No GM Should Ever Be Done Dealing. Here's 1 Trade Idea for Every NBA Team

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 20, 2017

No GM Should Ever Be Done Dealing. Here's 1 Trade Idea for Every NBA Team

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    Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

    When one avenue to NBA talent closes, another one opens.

    OK, so maybe the trade and free-agency markets are both always technically in business. But since we're well beyond the spending-frenzy portion of the latter, the former becomes the more intriguing tool to upgrade rosters.

    But where do general managers start? Should they chase a disgruntled star, dump an unwanted salary on someone else or search for an undervalued asset that no one else has noticed?

    The answer depends on the situation. But since we're nice enough to assist all executives—free of charge, no less—we have broken down one trade idea for every club.

    Usually, that means examining a potential swap. But if we don't see a useful transaction available at the moment, we'll share that information and explain why, too.

Atlanta Hawks Shed Another Salary

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Atlanta Hawks receive: Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye

    Cleveland Cavaliers receive: Kent Bazemore

    The Atlanta Hawks aren't racing to the bottom, but with all five starters gone from 2014-15's 60-win squad, they're willing to backtrack a bit.

    "We want to continue the success we've had, but realize we might have to take a step back," new general manager Travis Schlenk said, per's Shaun Powell. "We just don't want to dip down two to three years in a row."

    If the Hawks don't plan to be down long, they should continue clearing the cap for when they're ready to rise. And no one has a heavier deal than Bazemore's remaining three years and $54.2 million. That already looks like an overpay, as the 6'5" swingman's shooting percentages all went the wrong way last season.

    But Atlanta might find a desperate buyer in the Cleveland Cavaliers. They need to try to improve the roster for LeBron James, and Bazemore has better career shooting rates and a superior defensive field-goal differential (minus-2.6 to minus-1.1) than Iman Shumpert.

    This is basically a money dump for Atlanta—Frye is an expiring contract, Shumpert has two years and $21.3 million left on his—although Shumpert is younger than Bazemore.

Boston Celtics Stay Patient for The Brow

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    No one will ever accuse Danny Ainge of rushing into anything. The Boston Celtics' president of basketball operations has methodically constructed his roster, keeping his trade chips in hand while making his biggest moves in free agency.

    Patience isn't the easiest sell to a fanbase that sees both win-now potential and prospective deals that could strengthen that effort. But perhaps the executive has been saving his best hand in case a certain single-browed superstar becomes available. According to The Vertical's Chris Mannix , "it's widely believed" the Celtics will heavily pursue Anthony Davis if the New Orleans Pelicans fall apart.

    The 24-year-old could be the type of fortune-changing acquisition who thrusts Boston into the thick of the title race. He has the fourth-highest player efficiency rating since entering the league (26.6) and is only the fifth player to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in four of his first five NBA seasons.

    Of course, all of that makes him much harder to pry out of the Big Easy. But if the Davis-DeMarcus Cousins pairing doesn't work, maybe New Orleans hits the reset button. The Pelicans would have to collect a king's ransom in return, but the Celtics are perhaps best-equipped to meet that price with a combination of picks, prospects and proven NBA talent.

Brooklyn Nets Add Another Asset, Another Expensive Contract

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Brooklyn Nets receive: Bismack Biyombo, Mario Hezonja, 2019 second-round pick

    Orlando Magic receive: Trevor Booker

    When the Brooklyn Nets gave Sean Marks the keys to their front office, they seemingly handed him over zero assets and a ton of draft debt. But the 41-year-old has proved a resourceful executive by parlaying cap space into impact trade acquisitions.

    Over the last six months, Brooklyn has saddled dead money in the form of Andrew Nicholson, Timofey Mozgov and DeMarre Carroll in order to pick up two first-round picks, a second-rounder and former No. 2 pick D'Angelo Russell.

    "Ownership was behind us when I said, 'This is how we're going to do it,' which is what I needed to hear," Marks told Powell. "We all signed up for this. We've got a long, long long way to go, but we're taking baby steps to get there."

    This would be another step in that direction.

    For taking on the three years and $51 million owed to Biyombo, the Nets would land a former top-five pick in Hezonja—a disappointment so far, but still a good athlete with a pretty jumper—and an early second-rounder (either their own or Orlando's).

    The Magic, meanwhile, unclutter their center spot for Nikola Vucevic and add another versatile, athletic defender to their frontcourt.

