The rumor mill is heating up with the 2023 NBA Draft just days away. Here’s the latest from around the league.
The 2023 NBA Draft is almost here, and that means trade rumor season is already in full swing. There is reason to believe this could be a particularly chaotic summer of player movement across the league. A new CBA goes into effect on July 1 with several punitive luxury tax penalties seemingly intended to cement parity this season. Teams still haven’t received an official copy of the CBA less than two weeks out, but its impact is already being felt.
There has already been a blockbuster trade in the young NBA offseason, as the Phoenix Suns acquired Bradley Beal from the Washington Wizards. With the draft coming up on Thursday, there’s another round of gossip from league insiders with some juicy tidbits about the Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons.
See our latest mock draft here. Let’s dive into the latest rumours.
The Clippers could trade Paul George
The Clippers are reportedly considering breaking up the Kawhi Leonard/Paul George pairing for the first time since the duo joined the franchise in the summer of 2019. Here’s the scoop from Marc Stein:
League sources tell The Stein Line that the LA Clippers have left various rival teams with the impression throughout their Draft Week talks that they are at least trying to gauge Paul George’s trade value and, to hear some describe it, giving real consideration. to the idea of separating the Kawhi Leonard/George tandem.”
Of course, the biggest problem with the Leonard-George pairing has been their lack of durability. George missed this year’s playoffs with a leg injury and appeared in just 87 regular-season games over the past two years combined. Leonard tore his ACL midway through the 2021 playoffs and then missed the entire 2021-2022 season before returning for 52 games last season. The Clippers are typically very good with both of their stars on the court, but that hasn’t happened very often.
These George rumors feel directly tied to the new CBA. The Clippers had the highest salary in the NBA last season, and will have one of the most expensive rosters in the league again next year. Both Leonard and George are extension eligible to sign deals worth up to $220 million over four years.
Hawks want to move up, may be willing to part ways with Dejounte Murray
The Atlanta Hawks want to move up in Thursday’s draft, according to Woj. The Hawks own the No. 15 overall pick and are looking to package one of their veterans with the pick to do so. Woj mentions three possible names that could be moved: John Collins, DeAndre Hunter and Dejounte Murray:
Collins has basically been in trade rumors since he was drafted. Hunter was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 draft and is locked into a four-year, $95 million extension. Murray is definitely the most interesting name on this list: Atlanta traded three first-round picks to acquire him from the Spurs last time. Murray had a solid first year in Atlanta, but he will also be a free agent after the upcoming year, and the Hawks finished just 41-41 in their first season with him.
Hornets prefer Brandon Miller over Scoot Henderson at No. 2
Woj says the Hornets are about to select Alabama wing Brandon Miller over G League Ignite point guard Scoot Henderson with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. Here is Woj:
Miller feels like the better fit on a Charlotte roster led by LaMelo Ball. Henderson feels like the better overall prospect. The Hornets may have the least talented roster in the NBA outside of Ball, and under any scenario they probably shouldn’t be getting fit. Miller is arguably a top-five prospect in this draft, but Henderson has a higher ceiling. Charlotte would make a mistake by passing on Scoot.
Pistons could trade down, but like Ausar Thompson
The Pistons had the worst record in the NBA, but fell to No. 5 in the lottery. Detroit has a talented young core in place led by Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren. Woj reported that the Pistons could trade down from No. 5, and mentioned the Utah Jazz with picks No. 9 and No. 16 as a potential trade partner. The other rumor coming out of Detroit a lot lately is that the franchise really likes Overtime Elite guard Ausar Thompson. Read our feature about the Thompson twins here.
Weaver certainly sounded like he was describing a Thompson twin with his comments on Tuesday:
I prefer Cam Whitmore to give the Pistons a third elite athlete next to Ivey and Duren while still having more upside than Thompson. Detroit also likes UCF forward Taylor Hendricks, which I mentioned in my mock as another good fit. The Pistons should get a good player no matter what, even if they trade down to No. 9.