Most Realistic Potential Trades of the NBA Offseason
Blockbuster trades are fun, but they rarely take place in the NBA.
Instead, smaller deals can often shape a championship team or help to steer a franchise in the right direction. They're moves that don't involve superstars, but rather quality role players or fringe All-Stars who can still make big impacts.
Based on potential swaps that didn't happen before the 2020 trade deadline, combined with new developments in the months since, the following five realistic deals would help out both sides this offseason.
Sixers, Kings Swap Al Horford and Harrison Barnes
Sacramento Receives: C Al Horford, 2021 second-round pick
Philadelphia Receives: F Harrison Barnes
The Horford experiment in Philly clearly isn't working, and the Sixers would greatly benefit from instead having a wing who can shoot in their starting five.
Horford's contract won't be easy to offload, however, with three years and $81 million remaining after this season. The Sixers will likely have to take back some bad money, as well.
That's where Barnes makes sense. The 27-year-old forward will have three years and $60.9 million left on his contract, a lower number than Horford but still a higher deal than his production (14.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 0.6 steals in 34.9 minutes per game) would warrant.
There was "mutual interest" between Horford and the Kings in free agency last summer, with Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reporting that the team planned to make the veteran center a "massive offer." Horford would no longer have to play power forward in Sacramento and would bring 120 games of playoff experience to the postseason-hungry Kings.
For Philly, Barnes would be a much better fit than Horford.
The 6'8" former NBA champion has shot 39.0 percent from three over the past two years and could take turns with Tobias Harris playing both forward positions. Philly's spacing would greatly improve, and it would be getting a younger, cheaper player for its starting lineup.
Derrick Rose Becomes a Laker
Los Angeles Receives: PG Derrick Rose, G/F Luke Kennard
Detroit Receives: PF Kyle Kuzma, G Alex Caruso, C JaVale McGee, SG Talen Horton-Tucker, 2022 second-round pick, 2023 second-round pick
With the Pistons going into rebuild mode by unloading Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, Rose doesn't appear to fit their timeline any longer. The Pistons also already had trade conversations about Kennard with the Phoenix Suns at the deadline, a signal that he's definitely available for the right price.
The Lakers should take advantage of both.
Kuzma remains L.A.'s best trade asset, a 24-year-old forward who has averaged 20.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting 47.0 percent from the field in seven starts this season. The Flint, Michigan, native could take over the starting power forward job in Detroit, assuming the injured Blake Griffin doesn't fit the team's long-term plans, either.
Detroit would also benefit from Caruso, a 26-year-old who can play either guard position and has put up 10.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game while shooting 42.4 percent from deep in his 12 career starts. McGee (who would have to pick up his $4.2 million player option for next season) would give the team some insurance at center with Drummond gone. Horton-Tucker is a 19-year-old rookie who has averaged 18.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.4 steals in the G League this season.
For L.A., Rose's injury history would still be worth the risk.
The 31-year-old has played in 50 games this year, averaging 18.1 points and 5.6 assists, primarily as a sixth man. He'd likely play the same role with the Lakers, allowing LeBron James to get some extra rest while taking over both scoring and playmaking duties.
Shooters always thrive around James, and Kennard has knocked down 40.2 percent of his career three-point attempts. The 23-year-old was averaging 15.8 points per game before going down with knee tendinitis. With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley and Dion Waiters all potentially becoming free agents this offseason, Kennard would give the Lakers some insurance on the wing.
Nuggets Land Buddy Hield
Denver Receives: SG Buddy Hield
Sacramento Receives: SG Gary Harris, F Keita Bates-Diop, 2020 first-round pick (via Houston Rockets)
Hield's benching in Sacramento after he signed a four-year, $86 million deal isn't a good sign for his future there, and the Nuggets could serve as a perfect fit for the 27-year-old shooting guard.
As Shams Charania, Sam Amick and Jason Jones of The Athletic wrote: "Hield's situation remains one Divac has to monitor. 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."
With this deal, the Kings would still get a starting-level shooting guard in Harris, a 25-year-old out of Michigan State who was a first-round pick in 2014. While he's regressed in recent years while overshadowed by Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic in Denver, he's a good defender who's averaged 17.5 points per game and shot 42.0 percent from three in previous seasons.
Bates-Diop is 24 and can play either forward position, while the Rockets' first-rounder is currently slated at No. 21 overall in the 2020 draft.
The move would also help eliminate any displeasure from Hield in the locker room and, combined with the previous trade, would give Sacramento a starting five of De'Aaron Fox, Harris, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley III and Al Horford with an extra first-round pick coming in.
For the Nuggets, this would be a win-now move that gives them a core of Jokic, Murray, Hield and Michael Porter Jr., all of whom are under team control for the next three-plus seasons.
Hield is a career 41.1 percent shooter from three who would feast off passes from Jokic and Murray while keeping the floor wide-open. There'd be no starter-sixth man debate, and he would likely be satisfied playing on a big contract for a team that's become a postseason lock.
Aaron Gordon to the Thunder
Oklahoma City Receives: PF Aaron Gordon
Orlando Receives: G Dennis Schroder, 2020 first-round pick (via Denver Nuggets)
Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac both deserve to start at power forward, but that isn't going to happen in Orlando.
Plenty of teams should have interest in Gordon. He's still just 24, is on a reasonable two-year, $34.5 million contract after this season and is a talented scorer, rebounder and playmaker from the 4.
The Thunder might lose Danilo Gallinari in free agency this offseason, opening a need to pair someone like Gordon with 21-year-old point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Gordon was thriving before the NBA went on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, averaging 17.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.3 steals in his last 16 games.
For Orlando, getting back a starting-caliber guard is a must.
Schroder is still just 26 and is in the running for Sixth Man of the Year with the Thunder. In 31.0 minutes per game off the bench, he is averaging 19.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting a career-high 38.1 percent from three. He could either start alongside Markelle Fultz in the Magic backcourt or continue his strong play as a key reserve.
Orlando should also ask for one of OKC's many draft picks, with the Nuggets' first-rounder this year the first available.
Rudy Gobert, Myles Turner Trade Places
Indiana Receives: C Rudy Gobert
Utah Receives: C Myles Turner, F Doug McDermott
Both centers could be looking for a change of scenery, and neither the Utah Jazz nor the Indiana Pacers will be looking to dump them for draft picks since both are in the thick of their conference's playoff race.
Tony Jones of The Athletic reported there is a "significant issue" between Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, stemming from Gobert's behavior before his positive test for COVID-19 and Mitchell's consequent positive test for the virus. Turner's usage rate has plummeted in Indiana (17.5 percent), and his scoring numbers and shot attempts are the lowest they've been since his rookie season as he shares the frontcourt with Domantas Sabonis.
Gobert is the better of the two, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and one-time All-Star who's led the league in blocks per game and field-goal percentage. The Jazz are 9.0 points per 100 possessions better with the 27-year-old center in the game this season, and he's averaging 15.1 points, 13.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.
If Sabonis can continue to develop his outside shot, he and Gobert could grow into one of the best frontcourts in the East.
For Utah, Turner is almost four years younger and under contract for the next three seasons at $18 million per year. He's already led the NBA in blocks (2.7 per game in 2018-19) and is a better outside shooter than Gobert (career 35.4 percent from three). The Jazz would no longer have to worry about losing Gobert in 2021 free agency or about any potential chemistry problems in the locker room between him and Donovan Mitchell.
Adding McDermott to the rotation would give Utah another elite shooter as the 28-year-old forward is averaging 10.4 points per game on a 44.5 percent clip from three.