Ranking Every NBA Team's Top 3 Offseason Trade Targets
With cap space at a premium and few stars available, a quiet 2020 NBA free-agency period could lead to a busy trade market.
Proactive front offices should already be drafting their Plan B and C alternatives, since they'll likely share trade targets with other organizations in the same tier.
From the win-now buyers to the whale-hunters and even the long-term rebuilders, we have mapped each franchise's top three options for offseason trades.
The idea is to stay within reason when it comes to affordability and availability, though both are generously applied. We're all the way on board with fanbases dreaming large, so long as we stop short of letting expectations grow impossibly big.
1. Brandon Ingram (sign-and-trade)
2. Spencer Dinwiddie
3. Aaron Holiday
The Hawks are rare for having money to spend and rarer for being a rebuilding club that has already unearthed a star (Trae Young). They should aggressively attack the market for a co-star (ideally along the wings) and find a way to stop the scoring skids that occur when Young needs a breather (15.5 points worse per 100 possessions without him).
Ingram might be impossible to get as a restricted free agent, but he's the clearest fit for Atlanta's needs and timeline. The Hawks have little to lose by tying up their cap space with a max offer to Ingram, even if the New Orleans Pelicans will almost certainly match.
If Atlanta can pry Dinwiddie away from the Brooklyn Nets, he works both in relief of and alongside Young. Holiday might be restricted to instant-offense reserve duties, but that's a valuable role for keeping things afloat without Young and keeping him fresh.
Ingram is the best player on this big board, and he could raise the Hawks' ceiling the highest. Dinwiddie has the edge over Holiday in impact, though if Atlanta takes a long-term view of this offseason, their order could be flipped.
1. Joel Embiid
2. John Collins
3. Patty Mills
Boston's big-man collection has exceeded expectations this season, but it remains the weak spot of an otherwise heavyweight contender. Daniel Theis is a good enough fit for the Shamrocks to pass over marginal upgrades, but if they can swing for the fences—if the Philadelphia 76ers dramatically shake things up, Embiid could be squeezed out—they might connect on the missing piece to their championship puzzle.
It seems like a long shot that two division rivals would swap major parts, but if the C's and Sixers can set their feelings aside, they might find the other is most capable of scratching their itch. Embiid would be a fascinating co-star with Jayson Tatum, and Brad Stevens could scheme ways to get the most out of his new big man. A swap might cost Jaylen Brown, but it could be Boston's best chance to pair two top-10 players.
Collins wouldn't make nearly as big of a splash, but he also wouldn't carry the same price tag. The bouncy big man is extension-eligible this offseason, and the Hawks are hesitant to give him "significant money," per The Athletic's Chris Kirschner. If Boston doesn't mind biting that bullet, it adds a rim-protector, floor-spacer and screen-setter on the same timeline as Tatum and Brown.
The C's have a quiet need for more scoring and shooting behind their top guns. Mills, who might be available if the San Antonio Spurs take the rebuilding road, can slot in as a sniping specialist with a 38.9 percent career connection rate from range.
1. Bradley Beal
2. Victor Oladipo
3. Rudy Gobert
The Nets are still star-searching even after last summer delivered Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. They seem determined to construct basketball's next Big Three, and they might have the trade chips to get it done.
"Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen are all names that rival executives believe to be available in some form," ESPN's Tim Bontemps reported. "They could be attractive pieces for the Nets to package together to land a third star that sends them to the top of the conference."
Beal, currently the silver medalist in the scoring race at at 30.5 points per game, might tilt this offense into ludicrous territory. The only question is whether the Washington Wizards will make him available, and it still seems the answer is no. But perhaps an aggressive offer from the Nets could change that.
Oladipo is an interesting case since he's extension-eligible but tricky to pay given his uneven performances over the past two injury-riddled campaigns. He's the riskiest of the three targets, though he might offer the cleanest fit as someone who defends but can create his shot if needed.
Gobert may not be on the chopping block, as he's reportedly on "good terms" with Donovan Mitchell now, per The Athletic's Tony Jones. But if Brooklyn determines that defense is the best area to upgrade—any attack co-piloted by Durant and Irving will be potent—then the two-time Defensive Player of the Year is certainly worth some consideration.
1. Brandon Ingram (sign-and-trade)
2. Christian Wood (sign-and-trade)
3. Montrezl Harrell (sign-and-trade)
The Hornets need a face for the post-Kemba Walker era, a go-to option on offense and a long-term solution at center, probably in that order. All three of these players check at least two of those boxes.
