1 Blockbuster Trade Offer for Every NBA Team's Top Star

Preston EllisContributor IMay 1, 2020

1 Blockbuster Trade Offer for Every NBA Team's Top Star

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    The NBA experiences a shocking level of changeover from season to season. From disgruntled superstars to cost-mindful front offices to general managers looking for a reset, the league is in the midst of an unprecedented level of player movement.

    What would it take to pry away every team's top star, though? That's what we set out to answer here.

    Although few (if any) of these stars will be on the move this offseason, we can at least imagine the market value for each one. From there, we've identified suitors with the necessary capital to begin a conversation.

    Are these offers enough to convince your favorite team to part ways with its best player? 

Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young

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    Atlanta Hawks receive: Ben Simmons

    Philadelphia 76ers receive: Trae Young

    The Atlanta Hawks have received their fair share of criticism for eschewing the chance to draft Luka Doncic in favor of Trae Young in 2018. While the All-Star point guard has tallied more points, rebounds and assists than anyone other than Oscar Robertson through his first two NBA seasons, he's also the league's worst defender.

    Meanwhile, Philadelphia 76ers All-Star point guard/forward Ben Simmons is one of the NBA's most versatile defenders, yet he refuses to take many jump shots. Swapping him for Young would help improve both teams.

    Young brings the shooting and floor spacing that Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid desperately needs alongside him, while Simmons provides the defensive playmaking that could bolster Atlanta's 28th-ranked defense. While the Hawks may cite Young's youth (21) as an added advantage, Simmons isn't much older (23).

    Young expressed frustration with losing after barely one season. That won't be a problem in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Simmons would finally get control of the offense in Atlanta, while the 76ers would likely dip below the luxury-tax threshold.

Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum

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    Boston Celtics receive: Zion Williamson

    New Orleans Pelicans receive: Jayson Tatum

    Before the 2019-20 NBA season went on hiatus, Jayson Tatum was taking a step toward superstardom. Over his last 15 games, he averaged 29.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.1 triples and 3.2 assists while shooting 48.3 percent overall and 46.6 percent from deep.

    While the Celtics should have no interest in moving him, they'd have to pick up the phone if the Pelicans offered 2019 No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson.

    Williamson missed the first half of his rookie season because of a torn meniscus, but he was no worse for the wear once he made his long-awaited debut. He scored 20 or more points in 16 of his 19 games while averaging only 29.7 minutes per night.

    Of the 12 rookies in league history with as many points (23.6) and rebounds (6.8) per game as Williamson, each shot markedly worse while needing at least six more minutes per game to hit those marks. 

    Williamson's unique frame and injury risk would make him a gamble for Boston, but he's one of the few young players in the league with a higher ceiling than Tatum. And if the Pelicans were scared about Williamson's long-term health, they may prefer more of the sure thing in Tatum.

Brooklyn Nets: Kevin Durant

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    Brooklyn Nets receive: Paul George

    Los Angeles Clippers receive: Kevin Durant

    This is the definition of a challenge trade.

    When healthy, Kevin Durant is better than Paul George. But with Durant coming off a torn Achilles that he suffered during the 2019 NBA Finals, the Nets may prefer having more of a sure thing in George alongside star point guard Kyrie Irving.

    While PG-13 will never possess the length or finesse to glide and score the way that Durant can, his pedigree as a defender tightens the gap. George has been named to four All-Defensive teams and led the league in steals in 2018-19.

    The Clippers would be gambling on Durant's recovery from his Achilles injury, as his upside next to Kawhi Leonard could make them overwhelming title favorites in 2020-21. Leonard and George proved the value of having two elite, interchangeable wings this season, and a fully healthy Durant would be a marked upgrade over George.

    George can opt out of his contract following the 2020-21 season, while Durant can't opt out until 2022. The Clippers would thus be guaranteeing themselves at least two more seasons of relevance, while the Nets would be getting a star who's two years younger and thus better aligned age-wise with Irving. 

Charlotte Hornets: Devonte' Graham

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    Charlotte Hornets receive: Mike Conley, Ed Davis, UTA 2022 first-round pick (unprotected), UTA 2024 first-round pick (lottery-protected)

    Utah Jazz receive: Devonte' Graham, Cody Zeller, Nicolas Batum

    The Charlotte Hornets struck gold when they spent the No. 34 overall pick on Devonte' Graham in 2018. Kemba Walker's departure in free agency cleared the way for Graham to have a breakout campaign, and the 25-year-old responded by averaging a team-high 18.2 points and 7.5 assists per game.

    Charlotte might not be in a rush to move Graham, but he's set for a huge raise when he becomes a restricted free agent in 2021. If the Hornets aren't comfortable with his potential asking price, it may behoove them to sell high on him this offseason. 

    The Utah Jazz could be the perfect trade partner.

