Hawks’ plans at No. 1 and latest NBA Draft rumors

Tony Nguyen | Denver Nuggets
June 8, 2024

There are less than three weeks until the 2024 NBA Draft. Until then, plenty of rumors will continue to form, especially for a draft class that doesn’t necessarily feature a clear-cut No. 1 option at the top of the board. The Atlanta Hawks are the team tasked with kicking things off on June 26, as they won the draft lottery and the first overall pick for the first time in franchise history. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding what will occur when the NBA Draft begins.

Alex Sarr and Zaccharie Risacher, two very talented prospects from France, are likely to be the first two names off the board on draft night. That is, assuming nothing crazy happens. After these two come off the board, there is no telling as to where things will go, as this year’s NBA Draft will be one where teams truly focus on fit and long-term potential rather than pure talent.

For the Hawks, the questions about which direction the franchise is going in continue to appear, especially since the organization is still evaluating all of their options. Although plenty of noise has been made about the franchise moving on from either Trae Young or Dejounte Murray, there is no certainty that either player will be dealt before the start of the 2024-25 season.

Aside from the No. 1 pick and the drama that comes with it, there are quite a few teams that have had active conversations about moving up and down in this draft. Five different teams own multiple first-round picks in the 2024 NBA Draft, leading to speculation that there could be several draft night trades made. There are even teams with just one first-round pick who are exploring all of their options at this time.

Once the draft is over, the focus around the league will quickly shift to free agency and trade conversations. What will happen to the New York Knicks, seeing as OG Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein are going to be free agents? Will the Philadelphia 76ers land another All-Star to pair with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey? Could a recent NBA champion be in danger of losing a core member of their roster?

These are all questions that NBA fans have submitted to ClutchPoints for this NBA fan mailbag. While I might not own the sports almanac from Back to the Future, there is a bit of clarity presenting itself in some of these situations. Let’s dive right into things, starting with the Hawks at the top of the NBA Draft.

Are the Hawks keeping the first pick in the 2024 NBA Draft?

Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields (right) and Mark Tatum Deputy commissioner of the NBA after the Hawks get the number one pick in the 2024 NBA Draft Lottery at McCormick Place West.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Ah yes, the classic question of whether the team with the first overall pick will trade it. Perhaps this question can be answered just by looking at the history of teams trading their picks at the top of the draft.

The last time a team traded out of this spot was in 2017, when the Boston Celtics made their swap with the Philadelphia 76ers, a deal that resulted in Markelle Fultz going to the Sixers and Jayson Tatum going to the Celtics. In fact, this was the first time since 2011 that the top pick in the draft was traded, as the Los Angeles Clippers traded that pick, which was utilized to select Kyrie Irving, to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

While it is always possible that the Hawks could explore the possibility of gathering future assets and moving down a few spots, this doesn’t appear to be a real option they are currently mulling. With this said, the Hawks have done their homework on other players outside of Sarr and Risacher, specifically UConn’s Donovan Clingan.

Assuming they hold onto the first pick and a massive trade doesn’t develop out of the blue, the Hawks have a decision to make between Sarr and Risacher. Whereas Sarr checks off the boxes for being a high-impact defensive big man right away who can grow into an avid scoring weapon, Risacher has the tools to become a well-versed 3-and-D wing in the NBA. Still, it is going to take both prospects time to get acclimated to the NBA game and grow into solidified talents. By no means is either player Victor Wembanyama.

Both Sarr and Risacher are in play to be the first overall pick by Atlanta on June 26. The Hawks have been tight-lipped as to their thoughts at the top of the draft, but the majority belief of rival executives that spoke with ClutchPoints is that Sarr will be the first player selected. Of course, this could change over the next three weeks.

Looking ahead, the Hawks are expected to be busy in trade conversations both during and after the NBA Draft. Clint Capela and De’Andre Hunter are two experienced players that will receive attention in said conversations, league sources said. The notion of splitting up Trae Young and Dejounte Murray will also be explored. However, the Hawks still value Young and believe he is an essential part of their future success.

Murray, who Atlanta made available at the trade deadline this past regular season, won’t be traded just for the sake of the organization making a move this offseason. If the Hawks are to move on from Murray, it will be in a package that nets them numerous draft assets and talent to surround Young and the incoming No. 1 overall pick.

