7 Trade Packages and Landing Spots for NBA's Top Offseason Trade Targets
While we don't yet know when the NBA offseason will be, there's already a growing list of trade targets teams will be pursuing.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers will likely try to move Kevin Love and Al Horford, respectively, but their contracts don't put them on the list of the most desirable targets.
The eventual postseason should play a part in who becomes available, with eyes on the 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic. If those teams bow out in the first round (or, in some cases, fail to make the playoffs), roster shakeups could come next.
The following seven players have all already been included in trade rumors or could be when the offseason eventually begins.
Aaron Gordon Beefs Up Blazers
Portland Receives: F Aaron Gordon
Orlando Receives: G Anfernee Simons, F Trevor Ariza, G Gary Trent Jr.
Orlando is fully stocked at power forward, while Portland will need to upgrade the position whether Carmelo Anthony returns in free agency or not.
The Magic operate best with Gordon or Jonathan Isaac at power forward, which means trading one for a much-needed guard or wing makes too much sense. As Josh Robbins of The Athletic wrote: "The fact that neither Gordon nor Isaac are natural small forwards presents a problem offensively, and at some point, that situation almost certainly needs to be resolved. Hypothetically, the team could trade Gordon as soon as this offseason, although his recent stellar play should give the team pause."
If the Blazers aren't willing to give up CJ McCollum for Gordon, Orlando could still get a strong haul back, headlined by Simons.
The 20-year-old shooting guard is an athletic scorer who's been unable to break out playing behind Damian Lillard and McCollum. Moving him to a starting role alongside Markelle Fultz would give Orlando one of the most exciting young guard tandems in the league.
Ariza would give the Magic a starting-level small forward on an expiring $12.8 million contract, and Trent is a 21-year-old shooting guard who's knocking down 38.8 percent of his threes off Portland's bench. This would also give Isaac the full-time starting power forward job, helping him unlock his enormous potential while better balancing out the Magic roster.
For Portland, Gordon would be an athletic power forward who can switch on defense and guard multiple positions.
The last time he played the 4 for more than 90 percent of his minutes (2017-18), the former Arizona star averaged 17.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals. In his last 11 games before the NBA hiatus, he was up to 17.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.3 blocks per contest, and he shot 34.2 percent from deep, again playing power forward full-time with Isaac sidelined due to a sprain and bone contusion in his left knee.
While losing Simons would hurt the team's long-term upside, the Blazers are built to win now with Lillard set to turn 30 this July. Gordon would help them do just that.
Chris Paul Leads New-Look Bulls
Chicago Receives: PG Chris Paul
Oklahoma City Receives: SF Otto Porter Jr., PF Thaddeus Young
If new Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas wants to set a culture while elevating Chicago's young core to a playoff level, bringing in Paul would be a great move.
Paul's All-Star season while leading the Thunder to a 40-24 start should officially have teams interested in him again, especially since his contract will be down to two remaining years. Chicago doesn't need him to be a No. 1 option, rather a pass-first veteran leader who can improve the lives of Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Coby White.
While White was drafted to be the point guard of the future, the 6'4" rookie has spent 71 percent of his time at shooting guard and has the size to play alongside Paul in the Bulls backcourt. LaVine has slowly transitioned toward small forward (67 percent of his total minutes), which means Paul fits the Bulls roster from a positional standpoint with Tomas Satoransky moving to a sixth-man role.
Chicago would immediately become a playoff contender next season without giving up any of its core players. While Paul's contract is hefty ($41.4 million in 2020-21, $44.2 million player option in 2021-22), his money matches up perfectly with Porter's and Young's next year.
For the Thunder, Paul has already done everything they've asked and more. OKC collected more first-round picks by swapping Russell Westbrook for him, and his leadership this season has been invaluable to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
With Gilgeous-Alexander looking ready to lead a franchise on his own, moving Paul now while his value is high would save a great deal of money. Young would give the Thunder a veteran power forward in case Danilo Gallinari leaves in free agency, and Porter (26) could become the team's starting small forward on an expiring $28.5 million contract (assuming he picks up his player option for 2020-21).
With this trade, the Thunder could open up $38 million of cap space in the summer of 2021 since only $6 million of Young's contract is guaranteed in 2021-22.
Buddy Hield Returns to Oklahoma
Oklahoma City Receives: SG Buddy Hield
Sacramento Receives: 2020 first-round pick (via Denver Nuggets), G Dennis Schroder, G Terrance Ferguson and SF Abdel Nader
In the next seven drafts, the Thunder own 13 total first-round picks. It's time to start cashing them in.
