Trade Ideas to Improve Every NBA Starting Lineup

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBAFeatured Columnist IVAugust 12, 2022

Trade Ideas to Improve Every NBA Starting Lineup

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    The 2022 NBA offseason is, for all intents and purposes, finished.

    A few players are still trapped in the thorns of restricted free agency, and a batch of ballers are on standby for training camp invites, but the roster-restructuring is essentially complete.

    Until now.

    Front offices may have spent weeks, months and years tailoring their rosters to their preferred specifications, but we're here to stir things up for all 30 franchises.

    The ultimate aim is finding a workable trade that improves every starting lineup. For most teams, that means adding a player (or players) who can improve the outlook for the 2022-23 campaign. Since a handful of teams already appear ready to tank for the best and brightest of the 2023 draft class, their trades might look further into the future.

    While free agents who signed this offseason won't be eligible to traded until mid-December at the earliest, we'll include them in this exercise to deepen the trade pool.

Atlanta Hawks

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Trade: De'Andre Hunter, Jalen Johnson, Maurice Harkless and 2024 first-round pick (lottery-protected, via SAC) to Raptors for OG Anunoby

    While Atlanta unloaded several prime assets in the Dejounte Murray deal, it stopped short of pushing all chips to the center of the table. That means there's still enough to broker a smaller, but still significant swap.

    Anunoby could be the difference-making, two-way wing this roster needs to reach the next level.

    He is essentially what the Hawks hope Hunter may eventually become, only Anunoby can contribute to a deep playoff run right now. Atlanta could pester perimeter scorers of all types with Murray and Anunoby, while the latter could see his already solid shooting rates climb even higher while playing off a dynamic shot-creator like Trae Young.

Boston Celtics

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    The Trade: Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, Grant Williams and two future first-round picks to Nets for Kevin Durant and Seth Curry

    Ever since Boston was first linked to Durant, apprehensive Celtics fans have surely found ways to talk themselves out of the exchange. That's sort of understandable given how close this club already came to a title—plus the roster improved with the additions of Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari—but it's also borderline nonsensical seeing as how this is Kevin freakin' Durant.

    And it's not like the Celtics are simply one of many anonymous suitors here. Boston is "a desired landing spot" for Durant, per SNY's Ian Begley, plus it might have the ultimate trade chip in these talks with Brown, a 25-year-old All-Star swingman.

    The Celtics have the assets to get a deal done, and if they could find a package that doesn't include sacrificing Marcus Smart, they almost certainly have to pounce. A Durant-Jayson Tatum tandem has a chance to be the Association's best, while Curry would provide scoring and sharpshooting to a backcourt that failed to consistently deliver it in the postseason's biggest moments.

Brooklyn Nets

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    The Trade: Nic Claxton, Joe Harris, Day'Ron Sharpe and 2027 first-round pick (top-eight protected via PHI) to Pacers for Myles Turner and T.J. McConnell

    The Nets don't seem to feel forced to deal Durant, who perhaps sabotaged his own chances of being traded by giving their governor Joe Tsai a trade-me-or-fire-the-leadership ultimatum, as The Athletic's Shams Charania reported.

    If Brooklyn doesn't like the available offers, it could conceivably still try to make things work with this roster. In that case, flipping some long-term assets for plug-and-play contributors like Turner and McConnell could work.

    Turner's paint protection and McConnell's disruption would be a boon for the Nets' 20th-ranked defense, and each could add value to the other end, too. Turner is a good enough shooter (career 34.9 percent from range) to open the floor for Durant and Kyrie Irving to attack, while McConnell's playmaking (career 5.0 assists against 1.6 turnovers) would add some organization.

Charlotte Hornets

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    The Trade: Terry Rozier and 2023 first-round pick (lottery-protected via DEN) to Trail Blazers for Anfernee Simons

    The Hornets are on the doorstep of a breakthrough, but they can't find their way past the play-in tournament. Swapping out Rozier's proven production (plus a first-round pick) for Simons' upside might do the trick.