Ingram is the ideal option. As a 22-year-old All-Star who hails from North Carolina and spent his only college campaign at Duke, he could put the buzz back in Buzz City. As one of six players averaging 24 points, six boards, four assists and two triples, he'd give this group a legitimate difference-maker and let everyone slide back into roles that better fit their skills.
Wood can scratch the itch at center if his late-season surge was no fluke. If he is who the numbers think he is—22.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.7 threes over his final 13 outings—Charlotte might have the next unicorn on its hands. Harrell, another N.C. native, has a longer track record and sizable scoring punch (career 21.9 points per 36 minutes), though he's more limited as a defender and not at all a shooting threat.
Ingram is a tremendous long shot as a restricted free agent, but unless the Hornets are dead-set on a specific center target, there's no harm in throwing a big offer sheet at him. Whenever Ingram declines their overtures, they can set their sights on Wood and Harrell, hopefully not parting with much in any sign-and-trade swaps since this organization needs all of the assets it can get.
1. Jrue Holiday
2. Josh Richardson
3. Mo Bamba
While the Bulls' new front office could shy away from rocking the boat so early in their regime, the clock is ticking to see what this nucleus can achieve. If that means aiming for as much as it can afford, Chicago could take a long look at Holiday, who can play with one, both or neither of Zach LaVine and Coby White.
If a Holiday-level acquisition proves too rich, Chicago should give some attention to its underwhelming wing collection. The Bulls were desperate for wing depth before Otto Porter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison struggled staying healthy. Richardson's three-and-D game would be a snug fit for this roster, provided Chicago didn't ask much from him in terms of shot-creation.
If the Bulls are thinking further ahead, they should scour the market for potentially undervalued prospects. Bamba, who's been blocked by Nikola Vucevic in Orlando, is a perfect example. With patience, he could shine as an elite shot-blocker who also stretches out to the perimeter on offense. Putting him with Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. gives the front office three chances to find two long-term fits for the frontcourt.
1. Draft Picks
2. Nassir Little
3. Troy Brown Jr.
In the two seasons since LeBron James exited Northeast Ohio for the second time, the Cavaliers have 38 wins and 109 losses. They remain in the early stages of a top-to-bottom rebuild, and as such, they should prioritize assets over everything.
Does someone have a pick or two on the table for Kevin Love? How about Larry Nance Jr., Cedi Osman or Dante Exum? Anyone not named Collin Sexton, Darius Garland or Kevin Porter Jr. should probably be available to the highest bidder, and even then, there are acceptable trade offers for any member of that trio.
A tier beneath draft picks are prospects, since they haven't done enough for their employers to consider them untouchable.
Little tops prospect the list for two reasons. For starters, he's a forward with a towering ceiling on defense. While Cleveland shouldn't yet weigh positional needs too heavily, it always helps when the puzzle pieces fit. Secondly, if Little is coming out of Portland, there's a decent chance Kevin Love is going back—and coming off Cleveland's payroll.
A half-rung down the ladder is Brown, who might be made available if the Wizards think he isn't quite ready to help their win-now pursuit. The 6'6" swingman defends and moves the basketball, neither of which is a top strength of any member of Cleveland's young core.
1. Bradley Beal
2. CJ McCollum
3. Rudy Gobert
The Mavs have the most efficient offense in NBA history with 21-year-old Luka Doncic behind the wheel and 24-year-old Kristaps Porzingis in the passenger seat. They could easily decide their best move is no move at all.
But this might be the best time to buy big since they're getting MVP-caliber production from Doncic while he's still hooping on his rookie deal. There's room in the budget for a top-shelf purchase, and for as well as Tim Hardaway Jr. has played this season, there's still an opening for the final slot in Dallas' Big Three.
Beal would be a godsend. The Mavs need another high-level creator to keep defenses from overcrowding Doncic, and ideally, that player would also add value as an off-ball shooter and a defender. Beal certainly checks the first two boxes (career 21.0 points per game, 38.0 three-point percentage), and despite some recent regression on defense, he can still be an asset on that end if joining a contender reignites his flame.