    Mike Conley was a disappointment this season for Utah, but Graham could be a better spark-plug bench scorer than Jordan Clarkson. Cody Zeller's picture-perfect screens would free up Graham, Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles to bomb away from deep, and the Jazz would be flipping one bad contract for another with Conley and Nicolas Batum.

    Meanwhile, the Hornets would be getting two first-round picks for three expiring contracts, and Conley and Ed Davis could serve as one-year stopgaps. Charlotte may even be able to flip either one again at the trade deadline, further bolstering its asset chest.

Chicago Bulls: Zach LaVine

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    Chicago Bulls receive: Buddy Hield, SAC 2020 first-round pick  

    Sacramento Kings receive: Zach Lavine, Ryan Arcidiacono

    It's difficult to gauge Zach LaVine's trade value.

    On one hand, the 25-year-old averaged a career-high 25.5 points this season while shooting 45.0 percent overall and 38.0 percent from three-point range. On the other, he has yet to play for a team that has won more than 31 games, which begs the question of whether he's a good-stats, bad-team guy.

    If the Bulls decide to move on from him, they could try to flip him for Buddy Hield, who seemingly fell out of favor with Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton this season.

    Walton benched Hield in January in favor of Bogdan Bogdanovic, but the Oklahoma product still averaged 19.8 points per game while drilling 3.8 threes at a 39.5 percent clip. His career 41.1 percent mark from deep is far better than LaVine's (37.5 percent), and he is one of only 16 players in league history to shoot 39 percent or better on at least 4.5 three-point attempts per game across his first four seasons.

    Since LaVine is younger and on a less expensive contract than Hield, the Kings will also throw in their 2020 lottery pick (which is projected to be No. 12 at the moment). Meanwhile, the Bulls are including Ryan Arcidiacono for salary-matching purposes.  

Cleveland Cavaliers: Collin Sexton

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    Cleveland Cavaliers receive: Devonte' Graham, CHA 2021 first-round pick (top-10 protected)

    Charlotte Hornets receive: Collin Sexton 

    Kevin Love is the Cleveland Cavaliers' best player at the moment, but they aren't likely to find takers for the three years and $91.5 million remaining on his contract unless they soften their demands. According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, the Cavs "aren't going to give him away for nothing" and won't "accept a salary dump, either."

    Unless (until?) the Cavaliers back down on that asking price, Collin Sexton will be their best trade chip.

    The second-year guard averaged 20.8 points while shooting a crisp 47.2 percent overall and 38.0 percent from three-point range this season. In the 11 games after the All-Star break, he poured in 25.5 points per game on an impressive 52.8/43.1/80.8 slash line.

    Graham was one of only six players this season to average at least 18.0 points and 7.5 assists, cementing himself as a candidate for the NBA's Most Improved Player award. But since he's a few years older (25) and likely closer to his ceiling than the 21-year-old Sexton, the Hornets would have to sweeten their offer beyond just a straight-up swap.

    By throwing in a top-10-protected 2021 first-round pick, the Hornets could get their point guard of the future, while the Cavaliers would stockpile more assets in case they aren't sold on Sexton's long-term fit alongside 2019 No. 5 overall pick Darius Garland.

Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic

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    Dallas Mavericks receive: Ben Simmons, OKC 2020 first-round pick (top-20-protected), 2021 PHI first-round pick (unprotected)

    Philadelphia 76ers receive: Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr.

    The Dallas Mavericks aren't trading Luka Doncic. He's only the second player in NBA history to average at least 29 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in either of his first two seasons (joining Oscar Robertson), and he emerged this year as a bona fide MVP candidate while leading a historically great offense.

    But if the Mavericks did decide to shop Doncic, the Philadelphia 76ers could put together an appealing offer centered around All-Star point guard/forward Ben Simmons.

    Questions remain about Simmons' long-term fit alongside Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid, as his aversion to shooting from deep clogs Embiid's spacing around the basket. In Dallas, he would have an ideal frontcourt pick-and-pop partner in Kristaps Porzingis.

    Meanwhile, Embiid could thrive alongside Doncic's 9.1 three-point attempts per game in Philadelphia. The Mavericks would also have to throw in Tim Hardaway Jr. for salary-matching purposes, but he'd further improve the Sixers' floor spacing after shooting a career-high 40.7 percent from deep this season. 

    Since the Sixers would be getting the best player in this deal, they'd also send over the top-20-protected 2020 first-round pick that the Oklahoma City Thunder owe them (which is currently projected to convey), along with a fully unprotected 2021 first-rounder.   

Detroit Pistons: Blake Griffin

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    Detroit Pistons receive: Julius Randle

    New York Knicks receive: Blake Griffin 

    The Detroit Pistons shouldn't feel any urgency to trade Blake Griffin this offseason. Even with his mammoth contract on their books, they have plenty of cap space to bolster their roster in free agency and challenge the weak bottom half of the Eastern Conference in 2020-21.

