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2014 First Round Picks (Which Teams Own The Picks?)

While RealGM has an excellent database of the draft picks that have been traded between teams, I wanted to put together a summary more focused on the upcoming draft. For the sake of clarity, this version will only deal with the first round.

Atlanta Hawks- Have the right to swap their own pick with Brooklyn’s. At this point, it appears Atlanta will just keep their own and move on.

Boston Celtics- Have their own first and the less favorable of Atlanta and Brooklyn, likely Brooklyn right now. They have a future first from the Sixers as well, but it only goes this year if Philadelphia makes the playoffs. We all know that will not happen.

Brooklyn Nets- No matter what, they lose their pick without getting one in return.

Charlotte Bobcats- Their own first goes to Chicago as long as the Bobcats stay remotely on track (top-10 protected) but they pick up Portland’s unless the Blazers effectively lose out. The lingering question is Detroit- if the pick is 1-8, the Pistons keep it but if it’s 9th or worse it goes to Charlotte. My gut feeling is that once Detroit knows they will not make the playoffs we will see a push to the bottom reminiscent of the 2012 Warriors.

Chicago Bulls- Have their own pick and Charlotte’s unless the Bobcats collapse. The Sacramento pick they acquired in the Luol Deng trade is top-12 protected so it will not come this year.

Cleveland Cavaliers- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Dallas Mavericks- One of the more interesting situations in the league. By having top-20 protection on their pick (it goes to Oklahoma City if it falls 21-30 this year), the Mavs could lose their pick if they make the playoffs. Right now, the bottom seeds in the West look to be about even with the 3-4 spots in the East, so it could go either way.

Denver Nuggets- They keep the better of their pick and New York’s, sending the worse one to Orlando.

Detroit Pistons- Keep their pick if it is eighth or better, otherwise it goes to Charlotte. I fully expect them to understand the incentives and lose enough to retain it.

Golden State Warriors- Their first goes to Utah no matter what.

Houston Rockets- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Indiana Pacers- Their pick is going to Phoenix as a part of the Luis Scola trade from last summer.

Los Angeles Clippers- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Los Angeles Lakers- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Memphis Grizzlies- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Miami Heat- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Milwaukee Bucks- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Minnesota Timberwolves- The pick is top-13 protected, meaning they have to make the postseason or have the best record of any non-playoff team to send it to Phoenix. At this point, it looks like the pick will be No. 13 and thus the Wolves will keep it.

New Orleans Pelicans- Their pick goes to Philadelphia unless it lands in the top-five. It will be hard for the Pelicans to jump enough of the teams “ahead” of them, but they still have a shot of jumping them in the lottery itself.

New York Knicks- They lose their pick no matter what, though the destination could change.

Oklahoma City Thunder- They have their own pick and get Dallas’ first if it ends up between 21 and 30, certainly a possibility.

Orlando Magic- Retain their own pick and get the less favorable of Denver and New York’s selections. This could end up swinging on whether the Knicks can make the playoffs- if they do, the pick falls a few spots to No. 15.

Philadelphia 76ers- They keep their own pick as long as they miss the playoffs (just a formality at this point) and pick up one from New Orleans as long as it falls outside the top five.

Phoenix Suns- They have their own pick and Indiana’s on lock and appear likely to pick up Washington’s since the Wizards should make the playoffs. Minnesota’s pick has top-13 protection, so I expect the Suns to only end up with three this year.

Portland Trail Blazers- Their pick is going to Charlotte unless the Blazers have a truly epic collapse.

Sacramento Kings- Their pick has top-12 protection, so the Kings look like they will keep it even if they rattle off some late-season wins.

San Antonio Spurs- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Toronto Raptors- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Utah Jazz- They have both their own pick and Golden State’s.

Washington Wizards- They will send their pick to Phoenix barring a major letdown.

Isaiah Thomas Learning To Lead As He Approaches RFA

Isaiah Thomas was the last pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Depending on how you classify some of the combo guards from that class, anywhere from a handful to a dozen point guards were selected before of the former Washington Husky.

Two-plus seasons later, only Kenneth Faried, Chandler Parsons and Kawhi Leonard have contributed more Win Shares to their respective teams than Thomas, who tops all other lead guards in that category -- even Kyrie Irving, who was the No. 1 overall pick.

