New Trade Ideas for NBA's Top Contenders

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBAFeatured Columnist IVDecember 4, 2022

New Trade Ideas for NBA's Top Contenders

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    DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 17: Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls and Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks fight for position during the game on January 17, 2021 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. 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 2021 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

    The NBA trade market will soon heat up in a hurry.

    Every club has reached the quarter mark of the 2022-23 campaign, which is typically the point at which teams can trust the statistical sample size and use it to determine what degree of buying or selling should be done. Also, the date of Dec. 15 looms large in any trade discussions, since that's when most players who signed contracts this offseason can start being moved.

    Let's gather the kindling, then, and perhaps spark something with these four fresh trade ideas for contending teams to consider.

Warriors Deal Wiseman for Depth

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    SANTA CRUZ, CA - NOVEMBER 26:  James Wiseman #33 talks with Seth Cooper, Head Coach of the Santa Cruz Warriors before playing against the Stockton Kings during the NBA G-League game on November 26, 2022 at the Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, California. 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 Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

    Golden State Warriors receive: Gary Harris and Moritz Wagner

    Orlando Magic receive: James Wiseman, Moses Moody, 2027 second-round pick and 2028 second-round pick

    While the Warriors have found better rhythm from their reserves of late, it still feels like a potential-for-production trade is coming at some point. It also seems certain that James Wiseman, the No. 2 pick of the 2020 draft, remains the key for unlocking that kind of deal.

    Golden State shouldn't hesitate about parting with significant assets—both Wiseman and Moses Moody absolutely qualify as recent lottery picks—for the chance to improve its championship odds. Not with Stephen Curry, a once-in-a-generation talent, playing some of the best ball of his career.

    The Warriors can be greedy on the trade market. They can also be creative, like, say, sending out Wiseman for a package built around a wing—not a replacement big. The best version of Gary Harris is a three-point-splashing, lockdown-defending support player who just might sneak his way into Golden State's closing group. It's possible that no realistically obtainable center—Myles Turner and Jakob Poeltl included—would grab a spot in that lineup.

    Harris, who turned 28 in September, is too old to fit Orlando's timeline. He's also infinitely more interesting for win-now shoppers after refinding his three-point stroke. It strangely went on a two-year hiatus, but he luckily recaptured it before last season and has converted 38.8 percent of his long-range looks ever since.

    Harris would be the reason the Warriors do this deal, but Moritz Wagner can be more than a throw-in. He usually makes his 6'11", 245-pound presence felt around the rim, but he's comfortable stepping away from it and letting it fly from three. He's also a clever enough passer to help grease the gears of this attack.

    For the Magic, meanwhile, this is all about value.

    They might not be hurting for centers, but turning a non-star like Harris and back-end rotation player like Wagner into two recent lottery picks and two second-rounders is just smart business. Wiseman has all of the physical tools to be special; he just needs the kind of developmental minutes the championship-chasing Warriors can't offer. Moody wouldn't have trouble cracking Orlando's wing rotation and could emerge as a long-term starter if his perimeter shooting perks up.

Sixers Win Crowder Sweepstakes, Suns Snag a Stopper

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    PHOENIX, ARIZONA - MARCH 27: Jae Crowder #99 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball during the second half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on March 27, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the 76ers 114-104.  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. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Philadelphia 76ers receive: Jae Crowder

    Phoenix Suns receive: Matisse Thybulle, Georges Niang and Jaden Springer

    It's somehow both astonishing and not at all surprising that the Suns still haven't engineered a Jae Crowder deal yet.

    On the one hand, he could help out any contender with his defensive versatility, toughness, experience and ignitable outside shooting. On the other, those types of teams typically aren't looking to unload the kind of win-now help Phoenix needs to receive in a Crowder exchange.

    Philadelphia might qualify as an exception, though. The Sixers could be desperate enough for a two-way wing like Crowder to let go of rotation regulars like Matisse Thybulle and Georges Niang. The fact Philly can also sweeten the pot with Jaden Springer, a 2021 first-rounder, can also help Phoenix feel better about the value aspect of this deal.

    Starting with the Sixers, Crowder would fit like a tailored suit. He'd fill the same complementary, defense-first role as P.J. Tucker, only Crowder is five years younger and less hesitant to launch on offense. Four spots of Philly's closing playoff lineup are obvious, but Crowder could enter the discussion for that final one.

    As for Phoenix, the Suns wind up going the specialist route here and banking on their primary playmakers, Chris Paul and Devin Booker, being shrewd enough to figure out how to maximize them.

    Thybulle would give Phoenix another shut-down stopper who creates all kinds of chaos away from the ball. His offensive limitations are glaring, but the disruption he creates on defense might be worth it. He's the only player to log 3,000 minutes and maintain career steal and block percentages of three or better (3.6 and 3.8, respectively).

    It would help if he found an outside shot, but if he did, he'd never make it to the trade market. Even without it, he might carve out an offensive niche as a transition attacker and timely cutter while playing alongside table-setters like Paul and Booker. Niang would up the club's collective three-point volume. Springer is a dart throw, but if everything breaks right, he could factor into their long-term backcourt plans.