    But if they do decide to embark upon a full-scale rebuild, they could turn to the star-hungry New York Knicks as a potential trade partner. 

    Flipping Griffin for Julius Randle would give the Pistons nearly $18 million in additional cap space, allowing them to either sign more free agents or accept salary sumps to acquire additional assets. Randle is hardly dead weight, either, having averaged 19.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists in only 32.5 minutes per game this past season.

    In addition, only $4 million of Randle's $19.8 million salary in 2021-22 is guaranteed, so the Pistons could have even more financial flexibility next offseason. If they waived Randle following the 2020-21 season, they could have enough cap space to dole out multiple max contracts in the 2021 offseason. 

    Meanwhile, Griffin can still be a star when healthy, as evidenced by the 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists he averaged in 2018-19 en route to an All-Star berth. The Knicks would be gambling on his return to form after his injury-ravaged 2019-20 season as they continue to hunt for superstars.

Denver Nuggets: Nikola Jokic

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    Denver Nuggets receive: Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, top-three-protected IND 2021 first-round pick

    Indiana Pacers receive: Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris

    It would take a godfather offer to make the Denver Nuggets consider trading Nikola Jokic, who may already be the best passing big man of all-time. 

    The Indiana Pacers could at least make them think twice with this offer, though.

    Domantas Sabonis is a 23-year-old All-Star who's capable of stepping into Jokic's shoes. While his production isn't quite as prolific as Jokic's, he still set career highs across the board with 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 34.8 minutes per game this season.

    Brogdon, meanwhile, would be a marked upgrade over Harris in Denver's starting lineup. After becoming one of only 10 players in NBA history to shoot at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from deep and 90 percent from the charity stripe in 2018-19, Brogdon joined the Pacers last offseason and went on to average a career-high 16.3 points, 7.1 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game this year.

    Brogdon and Murray could split the Nuggets' lead-guard duties, while Sabonis would slide in as Denver's new frontcourt playmaker. Meanwhile, the Pacers would pair Jokic with Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner to form a potentially formidable Big Three in the East.

Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry

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    Golden State Warriors receive: Kemba Walker, MEM 2020 first-round pick (top-six-protected), BOS 2020 first (unprotected)

    Boston Celtics receive: Stephen Curry 

    It's difficult to fathom a scenario in which the Golden State Warriors would be open to moving Stephen Curry. But if they did decide to shop the two-time MVP, swapping All-Star point guards with the Boston Celtics and gaining additional draft compensation wouldn't be the worst-case scenario.

    Warriors head coach Steve Kerr spent time with Walker this past summer at the FIBA World Cup and came away impressed.

    "I had no doubt while I was coaching him this summer that he'd be great for the Celtics, given not only his ability on the court but the chemistry he generates with a group," Kerr said in mid-November, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. "Everybody loves playing with him, he moves the ball, he plays hard, he's fun to be around."

    Walker could help the Warriors stay in win-now mode alongside Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins, while Golden State could replenish its bench with the two 2020 first-rounders coming over in the deal.

    Meanwhile, the Celtics would be adding a first-ballot Hall of Famer to their core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Gordon Hayward. Flipping Walker and two of their three first-round picks in this year's draft for Curry would be a no-brainer, as they would emerge as the Milwaukee Bucks' chief rival in the Eastern Conference if the 32-year-old returns to form following the wrist surgery that sidelined him for most of the 2019-20 season.

Houston Rockets: James Harden

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    Houston Rockets receive: Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Monte Morris

    Denver Nuggets receive: James Harden

    James Harden has finished either first or second in MVP voting in four of the past five seasons. He's led the league in scoring for each of the past three years, and he led the league with 11.2 assists in 2016-17.

    However, he hasn't been able to bring the Houston Rockets to the promised land yet. They're now hovering dangerously close to the luxury-tax line with a paper-thin roster and a depleted war chest of future draft picks.

    If the Rockets decide their small-ball experiment is doomed to fail, sending Harden to the Denver Nuggets for three promising young players could kickstart their rebuild.

    Jamal Murray could slide in alongside Russell Westbrook in the backcourt, while rangy forward Michael Porter Jr. would give the Rockets another versatile two-way weapon to go with Robert Covington. Monte Morris could serve as cheap bench depth for a year, particularly if Austin Rivers (player option) leaves in free agency.

    Meanwhile, the Nuggets would get to pair Harden with All-Star big man Nikola Jokic, which should supercharge their already potent offense. They'd be giving up a ton to get him, but the Rockets aren't going to trade one of the game's top players for pennies on the dollar.   

Indiana Pacers: Domantas Sabonis

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    Indiana Pacers receive: Kristaps Porzingis

    Dallas Mavericks receive: Domantas Sabonis, Doug McDermott

    A year ago, Victor Oladipo would have been considered the Indiana Pacers' top star. But the soon-to-be 28-year-old is coming off a ruptured quad tendon that cost him much of the 2019-20 season, while Domantas Sabonis is fresh off his first All-Star berth.