Despite being the last player taken, Thomas stepped in and immediately played a significant role with the Sacramento Kings. He has started 146 of his 209 career games -- including more than half as a rookie.

The Kings have legitimate scoring options in Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins, but that hasn’t transformed Thomas into a pass-first guard. He averages 15.4 shot attempts, just a touch behind Cousins (16.2) and Gay (15.6). The trio have accounted for 57.1 percent of Sacramento’s attempts since Gay arrived via trade in December.

“I’m just continuing to progress and learning how to lead an NBA team. I’m learning how to pick and choose my spots because I’m more of a scoring point guard,” Thomas told RealGM when asked about how he rates himself.

“Just when to be aggressive and when to get my teammates involved. It’s a learning process and I’m doing that by watching other top point guards in the NBA and through the coaching staff.”

Despite featuring three 20-plus point scorers, the Kings have never flirted with playoff contention. They were 5-13 when they acquired Gay from the Toronto Raptors and have gone 17-29 since. They increased their winning percentage by nearly ten-percentage points, but still entered Wednesday in last place.

“I don’t think the season has gone so well. We expected some much out of ourselves, especially with the group of guys that we have now,” Thomas told RealGM last month.

“We are very talented and feel like we can compete with anybody in the league. We just have to translate that to wins. It’s been frustrating because when we lose it’s kind of been the same reasons why. We have to figure out how to execute down the stretch of close games.”

Thomas, 25, is young and figures to have a role in the Kings’ future, but will be a restricted free agent this summer. He figures to have many suitors, if he so chooses, when you consider his numbers -- 20.3 points, 6.3 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 34.7 minutes.

The third-year guard has been consistent, scoring at least 10 points in 56 games and 20 or more in 34 contests, but loves how the NBA schedule allows players to quickly erase bad memories.

‘That’s the good thing about the NBA,” he said. “Whether you have a good game or a bad game, the next game will be close enough. Especially when you don’t have a good game or you lose a certain type of way, you always want to get it back by playing better that next game.”

Thomas hasn’t had many poor individual performances this season, but the Kings lose enough to make him long for another chance to get out on the court.

If general manager Pete D’Alessandro plays his cards right, the Kings could reverse their fortunes sooner rather than later. They should have a top-eight pick this June. They owe a first rounder to the Chicago Bulls, but it’s top-12 protected in 2014. Grabbing one of the best prospects from this draft to pair with their current core would certainly be a step in the right direction.

Regardless of his Sacramento’s short and long-term future, Thomas has carved himself a place in this league at 5-foot-9 despite the growing trend towards bigger point guards. In the Western Conference, Thomas is consistently matched up against some of the game’s biggest stars.

“It’s always going to be a big man’s league, but there are some talented guards out there, especially at the point position,” Thomas said.

“You usually don’t have a night off. Every night you’re playing against a very talented guard, whether it be an All-Star or an up-and-coming guy. You have to have your guard up and just be ready for whatever happens. I love competition. I love going against the best and showcasing my talent.”

As impressive as his statistics look, Thomas deserves credit for maintaining his numbers while also having to carry a strong defensive load against the best guards in the West.

“The hardest guys to guard are guys like Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook,” he admitted. “Westbrook because he’s in attack mode every play and you can’t take a play off defensively. With Curry, once he gets over halfcourt it seems like he’s in shooting range, so those are my two toughest covers. At the same time, you’ve got to try and make it tough on guys like that and take away what they are comfortable with.”

Thomas has logged the fifteen-most minutes in the NBA, but he has yet to slow down. He’s shooting 49.1% since the All-Star break and has averaged three more minutes per game.

“Yeah, but that’s what you work all summer for, to be in the best condition you can possibly be in,” he said when asked if his defensive assignments take away from his offense.

“You’re not going to have time off on the defensive end. Any point guard you go against, you’re going to have a tough time on both ends. You have to play. Like I said, I love competition and to get the best out of me.”

So far, the highest level of basketball competition has gotten plenty out of Isaiah Thomas.

The Third Contract

While justifiable and collectively bargained, the last two CBAs possess a few particularly interesting processes that have huge effects on decision-making. Some of these, like the Chandler Parsons situation (where the Rockets can pick up his super cheap team option and allow him to be Unrestricted in 2015 or decline it to have him Restricted this summer] and the repeater luxury tax get plenty of ink. However, one of the more interesting impacts comes from a more abstract place and deserves more attention.

