Simple NBA Trades That Could Change Everything About 2022-23 Season
While we wait to see where Kevin Durant ends up following his trade request from the Brooklyn Nets, sometimes smaller deals can make all the difference for teams as well.
Be it P.J. Tucker bringing toughness to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021, Marc Gasol helping the Toronto Raptors capture the 2019 title or Channing Frye's chemistry cleanse of the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers, simply adding a veteran starter or rotation player can allow teams to make a big leap overall.
The following five trade ideas don't contain a player who made the All-Star team last year. Yet if any of these players are traded to the right destination, it could have a huge ripple effect on the rest of the league.
Myles Turner Joins the Raptors
Toronto Raptors Receive: C Myles Turner
Indiana Pacers Receive: F/C Precious Achiuwa, C Khem Birch, G Malachi Flynn, G/F Svi Mykhailiuk, 2023 first-round pick (top-five protected)
While the Raptors weren't on Durant's supposed wish list of teams to join, Toronto boasts some of the best assets to acquire him. Masai Ujiri obviously isn't afraid to swing for the fences with his 2018 trade for Kawhi Leonard, a move that delivered a championship 11 months later.
So what can the Raptors do to help convince Durant to push Brooklyn into orchestrating a trade? A deal for one of the NBA's best rim protectors should help.
Getting Turner gives Toronto a potential supersized lineup, one that could feature four starters (along with OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam) that stand 6'7" to 6'11". If acquired, the 6'10" Durant fits this mold as well.
While the Raptors give up a first-round pick in this deal, they keep all of their starters and own all of their other future first-round picks, meaning the Nets could still pick from a talent pool that features Gary Trent Jr., Anunoby, Barnes and Siakam.
Getting another first in 2023 would give Indiana three total (its own plus one owed from the Cleveland Cavaliers) in what projects to be a terrific draft. Achiuwa, 22, is a good young building block in the frontcourt the Pacers should covet as well.
What Changes: Toronto becomes a more attractive destination for Kevin Durant without giving up any starters.
Mike Conley Makes Pelicans a Contender
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: PG Mike Conley
Utah Jazz Receive: F/C Jaxson Hayes, PG Devonte' Graham, 2027 first-round pick (via Milwaukee Bucks)
The Pelicans were one of the feel-good stories after the trade deadline, turning what looked like another lost season into playoff experience with a competitive first-round series against the Phoenix Suns.
The truth is, New Orleans isn't that far away from contending for a championship, especially if Zion Williamson comes back healthy next season.
Another key to pushing the Pelicans toward the top of the West? Acquiring a veteran point guard who can tie everything together.
With the Utah Jazz having already traded Rudy Gobert, Conley could be the next vet to go while they retool the roster around Donovan Mitchell. The 34-year-old point guard averaged 13.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.3 steals and just 1.7 turnovers per game for Utah last season, and his 40.8 percent mark from three would do wonders for a Pelicans team that finished 27th overall in outside accuracy (33.2 percent).
With so many big-time scorers already on the roster, joining a starting five consisting of CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas would mean simply setting guys up and hitting open threes for Conley. With a bench that features Herbert Jones, Larry Nance Jr., Jose Alvarado, Trey Murphy III and others, New Orleans could be in the championship hunt with a proven playoff point guard like Conley.
Hayes, 22, gives the Jazz a young center to potentially build around with Gobert gone, while Graham takes over point guard duties next to Mitchell and is seven years younger than Conley. Utah also adds another first-round pick to a now massive collection thanks to the Gobert trade, giving it more options to add talent around Mitchell.
What Changes: Pelicans go from a 36-46 eighth seed to serious contender in the West.
Lakers Add Perfect-Fitting Piece with Josh Richardson
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: G/F Josh Richardson
San Antonio Spurs Receive: G/F Talen Horton-Tucker
While the Lakers weren't short on talent last season with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker and others, one of the main reasons the season went down in flames was the awful fit of all these players.
Finding a way to swap Westbrook for Kyrie Irving should be at the top of L.A.'s to-do list, but trading Horton-Tucker for a three-and-D wing would do wonders for the Lakers' return to relevancy as well.
The 21-year-old Horton-Tucker averaged 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.0 steals in his 25.2 minutes and showed promise as a 6'4" playmaker, although his awful outside shooting (26.9 percent) made for a terrible fit among stars who already struggle to consistently hit threes.
Even if Horton-Tucker carries the most potential of any young Laker and could eventually learn to play effectively alongside James, the four-time MVP is going to be 38 in December and is entering the final year of his contract. Los Angeles simply can't afford to wait.
