NBA Trade Ideas for Every Christmas Day Team
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas—probably because it is Christmas—which also happens to mean it's beginning to look a lot like NBA trade season.
Nearly 90 percent of the league's players are eligible to be dealt following Dec. 15. Reaching this point of the schedule doesn't automatically translate to a bunch of transactions. But it does culminate in more timely speculation. Rumors ramp up, and we, the Executive Vice Presidents of Passing Judgment from Armchair Operations, have enough information on every team to identify their biggest needs and the level of urgency behind them.
Since multiple sources with knowledge of the situation have informed me that themed content is the best content, I've invested (way too much) time in cobbling together trades for all 10 squads set to play during the Association's Christmas Day showcase.
Anti-realists will want to ensure they have their big-person pants on before proceeding. This exercise is rooted in fantasy, because these trades are of my own design, but they're not drunk with whimsy.
Few of the teams partaking in the Christmas festivities need to make blockbuster acquisitions. More than that, the market for mega names has yet to develop, and amid unparalleled parity, there's a chance it never does.
Eminently plausible packages are the goal. This invariably results in smaller deals aimed at delivering finishing touches or cleaning up the books. This is not to say these ideas are completely nondescript or without material impact. Rest assured, I've included need-nudgers galore, along with a blockbuster banger or three.
Let's fire up the "Who says no?!" machine.
New York Finds a New Home for Cam Reddish
New York Knicks Receive: Oshae Brissett, 2023 second-round pick (least favorable of Dallas, Houston and Miami)
Indiana Pacers Receive: Cam Reddish
Cam Reddish is out of the Knicks' rotation and, as Yahoo Sports' Jake Fischer noted, readily available. This deal gets him to a Pacers team that's better than expected but has the runway to experiment with its wing rotation.
Whether Indiana has the room to plumb Reddish's on-ball offense is a separate matter. It has plenty of space, however, to test his off-ball movement and positional bandwidth in smaller lineups on defense.
Some Knicks fans might flinch at getting back "so little." But this isn't "so little." It would be nice to bag a conditional first-round pick, since that's what they gave up to get him. But Reddish isn't playing and will be up for a new contract this summer in restricted free agency. New York's leverage is almost nonexistent.
Brissett is at once super useful and not someone you're obligated to play. He's canning almost 37 percent of his threes, and though mostly deployed as a pseudo power forward, he has four-position malleability at the defensive end.
Reinvesting in Reddish is easier. Brissett will be an unrestricted free agent. But he's more plug-and-play than Reddish, on both sides of the floor, and his next contract shouldn't break the bank if New York is interested in keeping him.
Indy might prefer keeping Brissett for its play-in and playoff push. He's the better player right now. Reddish's ceiling is still higher. And it's not like the Pacers are depending on Brissett in bunches. He was barely in the rotation to start the season and has seen his playing time fluctuate almost by the game.
Philadelphia Prioritizes Finances and Roster Flexibility
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: Indiana's 2023 second-round pick (protected for selections Nos. 31-55)
San Antonio Spurs Receive: Furkan Korkmaz, 2023 second-round pick (most favorable from Atlanta, Brooklyn or Charlotte)
Talk about your super-duper blockbusters, right?
Philadelphia isn't positioned to do much ahead of the trade deadline. It can enter some mega-trade scenarios if (the injured) Tyrese Maxey is on the table and attached to Tobias Harris (playing well!), but defaulting to the nuclear route makes little sense in the current landscape.
Bookkeeping flexibility is more the Sixers' speed. They have an open roster spot already, because they waived Charles Bassey and Isaiah Joe, for reasons that weren't and still aren't entirely clear. This might come in handy on the buyout market. But Philly is also a little over $1.1 million above the luxury-tax line. This trade gets the organization comfortably beneath it.
Fans should not be rooting for billionaires to save money. In this case, though, there's additional merit to the move. Offloading Korkmaz dredges up a second roster spot and puts the Sixers more than $3.8 million under the tax line, enabling them to be more aggressive as the buyout market develops.