In today’s NBA, most players have very little control over their destination for their first two contracts. The first typically comes by being drafted so the athlete has almost zero say in where he ends up. For high level players in particular, the gigantic disincentives in terms of financial security have meant that only Ben Gordon (not risking as much because a max deal was not on the table) has declined extending and spent two seasons in peril in exchange for unrestricted free agency.

These factors combine to create a fascinating set of circumstances when the second contract ends, as the best players have spent 7-9 years in the NBA (likely in the same city) and are just entering their primes in most cases. After having all that time with zero say, a vast majority of them enter the free agent market because the current extension rules are not favorable for young players due to limitations on contract length.

As such, the league sees high-level players able to be truly wooed for the first time in their professional careers with dramatically weaker disincentives to leave and a new CBA that makes sign-and-trades a less useful proposition. The combination of complete freedom and years of team control means that the third contract typically marks the first time we really get to know what a player wants in the short and long-term.

LeBron James and Chris Bosh used their third contract to join forces with Dwyane Wade and have reached the NBA Finals  in every season since The Decision.

Dwight Howard spurned the Lakers to make the Rockets a new Western Conference contender.

Ten years ago, Kobe Bryant publicly flirted with the Clippers before returning to the Lakers.

The third contract carries so much intrigue because as much as we think we know about NBA players, they never have the choices available to them earlier in their careers. There are plenty of valid reasons for someone to select their next location: team quality, connections with their current team, a good front office and/or coach, and a nice city to live in often carry weight in these circumstances. That said, each and every individual values those factors in different ways and can see the same landscape meaningfully differently. Thanks to a confluence of events from David Kahn not putting a five-year deal on the table for Kevin Love to opposing teams being restricted to offering four-year offer sheets, the next few summers will be full of tantalizing young talent finally gaining the freedom to go where they want.

Summer of 2014

All-Star snub Kyle Lowry looks to capitalize on a big season by being an unrestricted free agent for the first time.

Luol Deng and Emeka Okafor will also experience free agency for the first time since their second contracts were six-year deals grandfathered into the new CBA.

Rudy Gay has the choice of entering this class or the next one thanks to his big player option.

Astonishingly, Andrew Bogut would have joined this UFA first-timers group had he not signed an extension with the Warriors over the summer. Bogut has never been a free agent of any type in the NBA and will not be until 2017 with 12 years of service at that point.

While some people are already saying he may be close to done, Danny Granger gets an asterisk since he was a free agent this week but will have his first summer on the open market. 

Summer of 2015

While Kevin Love generates the most headlines, the third contract group for 2015 runs incredibly deep. Likely Defensive Player of the Year Roy Hibbert joins 13-14 DPOY Marc Gasol on the unrestricted market assuming Hibbert declines his player option.

If those three All-Star bigs were not enough, Brook Lopez has a player option as well and could leave Brooklyn if the team disappoints between now and then. His twin brother, Robin, will be in this class too, which could be something to watch considering their close relationship. In case this group needed another big, Robin’s current teammate LaMarcus Aldridge can select his team as well and should generate major interest around the league. You can add in DeAndre Jordan as the cherry on top.

Thanks to a five-year extension under the old CBA, Rajon Rondo will hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in 2015.  Rudy Gay, another member of the 2006 draft class, joins the group if he picks up his player option this summer. Philadelphia forward Thaddeus Young can add himself to the mix if he declines his option year while Arron Afflalo could be here as well if he declines his fifth year player option.

Finally, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin will have a more normal free agency after back-loaded contracts as RFAs landed both of them in Houston while Wesley Matthews gets his chance after a “poison pill” deal put him in Portland two years before Daryl Morey got his two.

Summer of 2016

Kevin Durant gets the top of the marquee (as he should) but this strong group also includes Joakim Noah, Noah's Florida teammate Al Horford, and Mike Conley. Incredibly, Dwight Howard could be gunning for his fourth contract the same summer since he signed a deal with Houston that made his fourth season a player option.

Interesting starters like Ryan Anderson, Nicolas Batum, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Brandon Jennings and Eric Gordon (if he picks up his option) could join the party too.

Summer of 2017

Likely the first group of players to become UFAs under the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, Thunder teammates Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka and former teammate James Harden headline a group that includes Derrick Rose (get healthy!), DeMar DeRozan, Tiago Splitter, Taj Gibson, Jrue Holiday, George Hill, and Tyreke Evans.

