5 NBA Trades That Can Still Happen This Offseason

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured Columnist IVJuly 18, 2022

5 NBA Trades That Can Still Happen This Offseason

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    BROOKLYN, NY - MARCH 21: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz and Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets look on during the game on March 21, 2022 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

    Plenty of fireworks, literal and otherwise, have already come and gone in July, but there are still some NBA moves to be made.

    If the Utah Jazz trade Donovan Mitchell, a fire sale with some of their other veterans would seem to be in order.

    And the Brooklyn Nets' situation with both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving feels far from stable.

    Most summers, at least a deal or two that no one saw coming happens.

    More dominoes will almost certainly fall between now and the start of the 2022-23 season, and we'll look at the biggest ones here.

Bojan Bogdanovic to the Suns

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    RIJEKA, CROATIA - JULY 03: Bojan Bogdanovic of Croatia shoots a free throw during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Qualifying game between Croatia and Finland at Sports hall Zamet on July 3, 2022 in Rijeka, Croatia. (Photo by Goran Kovacic/Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images)
    Goran Kovacic/Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images

    The Deal: Bojan Bogdanovic for Jae Crowder, Landry Shamet and a 2023 first-round pick

    Rudy Gobert was the Utah Jazz's full-time starting center from 2015-16 through 2021-22. Over those seven seasons, the team was plus-8.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor and minus-0.9 without him. And during Donovan Mitchell's career, it was dead even when the guard played without the big.

    When Danny Ainge traded Gobert for an historic haul that included five first-round draft picks, it was clear the intention was to rebuild, whether Mitchell sticks around or not.

    That means veterans like Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley (both of whom came over in the Gobert deal), Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic might all be available.

    With his size (6'7") and career 39.2 three-point percentage, Bogdanovic seems like a natural fit for the Phoenix Suns. Between Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton, they've leaned into positionless basketball, and another dedicated floor-spacer who fits that mold would open up a little extra space on drives by CP3 and Devin Booker.

    They'd lose a little toughness and defense without Jae Crowder, but there's no question Bogdanovic raises the offensive ceiling. And in lineups with Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson, there's probably enough switchability to mitigate Bogdanovic's weaknesses on the other end.

    For Utah, this is all about getting a pick. With Phoenix smack dab in the middle of a title window, it shouldn't be too concerned with losing one in the short term.

    Crowder is a former Jazz player on an expiring contract. His deal coming off the books this offseason gives a little flexibility. Landry Shamet having another four seasons probably isn't ideal (the deal still works with Cameron Payne, who's only under contract for two more years), but he still has a hint of upside as a shooter.

Patrick Beverley to the Lakers

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    MEMPHIS, TN - APRIL 26: Patrick Beverley #22 of the Minnesota Timberwolves handles the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies during Round 1 Game 5 on April 26, 2022 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

    The Deal: Patrick Beverley for Talen Horton-Tucker and Max Christie

    According to Marc Stein, "there is no push forthcoming from the Lakers’ side to swap Talen Horton-Tucker (as rumored) for Patrick Beverley," but the deal just makes too much sense to write it off for good.

    For years, three-and-D point guards who don't care about dominating individual possessions have made sense alongside LeBron James, and that's exactly what Beverley is.

    Over his 10-year career, he has 2,203 three-point attempts, a 37.8 three-point percentage and a 1.2 defensive box plus/minus. Shane Battier, Paul George, Danny Green, Joe Ingles, Kawhi Leonard and John Stockton are the only players in league history to match or exceed all three marks.

    Even at 34 years old, he's a hand-in-glove fit for a Lakers team that should be going for broke.

    Utah, meanwhile, gets a 21-year-old who, despite a down third season, still has potential as a playmaking wing who'd get a lot more reps on a rebuilding team.

    A straight-up deal for those two doesn't work, though. Hence, the addition of 2022 second-round pick Max Christie.

    Ainge may angle for a pick to be included, but getting two players under 22 should suffice, especially with the number of picks he may yet get for Mitchell, Conley and Bogdanovic.

Kevin Durant to the Pelicans

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25: Kevin Durant of Brooklyn Nets warms up before NBA playoffs between Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn of New York City, United States on April 25, 2022. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
    Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

    The Deal: Kevin Durant for Brandon Ingram, Devonte' Graham, a 2023 first-round pick, a 2025 first-round pick (via Milwaukee) and a 2027 first-round pick

    Getting fewer picks for Kevin Durant than the Jazz got for Gobert might be a tough pill for the Brooklyn Nets to swallow, but the former is just under four years older. Brandon Ingram is a better asset than any of the players Minnesota sent. And over the last three years, Durant's been limited by injuries to 30 appearances per season.

    Still, KD will likely have a higher impact on winning over the course of their respective contracts. If Brooklyn insists on a couple of pick swaps or second-rounders, New Orleans shouldn't balk (assuming it's interested in this kind of framework at all).