Any ol' second-round pick might not be enough for the Spurs to swallow the extra year and $5.4 million on Korkmaz's contract. This isn't any ol' second-round pick. The incoming selection is slated to be No. 32 at this writing. A fringe-first to rent out such a small amount of payroll is fair compensation.
Dallas Takes A Flier on Ball-Handling Help
Dallas Mavericks Receive: R.J. Hampton
Orlando Magic Receive: Frank Ntilikina, 2025 second-round pick (top-44 protection)
Anyone who cares about seeing Luka Doncic play ultra-meaningful basketball wants the Mavericks to trade for a star. It isn't happening.
Never mind the bare-bones star market. Dallas can't convey a first-rounder until 2025 and doesn't have a blue-chip prospect on the roster. It's better equipped to mortgage the future over the summer, after its 2023 first-round obligation to the Knicks (presumably) conveys.
Hampton would be a flier. And that's fine. The Mavs have Spencer Dinwiddie and Kemba Walker to help offset the ball-handling deficit. Hampton offers a fourth option who can put defenses in rotation after taking off from a standstill. His ability to get downhill is understated, he's shooting a career-high 68 percent at the rim this season (13-of-19), and he's thrown some nifty, speedball passes when going left.
Ntilikina is currently playing real(ish) minutes for the Mavs, but as much as it pains me, a Frank Ntilikina devoutist to say, it's not going particularly well. Hampton is more likely to pan out in those spot reps, even if he doesn't have the defensive vitals to guard up on the wings.
Orlando could quibble over the protections on this second-rounder. But Hampton doesn't crack its full-strength guard rotation, and the team already declined his fourth-year option, making him an unrestricted free agent this summer and limiting what his incumbent squad can offer him as a starting salary. Sending him out for any value, at all, should be the play unless the Magic have yet-to-be-unveiled plans to expand his role.
The Lakers Trade the Picks!
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Chris Boucher, Gary Trent Jr., Fred VanVleet
Toronto Raptors Receive: Max Christie, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Russell Westbrook, 2026 first-round pick swap, 2027 first-round pick (unprotected), 2028 first-round pick swap, 2029 first-round pick (unprotected)
(*Trade can't be completed until Jan. 15)
Conventional wisdom suggests the Lakers are less likely to move their picks after Anthony Davis suffered a right foot injury that's expected to sideline him for quite a while. But LeBron James still exists, and he's about to turn 38. If the Lakers are in any way married to his timeline, they will continue to prowl the market for ways to instill actual purpose into this season.
Linking up with the Raptors might offer a safe haven. Toronto has become trendy candidates to blow it up in recent weeks—and for good reason. Its play has collectively cratered, and the roster is about to get more expensive. Trent (player option) and VanVleet (player option) are free agents this summer, and both OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam will be extension-eligible.
A full-tilt teardown feels unlikely. Anunoby is young enough (25) not to give a damn about the cost of his next deal, and Siakam, while turning 28 in April, is contending for All-NBA honors. I'd bet on the Raptors standing pat, if not on taking a medium-sized swing of their own.
That calculus changes if their situation continues to deteriorate. And though I still wouldn't expect them to trade Anunoby or Siakam, jettisoning Trent and VanVleet offers a more palatable middle ground.
Trent seems like a certified goner no matter what, and VanVleet's play this season makes it easier to move him when you're loading up on future picks. The Raptors could feasibly punt on this season and then look to reload around Anunoby, Siakam, Scottie Barnes and this year's lottery selection over the summer.
The Lakers don't make this trade unless they want—and are sure they can keep—both Trent and VanVleet long term. That shouldn't be a problem. Trent is a disruptive defender, albeit too risk-inclined, who injects functional variance into the half-court offense. VanVleet's efficiency has taken a nosedive, but he's not even a full year removed from making his first All-Star appearance and generating All-Defense buzz. Going on 29 in February, his shooting slump isn't necessarily a perma-decline.
