NBA Trade Speculation: Ranking the 10 Hottest Trades That Could Be Triggered

Ravi LullaAnalyst IAugust 20, 2011

NBA Trade Speculation: Ranking the 10 Hottest Trades That Could Be Triggered

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    The NBA lockout has left basketball fans starved for anything related to the game. Since no official league business can take place right now, most of the news that has come out has to do with NBA superstars making plans to play overseas—not exactly a promising sign that the league's labor dispute will end any time soon.

    If you're anything like me, the news of all your favorite players looking toward other countries in order to play basketball has just been depressing. In order to give you a little break from all of that, I've decided to rank the 10 most interesting trades that could possibly happen once the lockout finally ends.

    Just to be clear, since there is no league business going on right now, these are not actual trade rumors. These are simply speculation on my part of deals that I believe would make sense for all parties involved.

    All trades presented here would work in the current salary cap structure as verified by ESPN's NBA Trade Machine.

10. Josh Smith to Boston

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    Depending on what kind of salary cap structure the NBA comes up with in the next collective bargaining agreement, some teams might be looking to shave some money off of their payroll.  After signing Joe Johnson to his monster contract last summer, I believe the Atlanta Hawks could be one of those teams.

    While moving Joe Johnson's contract is probably next to impossible, trading someone like Josh Smith to save some cash is not.  

    Smith would be a great fit for a team looking to get a little younger and more athletic. That's why he makes perfect sense for the Boston Celtics. His defensive abilities would also fit right in with the team's philosophy.

    In my proposed trade, the Celtics would receive Josh Smith and Hilton Armstrong while the Hawks would get Jeff Green, Jermaine O'Neal and JaJuan Johnson.

9. Monta Ellis to Indiana

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    Monta Ellis is a gifted scorer who is a bit undersized to be a shooting guard and doesn't have the mindset to run the point. Golden State's main incentive to trade Ellis is that his style of play does not exactly complement Stephen Curry's game.  

    I believe that in order to truly compete, the Warriors will have to trade one of them for more complementary pieces (we will get to a possible Curry trade later). If the Warriors decide to trade Ellis, they will probably do so for a more traditional point guard and another piece that can help them build toward the future.

    My proposed trade is to send Monta Ellis to the Indiana Pacers for Darren Collison and Paul George. Collison and George have each shown flashes of being good players. Both still very young and should have their best basketball ahead of them.

8. Stephen Curry to Dallas

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    Stephen Curry would be on the trading block for the same reason that Monta Ellis could be. It doesn't seem like Golden State will be able to contend without trading one of them for more assets.

    Personally, I would keep Curry. He puts up good numbers despite playing alongside a shameless gunner, which is no easy feat. Furthermore, he is younger, shoots a better percentage and has a better contract than Ellis.

    Still, it seems more likely that Curry would get dealt before Ellis because Golden State has already financially committed Ellis.

    My proposed trade is the Warriors send Steph Curry and Andris Biedrins to the Dallas Mavericks for Caron Butler and Rodrigue Beaubois.

7. Steve Nash to New York

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    I hope that Steve Nash gets traded to a contender before his career is over. He deserves to play for a good team again before his days in the league are up.

    That being said, I don't think the New York Knicks will win a championship with or without Nash, but at the very least they should get him back to the playoffs. Plus, reuniting with Amare Stoudemire and Mike D'Antoni would make for an unbelievably entertaining team to watch.

    The only real reason for the Suns to do this is to set Nash free from the disaster of a rebuilding project that seems like they refuse to commit to as long as they keep their star point guard. Due to Nash's age, they probably won't get a great haul for him, but could get a couple decent young pieces.

    My proposed trade is Steve Nash and Michael Pietrus to the New York Knicks for Chauncey Billups (to make the contracts work), Toney Douglas and Landry Fields.

6. Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holliday to Los Angeles (Lakers)

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    The Los Angeles Lakers had the most imposing front line in the league last season and it didn't do them much good as the Dallas Mavericks unceremoniously escorted them out of the playoffs.

    The problem for the Lakers was their inability to defend athletic perimeter players, and to have a reliable scoring option besides Kobe Bryant since the usually reliable Pau Gasol struggled so badly.

