NBA teams have largely moved away selling first round picks over the past decade as the league’s financials have improved across the board since the 2011 CBA that made the revenue split for favorable for owners and also the spike in revenues from far larger national television contracts.
The Denver Nuggets were the last team to sell a first round pick when in 2013 they sold the pick that would become Rudy Gobert to the Utah Jazz.
With the league’s revenues down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, selling draft picks could be an easy way for financially tenuous teams to generate instant revenue and is something teams are monitoring heading into the November 18th draft.
“People are interested to see how the draft unfolds this year in a pandemic where a lot of teams are losing money,” said Zach Lowe on his podcast. “Like, will some teams sell draft picks? I don’t think we’ll see a first round pick sold. The fallout from that is so negative with your fanbase. But I do think we’ll see teams at the bottom of the first round try to trade for future first rounders to get out of the obligation now, but not sell, sell. Second rounders thought they’ll sell.”