5 Impact NBA Trades with Kevin Durant Saga Behind Us

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBAFeatured Columnist IVAugust 24, 2022

5 Impact NBA Trades with Kevin Durant Saga Behind Us

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    Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

    The NBA might be winding through the final stretch of the 2022 offseason and working toward the 2022-23 campaign, but it's possible a blockbuster deal still comes together and reshapes the hoops world's landscape.

    It just apparently won't be the blockbuster many had in mind.

    All Kevin Durant megadeals are seemingly off, as Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks released a statement saying that all parties "have agreed to move forward with our partnership."

    That's a huge bummer for all the Durant dreamers out there, but worry not, folks—the trade machines are still firing on all cylinders. In fact, we've dialed them up here to form five impact moves that could be felt across the Association.

Wizards Push for Present Upgrade

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    Washington Wizards receive: Harrison Barnes

    Sacramento Kings receive: Will Barton and Deni Avdija

    Still wondering why Washington committed a quarter-billion dollars to 29-year-old Bradley Beal this summer? You are not alone.

    Having said that, the super-sized spending would start to make more sense if the Wizards could brighten their outlook. No, Harrison Barnes wouldn't transform this team into a title contender, but couple his rock-solid play with a return to form for Beal and a resurgent, healthy season from Kristaps Porzingis and maybe this club could be more than a pesky play-in tournament participant.

    Granted, that isn't the biggest prize imaginable, but Washington lacks the assets to go championship-chasing. The Wizards should instead chase maximum competitiveness, and Barnes' experience, versatility and consistency could all help make that happen.

    As for Sacramento, this trade would net them a potential long-term keeper in Deni Avdija as well as an established pro in Will Barton. That could be critical for the Kings since this roster could use more youth, but this organization operates like one in perpetual need of instant gratification, which sort of makes sense when it's been historically starved of success.

    If Avdija finds his offensive niche, he could be a long-term starter in Sacramento. Barton, meanwhile, would add more shot-creation and support-scoring to the mix.

Pacers Gamble on Potential Building Block

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    Indiana Pacers receive: Jonathan Isaac

    Orlando Magic receive: Buddy Hield and 2023 first-round pick (top-12 protected, via BOS)

    The Pacers are knee-deep in a rebuilding project centered around Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin and Chris Duarte. If they acquired Jonathan Isaac, helped him get healthy and somehow got him back on track after his last two seasons were erased by an August 2020 ACL tear, they could add a high-level frontcourt player to their nucleus.

    If the light bulb switches on fast enough for Isaac, Indy might even be able to justify keeping 26-year-old Myles Turner around and extending him or re-signing him next summer.

    Now, that's putting plenty in the basket of someone who hasn't suited up in two years and has never been much of an offensive threat (career 9.3 points per game on 43.5 percent shooting). However, if Indy's young perimeter players can supply the necessary scoring, then Isaac can take care of the defensive end, where he once shined as one of the Association's best young stoppers.

    A healthy Isaac is a 6'11", 230-pound shape-shifter. He packages top-shelf paint protection with five-position versatility. He could form a nasty 4-5 combination up front with Turner or man the middle himself. Granted, there's no telling when or if he'll be healthy again, but the sky-high reward exists all the same.

    The Magic, meanwhile, may decide they no longer need Isaac, as their frontcourt is sufficiently stacked with No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero and recent top-10 selections Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba. While they'd be selling low on Isaac, his trade value may never recover if he can't make it back on the hardwood, so perhaps this would be enough.

    Orlando was collectively punchless last season—29th in scoring and efficiency—and one of the league's worst three-point attacks (33.1 percent, 28th). Buddy Hield is accurate enough to improve that number on his own (career 3.0 triples per game on 39.8 percent shooting). The first-round pick accounts for the fact that a healthy Isaac still has a substantial ceiling.

Warriors Seek Stability at C; Spurs Chase Upside

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    Golden State Warriors receive: Jakob Poeltl

    San Antonio Spurs receive: James Wiseman, 2027 second-round pick and 2028 second-round pick

    The Warriors have reasons to believe they can compete for a championship without making a move—like, the Larry O'Brien Trophy they just brought home in June, for instance.

    Still, Golden State should also understand that nothing should be taken for granted, or that last season's success guarantees nothing for next season. It will take another all-hands-on-deck approach to successfully defend the throne, and there are major questions about whether James Wiseman can contribute to such a run after missing a season-plus with a torn meniscus.

    If the Warriors are less than convinced that Wiseman can play a meaningful role in a title run right now, they could think about flipping 2020's No. 2 pick for a more established producer, like Jakob Poeltl. The Spurs center may not have as much name recognition, but he's a stabilizing presence at both ends of the floor.