Boucher's inclusion is more than just a salary-must. He's not hitting his threes at a high clip this year, but he can play on the frontline both alongside and independent of a healthy Davis.
Do the Lakers give up both picks and swaps to get this done? That is, in fact, the question. Maybe they can hold out for one swap. Westbrook has played a lot better since coming off the bench and absorbing his salary isn't as big of an ask with half the season in the books.
Regardless, this framework is close as currently constructed. And it's not worth bemoaning how the Lakers would be junking this summer's cap space. They could still technically carve out plenty if they let GTJ and FVV walk. Mostly, though, the combination of Boucher, Trent and VanVleet is more likely muuuuch better than what they can actually do with $30-plus million in spending power.
Boston Grabs a Spare Big Man
Boston Celtics Receive: Jaxson Hayes
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: 2023 second-round pick (from Boston, via Dallas, Houston or Miami)
Calls for the Celtics to focus on shoring up the offense will start mounting in number and volume if recent regression holds. After getting off to an historically hot start, they are dead last in points scored per possessions since the start of December.
Insisting that they need to do anything major is premature for the time being. The ball is sticking, guys are missing makeable threes, and the Celtics suddenly seem dribble-penetration averse. Not all of those things will stand forever.
Polishing off the frontcourt rotation remains more pressing unless the offensive descent endures. Hayes is a tantalizing dice roll. He doesn't have the same basketball IQ as Robert Williams III or Al Horford, but there's real pop to his game. The Celtics should have the spacing to maximize his volume around the rim, and he has experimented with stepping out to the three-point line.
Picking him up is more valuable to the defense. Hayes isn't a traditional rim protector, despite standing 6'11". But he can really move on the perimeter, and Boston's infrastructure may be more conducive to developing his help rotations and reads closer to the basket.
New Orleans should be content to get a second for Hayes' services. He is buried in a frontcourt rotation that features Zion Williamson, Jonas Valančiūnas, Larry Nance Jr., Trey Murphy III, Herb Jones and Naji Marshall. Getting off his money gives them more maneuverability under the tax and opens up a roster spot—both of which could help the Pelicans make other trades.
Another team might have to be part of this deal. The Celtics have a $6.9 million trade exception they can use to take on Hayes, and opening a roster spot will be no sweat. But their tax bill is already through the roof, and the suits might not have the license to increase it for a reserve big man who's not guaranteed minutes and headed toward restricted free agency.
Boston can try rallying another party to take on the injured Danilo Gallinari, who has a $6.8 million player option for next season. Indiana looms as an option, since it has cap space. Utah also has a perfectly-sized trade exception and juuust enough room under the tax to facilitate a deal, depending on the sweetener offered by the Celtics.
Milwaukee, Phoenix and Houston Finally Complete Their 3-Team Deal
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: Jae Crowder
Phoenix Suns Receive: Eric Gordon, K.J. Martin
Houston Rockets Receive: Grayson Allen, Dario Saric, Phoenix's 2023 first-round pick (top-10 protection), Indiana's 2025 second-round pick (via Milwaukee), Phoenix's 2026 second-round pick, Milwaukee's 2027 second-round pick, Milwaukee's 2028 second-round pick, Milwaukee's 2029 second-round pick
The Athletic's Shams Charania recently referenced a scuttled three-team trade that landed "Eric Gordon and/or K.J. Martin in Phoenix," Crowder in Milwaukee and "four Bucks second-round picks along with players" to Houston. But the Rockets reportedly wanted a first for Gordon and a "very good first-rounder" for Martin rather than a bunch of seconds.
This return gets the Rockets closer. They get a singular first-rounder from a team that can afford to give one. The Suns will likely select between Nos. 23 and 30. They can fork over that much for two players who immediately become part of the regular rotation.