    Rozier might have an argument as the better player right now, but Simons nearly closed the gap entirely last season, which was his first in a significant role. If the 23-year-old takes another step forward in 2022-23, he could easily score, shoot and slam his way past Rozier while leveling up Charlotte in the process.

    The Hornets need more offensive support for LaMelo Ball, particularly given the many unknowns with free agent Miles Bridges, who is facing three felony domestic violence charges. If Charlotte correctly wagered that Simons had another leap in his near-future, that could be the franchise's ticket to full-fledged playoff participation.

Chicago Bulls

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    AP Photo/Michael Conroy

    The Trade: Nikola Vucevic and future first-round pick (top-five-protected) to Pacers for Myles Turner

    In a vacuum, you could have some spirited debates about whether Vucevic or Turner is a better NBA player.

    Of course, since basketball is played on a court and not inside a vacuum, that's how Chicago could come out ahead here, as Turner is a much better fit for the Bulls' roster.

    Chicago's defense completely collapsed last season. The Bulls were 23rd in efficiency and allowed the third-most field goals inside the restricted area. Turner, a two-time blocks champion, could immediately bandage up that interior bleeding.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Cooper Neill/NBAE via Getty Images

    The Trade: Collin Sexton to Mavericks for Reggie Bullock, Josh Green and future first-round pick (top-five-protected)

    While the Cavaliers haven't closed the door on Sexton's return, they aren't exactly scrambling to secure the restricted free agent. Sexton's camp is seeking a salary at or north of $20 million, while Cleveland has offered roughly $40 million for three seasons, per Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor.

    The Cavs may have myriad reasons for not budging, but maybe the simplest one is this: Sexton isn't a great fit for the roster. At least, not in the same backcourt as All-Star Darius Garland. Both stand just 6'1", each does his best work with the ball in his hands and neither brings much worth mentioning to the defensive end.

    If Cleveland values Sexton as a spark-plug sixth man, it could see more value in shipping him out to a team that views him as a starter. Maybe the Mavericks, who never really replaced Jalen Brunson, could be that club. In that case, the Cavs would do well to nab a three-and-D wing like Bullock, plus the athletic, 21-year-old Green and a future first-round pick.

Dallas Mavericks

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    Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

    The Trade: Davis Bertans, Frank Ntilikina, Josh Green and 2025 second-round pick to Jazz for Mike Conley

    After losing Jalen Brunson in free agency, the Mavericks could stand to add another scoring threat. If that player could also help alleviate the playmaking burden shouldered by Luka Doncic, the league leader in usage rate the past two seasons, that'd be even better. Oh, and the player needs to be ready to contribute right now but also not cost much of anything, since Dallas doesn't have many valuable assets.

    Conley could be a sneaky-good option, as the Rudy Gobert-less (and possibly soon-to-be Donovan Mitchell-less) Utah Jazz probably aren't jazzed (sorry) about the idea of paying the 34-year-old $22.7 million this season.

    Dallas fans who only remember how Conley looked in the teams' first-round series may not like the idea, but he was rock-solid before it. He splashed 40.8 percent of his threes, averaged 17.2 points and 6.7 assists per 36 minutes and bettered his career turnover percentage (12.5). Those are encouraging numbers when considering the clearance-priced trade cost.

Denver Nuggets

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    The Trade: Michael Porter Jr. to Hornets for Gordon Hayward, James Bouknight and 2027 first-round pick (top-three-protected)

    A not insignificant portion of Nuggets fans are surely furious at this suggestion, and it would admittedly be a peculiar time to trade Porter. That said, he's less than a year removed from his third back surgery and about to start a five-year, $179.3 million contract extension. Hopefully his body cooperates, but if it doesn't, he could have the worst contract in basketball.

    Again, it's virtually impossible to envision the Nuggets abandoning ship right now, but if they were at all panicked about his future, this wouldn't be the worst escape clause.

