Eleven established NBA players more likely to be on the move after NBA draft

Nets guard Joe Harris and Hawks big John Collins
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Rookies are rarely good. As far as short-term planning, NBA teams generally shouldn’t overreact to whom they draft.

But there are so many borderline decisions each offseason. A draft pick could tilt the scales just enough to the change the outcome, turning a 45% decision into a 55% decision.

Here are nine NBA veterans who appear more likely to change teams as a result of last night’s draft:

John Collins (Hawks)

Atlanta was already pushing the limit of building-block bigs with Collins and Clint Capela. Now, the Hawks add No. 6 pick Onyeka Okongwu, a center/power forward from USC.

Collins is probably the odd man out.

He’s seeking a big contract extension, and Atlanta was reportedly hesitant even before picking Okongwu. Trading for Capela just before the last trade deadline and drafting Okongwu look like preparation for trading Collins.

Though Okongwu is injured – a big deal considering training camp is right around the corner – the Hawks even already have Dewayne Dedmon to provide immediate depth at center.

Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, Lonzo Ball (Pelicans)

Who knows how much New Orleans wanted Bledsoe and Hill in the first place. They might have been just matching salary in the Jrue Holiday trade, which was primarily about securing a haul of draft consideration.

Lonzo Ball, who’ll be eligible for a contract extension this offseason, has shown signs of discontent with the Pelicans. He just hired Rich Paul as his agent, which doesn’t necessarily mean he wants out. Paul could negotiate an extension. But so could any agent. Ball knows Paul is the guy to hire when you want to leave New Orleans.

No. 13 pick Kira Lewis only adds to the crowd at point guard, making it less tenable to give everyone enough minutes to keep them even temporarily happy.

Malik Beasley (Timberwolves)

The Timberwolves’ core is comprised of only Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell – and maybe Anthony Edwards. The No. 1 pick would almost always be a centerpiece. But in this draft, Edwards might have just been the most appealing supporting piece available.

Definitely not part of Minnesota’s inner core: Beasley. The Timberwolves drafting another shooting guard No. 1 saw to that.

Minnesota could still keep Beasley in restricted free agency. He played awesomely down the stretch following a trade just before the deadline.

But with Edwards atop the Timberwolves’ priority chart at shooting guard, it’d be easier to let Beasley leave.

Beasley reportedly rejected a three-year, $30 million contract extension from the Nuggets. And that was before he took off with Minnesota. And before he faced legal issues. Beasley’s situation is now complicated.

Edwards’ is simple. He’s the No. 1 pick and Timberwolves’ preeminent consideration at shooting guard.

Devonte' Graham and Terry Rozier (Hornets)

The Hornets now have an identity: LaMelo Ball.

He was the biggest name and arguably best prospect in the draft, and Charlotte got him at No. 3. Instantly, the Hornets are building around the high-upside point guard.

Where does that leave Graham and Rozier?

Rozier wants to be a starting point guard, and it appeared he’d get the job when joining Charlotte in free agency last year. But Graham came out of nowhere to supplant him. The Hornets used enough two-point guard lineups to get by. Their backcourt was their strength, which isn’t saying much but isn’t nothing, either.

Charlotte won’t necessarily act quickly. Rozier has two more seasons on his contract, and Graham is eligible for an extension that – even at the highest-allowed amount – would be team-friendly. The Hornets tend to get paralyzed when faced with difficult franchise-altering decisions. There also might be benefits to not genuflecting to Ball.

Joe Harris (Nets)

Brooklyn could very well still re-sign Joe Harris in free agency. But the Nets just traded the No. 19 pick for another shooting guard in Landry Shamet.

Do they know something about Harris’ intent to leave? Do they prefer the cheaper Shamet and plan to let Harris walk?

Or are they just preparing in case Harris leaves?

You can never have too much 3-point shooting. Harris and Shamet could both provide floor spacing/efficient shooting around Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (and maybe James Harden).

But this trade at least raises antennas about the possibility of Harris signing elsewhere.

Aron Baynes (Suns)

By completing the Chris Paul trade before free agency opened, Phoenix forewent about $16 million of cap space and the $4,767,000 room exception.

Instead, the Suns will have the mid-level exception ($9,258,000), bi-annual exception ($3,623,000) and ability to exceed the salary cap to re-sign Dario Saric and Baynes through Bird Rights.

So, obviously there’s more imperative on keeping Saric and Baynes. Except it appears Baynes could depart.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:

Drafting Jalen Smith, a stretch big from Maryland, No. 10 only reinforces that perception.

D.J. Augustin (Magic)

Jonathan Isaac‘s season-ending injury could change priorities in Orlando. The Magic might be more content to take a step back next season.

