Dog-Day Trades for Bradley Beal, CP3 and NBA Stars Who Could Be on the Move
Welcome to the dog days of summer.
The NBA news engine chugs along as each of the 30 teams crawls closer to training camp. Still, we can't help but miss the transactional excitement that kept us wired night by night through the relentless weeks of June and July.
And there are still so many questions left unanswered. Will Bradley Beal really play out his contract in Washington in an age when players can seemingly change franchises whenever they please?
Is Chris Paul's deal truly immovable? With the team's endless draft capital, would it be worth it for the Oklahoma City Thunder to unload him with a first-round pick to press forward with clean books and a roster with singular vision and focus?
Rested and recharged from the offseason's early flurry of action, we present these exciting trades and more.
Minnesota Timberwolves receive: Chris Paul
Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Jeff Teague, Gorgui Dieng
The Thunder have no need of a 34-year-old point guard who's facing regression. Instead, Oklahoma City needs to ship out Paul out to benefit both parties.
Here, the Thunder take back a veteran point guard in Jeff Teague, who can manage the offense and help develop Shai Gilgeous-Alexander while giving the 21-year-old an open path to the starting job, should he earn it.
Teague's expiring contract isn't a concern, but taking in Gorgui Dieng's final two years and $33.5 million could be problematic for Thunder general manager Sam Presti. Still, offloading CP3's remaining three years and $124 million makes this a digestible proposition.
The Wolves would probably prefer to include Andrew Wiggins but moving on from his four years and $122.2 million may be too tough a pill for Sam Presti to swallow. Paul gives them veteran leadership in a position of need and should bring out the best in both Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. The big man combines the playmaking of Blake Griffin with the athletic, rim-running penchants of Clint Capela. If anyone can make Towns a top-five player, it's Paul. And at three remaining seasons, CP3 will still come off the books one year before Wiggins. The Wolves will always be financially restricted with Wiggins on the roster, why not add the best caliber player they can and bring out the best in KAT until then?
Miami Heat receive: Chris Paul, DEN first-round pick (2020)
Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Goran Dragic, James Johnson
The Heat and Thunder reportedly already flirted with the idea of this transaction, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst (h/t NESN's Chris Grenham), but the two disagreed on draft compensation.
In this version of the deal, the Thunder meet the Heat in the middle, save themselves from luxury-tax concerns and create wiggle room as soon as the summer of 2020 when Goran Dragic comes off the books and James Johnson approaches the expiring year of his pact.
The Heat try to reengage CP3 next to the similarly competitive Jimmy Butler and form what could be one of the NBA's better defensive units with Bam Adebayo as its anchor. Dion Waiters, Tyler Herro, Kelly Olynyk and Justise Winslow would have to play above their heads to contend in the Eastern Conference, but team president Pat Riley may have a few moves left to help out.
Denver Nuggets receive: Bradley Beal
Washington Wizards receive: Gary Harris, Monte Morris, Michael Porter Jr., DEN 2022, 2024 first-round picks
The price of a superstar is high, but Bradley Beal doesn't quite merit that label yet. He put the finishing touches on another prolific season after the All-Star break (26.7 points, 5.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game) but still felt short of All-NBA honors.
Still, his value is undeniable, and Beal, Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic would be one of the Western Conference's most dynamic offensive trios.
The first-round picks would make this package palatable for Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard, who may have turned down a monster offer from the Los Angeles Clippers in early July. However, Beal has yet to sign a three-year, $111 million extension with the Wizards (he has until Oct. 21 to do so).
Sheppard is left with little choice. After all, he's seen what upcoming trade speculation did in New Orleans last season.
Does Washington have the stomach for that?
New Orleans Pelicans receive: Bradley Beal
Washington Wizards receive: Darius Miller, E'Twaun Moore, Lonzo Ball, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, NOP 2020 first-round pick, LAL 2021 first-round pick
This transaction cannot be executed until Dec. 15, but it should be on both the Wizards and Pelicans' radar now.
The Pelicans would become a bona fide contender with Beal. A lineup of Jrue Holiday, Beal, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and Derrick Favors with endless depth would make New Orleans arguably one of the teams to beat in either conference.
Armed with four capable starting ball-handlers, the Pelicans could further space the floor by moving Zion to the 5 in small-ball lineups and pushing a small-ball unit with JJ Redick in three-guard lineups, making one of the NBA's faster half-court offenses.