    Now, Hayward has had his own health issues, but they aren't quite as severe. Plus, he offers a more complete skill set, which could help him slot into a more complementary role with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Tack on Bouknight, last year's No. 11 pick, and a lightly protected first from a team in six-year playoff drought, and there might be enough for Denver to bite.

Detroit Pistons

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    Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

    The Trade: Alec Burks to Lakers for Talen Horton-Tucker and 2023 second-round pick (via CHI)

    Let's start with an admission: It's possible—if not probable—that Burks has a better season than Horton-Tucker. Burks was by far the better player in 2021-22 (6.1 win shares to THT's 1.1), so it's reasonable to think history could repeat itself.

    That shouldn't bother the Pistons, who should be fully focused on brightening their future around 20-year-old centerpiece Cade Cunningham. Horton-Tucker is 21 years old. Burks turned 31 in July. It isn't hard to find the better timeline fit.

    It also isn't outside the realm of possibility that Horton-Tucker produces the better campaign. Yes, last season was rocky, but the campaign prior showed enough encouragement for the Lakers to give him a three-year, $30.8 million pact. He has more physical tools at his disposal (namely, a sweeping 7'1" wingspan), and he could get interesting in a hurry if he finds his three-point touch.

Golden State Warriors

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    The Trade: Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, James Wiseman, Ryan Rollins and two future first-round picks to Nets for Kevin Durant

    While the Dubs just proved they can win without Durant, they should also know better than anyone that winning is easier with the four-time scoring champ (go figure). His previous three-season stint in Golden State featured two titles and a Finals loss that wasn't cemented until both he (torn Achilles) and Klay Thompson (torn ACL) had suffered devastating injuries.

    That's perhaps why Golden State's "leaders of the locker room" would welcome Durant back with open arms, per The Athletic's Marcus Thompson II. This deal might decimate the young nucleus—though, in this iteration, the Warriors would be spared from parting with Jonathan Kuminga—but it would turbo-charge the veteran core.

    The last time Durant linked up with Thompson, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney, the quintet thrashed opponents by 17.2 points per 100 possessions. It was round-ball wizardry back then, and there's no reason to believe this time would be any different.

Houston Rockets

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    Tim Heitman/Getty Images

    The Trade: Eric Gordon to Mavericks for Dwight Powell, Josh Green, Frank Ntilikina and future first-round pick (lottery-protected)

    The rebuilding Rockets have aligned most of their roster to fit their long-term plans, but the 33-year-old Gordon stands out like a fish out of water.

    Flipping him into something for the future should be a must. Getting multiple forward-focused assets would be even better.

    Granted, this package impresses more with quantity than quality, but Green could add defense and athleticism to this young core, and the future first could be invested in anything. Ntilikina and Powell would primarily be money-matchers, but the former is still young enough to at least consider keeping around and the latter could have value as a veteran rental near the trade deadline.

Indiana Pacers

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    The Trade: Buddy Hield and T.J. McConnell to Magic for Jonathan Isaac, Terrence Ross and two future second-round picks

    The Pacers are in the middle of an organizational reset, making this the prime time for experimentation. Gambling on Isaac, who hasn't suited up since tearing his ACL and meniscus in August 2020, should be right up their alley.

    Sure, there's a chance Hield and McConnell have more value next season than a recovering Isaac and Ross, but Indiana should be thinking further ahead.

    Then again, maybe it wouldn't need to. A healthy Isaac could be an all-galaxy defender, and his offense was on the slow-but-steady developmental plan the last time we saw him. He has the tools and talent to join the nucleus led by Tyrese Haliburton, Chris Duarte and Bennedict Mathurin, and while Ross is too old to join that core, maybe he could be traded for someone who'd fit.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    The Trade: Marcus Morris Sr., Luke Kennard and 2028 first-round pick to Nets for Kyrie Irving

    If the Clippers have healthy versions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George next season, they'll be front and center of the championship chase. Still, you wonder if their point guard rotation is ready for that type of test. Reggie Jackson is fine. John Wall is a wild card after not suiting up in two of the past three seasons. It's certainly possible for L.A. to upgrade that group.

