More big moves afoot as trade market heats up ahead of draft?

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This is what happens when you get the ideal blend of certainty, optimism and cold reality in the NBA. They’ve all fallen into place since the NBA Finals ended, setting off this flurry of dealmaking that beats any trade deadline day in recent memory.

It helps to have the lottery done and the playoffs complete. The lottery teams know exactly what picks they have, and the teams that reached the postseason have a sense for their distance or proximity to a championship. For instance, the Boston Celtics found themselves with the No. 1 overall pick and decided they’d rather move down to the third spot belonging to the Philadelphia 76ers while picking up another first-round pick for next year. That kicked off this whole swap season.

Also, the pretense is gone. No more polite talk from Paul George, no more acting as if the Indiana Pacers are part of his long-term plans. He wants out, preferably to the Los Angeles Lakers. And there’s no more double-speak from the Chicago Bulls, who now refrain from calling Jimmy Butler the long-term foundation of their team and have never been more active about shopping him than they are now.

If you like offseason action it’s also beneficial to have the Lakers believing in themselves again, betting that the combination of salary-cap space and their lore and their location can attract premier free agents. Three straight summers of whiffing on the big names had made the previous regime of Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak gun-shy, so they bailed on that strategy last summer and spent their dollars on Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng. That change of direction turned out to be a temporary blip and went out the door with Buss and Kupchak when Jeanie Buss engineered a front-office makeover in February.

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