In the NBA, few commodities are more valuable than a first-round pick.
Some trades push the limit of that value. If a team has a strong need for a type of player, they may surrender a pick – even if that player isn’t worth it in a vacuum. If that player is in a contract year, it’s an even riskier use of the asset.
On the other hand, if that team is also shedding a bad contract, they may be more inclined to give that pick up.
All told, this is a balance that the league’s general managers have to strike together.
For example, the Dallas Mavericks could badly use a secondary ball-handler – even if they’re in a contract year. They probably wouldn’t mind getting off of Davis Bertans’ deal, either.
Could they give up a first-round pick in exchange for D’Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves?