1 New Trade Idea for Every NBA Team After Free Agency
The 2022 version of NBA free agency is, functionally speaking, all but finished.
Beyond restricted free agents Deandre Ayton and Collin Sexton, all the needle-movers have inked new deals.
Thank goodness trade season never stops.
All teams still have something they could gain from that market, be it a certain 33-year-old megastar seeking greener pastures, draft considerations for better days ahead or anything in between. Someone fire up the trade machines, and let's get the hypothetical wheeling and dealing started.
Trade Idea: John Collins to Hornets for Kelly Oubre Jr., James Bouknight and 2023 first-round pick (lottery-protected, via DEN)
While it's possible the Hawks could follow their blockbuster trade for Dejounte Murray with another all-in push, they could instead pivot toward someone who better balances the roster and helps recoup assets.
For whatever reason, both Collins and Atlanta seem less than thrilled about their partnership (or at least less than certain they should stay together), so this would swap the scoring forward for a two-way wing, a recent lottery pick and an upcoming first-rounder.
Adding Oubre could be another step toward shoring up Atlanta's 26th-ranked defense, plus he could excel playing off the Hawks' electric backcourt as a slasher and spot-up shooter. Bouknight, last year's No. 11 pick, has all the makings of (at least) an instant-offense spark, and the first-rounder would offset one of the three sent out for Murray.
Trade Idea: Two 2023 second-round picks to Magic for Terrence Ross
Short of selling draft picks (they're already out their 2023 first-rounder), the Celtics can't make a major swap without really feeling it. Their rotation appears locked and is absolutely loaded—quite possibly the best in the basketball—and any significant deal would disrupt it.
Boston does have a sizable trade exception left over from the Evan Fournier sign-and-trade that it could use to add a supporting piece.
Why not Ross? Before Orlando leaned in to a top-to-bottom rebuild and dismantled the roster around him, he was a walking bucket who could catch fire from three and rock the rim in transition. Surround him with the type of talent on the Shamrocks, and he could feast on catch-and-shoot chances and timely cuts.
Trade Idea: Kevin Durant to Pelicans for Brandon Ingram, Trey Murphy III, Kira Lewis Jr. and three first-round picks
It's still hyperbolic to paint Ingram as Durant 2.0, but you don't have to squint to see the resemblance. Ingram's sinewy frame and silky game are Durant-like, and while Ingram's numbers (23.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists over the past three seasons) aren't in Durant's neighborhood, they do share a ZIP code.
That's a long-winded way of saying that if I were the Nets, I would prioritize Ingram in a trade. And they seemingly agree.
"Brooklyn privately maintains that it won't trade Kevin Durant unless it gets a package in return that starts with a blue-chipper like New Orleans' Brandon Ingram or Toronto's Scottie Barnes," Marc Stein reported.
Since the Nets are trading Kevin freakin' Durant—one of few players with a realistic claim to the best-on-the-planet label—they would be well within their rights to ask for more than Ingram. They'll never get dollar-for-dollar value, but Ingram, three firsts, a rising three-and-D wing in Murphy and a wild card in the 21-year-old Lewis could be in the vicinity.
Trade Idea: Gordon Hayward, Mark Williams and future first-round pick to Pacers for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield
While the Hornets could continue their slow and steady ascent in the Eastern Conference, they might need a more dramatic change with their plans after Miles Bridges' arrest on a felony domestic violence charge.
If they want to make a bold move—this could be the time to act with LaMelo Ball still on his rookie deal—this trade would up their paint protection and perimeter potency. And it would get the remainder of Hayward's contract off the books, albeit at a not insignificant cost.
The Hornets showed interest in Turner before the draft, per The Athletic's Shams Charania, and could reasonably assume he offers more than Williams, this year's No. 15 pick, ever will. Adding a long-range marksman such as Hield would make this offense, which already ranks in the top 10, even harder for opponents to handle.
Trade Idea: Coby White to Mavericks for Josh Green and two future second-round picks
White looked redundant with Chicago last season, and then the franchise added two more backcourt players (rookie Dalen Terry and veteran Goran Dragic). Even if the Bulls are fans of White, they could probably acknowledge that a shoot-first combo guard isn't exactly a necessity.
Green, on the other hand, could (eventually) check a big box as a perimeter stopper.
He hasn't shown a ton to this point in his career, but maybe that—plus a need for more shot-creation—could be a reason for the Mavericks to let him go. If he realizes his defensive potential and finds an offensive niche, he will be a longtime lineup fixture.
Trade Idea: Collin Sexton sign-and-trade to Mavericks for Reggie Bullock, Dwight Powell and future first-round pick
The Cavaliers could work out on a long-term agreement with Sexton, but "there's a chance" his restricted free agency ends with his playing next season on a qualifying offer, per Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor. Sexton could then walk for nothing.
Or the Cavs could be proactive and move him now for a helpful, two-way wing in Bullock, a future first-round pick and Powell, primarily a salary-matcher but a capable rotation big.
For Cleveland to take the next step, it must bulk up on the wings. Adding Ochai Agbaji in the draft was a start, but Bullock offers a different level of security. As long as the 31-year-old is healthy, he is a reliable provider of defense and shooting on the perimeter.
Trade Idea: Davis Bertans, Josh Green and future first-round pick to Jazz for Bojan Bogdanovic
The Mavericks should be in the market for scoring support. The addition of Christian Wood could help, or maybe he will just cancel out the departure of Jalen Brunson. Either way, Dallas needs more firepower around Luka Doncic.
Bogdanovic could provide it. He has a 39.2 three-point percentage in his career, and his scoring bag is deep enough to yield 18.3 points per game (on 46.1/40.3/86.0 shooting) since the start of 2018-19.
After Utah traded Rudy Gobert and Royce O'Neale, the 33-year-old Bogdanovic could be next.
Trade Idea: Ish Smith, Jeff Green and a 2023 second-round pick to Magic for Terrence Ross
Denver made defense a priority this summer, which makes sense since a squad led by Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. will always lean offense.
Then again, this team will never plot a championship path on the defensive end. If Denver ever wins big with this core, it will be because the offense overwhelmed opponents and the defense did just enough.
It could benefit the Nuggets, then, to do everything they can to ensure the offense is supercharged. Adding a quick-strike scorer such as Ross would be a small but helpful step in that direction. If nothing else, having him, Bones Hyland and Zeke Nnaji on the same bench could help keep the scoreboard spinning when the starters sit.
Trade Idea: Alec Burks to Lakers for Talen Horton-Tucker and 2023 second-round pick (via CHI)
Detroit's future looks too bright to view without protective lenses, but its present could remain bleak for at least another season.
That's why the Pistons should be interested in flipping a win-now veteran such as Burks for a 21-year-old mystery box such as Horton-Tucker (plus a second-round pick).
Burks isn't moving the needle for the Motor City. The possibility that Horton-Tucker might can't be dismissed. That should be reason enough for Detroit to bite. He had a rocky 2021-22, but his length, shake and scoring tricks still form an intriguing two-way package.
Golden State Warriors
Trade Idea: James Wiseman to Thunder for Derrick Favors, Kenrich Williams and 2024 first-round pick (top-four protected, via HOU)
While the Warriors seem mostly content to play the long game with Wiseman and the rest of their youth, you wonder whether that sentiment is shared throughout the franchise. After all, they surfaced as possible suitors in the Rudy Gobert sweepstakes, and they have mulled making a run at Kevin Durant.
Obviously, the Warriors wouldn't bring back that caliber of player here, but the cost isn't nearly the same, either. If Golden State is unsure about Wiseman's ability to contribute to a championship run following a season-plus recovery from a torn meniscus, maybe the front office would consider dealing the raw big man for two plug-and-play vets and a valuable first-rounder.
