Blockbuster NBA Trade Ideas That Would Reshape the Association
If recent trade rumors are any indication, the 2014 NBA offseason could have a long-lasting impact on the future of the Association.
Kevin Love stands out as the most prominent trade target, with his desire to opt out in 2015 and test free agency looming large over the heads of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He's not the only star player who could be headed elsewhere this summer, though.
Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert reportedly wouldn't oppose a trade if the squad decides to shop him, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein. Carmelo Anthony, if so desired, could wind up in a sign-and-trade this summer after opting out of his contract and becoming an unrestricted free agent.
At this point, based on the latest trade rumors, at least one All-Star-caliber player will almost assuredly find himself a new home this offseason. In all likelihood, multiple stars will be on the move.
Let's take a look at five blockbuster ideas that would reshape the landscape of the NBA's championship contenders if they come to fruition.
Carmelo Anthony to the Chicago Bulls
The Trade: The New York Knicks sign-and-trade Carmelo Anthony to the Chicago Bulls for Carlos Boozer, Nikola Mirotic, Mike Dunleavy, Greg Smith and the No. 16 and 19 picks in the 2014 draft.
The Washington Wizards exposed the Chicago Bulls' desperate need for a go-to scorer in the opening round of the 2014 playoffs. Thus, if the Bulls can't convince the Minnesota Timberwolves to trade Kevin Love to them, Carmelo Anthony should be No. 1 on their offseason priority list.
ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard reported that Bulls center Joakim Noah has been recruiting Anthony since the All-Star break, and per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Noah hasn't let up on those efforts.
According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, Anthony approached a former Bulls player in mid-April and asked what it was like to play under Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau, further cementing the idea that he's strongly considering a move to the Windy City this summer.
Unless Anthony is willing to take a severe pay cut, however, the Bulls have major work to do to clear out the cap space necessary to sign him. At the very least, they'll need to amnesty Carlos Boozer and cut Mike James and Louis Amundson (both of whom have non-guaranteed contracts), which would leave them with roughly $46.8 million of committed cap space in 2014-15 (not counting rookie salaries).
That's why a sign-and-trade would be in the best interest of both teams. The Bulls could send out Boozer (for salary-matching purposes), Mike Dunleavy, Greg Smith, the rights to Real Madrid forward Nikola Mirotic and their two first-round picks (Nos. 16 and 19) to restock New York's cupboards.
Chicago, meanwhile, could also absorb the contract of Raymond Felton and still have roughly $16.5 million for Anthony. If Melo isn't willing to take that much of a pay cut, the Knicks could retain Felton and the Bulls would have about $20.3 million in cap space for Melo.
A core of Derrick Rose, Noah, Anthony and Taj Gibson would immediately become the Miami Heat's fiercest competitor in the East (and the Eastern Conference favorite if Miami's Big Three disbands this summer). The Knicks, on the other hand, would go into full-on rebuilding mode, but they'd have a sudden infusion of youth to help expedite the process.
Kevin Love to the Golden State Warriors
The Trade: The Golden State Warriors trade Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, David Lee and their 2015 first-round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love and Kevin Martin.
Kevin Love is going to put the Minnesota Timberwolves to the test this offseason.
Love has reportedly informed the Wolves that he plans on opting out of his contract after the 2014-15 season and will not sign an extension to stay in Minnesota, per ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne. Sources told the two reporters that the Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls intrigue Love as possible landing spots.
Since the Timberwolves can't afford to lose their superstar for nothing, they need to bite the bullet and move Love this summer when his trade value is at its peak. According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the squad is accordingly "paving the way to make something happen sooner rather than later."
Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher reported that, given the choice between the Warriors and the Houston Rockets, Love would choose Golden State. He reportedly envisions himself running the pick-and-roll with Stephen Curry and loves the idea of playing alongside a defensive stopper like Andrew Bogut to hide his defensive shortcomings.
New Warriors coach Steve Kerr certainly wouldn't complain if Love ended up in Golden State. During his introductory press conference, he told reporters that he wanted the team to add a stretch 4, as it "could really make things difficult on the opposition."
Golden State reportedly does not want to give up sharpshooter Klay Thompson to land Love, per Marcus Thompson of the San Jose Mercury News, but there's little chance Minnesota would swap Love just for power forward David Lee and swingman Harrison Barnes. That's the thing about trades—unless both teams feel some sort of hesitation, it's likely a rip-off for one side.
If the Timberwolves included Kevin Martin along with Love, that'd ease the pain of giving up Thompson in the trade. This deal couldn't be consummated until after the 2014 draft, as Golden State is prohibited from trading two future first-round draft picks in consecutive years (its 2014 first-rounder is Utah-bound), but both squads would conceivably benefit from this arrangement.
Roy Hibbert to the Portland Trail Blazers
The Trade: The Portland Trail Blazers trade Robin Lopez, Thomas Robinson and C.J. McCollum to the Indiana Pacers for Roy Hibbert.
Given the way the Indiana Pacers' 2013-14 season ended—in a complete and total meltdown—this squad's core could be in for a major overhaul this summer.
According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, Lance Stephenson may not be the only major Pacers contributor on the move. All-Star center Roy Hibbert might want out too:
There is said to be some thought on both sides -- management and Hibbert's -- that a fresh start would be beneficial for everyone after the big man's second-half decline.