Charlotte Hornets Find Third Point Guard

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Charlotte Hornets receive: J.J. Barea, Dorian Finney-Smith

    Dallas Mavericks receive: Jeremy Lamb, 2019 second-round pick

    The Charlotte Hornets couldn't find a competent backup for All-Star Kemba Walker last season. Depending on your view of Michael Carter-Williams, that need might still exist.

    Enter Barea, the architect of consecutive seasons with double-digit points and four-plus assists. While he's probably too small to share the floor with Walker, Barea is a superior option to run the second unit. He's a better shooter and distributor than Carter-Williams, which could help Charlotte avoid the offensive lulls it hit without Walker last season (8.3 decline in offensive rating when he sat).

    Since the Dallas Mavericks aren't in win-now mode, they have two seasons to experiment with Lamb's length and effortless athleticism. The second-rounder provides protection in case Lamb never figures things out. Barea is expendable with Dennis Smith Jr., Yogi Ferrell and Devin Harris all capable of running point. Finney-Smith is a defense-first project, who could find a niche under Hornets coach Steve Clifford.

Chicago Bulls Land Point Guard and Pick

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Chicago Bulls receive: Brandon Knight, 2018 top-seven protected pick (from MIA)

    Phoenix Suns receive: Robin Lopez

    After shipping out Jimmy Butler this offseason and Doug McDermott and Taj Gibson at the deadline, the rebuilding Chicago Bulls are running out of trade ammo. Unless someone wants to stomach Dwyane Wade's $23.8 million salary, Lopez—a reliable starter with a reasonable $28.1 million headed his way the next two seasons—might be the last bullet left to fire.

    Chicago shopped Lopez at the deadline in search of a first-round pick, league sources told Basketball Insiders' Michael Scotto. Relieving the Phoenix Suns of the three years and $43.8 million committed to Knight might be the way to land one. And for as rough as 2016-17 treated Knight—career-lows in points (11.0) and field-goal percentage (39.8)—the Bulls might be one of the only teams that sees him as an upgrade.

    Lopez isn't an obvious need-filler in the desert, but his presence would allow the Suns to aggressively shop Tyson Chandler without overexerting youngsters Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender. And with the Miami Heat committing to a core that should contend for a playoff berth out East, the pick seems unlikely to land higher than the middle of the first round.

Cleveland Cavaliers Ditch Melo Dream

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Cavaliers, fresh off a humbling five-game loss in the Finals, haven't made a significant roster addition or filled their top front-office vacancy. In related news, LeBron James—who can become a free agent after the 2017-18 season—is "frustrated and concerned about the team's ability to put together a roster that can better compete with Golden State," a source told USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt.

    That's where an Anthony pursuit makes sense. He's among the King's closest NBA friends and someone he's envisioned playing alongside since before both entered the league, as Bleacher Report's Howard Beck relayed earlier this year.

    But digging deeper forces logic out of the equation. Unless the Cavs would be willing to part with Kevin Love for Anthony—that's been shot down on multiple occasions—then it's almost impossible to make a deal.

    And even if it were, it wouldn't make much sense. Cleveland is already the Association's best team scoring in isolations. Anthony could make it even more potent, but how much higher can you climb from No. 1? What Anthony wouldn't do is address the Cavs' myriad defensive issues or spell James from shouldering Kevin Durant duties in a potential (inevitable?) Finals rematch.

Dallas Mavericks Get Younger on Wing

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Dallas Mavericks receive: Allen Crabbe

    Portland Trail Blazers receive: Wesley Matthews

    Don't let Dirk Nowitzki's return fool you—the Dallas Mavericks have embraced a youth movement. Sentimental attachments to The Diggler aside, their most important players are all members of the 25-and-under crowd: Harrison Barnes, rookie Dennis Smith Jr., sophomore Yogi Ferrell and, whenever a new deal gets done, Nerlens Noel.

    In other words, there might not be much value in keeping the 30-year-old Matthews. He's a relentless defender, a tireless competitor, a locker room leader and a career 38.3 percent three-point sniper. All of those traits are marketable to a playoff hopeful, a distinction that fits his old club, the Portland Trail Blazers.

    There's risk in taking on Matthews, who has shot below 40 percent in each of the two seasons since his Achilles tear. But the Blazers desperately need perimeter defense, and as an added bonus, his deal ends a year before Crabbe's burdensome contract.

    Earlier this month, ESPN's Zach Lowe wrote that the only way to flip Crabbe would be to attach a first-round pick. So, why would the Mavs pull the trigger without one? Because when factoring in age and injury history, Crabbe's contract looks more valuable than Matthews' in Dallas.

