It's not a secret that the Wizards are hoping to acquire even more draft picks, to go along with the #1, #30 and #35 pick. Ted Leonsis spelled out this desire at the draft lottery, and Flip Saunders reiterated it the next day in his press conference. The Wizards probably figure they have so many open roster spots anyway, so better to fill it with cheap young talent than overpriced veterans.
Obviously, this is a refreshing change. But how do the Wizards actually go about acquiring more picks? We explore some possibilities below the jump.
First things first, be sure to take a few minutes and review the Bring Out Your Dead strategy, which I imagine is the most likely vehicle the Wizards will use to acquire more picks. In a nutshell, the strategy entails the Wizards taking on a team's overpriced veteran with their cap space in return for acquiring the pick.
Now that you're done with that, what picks might be up for sale? Let's take a look.
The pipedream: Philadelphia's #2 overall pick
Believe it or not, the 76ers are rumored to be open to trading the number two pick, mostly because of concerns about whether Evan Turner and Andre Iguodala could play together. Right now, the 76ers are asking teams to take back Elton Brand's gargantuan contract in return, but my guess is, if the 76ers are really willing to deal the pick, they'll soften that stance once they realize nobody wants Elton Brand.
If Brand is thrown off the table, the 76ers have a number of semi-large contracts they might want to shed. Samuel Dalembert, for example, is slated to make $13 million next year, though it is the final year of his contract. The Sixers also have Jason Kapono making $6.6 million next year, though he's also expiring in 2011. The Wizards would probably have to throw in a top prospect, like JaVale McGee or even Andray Blatche, but the prospect of Evan Turner, Derrick Favors or DeMarcus Cousins to go along with John Wall is certainly interesting.
Like I said, it's a pipedream, but it has to be mentioned.
The lottery picks that might be in play
Right now, I see a few lottery picks that Ted and company should ask about.
The first is Utah's at #9. The Jazz have some major payroll issues to resolve going forward, especially with Carlos Boozer being a free agent. Boozer struggled mightily in the playoffs and might get overpaid by someone else, but there's no doubt the Jazz will take a step back if they lose him. Therefore, while I haven't heard any noise about them putting this pick on the market, they might try to use this pick to clear up their luxury tax problems. My guess is, if they put the pick on the market, they'll force whatever team trading for it to also take on Andrei Kirilenko's ginormous $18 million contract for 2011. Personally, I'd do it, because AK-47 would only be around for a year and he could be a helpful piece in the short term, but I'd understand the reservations against doing it.
We also should keep an eye on Indiana's #10 pick and New Orleans' #11 pick. The Pacers are right up against the projected luxury tax next year and have several 2011 contracts they could shed to stay comfortably under that figure (Troy Murphy at $12 million, Mike Dunleavy at $10.5 million, T.J. Ford at $8.5 million and Jeff Foster at $6.6 million). Foster, in particular, slides right into one of the Wizards' new trade exceptions, and while his back problems have thrown his playing ability in doubt, he at least would be a good example for our young bigs. New Orleans, meanwhile, is in a similar spot, with the only difference being that they could conceivably argue they don't need more rookies because of how well both Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton worked out for them last year. The Hornets would probably force the Wizards to take back Peja Stojakovic ($14.2 million), but the Wizards could also ask for Morris Peterson ($6.2 million) instead. The other monkey wrench in this is that the Hornets could be sold this summer to an owner with deeper pockets than current owner George Shinn, so he might be less willing to trim payroll.
Finally, Memphis has made it very clear that they're willing to trade the #12 pick, but I'm not sure we have what they'd want. Michael Heisley is looking for a "impact player" and isn't as interested in shedding salary. Unless Memphis wants Gilbert Arenas (doubtful, but you never know), I don't think we can give them what they want.
I suppose Toronto and Houston might be willing to move their picks for salary relief, but I haven't heard anything saying so. Toronto's in such a state of flux now that it's tough to see what they'd do, and Houston, despite their luxury tax issues, looks like they want to move up, not down or out.
Other picks to watch
If the Wizards are willing to buy later first-round picks, I suggest they start with Miami at 18. The Heat are currently over the 2009/10 luxury tax, and draft night is the last chance they have to sneak under before the July 1 deadline. The Wizards are pretty much the only team that can facilitate that, because of their trade exceptions. Any other trade the two teams could make to shed salary wouldn't take effect until the summer, after the 2009/10 luxury tax is calculated.
This, I believe, is how the Michael Beasley rumor originated. Beasley's salary corresponded directly to the Wizards' $4.5 million trade exception, and the Heat figured they could dump Beasley on the Wizards in order to a) get rid of a potential problem player, b) get under the luxury tax and c) get even more cap room this summer. I think that the Wizards should instead look to acquire the 18th pick and a salary like James Jones' ($4.65 million in 2011, which is only partially guaranteed). They could also try to slip in a prospective free agent like Dorrell Wright, who I think could be a great potential corner-three-and-D guy for the right price (not sure whether Wright can be traded, but it's worth a shot).
The other picks I'd look at are Oklahoma City's two late picks (#21 and #26) and Atlanta's #24 pick. The Thunder already have enough rookies, and they probably would sell the picks if nothing else. They also might want to create a little more cap room so they could pursue a max free agent. Atlanta, meanwhile, has made it clear that they're willing to sell their pick for $3 million cash as a way to keep enough money to re-sign Joe Johnson.
I'm sure other picks will become available as the draft process goes on, but if I'm Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld, these are the teams I call first if I want another draft pick. Feel free to post other ideas in the comments.