We should see a vast majority of these players hit true unrestricted free agency since the current CBA limits the length of non-rookie extensions to three years after the end of their existing contract. Since these individuals should be good enough to get four or more, I fully expect them to maximize their potential security and enjoy getting wooed for the first time as professionals. This shifted reality could lead to the power dynamics in the league changing more frequently than under previous agreements and make July 1 a much more interesting time each year.

Kings Lacking Commitment To Long-Term Rebuilding Process

Sacramento should have two main goals for the next few seasons. The first is to develop its young players, while emphasizing ball movement and defense. The second is to acquire two high lottery picks with the intent of drafting a superstar caliber young player. Trading for Rudy Gay was counterproductive to both of these goals.

Grading The Deal: Raptors Trade Rudy Gay To Kings

In trading Rudy Gay, the Raptors get a better look at the young talent that actually matters to their future while gaining more flexibility at a time they can actually use it with the possibility of two more interesting players.

Top-60 Players In NBA Today (Considering Everything)

The goal here is look at overall long-term value of players by considering age, contract, positional scarcity and of course overall quality, without factors like a player’s connection with a franchise or fit within a specific system.

2013-14 NBA Season Preview

While the Western Conference has six teams (Clippers, Thunder, Rockets, Grizzlies, Warriors) in its first tier, the Eastern Conference is a tier of one (Heat) with the Bulls, Pacers and Nets vying for the second tier.

Demystifying DeMarcus Cousins

Despite all of DeMarcus Cousins' flaws, it still feels better to make a bet on a high-ceiling talent turning it around with a change of scenery (even strangely available for the Kings with new people) because elite players play such a big role in playoff success and championships.

The NBA's Mediocrity Treadmill Since 84-85

The treadmill is somehow both more and less common than some might think. While teams tend to fall within the 30-49 win range, as would be expected in such a competitive league, the dreaded never-ending stream of late lottery picks is uncommon.

2013 NBA Mock Draft (Final Edition)

Draft day has finally arrived and while everyone pines for the 2014 class already, this one has the chance to be sneaky good in the 'many quality starters' variety.

2013 NBA Mock Draft (Wednesday/Quality Of Opp. Edition)

In this mock, we include the PER of each player based on the quality of opponent. Even statistics in this context can only go so far, but helps move beyond the possibility of inflation against competition that isn't even close to being NBA caliber.

Choosing Destinations For The 2013 Free Agency Class

The 2013 free agency class won't stop everything the way 2010 did and 2014 will, but it is strong and deep with many different possible outcomes. Here is what the top-30 players 'should' do.

2013 NBA Mock Draft (Draft Week Edition)

Entering draft week in a draft universally labeled as weak preceding the best draft of the decade, few people are talking themselves into falling in love with any specific player as fervently as usual.

2013 NBA Draft Board

Victor Oladipo, Steven Adams, Rudy Gobert, Otto Porter and Alex Len join Nerlens Noel at the top of our draft board.

The Eliminated (Western Conference Teams)

Two playoff teams from a season ago (Mavericks, Jazz) joined repeat lottery clubs such as the Suns, Hornets/Pelicans, Blazers, Wolves and Kings.

Learning From The Kings' Thomas Robinson Mistake

The Kings thought Andre Drummond was too big of a gamble, but passing on him for Thomas Robinson was always the riskier move.

Grading The Deal: Thomas Robinson Traded To Rockets

The Rockets were expecting a quiet deadline, but then got the festivities started by acquiring Thomas Robinson in a six-player deal and clearing Marcus Morris for a second round pick.

If Pro Sports Were Actually Run Like A Business..

Franchise relocation is a race to the bottom that pits city against city, which owners of all four major professional sports leagues in North America have used to their benefit.

No Bad Drafts, Just Bad Drafters

One of the weirder aspects of NBA draft coverage is the groupthink mentality that quickly emerges and downplaying the quality of a draft class seems to be a pastime for many “NBA insiders.” Far too often, teams deal away first round picks thinking the guaranteed contract that comes with it is a burden rather than an asset.

The Kings' Real Problem

DeMarcus Cousins has only begun to scratch the surface of his potential, but his uneven development is as much his organization’s fault as his own, The Kings lack talent and the talent on hand doesn’t maximize the strengths or minimize the weaknesses of their franchise player.

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