The Cutthroat Trade Every NBA Fanbase Hates to Think About

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 3, 2022

The Cutthroat Trade Every NBA Fanbase Hates to Think About

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    With stars such as Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell still floating around the trade market, there will be some heavy debates in NBA front offices and among fanbases.

    Should we really part with Scottie Barnes to get KD? How many first-round picks is too many for Mitchell? What happens in Los Angeles if LeBron James doesn't sign a contract extension?

    These questions will need to be answered either before the season begins or sometime during the 82-game grind. From sacrificing young talent to chasing veteran help, entertaining trades for players before they hit free agency or parting with a franchise staple to get out of NBA purgatory, there are plenty of cutthroat trades out there that have to at least be considered.

    All of these moves will create some uneasiness among fans but will undoubtedly have to be talked about soon.

Atlanta Hawks: Moving Onyeka Okongwu for Win-Now Help

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    The Atlanta Hawks already went star shopping this summer with the acquisition of Dejounte Murray from the San Antonio Spurs. The move cost the Hawks three first-round picks, however, meaning any desire to bring in a third All-Star will have to involve parting with some of their young talent.

    Okongwu, 21, should be at the top of opposing teams' wish lists, as the young center showed real promise in year two as a versatile defender who can rotate all over the floor. He blocked 1.3 shots in just 20.7 minutes per game last year and was equally impressive on the perimeter (holding opponents to 30.2 percent shooting from three) as he was in the paint (53.3 percent from less than 10 feet).

    With starting center Clint Capela under contract for the next three years, Okongwu will be stuck in a reserve role for the foreseeable future, and his rookie deal will expire a year before Capela's contract will.

    Atlanta faces a tough decision with the sixth pick in the 2020 draft, as he could either be the future of the position or used as trade bait.

Boston Celtics: Trading Jaylen Brown Before Unrestricted Free Agency

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    Going from a rookie averaging 6.6 points per game to one of the best two-way wings in the NBA at age 25, Jaylen Brown has blossomed into a star with the Boston Celtics.

    Trading him in a package for Kevin Durant would be the right move basketball-wise and likely would make the Celtics the betting favorite for the 2023 title.

    Even if a trade for Durant falls through, moving Brown before he hits unrestricted free agency in 2024 may be for the best, especially since he doesn't seem thrilled with his name popping up in continuous trade rumors for superstar players.

    Brown won't sign an extension of 120 percent (the maximum allowed) off next season's salary, $28.5 million, when a potential supermax in 2024 could start at over $48 million.

    The San Antonio Spurs were in a similar situation with Dejounte Murray, choosing to trade him to the Atlanta Hawks when his value was its highest instead of potentially losing him for nothing in two years. We'll see if the Celtics do the same with Brown.

Brooklyn Nets: Getting Less Than a Rudy Gobert-Like Return for Kevin Durant

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    The Minnesota Timberwolves' package of four first-round picks (three unprotected), a first-round pick swap and a collection of both young and veteran players for Rudy Gobert could have played a part in the lack of a Kevin Durant trade.

    It was a wild amount to give up for Gobert and his four-year, $170 million remaining contract, even as good as the three-time Defensive Player of the Year is.

    For Sean Marks and the Nets front office, moving Durant for anything less would be embarrassing.

    Despite his age (33) and recent injury history, Durant is still a top-three player in the NBA who's proved he can be the No. 1 option on a championship team. Gobert will be the fourth scoring option on his own team.

    The Nets simply can't move Durant for a few good starters and a pair of first-round picks. Brooklyn has to get an offer that surpasses that of Gobert or just keep Durant, period.

Charlotte Hornets: Giving Up Draft Capital to Move Gordon Hayward's Contract

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    Gordon Hayward, 32, has played in just 93 games since he signed a four-year, $120 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets in 2020 and has two years and $61.6 million remaining on his sizable contract.

    For a Hornets team that's in danger of missing the Eastern Conference playoffs once again following a lackluster offseason, moving Hayward would almost certainly require giving up a draft pick or two.

    Of course, there's a big reset button sitting out in Los Angeles for teams in long-term financial trouble, as Russell Westbrook is on an expiring $47.1 million deal. NBA insider Marc Stein first brought up the Hornets as a potential trade destination for Wesbtrook, as Charlotte could move the contracts of Hayward and Terry Rozier, saving the team a whopping $54.7 million in cap space in 2023.

    The Hornets could enter free agency with around $100 million in cap space, before factoring in a new deal for P.J. Washington, with LaMelo Ball entering the final year of his rookie contract.

