1 Trade for Every NBA Lottery Team If It Wins No. 1 Pick
Winning the No. 1 pick is a big deal for NBA teams.
Granted, it doesn't feel like the biggest deal this year since there doesn't seem to be a Zion Williamson, Luka Doncic, Trae Young or Ja Morant in this class. But it will produce some stars—even the 2000 talent grab yielded three All-Stars—and a slew of rotation regulars. Having your choice of the entire player pool matters.
It also means something different to different teams.
Some might see the pick as their missing piece and a reason for engineering a win-now swap. Others might use the selection to fuel that type of trade. A different group might see it as a sign to practice patience and focus on collecting and developing assets.
How would your team react to landing the No. 1 pick? If they were in lottery position when the season was suspended, we have a trade idea for them either involving or motivated by the jackpot prize.
Atlanta Hawks receive: Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little, 2020 first-round pick
Portland Trail Blazers receive: John Collins
The Hawks are reportedly hesitant about giving John Collins a "significant" contract extension, per Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, and landing the No. 1 pick could give them other options.
If they use it to expand their perimeter collection (say, with Anthony Edwards), they could cobble together a forward rotation loaded with high-upside youth. De'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish are already in the mix, Nassir Little would join them in this swap, and maybe the (likely) late lottery pick would bring in another option like Jaden McDaniels or Saddiq Bey.
Anfernee Simons failed to launch the way some expected for his sophomore season, but the 20-year-old still offers an intriguing blend of shot-creation, three-level scoring and athleticism. If he can pilot a reserve unit, Atlanta's offense could quit cliff-diving when Trae Young takes a seat (15.5 points worse per 100 possessions without him).
Portland, meanwhile, would pounce on the chance to finally get a third scoring star alongside Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Collins just pushed his nightly output over 21 points per game while also shooting career-best rates from the field (58.3) and from three (40.1). The Blazers are financially locked into this core anyway, so they'd be fine shelling out the coin needed to get his signature on a lengthy extension.
Short-term, Portland would fill its 4 and 5 minutes with various combinations of Collins, Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. Long-term, the Blazers could use the Collins-Collins combo as the foundation for whatever they build next.
Charlotte Hornets Receive: Julius Randle, Dennis Smith Jr., 2020 first-round pick (via Los Angeles Clippers)
New York Knicks Receive: Terry Rozier, Malik Monk
While the NBA has seen successful two- and three-point guard lineups, the Hornets might be pushing it with their 6'1" combo of Terry Rozier and Devonte' Graham. If they land the No. 1 pick, this would be the perfect time to break up the backcourt since they could slide Edwards or LaMelo Ball into the open spot.
Charlotte already discussed the framework of this deal with New York around the trade deadline, per SNY's Ian Begley, but it makes the most sense from the Hornets' side if their backcourt gets a bigger boost than just the arrival of Dennis Smith Jr. That said, maybe a return to his hometown state could be what gets 2017's No. 9 pick back on track.
If the Hornets think Julius Randle can log some (if not most) of his minutes at the 5, this deal would address the biggest void on their roster. The unspectacular Cody Zeller is the only center signed beyond this season, and his deal expires in 2021. Charlotte would also add a late first-round flier to throw another dart at the draft board.
The Knicks need to upgrade at point guard, and while Rozier isn't the most exciting way to do so, he might be preferable to covering the remainder of Chris Paul's colossal contract. Rozier also doesn't dominate the basketball, so his arrival shouldn't stop New York from giving RJ Barrett all the touches he can handle. Malik Monk is probably an afterthought, but he's still a bouncy 22-year-old who could get interesting if he finds an outside shot.
Chicago Bulls receive: Nikola Vucevic
Orlando Magic receive: Otto Porter Jr., Wendell Carter Jr.
The Bulls brought playoff hopes into this campaign, but those were undone by injuries and inconsistency. Rather than bank on internal improvement alone, they could look to accelerate their rebuild with an offensive jolt to the frontcourt.
Nikola Vucevic wasn't quite as productive as during his 2018-19 All-Star season, but he's still one of only five players averaging 19 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and a three-pointer. Add him to the fold and defenses would be drawn into pick-your-poison scenarios regarding how to handle Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Coby White.
If the No. 1 pick scratches the itch on the wing (Anthony Edwards?), this roster could be off to the races.
Orlando would aim for better roster balance by slotting in Otto Porter Jr. at small forward and giving Jonathan Isaac as much breathing room as possible. If both are healthy, they should form a lethal, switchable defensive combo, and that's before factoring in the likes of Aaron Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu and Chuma Okeke (one or more of whom could be traded to address a different need).