Including a second-round pick down the line is basically a tax for Martin being under organizational control at under $1.9 million through next season (team option). His three-point clip has slipped below 31 percent, but he provides a ton of pressure at the rim, where he's shooting 74 percent, and can match up defensively with 3s and 4s.
Gordon has taken a step back this year and is celebrating his 34th birthday as you read this. But his finishing on drives should tick up amid better spacing, and he remains an invaluable threat on ultra-long threes. Among everyone who has attempted 30 or more shots outside 28 feet, Gordon joins Tyler Herro and Anfernee Simons as the only players connecting on them more than 40 percent of the time.
Phoenix might worry about jacking up its tax bill—and also about Gordon's $20.9 million salary guaranteeing next season if it wins the title. The new, deeper-pocketed ownership regime should be able to get past the larger tax hit. And you absolutely shouldn't have an issue paying Gordon next year if it you bagged a ring.
Houston might push for MarJon Beauchamp from Milwaukee or balk at including both Gordon and Martin. It should take this offer. Five seconds feels like a hodgepodge at first glance, but four of them come in 2026 or later. Getting three Milwaukee seconds, specifically, between 2027 and 2029 has roll-of-the-dice value. The Bucks could be struggling to recalibrate around Giannis Antetokounmpo by that time. Eating one year of Allen ($9.6 million next season) isn't a backbreaker.
Milwaukee nevertheless has nothing to think about here. Crowder hasn't played this season, and he won't fix its half-court offense. But he brings three-point volume, confidence in his floater, defense versus larger wings and combo bigs and seamless access to Giannis-in-the-middle lineups that may need to be a staple during the playoffs. This is a huge get when it doesn't cost you a first and lightens your cap sheet beyond this season.
Golden State Flips James Wiseman for Immediate Depth
Golden State Warriors Receive: Alex Caruso, Andre Drummond, Javonte Green
Chicago Bulls Receive: Moses Moody, James Wiseman, 2027 second-round pick
Appearing on the TNT broadcast during the Warriors' Tuesday loss to the Knicks, Stephen Curry intimated that he wouldn't have a timeline for his return from a left shoulder injury "until the New Year."
Golden State's season might effectively be over if Curry is out that long. Even if it's not, his absence could prevent the front office from making any sort of move—particularly when it involves selling low on a 21-year-old No. 2 pick.
Perhaps the Warriors would feel differently if they were nabbing another star. That's probably a non-starter. The star-trade market is underdeveloped, at best, and Golden State needs to stumble into someone who convinces it to part with one of Draymond Green, Klay Thompson or Andrew Wiggins to make the money work. A bigger move will be easier over the offseason, when Jordan Poole's new extension takes effect.
This package genuinely moves the needle for the Warriors, both with and without Curry, while sparing their asset well from bankruptcy. They aren't giving up a distant first—they can't convey one until 2026—or giving up Jonathan Kuminga, who has shown flashes of figuring it out with increasing frequency on both ends.
Caruso doesn't replace any of the shot volume Curry leaves behind. That's fine. The Warriors have Poole, Thompson and, eventually, a healthy Wiggins to split that responsibility. But Caruso does give them another feisty-ass defender who can handle the toughest backcourt covers, as well as someone who helps manage the secondary offense.
Many will consider Javonte Green an afterthought. He's not. He's a super versatile defender who can guard up through the 4 spot, and although his offensive volume is negligible, he's canning 38.7 percent of his threes and 63.7 percent of his twos.
Chicago only makes this deal if they're planning for the bigger picture. It may never reach that point. The Bulls owe a top-four-protected pick to Orlando. That will influence their thinking. But there is a clear disconnect behind the scenes, and painful mediocrity has a way of coaxing teams into drastic measures.
Rolling the dice on Wiseman has real value. Nikola Vucevic is a free agent after this season and shouldn't be a part of any theoretical reset. Wiseman is beyond raw and can be clumsy on offense, but he has the physical tools to be an effective rim-roller who can occasionally busts out a floor game. Moody's role has been inconsistent with the Warriors, but he is still just 20 and has the stroke and size to be an impactful three-and-D wing.