McCollum answers the bell for self-sufficient scoring and spacing, though he'd do nothing to improve the Mavs' 17th-ranked defense. Gobert would help provide better balance, although the defensive gains might be accompanied by some offensive regression. This might be a 2A, 2B situation in terms of preference, but McCollum gets the nod here since the Mavs can't spawn a scorer of his caliber but can field a competent center rotation sans Gobert.
1. Jrue Holiday
2. Matisse Thybulle
3. Al-Farouq Aminu
As a low-maintenance, two-way combo guard, Holiday fits with a lot of teams. But his fit is especially enticing in Denver, which could reasonably decide he's the final piece that pushes this core over the top.
If the outgoing package is built around Gary Harris and perhaps Michael Porter Jr., the only major change to the rotation is the massive upgrade from Harris to Holiday. Both are dogged defenders, but Holiday is by far the superior scorer and table-setter. Put him next to Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, Will Barton and likely one of Jerami Grant or Paul Millsap, and you're looking at one of the best starting fives in basketball.
But maybe the Nuggets aren't looking for a change that great—a reasonable stance given their .662 winning percentage and the ages of Jokic (25), Murray (23) and Porter (22). In that case, they should turn their attention toward finding a forward stopper, especially if they're less than certain about bringing Torrey Craig back in restricted free agency.
Thybulle looks like an All-Defensive team-member-in-training, which might make him tricky to get, but a quick playoff exit could put everything on the table in Philly. If that's aiming too high, Aminu is a more than serviceable option. He shouldn't be overly expensive since he's coming off knee surgery, plus a crowded Magic frontcourt will only get more congested once Chuma Okeke joins the fold.
1. Draft picks
2. John Collins
3. Dennis Smith Jr.
The Pistons are so new to the rebuilding process, they haven't even sketched their blueprint yet. Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya and Svi Mykhailiuk effectively comprise the foundation, which is another way of saying no foundation exists.
This is asset-accumulation time, and you could argue the top three targets should all be draft picks. It's tough to tell what all Detroit could sell to gain more throws at the dart board, but Derrick Rose remains a coveted commodity. For the right buyer, maybe Tony Snell and Blake Griffin are, too.
If Detroit targets players, an impact prospect tops the list. Those are typically tricky to find, but the unanswered contract questions with Collins could make him cheaper than his numbers say he should be. He's a 22-year-old who just averaged 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds while compiling a 58.3/40.1/80.0 shooting slash in his third NBA season. That's the kind of foundational talent the Motor City needs.
If the Pistons decide they can't give up legitimate assets for anyone, then a low-cost (or no-cost) flier on a former top prospect makes a lot of sense. There aren't statistical reasons to keep hope alive for Smith, but he's a 22-year-old super-athlete who was taken ninth overall in 2017. Detroit loses nothing by giving him the keys and letting him test-drive the offense next season.
Golden State Warriors
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
2. John Collins
3. Myles Turner
Armed with a top draft pick and major-money matchers and ready to re-enter championship-or-bust mode next season, the Warriors are positioned to make a cannon-ball splash. The first order of business should be seeing what happens with Antetokounmpo's supermax offer and being ready to pounce if he declines.
The cost would be substantial, but a return this rich is worth it, as NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh said:
"When you look at Giannis Antetokounmpo and what he is doing at this age when he hasn't really figured out a jump shot yet, we are talking an all-time great player. So yes, if we are talking Klay Thompson with Andrew Wiggins in a package with the No. 1 pick, or whatever the top pick would be for the Warriors this year, I think that package you'd put on the table for Giannis Antetokounmpo because he is that good."
If Antetokounmpo is out of reach, then attention shifts to whatever Golden State can get back for its 2020 first-rounder.
Maybe that's enough for Collins, who could fill the tertiary scoring role and address a need for frontcourt athleticism. Turner is right on his heels and might be the better basketball fit for his superior rim protection. But his contract is trickier to fit in the budget ($18 million salary), so a trade for him could cause a bigger disruption to this rotation.
1. Myles Turner
2. LaMarcus Aldridge
3. Doug McDermott
As much as people have treated the deadline deal of Clint Capela for Robert Covington as a full commitment to small-ball, size didn't drive that decision. Spacing was the real goal, as removing a non-shooter like Capela cleared the runway for Russell Westbrook and James Harden to attack.
Turner can give Houston that shooting without the size sacrifice that makes it so vulnerable on the glass (29th in rebounding percentage since the trade deadline). He hit 38.8 percent of his long-range looks last season, and he's now launching more than four of them per game. He'd be a snug fit for this offense, and his interior presence could launch the defense up from 16th in efficiency.
