Realistic Trades We Could See on NBA Draft Night
It's that magical time of the year where the NBA draft and trade season meet.
We've already seen trades involving Anthony Davis, Mike Conley and Tony Snell with three first-round picks switching hands. Don't expect these deals to be the last.
There should be plenty of movement in this year's draft thanks to teams like the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks, both of whom have three first-round picks. Others such as the Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers may be looking to dump players due to luxury-tax implications or the desire to create a max salary slot.
Motivation to make a deal also stems from the desire to convince a pending free agent to stay (Charlotte), break up a reportedly feuding star duo (Houston) or dump a toxic contract (Minnesota).
This year's draft may inspire a flurry of trades. The following deals would satisfy all parties involved.
Hawks Move Up to No. 4
Hawks Receive: No. 4 pick
Pelicans Receive: Nos. 8 and 10 picks
According to ESPN's Jonathan Givony, the Hawks "have been aggressive exploring trades packaging the No. 8 and 10 picks to move up in the draft." Atlanta owns the Nos. 17, 35 and 41 overall picks as well.
Since the Hawks won't want to bring five rookies to training camp in the fall, packaging some of those picks and moving up seems like their best option.
According to Givony, Atlanta inquired about the New York Knicks' No. 3 pick and were shot down. He stated the Pelicans are "considering the possibility" of taking the Hawks' offer of Nos. 8 and 10 for No. 4.
Given the perceived drop-off in talent from No. 3 to No. 4 in this draft, New Orleans seems like a more reasonable trade partner than New York. The Pelicans are already getting Duke star Zion Williamson at No. 1. If they don't have a favorite prospect at No. 4, they should move down and pick up an extra top-10 selection.
This trade would give the Hawks their choice of Jarrett Culver, De'Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish or anyone else not named Williamson, Ja Morant or RJ Barrett. Reddish could fall to New Orleans at No. 8, where players like Jaxson Hayes, Nassir Little or Sekou Doumbouya may also be available.
Pistons Add Wing Help
Pistons Receive: SF Jae Crowder
Grizzlies Receive: SG Langston Galloway, No. 45 pick
Following the trade of Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz, the rebuilding Grizzlies now have a trio of veteran wings in Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver and CJ Miles.
While it makes sense to keep one around to help guide the youth movement, shopping at least one for a pick would give them three total selections in the 2019 draft.
Crowder should attract some interest, as the 28-year-old forward put up 11.9 points and 4.8 rebounds while defending at a high level for Utah last season.
Detroit, even after picking up Tony Snell in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, needs some depth on the wing. Crowder could become the full-time starting small forward for the Pistons or play a primary reserve role behind Snell.
For the Grizzlies, taking on Galloway gives them an outside shooter with an expiring $7.3 million deal. The pick provides them with another rookie to help with the rebuild, or they can try to package the pick and their 23rd selection to move up a few spots.
Kings Get Schroder, OKC Sheds Salary
Kings Receive: PG Dennis Schroder, No. 21 pick
Thunder Receive: Future protected second-round pick
Sacramento caught a break when Harrison Barnes turned down his $25.1 million player option. At the moment, no Kings player makes more than $8.6 million.
This newfound cap space can make Sacramento a factor in free agency or a dumping spot for bad contracts with draft picks attached. This trade would be the latter.
The Thunder are in financial hell with $138.8 million in guaranteed salary on their books, according to Basketball Insiders. They're already well over the projected $132 million luxury-tax threshold, and they'll only add more salary to their books with the No. 21 pick and any free-agent signings.
OKC's three top-earning players—Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Steven Adams—are too valuable to get rid of. Schroder, who is due $15.5 million in each of the next two seasons, is the next man up. Dumping his contract might get the Thunder under the luxury-tax line, saving them tens of millions in salary and tax bills.
Sacramento can now afford to take Schroder on, and it even has use for him as a sixth man and backup to starter De'Aaron Fox. The 25-year-old Schroder averaged 15.5 points, 4.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds as the primary reserve for the Thunder last season.
The Kings should ask for the Thunder's No. 21 overall pick considering the enormous savings they would be receiving.
TJ Warren to Washington
Wizards Receive: F T.J. Warren
Suns Receive: C Ian Mahinmi, 2020 1st-round pick (lottery protected, converts to two future seconds the year after)
The Wizards don't appear inclined to trade All-Star Bradley Beal, according to Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer. As such, they should be looking to upgrade their forward positions after trading Otto Porter Jr. to the Chicago Bulls in February and with Trevor Ariza set to hit free agency.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Suns have discussed Warren in trade packages.
Warren, 25, averaged 18.0 points while nailing 42.8 percent of his three-pointers for Phoenix last season and is under contract through 2021-22 for a total of $35.25 million. He'd keep the driving lanes open for Beal and would be a solid secondary scorer while John Wall recovers from a ruptured Achilles.
For the Suns, Mahinmi is on an expiring $15.5 million deal, so they'd clear cap space in 2020. They would pick up a 2020 lottery-protected first-round pick from Washington as well.
If the Wizards miss the playoffs this season, they'd still get to keep the pick, and they'd be banking on Warren becoming part of their future next to Beal.
Capela Replaces Horford in Boston
Celtics Receive: C Clint Capela
Rockets Receive: C Aron Baynes, C Robert Williams, Nos. 20 and 22 picks
According to Ian Begley of SNY, "Boston and Houston had checked in recently about a potential trade involving Clint Capela."
While Capela isn't as good of an all-around player as Horford, he's a 25-year-old rim-runner who averaged a career-high 16.6 points and 12.7 rebounds per game last season.
Houston should start any talks by asking for Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart. If Boston balks on both, the Rockets should demand two of the Celtics' three first-round picks to use as trade assets.
