to take over. While T-Mac is still a beast, he's getting older and has been talking retirement. And although Jeff Van Gundy took the fall, it's time to realize that the McGrady/Ming duo isn't going to bring a title to H-Town. Financially, the Grizzlies get the superstar they've been looking for in order to sell more tickets while the Rockets become China's team and sell even more jerseys.
5. Seattle via Boston selects Brandan Wright
While I don't like the idea, I'm going to stick with the trade I mentioned earlier with Ray Allen and Wally, Green, West and the #5 as the main pieces. The other option is the opposite direction which would be replacing McGrady with Pierce in the Memphis deal. That will never happen simply because there's no way Ainge could sell that to the fan base. So Seattle ends up with this pick and they have to decide between Corey Brewer's defense over Brandan Wright upside. I think the Sonics will opt for becoming Toronto West with Durant and Wright being their Bosh and Bargnani. Ridnour, Green, Durant, Wright, and Petro might be one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA but oh the upside!
6. Milwaukee selects Corey Brewer
If Atlanta wants to move up, some sort of deal involving Josh Smith and Shelden Williams for Brian Skinner, the #6, and Milwaukee 2008 pick could be discussed and it might be possible if Corey Brewer goes at #5 and Brandan Wright is still available here. Even still a deal could happen. Josh Smith is a defensive beast who might have worn out his welcome in A-Town. He also would be a perfect complement to the defensive-sieve that is Charlie Villenueva. Smith could handle the 3 or 4 while I'm not sure that Brewer is going to be able to help check Villenueva's man. If Wright isn't around though, I can't see Atlanta giving up so much unless they really are sick of J-Smooth's act. Brewer makes sense in Milwaukee as he replaces Ruben Patterson as the defensive stopper.
Part 2 to come tomorrow.