Which sad sack NBA teams are still following the playoff race because of 2013 draft implications?
This has nothing to do with regional or division rivalries. This everything to do with 2013 NBA Draft picks. Even hopeless NBA teams with no chance of making the playoffs are still following the playoff race -- because it affects which picks are protected picks from long-forgotten trades these teams made one, two, or three seasons ago.
All of these long-forgotten trades' ramifications are listed in an insanely detailed compilation of still-pending transactions for the 2013 NBA Draft. Most pending transactions have already been settled. because the playoff teams are more or less set. But that battle between the Lakers and the Utah Jazz for the No. 8 playoff spot in the Western Conference will determine which lucky loser gets the Lakers' first-round pick in this June's NBA Draft.
Cleveland Cavaliers - Technically, LeBron James did not leave the Cavaliers in free agency back in 2010. After James announced the whole "take my talents to South Beach" thing, the Cavs worked a sign-and-trade with Miami to try and get something/anything in return for James. The Cavaliers are still owed a first-round pick by Miami -- likely to be a crappy no. 28-30 pick, because the Heat are strong title contenders.
Enter the Ramon Sessions trade. Because of the trade, Cleveland gets the option of either keeping that crappy 28-30 pick from Miami, or grabbing the Lakers' first-round pick -- but only if that pick is a non-lottery pick. If the Lakers miss the playoffs and land in the lottery, Cleveland is stuck with the Heat's crappy late pick. And the Lakers' first-round pick will go elsewhere, to...
Phoenix Suns - The Suns will get that first-rounder should the Lakers miss the playoffs. The Steve Nash sign-and-trade gives the Suns the Lakers' first-round pick in the upcoming draft. Should the Lakers make the playoffs, that first-rounder is the same crappy 28-30 pick from Miami we were discussing earlier. But if the Lakers don't make the playoffs and the pick is a lottery pick, Cleveland cannot claim it and the pick goes to Phoenix.
Both the Suns and the Cavaliers will get an extra first-round pick. Whether that pick is a lottery pick for the Suns, or a 15-28 pick for the Cavaliers depends on whether the Los Angeles Lakers make the playoffs