    With questions still lingering about the long-term fit of Sabonis and fellow big man Myles Turner, the Pacers could decide to sell high on the former in exchange for Kristaps Porzingis.

    Porzingis would give the Pacers the versatility they need on both offense and defense alongside Turner. He could serve as a pick-and-pop threat or bomb away from deep, while he could also guard 4s and 5s and provide some extra shot-blocking ability that Sabonis doesn't offer.

    Meanwhile, the Mavericks may not be sold on Porzingis as the ideal second banana behind Luka Doncic. He averaged 7.4 more points per 36 minutes with Doncic off the floor and averaged a paltry 1.7 assists on the season, a far cry from the career-high 5.0 helpers Sabonis averaged in Indiana this year.

    If the Mavericks consider Sabonis to be a better fit next to Doncic, they could flip Porzingis to Indiana and get Doug McDermott to add more shooting, too.

Los Angeles Clippers: Kawhi Leonard

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    Los Angeles Clippers receive: Jaylen Brown, Romeo Langford, MEM 2020 first-round pick, BOS 2020 first-round pick

    Boston Celtics receive: Kawhi Leonard

    If the NBA can't resume the 2019-20 season at any point, the Los Angeles Clippers will be left with more questions than answers.

    They cemented themselves as one of the top contenders in the Western Conference, but both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George could become free agents following the 2020-21 season if they decline their respective player options. Would they gamble on both players staying in L.A. beyond 2021, or would they have to listen to offers for either one?

    If they did shop Leonard, the Boston Celtics could put together an appealing package.

    The Celtics may be reluctant to trade Brown unless Leonard commits to picking up his player option or re-signing in Boston, but it would be worth the risk. Romeo Langford and two mediocre first-round picks in a weak draft class are nothing compared to the upgrade from Brown to Leonard, and the Celtics already had remorse about not dealing for Leonard once before, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.

    Regardless of what Leonard decided to do following the 2020-21 season, the Celtics would be among the short list of title favorites next year with him in tow. Meanwhile, the Clippers could still stay relevant in the West while bolstering their bench and turning one eye toward their long-term future.

Los Angeles Lakers: LeBron James

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    Los Angeles Lakers receive: Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, PHI 2020 first-round pick, BKN 2022 first-round pick

    Brooklyn Nets receive: LeBron James 

    In the unlikely event that Anthony Davis declines his 2020-21 option and signs elsewhere this offseason, LeBron James might be amenable to a trade. The Los Angeles Lakers could flip the four-time MVP for a package of draft picks and young players to expedite their inevitable rebuild.

    If they did go that route, the Brooklyn Nets could put together an appealing package.

    Kyrie Irving has patched up his relationship with James, and the two already proved they could win a championship together in 2015-16. If Kevin Durant returns to form after tearing his Achilles during the 2019 NBA Finals, the Nets would boast the league's best Big Three by far (if not one of the best in history).

    Given James' age (35), the Lakers can't realistically hope to get an equal talent in exchange for him. Instead, they could flip him for a collection of intriguing young players such as Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen to pair with Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso. They could use the Sixers' first-round pick to round out their bench this year, and the 2022 Brooklyn pick could turn into a premium asset if the James-Durant-Irving core imploded over the next two seasons.

    If Davis re-signs with the Lakers this offseason, it's difficult to imagine any package convincing them to trade James. But if he signs elsewhere, they would be wise to sell high on James before he has a chance to decline his 2021-22 player option and leave them empty-handed.

Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant

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    Memphis Grizzlies receive: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Terrance Ferguson, DEN 2020 first-round pick (top-10-protected)

    Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Ja Morant

    The Memphis Grizzlies should be in no rush to trade Ja Morant, the front-runner for Rookie of the Year. He's only the sixth rookie ever to average at least 17.6 points and 6.9 assists, and he has the second-best field-goal percentage among that group (trailing only Magic Johnson).

    However, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander wouldn't be much of a downgrade (if at all).

    While the 6'3" Morant played 95 percent of his minutes at point guard this season, the 6'5" Gilgeous-Alexander split 97 percent of his time between the 2 and the 3 after logging 97 percent of his time at the point as a rookie with the Los Angeles Clippers. And when SGA played the 3, the Oklahoma City Thunder outscored their opponents by 31.4 points per 100 possessions, which ranked in the 100th percentile leaguewide.

    Gilgeous-Alexander is one of only 30 sophomores in NBA history to average at least 19 points, six rebounds and three assists, and he has the 10th-best true shooting percentage (56.6) among that group.

    The Grizzlies struck gold with Morant, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft, but flipping him for SGA, Terrance Ferguson and the Nuggets' 2020 first-round pick could further expedite their rebuild.