Aldridge is the older, more expensive alternative, and he isn't quite as comfortable biding his time on the perimeter. However, he could be significantly cheaper in a trade, his $24 million salary only runs through next season, and his individual shot creation would expand this attack's half-court menu.
If the bigs don't fit the budget (or the franchise's plans), then Houston should focus on its fixation with outside shots. McDermott's career 41.3 shooting percentage from distance is sure to catch the Rockets' attention, and a relocation to Space City might bring out his best, as he isn't as quick to launch as that connection rate insists he should be.
1. Gordon Hayward
2. Caris LeVert
3. Harrison Barnes
The Pacers need a top-tier scorer either to complement Victor Oladipo or to replace him if he departs between now and 2021 free agency. Hayward, a Circle City native, could be perfect for the job.
"The kind of player Hayward is, is the kind of player they would definitely be interested in," J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star told NBC Sports Boston's A. Sherrod Blakely.
Hayward holds a $34.2 million player option for next season, so the Pacers would want some assurance of a long-term commitment before trading significant players to get him. But if that part gets worked out, this is a no-brainer. He has dazzled in both featured and secondary roles, so he can fit however Indiana needs him.
LeVert offers another way to address this issue, although he's never been as productive—by volume or efficiency—as Hayward. LeVert is five years younger, though, so he should have a wider window to contribute and probably hasn't played his best basketball yet.
If the Pacers don't cough up the trade chips to get those players, an overpaid but perhaps undervalued player like Barnes makes sense. He increases the depth and defensive versatility at both forward spots, and he adds another scoring option in what's already an egalitarian offense.
Los Angeles Clippers
1. Kyle Lowry
2. Steven Adams
3. Andre Drummond
The Kawhi Leonard- and Paul George-led Clippers still offer the occasional whiff of that new-car smell, yet the franchise is already fighting against the clock. Both players can enter free agency in 2021, so L.A. should keep the gas pedal floored in its search for championship-caliber complementary pieces.
Lowry would massively upgrade the point guard position and reunite with Leonard, championship teammates on last season's Toronto Raptors. The Clippers could go from choosing between offensive (Lou Williams, Reggie Jackson) and defensive (Patrick Beverley) specialists to having a legitimate, two-way difference-maker. Lowry ranks sixth overall in ESPN.com's real plus-minus, while holding down the position's sixth spot on offense and defense.
It might be tough to imagine Toronto trading Lowry now, but plenty can change by the offseason. A plethora of Raptors rotation players are heading into free agency—including Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka—and Toronto must carefully manage its finances to allow for a 2021 run at Giannis. There's at least a non-zero chance of Lowry getting squeezed out, especially if the Raptors get knocked out the playoffs early.
The center spot is arguably a bigger need—particularly if Montrezl Harrell walks in free agency—but the position is muted a bit in the modern game. It still makes sense to leave no stone unturned in an effort to upgrade the 5. Adams is a wrecking ball as a screener, roller and interior anchor, and while Drummond ranks lower in skill, his bloated $28.8 million salary could mean he costs next to nothing in trades.
Los Angeles Lakers
1. Spencer Dinwiddie
2. Buddy Hield
3. Derrick Rose
The Lakers probably don't have the trade chips to snag a third star, but they can shop anywhere from the second tier or below.
A playmaking and scoring point guard sits atop the wish list, making Dinwiddie an interesting option. He isn't quite the shooter (career 31.8 percent from three) that L.A. would like to put alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but if Dinwiddie's ability to run offense and create scoring chances makes it easier for the Lakers' stars to rest, that's still a substantial impact.
If L.A. puts a priority on shooting, Hield would zoom to the top of the list. His lack of shot-creation keeps him out of that spot here, but it's easy to envision his quality-plus-quantity shot—2.7 career threes per game at a 41.1 percent clip—shining alongside Hollywood's stars. Plus, the Sacramento Kings might deem him expendable if they ink Bogdan Bogdanovic to a big-dollar deal in restricted free agency.
Rose scratches similar itches to Dinwiddie, but he's older and has a lengthy injury history. He has been a more efficient shooter, though that's due in part to the fact he's a much more reluctant shooter from range.