Who could potentially move up in the 2024 NBA Draft?

Connecticut Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32) celebrates after dunking against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second half in the semifinals of the men's Final Four of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at State Farm Stadium.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

There is a lot to discuss regarding potential movement in the 2024 NBA Draft, starting with the Houston Rockets at third overall. The Rockets have made their intentions to hear out offers from other teams very clear. Whether or not another team is willing to meet their demands for future draft capital and an experienced talent who can aid Houston’s immediate playoff pursuit is unknown.

Should the Rockets keep this pick, Donovan Clingan and Reed Sheppard are the two names that have come up the most in discussions around the league. Clingan would present immediate upside as a defensive anchor next to Alperen Sengun in the frontcourt. Sheppard’s three-point shooting abilities give the Rockets exactly what they were lacking on offense this past season. Both prospects would be ideal fits in Houston.

As reported by ClutchPoints recently, the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers are two teams interested in moving up to select Clingan. The Chicago Bulls are another team that has been rumored to have interest in Clingan, according to ESPN. It is possible that the Bulls could look to attach All-Star Zach LaVine in a package with their 11th overall pick in order to make a big splash.

The next order of business pertains to the San Antonio Spurs, with the fourth and eighth overall selections. The Spurs are said to have interest in hearing out offers for either pick, sources said, yet it is unlikely that they would relinquish both. The need for immediate production next to Victor Wembanyama in the backcourt will be addressed with one of these selections.

One of the biggest mysteries in the draft every single year seems to be the Oklahoma City Thunder. You never know when Sam Presti is going to pull off a big move and unload draft capital, which is why they too find themselves as potential candidates to move up in this year’s draft should there be a player on their radar inside the top 10. Josh Giddey and Ousmane Dieng are two younger talents the Thunder are expected to discuss in potential trade packages this summer, sources said.

With this said, Oklahoma City shouldn’t feel any pressure to drastically change their roster after securing the 1-seed in the Western Conference. The Thunder can create over $30 million in cap space ahead of free agency, giving them the ability to be an underrated suitor for some of the bigger names that are available on the open market. This is where Presti and the Thunder’s front office can truly get creative outside of trade conversations.

The Utah Jazz, New Orleans Pelicans, and Philadelphia 76ers are three other teams that could be set to move from their current draft positions. If they were to move on from Brandon Ingram, perhaps the Pelicans could look to move inside the lottery in order to grab a high-potential prospect like Ron Holland from the NBA G League. Could a trade with the Jazz make sense in this scenario, given Utah’s pursuit of another star next to Lauri Markkanen? The 76ers will have an abundance of cap space this offseason, and they are in search of immediate talent to aid in their championship pursuit.

What should we expect to see from the Knicks this offseason?

New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) reacts after a basket during the second quarter of game one of the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

If it weren’t for some unfortunate injuries, perhaps the New York Knicks would’ve advanced past the Indiana Pacers and made their first appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals since 2000. Jalen Brunson is a legit MVP candidate for the Knicks, and he is expected to receive a lucrative contract extension in the offseason. At this point, Knicks fans may want to start building him a statue!

Aside from Brunson, the Knicks have questions to answer regarding OG Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein. Anunoby is set to hit free agency once he opts out of his $19.9 million player option. Numerous teams are expected to hold interest in Anunoby, the Philadelphia 76ers being one of them, sources said. However, mutual interest exists between Anunoby and the Knicks to get a new deal done. It would come as a surprise to many around the league if he wasn’t in New York next season, given how highly they value him.

Hartenstein is also expected to have numerous suitors in free agency. He will be one of the best frontcourt players available, which is why another team swooping in and signing him for more than what the Knicks can afford is a realistic scenario.

Even before the questions regarding free agency, the Knicks will need to make key decisions with the Nos. 24, 25, and 38 picks in this year’s draft. The idea of packaging both picks together to acquire another impactful talent sounds appealing, but who would the Knicks be giving up in this scenario? New York obviously needs room to re-sign Anunoby and hopefully Hartenstein, so would Bojan Bogdanovic be the guy on the move in a potential trade? It is hard to imagine that the Knicks would give up on Bogdanovic after just acquiring him at the trade deadline unless a significant upgrade was available.

Julius Randle is potentially another option that the Knicks could explore in trade conversations, although the belief right now is that the organization is confident in the idea of running things back with their roster at full strength.