Hield was a four-year college star at the University of Oklahoma who may now be seeking a change of scenery from his current California location. Now coming off the Sacramento Kings bench just months after signing a four-year extension, he may ask to be moved, per The Athletic's Shams Charania, Sam Amick and Jason Jones:
"Hield's situation remains one [general manager Vlade] Divac has to monitor," they wrote. "If Hield remains displeased with his role, a source with knowledge of his thinking said he might request a trade. He believes he is a starter in the NBA and there's no guarantee he'll get that job back, given how the team has played lately."
Especially if Chris Paul is traded, like in the previous hypothetical scenario, the Thunder would need another scoring punch from the guard position. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is an average outside shooter (35.7 percent from three for his career), so putting a 41.1 percent lifetime marksman like Hield next to him would make a lot of sense.
With Gilgeous-Alexander under team control through 2021-22 (at least) and Hield's deal running even longer, this could be a partnership with sustainability.
The Kings would add a first-round pick immediately or could request one with fewer protections in a future draft. The Thunder have plenty of options to offer.
The Kings could also build a package around Schroder, a likely finalist for 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year who is younger than Hield (26) and could be used as a core rotation piece or an expiring contract to open up cap space in 2021.
Myles Turner Gets Lobs from Luka
Dallas Receives: C Myles Turner
Indiana Receives: F/C Maxi Kleber, SG Seth Curry, PG Jalen Brunson
While the Pacers didn't make any big moves at the trade deadline, they had plenty of conversations that could be setting the stage for an offseason deal. As Bleacher Report's Michael Scotto wrote:
"Rival executives believe the Pacers will eventually break up their big man trio of All-Star Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner and rookie Goga Bitadze.
"Turner is the name most rival executives believe will be traded, and the Cavaliers were among the teams who called to do due diligence on his availability before they landed Andre Drummond from Detroit, according to league sources."
For Indiana, it makes no sense to trade Sabonis, an All-Star this season at age 23 who will be entering a team-friendly four-year, $77 million extension next season.
While Turner is still 24 and on a similar contract, he hasn't blossomed the way Sabonis has with the Pacers. With elite defensive potential and the ability to shoot the three-ball, he would still bring back good value in a trade despite his modest production this season (11.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 2.2 blocks in 29.6 minutes per game).
A Texas native who played his lone season of college ball at the University of Texas, Turner would now be playing professionally right next to where he grew up.
The Mavericks have needed a center since starter Dwight Powell tore his right Achilles tendon in January—someone who can set good screens, space the floor for Luka Doncic and guard opposing centers so Kristaps Porzingis doesn't have to do so. Turner would fit the Mavs' timeline with his ability to win now and still grow with Dallas' superstar duo.
For the Pacers, it's all about getting supporting talent to put around Victor Oladipo, Sabonis and Malcolom Brogdon.
Kleber can play both power forward and center and is giving Dallas 9.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 37.4 percent from three. He's under contract for the next three years at only $26 million in total.
Curry is second in the NBA in three-point percentage this season (45.3 percent), averaging 12.6 points in 24.5 minutes per game for the Mavericks. Like Kleber, he's under another team-friendly deal worth $24.6 million over the next three years.
Brunson, 23, was giving Dallas 8.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists per contest while shooting 35.8 percent from three in 57 games before undergoing shoulder surgery. He'd be an excellent guard to develop behind Brogdon.
CJ McCollum Teams Up with Kyrie, KD in Brooklyn
Brooklyn Receives: SG CJ McCollum
Portland Receives: G/F Caris LeVert, F Taurean Prince, 2020 first-round pick (via Philadelphia 76ers)
While McCollum and Damian Lillard look like the couple who are never breaking up, failing to make the playoffs could finally lead to some talks in Portland.
Lillard isn't going anywhere, but McCollum could bring back a nice package of players ready to help the Blazers win now.
One of the teams looking for a star shooting guard? The Brooklyn Nets. As ESPN's Brian Windhorst stated on The Hoop Collective Podcast, "I believe they have telegraphed they intend to use some of their young talent to acquire a third star along with Kyrie [Irving] and [Kevin] Durant."
McCollum definitely qualifies as a star; he's averaging at least 20 points in his fifth straight season. Able to play on or off the ball, he can step in to run the point if Irving continues to pile up injuries or spot up and enjoy all the open looks that come from playing between Irving and Durant. With Joe Harris entering free agency, shooting guard will be a need.
Given the durability concerns around their existing stars, adding someone like McCollum (4.2 missed games per season over the past five years) is a must. But for Portland, a McCollum trade would only happen if significant talent is coming back.