Wendell Carter Jr. would join Mohamed Bamba to give Orlando two cracks at uncovering a franchise center. They are different enough that they could each add something unique to this team, and if one pulls clearly ahead, the other could either be fit into a low-minute reserve role or be moved to the trading block.
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Andrew Wiggins, 2021 second-round pick (via Minnesota Timberwolves)
Golden State Warriors Receive: Kevin Love
The Cavaliers won't salary-dump Kevin Love, but they'd move him for "a combination of picks and players," per Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor. Would Andrew Wiggins—originally Cleveland's selection atop the 2014 draft—and possibly an early second-rounder in a loaded draft qualify?
Wiggins and Love are both overpaid, but at least Wiggins is young, more athletic and an easier fit with this roster. He's a good enough scorer to ease the burden on Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr., but it would be easy to slash his chances whenever the youngsters are ready for more.
Plus, if Cleveland goes big with the first pick (James Wiseman?) or decides Andre Drummond is a keeper, Love would get squeezed off this roster.
Reroute him to Golden State, though, and Love would become the ultimate floor-spacer for the Splash Brothers. Defenses would be stretched painfully thin trying to contain him, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green is a good enough passer to consistently find the open shooter.
Detroit Pistons Receive: Al-Farouq Aminu, 2020 first-round pick
Orlando Magic Receive: Derrick Rose, 2021 second-round pick (via Los Angeles Lakers), 2023 second-round pick (via Portland Trail Blazers)
The Pistons had chances to move Derrick Rose at the trade deadline and didn't. They felt he was worth more to them than whatever he would have brought back.
"Going forward, you are going to need some veterans and I don't know if you can pick a better veteran than Derrick Rose to help you go forward in this rebuild," Pistons senior advisor Ed Stefanski said, per Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
Of course, Rose can't change Detroit's reality.
This franchise is staring down the barrel of a lengthy rebuilding project. If the basketball gods grant the Pistons the top overall selection, they should supplement that gift by increasing the asset collection. If Rose, a 31-year-old entering his final season under contract, can fetch a mid-first-rounder, rebuilders must make that deal 11 out of 10 times.
Orlando needs more offense to complement the top-10 defense head coach Steve Clifford and the front office have constructed. Put Rose's averages on the Magic and he'd rank first in assists (5.6) and third in points (18.1) despite being just seventh in minutes. They need his offensive punch, and they'd also be glad to get all the pointers he could share with Markelle Fultz.
Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors receive: Aaron Gordon, 2020 first-round pick
Orlando Magic receive: 2020 No. 1 pick
This can't work as a straight-up swap, but we'll present it as such to avoid getting entangled in the salary-cap weeds. The Warriors would first need to use the Andre Iguodala trade exception on a player in a separate deal and then attach that player to this deal to match the money owed to Aaron Gordon.
But this brings the final picture into focus: flipping the No. 1 pick for both an impact contributor and a lower lottery pick who can help lengthen the rotation at a cheaper price.
Gordon looks almost perfect for Golden State—and vice versa. He can switch defensive assignments without missing a beat, is electric in the open court and has shown clear ability as a secondary playmaker. The scoring-starved Magic often ask too much of him on offense (particularly with shot-creation), but the Dubs could minimize his role to accentuate his strengths as a slasher, finisher and ball-mover.
Orlando must realize what everyone else has seen for quite some time: There are too many bigs on this roster. This would not only help correct the imbalance, but it would also hopefully fetch the kind of offensive star who could turn this team into a two-way power. The best-case-scenario versions of Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball are both big need-fillers in the Magic Kingdom.
Minnesota Timberwolves receive: Victor Oladipo
Indiana Pacers receive: James Johnson, Jarrett Culver, 2020 No. 1 pick
After joining Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell at the trade deadline, the Timberwolves should be aggressively searching for a third star. With Victor Oladipo coming off two injury-riddled campaigns and approaching his final season under contract, this might be opportunity's knock.
Indiana and Oladipo haven't discussed an extension since before the season. As SNY's Ian Begley reported, "the idea of a four-year extension for around $80 million was broached" and talks "didn't progress much from there."
Do the Pacers have cold feet about committing to Oladipo? He has only suited up 49 times the past two seasons, missed more than a calendar year after knee surgery and hasn't performed at an All-Star level since 2017-18. Plus, Indiana already has major money tied up between Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis.
If the Pacers aren't sure about keeping Oladipo—or they're unsure about his willingness to re-sign in 2021—this is the time to field offers.
This package certainly has its perks. The No. 1 pick could bring in a new scoring guard like Anthony Edwards. Jarrett Culver, last summer's sixth pick, has shown high-level flashes at both ends. James Johnson has a $16 million expiring contract. That's a big haul for someone with injury concerns and an unsettled future.
