We have reached that point of the NBA calendar year in which chaos is about to ensue with all of the rumors that are out there. The 2023 NBA Finals between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat roll on, but the other 28 teams across the league are preparing for the NBA Draft in two weeks, as well as what will be a very interesting free agency period.
With the new CBA deal guidelines on the horizon, how will teams be allocating their funds this summer? Will this result in some teams letting their star players go as a result of financial restraints?
How teams react to these new sets of rules will be interesting to monitor, but a lot of the league's focus right now is on the draft. Victor Wembanyama will be the first pick by the San Antonio Spurs come June 22, yet the rest of how this night will play out is unknown.
There could wind up being several trades made on draft night this year, resulting in some of the top prospects ending up on a team nobody thought they would be on.
It is the NBA offseason and there are plenty of questions being asked. There is no better time to go through all of them than right now, so let's dive right in and take a look at some fan questions in this edition of the NBA intel mailbag!
1. What are the latest NBA rumors surrounding Scoot Henderson and where he will end up in this year's draft?
If Wembanyama was not in this year's draft, there would be serious cases being made for Scoot Henderson to be the first overall pick. With how things played out in the lottery, though, Henderson may not even be a top-three pick in this draft.
Let's just go through the latest info around the league.
The Charlotte Hornets are picking second overall this year and have a clear need for a scoring weapon on the wing alongside All-Star LaMelo Ball. Pairing Henderson with Ball is certainly advantageous, but the wide-ranging expectation around the league right now is that the Hornets prefer Alabama's Brandon Miller with this second pick.
Should Charlotte pass on Henderson, the question then becomes whether or not the Portland Trail Blazers will select the best guard prospect in this year's draft. Damian Lillard does not appear to be going anywhere this offseason, which is why there are a lot of rumors suggesting that the Blazers will be talking with other teams around the NBA about trading the No. 3 overall pick. Portland wants to make moves that set them up to win right now. Drafting Henderson would surely help them win now and in the future, but they also have Anfernee Simons in their backcourt. Keeping the third pick and selecting Scoot would create a major logjam and lack of size in the Trail Blazers' rotations.
If they cannot find a trade they like involving this third pick, Portland will have a decision to make because the organization is also high on both Amen and Ausar Thompson, two other top-five talents in this draft class. Will the Blazers shock everyone and select one of the Thompson twins over Henderson? It is unlikely, but the possibility of this happening is certainly believable as the draft approaches.
Should he fall to fourth, the Rockets would undoubtedly draft Scoot Henderson, that is assuming they don't trade this pick for assets. At this point, where Henderson ends up controls this draft. There could very well be a team that gives up a lot to grab him should he fall to third or fourth overall.
2. Is the Bilal Coulibaly hype real?
Many may not know who Bilal Coulibaly is, and those who do recognize his name probably know him because he is Victor Wembanyama's teammate in France. A lengthy wing who has proven to be a very effective 3-and-D player, Coulibaly has been one of the biggest risers in this year's draft class over the last few weeks. Teams have been enamored with his potential to grow, and the best part about potentially drafting him is that he is only 18 years old. I am buying all of the Coulibaly stock right now because when you mix the intangibles he has with his high understanding for where to be on the floor, you suddenly have a prospect who can turn into an elite-level player for many years to come. He's not going to be as good as Wembanyama, but Coulibaly is certainly more than just “Wembanyama's teammate.” At this point, I would not be shocked to see him end up in the lottery with a team like the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder or Toronto Raptors.
3. What does free agency look like for Cam Johnson and Austin Reaves? Will either player be on the move this offseason?
Other than Jeremy Lin with the New York Knicks during the 2011-12 season, I don't think I have ever seen every NBA fan latch onto one player like they have with Austin Reaves. The Los Angeles Lakers struck gold with Reaves as an undrafted free agent in 2021 and, now, it is not hard to say that he is their third-best player behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Every team needs a guy who plays with high energy and is willing to sacrifice his body or own personal gain for the better of the team. This is exactly what the Lakers get with Reaves every single possession, which is why they are not giving him up whatsoever. Whatever the cost may be, the Lakers are prepared to keep their young guard. Being a restricted free agent this offseason, it is hard to imagine another team actually having a shot at landing Reaves, and most of the NBA rumors out there reflect this.