    At 25 years old, Crabbe fits the timeline, and his 44.4 percent three-point stroke—second-best in the NBA—gives Barnes and Smith more room to operate.

Denver Nuggets Find a Floor General

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    Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

    Denver Nuggets Receive: Eric Bledsoe

    Phoenix Suns Receive: Darrell Arthur, Malik Beasley, Emmanuel Mudiay, 2018 lottery-protected first-round pick

    The Denver Nuggets were searching for a playmaker before they fully committed to fielding a win-now roster. They chatted with the Phoenix Suns on draft night about Eric Bledsoe, according to's Chris Haynes, offering a package built around Emmanuel Mudiay and the No. 13 pick.

    Now that Paul Millsap is in town, Denver should readdress this deal with a new sense of urgency. Assuming Bledsoe can stay healthy (not a given), he's a far more reliable playmaker than the Nuggets currently employ. Denver didn't have anyone average 20 points or six assists last season. Bledsoe is one of six players to have done both each of the past two campaigns.

    As for the outgoing package, Mudiay doesn't look long for Denver, Arthur is expendable with a crowded frontcourt and Beasley is blocked by at least three scoring guards. If the Nuggets like their playoff chances, they wouldn't panic about losing a mid-to-late first-round pick.

Detroit Pistons Embrace Positional Versatility

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Detroit Pistons receive: Wilson Chandler, Emmanuel Mudiay

    Denver Nuggets receive: Reggie Jackson

    Back at the deadline, the Detroit Pistons reportedly weighed their trade options with both Jackson and Andre Drummond, league sources told's Zach Lowe. While dealing Drummond would initiate a nuclear rebuild, moving Jackson might mean getting out from a declining stock to find better-fitting pieces.

    Chandler stands as the prized pull, which might sound surprising given his good-not-great career 14.0 scoring average. But his ability to play and defend multiple spots would give Detroit more chances to field versatile, athletic lineups around Drummond. Between Chandler, Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris and Stanley Johnson, the Pistons could adopt a switch-heavy scheme that propels their 11th-ranked defense closer to the elites.

    And Mudiay, a 6'5" point guard with a 6'8.5" wingspan, fits the same mold. Plus, his pass-first mentality could elevate Detroit's 28th-ranked standing in assist percentage (53.0).

    If Jackson puts his knee tendinitis problems behind him, he's a more dynamic option at the lead guard than the Nuggets currently employ. He's more of a scorer than distributor, but that's easier to accommodate in Denver with passing bigs like Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap and, if he's retained, Mason Plumlee. 

Golden State Warriors Stand Pat

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    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    The Golden State Warriors are stampeding through a historic run, tallying 207 victories and a pair of world titles over the past three seasons. And their upcoming roster might be their best yet.

    The Dubs return their top seven from last year's rotation, a group headlined by former MVPs Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. Sharing another training camp together should only improve what already appears to be tight-knit chemistry. Their bench—an elite unit last season—expanded to include spark-plug Nick Young, lanky sniper Omri Casspi and uber-athletic, defensive-minded rookie Jordan Bell.

    Golden State's roster is so loaded it has spawned a weapons race among clubs attempting to keep up. If there are even ways to improve this group—that's not a given—the reward wouldn't be great enough to risk disrupting this dominance.

Houston Rockets Get Their Third Star

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    Tim Warner/Getty Images

    Houston Rockets Receive: Carmelo Anthony

    Milwaukee Bucks Receive: Ryan Anderson

    New York Knicks Receive: Mirza Teletovic, Spencer Hawes, Tim Quarterman, Shawn Long, 2020 top-five-protected first-round pick (from HOU)

    A third star has never felt closer to the Houston Rockets and their general manager Daryl Morey. They've been eyeing Anthony since pairing James Harden and Chris Paul together, and they've done enough to convince Anthony to waive his no-trade clause. Despite some stalled negotiations, Anthony expects he'll wind up in Houston, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Getting Anthony to Space City isn't easy, since the Knicks don't want to take back long-term money and the Rockets would love to shed Anderson's remaining three years and $61 million. But The Ringer's Bill Simmons assembled the above offer and said it "makes the most sense" of multiteam arrangements that gets Anthony to the Rockets.

    It's a no-brainer for Houston, which would have three top-shelf scorers supported by lanky, versatile defenders. Milwaukee, which finished 22nd in triples last season, adds a needed marksman to open up the offensive end. And New York gains financial flexibility—Quarterman and Long are non-guaranteed, Hawes' deal is expiring—plus a wild-card future first from a team with two 30-somethings in its Big Three.