    While trading for Westbrook or attaching draft picks to Hayward's contract isn't ideal in the short term, Charlotte could reset the franchise around Ball next summer.

Chicago Bulls: Moving Patrick Williams in a Panic Trade

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    After the Chicago Bulls finished as the No. 6 seed in the East, their main offseason activity was re-signing Zach LaVine. They also added veteran depth in Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic, and the health of Lonzo Ball's knee will have a huge impact on the season as well.

    This looks like another six-ish seed in a conference where the Hawks, Cavaliers, Knicks and Nets (at least, as constructed) all got better this summer either by outside moves or internal growth.

    Despite all the star power on Chicago's roster, Patrick Williams may be the most intriguing player to watch.

    Even though he's heading into his third year, he's still just 20 years old and is the perfect player to place around LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic with his three-point shooting (41.3 percent lifetime) and defensive versatility.

    Williams is also the best trade chip the Bulls possess, one they may be forced to cash in if they start slipping down the East standings. Giving up on Williams after just 88 games feels way too early, however, and Chicago fans should want to keep their potential fourth star in town as long as possible.

Cleveland Cavaliers: A Collin Sexton Sign-and-Trade

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    Collin Sexton is the best free agent remaining, even if the Cleveland Cavaliers have the right to match any offer he should receive.

    Cleveland fans should want the 23-year-old back even if he'll likely become the team's new sixth man with Caris LeVert entering the starting lineup. Sexton has his faults as a defender and passer and is coming off a season-ending knee injury, but he plays with an incredible amount of energy and passion and has been the torch that's seen the franchise through this latest rebuild.

    A sign-and-trade remains an option, although the Cavs still need Sexton's bucket-getting ability, especially with Ricky Rubio likely missing the first part of the season while recovering from a torn ACL.

    Trading Sexton now while he never really got a chance to play with Evan Mobley, Lauri Markkanen, Rubio or rookie Ochai Agbaji on a team with real playoff hope would feel wrong.

Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic Being the Next Superstar to Ask Out

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    Don't panic, Dallas Mavericks fans. Luka Doncic isn't going anywhere.

    At least, for now.

    The 23-year-old is just beginning a five-year, $215.2 million max extension, and the Mavs are coming off a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Things are quite good.

    This doesn't mean anyone in Dallas should feel comfortable.

    The Mavs just had their second-best player in Jalen Brunson walk out the door for nothing, and even newly acquired Christian Wood has a single year left on his contract and won't agree to extend his deal based on his $14.3 million salary. He'll become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

    This is a roster full of role players, one that's going to require Doncic to put up MVP-level numbers yet again to even get a playoff spot, especially with the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, Minnesota Timberwolves and others only getting better.

    Doncic seems happy and just signed a big deal, but then again, so did Kevin Durant heading into last season.

    Mavs fans have to hope a Doncic trade request never comes, but this roster is headed in the wrong direction.

Denver Nuggets: Having to Trade Michael Porter Jr. If Injury Issues Persist

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    After he underwent lumbar spine surgery that caused him to miss all but nine games last season, Michael Porter Jr. will be a huge part of the Denver Nuggets' championship hopes this year.

    Even with Porter expected to be ready for the start of the 2022-23 season, his history of back issues should terrify Denver fans, especially with the 24-year-old just beginning a five-year, $179.3 million max extension.

    Porter has already missed 184 of a possible 309 games (59.5 percent) in his four-year career, including his entire rookie season.

    If he suffers yet another serious injury, this will become one of the worst contracts in the NBA, one the Nuggets will have to attach significant draft compensation or young talent to move.

Detroit Pistons: Getting Pennies on the Dollar for Killian Hayes

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    Could this already be Killian Hayes' final season with the Detroit Pistons?

    General manager Troy Weaver has until Oct. 31 to decide if he even wants to pick up the fourth-year team option for 2023-24 on Hayes, who would be due $7.4 million. Thus far, he's played nowhere near up to that number.

    With averages of just 6.8 points and 4.5 assists per game on 37.4 percent shooting overall and 26.8 percent from three in his first two seasons, it's probably safe to label the 2020 No. 7 pick a bust. His role won't get any bigger with Jaden Ivey and Alec Burks in town, either.

    Trading Hayes while he still has a bit of value left is an option, especially for teams that can use a 6'5" defender and serviceable playmaker in their backcourt.