Orlando is invested in Markelle Fultz at point guard, and Augustin provided a safety net at the position. But if willing to accept losing, why pay to keep a 33-year-old Augustin in free agency? Why not just hand the reins to Fultz?

That call gets easier with No. 15 pick Cole Anthony prepared to slide in behind Fultz.

De'Anthony Melton (Grizzlies)

Melton will be a highly intriguing restricted free agent. Another team could try to poach him with a big offer sheet.

Again, few rookies contribute positively. The last pick in the first round generally can’t be expected to do so. But No. 30 pick Desmond Bane is already 22. He’s sturdy with a good feel for the game. Though his ceiling is fairly low, he profiles as someone more likely to contribute early (which is not to say likely).

Bane would make it just a little easier not to match an offer sheet. (Or Memphis could easily keep both.)

If Memphis lets Melton leave and Bane proves unready for rotation minutes, Grayson Allen would provide a fallback.

PBT Podcast: Heat vs. Nuggets NBA Finals talk, Vogel to Suns


After three games of the NBA Finals, there are still so many questions. Can the Heat stop the Jamal Murray/Nikola Jokić pick-and-roll? Will Miami find 3-point shot again and will that be enough? Is Denver the team that does not wilt under the pressure Miami puts on them? Is there a better player on the planet than Nikola Jokić?

Corey Robinson and Kurt Helin from NBC Sports get into all of that, then talk coaching hires. Is Frank Vogel a good hire in Phoenix? speaking of coach talk, Corey’s Jukebox talks Monty Williams and how a classic Aretha Franklin song sums him up.

Finally, the conversation turns to Team USA and the roster headed to the Philippines for the World Cup this summer — a lot of young, athletic talent, but will any of the American NBA elites join them? Also, who is your favorite NBA mascot?

You can watch the video of some of the podcast above or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Miami has thrived in adversity all playoffs. They have plenty of it in Game 4.


MIAMI — Throughout the Heat’s playoff run, Erik Spoelstra has been confiding in and getting encouragement from another Miami coach — and it’s not Pat Riley.

Dolphins’ coach Mike McDaniel and Spoelstra have become friends.

“We’ve been texting back and forth,” Spoelstra said. “We share very similar thoughts about finding strength in adversity and using those as lessons to help you grow.”

Through that prism, the Heat have a real growth opportunity Friday night.

Miami trails Denver 2-1 in the NBA Finals heading into Game 4, and while that game is not technically must win for the Heat, it is in practice.

Getting that win means Miami finding some way to slow the Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray two-man game. Which is what every team has tried to do all playoffs long with no success, but Game 3 was the peak of their two-man game. The Nuggets stars ran 32 pick-and-rolls in Game 3, and those plays were the heart of both getting a 30+ point triple-double — the first teammates ever to have a 30+ point triple-double in any NBA game, ever. Murray and Jokić played 40 minutes together in Game 2 and the Nuggets were +14 in those minutes (in a game they won by 15).

“I mean, the Murray/Jokic two-man game is a pretty hard action to stop,” Haywood Highsmith said. “But we got great defensive players, got some of the great two-way players in this game, Jimmy [Butler] and Bam [Adebayo], so we’re gonna figure it out. We got a lot of different bodies we can throw at Murray as well.”

That might be the best adjustment the Heat can make —throw a lot of bodies at it, sell out to stop the Murray/Jokic two-man game and dare any other Nugget to beat them. Force them to diversify the offense. Denver coach Mike Malone has been able to lean into defensive lineups because Murray and Jokić provide enough offense, it’s time for the Heat to challenge that practice.

“Whatever you do, you just can’t do it all the time,” Spoelstra said of defending the Nuggets duo. “There’s no absolutes when you get to this level. It’s the highest level of competition. You’re getting the highest level of execution. Understanding what they’re trying to get to, and we try to get them out of their comfort zones as much as possible.

“The first half, they really got to that two-man action quite a bit. They were getting a lot of traction, so they didn’t need to go to any other part of their playbook.”

The Heat need to make adjustments, too.

One adjustment they will not make is playing Tyler Herro, he has been officially ruled out for Game 4. Herro went through a brief part of the fake practice/shootaround in front of the media on Thursday, but didn’t speak to the press. Spoelstra said Herro has not yet been cleared for a game, and while there were not a lot of details it didn’t sound like Herro was all that close.

Another thing the Heat need to do is less adjustment and more effort and luck — they simply have to shoot better.

Denver’s size bothered the Heat in the paint and Miami shot just 38.2% within eight feet of the basket. The Heat also got up 35 attempts from 3 but only hit 31.4% of that. Credit Denver’s size in the paint and they’re staying home with shooters for some of that, but Miami can — and Friday night must — do better.

Which brings up an interesting question: This deep into a playoff series, is it more about strategic adjustments, or effort and just playing better?

“I think it’s a little bit of both,” Highsmith said. “It’s definitely some things we can adjust on, and then it’s also about a little bit more effort and just doing more. You always need more, always can do more… we definitely have to make some adjustments on both ends of the floor, but you know, we’ll figure it out.”

Whatever Miami does defensively, Denver will score, they have an elite offense led by a two-time MVP in Jokić. If the Heat are going to even this series headed back to the Rocky Mountains, they must find more offense.

“I mean, they, they have a really good defensive scheme. They have good defensive players,” Duncan Robinson said. “You know, for us offensively, it’s going to be about creating advantages and really putting pressure on their schemes and their players to scramble and kind of get them a motion and a lot of that happens when we’re moving the ball attacking, playing to our identity.

“We had stretches last night, and definitely stretches in this series where we’ve done it. And, we’ve definitely had stretches where we haven’t gotten to that as much as we’d like to, so we’ll continue to work through it.”

They have to work through it fast because time is running out.

Bucks’ Middleton reportedly has knee scoped, should be ready for camp

2023 NBA Playoffs - Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat
Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

The Bucks said an MRI of Khris Middleton‘s knee just before the start of the playoffs was clean even if his play made observers question that news.

Turns out, maybe it wasn’t totally clean.

Middleton had his knee scoped after the playoffs, but he will return to his offseason training in July, reports Shams Charania and Eric Nehm of The Athletic.

The report said the surgery was to clean up “an issue that plagued him this past season,” and it was scheduled before the Bucks’ playoff run began. So, they knew, as did most anyone who watched Middleton and didn’t see the same burst as he had in the past, especially on the defensive end. He looked a step slow.

This minor surgery shouldn’t change Middleton’s or the Bucks’ off-season plans. Whatever those may be. Middleton has a $40.4 million player option, something he reportedly is considering opting out of to re-sign a longer deal with Milwaukee — or elsewhere — likely at a lower per-season salary but with more total dollars (the team may also reach an extension with him). At age 31, Middleton may want the security of years.

Milwaukee needs Middleton and his shot creation, plus his two-way play, if they are going to compete at the highest levels. However, they need the healthy Middleton who was an All-Star and All-NBA player, not the one that only played in 33 games last season due to wrist surgery and knee issues.

It will be an interesting offseason in Milwaukee with 35-year-old Brook Lopez a free agent and Jrue Holiday becoming extension eligible in the fall. The Bucks had the best record in the NBA last season, but the roster is getting old and expensive fast, and a pivot is coming. At some point. But maybe not this summer.

Nuggets’ Christian Braun on verge of history, NCAA and NBA titles in consecutive years


MIAMI — Only four players have ever done it: Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Henry Bibby and Billy Thompson.

Christian Braun could become the fifth player to win an NCAA title and an NBA championship in back-to-back seasons.

Last season he was the second-leading scorer on the Kansas Jayhawk team that won the NCAA tournament, with Braun scoring 12 points and grabbing 12 boards in the title game against North Carolina.

Braun isn’t just riding the Denver bench to his piece of history, he scored a critical 15 points in Game 3 to spark the Nuggets win. Braun scored 11 points in a stretch at the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth when Denver pushed its lead to 21, then held off the early fourth quarter charge from Miami that had defined the Finals for two games.

Braun’s cuts to the rim — not to mention his steal and dunk — were things of beauty.

“I told him, you won us the game…” Nikola Jokić said of Braun (which was generous considering Jokic’s 32-21-10 triple-double). “He won us the game, and he was really good tonight.”

“Tonight, man, I could just feel the confidence kind of oozing out of him,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “The physical, aggressive drives, making plays for guys against their zone. It was really fun to watch a young man step up like the way Christian did tonight.”

Denver drafted Braun with the No. 21 pick and it was a perfect fit for the Kansas native (who led his high school team, Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park, to three state titles). Braun was drafted onto a contending team and was given a clearly defined role by Malone. Braun took that and earned his minutes with hustle and defense all season long, and sometimes the points come with that.

“Those guys make it really easy,” Braun said of playing with Jokić and Jamal Murray. “Playing with those guys, they make the right play every time. My job is just to be ready when my name is called…

“Like I said, my job is not very hard; I’ve just got to come in, play with energy, and they find me in the right spots on offense and the defense just give effort. So those guys have trusted me all year and put me in the right spots and my job is to deliver.”

Braun was ready to deliver and it showed.

If he and the Nuggets can deliver a couple more wins, he will be part of a select group in history.