The NBA draft is in the rearview mirror, and now all attention moves toward the start of free agency on July 1. With LeBron James, Paul George, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant all potential free agents -- even if some are likely to quickly re-sign with their current teams -- and Kawhi Leonard seeking a trade, this summer could remake the NBA landscape.
Let's take a look at some of the storylines coming out of the draft and how they might impact what transpires in the next few weeks.
Sixers save some money; Lakers stand pat
Before the draft, I suggested keeping an eye on whether the Los Angeles Lakers would trade down from the 25th pick into the second round, which would be a sign they were maximizing their cap space in case they sign two players with 10-plus years of experience to max contracts. Though the Lakers added a second-round pick via trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, useful for filling out their roster in case they spend their cap space this summer, they hung on to the 25th pick and used it on Michigan center Mo Wagner.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia did in fact clear a little additional cap space by trading the rights to No. 10 pick Mikal Bridges to the Phoenix Suns for the 16th pick (Zhaire Smith). There's a difference of nearly a million dollars between the first-year salaries for the 10th and 16th picks, which brings the Sixers to $26 million in cap space if they renounce the rights to their free agents.
To get to the 10-year max salary (an estimated $35.4 million), Philadelphia would still have to make an additional move beyond trading Jerryd Bayless to a team that could take him into cap space or a trade exception (surely getting draft compensation for the privilege). Nonetheless, trading down gives the 76ers a little more flexibility.
Picking up the Miami Heat's unprotected 2021 first-round pick from Phoenix also could be useful if Philadelphia wants to make an offer for Kawhi Leonard. Depending on how the San Antonio Spurs view last year's No. 1 pick, Markelle Fultz, it's possible the 76ers' best Leonard trade chip is this year's 10th pick. Normally, using the pick would burn its value, but by getting a future one in the trade, the Sixers can still offer San Antonio a pick more promising than their own future first-rounders.
Mavericks still in the market for a center
That cheering you heard when the Dallas Mavericks traded up to the No. 3 pick to take Luka Doncic was from agents for centers around the NBA. Had the Mavericks stayed put at No. 5 and taken one of the center prospects (most likely Mo Bamba, who ultimately went sixth to the Orlando Magic), it could have taken them out of the market for signing a big man in free agency.
Now, depending on whether Dallas retains the rights to free agents Seth Curry, Yogi Ferrell and Salah Mejri, the team has somewhere from $16 million to $24 million to go shopping for a center to complete the team's starting five of the future. That's not quite enough to make a max offer to Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets, a restricted free agent whose max salary is projected at $25.3 million, but the Mavericks could get close enough to make Houston think hard about the luxury tax implications of matching an offer sheet to Capela.
If the New Orleans Pelicans are reluctant to make a max offer to DeMarcus Cousins coming off Achilles tendon surgery -- with luxury tax concerns a factor for the Pelicans, too -- the Mavericks could get in the bidding with an offer for less than his estimated $30.3 million maximum salary.
Alternatively, the Mavericks could shop lower in free agency for Julius Randle, a Dallas native whom the Lakers might have to renounce to use their full cap space. The Mavericks have been linked to Randle in the past, though he's not the kind of lob threat and pick-and-roll finisher they would ideally play with Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. According to Second Spectrum tracking, the Lakers averaged just 0.87 points per chance on plays with Randle as the screener, weaker than their performance with Brook Lopez (0.9 points per chance) and Kyle Kuzma (0.93) as screeners.
Whichever direction Dallas ends up going, it should be good news for a center. With the Suns taking Deandre Ayton at No. 1 overall, it was unclear whether any team with cap space would target a center. (Others are either likely to use their cap space on trades rather than free agency, set at center or focused on the high-end wings at the top of the market.) The Mavericks will likely ensure at least one big man gets paid this summer.
Schroder surely very available
Dennis Schroder's future in Atlanta was uncertain even before the Hawks used the pick they acquired by trading down with the Mavericks on Oklahoma point guard Trae Young. You'll recall that at a media availability last month in his native Germany, Schroder said he wanted to discuss his future with the organization and suggested he would like to play for the Indiana Pacers or Milwaukee Bucks.
The desire to move Schroder is surely mutual, but with few teams in the market for veteran point guards and Schroder's contract ($15.5 million per season over the next three years) paying him more than he has merited thus far in his career, finding a taker could be difficult. We might learn, if Atlanta moves Schroder, just how motivated the team is to get him out of the locker room and clear a starting spot for Young.
No veterans traded during draft
While the Hawks-Mavericks swap highlighted a handful of trades involving first-round picks, in a rarity, there were no trades involving veteran NBA players announced on draft day. You'd have to go all the way back to 2003 to find the last time a draft day concluded without any veterans getting traded, and there has been an average of more than five veterans changing teams on draft day over the past three seasons.
There was, of course, an exchange of veterans reported Wednesday (sending Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets and Timofey Mozgov to the Charlotte Hornets in a deal that can't be completed as reported until next month), so perhaps it's just a matter of timing. But it will be interesting to see whether any trades go down before July 1 or if teams are waiting to see how free agency will play out before committing to taking on veteran salaries.
Though draft night was exciting, the real madness of free agency still awaits. So get some rest this weekend and get ready for the NBA's silly season.