Unloading Drummond is a tiny bonus for the Bulls. They chisel out more breathing room beneath this year's tax line and escape his player option for next season. Their interest in this deal is still tethered almost exclusively to how they view Wiseman. The upside play would be out of character for a franchise addicted to ineffective win-now models. It would also be somewhat refreshing—even if the plan is to keep Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and try to rejoin the playoff mix next season when Lonzo Ball is hopefully healthy.
Memphis Juices Up Its Title Odds
Memphis Grizzlies Receive: Kyle Kuzma
Washington Wizards Receive: Danny Green, David Roddy or Jake LaRavia, 2023 first-round pick
Angling for home-run trades isn't the Grizzlies' style. They prefer internal development over outside solutions, and their track record, coupled with their actual win-loss record, makes it tough to argue against them.
Let's ask them to hit, like, a double instead.
Memphis' half-court offense remains a wart but is hardly dire. It held up fairly well during the 2022 playoffs, and Desmond Bane 3.0, when healthy, changes the complexion of things considerably.
Still, Kuzma materially diversifies the Grizzlies' offensive portfolio. The pull-up shooting can be wonky, but he's downing over 53 percent of his looks on drives and averaging more than 1.5 points per possession off cuts. His hit rate and volume on spot-up threes (35.6 percent) is high enough to boost Memphis' presence from beyond the arc.
Lineups featuring him at the 4 alongside Jaren Jackson Jr. at the 5 have the potential to be lethal. Kuzma's defense has improved over the years, and he's turned in some really strong contests around the rim this season. He should also be able to play the 3 in the Grizzlies' more conventional frontcourts.
Pinning down the right cost for Kuzma is difficult. He's having a career year but is scheduled for a monstrous raise in free agency (player option). Offering the Wizards an expiring contract, first-round prospect and then an actual first-rounder feels fair.
Washington might want more—or not to move Kuzma at all. General manager Tommy Sheppard better be sure he's going to re-sign if that's the Wizards' stance. Moving Kuzma doesn't have to be part of a larger rebuild (though, let's be real, Washington needs to start over). It's just smart asset management.
The Wizards can try asking for a 2024 pick in lieu of a 2023 first. The Grizzlies have their own as well as the Warriors' selection (top-four protection). They can offer the less favorable of those without hamstringing themselves in discussions for bigger fish over the summer if they arise (cough, Kevin Durant, cough).
Denver Adds Another Defender
Denver Nuggets Receive: Javonte Green
Chicago Bulls Receive: Zeke Nnaji
This will be a certified no-go for people who believe the Nuggets will dust off Nnaji and play him more. Denver's bench can use a big stretches the floor and reasonably defend.
Yet, after generating all sorts of hype entering training camp, Nnaji has barely played. And he's not a strong enough rebounder or rim protector to alter the Nuggets' defensive standing. Denver is 25th in points allowed per possession, and its reserves are even worse.
Pivoting to Green (currently out with a knee injury) makes the Nuggets smaller. He's only 6'4". But he has the strength to tussle with larger wings and combo bigs and the recovery timing and speed to go up against quicker ball-handlers.
Even Denver's rim protection should be better with him in the fold. He provides on-ball deterrence and shouldn't have any issue in the playmaking helper role when Nikola Jokic is guarding up at the level of the screen.
Nnaji is just 21 and has another cost-controlled year left on his rookie scale. That's cause enough for the Bulls to pounce. It might also be cause for the Nuggets to pass. But if they're not going to consistently play Nnaji, they might as well move him and deepen their defensive armory in the process.
Granted, Denver's rotation looks pretty crowded in the aftermath. Bruce Brown, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Aaron Gordon and the emergence of Christian Braun could make the addition of Green seem like overkill. Eh. Green helps alleviate the conceptual logjam by holding up at the 4, and Michael Porter Jr. hasn't remained healthy enough to guarantee Brown won't need to remain in the starting five.