So, pertaining to their two first-round picks, the Knicks can really go anywhere here. There is the option of drafting younger talents that they could develop for the future, and there is also the option of finding diamonds in the rough that fell in the first round. Older, more experienced players, such as Creighton’s Baylor Scheierman, Virginia’s Ryan Dunn, Marquette’s Tyler Kolek, and Dayton’s DaRon Holmes II, are all viable options for the Knicks at the end of the first round.

At the very least, we should expect the Knicks to bring in at least one rookie. It may be far-fetched to believe three are on their way to New York in a matter of weeks, but the organization could benefit from adding an experienced college player that can aid the second unit.

Will Denver keep Kentavious Caldwell-Pope?

Denver Nuggets guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) celebrates after making a three-point shot against the Atlanta Hawks in the second half at Ball Arena.
Michael Ciaglo-USA TODAY Sports

I will keep this one short. The Denver Nuggets want to keep their core together and focus on developing internally rather than make drastic roster changes around Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.

This means we should expect an extension for Aaron Gordon in the near future, as well as a new deal being offered to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Now, the question for Caldwell-Pope is: when he declines his $15.4 million player option to become a free agent, will he be willing to help the Nuggets out financially? Caldwell-Pope could easily receive an offer of at least $20 million per season from another team if he were to become a free agent.

The advantage Denver has in this situation is that they own Caldwell-Pope’s Bird rights and can offer him a new five-year contract. As NBA capologist Yossi Gozlan pointed out recently, frontloading a new contract for the veteran and decreasing his salary over a five-year period may be the best approach for the Nuggets pertaining to their long-term financial situation.

Will Denver keep Caldwell-Pope? They certainly hope so. However, you can never fault an older player for chasing the money when it is presented to him.

What’s the latest on the 76ers and their potential pursuit of Paul George?

LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) warms up prior to a game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center.
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia has Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey… That’s it. Well, technically Maxey is a restricted free agent, and both Ricky Council IV and Paul Reed still have contracts, but you know what I mean. The 76ers are going to hit the reset button this offseason in terms of being able to do absolutely whatever they want with their roster.

Maxey is going to get a max contract extension, but from there, the remainder of this roster could end up being completely new.

Tobias Harris is going to have suitors around the league as one of the better forwards available in free agency, and it seems like his time in Philadelphia has come to an end. The same can be said about De’Anthony Melton unless the franchise is willing to outbid other teams in the open market.

Daryl Morey and the 76ers’ front office are fixated on the idea of adding another star this offseason. Paul George has been the prominent name mentioned here for Philadelphia, as have LeBron James, Klay Thompson, and DeMar DeRozan. Brandon Ingram and Jimmy Butler are two other names that have come up in trade chatter.

LeBron isn’t expected to leave Los Angeles, and despite wanting to test his value in free agency, many expect Thompson to return to the Golden State Warriors. DeRozan will likely secure a new, long-term deal with the Chicago Bulls, and the trade chatter surrounding Butler is simply the star’s camp trying to increase his value on a new extension in Miami.

That truly leaves George and Ingram as the only two viable options for the 76ers to try and add an All-Star-caliber talent to their roster. The problem with pursuing Ingram is that they would need to acquire him via a trade. The Sixers have three players on their roster, and Embiid isn’t going to be traded for Ingram, which means this would have to be some sort of elaborate sign-and-trade that could get complicated. We can probably write that idea off for now, even though they do own a first-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.

George is the only realistic big-name target for the 76ers in free agency, if he opts out of his $44 million player option. Still, the overarching belief coming from Los Angeles is that George isn’t going to be departing.

Out of all the years to have cap space and pursue a star, this is the wrong one for the 76ers. With this said, they can still fill out their roster with winning talents.

Kyle Lowry will likely be willing to accept a small deal to return, and Morey could look to retain veterans such as Robert Covington and Nic Batum. In free agency, players like Gary Trent Jr., Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Anderson, Patrick Williams, and Andre Drummond could all be realistic options to expand the depth of this roster around Embiid and Maxey.

If things don’t pan out the way they had hoped, the Sixers could always circle back to Harris as well and look to retain him on a short-term deal in hopes of flipping him at the trade deadline. This would also allow the 76ers to maintain cap flexibility moving forward.