The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics consummated a trade that caught many in the NBA by surprise. The Celtics agreed to swap the No. 1 pick with the 76ers for the No. 3 pick and a future first rounder.
Aside from the fact that the Sixers will add Markelle Fultz to an already dynamic core of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric, the timing was the most interesting aspect of the transaction.
This trade easily could have been made on Draft Day, but allowing for 4-5 days in between should provide teams to make even more deals. The Celtics, for example, are going to be overloaded at whatever position they decide to draft. Danny Ainge now has time to mull over his options, finding the best fit for his pieces.
The same could be said for many other teams. The Portland Trail Blazers, already a mile over the salary cap, will look to unload some of their big contracts–like an Allen Crabbe or Evan Turner–and have three first-round picks with which to lure suitors.
The Indiana Pacers are already fishing for takers for superstar Paul George. After the 27-year-old George announced he would play out his contract, but ultimately leave Indiana following the 2017-18 season, president Kevin Pritchard has no choice but to explore all avenues.
As teams try to navigate the expanded salary cap, others will look to dump some of their undesirable contracts. There will be takers, especially if the return includes draft compensation. Take the Brooklyn Nets. An abundance of cap space could allow general manager Sean Marks to eat one of Portland’s heavier deals if one of the Trail Blazers’ first-round picks is attached.
With the 2016-17 season producing a foreseeable outcome, the NBA Draft and corresponding free agency should make for the most exciting time of the league’s calendar. Remember, the Golden State Warriors were 23-43 in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season. That year capped a string of five straight seasons missing the playoffs.
Now, the Warriors are the toast of the NBA and one of history’s best.
Team-building has to start somewhere, and for many teams–that time could be now.