    There's simply no way for the Pistons to get back anywhere close to what they had to use to select Hayes in the first place, however, and the team would be forced to simply accept pennies on the dollar.

Golden State Warriors: An Inevitable Salary-Dumping Move

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    NBA teams competing for championships should absolutely be willing to dip into the luxury tax. The Golden State Warriors, however, have taken a full-on swan dive into it.

    The team's roster and luxury-tax bill could reach $400 to $500 million in the next few seasons amid rising contracts and new extensions, a number owner Joe Lacob wants to avoid.

    Lacob said on The Athletic's The TK Show (h/t Tom Dierberger of NBC Sports):

    "Those numbers are not even remotely possible. They're just not. I'm already in trouble with the rest of the league. We are in trouble for being where we are. In fact, Vegas, I'll be at the NBA Board of Governors meeting Tuesday, let me tell you. They're not happy. It's not just us. Other teams are going into the luxury tax now as well. We kind of blew a hole in the system and it's not a good look from the league's perspective. They don't want to see it happen."

    The Warriors are facing a tax bill of $158.7 million. This is actually the lowest we could see this number if everyone gets paid, as both Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole (and possibly Draymond Green, pending his player option) will be free agents in 2023.

    Something has to give, whether it's trading some of the non-core guys such as James Wiseman ($12.1 million contract in 2023-24), Kevon Looney ($7.5 million) and Jonathan Kuminga ($6.0 million) or refusing to give Wiggins or Poole a new deal.

Houston Rockets: A Kevin Porter Jr. Trade if No Contract Extension is Reached

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    Kevin Porter Jr. is the first member of the Houston Rockets' young core eligible for a contract extension, as he's about to enter the final year of his rookie deal.

    The talent is obviously there for the 22-year-old, even if the positional fit and his past may play a part in any extension. Porter averaged 15.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game last season as the Rockets started him at point guard.

    Porter isn't a true floor general, however. He's a combo guard who was one of the league's best catch-and-shoot three-point makers (48.3 percent) last season and isn't an ideal fit next to Jalen Green.

    He was also suspended by the Rockets for leaving a game at halftime, and he had turbulent runs with the Cleveland Cavaliers and USC Trojans during his brief stays with both.

    Coming to terms on an extension will be extremely tricky and may cause Porter to eventually hit the trade market.

Indiana Pacers: Using Russell Westbrook to Go Full Rebuild

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    As the Indiana Pacers continue their rebuild, there have been rumors about the Lakers using Russell Westbrook's salary to potentially acquire Buddy Hield and Myles Turner. Talks fizzled when Indiana asked for two first-round picks to complete the deal, per The Athletic's Bob Kravitz.

    With training camps tipping off next month, however, the Lakers may be more desperate to move Westbrook.

    A potential Lakers-Pacers swap could expand to include another veteran such as T.J. McConnell or Daniel Theis (after August 30) to go along with Turner and Hield, as even three players would nearly equal Westbrook's $47.1 million expiring deal.

    While Westbrook would almost certainly get bought out by the Pacers, the move would net Indiana at least one first-round pick while clearing an additional $28 million off the books in 2023-24, given the players it would send out. If Hield is included in the trade, the Pacers wouldn't have a single player making over $9.1 million next season.

    Indiana almost never goes full rebuild, but it's probably the right move for now, even if it is tough for fans to watch.

Los Angeles Clippers: Splitting Up Leonard, George If Title Run Falls Short in 2023

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    The last time we saw the Los Angeles Clippers end a playoff run with a healthy Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, players were being contained in a Disney World bubble. Imagine reading that sentence to your grandkids one day.

    We have no idea if this pairing is actually title-worthy, as Leonard's torn ACL has disrupted the last two potential postseason runs for L.A.

    So what if both are healthy next spring and the Clippers simply fall short? This team still can't trade a first-round pick until 2028 and doesn't possess much young talent to chase a third star with. Quality role players are all over the roster, but even packaging some together won't fetch an All-Star.

    If the Clippers are healthy and don't win a title, there could be real talk about trading one of the star forwards (almost certainly George) to help maximize the title window of the other.

Los Angeles Lakers: The LeBron James Dilemma

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    LeBron James is eligible to sign up to a two-year extension with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, a deal that could top out at $97 million.

    So what if James tells Lakers governor Jeanie Buss he's not interested in extending his deal and wants to go into free agency after this season? He certainly doesn't need the financial security, and this kind of pressure would almost force the Lakers to use Russell Westbrook's expiring contract and future first-round picks to upgrade the roster now.