    Durant can provide a lot of what Ingram does for the Pelicans, though with more efficiency and at a greater volume. And with the amount of attention he'd command on the perimeter, Zion Williamson would be able to feast inside.

    Even with Durant on the other side of his prime, this should be one of the best and most dynamic scoring duos of all time. He and Zion are fifth and third, respectively, in career points per 75 possessions.

    Even if the Bayou isn't one of KD's preferred destinations, he'd make it a title contender. And winning one might make it feel a lot more like home.

    On the Nets side, this is the kind of move that would kick-start at least a soft rebuild. The picks accomplish that, but it doesn't have to feel like a total teardown. Having Ingram and Ben Simmons in the same lineup gives Brooklyn a young, positionless core with plenty of defensive and playmaking upside.

    Devonte' Graham has to be included for salary-matching purposes, but he helps in that situation too. On a team with Simmons, you need as many kick-out options as possible, and Graham shot 37.4 percent on 9.0 three-point attempts per game over his last two seasons with the Charlotte Hornets (though he fell to 34.1 percent in his lone season with the Pelicans in 2021-22).

Kyrie Irving to the Lakers

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25: Kyrie Irving of Brooklyn Nets warms up before NBA playoffs between Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn of New York City, United States on April 25, 2022. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
    Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

    The Deal: Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn and a 2026 first-round pick for Kyrie Irving and Joe Harris

    In a statement to ESPN on Friday, Russell Westbrook's former agent, Thad Foucher confirmed what we've all known for months.

    "Now, with a possibility of a fourth trade in four years, the marketplace is telling the Lakers they must add additional value with Russell in any trade scenario," Foucher said. "And even then, such a trade may require Russell to immediately move on from the new team via buyout."

    At the moment, L.A. may be unwilling to attach sweeteners to Westbrook's contract, but stubbornness on that front may wane if tension doesn't.

    Dan Woike and Broderick Turner explained for The Los Angeles Times:

    The relationship between the Lakers and Westbrook has looked severely strained this offseason. He attended the Lakers’ NBA Summer League opener in Las Vegas, but he and LeBron James, who was also there, didn’t speak and watched from opposite sides of the court—a stark contrast to their time together last summer.

    The awkwardness was noted throughout NBA circles, with strong beliefs that the Lakers’ biggest stars have been pushing for the team to trade for Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving.

    Optimism exists among some players that a deal for Irving can be struck.

    There's just no question that Irving is a better fit alongside the Lakers' stars than Westbrook. And having LeBron and AD on the roster means clutching to picks makes less sense for L.A. than it does for other teams.

    Joe Harris and Kendrick Nunn are included as part of the swap to make the money work, but they fit their new situations too. If Brooklyn trades both Durant and Irving, keeping Harris doesn't make much sense. His floor-spacing would be a real weapon in lineups with LeBron.

    And while Nunn is far from a prized target for a rebuilding team, he's four years younger than Harris and on a contract that Brooklyn might be able to flip later.

Donovan Mitchell to the Knicks

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    SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 28: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz looks on during Round 1 Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks on April 28, 2022 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

    The Deal: Donovan Mitchell for Evan Fournier, Cam Reddish, Quentin Grimes, Obi Toppin, a 2023 first-round pick, a 2023 first-round pick (via Washington), a 2025 first-round pick, and a 2027 first-round pick

    The Jazz aren't going to get the "everything but the Statue of Liberty" package that's been floating around the internet for a few days. He's good. He's just not that good. Between now and whenever a deal might get finalized, Utah will gauge interest from other suitors, and the New York Knicks should be able to whittle the price down a bit.

    If it gets to where it is above, it's probably still too high, but overpaying for the first face-of-a-franchise-level talent they've had since Carmelo Anthony might be worth it.

    Even with his lack of size (he's just 6'1") and defense, there's reason to think Mitchell can be a No. 1 option on a title contender (you can argue he already has been).

    He's seventh in career playoff scoring average. And Buddy Hield, Klay Thompson and Damian Lillard are the only players in league history who hit more threes in their first five seasons.

    A backcourt with he and Jalen Brunson (also 6'1") would have its issues on defense, but scoring wouldn't be an issue. Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett are a decent starting point for an average defense.

    This is mostly about getting someone who'll truly energize this franchise, though. A mid-20s-point-per-game scorer with the kind of natural magnetism that made him a bigger-than-his-market star in Utah could accomplish that.

    For the Jazz, this may not be the kind of return they're digging their heels in for right now, but it's still a monster haul.

    Fournier is obviously there for salary-matching. Toppin can be a distinctly modern big man. Grimes and Reddish haven't shown anywhere near as much as Mitchell, but their frames fit the modern, positionless game better. And there's plenty of time for both (or either) to get better.

    The real prize, of course, are the picks. And adding these to the five Utah landed for Gobert would give the Jazz one of the stronger starts of a rebuild the league has ever seen.

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