Miami Heat: Jimmy Butler

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    Miami Heat receive: Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell

    Utah Jazz receive: Jimmy Butler, Kendrick Nunn

    Jimmy Butler appears to have found his perfect match with the Miami Heat, but that shouldn't preclude them from trading him if the right offer comes along.

    The Utah Jazz could present such a deal if the relationship between Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert proves to be unsalvageable. 

    According to Shams Charania, Sam Amick and Tony Jones of The Athletic, "The Jazz have already begun working on the Mitchell-Gobert relationship, but sources say Mitchell remains reluctant to fix what might have been broken." While the Jazz hope "the relationship will improve over time," some believe "anything short of a full reconciliation between Utah's two most important players will limit what they can become as a group."

    If the Jazz decide they have to move on from one of Mitchell or Gobert, they could use the former to escape from Mike Conley's contract while adding Butler and Rookie of the Year candidate Kendrick Nunn. Those two could pair with Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles to keep Utah competitive in the West.

    Meanwhile, Miami would be swapping a 30-year-old All-Star in Butler for a 23-year-old All-Star in Mitchell, the latter of whom aligns far better age-wise with 22-year-old All-Star big man Bam Adebayo. Conley struggled for much of his time in Utah, but he had a career year in 2018-19, and the change of scenery in Miami could give him the opportunity for another fresh start.

Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo

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    Milwaukee Bucks receive: Andrew Wiggins, GSW 2020 first-round pick, MIN 2021 first-round pick (top-three-protected), GSW 2022 first-round pick

    Golden State Warriors receive: Giannis Antetokounmpo 

    If the 2019-20 season eventually resumes and the Milwaukee Bucks again fall short in the playoffs, they may have a tough time convincing Giannis Antetokounmpo to sign a five-year supermax extension this summer.

    If Antetokounmpo declines to sign an extension in favor of becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2021, the Bucks will have to consider trading him this offseason rather than risk losing him for nothing next year.

    The Golden State Warriors would be a logical trade partner if they do go that route, as B/R's Eric Pincus noted earlier this year. They could use Andrew Wiggins' contract for salary-matching purposes and dangle their own 2020 first-round pick (which is likely to fall no lower than No. 5), the Minnesota Timberwolves' top-three-protected 2021 first-rounder and their own 2022 first-rounder.

    This wouldn't be the only offer the Bucks receive if they do begin to shop Antetokounmpo. The Miami Heat might dangle some combination of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn, while the Dallas Mavericks would likely offer Kristaps Porzingis.

    But since Antetokounmpo will be entering the final year of his contract, some teams may be reluctant to make a godfather offer for what could be a one-year rental. That might limit the Bucks' leverage in trade discussions, perhaps making this Warriors offer the best that they could do.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns

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    Minnesota Timberwolves receive: Al Horford, Matisse Thybulle, MEM 2020 first-round pick (top-six-protected), BOS 2020 first-round pick, MIL 2020 first-round pick, BOS 2022 first-round pick, PHI 2022 first-round pick

    Philadelphia 76ers receive: Gordon Hayward

    Boston Celtics receive: Karl-Anthony Towns

    The Minnesota Timberwolves landed D'Angelo Russell at the trade deadline to pair with Karl-Anthony Towns, but it's fair to wonder whether he will markedly improve their long-term outlook. 

    If the T-Wolves soured on Towns as a potential franchise cornerstone, this three-way deal could help them restock their coffers. The three 2020 draft picks would amount to dart throws, but Matisse Thybulle should become an annual fixture on the All-Defensive teams, and Al Horford might be reinvigorated by leaving the Philadelphia 76ers' crowded frontcourt.

    The Celtics would be giving up Gordon Hayward and four first-round picks for Towns, but they'd keep their core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart. Since they won't have enough roster spots to accommodate all three 2020 first-rounders, using them to bring in Towns could turn them into the Milwaukee Bucks' top threat in the East.

    The 76ers would be giving up Thybulle and a first-round pick, but they'd be adding a better positional fit in Hayward while escaping from the remaining three years and $81 million on Horford's contract. Hayward could slide in at the 3 alongside Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid to give the Sixers another chance at a deep playoff run.

New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson

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    New Orleans Pelicans receive: John Collins, De'Andre Hunter, ATL 2020 first-round pick, OKC 2022 first-round pick (lottery-protected), ATL 2022 first-round pick

    Atlanta Hawks receive: Zion Williamson

    The New Orleans Pelicans likely aren't trading Zion Williamson less than a year after selecting him with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft. But if they became concerned about his long-term health and started shopping him around, plenty of teams would come calling.

    If the Boston Celtics aren't willing to flip Jayson Tatum for Williamson straight up, the Atlanta Hawks might be able to cobble together the best offer.

    John Collins was one of only five players to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds this season, joining Giannis Antetokounmpo, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid. Although he could stand to improve defensively, he's one of only six players with an effective field-goal percentage north of 63 and a true shooting percentage above 65.