Hawks, Pistons Swap Scoring Forwards

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    Detroit Pistons forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) and Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (20) battle for position in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
    AP Photo/Paul Sancya

    Atlanta Hawks receive: Bojan Bogdanović, Cory Joseph, 2023 second-round pick and 2024 second-round pick (via MEM or WAS)

    Detroit Pistons receive: John Collins

    The Pistons are barely a month removed from giving Bojan Bogdanović an extension. It's only been a year and change since the Hawks gave John Collins a new deal.

    And yet, it's entirely possible—if not probable—that neither scoring forward will stuck with his club beyond the trade deadline.

    Bogdanović and Cory Joseph are both fish out of water, as 30-something veterans on the rebuilding Pistons. Maybe Detroit once had designs of fielding a competitive club this campaign, but a 6-18 start featuring a potentially season-ending injury for Cade Cunningham has reality-checked that notion out of existence.

    The Hawks, meanwhile, are on another good-not-great trek, which must feel at least a little deflating after throwing so many resources into this summer's Dejounte Murray deal. Maybe that explains why Collins' name is bouncing around the trade rumor mill again. The Hawks are having "preliminary trade discussions" about the bouncy big man, per The Athletic's Shams Charania, and maybe they'll finally sign off on a swap they feel better ties together their roster.

    Like this one.

    Bogdanović is a cleaner fit as an offensive safety valve. He's an elite outside shooter (career 2.1 triples per game at a 39.3 percent clip) and one who can almost entirely subsist on catch-and-fire chances. In other words, he could keep attack lanes wide open for Murray, Trae Young and a rolling Clint Capela. When the initial actions don't create anything, though, Bogdanović can slither his way to the basket or bully his way to buckets out of the post.

    Atlanta could also get good mileage out of Joseph, who is a much more effective table-setter and defender than Aaron Holiday.

    As for the Pistons, they don't seem to want to be down for long, and the 25-year-old Collins can help perk them up whenever they're ready. He could settle into a pretty prominent scoring role in Detroit. While his points per game have fallen for three consecutive years, he averaged 20.3 points on 57 percent shooting over the two seasons prior.

Mavs Make Major Push for Luka's Costar

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    Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) shoots over Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Tim Heitman)
    AP Photo/Tim Heitman

    Dallas Mavericks receive: Zach LaVine and Coby White

    Chicago Bulls receive: Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Green, Reggie Bullock, Davis Bertans and 2027 first-round pick

    It was clear even before Jalen Brunson bounced to the Big Apple that Luka Dončić needed more help carrying the Mavs offense. Dallas' decision to let Brunson walk in free agency and not replace him has left Dončić shouldering the seventh-highest usage percentage in NBA history.

    Being this reliant on an individual player never works, regardless how brilliant that player might be. Of the five players to finish a season with a usage rate higher than Dončić's 37.8—Giannis Antetokounmpo currently sports a higher usage rate, though that will change with Khris Middleton's return—only James Harden's 2018-19 Houston Rockets won a playoff series. They lost in the second round. Michael Jordan's 1986-87 Chicago Bulls didn't win a postseason game. Russell Westbrook's 2014-15 Oklahoma City Thunder didn't even make the playoffs.

    Dallas needs to diversify its attack, but it's not swimming in the kind of assets needed to snag a superstar. Instead, the Mavs' best bet might be squeezing what they can out of their budget in a (somewhat) discounted deal for Zach LaVine, whose knee trouble and sagging shooting rates might already have Chicago's front office rethinking its $215.2 million commitment to him.

    If Dallas guesses right on LaVine's ability to bounce back, though, it could finally have an electric offensive weapon to not only take attention away from Dončić, but actually enhance what he does.

    LaVine has no trouble finding shots for himself or his teammates. He was one of only four players to average 23 points and four assists in each of the past four seasons. He was also an 80th percentile finisher on isolations last season. Yet he's just as potent—if not moreso—when moving off the ball. Last season, he splashed an absurd 46 percent of his catch-and-shoot threes while ranking among the 91st percentile on spot-up plays.

    Dončić is a visionary passer, but he's only as good as his receivers allow him to be. Having a net-shredder like LaVine—and to a much (much) lesser extent, Coby White—would make Dončić's passing attack that much more potent.

    As for Chicago, this would be a concession that the current construction of the roster isn't working. Maybe it feels too early to pull the plug, but LaVine won't be trade-eligible until Jan. 15, so the Bulls' need for a change of direction could be evident by then.

    In this deal, Chicago can strike a balance of brightening the future without necessarily bailing on the present. Josh Green and the draft pick hold the most long-term intrigue, but the Bulls could have some short-term gains, too. While they would ship out the best player in this deal, they'd also beef up their wing rotation and address their shooting shortage, potentially winding up with a more cohesive group.

    Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference and and accurate through Dec. 1.

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