While four-team trades are almost non-existent in the NBA and are only contemplated by trade crazy speculators, outlined below is a four-team trade that is fairly simple (if you can classify any four-team trade as simple). It only involves five players and two draft picks. Of those five players, four are point guards and one is a combination guard.
Chicago gets Jamal Crawford (two years, $5 million ) from Portland and Isaiah Thomas (three years, $475,000) from Sacramento.
Portland gets C.J. Watson (two years, $3.4 million), John Lucas (one year, $915,000) and the Bulls' 2012 first-round pick.
Los Angeles gets Raymond Felton (one year, $7.6 million) from Portland.
Sacramento gets the Trail Blazers' 2012 first-round pick.
Why it Works:
The Chicago Bulls acquire the instant offense of Jamal Crawford and address their biggest need of a scorer who can create his own shot, hit from beyond the arc and help take pressure off Derrick Rose in the playoffs. Chicago does this by sending C.J. Watson to the Blazers, who are in need of a point guard after moving Felton to the Lakers.
Chicago also sends John Lucas' expiring contract and its 2012 first-round pick to the Blazers, who in turn sends its 2012 first-round pick to Sacramento. The Kings, in exchange for Portland's pick, then send Isaiah Thomas to Chicago. Thomas, who has been playing very well as of late, would replace the departing Watson as Rose's primary backup for the next three seasons while playing on a rookie-scale contract.
The Los Angeles Lakers use the Lamar Odom trade exception to rent Raymond Felton for the remainder of the season. If Felton plays well during the rest of the year and in the playoffs, then L.A. can amnesty Meta World Peace at the end of the season to clear cap space and re-sign Felton to an extension. The Lakers need of a point guard and this four-team trade allows them to do without giving up championship pieces like Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum.
The Portland Trail Blazers replace the departing Felton with the steady C.J. Watson. This move saves the team over $4 million and gives them the remainder of this season and one full year to evaluate how well Watson meshes with Portland's core of LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum.
The Blazers also shed salary and open up playing time at the wing spots for its plethora of young players by moving Jamal Crawford for the expiring contact of John Lucas. Lucas will act as the backup point guard to Watson for the remainder of the year. The money saved through moving Crawford also gives Portland more flexibility to re-sign Batum at the end of the season.
The biggest downside to this trade for Portland is that the cost of moving the salaries of both Crawford and Felton means that they must downgrade their 2012 first-round pick.
The Sacramento Kings do almost nothing and move undrafted rookie Isaiah Thomas to Chicago in order to buy back into the first-round of the 2012 draft. Because Portland is involved in this trade, Sacramento receives a much higher pick than they would dealing with Chicago exclusively.
Overall, this four-way trade would be a win-win-win-win.