Indiana Pacers Play Waiting Game

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Does swapping out Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis signal that the Indiana Pacers are in the process of a demolition? No, at least that's not the way they see it.

    "I never felt [we had to] totally strip away everything and start over," Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said, pre Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star. "I thought that getting Sabonis and getting Victor sort of push you up to the next level. Where that level is, only they'll be able to tell us, and then we'll make adjustments next summer."

    Indiana has a chance to be competitive in a depleted Eastern Conference. And it might not be the good kind of competitive, but rather the one known to trap teams in the middle.

    Maybe that makes fans anxious to see another appearance of the wrecking ball, perhaps shipping out vets like Thaddeus Young and Al Jefferson to tear this team down to the studs. But patience is the right play here. The Pacers need to see how Myles Turner handles being a focal point and how the likes of Oladipo, Sabonis and rookie T.J. Leaf fit.

    Only then will Indy's best path forward become clearer.

Los Angeles Clippers Snag a Stopper

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    Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    Los Angeles Clippers receive: Kent Bazemore

    Atlanta Hawks receive: Lou Williams, Wesley Johnson, Montrezl Harrell

    Chris Paul's exit could have triggered a full-scale rebuild for the Los Angeles Clippers. They tried reloading instead. They kept Blake Griffin on a five-year pact, inked Danilo Gallinari to a three-year deal and picked up Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams in the Paul trade.

    "I think we added talent," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, per The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears.

    That's a glass-full assessment, but let's go along with it. Assuming the Clippers can remain competitive, their path out of the Western Conference will take them through a gauntlet of high-scoring wings—Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Paul George, Jimmy Butler, etc. They can't go into those battles thinking Gallinari is the defensive answer.

    Bazemore might not be either, but he can make a more compelling argument. He's athletic, energetic and armed with a 6'11.5" wingspan. Oh, he's also readily available after disappointing in the first year of a four-year, $70 million contract.

    With Williams on an expiring contract and Johnson's deal done in two years, Atlanta mainly does this for financial relief. But the Hawks might also see something in the 23-year-old Harrell, who has impressed when given an opportunity (career 16.6 points per 36 minutes on 65.1 percent shooting).

Los Angeles Lakers Gain Flexibility

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Los Angeles Lakers receive: Trevor Booker, Briante Weber

    Charlotte Hornets receive: Jordan Clarkson

    Brooklyn Nets receive: Jeremy Lamb, Johnny O'Bryant III, 2018 second-round pick (from DEN via LAL)

    The Los Angeles Lakers—eyeing multiple superstars next summer—only have two non-rookie contracts on their books beyond 2017-18. Doing this deal would shave that number to one, jettisoning the three years and $37.5 million left on Clarkson's contract for Booker's expiring $9.1 million salary and Weber's non-guaranteed $1.4 million.

    If the Lakers see Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as a long-term keeper, their backcourt of the future is already in place with him and Lonzo Ball. Clarkson could be retained for depth, but he'd be expensive depth on a team trying to shed salary. He's also not the easiest to play with either of the aforementioned guards, since he can't help Ball defensively and doesn't distribute like a lead guard.

    But Clarkson's combo-guard skills are exactly what the Hornets could use. They need another scoring punch, and their roster would give him chances to play both on and off the ball.

    Brooklyn is around to make the salaries work, and it might find an asset between the 25-year-old Lamb, 24-year-old O'Bryant and that second-round selection.

Memphis Grizzlies Explore Nuclear Option

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    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    After grit-and-grinding their way to three straight 50-win seasons, the Memphis Grizzlies have backtracked toward mediocrity the past two campaigns. Next year could be even worse given the roster-bulking taking place across the Western Conference.

    Memphis has readied itself for a new identity this summer, by letting Zach Randolph and Vince Carter walk and letting Tony Allen remain unsigned. But the Grizzlies might need something much more dramatic to change their fortune in a major way.

    Would they actually consider dangling defensive dynamo Marc Gasol? Two sources told The Vertical's Chris Mannix the situation is worth monitoring. And if Gasol goes, would they want to pay 29-year-old Mike Conley $126 million over four seasons?

    This might be more than Memphis can stomach in a single offseason. But age isn't going to increase the value of these two, and it's not like the Grizzlies are swimming in prospects. If they could add draft picks and youngsters while ditching Chandler Parsons' deal, it's not hard to envision that delivering a future much brighter than the present.