Williams could be a real find if his three-ball bounces back (33.9 percent last season, 44.4 the year prior). He defends all over the court and never runs short on energy. Favors might be on the back side of his career, but he's still a steady source of paint protection, rebounding and point-blank finishing, so he might functionally fill the same role as Wiseman, just without the flash.
Trade Idea: Eric Gordon to Lakers for Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn and 2027 first-round pick
At some point, presumably sooner than later, the rebuilding Rockets will finally split from Gordon, the 33-year-old combo guard. Whenever Houston makes that call, it should hit up Hollywood for the Lakers' best offer.
Given what Gordon endured in recent seasons—he suited up just 63 times total in 2019-20 and 2020-21, and didn't look great when he played—this would be a haul for Houston.
The pick is the real prize, and the fact it won't change hands any time soon (2027 at the earliest) might particularly appeal to the Rockets, who are already loaded with youth and might need a trade sweetener when this roster looks ready for a win-now move. Horton-Tucker still has a chance to become a long-term keeper, and maybe a healthy Nunn could become a trade chip before the deadline.
Trade Idea: Myles Turner and Buddy Hield to Suns for Deandre Ayton (sign-and-trade) and Landry Shamet
The Pacers are reportedly "seriously" interested in adding Ayton, per Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic, and why wouldn't they be?
Pivoting from Domantas Sabonis to Tyrese Haliburton was more of a reset than a rebuild. If Bennedict Mathurin proves as quick of a learner as Chris Duarte was last season, Indy could be in business. The Pacers don't have to be down for long, especially if they add a two-way force such as Ayton on the interior.
The top pick from 2018 has emerged as a walking double-double (nearly a 20-10 machine, actually) despite often being an offensive afterthought with Phoenix. Playing a more prominent role in the Circle City could coax even more production out of him, and he could be a dynamic pick-and-roll partner for Haliburton. Throw in the sweet-shooting Shamet as a younger, cheaper replacement for Hield, and the Pacers could form quite the foundation.
Los Angeles Clippers
Trade Idea: Marcus Morris Sr., Luke Kennard and future first-round pick to Nets for Kyrie Irving
Who says Kyrie can't have two suitors in L.A.?
OK, well multiple reports say the Lakers are the only team chasing Irving, as NBC Sports' Kurt Helin relayed Sunday, but why shouldn't the Clippers sneak in for a last-second heist? Yes, they have John Wall and Reggie Jackson in the backcourt, but they don't have Kyrie Irving, a nightly source of 27.1 points, 6.0 assists and 49.0/40.6/92.0 shooting over the past three seasons.
At a certain price point, an Irving trade has to be worth it for the Clippers. For my money, this is the price. Morris is nice but expendable with all the wing options L.A. has. Kennard and a future first have value, but again, they aren't Irving. Put him on the same roster as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George—plus Norman Powell, Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, Ivica Zubac and others—and the Clippers could be unstoppable.
Los Angeles Lakers
Trade Idea: Russell Westbrook and future first-round pick to Spurs; Talen Horton-Tucker, Doug McDermott, Josh Richardson and future first-round pick to Nets; and Kyrie Irving and Joe Harris to Lakers
In their ongoing effort to pry Irving out of Brooklyn, the Lakers have explored the possibility of pulling the Spurs into a multiteam deal, per Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus. The Nets apparently want nothing to do with Westbrook's $47.1 million salary. (Shocking, right?)
If L.A. can connect all the dots—hereby incentivizing San Antonio with a first and Brooklyn with three usable players and a first—it should be all over Irving. He is the third star this roster needs to find its championship form.
Irving, obviously, can't be considered a sure thing after suiting up just 103 times over the past three seasons, but the Lakers should value the reward over the risk. Two first-round picks and Horton-Tucker are, in the grand scheme, small potatoes when Irving's scoring and shot-creation and Harris' lights-out shooting could be keys to another title run with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Trade Idea: Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Ziaire Williams, Steven Adams and three first-round picks to Nets for Kevin Durant and Kessler Edwards
Admittedly, this feels bigger and bolder than anything actually brewing on Beale Street, where the ahead-of-schedule Grizzlies seem content to see how high their young nucleus can climb. But, wow, imagine how high they could skyrocket their ceiling by adding Durant, keeping Jaren Jackson Jr. and plotting those two in a Big Three with Ja Morant.
