With a pair of blockbuster trades, the NBA (represented by the B/R Fantasy League) is moving full steam toward a week of very hypothetical but still intriguing trade pyrotechnics, with stars already on the move and others on the block. First, let's recap the trades that B/R GMs successfully negotiated:
The Philadelphia 76ers made the bold move of offloading the four years and $147.3 million left on Tobias Harris' contract, along with versatile guard Josh Richardson and second-year player Zhaire Smith, to the Sacramento Kings for Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes and Cory Joseph. The Kings also get a protected first-round pick from the Sixers in 2022.
The Indiana Pacers have landed former All-Star Blake Griffin from the Detroit Pistons along with shooter Svi Mykhailiuk, sending Myles Turner, Jeremy Lamb and TJ Leaf to Detroit.
B/R polled a real-world NBA Western Conference executive on the Philly-Sacramento deal to see if that would actually make sense. "Why would Philly do that? I don't think it makes them better," he said. "Tobias is overpaid, but he's better than Barnes, who is overpaid as well."
"I wanted to surround Ben Simmons with shooters," Sixers fantasy general manager Ross Schwaber answered indirectly. "We got two great ones in this deal."
"Buddy is a great shooter," the executive responded. "I think the Kings win, turning Harrison and Cory into Tobias' contract, and they get a pick."
The 2022 first-rounder is top-eight protected, otherwise converting to a pair of second-rounders (in 2022 and 2023, although the 2022 second may come from the Denver Nuggets). Provided the Sixers stay healthy, they shouldn't be a bottom-eight team in two seasons.
The Sixers' focus on Simmons begs the question: is Joel Embiid safe? B/R fantasy sources indicate the All-Star center is believed to be available, but Philadelphia would be looking for a significant return.
Meanwhile, the Pacers are gambling on Griffin's knees.
"Blake still has some left in the tank. He is in phenomenal shape right now [recovered from his knee surgery]," one real-world player agent said. "I always thought [Domantas] Sabonis needs to play the 5 to be more of a matchup nightmare. I like that pairing more than Turner and Sabonis."
A different real-world NBA agent had a very different take.
"Huge win for Detroit. I can't believe they were able to trade Griffin with $76 million left on his contract," he said. "Myles will have an immediate impact on a Detroit roster that is in need of a big."
With Turner out, the Pacers are still shopping for a backup center. The Pistons are also believed to be dangling Derrick Rose.
The Phoenix Suns are at least willing to discuss moving their best scorer in Devin Booker, albeit at a premium.
One team to keep an eye on would be the Minnesota Timberwolves, who would like to help Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell with Booker. The challenge might be convincing James Johnson to opt in to his $16 million salary for 2020-21 ahead of the draft. That's more money than Johnson is likely to make in free agency, but timing is everything. If he delays, he won't be available to the Wolves to help match Booker's $27.3 million salary.
The Denver Nuggets are believed to also have interest in Booker, with promising young forward Michael Porter Jr. likely to be used as a key piece in a multi-player offer.
The Suns, who are motivated to remake their roster, are one of the most active teams on the market heading into the draft.
Bucks Counting on Giannis
The Milwaukee Bucks are eager to sit down with the league's Most Valuable Player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, to discuss a supermax extension. While sources indicate teams are flooding the Bucks with calls testing the waters, they've all gotten a harsh "no" from Milwaukee.
Will that tune change if Antetokounmpo rejects a massive payday to stay in Milwaukee? That's still to be determined.
The Bucks are also rejecting offers for Khris Middleton but hope to improve by adding a high-level wing or point guard. If that would cost the Bucks one of Eric Bledsoe or Donte DiVincenzo, then the offer would need to include a star.
Jrue Staying or Going?
The New Orleans Pelicans are believed to be exploring all options for guard Jrue Holiday, including a long-term extension or a trade. Several contenders are interested, including the Brooklyn Nets and Bucks, if extension talks fall apart.
Holiday, who is under contract for next season at $26.2 million, has a player option for 2021-22 at $27.1 million. The Pelicans will need to pay Brandon Ingram this summer and can give extensions to both Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. Holiday may eventually fall out of their price range, but he's an important part of why the team is competitive.
The New York Knicks insist they are not trading Mitchell Robinson. Anyone else, including their No. 2 pick? That's a different question.
Jim Boylen's time may be nearing an end in Chicago with the Bulls, B/R fantasy sources say. The Lauri Markkanen sweepstakes have also ramped up in Chicago, but will teams view the young stretch 4 as a future cornerstone or an inevitable bust?
As always, the Houston Rockets are open for business to build a contender around James Harden.
The Los Angeles Lakers are testing the market for Kyle Kuzma. League insiders may finally get a true sense of his market value by week's end.
The Portland Trail Blazers don't expect to trade CJ McCollum, despite multiple inquiries. Every player has a price, and the Blazers have a high one on McCollum.
A third of the league has expressed interest in Orlando Magic breakout big Jonathan Isaac. Adding young shooting remains a priority for Magic management.
Sources indicate the Wizards could be compelled to deal Rui Hachimura for an overwhelming offer. The Washington rookie proved himself very capable of starter-level minutes this season. Besides their star-studded backcourt, the Wizards have needs up and down the roster.
Raptors breakout guard OG Anunoby continues to garner interest from around the league. Keep an eye out for Denver, which has plentiful assets to dangle. A Jamal Murray swap has been discussed, a source says.
Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter, @EricPincus.