    Meanwhile, De'Andre Hunter is the three-and-D prospect every team needs to lock down opposing perimeter threats like LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard while knocking down corner threes on the other end. Although he didn't light the NBA on fire as a rookie, he did average a respectable 12.3 points while shooting 35.5 percent from deep on 4.8 attempts per game.

    To further entice the Pelicans, the Hawks would throw in their 2020 lottery pick along with two other future firsts. That's a lot to give up, but they would have the NBA's most dangerous young core with Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, Williamson and Clint Capela.

New York Knicks: RJ Barrett

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    New York Knicks receive: Jaren Jackson Jr.

    Memphis Grizzlies receive: RJ Barrett, LAC 2020 first-round pick, DAL 2021 first-round pick

    The New York Knicks may be nervous after 2019 No. 3 overall pick RJ Barrett averaged only 14.3 points on 40.2 percent shooting as a rookie. While it's far too early to declare him a bust, the Knicks may prefer to dangle him as trade bait for a star rather than hoping he develops in future seasons.

    One Knicks front-office member recently told SNY's Ian Begley that trading for a star is "the best path for us."

    Jaren Jackson Jr. may not be a star just yet, but he has the game to complement one. He's a long and efficient scorer who's capable of spacing the floor (he shot 39.7 percent from three on 6.3 attempts per game this season), and he can switch interchangeably between the 4 and 5 on defense.

    The Grizzlies may be reluctant to give up JJJ, but they could bank on Barrett improving alongside star point guard Ja Morant. Jackson's departure would also free up more minutes for standout rookie Brandon Clarke, who led all 2019 draftees in both win shares and value over replacement player

    The loss of Jackson also may not be as devastating to Memphis as one might think. The Grizzlies outscored opponents by 3.0 points per 100 possessions with Clarke at the 4 this past season, while opponents outscored them by 5.2 per 100 with Jackson at the 4. Getting Barrett and two first-round picks and freeing up more playing time for Clarke could be a win-win.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Chris Paul

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    Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Mike Conley, UTA 2022 first (top-10 protected)

    Utah Jazz receive: Chris Paul 

    The Utah Jazz's acquisition of Mike Conley last offseason didn't work out as planned. He averaged only 13.8 points and shot 40.5 percent from the field, the second-worst mark of his career.

    Another change in scenery could help him revive his career. Just ask Chris Paul.

    Paul looked rejuvenated playing alongside second-year guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander during his first season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He ranked ninth leaguewide in real plus-minus, and he had the 10th-best net rating in the clutch (minimum 15 games played) while slashing 53.5/36.0/93.8.

    Paul could be the missing ingredient Utah needs to usurp the two Western Conference favorites in L.A. If it only costs a top-10-protected first-round pick and taking on the remaining two years and $85.6 million of Paul's contract (including a $44.2 million player option in 2021-22), it's worth the gamble.

    Meanwhile, the Thunder would be swapping one veteran mentor in Paul for another in Conley while giving themselves an extra year of financial flexibility and an additional draft pick. 

Orlando Magic: Aaron Gordon

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    Orlando Magic receive: James Johnson, Jarrett Culver, BKN 2020 first-round pick (lottery-protected), MIN 2023 first-round pick (top-10-protected)

    Minnesota Timberwolves receive: Aaron Gordon

    The Orlando Magic are in need of a shakeup.

    Although they were comfortably in playoff position when the 2019-20 season went on hiatus, their 30-35 record hardly inspires confidence in their ability to contend for a championship. Their overly crowded frontcourt forced Aaron Gordon to play out of position for nearly 40 percent of his minutes, and opponents outscored the Magic by 3.2 points per 100 possessions with him at the 3.

    By trading Gordon to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Jarrett Culver, James Johnson (salary filler) and two first-round picks, they'd clear their frontcourt glut and give themselves insurance in case Evan Fournier (player option) becomes a free agent this offseason.

    In Minnesota, Gordon could slide in at the 4 next to Karl-Anthony Towns and moonlight as a small-ball 5 when Towns sits. He could also finally realize his potential as a roll man in pick-and-rolls with D'Angelo Russell. 

    Culver underwhelmed as a rookie, averaging 9.2 points on 40.4 percent shooting, but the 2019 No. 6 overall pick has the size (6'6") and versatility to guard multiple positions. Adding him along with two first-round picks could help Orlando balance out its roster. 

Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid

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    Philadelphia 76ers receive: Bam Adebayo ($5.2 million), Tyler Herro ($3.8 million)

    Miami Heat receive: Joel Embiid ($29.5 million)

    If the NBA cannot resume the 2019-20 season at some point, the Philadelphia 76ers will be robbed of closure.

    Had they suffered another early-round playoff knockout, they might decide that the pairing of All-Stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid is no longer viable. In that case, one landing spot rises above the rest for Embiid.