The trade cost, obviously, would be steep, and it's possible Brooklyn might refuse to do a Durant deal without Jackson. Still, this offer is hardly insulting, particularly if you see star potential in Bane, Williams or both.
As for the Grizzlies, this could be their ticket out of the Western Conference and into their first Finals appearance. Morant has never played with a 20-point scorer. Letting him operate alongside a flamethrower such as Durant, who pumped in 29.9 per night just last season, could be a cheat code.
Trade Idea: Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Max Strus, Nikola Jovic and three future first-round picks to Nets for Kevin Durant
Heat president Pat Riley is perpetually whale-watching, but his radar must have gone haywire once ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Miami made Durant's wish list.
There's just one catch: Durant doesn't want the stripped-down version of the Heat. If he heads to South Beach, he wants to play alongside Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry, per The Athletic's Sam Amick.
The Heat have to try to make that happen, even if this offer feels light for a certified superstar. Durant is the answer to all their half-court issues and the perfect scoring star to nudge Butler and Adebayo into sidekick roles.
Trade Idea: George Hill and two 2023 second-round picks to Thunder for JaMychal Green
There's a non-zero chance the full-strength Bucks are the Association's team to beat. The last time they were healthy, they won it all. And despite losing Khris Middleton to a sprained MCL in the opening round, they still built series leads of 2-1 and 3-2 before falling to the eventual Eastern Conference champion Celtics in the second round.
In other words, no boat-rocking is needed for the Bucks. Could a minor move in the frontcourt make sense, though? No question.
Milwaukee doesn't have much protection behind Brook Lopez, which is kind of a big deal since the 34-year-old lost all but 13 games of the 2021-22 campaign to back surgery. Green wasn't great last season, but he's normally a sturdy source of defensive versatility and floor spacing.
Trade Idea: Naz Reid to 76ers for Shake Milton
After tabbing Rudy Gobert to plug any and all defensive looks, Minnesota might be in the market for a pinch more perimeter offense.
Milton could be an intriguing option at the right price.
Statistically speaking, he's a roller coaster of offensive outbursts, nearly silent stretches and everything in between. As a deep reserve, though, he could give Minnesota a quick barrage of buckets on his hot nights and stay tethered to the bench on his cold ones.
New Orleans Pelicans
Trade Idea: Brandon Ingram, Devonte' Graham and two future first-round picks to Nets for Kevin Durant
The Pelicans surely can, will and arguably should explore all options for Durant that don't involve Ingram or Zion Williamson. Assuming those fall flat, though, it's hard not to get excited about what an Ingram-for-Durant swap might do for New Orleans, as The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor explored:
"Durant would be the leader of a young, talented playoff team that may lack seasoning but has all the ingredients to make the Finals. A good coach in [Willie] Green. Lockdown defenders like Herb Jones and Jose Alvarado. A veteran shot-creating guard in CJ McCollum, and grizzled veterans like Jonas Valanciunas. Then there’s the potential megastar in Zion, who can handle the ball and finish in the paint with Shaq-like efficiency when he’s healthy."
New Orleans could, of course, stand pat and see if the return of Williamson is enough for it to climb into the West's top four. Or it could part with Ingram, Graham and a pair of first-round picks (more if needed) to deal for Durant and book a first-class trip into the contenders tier.
New York Knicks
Trade Idea: Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, Evan Fournier and two future first-round picks to Jazz for Donovan Mitchell
The Jazz already changed course by trading Rudy Gobert and Royce O'Neale. Could a Mitchell deal be next?
"Change is inevitable in the NBA. I'm not trying to be cryptic or anything else, but Donovan is on our roster and he's a very, very important part of what we're trying to do," Jazz general manager Justin Zanik said, per ESPN's Tim MacMahon. "Things evolve in the NBA, so I couldn't sit here and say anybody is [untouchable]."