But the Timberwolves could take that plunge, knowing a healthy Oladipo would be perfect in their trio. Minnesota desperately needs his relentless, disruptive defense, and he can increase the offensive arsenal. Since he and Russell both work on and off the ball, each could create out of isolations, run pick-and-rolls (or pick-and-pops) with Towns or serve as catch-and-launch release valves.
New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans Pelicans receive: Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, 2020 first-round pick
Brooklyn Nets receive: Jrue Holiday
The Pelicans have dabbled in win-now purchases since Zion Williamson arrived, but they should also know their best basketball lies ahead of them.
This type of trade might tightrope the line between them. New Orleans would trade away the best player, but it could still enter 2020-21 with a stronger squad.
Caris LeVert has flashed All-Star ability; he just needs to stay healthy. Spencer Dinwiddie would bring scoring and distributing either to a starting backcourt role with Lonzo Ball or as the leader of the second unit. Add a pair of first-rounders to the roster—including the top overall selection—and depth could be a significant strength if the newcomers are fast learners.
Jrue Holiday, meanwhile, would arrive as the third star Brooklyn is reportedly seeking, per ESPN's Brian Windhorst (h/t RealGM). Holiday isn't quite a household name, but he is one of only five players to average 18.5 points and 5.5 assists each of the past three seasons.
He's also one of the easiest players to fit on any roster. His shooting and defense could help him handle a complementary role when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are soaking up the spotlight, and he could take over games when needed.
New York Knicks
New York Knicks receive: Chris Paul
Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Reggie Bullock, Kevin Knox, 2020 second-round pick (via Charlotte Hornets), 2021 second-round pick
The Knicks don't need the motivation of the No. 1 pick to chase Chris Paul. They're already "gathering intel" on the floor general and former client of player-agent-turned-Knicks-president Leon Rose, per ESPN's Frank Isola.
But this probably only fuels the fire for an attempt to accelerate the rebuild. If New York eyes CP3 as a culture-changer, then whatever leadership he was going to give the team's current youngsters would equally benefit the new No. 1 pick. Any player would have an easier time alongside Paul: Anthony Edwards could feast on the scoring chances he creates; LaMelo Ball would get a master class in NBA point guard play.
What would it take for OKC to bite? Maybe not much more than taking on the remainder of Paul's contract. He's owed $41.4 million next season and holds a $44.2 million player option for 2021-22. Those are his age-35 and -36 seasons. Any trade that gets the Thunder out from underneath that mountain of money is worth exploring.
As SNY's Ian Begley detailed, the Knicks can clear enough money to effectively absorb Paul into cap space. That's why they don't need to send much to the Sooner State.
The Thunder could take a magic eraser to their financial books, get their crack at tapping into 20-year-old Kevin Knox's potential and add a few early second-rounders. It may not seem like much, but when coupled with the financial relief, it could do the trick.
Phoenix Suns receive: Lauri Markkanen
Chicago Bulls receive: Mikal Bridges, Ty Jerome, 2021 first-round pick (top-10 protected)
The Suns finally showed signs of life this season—highest winning percentage since 2014-15—but they're still a couple of pieces shy of a playoff roster. If the No. 1 pick fills one of those voids (LaMelo Ball could be phenomenal alongside Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton), then this trade might take care of the other.
Phoenix needs a stretch 4.
It hoped Dario Saric would be the answer, but that never came to fruition. Lauri Markkanen, who played his college ball at Arizona, could ace that role. The 7-footer has buried 2.2 threes per game at an above-average 35.6 percent clip over his career, and he's much more than a shooting specialist. He has handles, a post-up game and enough hops to put defenders on a poster.
But he regressed in his third season as his opportunities decreased and took both his volume and efficiency with them. In early April, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported Markkanen "was one unhappy camper" and might "rather be elsewhere" if the organization's direction didn't change. The Bulls have overhauled their front office since then, but there's no telling if that's enough to salvage the relationship.
The Suns should place an aggressive bid just to check. Markkanen is almost perfect for their roster, especially if Ayton continues to improve as a defender.
If the Bulls feel compelled to move Markkanen, this would address a major need on the wing with Mikal Bridges, add a passing (and shooting) point guard in Ty Jerome and bring back a first-rounder in what should be a good draft. If Bridges emerges as a long-term starter and the draft pick hits, Chicago could even win this trade.