LeVert is averaging 17.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 38.1 percent from three this season. He can play both shooting guard and small forward at 6'6" and is entering a three-year, $52.5 million extension.
Joining him would be Prince, a 6'7" combo forward who has put up 12.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 0.9 steals per game for Brooklyn this season. That would give a once wing-devoid Portland team a starting five of Lillard, LeVert, Prince, Aaron Gordon and Jusuf Nurkic if the previous hypothetical trade with the Orlando Magic is also completed.
With McCollum as the best player in the trade, Brooklyn could also throw in the Philadelphia 76ers' first-round pick in 2020 as extra compensation.
Bradley Beal Joins Trae Young in Hawks Backcourt
Atlanta Receives: SG Bradley Beal
Washington Receives: F De'Andre Hunter, G/F Cam Reddish, SG Kevin Huerter, C Dewayne Dedmon, 2021 first-round pick (top-five protected)
Once Beal is eligible to be traded again, expect his name to run rampant in rumors this summer. While contenders will crave his ability to win now, he is still only 26 and could fit a young team's timeline, as well.
Enter the Atlanta Hawks, who need to add talent around Trae Young before he's extension-eligible in the summer of 2021. After building up one of the league's greatest collections of young talent, Atlanta can choose to stay patient by letting it grow or try to cash in and acquire a player like Beal.
Beal and Young are both in the NBA's top four in scoring, combining for 60.1 points per game this season. While losing high-upside players such as Hunter, Reddish and Huerter would sting, the Hawks would still get to keep John Collins and Clint Capela to go with their dynamic backcourt.
For Washington, it seems like only a matter of time before Beal asks out. The Wizards are just 1-9 in the 10 games he's scored 40 or more points this season, and there's not a lot of young talent outside of Rui Hachimura to build on.
Hunter was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 draft, a three-position wing who has averaged 12.3 points and 4.5 rebounds as a rookie. Reddish has an even higher ceiling, an athletic 6'8" wing who's just 20 years old. While shooting was a concern coming out of Duke, the rookie is nailing 40.3 percent of his threes over his last 12 games, averaging 15.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals.
Huerter is a 6'7" shooting guard who's averaging 12.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists while splashing 38.0 percent of his three-pointers.
Washington isn't winning games even with Beal playing at a superstar level. Moving him for three players with All-Star potential would be a great return, especially with a lightly protected first-round pick attached.
Joel Embiid, Zion Williamson Unite on Pelicans
New Orleans Receives: C Joel Embiid
Philadelphia Receives: SF Brandon Ingram (via sign-and-trade)
While they've hung tight to both Embiid and Ben Simmons, a disappointingly early playoff exit could change things up in Philly. If that happens, expect every team in the league to make a call about both.
According to ESPN's Tim Bontemps, though, the Sixers are more likely to take trade offers for Embiid: "There is no consensus, but league execs think that if the Sixers do explore a trade, Embiid is more likely to be moved—health being the determining factor in building around Simmons. One exec added that a big trade featuring Simmons or Embiid might be the only way to reshape the team."
Of all the teams that could make competitive offers for Embiid, look no further than the one helmed by the man who almost drafted him first overall in 2014.
According to Bleacher Report's Yaron Weitzman, David Griffin, who was the Cleveland Cavaliers general manager at the time, told one of Embiid's agents that he was going to take the Kansas center with the first pick after an impressive individual workout. A stress fracture in Embiid's foot would later cause Griffin to change his mind and take Andrew Wiggins.
Now running the Pelicans front office, Griffin may finally have a chance to acquire a healthy Embiid.
New Orleans has plenty of talent and draft picks to offer thanks to the Anthony Davis trade. For Embiid, everyone but Zion Williamson should be available, and a sign-and-trade for Ingram would be an option.
New Orleans and Philly could agree to max Ingram out on a five-year deal worth around $170 million, flipping him straight up for Embiid.
Such a deal would give the Sixers the first two picks of the 2016 draft, pairing Ingram's 24.3 points per game on 38.7 percent shooting from three with Simmons' elite playmaking and defensive ability. Filling in the rest of the starting five with Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Josh Richardson would make for a better shooting unit with everyone playing their natural positions.
For New Orleans, getting Embiid would mean putting together the strongest frontcourt in the NBA. Embiid and Williamson aren't getting pushed around by anyone, and there's enough shooting on the roster (Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick, Josh Hart) to keep everyone spaced out.
Losing Ingram would hurt, but Embiid, Williamson and Holiday are all capable of putting up 20-plus points per game, and Lonzo Ball's improved point guard play means everyone would get their touches.