The NBA draft is about welcoming the next class of stars into the league as teams look to build for the future.
It’s also about trades!
One year and a disappointing season later in Lakerland, could another Westbrook move be on the horizon?
Prior to draft night in Brooklyn, the league saw a trio of moves: the Oklahoma City Thunder acquiring JaMychal Green from the Denver Nuggets, the Dallas Mavericks trading for Christian Wood in a deal with the Houston Rockets and the Portland Trail Blazers getting Jerami Grant from the Detroit Pistons.
What else is in store on draft night and throughout the rest of the offseason? ESPN NBA insider Kevin Pelton is grading every move.
Note: Check back for the latest trade grades during the NBA draft: 8 p.m. ET on ESPN and the ESPN App.
Trail Blazers get:
2022 second-round pick (No. 46)
2022 second-round pick (No. 36)
2025 first-round pick (via Milwaukee)
2025 second-round pick
2026 second-round pick
Essentially, we can think of the Grant trade as part two of the deal that sent McCollum to the Pelicans ahead of the February trade deadline. Not only did the Blazers get the future first-round pick they sent to Detroit in the McCollum trade, they also generated the trade exception used to take on Grant’s salary.
Stripping out players on expiring contracts, Portland ultimately gave up McCollum, useful reserve Larry Nance Jr. and a pair of future second-rounders in order to get Grant, wing Josh Hart, unproven youngster Didi Louzada and the 59th pick in this year’s draft. I think that combination of moves makes sense for the Blazers.
In a vacuum, McCollum — particularly the version we saw running the point for New Orleans after the trade — is likely a better player than Grant. However, Grant (who was actually born in Portland while his dad, Harvey, was a member of the Blazers) is 2½ years younger, will make $12 million less in 2022-23 and better fits the team’s needs. With the emergence of Anfernee Simons as a third ball handler and shot-maker, an athletic forward like Grant was a far greater priority.
MORE: Grade for the Pistons
2022 first-round pick (No. 26)
Dallas Mavericks: B-
Adding Wood is an interesting response to Dallas’ run to the West finals.
Presumably, the Mavericks wanted to add another big man capable of stretching the floor. They had their most postseason success with Maxi Kleber or even Davis Bertans in the middle rather than starter Dwight Powell, who did not make a 3-pointer in their postseason run.
Like Kleber, Wood is capable of filling an increasingly important role in the modern NBA: playing power forward during the regular season then sliding down to center in the playoffs as teams downsize. Wood’s ability to both make 3s (he shot a career-high 39% last season on a robust 5.8 attempts per 36 minutes, nearly as many as Kleber’s 6.3 attempts) and providing a modicum of rim protection will give Dallas coach Jason Kidd the flexibility to play him with any of the team’s other frontcourt options.
MORE: Grade for the Rockets
Protected 2027 first-round pick
Nuggets get: 2022 first-round pick (No. 30)
Two future second-round picks
Oklahoma City could put Green on the Al Horford plan and try to rehab his value by the deadline. More likely, with the Thunder expected to draft a big man No. 2 overall, Green could be traded for a player on a worse contract this summer. He might be an interesting fit with the Utah Jazz as a more mobile backup 5, depending on what other, more dramatic changes the Jazz might make this offseason.
Second, there’s the question of whether Oklahoma City got enough value here. Depending on the second-round picks the Thunder send out in 2023 and 2024, a distant first-round pick for No. 30 this year and two second-rounders doesn’t seem like a great return. That might be consistent with what we’ve seen in past deals to move up in the draft, in which Oklahoma City has been willing to overpay from a surplus of picks.
But, pending protections on the 2027 pick, the Thunder could win big betting against the Nuggets’ long-term future. By 2027, Jokic will be 32 years old and Denver’s current core could be prohibitively expensive with Jokic likely to sign a supermax extension and Jamal Murray due for a new contract. If Denver ends up a low-level playoff team or worse, Oklahoma City could get access to a quality draft pick just as the franchise hopes to hit contention with this year’s No. 2 pick entering his prime.
MORE: Grade for the Nuggets