    If there's no extension and the Lakers begin the season as a .500-ish team fighting just to stay in the play-in picture in a loaded Western Conference, how confident should L.A. be that James will actually re-sign?

    At some point, both sides may have to sit down and talk about if a trade is best for everyone involved.

    James could essentially choose his next team, one that would presumably have legit title hopes in 2023 unlike these Lakers, and L.A. could still receive a sizable return of picks and players to use around Anthony Davis and whoever they bring in with the cap space coming next summer.

    It's not the scenario anyone would have hoped for when James signed his last two-year extension in 2020, but this team simply isn't good enough to compete for a championship.

Memphis Grizzlies: Consolidating Young Talent to Chase a Title

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    After getting a taste of playoff success last spring by knocking off the Minnesota Timberwolves and pushing the eventual-champion Golden State Warriors to six games, the Memphis Grizzlies should be hungrier than ever.

    With Jaren Jackson Jr. possibly missing the first few months of the season following foot surgery, however, can they also be patient?

    This is still an extremely young team, one that's going to face much stiffer competition at the top of the West with teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets getting healthier. If Memphis stumbles out of the gates with no Jackson, can this team and fanbase be content riding with the young talent instead of cashing it in for some veteran help?

    This has been one of the most enjoyable young cores in the NBA to watch. Breaking it up feels wrong, but also, maybe inevitable with second contracts coming due for so many.

Miami Heat: Giving Up Bam Adebayo for Kevin Durant

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    If the Miami Heat are serious about trading for Kevin Durant, there doesn't seem to be a feasible way to do so without giving up Bam Adebayo. A package of Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Nikola Jovic and first-round picks shouldn't be close to enough.

    Losing Adebayo would be devastating for the Heat defense, although adding Durant to Jimmy Butler along with Kyle Lowry and whatever's left on the roster could make this the team to beat in the East.

    There would be some hoops to jump through, however, as the Nets would have to trade Ben Simmons first since both he and Adebayo are on rookie max extensions. Adebayo has also expressed his desire to stay in Miami for his entire career and has Defensive Player of the Year potential to go along with his scoring and passing abilities.

    This would be an all-in move for the Heat, one that comes with extreme risk.

Milwaukee Bucks: Using Brook Lopez as a Salary Match

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    Brook Lopez has become a fan favorite with the Milwaukee Bucks as the starting center and defensive anchor of a championship team, and he is still a much-needed floor-spacing option in the middle.

    With an expiring $13.9 million contract, he's also one of the team's best trade chips.

    Using Lopez as a salary matcher around the trade deadline could certainly come up, especially with Bobby Portis back with the team on a four-year deal. The Utah Jazz used Joe Ingles and his expiring deal as a trade chip last year, a painful decision regarding a franchise favorite even after he tore his ACL.

    If the Bucks are in a battle for the top of the East come February and need to upgrade a specific area, Lopez could be key to do so.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Jaden McDaniels Pricing Himself Into a Trade

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    Keeping Jaden McDaniels out of the Rudy Gobert trade was important for the Minnesota Timberwolves, as he gives them a versatile defender who can hit threes and be a great connecting piece for their stars.

    With just two years remaining on his rookie deal (club option for 2023-24), however, McDaniels may price himself out of Minnesota and force the Wolves to look at trade options.

    Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns will combine to earn $93.9 million in 2024-25, the same year Anthony Edwards will almost certainly be starting his own max extension. If McDaniels continues to thrive as a starting small forward or rotation piece off the bench, he'll want/deserve a nice raise as well.

    The Wolves are fine for now with his low salary number ($2.2 million) but may be forced to trade McDaniels as early as next season.

New Orleans Pelicans: Giving up Brandon Ingram in a Kevin Durant trade

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    Yet another team that will be forced to make a tough decision on a potential Kevin Durant trade, the New Orleans Pelicans can offer the Brooklyn Nets the most similar player in return for their superstar forward.

    Brandon Ingram, like Durant, is a thin, athletic scoring machine on the wing, one who's become a willing passer and improved rebounder.

    He's nine years younger than Durant, however, and is due $37.6 million less over the next three seasons. While swapping Ingram for Durant would give the Pelicans an immediate title window, it would reduce the amount of time said window would stay open.

    A potential trade may depend on how much more New Orleans would need to include for Durant, as Ingram is already an incredible starting point.