1. Lauri Markkanen
2. Kevin Huerter
3. Kyle Kuzma
After acing the past two drafts, the Grizzlies suddenly have one of the best young cores in basketball. Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. looks like a transformational twosome, and Memphis should look to complement its young stars with players who fit their timeline and play styles.
Markkanen would be perfect, provided he's available. He was reportedly unhappy with the Bulls back in April, per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, but the organization has since overhauled the front office. Either way, he's a near-perfect on-court addition, since he can space the floor, run pick-and-pops and create his own opportunities off the dribble or posting up.
Huerter is a more dependent player, but as a 6'7" three-point sniper, it's easy to see how he'd fit the puzzle. It's more difficult to imagine Atlanta letting him go, but if the Hawks target a backcourt player like Anthony Edwards or LaMelo Ball early in the draft, maybe they'd shop Huerter for help elsewhere.
Kuzma is the older, worse-shooting version of Markkanen. The Grizzlies would still be getting a high-level third scorer, though, and Kuzma might spread his wings in unexpected ways outside of the Hollywood spotlight.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
2. Joel Embiid
3. Bradley Beal
These are admittedly ambitious targets, but the Heat have a habit of turning wild dreams into realities. (They entered last summer with no cap space and left it with Jimmy Butler. Never doubt Pat Riley.)
They also have reasons to dream wildly big. They are incredibly flexible from a financial standpoint, especially for a team with a .631 winning percentage and non-zero chance of conquering the conference. They also have ins with basically every top player on the market. Antetokounmpo has a friendship with (and the same agent as) Bam Adebayo, Embiid considers Butler a brother, and Beal has a deep respect for the franchise.
While some might argue for Miami holding onto its assets—some combination of Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson must go to get any of these stars—and waiting for 2021 free agency, urgency is always an acceptable mindset for a club in close proximity to contention. Plus, Riley isn't getting any younger (75 as of March), and neither is Butler (31 in September).
It's wild to think of Beal and especially Embiid as anything other than first priorities, but Antetokounmpo is on a Mount Rushmore trajectory. Embiid is the second-best player in the East behind the Greek Freak, and his arrival would almost lock in Miami as the NBA's best defense. Beal could address a major need for shot-creation, and he would enhance what's already a top-tier three-point attack.
1. Chris Paul
2. Evan Fournier
3. Future first-round picks
If the Bucks are pursuing a major trade this offseason, that's probably a bad sign. It likely means something went wrong in the postseason, and if that something was another playoff flop from Eric Bledsoe, then finding his replacement tops the to-do list.
Paul would be perfect. (For anyone inserting a snarky comment about CP3's playoff resume here, just realize he has the sixth-highest career postseason PER among all players with 50-plus games.) He gives Milwaukee a top decision-maker in the half-court, while expanding the offensive range (career 37.0 percent from three) and sacrificing little if anything on defense (seventh at his position in defensive real plus-minus).
A scoring wing with three-point range could be a big help if the Bucks can't afford (or don't want to pay) Paul. Fournier could be interesting. He's putting up a career-high 18.8 points on 47.0/40.6/82.0 shooting, and he might be available for cheap if Orlando is desperate to unload his $17.2 million player option.
If Milwaukee is forced to trade Giannis, it needs to bring back a future-focused package. While a Mike Budenholzer-led team featuring Bledsoe, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez should be pretty good, there's little hope for elevation. The Bucks needs major rebuilding tools (specifically picks in deeper drafts than the upcoming one), not their version of the DeMar DeRozan package that the San Antonio Spurs received for Kawhi Leonard.
1. Aaron Gordon
2. Otto Porter Jr.
3. Frank Ntilikina
The Wolves should have an elite offense with Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell as co-pilots. But the defense will almost certainly be disastrous if they don't bolster it this offseason.
A positionless stopper like Gordon would help limit the bleeding. He could take on the opponent's top scoring option most nights, and his athleticism would perk up on offense when sharing the floor with playmakers like Towns and Russell.
Porter would plug into a three-and-D role, only with more of the former than the latter as compared to Gordon. He has also had trouble staying healthy as of late, but between the injury woes and his massive $28.5 million player option, he may not cost much more than salary-filler.
Ntilikina's defense would obviously help that end, but the question is whether he adds enough to the other to play significant minutes. Non-shooters have trouble seeing floor time in the modern game, let alone 6'4" non-shooters who also don't distinguish themselves as passers (career 3.1 assists per game) or inside-the-arc attackers (career 39.8 percent on two-pointers).