If I can read between the lines, it sounds like Utah isn't actively shopping Mitchell but would let him go if a no-brainer offer came across the table. Fans will surely debate if this package qualifies as such, but it's strong enough that the Knicks could dangle it without insulting the Jazz.
Get Mitchell, a New York native, back to the Empire State to play alongside RJ Barrett, Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson, and the Knicks could make noise in the East as soon as next season.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Trade Idea: Kenrich Williams to Cavaliers for Dean Wade and lottery protected future first-round pick
Is it possible for a rebuilder to have too many draft assets? The Thunder don't seem to think so, as they sit atop a pile of picks too numerous to mention.
That's why it makes sense to keep pursuing paths to more picks.
Williams, who turns 28 in December, has a slew of win-now talents that go wasted with the Thunder but could shine brightly in Cleveland. Oklahoma City, meanwhile, could make better use of the future first-rounder, and the Thunder have enough wing minutes available to try further developing Wade if they want.
Trade Idea: Terrence Ross and future second-round pick to Bulls for Coby White and Tony Bradley
White doesn't have an obvious path to major minutes in Chicago now or in the future. Get him to Orlando, though, and he might have all the developmental time he can handle.
Yes, the Magic have other young guards on the roster—including Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony—but none are so established that the franchise should shy away from exploring alternatives. Besides, White is younger than Fultz and only a few months older than Anthony, so he arguably has just as good of a chance to cement himself with the long-term nucleus as anyone.
White packs a powerful scoring punch and is a capable secondary playmaker, so he could give some offensive oomph to an Orlando outfit that badly needs it. At the cost of Ross and a future second-rounder—with Bradley in the deal as salary-filler—White is worth the gamble.
Trade Idea: Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz and protected future first-round pick to Mavericks for Reggie Bullock
The Sixers have kept busy adding two-way wings this summer—P.J. Tucker and Danuel House Jr.—but modern teams can never have too many. Besides, Bullock wouldn't be blocked from a prime place in the rotation if he looks anything like he has the past two seasons when he has paired reliable, versatile defense with a 38.5 three-point percentage.
Bullock's two-way game would be the perfect replacement in Philly for specialists Thybulle (stopper) and Korkmaz (shooter). It might sting to part with a future first-rounder for a 31-year-old non-star, but Philly can take that kind of hit if it feels the trade moves it closer to championship bliss.
The question here is whether there's enough for the Mavericks to bite, but they've shown interest in Thybulle (per Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer), could use more shooting and might be able to use the pick in a blockbuster down the line.
Trade Idea: Deandre Ayton (sign-and-trade), Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and three first-round picks to Nets for Kevin Durant
The Suns aren't merely on Durant's list of desired landing spots, they are "by far No. 1," per ESPN's Zach Lowe. That information alone should trigger all sorts of alarms, flashing lights and whistles signaling that it's time for this front office to send the motherload offer at Brooklyn.
The Nets might decide even this isn't enough for Durant. That's fine. The Suns should still put this offer on the table and see what happens. At worst, Brooklyn declines. At best, Phoenix zips to the front of the title-chasing line for next season.
The Suns would send out a fortune here, yet they'd still have Chris Paul and Devin Booker in the backcourt, Jae Crowder alongside Durant on the wing and whichever center wins the starting gig (Bismack Biyombo, Jock Landale or Dario Saric). That's a super-powered starting five, and one more than capable of delivering the franchise's first NBA title.
Portland Trail Blazers
Trade Idea: Keon Johnson to Thunder for Kenrich Williams
Between the trade for Jerami Grant, the extension for Damian Lillard, and the new contracts for Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic, the Portland Trail Blazers have extinguished much of their asset collection.
Still, it's possible that Johnson, the 21st pick of the 2021 draft, has enough long-term appeal to attract a rebuilder.