    Defense is his calling card, and he ranks favorably among the top paint protectors. No one contested more shots this past season, and despite the high volume, he still shaved 8.2 percentage points off of his opponents' shooting rates within six feet. He is best deployed around the basket, but he has enough mobility and smarts to survive a switch-heavy scheme like Golden State's.

    He can't match Wiseman's explosiveness, but Poeltl is more polished offensively. His passing creativity would shine in Steve Kerr's offense, and Poeltl's close-range finishing (career 62.8 percent shooting) would make him a useful safety valve on pick-and-rolls, put-backs and timely basket cuts.

    Poeltl has plenty to offer a win-now club, but the Spurs have officially abandoned that club. That's why San Antonio could prefer a long-term project like Wiseman. It's possible he never figures it all out, but if he does, the Spurs could have an athletic rim-runner who might one day push his shooting range past the three-point arc.

Three-Team Shakeup in the East

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    Atlanta Hawks receive: OG Anunoby and Thaddeus Young (can't be traded until Jan. 15)

    Toronto Raptors receive: Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Jalen Johnson

    Miami Heat receive: John Collins and 2024 first-round pick (lottery-protected, from ATL via SAC)

    The Hawks could use another lock-down defender, even after splurging on Dejounte Murray this summer. The Raptors could get good mileage out of a perimeter shot-creator. The Heat have a glaring void at the 4 spot and could look John Collins' direction after seemingly lacking the assets to broker a bigger blockbuster for Kevin Durant or Donovan Mitchell.

    Could this swap satisfy all three? It's possible.

    Murray might be a better individual defender than Anunoby, but the former can only provide so much protection as a 6'4", 180-pounder. Anunoby, a 6'7", 232-pound swingman, can pester both quick guards and big forwards.

    Between those two, De'Andre Hunter, the combination of Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu at center, plus Thaddeus Young filling a niche between the 4 and 5 spots, Atlanta could put a turbo-charged defense around Trae Young and potentially strike a championship-level, two-way balance.

    Toronto's offense is fine (15th in efficiency), but if the Raptors helped Herro realize his full potential, he could be their key to cracking the Association's top tier. He just pumped in 20.7 points and 4.0 assists as a third-year reserve, and he still has considerable room to grow as a scorer and shot-creator.

    With the feisty Fred VanVleet and a collection of long-limbed defenders up front, Toronto may have more than enough defensive protection to cover up Herro's shortcomings at that end. It should also be able to find a role for Duncan Robinson—an overpaid shooting specialist—and Toronto can run the physically gifted Jalen Johnson through its developmental program.

    The Heat would fill their void at the 4 with Collins, escape Robinson's bloated salary, gain a first-round pick to keep or trade and not have to try to price Herro in 2023 restricted free agency. Collins has seen his usage drop in recent years, but the last time he was featured on that end, he averaged 21.6 points on 58.3/40.1/80.0 shooting.

Hornets Go All-In for Donovan Mitchell

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    Charlotte Hornets receive: Donovan Mitchell

    Utah Jazz receive: Ben Simmons, P.J. Washington and three future first-round picks (from CHO)

    Brooklyn Nets receive: Gordon Hayward and 2023 first-round pick (via DEN, from CHO)

    After exceeding all realistic (and optimistic) expectations with their massive haul for Rudy Gobert earlier this offseason, the Jazz are hoping to have another grand slam in a Donovan Mitchell mega-deal.

    The New York Knicks reportedly built a recent offer around Evan Fournier, Obi Toppin and five first-round picks (two unprotected), and the Jazz want a package "more significant than that," per The Athletic's Shams Charania and Tony Jones.

    Could this suffice? It depends on Utah's evaluation of the polarizing Ben Simmons, a 26-year-old who's already been a three-time All-Star and two-time All-Defensive selection but also sat out all of last season with a back injury that still hasn't fully healed. If Utah sees him as a centerpiece, though, then it would get a primary building block, a do-it-all combo big in P.J. Washington and a trio of first-round picks.

    As for the Hornets, who Charania mentioned have interest in Mitchell, this could be their chance to splurge on a true co-star for LaMelo Ball. Mitchell may not be a tier-one superstar, but he is, at most, a half-rung beneath that level as just the 14th player ever to tally 8,000 points, 1,500 assists and 1,400 rebounds over his first five NBA seasons.

    Both Mitchell and Ball would need to improve their defense for this partnership to work at a championship-level, but they have the tools to pull it off. Plus, their offense could be overpowered, particularly if some of Charlotte's young frontcourt prospects pan out.

    Finally, the Nets would swap out Simmons' uncertainty for Gordon Hayward and a first-rounder. That's a risk on its own given Hayward's struggles staying healthy (52 games or fewer each of the past three seasons), but it could be a big jolt in the arm if he stays upright. His two-way versatility could make him an ideal third banana on a championship contender, and perhaps his arrival might convince Kevin Durant to stick around.


    Statistics used courtesy of Basketball Reference and NBA.com.

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

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