    "I know a place villains are welcome," Heat swingman and former Sixers teammate Jimmy Butler wrote on Embiid's Instagram in February. 

    The pairing of Embiid and Butler nearly helped the Sixers knock off the eventual champion Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2018-19. The Heat are also poised to be one of the few teams with available cap space this summer, so they could pull off a lopsided trade in terms of salary.

    Embiid's age (26) and injury history should make a swap for 22-year-old All-Star big man Bam Adebayo and rookie sharpshooter Tyler Hero more palatable for Philadelphia. Herro would be the perfect complement to Ben Simmons and would replace the shooting the Sixers desperately missed following JJ Redick's free-agent departure, while Adebayo could assume Embiid's role as their interior anchor.

Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Phoenix Suns get: Dewayne Dedmon, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, ATL 2020 first-round pick, ATL 2022 first-round pick

    Atlanta Hawks get: Devin Booker 

    Devin Booker is fresh off his first All-Star nod and averaged 26.1 points per game on a career-high 48.7 percent shooting this season. Considering he still has four years left on his five-year max extension, the Phoenix Suns should be in no rush to move him.

    However, the Suns have yet to win more than 26 games since drafting Booker with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. Both sides may be growing frustrated with the lack of progress in the win column.

    If the Suns decided to move on from their All-Star, the Atlanta Hawks have the combination of young prospects and draft picks to get a deal done. 

    While Booker and Trae Young might comprise the worst defensive backcourt in the NBA, they'd also be among the most explosive offensively. With De'Andre Hunter, John Collins and Clint Capela filling out the rest of the starting lineup, the Hawks would have one of the league's most promising young cores.

    Trading Booker would be a setback for the Suns, but the reward would be worth considering. Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish have both shown intriguing flashes throughout the early stages of their NBA careers, and Atlanta's 2020 first-round pick figures to fall somewhere in the top seven. Escaping from Dewayne Dedmon's contract would be an added bonus, too.

Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Portland Trail Blazers receive: Ben Simmons 

    Philadelphia 76ers receive: Damian Lillard

    If Damian Lillard had it his way, he would never leave Portland. But one year after reaching the Western Conference Finals, a series of injuries sent the Trail Blazers crashing back into the lottery when the NBA suspended its season in mid-March.

    If the Blazers decided the Lillard-CJ McCollum core has already peaked, they could try flipping the five-time All-Star point guard for a fellow All-Star ball-handler in Ben Simmons. 

    The 6'10" Simmons would give the Blazers a far different identity on both ends of the court, as he is the polar opposite of Lillard's long-range bombing style on offense. Instead, he would help improve Portland's 27th-ranked defense while feeding McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins for easy baskets on the other end.

    The Sixers would miss Simmons' defensive versatility, as he emerged as a legitimate candidate for Defensive Player of the Year this season. However, his refusal to shoot from deep adversely affected their floor spacing and allowed opponents to double-team Joel Embiid down low.

    Given Lillard's ability to pull up from just about anywhere, Embiid would have far more space to operate in the post. He could help the Sixers put their disappointing 2019-20 campaign behind them and emerge as a legitimate threat to the Milwaukee Bucks in the East.

Sacramento Kings: De'Aaron Fox

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    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    Sacramento Kings receive: Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac

    Orlando Magic receive: De'Aaron Fox, Nemanja Bjelica

    The Sacramento Kings may be hurdling toward a financial catastrophe.

    They doled out four-year deals worth nearly $180 million combined to Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield last offseason, and they reportedly intend to match any offer sheet Bogdan Bogdanovic signs in restricted free agency this summer, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic. De'Aaron Fox is also heading into the final year of his rookie deal, which means he'll be eligible to sign an extension this offseason.

    If the Kings balk at Fox's asking price, they could instead flip him and veteran forward Nemanja Bjelica to to the Magic for 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz and 2017 No. 6 overall pick Jonathan Isaac.

    After two mostly lost seasons in Philadelphia, Fultz played well enough in Orlando to supplant D.J. Augustin as the Magic's starting point guard. While he averaged a passable 12.1 points, 5.1 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game, his 25.4 percent mark from deep suggests he still has yet to return to his predraft form.

    The Kings could gamble on Fultz living up to his sky-high potential and Isaac's defensive versatility, especially since neither player is likely to command a max extension. Meanwhile, the Magic would be getting the best player in the deal in Fox.

San Antonio Spurs: DeMar DeRozan

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    San Antonio Spurs receive: Frank Ntilikina, LAC 2020 first-round pick

    New York Knicks receive: DeMar DeRozan

    In mid-March, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that DeMar DeRozan planned to decline his $27.7 million player option in 2020-21 if he and the San Antonio Spurs don't reach an extension before then. He also reported the New York Knicks were "expected to be interested" if he does become a free agent.

    The COVID-19 pandemic may make DeRozan think twice about opting out. 

