BY CHRIS LEWIS
It’s officially NBA Draft season when we start speculating on draft promises. Chandler Hutchison’s agency told KTIK on Wednesday that the former Boise State forward would not participate in this week’s NBA Combine in Chicago. That immediately was followed by suspicion that Hutchison was promised by a team that he would be selected in the first round.
While it isn’t unusual for a team to promise a prospect, it wouldn’t make sense that a team would promise Hutchison this offseason.
By all accounts, Hutchison’s draft range is anywhere from a mid- first-round pick to a second-round selection. It is rare for a player in that range (or any) to be promised a selection in mid-May. The reason teams promise prospects a selection is to have that player decline workouts with other teams, making it more likely that the prospect falls to that team’s spot in the draft. However, with the uncertainty of this NBA offseason, it wouldn’t make sense for a team to limit their flexibility for a fringe top-20 prospect.
This offseason will be one of the most volatile in recent memory. That’s what happens when LeBron James and Paul George are free agents, Kawhi Leonard might be on the trade block, along with multiple teams at a crossroads with the direction of their future. Each of those moves have ripple effects. Let’s say George’s agency floats that he might be willing to sign with the team that promised Hutchison. Now that team would need to open up salary cap space, by likely trading a draft pick for another team to take salary off the books. That team unnecessarily limited their options with a draft promise. In theory, they could back out of the promise, but agents have power in the NBA and you don’t want to be known as the team that makes promises it doesn’t keep.
The inverse scenario could also play out. A team that promises Hutchison could acquire an extra pick from a team looking to create salary cap space. Now, with two picks in the first round, that team could have the option of packaging those two picks together to move up in the draft. The draft promise would be an unnecessary obstacle.
The point is, not enough of the NBA landscape is settled for a promise to make sense from the team’s perspective. For that same reason, a prospect acting on a promise doesn’t make sense either. It’s just an opinion, but I’d be disappointed if a draft promise is dictating Hutchison’s decisions at this point in the process.
Chris Lewis, the play-by-play voice of Boise State women’s basketball and Olympic Sports, co-hosts Idaho Sports Talk with Bob & Chris weekdays from 1-3 p.m. on KTIK 93.1 FM The Ticket. He can be found @ChrisLewisTweet (Twitter).