Miami Heat Balance Roster, Books

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Miami Heat receive: Terrence Ross

    Orlando Magic receive: Tyler Johnson, Okaro White

    The Miami Heat are loaded in the backcourt—in both quantity and cost. Johnson, Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson and Wayne Ellington all deserve guard minutes, and, by 2018-19, at least the first three will be collecting eight-figure salaries (Richardson will need a new deal by then, too).

    Johnson won't be a starter then, but he will be the highest-paid of the bunch. His salary jumps from $5.8 million next season to $19.2 million each of the following two. That's an awful lot of coin for a career 10.7 points-per-game scorer who serves as an energetic reserve.

    The Heat should look to wiggle out of his deal before then, especially if they can simultaneously fill a need. Ross has a chance to do that as the scoring wing this roster lacks. He finishes well from inside (64-plus percent shooting within three feet in four of his five seasons) and out (career 37.4 percent from three), which can't be said about Miami's current 3s, Justise Winslow and Rodney McGruder.

    Orlando adds a combo guard who can give its roster a clearer direction. By moving Ross, the Magic can free up more wing minutes for free-agency addition Jonathon Simmons and lottery pick Jonathan Isaac. Johnson's ability to run point also gives Orlando options beyond the non-shooting Elfrid Payton and the undersized D.J. Augustin.

Milwaukee Bucks Add Another Lanky, Athletic Forward

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Milwaukee Bucks receive: Thaddeus Young

    Indiana Pacers receive: John Henson, Rashad Vaughn

    Picture the modern Milwaukee Bucks player, and it looks a lot like Young—from his 6'8" frame to his near-7-foot wingspan. His savvy, scoring instincts and athleticism would allow for a seamless transition to the Deer. And although he's not a volume sniper (1.6 long-range attempts last season), he can be an efficient one (38.1 percent).

    Young could hold the fort at the 4 in Jabari Parker's absence and then shift back into an important role on what could be a potent second team. Milwaukee might not be deep in the backcourt, but this deal potentially puts Young, Tony Snell and Greg Monroe across the reserve frontcourt.

    Both the Bucks and Henson have interest in finding him a new home, league sources told ESPN's Chris Haynes. Indy could use a shot-blocking presence behind Myles Turner, and Henson fits the bill with 2.9 career rejections per 36 minutes. Given Turner's shooting range and Henson's mobility, they might be able to share the floor in certain matchups.

    Henson isn't cheap (three years, $31.7 million), but cap space isn't a big concern for Indiana. Plus, the Pacers get a flier on a former first-rounder in Vaughn, and by moving Young, they give youngsters Domantas Sabonis and T.J. Leaf unobstructed paths to playing time.

Minnesota Timberwolves Bolster Wings

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    David Sherman/Getty Images

    Minnesota Timberwolves receive: Jae Crowder, Marcus Morris

    Boston Celtics receive: Gorgui Dieng, 2018 top-10 protected first-round pick (from OKC)

    The Minnesota Timberwolves have four centers on the roster and insufficient depth behind Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler. They should find a complementary trade partner in the Boston Celtics, who were burned by a lack of size and strength last season and now feature a pair of No. 3 picks at the forward spots.

    Even with Butler and Taj Gibson on the roster, Crowder would have a chance to become Tom Thibodeau's favorite. Crowder is a workhorse on both ends, flashing elite flexibility on defense and a suddenly spot-on three ball (39.8 percent last season, 32.4 the previous four).

    A Butler-Wiggins-Crowder tandem could struggle with spacing, but that looks like the defensive formula needed to fluster the Dubs. Tack on Morris, Gibson and Karl-Anthony Towns, and Minnesota would have size, strength and the ability to switch almost everything.

    Would the Celtics sign off on this? It's never easy for Danny Ainge to shy away from future firsts, and he might deem Crowder and Morris dispensable with Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum capable of filling the forward spots. Dieng's contract could complicate this (four years, $64 million), but not if Boston thinks his activity on the glass and the interior improves its championship odds.

New Orleans Pelicans Nab a Shooting Guard

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    New Orleans Pelicans receive: Will Barton

    Denver Nuggets receive: Alexis Ajinca, 2018 lottery-protected first-round pick

    Since snagging Anthony Davis first overall in 2012, the New Orleans Pelicans have only made two first-round picks and didn't keep either of them. So, if there's some trepidation about dealing another, that's understandable.

