2015 NBA Draft will highlight trades, team-building

Karl-Anthony Towns (l) and Jahlil Okafor (r) are expected to be the first 2 players selected in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Karl-Anthony Towns (l) and Jahlil Okafor (r) are expected to be the first 2 players selected in the 2015 NBA Draft.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have the first pick in tonight’s 2015 NBA Draft, yet the buzz surrounding the event centers on the potential moves that other lottery teams may make this evening. Draft day trades are usually a part of the action, but this year they threaten to upstage the draft as many of the routinely struggling teams seek to use their picks as leverage instead of building blocks.

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak (l) and Knicks General Manager (r) have the daunting task of making draft day a success considering their teams recent history.

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak (l) and Knicks General Manager (r) have the daunting task of making draft day a success considering their teams recent history.

The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers have proven that they are incapable of building a contender through the draft and seem intent on parlaying their high draft picks into already proven players. The Philadelphia 76ers have spent the last several seasons rebuilding with invisible blueprints and still seem years away from contending.

The same could be said for the Sacramento Kings and the Timberwolves. This year teams seem more desperate to forego the ideal that draft picks can sturdy the franchise and gamble on players who have shown promise already in the NBA. It is clear a different tactic for improving these teams is necessary as the teams picking early in the draft have been consistently inept.

Former Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell has as much potential as any player in this year's draft.

Former Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell has as much potential as any player in this year’s draft.

This offseason happens to pair a slew of regularly struggling teams with high draft picks and perennial playoff teams looking to drastically improve for next year. The lack of  depth in this year’s draft class also helps drive the trade speculation. Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor are the two prospects everyone is sold on with D’Angelo Russell running a close third in terms of expected draft position.

With the level of uncertainty surrounding the draft class, expect at least a dozen trades to occur draft night as teams hope they can position themselves on Thursday night to meet personnel needs in time for the free agency period.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a senior writer and a licensed insurance agent at HealthMarkets. Follow me @GloverIsGood on Twitter.com. Check out www.HealthMarkets.com/cglover for your insurance questions and concerns.

Which team has the brighter future: the Knicks or the Lakers?

Carmelo Anthony (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are in different circumstances for marquee franchises but both have championship aspirations for the next couple of seasons.

Carmelo Anthony (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are in different circumstances with underperforming franchises but both have championship aspirations for the next couple of seasons.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The New York Knicks formally introduced Phil Jackson as president of basketball operations on Tuesday, March 18, sparking feelings of hope in the minds of optimistic fans. But there are plenty of skeptics who point to the tall task ahead of the “Zen Master” and many of the questions at the press conference were aimed at figuring out Jackson’s commitment to his first position as a basketball executive.

Phil Jackson had all the answers today at the press conference. This might not happen again for a while.

Phil Jackson seemed to have all the answers at Tuesday’s press conference. This might not happen again for a while.

There were a few noticeable takeaways from Tuesday’s press conference. Knicks fans must have felt annoyed to hear Knicks owner James Dolan almost gleefully admit: “I am not a basketball expert,” when he was asked specific questions. Dolan, however, recognized that it was time to hire someone who knows the game and he seemed happy to offer the position to Jackson. For his part, Jackson did not avoid the challenge with being present in New York year round, stating, “I plan to establish myself here [in New York] but I do have doctors and …other family I am committed to in L.A. as well.” With Jackson in the fold, there is a legitimate question as to which marquee, but underperforming franchise has a brighter immediate future: the New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers?

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has the experience of building a championship team.

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has the experience of building a championship team.

While Phil Jackson has plenty of experience as a basketball player and coach, current Knicks General Manager Steve Mills is in his first year in the position. This is in stark contrast to the Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak who is far more experienced. Kupchak is a former player and champion for the Washington Bullets and Lakers. He has been an executive for the Lakers since the late 1980’s. Kupchak learned directly under one of the best NBA executives of all times in Jerry West and has been the GM since 2000. This wealth of experience should give Lakers fans hope that Kupchak can fix the current mess the team finds itself in.

Knicks head coach Mike Woodson (l) and Lakers head coach Mike  D'Antoni may be looking for new jobs next season.

Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson (l) and Lakers Head Coach Mike D’Antoni may be looking for new jobs next season.

There is a great deal of focus on the upcoming season and how these franchises will rebound, yet the Knicks still have a chance to make the playoffs this year. Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson will have a hard time retaining his position regardless of the team’s final win-loss outcome. The Lakers are already eliminated from playoff contention and their coach, Mike D’Antoni, will have a difficult time convincing Lakers’ management to continue being patient with him, if the Lakers finally come to their senses. Neither team can know what direction their team is headed before they know who the leader of their team will be. Both franchises have to figure out the coach of the future to help create structure for these teams.

Robert Sacre (l), J.R. Smith (c), and Jordan Hill (r) are unheralded members of the Knicks and Lakers that are not likely in either teams' long term future.

Robert Sacre (l), J.R. Smith (c), and Jordan Hill (r) are unheralded members of the Knicks and Lakers that are not likely in either teams’ long term future.

The Lakers will have only Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash definitely on the roster for next season. They will have plenty of cap space and their first round draft pick this year. Meanwhile, the Knicks will be over the salary cap next season, whether Carmelo Anthony opts out of his contract or not, and they do not have a first round draft pick this year. Both teams have publicly stated a desire to wait until the summer of 2015, when a host of all-star caliber players become free agents, before they spend the money the team has available under the cap. This process may seem prudent but may not work for the stars of each prospective franchise. Bryant has only two years left on his deal, and maybe in his career. He has been clear in recent comments: “no I’m not that patient…I don’t want to be a part of another season like this,” he has said. Anthony has also been on the record stating, “I want to win championships…in the near future.”

Both teams have several decisions to make about players, personnel and coaches. The Knicks now have a brilliant basketball mind in the front office and a top 5 scorer currently under contract. However, the Lakers will have 2014 and 2015 to strategically spend free agent money, make trades, draft players, and build a championship contender, like they normally do. It’s a toss-up to see if the personnel/coaching/player movements will achieve the desired results for either team.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.