    Perhaps that's why the Clippers have been mentioned as shadow suitors for Irving, so long as the price is right.

    Get Irving to L.A., plug him in as a second or third option (the hierarchical order of Irving and George could change on a nightly basis) and this Clippers offense could be unstoppable. Irving was a part-time player this past season, which couldn't have made it easy to establish any rhythm, and he still averaged 27.4 points and 5.8 assists while posting a pristine 46.9/41.8/91.5 shooting slash.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    The Trade: Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and two future first-round picks to Nets for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving

    Let's. Get. Wild.

    In a single swap, the Lakers could go from swimming upstream toward the play-in tournament to cannon-ball splashing their way into the deep end of contenders.

    "Kyrie is the move," an NBA insider told B/R's Eric Pincus. "They should offer Davis with Westbrook. Try and get Kevin Durant. KD for AD and a pick is as close as [the Nets] will get to what they want."

    Maybe this proves to be a pie-in-the-sky pursuit, but wow, is it fascinating. Irving reuniting with James? Durant joining forces with the player he so often finished just behind in the best-on-the-planet debates? All of it playing out under the Hollywood spotlight? Magnificent.

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

    The Trade: Dillon Brooks, Steven Adams, Danny Green, Ziaire Williams, Brandon Clarke and three future first-round picks to Jazz for Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic

    It's been a relatively quiet offseason on Beale Street, but Memphis has the trade chips to take its summer from zero to 100 in an instant.

    Now, the Grizzlies might label a major move unnecessary after their young core just secured the Western Conference's No. 2 seed, but they still have a solo star on the roster (Ja Morant) and no obvious candidates to become a second. Maybe Jaren Jackson Jr. or Desmond Bane could make that leap, but there are no guarantees with either.

    If the Grizzlies wanted to fast-track their ascension to top-tier contenders, this trade would do it. Morant would suddenly have a certified star alongside him in Mitchell, plus an extra shot-creator for the wing in Bogdanovic. Even better, Memphis would be adding a star without breaking up the Morant-Jackson-Bane trio.

Miami Heat

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    The Trade: Duncan Robinson, 2023 first-round pick (top-three-protected) and 2028 second-round pick to Pacers for Myles Turner

    As part of their annual whale hunts, the Heat have been aiming higher this summer with names like Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell firmly on their radar. However, it's hard to see the assets lining up for either mega-swap, since Bam Adebayo is presumably untouchable, Tyler Herro isn't enough to anchor a blockbuster and their options are limited with draft picks.

    It's possible Miami simply remains on the star chase—after all, president Pat Riley is calling the shots—but maybe it's time to pivot to a less cost-prohibitive target. Turner, for instance, wouldn't cost an arm and a leg, but he could beef up the Heat's frontcourt and make this fourth-ranked defense even stingier.

    The Heat would wind up playing jumbo ball with Turner, Adebayo and Jimmy Butler across the frontcourt, but that could be more than enough defensive protection to move Herro into the starting lineup. If Turner hit enough threes to keep defenses honest and attack lanes open, he might help this club strike the two-way balance it needs to complete a title run.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

    The Trade: Jordan Nwora (sign-and-trade), George Hill and 2023 second-round pick to Jazz for Jordan Clarkson

    Milwaukee could not make another move and still feel good about its championship chances. After all, the Bucks won a title in 2021 and just may have defended their throne this year if not for the knee injury that knocked All-Star swingman Khris Middleton out of the playoffs.

    That confidence eliminates the need for big, landscape-shifting transactions, so the Bucks could instead look for an impact role player.