    But if there were ever a time to put the present over the future, this feels like it. It's not that New Orleans is a Barton away from title contention. Rather, this about the fact the Pellies have 12 months to figure out whether Davis and DeMarcus Cousins can coexist. And it will be tricky to make that assessment with a flawed supporting cast in place.

    New Orleans needs help on the wing, and Barton can provide it. He's one of only 30 players to average at least 13 points, four rebounds and two assists each of the last two seasons. He can create offense off the dribble and finish plays at the rim, and he just set personal bests in three-point makes (1.5 per game) and percentage (37.0).

    Denver has the depth to deal him with Gary Harris, Jamal Murray and Malik Beasley all ready for minutes. It could have extra incentive, too, with Barton bound for unrestricted free agency next summer. The Nuggets more or less grab the pick for taking on the $10.2 million owed to Ajinca, although the 7-footer could prove useful if Mason Plumlee walks.

New York Knicks Keep Carmelo (For Now)

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Gasp! How's that for a plot twist?

    For months, the Knicks worked on getting Anthony to waive his no-trade clause. That hurdle has finally been cleared—though only for deals involving Cleveland or Houston, per Wojnarowski—and now the Knicks have cold feet?

    They probably should. Even with the latest report from Wojnarowski saying Anthony has made it clear he is "not interested" in staying, the Knicks need to explore this option. His trade value is toast right now, thanks in no small part to the damage done by former team president Phil Jackson. Not to mention, Anthony's hand-picked destinations have little to offer New York or a third team facilitating the transaction.

    Anthony's exit could bring clarity to the franchise. But that's not worth accepting two cents on the dollar for the Knicks' second-best asset. Given his consistent track record and well-defined skill set, his appeal is highly unlikely to shift much in either direction. By holding onto him—not permanently, but as long as needed—New York could increase its chances of hearing better offers or Anthony increasing his list of landing spots.

Oklahoma City Thunder Shock Everyone Again

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    Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

    Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Marc Gasol

    Memphis Grizzlies receive: Steven Adams, Doug McDermott, 2018 second-round pick (from OKC), 2018 second-round pick (from CHI)

    Only two teams had at least three All-Stars last season, and they were the same squads who met in the Finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder—just one year removed from being blindsided by the exit of their primary building block, Kevin Durant—would join the three-star club with this transaction.

    It's a riskier transaction than that makes it sound. OKC would get nine years older at the center spot and sacrifice both floor-spacing and bench-scoring, neither of which are in great supply. The doomsday scenario where the Thunder lose both Russell Westbrook and Paul George next summer would leave them with only a 33-year-old, $24 million center to build around.

    But the Thunder can't afford to think that far ahead. They must have a singular focus on the upcoming season, which is their only recruiting tool to keep Westbrook and George in the fold. Gasol helps that effort immensely. He's on the short list of elite centers, operating as a defensive anchor, an offensive hub and a suddenly proficient sniper (104 triples at a 38.8-percent clip last season).

    OKC can be pretty good with Westbrook and George. Adding Gasol elevates the ceiling to greatness.

    For the Grizzlies, this is a chance to start over without bottoming out. Adams could work pick-and-roll magic with Mike Conley, while McDermott becomes the scoring forward Chandler Parsons was supposed to be.

Orlando Magic Chase Defensive Identity

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Orlando Magic receive: Wilson Chandler, Trey Lyles, Malik Beasley

    Denver Nuggets receive: Evan Fournier

    It's been five years since Dwight Howard left, and the Orlando Magic still haven't found their next identity. But judging by their activity on draft night (Jonathan Isaac) and in free agency (Jonathon Simmons and Shelvin Mack), defense seems to be driving their decisions—which should surprise no one considering they're coached by Frank Vogel.

    This trade would be a continuation of the transition. Beasley's three-and-D potential pushes him to the top of Orlando's return package—that or the money saved by moving Fournier—and his combination of quickness and athleticism should allow him to defend both guard spots.

    Chandler is similar to what the Magic already have, and at 30 years old, he may not spend the two seasons left on his contract in Orlando. But as a veteran combo forward, he can share valuable insight with Isaac, Aaron Gordon and Terrence Ross. And his annual $12 million salary should be easier to move and more valuable on the trade market than Fournier's remaining $68 million.

    But the Nuggets will gladly take that on as a way to replace the wing scoring and perimeter shooting lost when Danilo Gallinari bolted. Fournier's abilities to make quick decisions and play on or off the ball would make him an asset in what should be a fast-moving offense.