Hibbert's camp hasn't outright asked for a trade, sources say, but word is that it wouldn't exactly oppose one if the Pacers decide to actively shop their center.
If the Pacers do decide to part ways with their up-and-down 7-footer, the Portland Trail Blazers make almost too much sense as a potential trade partner. After all, Portland originally signed Hibbert to the four-year, $58 million offer sheet in the 2012 offseason that Indiana ultimately elected to match.
The Blazers, fresh off getting their skulls stomped by the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals, badly need to shore up their interior defense. They finished 16th in the league this past season in defensive rating, the third-worst mark of any playoff team.
As it turns out, Hibbert and Lopez ranked first and second in the league, respectively, in terms of opponents' field-goal percentage at the rim (among all players who faced at least five such shots per game). Hibbert is a far superior shot-blocker compared to Lopez, however (he averaged 2.2 rejections a game to Lopez's 1.7), and his gargantuan frame often makes opponents think twice before ever driving into the paint for a shot attempt.
With two stars in hand—point guard Damian Lillard and power forward LaMarcus Aldridge—Portland is officially moving out of asset-acquisition mode and is now focused on winning games, general manager Neil Olshey told reporters in mid-May. Indiana, in desperate need of upgrading its bench, may be willing to move on from Hibbert if it means acquiring a reasonable facsimile at center and a few younger prospects with enormous potential.
Rajon Rondo to the Detroit Pistons
The Trade: The Detroit Pistons sign-and-trade Greg Monroe and Brandon Jennings to the Boston Celtics for Rajon Rondo, Gerald Wallace and the L.A. Clippers' 2015 first-round draft pick.
Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge could be responsible for one of the biggest surprises of the offseason. Though he denied that All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo is on the trading block, per Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, the Celtics face a similar situation with Rondo as the Minnesota Timberwolves do with Kevin Love.
The 28-year-old Rondo is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2015, and unless the rebuilding Celtics make major strides in the next 12 months, there will be little incentive for him to re-sign in Boston.
Ainge could chance it and refuse to move Rondo, relying on the financial advantages bestowed upon an incumbent team in free agency, but he could also pull the trigger on an unexpected trade now instead of forcing the issue next summer.
If Ainge does decide to move the mercurial point guard, new Detroit Pistons team president Stan Van Gundy could be the perfect trading partner. Rondo and Josh Smith, former high school teammates at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, haven't hid their desire to play together in the NBA, per Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe.
"I'm always optimistic," Smith told Holmes in reference to teaming up with Rondo. "I always think of different scenarios. It could happen, but who knows?"
With Greg Monroe set to reach restricted free agency, Detroit has its own problems to resolve this summer. Instead of forcing the issue with the Smith-Monroe-Andre Drummond trio, Van Gundy could package Monroe with point guard Brandon Jennings to land Rondo and the toxic contract of Gerald Wallace in return.
A Rondo-Smith-Drummond core would give the Pistons a "Big Three" with a much less questionable fit together, while Jennings and Monroe would join Jeff Green in helping to restore the once-proud Boston franchise to respectability. Because the Celtics would be ditching Wallace's monstrosity of a contract in this trade, they'd likely need to include a late-first-round pick (ideally the 2015 first-rounder the Clippers owe them from the Doc Rivers trade) as a throw-in.
Deron Williams to the Houston Rockets
The Trade: The Houston Rockets trade Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and a lottery-protected 2015 first-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets for Deron Williams.
At the moment, Deron Williams' long-term future in Brooklyn appears perilous at best. Bleacher Report's Howard Beck reported that the Nets could look to trade their oft-injured point guard this summer in an effort to retool around Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez while squeezing out one final run with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
According to ESPN New York's Ohm Youngmisuk, the Houston Rockets engaged Brooklyn in preliminary trade discussions last winter regarding a deal structured around Williams, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin. "The Nets balked because one of the main reasons Pierce and Garnett agreed to a trade to Brooklyn was to play with Williams," a source told Youngmisuk.
After the Miami Heat obliterated Brooklyn in the conference semifinals, however, the Nets may not be as averse to the idea of trading him this offseason. Complicating matters, perhaps, will be the surgeries he had on both of his ankles at the end of May, as CBSSports.com's James Herbert suggests:
A Williams deal could be complicated, though. He is set to make $63 million over the next three years, and, though he still sometimes shows flashes of his previous All-Star form, any potential trading partner would likely worry about his ankle issues. This means it'd be difficult for Brooklyn to bring back a player who could bring anything close to equal production in exchange for him.
In other words: The Nets shouldn't expect a major haul for a soon-to-be 30-year-old point guard with two bum ankles and more than $60 million left on his contract. Asik and Lin alone might not be enough to seal the deal, but Houston throwing in a lottery protected 2015 first-round pick might be the best Brooklyn can do.
The Nets need to begin accumulating assets after emptying their cupboards in the trade that netted Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Since Brooklyn billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov seemingly doesn't bat an eye at the NBA's prohibitive luxury tax, the massive "poison-pill" payments for Asik and Lin might not dissuade him like they would other suitors.
Houston wouldn't be losing much in terms of talent; it would simply be putting all its eggs in the basket that Williams, James Harden and Dwight Howard can constitute a title-winning Big Three in the next few seasons. It's an admittedly risky play, but if D-Will reverts to his former All-Star form, it's a gamble that could result in a Larry O'Brien Trophy for Daryl Morey and Co.
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