    Why not Clarkson? He has likely lost his utility in Utah as the Jazz teeter on the edge of a top-to-bottom rebuild, but he could still help a contender with his quick-strike scoring and ability to create something out of nothing. He'd have to win a starting gig in training camp, but it's possible Milwaukee values his shot-creation more than Grayson Allen's shooting or Wesley Matthews' defense.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

    The Trade: D'Angelo Russell to Heat for Kyle Lowry

    If the Timberwolves wanted to strengthen their starting five, that would almost certainly entail replacing Russell. They just bet large on the Karl-Anthony Towns-Rudy Gobert duo, they certainly wouldn't want to decelerate Anthony Edwards' ascension and they reportedly made it a point to keep the intriguing Jaden McDaniels out of the Gobert trade.

    If Minnesota wanted a switch at point guard, the aim would presumably be to find a more balanced player. Someone like Lowry, perhaps.

    Russell probably packs more scoring punch at this point, but the Wolves should have enough net-shredders to field a top-10 offense without him. Lowry, meanwhile, would be a major upgrade on the defensive end and a not insignificant improvement as an offensive organizer.

New Orleans Pelicans

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    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    The Trade: Brandon Ingram, Dyson Daniels, Devonte' Graham and two future first-round picks to Nets for Kevin Durant and Royce O'Neale

    There are Pelicans fans who will hate the idea of trading Ingram for anyone, and that's fine. He's a 24-year-old with an All-Star selection under his belt and three consecutive seasons with near-All-Star numbers.

    Here's the thing: New Orleans isn't getting Durant without including Ingram. That's worth noting since the Pelicans are still interested in a Durant deal despite the Nets' "steep" asking price, per Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News.

    Ingram is really, really good, but he's not Durant, who could be an electric frontcourt partner for the hopefully healthy Zion Williamson. Those two alone would be borderline unstoppable, and that's before factoring in the likes of CJ McCollum, Jonas Valanciunas and the rest of this quietly stacked supporting cast. Add another three-and-D wing in O'Neale, and it'd be hard to argue that New Orleans wouldn't raise its ceiling with this trade.

New York Knicks

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    Sarah Stier/Getty Images

    The Trade: Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, Evan Fournier, Cam Reddish and four first-round picks to Jazz for Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gay

    Losing both Toppin and Quickley would sting the forward-focused members of the Knicks faithful, but you have to part with valuable assets to snag a star like Mitchell. Not to mention, New York would actually have done a decent job negotiating down to this price, since Utah may have initially requested seven first-rounders.

    Mitchell would be the best player the Knicks have had since Carmelo Anthony. No, Mitchell isn't the perfect player—his defense needs to dramatically improve—but he's a machine on offense. He already has better than 8,000 points and 1,500 assists in his career, becoming just the 18th player to ever clear both marks in his first five seasons.

    Mitchell wouldn't turn New York into a top-tier contender, but he (and, to a much lesser extent, the savvy and skilled Gay) would move this club a lot closer to that level. Sprinkle in player development for players like RJ Barrett and Jalen Brunson, and maybe the Knicks get to that point sooner than later.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

    The Trade: Derrick Favors and two future first-round picks to Warriors for James Wiseman

    The Thunder are in no rush to field a competitive club, and it's hard to tell when they'll even consider searching for an accelerator. Improving this starting five is tricky, in other words, because Oklahoma City might want to stay buried in the standings for at least another season to see what happens with the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.

    The right trade target, then, would be someone who could grow with this core but not impact the win column too much to start. Someone like Wiseman, who would carry a wealth of potential to the Sooner State but also arrive missing several coats of polish.

    Wiseman has just enough rough spots to wonder if the Warriors would want to move him for more of a sure thing, but the Thunder would gladly give him the time to work through his growing pains. If their patience pays off, perhaps he one day emerges as an impact rim-runner with range on his jump shot.

Orlando Magic

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    Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images

    The Trade: Cole Anthony, Jonathan Isaac and two future first-round picks to Raptors for OG Anunoby

    Orlando looms as a sneaky suitor for Donovan Mitchell, but that feels too aggressive (i.e., expensive) for where the Magic are at with their rebuilding project. Still, if they think their roster is ready to rise sooner than later, they could talk themselves into a less costly, but still impactful trade for Anunoby.

