This might have been the most entertaining draft in recent memory. Lonzo to the Lakers, Jimmy Butler and Thibs reunion in Minnesota, and all freshman taken with the first five picks(first time in history) I know everyone has an opinion “oh he’s gonna be a stud”, “WHAT ARE THEY DOING?? TAKING HIM THIS EARLY!!” But not a single player in this draft has played an NBA game, so we have no idea what to expect from anyone who was drafted tonight…just remember hindsight is always 20/20.
*Bulls fans do not read*
Bulls fans draft night started off with losing their franchise player…AND a first round pick…in the same deal. I have never in all my years of following the NBA draft have ever seen the team trading away the superstar ALSO throw in their first too…and it probably will never happen again. The Bulls sent their franchise back like 4-5 years with this draft. They got Minnesota’s 7th…and with two possible franchise-changing players still,on the board(Monk & Smith Jr, heck even Ntilikina would have been a better franchise starter) they go ahead and take the 7′ footer Markkenen…who is basically just Mirotic 2.0. If you’re going to blow up the franchise…blow it up for real. I am just dumbfounded that they would draft for position, instead of best player available…when they still do need a PG for the future anyway…Dennis Smith Jr. should have been wearing a Bulls cap on Thursday. Zach LaVine has some excellent upside and was playing great before he got hurt, but he’s coming off an ACL tear & as Max Kellerman so lovingly put it “Kris Dunn was so bad last year that Minnesota couldn’t even consider trading Rubio” Wade & Rondo will now most likely be traded or bought out…so now next year’s starting five will look something like Dunn, LaVine, Morrow maybe? Portis, poor man’s Lopez…that sounds like the 2nd overall pick next year to me. The one thing about this trade that I still just can’t fathom is that when the Bulls fired Thibs, they called security to escort him out of the arena just to attempt to humiliate him. The Bulls really wanted to make a point that they were displeased with how he was running the team…so how on earth are you going to allow your former coach, whom you tried to make a fool of & have beef with, steal away your team’s star player? Minnesota should have been the last place on the Bull’s possible trade partners list for JB…Thibs got the last laugh in this one without question.
The Wolves have not made the playoffs in 13 straight years…(the Supersonics have made it more recently) but this move by the Timberwolves should finally put them in contention for the postseason for the first time in a very long time. When DK Live tweeted the alert out it was initially LaVine, Dunn, and 7th for Butler which I thought was actually pretty fair considering that it’s the last year of Butler’s contract and he was never going to resign with CHI anyway…but then Chicago threw in the 16th pick and it instantly became an overwhelming W for Minnesota. If you can remember back to the 2o16 draft, there were a lot of reports that Thibs was trying to get Butler, but the Bulls demanded Wiggins in any trade…so the Wolves patiently waited a year and were able to keep Wiggins and still get Butler for some dwindling assets. This trade was a win for the Wolves on all levels. They get an in his prime All-NBA talent in Butler, he gets to reunite with Thibs, and Minnesota is now an enticing destination for upcoming free agents this summer. Hats off to Minnesota for pulling off a robbery like this, they now have two top-15 players and a top 30 players that are still so, so young.
Danny Ainge is not a guy I would want to play poker against…I think he’s probably the best GM in basketball. He single-handily set the Brooklyn Nets franchise into the stone age and he traded Marcus Thornton & the 28th pick for an All-NBA point guard. I have no idea why free agency doesn’t start before Draft Day…If I was commissioner, I would push the draft back until mid-July…because every single free agent knows where they are going for the most part(I’m looking at you KD) Then teams could make easier decisions during the draft and take picks based on their current roster instead of hoping they can fill in positions where they didn’t draft…but if I’m the Celtics it’s go time right now…as we’ve seen with the Hawks(who won 60 games two years ago) the window for championship aspirations is small, they can’t just keep stacking asset after asset without turning it into a blockbuster trade. There were reports saying that they were going to sign Hayward this offseason(wife tweeted out picture of daughter in “Go Green” shamrock shirt) and they were going to trade for JB/Porzingas on draft day…but they lost out on the Butler sweepstakes to a team that had nowhere near the assets they have and Porzingas looks to be a Knick now for the long haul. Paul George is already set on LA after his Pacers tenure and reportedly told Boston that he would not want to sign with them long term…so now the only real shot they have is to try and package a monster deal for AD next deadline to the Pelicans if the fire & ice tandem isn’t working out. Possibly have a shot at Blake Griffin in free agency, but we’ll see.