Baynes would give the Rockets a center capable of holding down the starting job, while Williams is a big-time shot-blocker who can develop into a Capela-esque player.
Boston would fill a position of need while the Rockets clear some cap space and load up on assets for a future deal.
Heat, Cavs Swap Vets and 1st Rounders
Heat Receive: SG JR Smith, No. 26 pick
Cavs Receive: PF Ryan Anderson, No. 13 pick
Like the Thunder, the Heat could face a hefty luxury-tax bill if they don't trim salary.
If Hassan Whiteside ($27.1 million) and Goran Dragic ($19.2 million) pick up their respective player options, the Heat would have nearly $130 million of guaranteed salary on their books. That would put them dangerously close to the projected $132 million luxury-tax threshold.
Since only $3.9 million of Smith's $15.7 million salary is guaranteed, the Heat could acquire him and waive by June 30 to enjoy almost $12 million in savings.
Anderson should be Cleveland's preferred choice of bad contract to take back, as only $15.6 million of his $21.3 million salary is guaranteed and his contract will expire next summer. The Heat could offer James Johnson or Dion Waiters instead if the Cavs didn't want Anderson, though.
The Cavs would jump from No. 26 to No. 13, which could put players like PJ Washington, Brandon Clarke and Romeo Langford in play, based on Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman's latest mock draft.
Miami would duck luxury-tax concerns while still getting to keep a late first-round pick.
Andrew Wiggins Starts Fresh in South Beach
Heat Receive: SF Andrew Wiggins, No. 11 pick
Timberwolves Receive: C Hassan Whiteside
Minnesota needs to escape from the remaining four years and $122.2 million of Wiggins' contract as soon as possible to start surrounding Karl-Anthony Towns with a better supporting cast.
Even though Wiggins is only 24 and has averaged 19.4 points per game over his five-year career, he likely won't have a robust trade market. Any interested team must be capable of trading a bad contract or two in return, believe it has the culture to maximize Wiggins' talent and have use for the Wolves' lottery pick.
Miami checks all of those boxes.
Miami can flip Whiteside for Wiggins without increasing its current payroll, and it would receive Minnesota's No. 11 overall pick as a reward.
Even buying Whiteside out would be a win for the Wolves, as it would free up $95 million worth of future money that would have gone to Wiggins.
Kemba Walker Gets Some Scoring Help in Charlotte
Hornets Receive: SG Zach LaVine
Bulls Receive: G/F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SG Malik Monk, No. 12 pick
Charlotte needs to make some drastic roster changes this summer regardless of whether Kemba Walker returns.
The Hornets' potential five-year, $221 million supermax offer would be tough for Walker to pass up. Adding a secondary scorer alongside the three-time All-Star could help to ensure he stays put.
According to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic, "there's a growing belief around the league that the Bulls are open to trading anyone and anything not named Lauri Markkanen or Wendell Carter Jr."
If Zach LaVine is indeed available, the Hornets should make a call.
The 24-year-old posted a career year in Chicago last season with 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists. With Jeremy Lamb heading into free agency, LaVine could take over as the Hornets' starting shooting guard and create a dynamic scoring backcourt with Walker.
In exchange, the Bulls would pick up a second lottery pick while hoping Monk breaks out in his age-21 season. Kidd-Gilchrist is only 25, but his primary value comes in the form of an expiring $13 million deal.
If Otto Porter Jr. decides not to pick up his player option next summer, the Bulls could have two max salary slots available after making this deal.
Pelicans Complete Their Starting Lineup
Pelicans Receive: C Mo Bamba
Magic Receive: No. 10 pick (via previous proposed trade with Hawks)
The Pelicans are slowly stacking up at every position, with a backcourt of Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart to go with Brandon Ingram and soon-to-be No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson at the forward spots.
So, what about center?
The Pelicans only have Jahlil Okafor at the 5, and that's assuming they pick up his $1.7 million club option. They need more depth at center.
One intriguing option? Bamba, the No. 6 pick of the 2018 draft.
A tibia stress fracture ended Bamba's rookie season with the Magic after only 47 games. Pushing his emergence back further was the breakout of first-time All-Star Nikola Vucevic, who averaged 20.8 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.1 blocks per game at the age of 28.
With Orlando prioritizing bringing Vucevic back this summer, Bamba could be headed toward a permanent bench role. Since the Magic need upgrades at point guard, shooting guard and small forward, they should part with Bamba if it means getting help in the backcourt or on the wing.
After the Pelicans trade back from the No. 4 spot for the Hawks' Nos. 8 and 10 picks (as proposed earlier), they could use the latter pick to dangle as bait for Bamba.
A starting five of Ball, Holiday, Ingram, Williamson and Bamba would be must-watch TV for years to come.
Chris Paul Goes Green
Celtics Receive: PG Chris Paul
Rockets Receive: SF Gordon Hayward
With the relationship between Paul and James Harden reportedly "unsalvageable," according to Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, Houston should be doing everything it can to dump Paul for an expiring contract or bring in a usable rotation player in his place.
The Celtics would be a logical trade partner for two reasons. They'll likely be in the market for a point guard if/when Kyrie Irving leaves in free agency, and they have a bad contract to send back in return.
Hayward has two years and nearly $67 million left on his deal, compared to the three years and $124.1 remaining for Paul. The Celtics should be able to stomach one additional pricey season, especially since Paul is still a quality starting point guard when healthy.
For the Rockets, Hayward carries the more team-friendly contract moving forward and shouldn't think he's smarter than the coaches. He also averaged 16.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 58.5 percent from the field over the final eight games of the regular season, which perhaps suggests he's returning to his star form from his Utah Jazz days.
While both contracts are ugly, the Celtics can fill a position of need while the Rockets would give Harden back the reins and add a multidimensional wing.