Portland Trail Blazers
Portland Trail Blazers receive: Al Horford, Matisse Thybulle, 2020 second-round pick (via New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets)
Philadelphia 76ers receive: CJ McCollum
The Trail Blazers are running out of time to make it work with the Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum backcourt. The 76ers are stepping backward in what should have been the best season yet of the Joel Embiid-Ben Simmons era.
They can keep spinning their wheels, or they can help each other find traction.
If the Blazers use the top pick to replace CJ McCollum (with Anthony Edwards or LaMelo Ball), then this trade would beef up their frontcourt.
Rookie Matisse Thybulle already looks like an elite defender (12th overall in FiveThirtyEight's defensive ratings). Al Horford's ability to man the 4 or the 5 and play inside or out makes him a fit with any of Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins or Nassir Little. With one trade, Portland could jump from 27th in defensive efficiency into the upper half.
Philly, meanwhile, would land the additional shot-creator it desperately needs. McCollum's three-ball alone would give this offense breathing room (career 39.7 percent), and his slippery handles could improve the half-court attack given the looks he finds for himself and his teammates. The Sixers might be one spark to their 18th-ranked offense away from making a serious run at the title.
Sacramento Kings receive: Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Zhaire Smith, 2021 second-round pick (via New York Knicks)
Philadelphia 76ers receive: Buddy Hield, Nemanja Bjelica
The Kings spent most of this past season disappointing, then they played their best basketball after moving Hield to the bench. That's a troubling development for them and him.
His $94 million extension starts next season, and that's an ungodly amount for a quick-strike reserve. He also thinks he deserves to start and "might request a trade" if his role doesn't change, per The Athletic's Shams Charania, Sam Amick and Jason Jones.
A split might be best for both parties, and this swap would net Sacramento two plug-and-play vets and two wild cards who could amount to something. Horford could ease the burden on the Kings' young bigs and teach them invaluable tricks of the trade. Richardson's three-and-D skills would make life easier for everyone.
Add a No. 1 pick to the mix and the Kings could have the breakout season so many expected to see this year.
If Hield gets rerouted to Philly, his three-point stroke would be invaluable (career 41.1 percent). The Sixers are desperate to maximize spacing around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and Hield's quality-plus-quantity shooting demands constant defensive attention. Nemanja Bjelica could further help the floor balancing as a career 39.3 percent sharpshooter.
Each side of the potential swap has contract questions. Horford is owed a lot of money for his age, Hield makes a bunch for perhaps being a specialist. Bjelica needs a new deal after next season, and Richardson will once he declines his $11.6 million player option for 2021-22.
But all this only further balances the ledger for a potential win-win transaction.
San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs receive: Luke Kennard, 2020 first-round pick
Detroit Pistons receive: No. 1 pick
Landing the No. 1 pick could lay the foundation for a youth movement that has arguably been unavoidable since Kawhi Leonard forced his way out of town. Then again, the Spurs aren't exactly in the business of starting over.
"As long as Gregg Popovich is on the bench, they will try to win," The Athletic's Matthew Tynan wrote. "They may not go in to a season expecting to win a title but they're going to try to win games. Coaches demand it, executives demand it, ownership demands it and, of course, the fans do, too."
This trade doesn't neglect the future, but it enhances the present more than a single draft pick would.
Even if San Antonio's prospect collection is strongest on the perimeter, Luke Kennard could address an obvious shooting shortage. He averaged 2.6 threes (and shot them at a 39.9 percent clip) this season; Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Lonnie Walker IV combined for 2.0 long-range makes per game.
The Pistons, in turn, could use Kennard (a player they shopped at the deadline) to climb from the middle of the top 10 to the first overall selection. Just like that, their rebuild would find a face (Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball or James Wiseman), and their organization would form an identity.
Washington Wizards receive: John Collins
Atlanta Hawks receive: Rui Hachimura, 2020 No. 1 pick
If the Wizards craved a youth movement, they would have started it already.
While everyone waited for them to trade Bradley Beal, they extended the All-Star shooting guard instead. While countless contenders made their pitches for Davis Bertans, they kept him through the deadline and plan on re-signing him. Add a hopefully healthy John Wall to the mix and maybe Washington becomes a factor in the East again.
But the Wizards can up their chances (and their ceiling) by turning the No. 1 pick into a difference-maker.
Collins fits the bill, and if Washington ponies up whatever is needed for his extension, it could control his entire prime. He could turn heads as a third wheel, and his screen plays with Beal and Wall would be a nightmare to cover, especially when defenses must also account for Bertans' sniping.
The Hawks would send their asset collection into overdrive as they could have a pair of top-five selections in this draft, plus last year's No. 9 pick in Rui Hachimura. That's an abundance of support for Trae Young, even if not all of the youngsters pan out.
Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.