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2020 NBA Draft: Potential trades as teams work through league’s shortest offseason

(Steven Freeman / NBAE via Getty Images)

As NBA fans flipped their calendars to November in 2020, they saw something that likely surprised them when they looked at what’s happening in the middle of the month.

Just about a month before the proposed start date for the 2020-2021 regular season, the league will take center stage when the 2020 NBA Draft gets underway on Wednesday, November 18.

While fans themselves may not be fully prepared for the picks to start flowing a week before their Thanksgiving dinners, both teams and the players who have declared for the draft are ready to dive in, albeit in a virtual setting.

Players like LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards will learn about their new homes just a month before their NBA debuts, and teams will look to select the future of their franchises and prep those young stars for in-game action in a short span.

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While some teams have their preferred choices in mind already, others have seen their names floated around in trade rumors ever since the draft order was determined by the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery in August.

So, what types of moves could fans see as the 2020 NBA Draft looms closer, or even as the draft gets underway on November 18? It’s tough to say for sure, but there are loads of potential deals that could be made when teams find themselves on the clock on that Wednesday night:

  • Timberwolves trade the first overall pick to move back in the draft

Unlike the 2019 NBA Draft, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus when discussing who could come off the board first when the 2020 NBA Draft gets underway.

Don’t believe us? What if Minnesota Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas said so himself?

Rosas did exactly that about a month before the draft, saying that there is no clear No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

There isn’t a Zion Williamson, or an equally-intriguing player like Ja Morant. And, with a variety of talent and positions at the top of the board, it may come down to a need in the lineup rather than the desire for a generational talent.

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Do you take a guard like LaMelo Ball and hope it works out, despite D’Angelo Russell already being in the lineup? Do you roll with James Wiseman, despite Karl Anthony-Towns’ presence in the paint?

Or, do you trade the pick, with the idea that you can build up draft capital for future classes?

Don’t be surprised if, similar to the Boston Celtics’ situation in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Timberwolves punt on this one and trade back to a later pick in order to pick up more pieces for the future.

  • Warriors trade the second overall pick for future draft picks

Similarly, the Golden State Warriors find themselves in a unique position when evaluating their placement in the draft order.

An odd 2019-2020 season saw the Warriors become riddled with injuries, with the largest costing them star point guard Stephen Curry. Pile that onto the torn ACL that fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals, and it all added up into a lost season for the former Finals mainstay.

The franchise landed a second overall pick in the draft for their troubles, potentially giving them the ability to pick up a piece to reinstate one of the league’s most dominant dynasties.

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Unfortunately, the pick comes at an awkward time, with Curry and Thompson both ready to return for the 2020-2021 season, and star forward Draymond Green and relatively-new forward Andrew Wiggins ready to go after their own 2019-2020 campaigns.

Many may think the Warriors are toast in a perennially-great Western Conference, but forget that they were a consistent threat before Kevin Durant arrived in 2016. Curry will be a well-rested and well-oiled machine, and Thompson will be ready to prove himself after such an extended absence.

The team could pick up James Wiseman to fill a need in the paint, but they could just as easily trade the pick for more capital to build towards their future, knowing they have a historically-successful core to play with in the upcoming regular season.

  • Warriors package second overall pick with Andrew Wiggins

If the Warriors aren’t interested in moving the second overall pick for more in the future, they could make a large splash by packaging it with Andrew Wiggins.

The Warriors picked up Wiggins in a deal with the Timberwolves in 2020, giving up D’Angelo Russell in the process. The trade made a ton of sense, given the surplus of talented guards that the Warriors have in their arsenal, and their need for a solid small forward after Kevin Durant’s departure the previous offseason.

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Unfortunately for Wiggins, many immediately began to speculate about him being used as a trade piece in the future, potentially for a superstar like Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Wiggins has already been packaged into a massive deal in the past when he was sent to the Timberwolves before even playing a game for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and may find himself in a similar situation if the Warriors want a top-tier player to get them back to the NBA Finals in 2021.

  • Cavaliers package fifth overall pick with Kevin Love

Speaking of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the opposite end of that massive Andrew Wiggins deal in 2014, the Cavs could look to land themselves a superstar for the 2020-2021 season with a blockbuster trade on the night of the draft.

Holding the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Cavaliers could combine that selection with forward Kevin Love and either move their way up in the order, or try for a franchise centerpiece from a struggling team.

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Love’s trade value and star power have gone down since his success with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in the mid-2010s, but he could still add some veteran leadership and a solid presence on the floor for a team in need of a big man in 2020.

A team like the Boston Celtics could be interested, a team like the Phoenix Suns if they want to move on from Devin Booker, or even a team like the Washington Wizards if they want to surround John Wall and Bradley Beal with an extra piece for a potential playoff push.

  • Knicks attempt to move up from their eighth overall pick

The New York Knicks never cease to be in the conversation when discussing any big moves, whether it’s in free agency or the NBA Draft.

The franchise always seems to be willing to go for gold and convince their fans that they can do it all, evident by the thought that they would land Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and/or Zion Williamson over the last few years. Instead, they find themselves in limbo before the 2020 NBA Draft, wondering what the right next step truly is.

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Clocking in with the eighth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Knicks could try their hand at jumping up in the order for one of the handful of talented youngsters at the top of the board. They may not have a lot to work with from a trade value perspective, but they do hold two first-round picks in this year’s draft.

If a team like the Warriors wanted to punt on this year’s draft class, or just fall back in line in favor of multiple first-round picks later in the order, the Knicks could make some noise by landing a prospect like LaMelo Ball or James Wiseman to build up their core for the future.

  • Pacers land in the top 15 in a trade involving Celtics forward Gordon Hayward

The Indiana Pacers don’t have a first-round pick heading into the 2020 NBA Draft. So, how could they possibly jump up into the top 15 to work on their future, while improving their chances in the present, as well?

Enter the Boston Celtics, who may be in a trading mood as the draft gets underway. Some reports indicate that star forward Gordon Hayward wants out of Boston, despite the fact that he could opt-in to the final year of his contract to make $34.2 million in the 2020-2021 season.

Opting out would allow him the chance to test free agency for the second time since 2017, but may leave him with less money in the end as he gets set for his 10th full and 11th overall season in the NBA.

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If he were to opt-in, he could pick up his money, and get traded by the Celtics before the new season gets going. Boston would need to pick up a lot of pieces on the other end to match Hayward’s contract value, and could potentially have to part with the 14th overall pick in the process.

The Pacers have emerged as a possible landing spot for Hayward, and could move players like Myles Turner, Malcolm Brogdon, and/or Domantas Sabonis to land the former Butler University product and a top-15 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

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