The Wizards would take back two floor-spacers with expiring deals in Darius Miller (non-guaranteed for 2021) and E'Twaun Moore, the NBA's sixth-best three-point shooter in 2018-19. They would pair them with two blue-chip backcourt facilitators with high upside. Lonzo Ball is two years removed from being the No. 2 overall selection. He's already demonstrated his defensive aptitude and elite floor vision.
Nickeil-Alexander Walker may go unnoticed beyond the most dedicated fans, but he shined as arguably the best player in Las Vegas Summer League. The eventual champion Memphis Grizzlies needed overtime to stop him in the semis, but Walker made the NBA Summer League First Team with averages of 24.3 points, 6.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game.
The Wizards would also take back selections from the Pelicans and Lakers that probably translate to picks in the back half of the first round.
Portland Trailblazers receive: Kevin Love
Cleveland Cavaliers receive: Hassan Whiteside
Can it be that simple?
The Cavaliers won't earn anything of substance back for Kevin Love, who has one of the NBA's most immovable contracts at four years, $120 million. Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor reported in July that the Cavs will require both young assets and draft picks to even consider moving the 30-year-old, but their blatant leverage play will fall flat.
The miles on Love's body have taken their toll. On an expiring deal, Love would earn plenty of attention. But as it stands, the best the Cavaliers can hope to recoup is cap space.
Enter Hassan Whiteside (and more importantly, his $27.1 million expiring contract). He'd be worth a look alongside the likes of Darius Garland, Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman, who should present plenty of rebounding opportunities.
From Portland's perspective, Love is still useful. In 2018-19, he played only 22 games but finished with 22.5 points, 14.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per 36 minutes. He did shoot just 36.1 percent from three-point range, his least effective rate in three years, but his would-be predecessor in Portland, Al-Farouq Aminu, only met or exceeded that number twice in his four years with the team.
Love would be an immediate upgrade in the Trail Blazers' system and wouldn't have to carry the offensive load thanks to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Portland could consider Love an all-in move during a time of sudden parity out West should the team's medical staff approve of the swap after he had toe and shoulder trouble last year. But again: not if Cleveland is stubborn and asks for promising young prospects or picks.
Charlotte Hornets receive: Kevin Love
Cleveland Cavaliers receive: Nicolas Batum
If Plan A for Cleveland is youngsters and draft assets, and Plan B is a significant expiring deal, then taking on a slightly more palatable contract is Plan C—and the only option left.
Swapping bad money for bad money is rarely advised, but the Cavs would have reason to consider it. The immediate cap relief of a few million bucks doesn't move the needle, but Batum's money comes off the books in 2021 (assuming he exercises his 2020-21 player option), two years earlier than Love's.
The Hornets also have reason to consider bringing on bad money. The team wouldn't gain cap relief from losing Batum's two years and $52.7 million, but it clears up a position already deep with developing talent in Malik Monk and Miles Bridges and replenishes some of the star power lost over the summer when Kemba Walker left for Boston.
With Love on board, the Hornets could be a fringe playoff team. He has to be in tip-top shape and find a way to combine his Alpha Wolf Minnesota production (or something resembling that of a No. 1 option) with his winning experience in Cleveland—but the East is still figuring itself out in a post-LeBron and now post-Kawhi world.
With Love leading the way, as well as what could be immediate impact from Terry Rozier, a roster filled out with Rozier, Monk, Bridges, Love and Cody Zeller could be enough to challenge for that fringe status.
New Orleans Pelicans receive: Andre Iguodala
Memphis Grizzlies receive: Darius Miller, E'Twaun Moore, three second-round picks (2020 MIL, 2020 WAS, 2021 LAL)
Pelicans executive vice president David Griffin has been adamant about the importance of a nurturing culture and has openly recruited free-agent swingman Vince Carter on national television. Griffin also preached the importance of veterans such as Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick and Derrick Favors, so he'd add one of the greatest team players and a former Finals MVP in Andre Iguodala in this deal.
Iguodala would bolster the Pelicans' only weakness on the wing, spelling Brandon Ingram and possibly starting in his place should the 21-year-old's return from blood-clotting issues warrant load-management considerations. The Pelicans appear set at the 4 with Zion Williamson and Nicolo Melli but could still benefit from Iggy's presence at the position, especially when experimenting in small-ball lineups featuring Zion at the 5.
The cost is minimal for the Pelicans, as they have more than enough picks to spare, and the Grizzlies would acquire draft compensation along with two of the game's best three-point threats in Darius Miller and E'Twaun Moore.
