NBA Trade Deadline: What NBA teams have gotten for first round picks in trades
What can you get for a first round pick?
With the NBA trade deadline looming, front offices will either be trying to upgrade their roster for a deep playoff run or accumulate as much draft capital and cap space flexibility as possible for free agency.
Player-for-player swaps are rare these days, so first round picks have become the key to completing deals. But what exactly is the value of a first rounder? How much can a team realistically get for one?
Davis Bertans is drawing interest from multiple contenders, while other reports suggest the Wizards are secretly trying to buy. Chase Hughes outlined the history of Wizards trades to get an idea of what they could get for Bertans, but what should Washington be prepared to send out if they want to make a push for the postseason?
Those are the questions we will try to answer by looking back at notable trades involving first round selections.
Blockbusters: AD and PG net multiple firsts
If you want to acquire the player that will take you from fringe playoff team to title contender, you have to pay a hefty price. Not only will teams ask for multiple first round picks, but they'll want some young players as well.
Lakers receive: Anthony Davis
Pelicans receive: Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, three first round picks
The Pelicans got a huge haul for a player that had demanded a trade during the season prior, blazing the path for the Thunder to get a ton for Paul George a few weeks later.
Clippers receive: Paul George
Thunder receive: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, five first round picks, two first-round pick swaps
The lesson to be learned here is if you aren't able to draft a superstar, be prepared to pay up if you want one.
Upgrading the starting lineup: Brogdon to Indy
Pacers receive: Malcolm Brogdon
Bucks receive: Two second round picks, conditional first round pick
When a playoff-caliber team has a glaring hole in their starting lineup and don't have the luxury of waiting for a draft pick to develop, they typically empty their wallets to sure up the area.
The Pacers were set at just about every position last season except point guard, so they offered Malcolm Brogdon a huge offer sheet in restricted free agency and gave the Bucks a first round pick in a sign-and-trade to incentivize Milwaukee not to match.
Teams usually add on protections to protect themselves from giving another team a top-5 pick if they unexpectedly bottom out. The Nets gave the Celtics four unprotected first round picks for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in 2013 and it took them a long time to recover.
Never again will a team throw around unprotected firsts so loosely.
Upgrade the starting lineup: Philly acquires Tobias Harris
Sixers receive: Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott
Clippers receive: Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, Landry Shamet, two first round picks, two second round picks
Like the Pacers, the Sixers had a need for shooting and versatility on the wing next to Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler last season. So they called the Clippers and gave up a couple first rounders to put themselves in the best position to contend for a title.
They lost in the second round thanks to Kawhi Leonard's unbelievable buzzer-beater in Game 7.
Bench upgrade: OKC deals Grant to Denver
Nuggets receive: Jerami Grant
Thunder receive: Conditional first round pick, trade exception
When you're a contender who's going to be picking at the very end of the first round anyway, it's worth throwing in a first round pick for a player who may not start for you on Day 1.
The Nuggets did just that by trading for Jerami Grant this summer. He was heading into the last year of his contract at the time of the trade, but sometimes short-term upgrades are worth a first for certain teams.
Bench upgrade: Boston steals IT from Phoenix
Celtics receive: Isaiah Thomas
Suns receive: Marcus Thornton, first round pick
At the time, this was a bench upgrade for the Celtics, but Thomas instead turned into a two-time All-Star that averaged nearly 30 points for an entire season.
Sometimes a team can't find the right way to utilize a good player, so that player's value plummets to the point where a team like the Celtics can snag him for cheap and put him in the best position to succeed.
Salary dump: Nets clear space for KD, Kyrie
Hawks receive: Allen Crabbe, two first round picks
Nets receive: Taurean Prince, second round pick
Teams can use their cap space to sign players or absorb bad contracts in exchange for future assets. Crabbe's contract was a burden on Brooklyn's books, so they paid a handsome price to the Hawks for them take it on.
This helped the Nets clear the way to open up to max contract slots that were ultimately filled by Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
Salary dump: Warriors surrender Iguodala
Grizzlies receive: Andre Iguodala, conditional first round pick
Warriors receive: Trade exception
In an effort to complete a sign and trade for D'Angelo Russell, the Warriors had to dump Andre Iguodala's contract. They sent him and a future first rounder to the Grizzlies for nothing but cap relief.
Bad teams with space can take advantage of desperate contenders, but unfortunately this season there isn't much cap space to go around.
Trade up: Mavs move up to take Doncic
Mavericks receive: Luka Doncic
Hawks receive: Trae Young, protected first round pick
These don't happen at the trade deadline, but it's another common scenario where first round picks are dealt away. In 2018, the Mavs pegged Luka Doncic as their guy, so they moved up from the fifth overall pick to the third, giving Atlanta a future first to switch spots with them.
A team could theoretically trade a number of future picks and a young player to a bad team in line for a high draft pick, it's just rare to see both sides agree on compensation.