    As for Lyles, he's a low-cost flier on a recent lottery pick (12th in 2015). His price is down for a reason—he played his way out of the Utah Jazz's plans last season—but he still offers intriguing shooting and playmaking potential for a 6'10" forward.

Philadelphia 76ers Find Point Guard Depth

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Chicago Bulls Receive: C Jahlil Okafor

    Philadelphia 76ers Receive: PG Cameron Payne

    The Philadelphia 76ers are out of uses for Jahlil Okafor. The scoring big man has throwback skills that don't fit Philly's direction, and he's getting squeezed out of a frontcourt featuring Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Richaun Holmes and Amir Johnson.

    So why not move Okafor for another former lottery pick in a similar position? The Chicago Bulls would still be stocked at point guard without Cameron Payne, who disappointed or didn't see the floor after arriving at the deadline.

    But as Bleacher Report's Dan Favale observed, Payne looks worth the minimal risk:

    "Nabbing Cameron Payne at this point is a low-key coup. Okafor's value has nosedived over the past two years, and Payne was an electric presence as a rookie before losing most of his sophomore campaign to a fractured right foot. Give him a chance to run with the Sixers' other kiddies as the second- or third-string point guard, and he might regain some of his bravado."

    Consider this a what-have-you-got-to-lose type of trade. The Bulls pick up both an asset and a potential focal point for their second-team offense. And the Sixers shed a cloud that's hovered above them for two years while gaining a floor general who could prove a worthwhile project.

Phoenix Suns Grab Three for One

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Phoenix Suns receive: Wilson Chandler, Emmanuel Mudiay, Malik Beasley, 2018 second-round pick (from POR or SAC)

    Denver Nuggets receive: Eric Bledsoe

    Another Bledsoe-to-Denver package? Sure enough. He's the best movable piece the Phoenix Suns have, and the market isn't flush with win-now point guard shoppers.

    With Chandler, the Suns would have a stopper to spell or suit up alongside Josh Jackson. Similarly, Beasley can play with or behind Devin Booker. Beasley's shooting, athleticism, energy and aggressiveness would all accentuate the Association's second-fastest attack.

    Phoenix could have a choice to make between Mudiay and Brandon Knight. Both have obvious flaws, though Mudiay seems the better option. He's younger, bigger, cheaper and far less expensive. After the season Knight just had, he might need a scenery change to get him going again.

Portland Trail Blazers Convince Carmelo

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    Portland Trail Blazers receive: Carmelo Anthony

    New York Knicks receive: Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu, Noah Vonleh, 2018 lottery-protected first-round pick

    The Portland Trail Blazers only entered the Carmelo conversation as a facilitator for a three- or four-team trade. But they've decided they would rather have the 10-time All-Star for themselves, although they're waiting for him to get on board with the idea.

    "They would like for Carmelo to waive his no-trade [clause] and go to Portland, but right now, that's not something Melo's considering," Wojnarowski said on The Jump, via

    Anthony isn't the perfect addition since Portland needs more help on defense (21st in efficiency) than offense (11th). But trades are the Blazers' only avenue to acquire talent, and the scoring forward is the best available. The wealth of firepower between Anthony, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum would be overwhelming—they averaged a combined 72.4 points per game last season.

    The Knicks lose a star and don't bring one back in return, but this might be the most interesting package they find. There's a first-round pick, a recent top-10 selection in Vonleh (ninth in 2014), a malleable defender in Aminu and a two-way player they've talked about acquiring before in Harkless, per's Ian Begley.

Sacramento Kings Gain Draft Capital

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    Sacramento Kings receiveCole Aldrich, 2018 lottery-protected first-round pick (from OKC)

    Minnesota Timberwolves receive: Garrett Temple, 2019 second-round pick (from ORL, CLE or HOU)

    Do the Sacramento Kings really need another center? Not in the least. But they could always use another first-rounderwhich the Minnesota Timberwolves sacrifice here to gain a three-and-D wing—and Aldrich's contract is only partially guaranteed for 2018-19.

    If Temple stays in Sacramento next season, he could be without a role. The Kings have a slew of young perimeter players to develop, and even the veteran-mentor duties are covered by Vince Carter, Zach Randolph and George Hill.

    But Minnesota has minutes available for Temple—potentially quite a few if he shoots like he did last season (1.3 triples per game at a 37.3 percent clip). Even if that regresses, his defense is needed with Tyus Jones and Jamal Crawford comprising the current backup backcourt.