Miller and other free agents who signed this summer cannot be dealt until Dec. 15, but perhaps that explains why the Grizzlies have yet to buy out Iguodala? Missing the first six weeks of the regular season shouldn't be a concern at Iguodala's age.
San Antonio Spurs receive: Andre Iguodala
Memphis Grizzlies receive: DeMarre Carroll, Trey Lyles
Like Darius Miller above, Lyles and Carroll cannot be moved in this transaction until Dec. 15, but Iguodala likely isn't in a rush to suit up for the first few weeks of the 2019-20 season.
The Grizzlies would get two competent wings under cost-controlled contracts in this transaction. It doesn't include draft compensation, but the deal provides veteran leadership from DeMarre Carroll and a two-year look at Trey Lyles, who has shown glimpses of his scoring ability.
Lyles regressed in 2018-19 but was remarkably efficient in the season prior, shooting 38.1 percent from three-point range en route to a 56.6 effective field-goal percentage in 19.1 minutes per game.
Like Lyles, Carroll took a step back in 2018-19 after he finished 10th in real plus-minus in 2017-18 among small forwards. Carroll's effective field-goal percentage also fell to 48.7 after he finished at 50.6 the season prior. At 33 years old and with a contract of three years and $20.7 million, Carroll gives them quality depth on a manageable contract over the next three seasons.
Iguodala could help the Spurs get to the playoffs again before head coach Gregg Popovich's inevitable retirement. Iguodala was ninth in real plus-minus in 2018-19 among small forwards and carried a regular-season net rating of 4.6. His expiring contract carries with it Bird Rights in case the Spurs seek to re-sign the former All-Star and two-time NBA All-Defensive Team member.
Miami Heat receive: Kyle Lowry, Matt Thomas
Toronto Raptors receive: Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Tyler Herro
The Heat give up quite a bit by including 2019's No. 13 pick, Tyler Herro, in a deal for a player with an expiring contract who will turn 34 in March. However, Miami will have to surrender a significant asset to dump James Johnson and his remaining two years and $31 million. The Heat can't trade a first-round pick until 2025, thus Herro's inclusion.
And Kyle Lowry is worth every bit of the price. The NBA champ finished fifth in real plus-minus in 2018-19, ahead of Jrue Holiday, Kyrie Irving, Mike Conley and Kemba Walker, trailing only Stephen Curry, James Harden, Damian Lillard and Chris Paul.
Lowry took just 11.4 shots per game in 2018-19, his lowest rate since 2012-13, which likely led to his diminished efficiency (51.8 eFG). That number should bounce back to his 2017-18 and 2016-17 numbers (55.3 and 56.9, respectively) with the volume he's likely to get in Miami.
The Raptors add international sharpshooter Matt Thomas to give the Heat some additional spacing on the wing. At three years, $4.2 million, Thomas is worth a look, considering his ridiculous stroke from deep. Synergy Basketball tweeted his impressive numbers: "Matt Thomas was arguably the top jump shooter outside of the NBA last season posting an eFG% of 82% on catch and shoot jump shots including 99% when left unguarded."
Minnesota Timberwolves receive: Kyle Lowry
Toronto Raptors receive: Jeff Teague, Gorgui Dieng, 2020 first-round pick (top-eight protected), 2020 and 2022 second-round picks
With two years and $33.5 million remaining on his deal, Gorgui Dieng looms as the holdup in this transaction that has Minnesota's 2020 first-rounder as the carrot to entice Raptors president Masai Ujiri.
Teague keeps the Raptors afloat and comes off the books in the summer of 2020 along with Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. If the Raptors wish to contend in the eastern conference with these three expiring veterans they can certainly do that and be gifted a significant amount of cap space in 2020 for their trouble. Or, they can move from their expirings collecting inflated contracts attached to assets for their trouble.
The Raptors have reached the end of their window. Bringing back Lowry, Gasol and Ibaka makes little sense when compared to the career arcs of Pascal Siakam, 25, and OG Anunoby, 22. Ujiri would be better served to unload the trio for any available compensation. Because of Lowry's inflated contract ($34.9 million), he's difficult to move.
The Wolves do this deal because he elevates their ceiling and Karl-Anthony Towns' game. He's an upgrade over Teague and is probably the best hope they have to raise Andrew Wiggins' play to meet the expectations that come with the massive contract that carries him through the summer of 2022.