Moving Horton-Tucker for a proven three-and-D wing like Richardson immediately makes the Lakers better. The 28-year-old can play and defend multiple positions and averaged 10.2 points while shooting 41.5 percent from three last season between the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs. After his trade to San Antonio, Richardson ranked in the 89th percentile among all players with a plus-7.9 swing rating, per Cleaning the Glass.
The Spurs are clearly punting on the 2022-23 season after trading Dejounte Murray, so moving a veteran like Richardson for a talented 21-year-old in Horton-Tucker is just smart tanking.
What Changes: With a core of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers can get back in the championship mix if they put better-fitting pieces around their two superstars.
76ers and Jazz Swap Talent
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: F Bojan Bogdanovic, SG Jordan Clarkson, F Rudy Gay
Utah Jazz Receive: PF Tobias Harris, SF Matisse Thybulle
Utah should be wary of a trade request coming from star Donovan Mitchell, especially since the Jazz may very well fall out of the playoff picture after trading Rudy Gobert and Royce O'Neale.
One way to keep him happy without having to sacrifice any of the five first-round picks acquired in those two trades? Give Philadelphia a call.
Harris, 29, would give Utah another big-time scorer to help ease the pressure on Mitchell. He averaged 17.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and shot 36.7 percent from three for the 76ers last season as a third and fourth option at times and would be a terrific fit as the starting power forward now with the Jazz.
Given how often Utah's perimeter defense has crippled the team the past few years, adding one of the best wing stoppers in the NBA in Thybulle should please Mitchell as well. The 76ers allowed 3.7 fewer points per 100 possessions with the 25-year-old small forward on the floor last season, as Thybulle can shut down anyone from point guards to some power forwards. With Patrick Beverley and Malik Beasley now likely coming off Utah's bench, the Jazz can afford to part with Clarkson in the deal.
For Philly, this trade checks a number of boxes.
Shedding Harris' contract (two years, $77 million) is a biggie for a 76ers roster about to get even more expensive when James Harden signs his next contract. It also gets them out of extending Thybulle (a restricted free agent next year) as well. Overall, this trade clears roughly $20 million off the books for next season while bringing some good talent back.
Bogdanovic averaged 18.1 points and hit 38.7 percent of his threes last season and should fit well in the middle of a lineup that now features Tyrese Maxey, Harden, P.J. Tucker and Joel Embiid. Clarkson is only a year removed from winning Sixth Man of the Year, and Gay helps him solidify this Philadelphia bench.
What Changes: Donovan Mitchell puts a potential trade request on hold, and the Sixers cut $20 million off their 2023-24 payroll.
Ben Simmons Joins Luka Doncic; Brooklyn Expands Possible Durant Trade Returns
Brooklyn Nets Receive: PG Spencer Dinwiddie, F/C Maxi Kleber, 2025 first-round pick (lottery-protected), 2027 first-round pick (lottery-protected)
Dallas Mavericks Receive: PG Ben Simmons
Although the Nets are giving up the best player in this deal with Simmons, there's a good reason to do so.
Moving the three-time All-Star now opens up a lot more trade possibilities for Kevin Durant, as players who are on designated rookie extensions could now come back to Brooklyn in a trade with Simmons gone. This could help facilitate a Durant trade to the Miami Heat (with Bam Adebayo involved), Denver Nuggets (Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.) or Golden State Warriors (Andrew Wiggins), among others.
The Nets aren't just dumping Simmons, either, as Dinwiddie returns to the franchise that made him into a high-level starting point guard. The 29-year-old averaged 13.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 0.7 steals between the Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks last year.
Kleber is a good veteran big man who can shoot the three and defend, and the Nets collect two future first-round picks to use as trade bait to reshape the roster around Durant or whoever comes back in a trade for him.
For Dallas, adding a playmaker like Simmons helps ease the pain of losing Jalen Brunson to the New York Knicks in free agency.
A backcourt of Doncic (6'7") and Simmons (6'11") would potentially be the biggest in the NBA, combining two of the best playmakers the league has. If Simmons is healthy, the trio of he, Doncic and Christian Wood is the best Big Three Doncic has ever played with, and this team could be back in the Western Conference Finals with Tim Hardaway Jr. returning from a broken foot as well.
If they made this move, the Mavs couldn't trade a first-round pick until 2029 and would be banking on Simmons being healthy and wanting to play, but this is a buy-low chance on a three-time All-Star who's still just 25 years old.
What Changes: The Nets can trade Kevin Durant for any player on a designated rookie extension now while the Mavericks make up for the loss of Jalen Brunson.