If the Thunder want to tackle Johnson's development, then the Trail Blazers could land the low-maintenance Williams. His high-energy, complementary skills would shine alongside the biggest and brightest Blazers' stars, and if he's a reliable threat from distance (he hit 44.4 percent of his threes in 2020-21, albeit on low volume), he could be a real two-way weapon on the wing.
Trade Idea: Harrison Barnes and future first-round pick to Hawks for John Collins
Sacramento is historically starved for success and perpetually chasing whatever relief the first playoff appearance in a decade-plus would provide.
The Kings' quest for instant gratification could prove problematic, but this type of exchange might work. A Barnes-for-Collins swap, which has reportedly been kicked around for months, according to The Athletic's Sam Amick, could give Sacramento a slight boost now and maybe a big jump going forward if Collins finds an extra gear away from Atlanta.
Barnes plus a first-round pick is a good package, but Collins is a good player. The 24-year-old owns career averages of 16.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 0.9 threes, plus an efficient 55.9/37.6/77.9 shooting slash. He's also signed through at least 2024-25, meaning the Kings could make this move and have every reason to believe Collins would be around to grow alongside De'Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Davion Mitchell and Keegan Murray.
San Antonio Spurs
Trade Idea: Josh Richardson to Bulls for Coby White and Marko Simonovic
The San Antonio Spurs are clearly open for business after trading away Dejounte Murray, and rival clubs think Richardson, Jakob Poeltl and Doug McDermott are all available, per Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus. If Richardson is up for grabs, the Bulls would do themselves a favor by adding him to their wing rotation.
San Antonio, meanwhile, could exit the exchange with a scoring guard in White and a skilled big in Simonovic, both of whom are 22 years old.
Is either one an automatic keeper for the long haul? Nope, but at least there's a chance one (or both) forces his way into those plans. That hope alone is good value for a replacement-level veteran like Richardson.
Trade Idea: OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr., Precious Achiuwa and three first-round picks (plus additional pick swaps) to Nets for Kevin Durant
The Raptors could be on a climb toward contention without an external push, but a deal for Kevin Durant might rocket them to the front of the race. It might all hinge on the outgoing pieces, and Toronto should be careful about how much it sends out.
The Raptors don't want to part with reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, per Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer. If they're the ones initiating the offer, they should try to keep Pascal Siakam out of it, too. Maybe that proves impossible, but this is a respectable place for Toronto to start negotiations.
It's a ton to send out, but check what's left behind: a killer quartet of Durant, Siakam, Barnes and Fred VanVleet; a supporting cast with capable contributors at every spot; and arguably the Association's best coach-executive tandem with Nick Nurse and Masai Ujiri. The Raptors would be perennial contenders as long as they kept that core.
Trade Idea: Nickeil Alexander-Walker and two future second-round picks to Knicks for Cam Reddish
The Jazz are in a tough spot and will be until they make a long-term decision about Donovan Mitchell's future—or he makes it for them. They need to keep a competitive roster around him to keep him happy (assuming that's the aim), but they can't neglect the future in case he starts searching for the exits.
Cam Reddish can scratch both itches, and the Knicks have been willing to discuss him in deals, per The Athletic's Fred Katz.
While the idea of Reddish remains more intriguing than the actual player, he's still a tools-y 6'8" swingman who defends multiple positions and just splashed a career-best 35.9 percent of his long-range looks. He could be a helpful rotation piece now and maybe much more down the line if Utah can coax more shot creation out of him.
Trade Idea: Kyle Kuzma and Rui Hachimura to Hawks for John Collins
Bradley Beal has designs on bringing a title to the District, so the front office needs to bring him better costars.
John Collins, who was reportedly on Washington's radar earlier this offseason, could be an electric option to fill a Big Three with Beal and Kristaps Porzingis. All three are average or better shooters from distance, meaning they'd all have value working off the ball and keeping the attack lanes open for the others.
Last season, the Wizards had the Association's 21st-ranked offense. With the addition of Collins, a healthy Beal and a full season of Porzingis, Washington could have the horsepower to climb into the top 10, which feels like the first step in becoming a perennial playoff participant.
Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.