New York Knicks: Giving Up the Farm for Donovan Mitchell

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    With the New York Knicks' cupboard full of first-round picks, their desire to acquire a star and Donovan Mitchell's ties to his native New York, a deal seems inevitable before the season begins.

    Of course, the Rudy Gobert trade has thrown player values way off, meaning the two sides could go back and forth for a while to determine proper compensation.

    Knicks fans should absolutely want to bring Mitchell on board, as this is still a play-in type team even after the Jalen Brunson signing. A backcourt of Brunson and Mitchell isn't stopping anyone, but no one is containing them, either.

    New York needs to draw a line in the sand, however. Anything over four first-round picks seems like an overpay, especially if there's a lot of young talent involved in the deal as well. Giving up anything more than four firsts for Mitchell, an All-Star but not an All-NBA talent, would be way too much and heavily restrict the ability to make future moves.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Cashing in Future Picks

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    In a reversal of several years of strategy, we actually saw the Oklahoma City Thunder give up future draft picks in a trade this summer.

    Indeed, we've entered a bold, new world.

    OKC sent three 2023 first-rounders to the New York Knicks for the No. 11 pick, which it used to select Ousmane Dieng, and now just have their own first next season (along with the right to swap picks with the Los Angeles Clippers).

    After years of moving veteran talent and absorbing bloated contracts for the right to collect picks, seeing the Thunder actually become buyers is somewhat shocking and something the fanbase may have mixed feelings about.

Orlando Magic: Choosing Between Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs

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    The Orlando Magic will likely roll with a starting backcourt of Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs for at least one more season, as they're the two most talented guards on the roster.

    The fit remains iffy, however, as both are ball-dominant players who haven't shown the ability to spot up or space the floor for the other. Suggs was especially bad at that as a rookie, only connecting on 22.2 percent of his catch-and-shoot threes, while Orlando's offense ranked next-to-last with a 103.9 rating.

    There's a lot of intriguing talent on the Magic, and we'll get a good idea this season of who fits in the plan around Paolo Banchero.

    Anthony and Suggs both have a fair amount of upside but look like a questionable fit that a trade may be required to break up.

Philadelphia 76ers: Futures of Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle

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    With the Philadelphia 76ers locked in on a core of Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, this could lead to a midseason exit from some of the supporting players on big contracts (or due for one next summer).

    According to Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer, "the Sixers actively explored the trade market" for Thybulle, who will become a restricted free agent in 2023. Fischer notes that there hasn't been traction on extension conversations.

    Even with Embiid and Harden on the roster, Tobias Harris is still the team's highest-paid player and has two years and $76.9 million remaining on his contract. The Sixers already have $162.4 million committed to the 2023-24 roster, and that's before factoring in a new deal for Thybulle and if Harden were to pick up his $35.6 million player option.

    Philly fans should hate to lose two important players to the team's championship hopes, although luxury-tax implications could eventually lead to trades for both.

Phoenix Suns: Giving Up Everything Possible for Kevin Durant

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    The Phoenix Suns' matching an offer sheet for Deandre Ayton should have killed any potential trade for Kevin Durant, right?

    Maybe not, as Phoenix still has a ton of draft picks and some quality starters it can offer.

    Packaging Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and one of either Jae Crowder, Dario Saric or Landry Shamet is enough to match salaries with Durant, and Phoenix can offer unprotected first-round picks in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029. The Suns own all of their future second-round picks as well.

    A core of Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Ayton would easily be the NBA's best, but giving up unprotected picks is extremely risky considering Durant's (33) and Paul's (37) ages.

    Dumping all of the available picks as well as core players in Bridges and Johnson should terrify Suns fans, but it would also be worth it for even one title should Durant come to Phoenix.

Portland Trail Blazers: Dame Time Eventually Runs Out

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    A recent two-year, $121.8 million extension means Damian Lillard can't be traded until January 9, 2023, although he'll almost certainly make it through the season in Portland.

    Lillard is under contract for the next five years at $258.7 million, or an average of $51.7 million per season. This definitely means he'll finish his career with the Trail Blazers, right?

    That will likely depend on how the team fares this season and the development of players such as Anfernee Simons and No. 7 overall pick Shaedon Sharpe. If both look like future stars, this franchise will be in good hands, especially if Jerami Grant agrees to an extension or a new deal next summer.

    For now, this looks like just another solid team in a packed Western Conference. A healthy Lillard will make a world of difference, but Portland did nothing to address its weak rim protection or find a true No. 2 scoring option.

    Even with several years remaining on Lillard's contract, a team stuck in NBA purgatory could mean Dame Time will eventually run out and end in a trade of the superstar.