Although I’m pretty salty towards the Kings for not taking Monk to pair with Fox because that was such a fun backcourt to watch in college, I think the Kings won the draft(excluding Minnesota) The Kings took Fox with the 5th pick, which is the first time Sacramento has had a franchise PG since like…Mike Bibby, they traded the 10th pick and turned it into Justin Jackson and Harry Giles,(who a lot of people thought would go in the top 10 if it weren’t for injury)The Kings got rid of guys like Boogie & Rondo to try and change up their culture, and they did a great job in this draft by getting some high character & charismatic young men. Things actually might be looking up for Sac-town… I could get behind a future starting five of Fox, Hield, Jackson, Giles, Cauley-Stein…but you have to keep in mind that it is still the Kings…so don’t get any 2020 Kings NBA Finals tats just yet.
New York Knicks
“Hello?” “Hello, Danny, are you there?” I’m 99% sure that’s what the phone call between Phil Jackson & Ainge sounded like when Phil requested Jaylen Brown, Smart, the 3rd pick, and next year’s Nets pick for Porzingas on draft night. I’m convinced that Jackson has already lost it at age 71, several reports say that he was trying to “entice” other GM’s with Noah’s contract in trade talks involving Porzingas…no seriously. He tried to start a bunch of Melo drama, is trying to get rid of the only viable future piece of their organization, and took Ntilikina over guys like Monk & Smith Jr. I kinda liked the Knicks roster on paper at the start of this season…AND Rose even managed to stay healthy this year, but it still led to them winding up in the 12 spot in the East. Besides Markkenan, Ntilikina at 8 was my least favorite selection of the top 10…probably even the lottery. He’s an extremely raw 18-year old who struggles to make accurate passes and really doesn’t have the quick first step you see from elite point guards. I just really saw Monk being a better fit and was shocked that Phil wouldn’t take him there at 8…but maybe I shouldn’t be.
The Hornets, who usually don’t make a lot of noise in free agency or the draft, came up smelling like a rose this week after missing the playoffs last year. Monk falling to them at 11 was the steal of the draft in my opinion(was really surprised Knicks didn’t snag him at 8) It wasn’t even that big of a news story, but they also landed Dwight Howard as the Hawks wanted to get him off their payroll so bad that they even threw in the 31st pick. This was a great trade for Charlotte because they got rid of Plumlee’s contract which was terrible, gained an aging Howard, but also got the first pick of the second round, it really looks like the Hawks are starting the tanking process just two years removed from a 60-win season. After a career year from Kemba, I love a backcourt of Walker & Monk, mixed with some lobs to D12 this next year, they should sneak into the playoffs this year as a 7 or 8 seed.
Los Angeles Lakers
There was a lot of arguing and disagreement in the Lakers front office, but NBA fans, Lakers fans, the media, and LaVar get their wish and Lonzo is now a Los Angeles Laker…but things might not be as great as they seem in LakerLand. Last summer teams were throwing money around like they had just gotten their tax refunds. Mozgov(who has never played 25+ minutes/game) is worth 64 million?? and bench guys like Tyler Johnson getting $50 million…moves like that last year are really going to hurt teams this year as the cap went from $102 million to $99 million and teams like the Lakers are feeling the effect. There were reports that the Lakers were offering 1st round picks just to get Mozgov off of their payroll…that is the biggest no-no in NBA GM 101 school like seriously. They made such a blunder with the contracts of Moz & Deng last summer that they had to give away a former #2 pick in Russell…who I know had his issues, but I think he’s going to be an excellent point guard at this level(check his post All-star break #s) I think the trade of Russell was actually good for both teams. The Nets finally have an asset to build around and the Lakers got Mozgov’s contract off their hands…yet somehow still got a first rounder from BKN for that…AND although he is getting old Lopez is still really good too. This season will be another grueling one…but Lakers have 2018 summer to look forward to.