    There were some discussions of sending Iguodala to the Lakers before the draft, but this is an entirely different deal than that one.  It would be in Los Angeles' best interest to acquire Jrue Holiday as well, seeing as Derek Fisher has become a huge liability at point guard.

    My proposed trade is Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday to the Lakers while the Philadelphia 76ers would get Andrew Bynum and Matt Barnes.

5. Chris Paul to New York

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    After trading for Carmelo Anthony, I don't think the New York Knicks have the pieces to acquire another superstar.  However, chatter about Chris Paul wanting to be in New York persists so I decided to see if I could make it happen.

    The only reason New Orleans would trade Paul is if they believe he will refuse to resign with the Hornets when he hits free agency, which is a very real possibility. I think they could get a better deal for their franchise player from a different team though (as you will see in the next slide).

    My proposed trade is Chris Paul to the Knicks in exchange for Chauncey Billups (for contract reasons), Toney Douglas, Shawne Williams and Landry Fields.

4. Chris Paul to Oklahoma City

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    Since you're looking at a picture of Russell Westbrook, you have probably already figured out where I am going with this one. It may sound crazy at first, but hear me out.

    I'm a firm believer that Westbrook and Kevin Durant will not reach their full potential because of Westbrook's desire to be the number one guy. This would give him the opportunity to be that guy in New Orleans.

    At the same time the Thunder would get value for their young superstar—which was going to be the main hurdle in trading him—and they get a point guard who would likely fit better with Kevin Durant, while still being able to take some of the burden of scoring off the young man's shoulders.

    When you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense.

    My proposed trade is Chris Paul and Marco Belinelli to the Thunder for Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Thabo Sefolosha and Nate Robinson.

3. Dwight Howard to Los Angeles (Lakers)

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    You knew we couldn't make it through this slideshow without a Dwight Howard to the Lakers rumor. The fact remains that if Howard really wants to leave Orlando for L.A., the Magic might as well get something in return.

    Unlike most trades that teams are sort of forced into based on a superstar's preference, the Magic and Lakers is a deal that actually makes sense for the teams. Howard obviously would give the Los Angeles the boost they need to get back to the NBA Finals while the Lakers have enough talent to send back to Orlando to make it a pretty fair trade.

    My proposed trade is Dwight Howard and Chris Duhon to the Lakers for Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom.

2. Russell Westbrook to Boston

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    This is a three-team deal, so I am going to lay it out for you right off the bat. The transaction would involve the Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets.

    My proposed trade is Russell Westbrook to the Celtics; Rajon Rondo and Wilson Chandler to the Thunder; Jeff Green and Nate Robinson to the Nuggets.

    This works for Boston because it helps them get younger, gives them another legitimate scorer to help out their aging stars and gives them one last shot at the title with their core group.

    It makes sense for the Thunder because they get a pass first point guard in Rondo who would help get Durant and Harden better shots and he gets after it on defense. Wilson Chandler helps absorb the loss of Westbrook's scoring.

    Finally, the Nuggets would want to get involved because they could get a more proven forward in Jeff Green who fits into the team's new philosophy as they try to focus more on defense. Also, he can get out and run which makes him a great match with Denver point guard Ty Lawson.

1. LeBron James to Orlando

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    Let me first say that this is not some knee-jerk reaction to the Miami Heat not winning the NBA Championship in their first year together. I do not believe the Heat need to be blown up and start over, but if this deal was out there, I think it would make them better.

    The trade would be LeBron James to Orlando for Dwight Howard.

    Of course Orlando would be happy because they would get equal if not greater value for Howard, which was going to be nearly impossible to do. The only real question is, why would Miami do it?

    I believe the Heat would pull the trigger here because, quite simply, it makes them better. Acquiring Howard instantly shores up their interior defense and gives them a legitimate presence in the post on offense.

    Miami already has perimeter scoring covered with Dwayne Wade and they could be in even better shape if Mike Miller is healthy next season. The best part is that there wouldn't be any of that awkward, "Is this LeBron's team? Is this D-Wade's team? Who is going to take the last shot?" drama.

    You have to admit it. Howard, Bosh and Wade sound like a pretty formidable lineup for Miami, and Orlando would be thrilled to have King James.