Sacramento Kings: Panic Trading Keegan Murray for Veteran Help

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    There was some buzz about the Sacramento Kings trading the No. 4 pick before the draft in order to acquire veteran help for a playoff push, news that shouldn't make Keegan Murray feel safe just yet.

    Couple this with the recent trade of Tyrese Haliburton just 109 games into his Kings career and it may be best for Murray to just rent for now.

    Of course, a panic trade to chase a play-in spot would be the worst thing Sacramento could do. Murray looked awesome at summer league and should be an excellent fit between Domantas Sabonis and Harrison Barnes in the Kings starting lineup.

    General Manager Monte McNair has made a lot of good moves to date. Trading Murray to end a playoff drought instead of building for the next decade of postseason success would not be one of them.

San Antonio Spurs: The Impending Fire Sale

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    The last time the San Antonio Spurs won fewer than 32 regular-season games was in 1996-97, the year before Gregg Popovich took over as the full-time head coach.

    While it's been a long time since we've seen ugly basketball played in San Antonio, 2022-23 could give us just that.

    With Dejounte Murray traded and Lonnie Walker IV signing with the Lakers, this will very much be a rebuilding year for San Antonio, especially with three first-rounders in town.

    This may not be the end of the Spurs' teardown, either. Veterans such as Jakob Poeltl and Josh Richardson are on expiring contracts, and Doug McDermott should garner plenty of interest around the league with his outside shooting.

    Spurs fans may not want to think about watching a team that could feasibly finish with the worst record in the NBA, although landing a player such as Victor Wembanyama would be worth it.

Toronto Raptors: Including Scottie Barnes in a Kevin Durant Trade

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    With debates about whether to include players such as Jaylen Brown, Bam Adebayo or Brandon Ingram in trades for Kevin Durant, Scottie Barnes could be the most difficult to make a decision on.

    He's easily the youngest, having just celebrated his 21st birthday and taken home Rookie of the Year honors, and he can do a little of everything with his 6'7", 225-pound frame.

    Barnes could go on to be the best player on the Toronto Raptors, make 10-plus All-Star teams and eventually lead Toronto to another championship. Of course, all of this would take time, as the Raptors look like a lower-level playoff seed in the East.

    Adding Durant to a Toronto team that could still feature Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. (assuming Barnes and OG Anunoby were the base of the deal) would instantly put the Raptors at the top of the East along with the Celtics and Bucks.

    Would trading the next 10 years or more of Barnes be worth a four-year title window with Durant?

Utah Jazz: The Looming Donovan Mitchell-to-New York Knicks Trade

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    Despite not officially requesting a trade, Donovan Mitchell being moved by the Utah Jazz seems inevitable. This team is stuck in play-in territory in the West with Rudy Gobert gone, and we could see veterans such as Mike Conley Jr., Bojan Bogdanovic, Patrick Beverley and others moved before the season begins.

    It would behoove the Jazz to go full rebuild with a draft class as good as the 2023 version projects to be, something Utah can't do unless it trades Mitchell.

    Still, this won't be easy for anyone.

    Mitchell is just 25 and under contract for the next three years with a player option for a fourth. He rescued the team after Gordon Hayward left for the Boston Celtics in 2017 and could be one of the best players in franchise history should Mitchell at least finish out his contract there.

    If the Jazz can get four first-round picks or more from the New York Knicks along with some young talent, they should probably make the trade, as painful as it may be.

Washington Wizards: The Inevitable Bradley Beal Trade (That He Now Controls)

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    For all the fanfare surrounding Bradley Beal's return to the Washington Wizards, this doesn't mean he'll stay there for the next five years.

    Beal's situation is extremely similar to Damian Lillard's. Both have been loyal to one franchise, are under contract for over $250 million over the next five seasons and are the unquestioned leaders of teams going nowhere.

    The Wizards did a patchwork job of filling the point guard position by trading for Monte Morris and signing Delon Wright, have a collection of uninspiring top-10 picks and are praying Kristaps Porzingis can play more than 66 games for the first time since his rookie season. This won't cut it in a suddenly deep Eastern Conference.

    Unlike previous years when Beal continually popped up in trade rumors, however, the 29-year-old now fully controls his future.

    A new no-trade clause means Beal has to approve of any potential trade, one he may eventually request if Washington continues to fail to put adequate pieces around him.


    Statistics via Basketball Reference and NBA.com. Salary-cap info via Spotrac.

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