At the 2014 NBA Draft, all eyes will be on the Cleveland Cavaliers for what they do with their third No. 1 overall pick in four years. Joel Embiid looms at center, and there are plenty of other enticing options in the deep, talented draft.
While the sexiest story is at the top of the draft, the biggest subplot is how many of the draft picks were — and still are — up for grabs via trade. Even with over a month remaining before the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26, half of the draft's picks (and 14 of the 30 first-round picks) have been dealt, each with various protections attached. Rights to four of the first-round picks have already been traded twice (or more). And suffice it to say, the second round bears scant resemblance at best to the final NBA standings.
Here's a look at the trades of the first round, and for whom these teams gave away their picks. It's... it's not always pretty.
3. Philadelphia 76ers (PROTECTED, WILL KEEP PICK)
The Sixers traded 2013 first-round draft rights with lottery protection to the Miami Heat, along with second-round pick Justin Hamilton, in exchange for 2012 No. 27 overall pick Arnett Moultrie, who has not amounted to much. The 76ers retain lottery protection through 2015, at which point the Sixers would only give up second-round picks in 2015 and 2016. The Heat then traded these rights to the Celtics in January 2014 as part of a three-team deal involving Toney Douglas and Joel Anthony.
Given the 76ers' losing ways, count on this turning into two second-round picks.
8. Sacramento Kings (PROTECTED, WILL KEEP PICK)
Back in 2011, J.J. Hickson was a force in the making at power forward, so the Sacramento Kings sent forward Omri Casspi and the 2012 first rounder to Cleveland for Hickson. The pick was lottery-protected from the get-go, is protected through the top-12 this year and remains top-10 protected through 2017, so it stays in Sacramento this year.
But the pick was traded again this season. When the Kings get good enough to draft outside the top-10, the pick will go to Chicago, who acquired this selection in exchange for Luol Deng in a midseason deal this year.
9. Detroit Pistons to Charlotte Hornets
The Detroit Pistons came into the draft with a top-8 protected pick, the last piece of the Ben Gordon-Corey Maggette trade made days before the 2012 NBA draft. The Pistons sat at No. 8 in the lottery, and although the Hornets were going to collect on this pick at some point soon (it's only top-1 protected next year and completely unprotected in 2016), the Cavs' move up from No. 9 in the lottery to the top spot left Detroit's plum draft spot open for Charlotte's taking.
Just to reiterate, this was done for Corey Maggette and his expiring contract, which was used to lock up ... Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. Yes, there is a reason Joe Dumars does not work for the Pistons anymore.
10. New Orleans Pelicans to Philadelphia 76ers
In one of the ultimate building-for-the-future (or tanking, whatever) moves in recent memory, the 76ers traded away All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday and 2013 second-round draft pick Pierre Jackson for 2013 No. 6 pick Nerlens Noel — and his injured ACL that would leave him out for the entire 2013-14 season — and this pick, top-5 protected. The Pels showed just enough life that they finished comfortably out of the top five in this draft, so the Sixers are now poised to build around Noel, Michael Carter-Williams and their two top-10 picks in this deep draft.
11. Denver Nuggets (PROTECTED, WILL KEEP PICK)
12. New York Knicks to Denver Nuggets to Orlando Magic
Deep breath here, because these picks are related, as you may have guessed from the Nuggets' involvement in both. As part of the 2012 four-team trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers, one of the picks the Magic received in return was a 2014 first-rounder from the Nuggets. We say "a" and not "the" because Denver had already picked up an extra 2014 first-rounder from the Knicks back in 2011 in the blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony off to Madison Square Garden. The Magic were given the lower of the two 2014 first-rounders to which Denver held rights, and it just so happens that the two picks come in succession, so there's virtually no difference in value. So yes, this pick for the Magic has some very famous fingerprints on it.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves (PROTECTED, WILL KEEP PICK)
Phoenix got a 2014 first-round pick from Minnesota in a three-team deal a couple years ago, and it was top-13 protected. LO AND BEHOLD, Minnesota ends up here. There was an ever-so-slight chance the Timberwolves could have fallen to the 14th pick, mind you; all it would have taken was a lottery stunner into the top three from the 14th team in the lottery, which just so happened to be the Suns. But no, Phoenix was not that lucky. Obviously.
The pick is top-12 protected the next two years. And what did the Timberwolves get for Wesley Johnson and the (protected) rights to this pick? Three future second-round picks. All part of the plan, baby.
16. Charlotte Hornets to Chicago Bulls
This pick was part of a package the then-Bobcats put together to acquire Tyrus Thomas in 2010. That has not worked out particularly well for the now-Hornets. At the very least, protections kept the pick under Charlotte control in 2012 and 2013, picks that were used to acquire Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller, so this wasn't that much of a disaster of a trade.
17. Washington Wizards to Phoenix Suns
Washington gave up this pick and Emeka Okafor's expiring contract for Marcin Gortat and a host of spare parts in October. Considering the Polish Hammer's success in the capital city, that seems more than fair on both sides.
18. Brooklyn Nets to Boston Celtics
This is one of several first-round draft picks (either via swapped rights or outright traded away) the Nets gave up in the massive trade to Boston for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and friends. The trade effectively mortgaged the Nets' draft future through 2018, by which time Skynet should be in full control of the human race anyway.
21. Dallas Mavericks to Los Angeles Lakers to Houston Rockets to Oklahoma City Thunder
This pick is top-20 protected through 2017, so of course Dallas snuck in at 21 to set the ball in motion. This pick was Dallas' centerpiece in a deal that sent Lamar Odom to Dallas (whoops), with picks and swaps on both sides to even things out. The Lakers turned it and Derek Fisher around for forward Jordan Hill from Houston in 2012, and the Rockets sent the rights to OKC in the trade that landed them James Harden seven months later. OKC got Jeremy Lamb, Steven Adams, Alex Abrines and this pick in the deal; at the very least, Adams is contributing in the 2014 playoffs.
23. Golden State Warriors to Utah Jazz
This was one of several pieces the Warriors gave up in a three-team blockbuster deal between Golden State, Utah and Denver that ultimately sent Andre Iguodala to Golden State in 2013. The pick was left unprotected, but the Dubs correctly assumed the lottery would not be part of their plans in this offseason, and the deal has largely paid off even if Golden State's playoff run was, um, brief. There's still a second-rounder in 2016 and a first-rounder in 2017 in it for the Jazz though, so the terms are, shall we say, ongoing.
26. Portland Trail Blazers to Charlotte Hornets
This is the last piece of the trade that sent Gerald Wallace to Portland, and god, isn't that depressing? Remember what that was supposed to mean for the Blazers? Instead, Crash crashed out, playing only 65 games in Portland in parts of two seasons before being shipped off to the Nets. The Blazers gave up mostly spare parts in the trade (Dante Cunningham, Joel Przybilla, Sean Marks and the pick that was used to draft Tobias Harris), but still a bummer of a trade to reminisce on.
27. Indiana Pacers to Phoenix Suns
The Suns gave up Luis Scola for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and this pick. Though Scola's been a serviceable bench player for the Pacers, Plumlee's presence alone makes the move a winner for Phoenix, not to mention Green, who was a Most Improved Player candidate. This pick was lottery-protected through 2019, but anything Phoenix gets out of the player it drafts here will be gravy.