    With the league facing upward of $1 billion in losses if it must cancel the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs, the 2020-21 salary cap could be in danger of falling below the latest $115 million projection. Only a handful of teams are projected to have cap room this summer either way, but a cap decline could further cut into their spending power. 

    If DeRozan opts in, the Knicks could still acquire him by offering Frank Ntilikina and the Clippers' 2020 first-round pick to the Spurs. He would immediately become their go-to offensive option and help them improve their 27th-ranked offense while young players such as RJ Barrett, Dennis Smith Jr., Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson could slide into complementary roles. 

    Ntilikina and a late first-round pick may not seem like much for a former All-Star such as DeRozan, but the Spurs are quickly speeding toward a rebuild. Flipping him for anything beats losing him for nothing in free agency or overpaying him.

Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam

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    Toronto Raptors receive: Brandon Ingram, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Josh Hart, LAL 2021 first-round pick (protected 8-30; unprotected in 2022)

    New Orleans Pelicans receive: Pascal Siakam

    In the span of two years, Pascal Siakam transformed from bench player to the NBA's Most Improved Player to a bona fide All-Star. The Toronto Raptors would have to be blown away to give up him, particularly after signing him to a four-year max extension this past fall.

    The New Orleans Pelicans have the requisite assets to blow them away.

    Fresh off his first All-Star campaign, Brandon Ingram is likely to receive a max contract in restricted free agency this offseason. If the Pelicans aren't comfortable meeting that price, they could sign-and-trade him to the Raptors in this package for Siakam. 

    Siakam can defend 3s, 4s and 5s, and he could form one of the league's best starting lineups with Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday and Zion Williamson in New Orleans. If the Pelicans were considering letting Ingram walk as a restricted free agent, they'd effectively be giving up only Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Josh Hart and what's likely to be a late first-round pick from the Los Angeles Lakers in 2022. 

    While Ingram is a slight step below Siakam for now, he's also four years younger and significantly improved over the past 12 months. With Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol set to become free agents and Kyle Lowry entering the final year of his contract, the Raptors may decide to lean into a youth movement with Ingram, Alexander-Walker and Hart.

Utah Jazz: Donovan Mitchell

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    Utah Jazz receive: Coby White, Wendell Carter Jr. 

    Chicago Bulls receive: Donovan Mitchell, Tony Bradley 

    If Rudy Gobert can't salvage his relationship with Donovan Mitchell, the Utah Jazz may have to pick between the two. Since Gobert is entering the final year of his contract and the market for bigs has dwindled in recent years, the Jazz would likely get more for Mitchell.

    The 23-year-old is one of only 15 players in league history to average at least 24 points, four rebounds and four assists per game across his second and third seasons. Fresh off his first All-Star berth, the Jazz should be able to command a king's ransom for him.

    The Chicago Bulls could oblige with a pair of recent No. 7 overall picks.

    Coby White, the 2019 No. 7 pick, erupted over his final nine games, averaging 26.1 points, 4.4 assists and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 43.2 percent from three on 9.0 attempts per game. Wendell Carter Jr., the 2018 No. 7 pick, could play alongside Gobert at the 4, back him up at the 5 and emerge as his long-term successor if the Stifle Tower leaves in 2021 free agency.

    New Bulls executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas may prefer to evaluate his roster in 2020-21 before making any rash decisions, but the opportunity to add Mitchell could prove too enticing to ignore.

Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal

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    Washington Wizards receive: Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner

    Indiana Pacers receive: Bradley Beal, Thomas Bryant

    Bradley Beal doubled down on his commitment to the Washington Wizards when he signed a two-year, $72 million max extension last offseason. However, his frustration bubbled over in mid-January, when he was "as angry with and emotional about his team as he's ever been," according to David Aldridge of The Athletic.

    John Wall's return from a torn Achilles in 2020-21 could help the Wizards get back into playoff contention, but the Wizards are already on the clock with Beal. If they fear he's likely to decline his 2022-23 player option and leave in free agency that offseason, they may decide to sell high on him sooner than later. 

    The Indiana Pacers could put together a compelling offer for the two-time All-Star.

    Myles Turner led the league in blocks in 2018-19, while Malcolm Brogdon is one of only 10 qualified players in league history to shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from deep and 90 percent from the charity stripe over an entire season. Both players are also on guaranteed contracts through 2022-23.

    Domantas Sabonis' breakout 2019-20 campaign rendered Turner expendable for Indiana, and the upgrade from Brogdon to Beal would be well worth giving up the 24-year-old shot-blocker. Beal and Victor Oladipo would form one of the NBA's most devastating backcourts, while T.J. Warren, Jeremy Lamb and Doug McDermott would chip in as complementary scorers.  

    Stats via NBA.comBasketball ReferenceCleaning the Glass and ESPN unless otherwise noted.

    Preston Ellis covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@PrestonEllis).


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