David Zalubowski/Associated Press
The 2018 NBA draft came and went on Thursday night, and while there were several draft picks swapped, there were no blockbuster deals involving star veterans.
That doesn’t mean that trades can’t still happen this summer—but the draft provided a golden opportunity for teams to make deals.
Now, the players must wait and see if they will be changing uniforms before next season tips off. With free agency right around the corner, there could still be plenty of movement around the league.
Eric Gay/Associated Press
All eyes were on Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs on draft night. However, the drama in the Lone Star State will continue into the summer as no deal was made on Thursday.
Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania reported last week Leonard wanted out of San Antonio due to the “mistrust” that developed as a result of the way the franchise handled his quad injury this past season, when he played in just nine games. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski followed that up by noting the All-Star’s preferred destination is Los Angeles, especially the Lakers.
However, hours before the draft, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported that the Lakers inquired about Leonard last week and the Spurs “basically shut the door” on them.
With Leonard entering the final guaranteed year of his contract (he holds a player option for the 2019-20 season), teams may be hesitant to give up much in a trade for a rental player if he has his sights set on L.A. next summer. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor wrote NBA sources believed Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough would dangle the No. 1 overall pick to San Antonio—but the Suns wound up drafting former Arizona star Deandre Ayton.
Meanwhile, the New York Times‘ Marc Stein tweeted during the draft that the Los Angeles Clippers offered the Spurs their two lottery picks (Nos. 12 and 13) in a package for the veteran forward. That did not prove to be enticing enough for a trade to get done, though.
After the draft wrapped up, Spurs general manager R.C. Buford made it clear that the organization will do everything possible to keep Leonard long-term, per ESPN’s Michael C. Wright:
Michael C. Wright @mikecwright
Here’s Spurs GM R.C. Buford on Kawhi Leonard: https://t.co/XXG6rzdxQZ
The draft offered San Antonio a chance to get an immediate return on a potential trade, but it was not a firm cut-off date. The team still has until the 2019 trade deadline to find a taker if it can’t convince Leonard to sign an extension. Otherwise, the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year could walk as a free agent next year.
Tony Dejak/Associated Press
With LeBron James’ future in Cleveland up in the air, there was speculation that the Cavaliers would look to tear the roster apart, trading veterans like Kevin Love.
However, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported on Wednesday that the team was not actively shopping Love and want him to be a Cav moving forward regardless of James’ decision. After all, the five-time All-Star can shoot from the perimeter, play down low and clean up the glass.
Well, the draft is over, and Love is still in Cleveland, without even so much as a sniff of a trade on draft night.
The Cavaliers will have to wait until next month to see if James will remain in his home state or if he will leave town once again. But based on the way draft night unfolded, and the team keeping the pick to select Alabama point guard Collin Sexton, it appears as though Love is in fact in the team’s plans moving forward.
Should James decide to sign elsewhere, Cleveland could rethink things and ultimately deal Love in order to undergo a full rebuild.
Chuck Burton/Associated Press
With Kemba Walker set to enter the final year of his contract, there has been speculation that the Charlotte Hornets will consider trading him rather than lose him for nothing next summer.
Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon reported prior to the draft that the Cavaliers—who held the No. 8 overall pick—were interested in the point guard. No deal was made on Thursday, but it’s certainly possible that the two teams have talks at a later time.
Had the two teams been in serious negotiations, the eighth overall pick could have been a key chip. Instead, the Cavs drafted Sexton, perhaps filling their hole at point guard. With the pick, one Walker suitor could be off the table.
Charlotte exited the first round with Michigan State forward Miles Bridges after trading the rights to former Kentucky point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to the Clippers. Had Gilgeous-Alexander remained a Hornet, Walker’s future with the team may have come into question as the team would have just used a lottery pick on a point guard.
For now, at least, it does not appear as though Walker will be on the move anytime soon.