San Antonio Spurs Stop Talking LaMarcus Trades

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    If the San Antonio Spurs wanted to shop LaMarcus Aldridge, who could blame them? He's an inside-the-arc scorer at a position being pushed beyond it, he had some abysmal playoff outings and he's not happy with his situation, a source told Amick.

    So, why shouldn't San Antonio aggressively pursue a deal? The market doesn't seem likely to yield a worthwhile return.

    Part of that is skill-related. He takes a ton of long twos, which is the worst possible shot in the eyes of analytics. His style is more of a 5 than a modern 4, but he prefers playing power forward. If the Spurs are shopping him because he's aging and declining, other teams could shy away for the same reason.

    Most non-bigs have struggled finding new homes in free agency, and teams only have to give up cap space to get them. Acquiring Aldridge requires assets, and potential suitors may not want to bite that bullet. If they do, they'll likely use that report of his unhappiness as a reason to throw only low-ball offers at the silver and black.

Toronto Raptors Find JV a New Home

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    Toronto Raptors receive: Trevor Booker, Sean Kilpatrick

    Brooklyn Nets receive: Jonas Valanciunas

    Valanciunas is a nightly double-double threat and a career 55.6 percent shooter. He's also incredibly tricky to trade in today's league.

    "With him, there are still a lot of questions, and like a lot of big men—not just Jonas—you have to try to find their place in the way everyone is playing the game now," a general manager told Sporting News' Sean Deveney.

    So, if the trade package to Toronto initially seemed light, now you know the reason. And it's actually better than it looks. Booker and Kilpatrick might not be household names, but they're reliable, a quality not shared with many members of the Raptors' young bench. Moving Valanciunas also allows Serge Ibaka to spend more time at center, and it frees up more minutes for Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam.

    The Nets take on money here without adding a pick, but that's because they could see Valanciunas as an undervalued asset. He may not have a ton of range or be the most intimidating rim protector, but he shares a lot of qualities with former Brooklyn mainstay Brook Lopez. The Nets maximized Lopez's production and modernized his game and could see similar potential in Valanciunas.

Utah Jazz Assess the New Roster Before Acting

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    The Utah Jazz have more mystery than your typical 51-win team. But without their top two scorers from last season (Gordon Hayward and George Hill) and with a new starting point guard (Ricky Rubio) and a new lottery pick (Donovan Mitchell), there are too many moving pieces to know what to expect.

    Rudy Gobert will drive the defense. That much hasn't changed. But the offense will belong to...Rodney Hood, maybe? This will be an egalitarian system, but it will still be interesting to see who's taking the most shots or orchestrating the biggest possessions.

    If the Jazz could somehow sniff out a go-to scorer on the trade market, that would be worth exploring. But given the unlikelihood of that happening, Utah's best move is no movement in the near future.

    It's more than the Jazz not knowing what they need; it's about the unclear picture of what they possess. Do they have a chance of competing soon, or will this be a drawn-out process? Are their players more attractive for their actual on-court abilities or their unknown potential? Until those questions are answered, the Jazz won't know how high they can—or even should—aim in trades.

Washington Wizards Lure in LaMarcus

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    Washington Wizards receive: LaMarcus Aldridge

    San Antonio Spurs receive: Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris, 2018 lottery-protected first-round pick

    The Washington Wizards fielded an elite starting five last season and an abysmal bench. It's hard to see that formula changing in a significant enough fashion to get this club any closer to the Eastern Conference crown.

    But adding a third star like Aldridge could move Washington up with the elites. More importantly, it could be the type of power play John Wall needs to see in order to sign a contract extension.

    "I just want to kind of see what they do throughout free agency," Wall told the Washington Post's Tim Bontemps earlier this offseason. "... I've just got to make sure things are going in the right direction, and make sure we are building the team in the way we want to be, and don't get locked up in a situation where you might not feel comfortable."

    It wouldn't be easy—or without risk—to ship out both Gortat and Morris, two rock-solid pieces of the frontcourt. But neither has anything close to Aldridge's offensive arsenal (career 19.1 points per game), which will ease the burden carried by Wall and Bradley Beal. If Ian Mahinmi can ever stay healthy, Washington's opening group should be even better.

    San Antonio could split its center minutes between Gortat and Pau Gasol, while Morris either mans the 4 or plays behind Rudy Gay. The Spurs would miss having a second scorer, but they'd be deeper and better-positioned going forward.


    Unless otherwise indicated, all stats from Basketball Reference or Salary information obtained via Basketball Insiders.

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