As for Cam Johnson, the same narrative can be applied. The Brooklyn Nets acquired Johnson in the trade deadline deal that sent Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns. In 25 games with the Nets, he averaged 16.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting 46.8 percent from the floor and 37.2 percent from three-point range. Brooklyn envisions Johnson being a main part of its core for many years to come and will have the ability to match any offers that come in for the sharpshooting wing, just like the Lakers with Reaves. According to Yahoo's Jake Fischer, the Houston Rockets are a team that holds interest in Johnson, so the Nets may have to pay up if they want to retain the former first-round pick in free agency.
In regards to Reaves and Johnson, I find it hard to believe that they will be playing for teams other than the Lakers and Nets, respectively, next season.
4. What teams could potentially look to add a second-round pick or essentially “buy” a pick this year?
Every single draft, there is at least one team that trades their coveted cash considerations for a second-round pick. Whether it is to draft a guy who fell out of the first round or to simply round out their roster with a rookie, there always seems to be a cash trade on draft night. I kind of feel bad for the guy because cash considerations has been nothing but loyal to his franchise through the years, yet he always gets the short end of the stick. Well, at least we still have the infamous Orlando Magic social media graphic honoring him!
Anyways, what was the question again? Oh, yeah, who is going to trade up in the second round or buy a pick. Looking at the draft board this year, only three teams do not own any picks: the Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks. Of those three teams, the Knicks feel like the most likely to try and buy their way into the second round, likely in that 31-38 region to grab a potential first-round graded prospect. The Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans, who each own just one first-round pick this year, are two other likely candidates to try and gain a second-round pick. As for teams that could look to move out, a lot depends on what players are available later on in the draft, but the Hornets (34, 39), Magic (36) and Thunder (37) are all likely spots where teams will look to make a trade.
5. The Warriors and Wizards have both gone through major front office changes. What does the future hold for each team?
Let's start out with the Warriors here because they seem like the easier answer of the two. Bob Myers, the architect of Golden State's dynasty through the years, announced recently that he is not going to remain with the organization when his contract expires on July 1. There has been significant interest in Myers across the league, most prominently coming from the Los Angeles Clippers in recent months, but it does appear the Warriors executive is going to step away from the NBA as a whole for the time being based on recent rumors. As for who will replace him, there is a strong belief across the league that Mike Dunleavy Jr. will oversee basketball operations as the team's new general manager.
Dunleavy has been a main voice in the Warriors' front office through the years and always seemed to be the guy teams talked with before getting through to Myers. From the top of the organization to the players and support staff, the Warriors still believe that they have what it takes to win another championship. Owner Joe Lacob made it clear recently that money will not stand in the way of this, which is why I believe there will be no significant changes to their core in the offseason.
For the Wizards, Michael Winger is the new president of Monumental Basketball, which oversees the Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics (WNBA) and Capital City Go-Go (NBA G League). The Wizards also made a move by hiring Will Dawkins, who had been an executive with the Thunder since 2008, as their new general manager. What direction Washington heads in now remains a mystery, as this year's draft will be very telling for what the future holds for them. The Wizards own the eighth overall pick and have some decisions to make regarding their roster.
Kyle Kuzma is going to be opting out of his contract to become a free agent, Kristaps Porzingis has a player option and seems to want to remain in Washington on a long-term deal, plus both Monte Morris and Delon Wright will be entering the final years of their contracts. In terms of the draft, it seems very likely that Washington will target backcourt depth. Assuming they retain Kuzma and keep Porzingis as well, look for the Wizards to string together one or two offseason moves to try and improve their outlook in the Eastern Conference. If they can remain healthy, this team can potentially make the playoffs, especially with Bradley Beal on the floor.