    The on-court cost is minimal, as Isaac hasn't suited up in two seasons and Anthony could be replaced by any number of point guards on the roster. And while it's never fun to part with future first-round picks, the Magic have a few extras at their disposal.

    This would really only work, though, if Orlando believed Anunoby was en route to becoming the next Kawhi Leonard, or something in that ballpark. Anunoby is several tiers beneath that level for now, but the 25-year-old is already a dominant, disruptive defender, and his offensive game grows every season.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

    The Trade: Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle and two future first-round picks to Nets for Kevin Durant

    You can argue the Sixers don't need Durant, but some influential people within the franchise apparently may not agree.

    "As of earlier this week, there were high-ranking members of the Sixers who've felt strongly about engaging with Brooklyn on a Durant trade," SNY's Ian Begley reported.

    Durant teaming up with James Harden for a third time would be something, considering how poorly things ended in Brooklyn, but Frank Isola reported that Durant "would like" to reunite with his former running mate. Having Durant, Harden and Joel Embiid on the same roster feels like a cheat code. Putting them in the same closing group as P.J. Tucker and insert-fifth-Sixer here (De'Anthony Melton? Danuel House Jr?) could be the key to unlocking this team's championship potential.

Phoenix Suns

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    Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

    The Trade: Jae Crowder, Landry Shamet and 2023 first-round pick (top-10 protected) to Kings for Harrison Barnes

    The Suns stopped short of making major changes this summer, but in the NBA's highest tier, sometimes doing nothing is akin to a backward step.

    Should Phoenix believe that's happening—perhaps fueled by its swift and stunning collapse against Dallas in the conference semis—then it might feel some kind of shake-up is in order. Upgrading from Crowder to Barnes may not seem like the biggest jump, but the margins are so thin at the top that even a seemingly small upgrade can have a big effect.

    Barnes is more threatening as a shooter and shot-creator and at least as versatile on defense. If the trade improved Phoenix's championship chances by even half a percent, it would be worth the cost.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    The Trade: Josh Hart, Keon Johnson and three future second-round picks to Hawks for De'Andre Hunter and Maurice Harkless

    Portland's plan for a rapid recovery around Damian Lillard isn't exactly passing the smell test. The Blazers are better for having acquired Jerami Grant and signing Gary Payton II, but they look nowhere near contention. Oddsmakers assigned them a projected win total of only 39.5, per ESPN's Doug Kezirian.

    A deal for Hunter (and Harkless, who's basically salary-filler) wouldn't dramatically improve that number, but it would give this group more bite defensively and perhaps more offensive juice, too.

    Defense is the more bankable part of the equation and the most important area for Portland to strengthen. The Blazers were 29th in defensive efficiency this past season and haven't finished outside of the league's bottom five since 2018-19. Hunter would immediately help stop some of the bleeding.

    What could take this trade from good to great, though, is if he could sustain some of the offensive growth he has flashed in the past. Through his first 17 games of 2020-21, he seemed bound for a breakout (17.9 points on 51.7/37.5/87.7 shooting), but a knee injury disrupted that run and he hasn't made it back on that same track since.

Sacramento Kings

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    The Trade: Harrison Barnes, Terence Davis and a future first-round pick (top-five-protected) to Hawks for John Collins

    Sacramento seems perpetually overeager to experience any kind of success, which makes sense for an organization trapped in a record-setting playoff drought.

    Atlanta has already fueled one win-now attempt by Sacramento this summer—sending Kevin Huerter to the Kings for Justin Holiday, Maurice Harkless and a first-round pick—and the Hawks could be open to brokering a second. They've never seemed fully sold on Collins, who inked a $125 million extension last August and surfaced in trade rumors by January.

    Collins could be an interesting complement to De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. Collins could sprint in the open floor with Fox, crush down lobs from Sabonis and keep the offensive end properly spaced for both to attack.

San Antonio Spurs

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    Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

    The Trade: Josh Richardson and 2023 first-round pick (top-16-protected via CHA) to Cavaliers for Collin Sexton (sign-and-trade)

    While the Spurs aren't looking to buy, they shouldn't outright dismiss the possibility of adding Sexton.

    He's less than a year older than Keldon Johnson, who just inked a long-term extension to stay in the Alamo City, so the calendar says Sexton is right on schedule to grow with this nucleus. He might pack a heavier scoring punch already than anyone on the roster. In 2020-21, he poured in better than 24 points per night while shooting 47.5 percent and 37.1 percent from range.

    And if San Antonio is worried about Sexton tallying too many victories and spoiling its tank job, that shouldn't be a concern. During his three healthy seasons in Cleveland, the Cavaliers' winning percentage never climbed higher than .306.

Toronto Raptors

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    The Trade: Gary Trent Jr., Precious Achiuwa, Khem Birch and three first-round picks to Jazz for Donovan Mitchell

    While the Raptors remain among "the most significant candidates" to land Kevin Durant, per The Athletic's Shams Charania, it's hard to see a KD deal getting done without Scottie Barnes. It's also equally difficult to imagine Toronto reversing course on wanting to keep the reigning Rookie of the Year.

    Changing focus from Durant to Mitchell could be the right alternative for the Raptors. It would still cost a hefty sum, but if this is how it shook out, Toronto would move forward with a ferocious quintet of Mitchell, Barnes, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby.

    Mitchell could split primary scoring duties with Siakam, and the Raptors shouldn't have trouble giving the newcomer all the touches he can handle. While Toronto would ideally coax more consistent defensive effort out of Mitchell, the team also has enough defensive protection to cover things up if that switch never flips.

Utah Jazz

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    Michael J. LeBrecht II/NBAE via Getty Images

    The Trade: Donovan Mitchell to Kings for Keegan Murray, Davion Mitchell, Harrison Barnes, 2028 first-round pick and two pick swaps

    If the Jazz make a major move with Donovan Mitchell, they need it to be a home run. While there's no guarantee this would become one, the pieces are in place to make it happen.

    This would all depend on the maturation of Murray, the No. 4 pick in this summer's draft. While Sacramento couldn't deliver as many draft picks as other Mitchell suitors, it's possible none would send back a better prospect than Murray, the Summer League MVP who averaged 23.5 points on 55.4/39.8/74.7 shooting this past season at Iowa.

    If Murray becomes a star, the Jazz could eventually come out ahead here. Davion Mitchell is a plucky defender who averaged 14.1 points and 5.9 assists after the All-Star break. Barnes is a ready-made starter on a contender and should hold substantial trade value among win-now shoppers. Tack on a first-rounder and a pair of pick swaps, and this could be as good as it gets for Utah.

Washington Wizards

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    The Trade: Will Barton, Deni Avdija and future first-round pick (lottery-protected) to Cavaliers for Collin Sexton (sign-and-trade)

    The ink has barely dried on Bradley Beal's five-year, $251 million supermax contract, and it already feels like the Wizards are running out of time to get their money's worth. The 29-year-old is an established star in the heart of his prime, but Washington hasn't given him enough supporting talent.

    Now, a Sexton sign-and-swap may not do the trick either, but it would at least give Beal a capable offensive co-star. And if Kristaps Porzingis gets his groove back, the Wizards have a store-brand Big Three that should factor into the Eastern Conference's playoff picture.

    Sexton has his flaws—he might be a 6'1" scoring specialist—but his point production is tremendous, and a Sexton-Beal backcourt wouldn't be fun for any defense to try to handle. At a relatively cheap cost here (depending on your view of Avdija), Washington could give Beal a better shot at enjoying any kind of success.


    Statistics used courtesy of Basketball Reference and NBA.com. Salary information via Spotrac.

    Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.

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