New Orleans Pelicans
1. Myles Turner
2. Lauri Markkanen
3. Duncan Robinson
Life in the Big Easy is all about making Zion Williamson as comfortable as possible. While Derrick Favors made for a fine first-year frontcourt partner, his injury issues and limited offensive range highlight the opportunity to upgrade.
Turner would be ideal. His three-ball is sharp enough to keep Williamson's launching pad open around the basket, and Turner's rim protection would allow Williamson to roam defensively.
Markkanen offers an even better fit on offense, but the defensive hit might be more than the Pels could take. Even with Favors, a reliable anchor when healthy, New Orleans landed 20th in defensive efficiency. Markkanen wouldn't help turn that number around.
If the Pelicans opt to trade Jrue Holiday, they need to bring back impact players. The sweet-shooting Robinson, who ranks third in total threes and fifth in percentage among players with 100-plus attempts, would demand enough defensive attention for Williamson to have room to work near the basket.
New York Knicks
1. John Collins
2. Jarrett Culver
3. Anfernee Simons
A portion of the Knicks' fanbase—and the front office—might reserve the No. 1 spot for Chris Paul, a former client of new team president Leon Rose. For a franchise stuck in point guard purgatory, it isn't hard to see the appeal of the point god.
But Paul is 35 years old and owed $41.4 million next season (plus a $44.2 million player option for the following campaign). Anyone bringing him onboard needs to know he's the finishing piece. The Knicks haven't even started their puzzle yet.
They (hopefully) have two cornerstones in Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett. That's it. They are desperate for young talent, and they need the kind who won't cost much since they shouldn't be in the business of sacrificing prime assets.
If they're willing to pay Collins what the Hawks aren't, he's an obvious target. He isn't quite the perfect partner for Robinson upfront, but Collins' expanding range give that twosome a chance to work. Culver might be had for cheap after a rough rookie season, and his versatility points to a glue-guy future. Simons struggled to meet expectations as a sophomore and perhaps never will, but he still boasts an intriguing blend of athleticism and shot-making.
Oklahoma City Thunder
1. Draft picks
2. Mikal Bridges
3. Dennis Smith Jr.
The Thunder could have been rocked by last summer's departures of Paul George and Russell Westbrook. They instead constructed one of the finest asset collections around—while also fielding a surprisingly competitive roster.
Now, the challenge is remembering the primary focus belongs on the rebuilding project, not the competitive side. Rather than re-upping with Danilo Gallinari and retaining all of the high-priced vets, OKC should be ready and willing to discuss anyone over the age of 22. Draft picks remain the top target, both to give the Thunder more chances at a jackpot and to keep the coffers stocked if the right trade opportunity comes along.
Prospects are the next area of focus, and a role player like Bridges will help with whatever the Thunder are building. He doesn't have the upside of a star (which helps keep his price manageable), but his shooting and defensive versatility work alongside anyone. He could also get squeezed out in Phoenix if the Suns focus on upgrading the forward spots.
Finally, any prospect with a pennies-on-the-dollar clearance sticker is worth considering. Smith may seem a strange target given the glut at point guard, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the only long-term keeper in the mix, and he just proved he can coexist with other lead guards.
1. Zach LaVine
2. Caris LeVert
3. Blake Griffin
The Magic are approaching an organizational crossroads. They'll either soon commit to the young core headlined by the likes of Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz and Mo Bamba, or they'll upgrade the roster to give this nucleus another chance of climbing the Eastern Conference ladder.
Considering Orlando kicked the tires on DeMar DeRozan in November, it seems the front office is still thinking in present terms.
LaVine's lack of team success might scare off some suitors, but the Magic are desperate enough for his offense to look past it. They have the seventh-worst offense in basketball, even though Nikola Vucevic keeps providing his unique combination of interior scoring, outside shooting and distributing. This attack just needs a focal point, and LaVine, one of five players averaging 25 points, four assists and three triples, could handle the gig.
LeVert might be up to the challenge, too, though he's older and less productive than LaVine. Still, there's a chance he's farther from his ceiling than LaVine, since he's played a little more than half as many games (207 to 353).
If Orlando really wants to give this group some oomph, maybe a low, low cost gamble on Griffin is worth it. His injury history is terrifying, but he's only one season removed from being a difference-maker (24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 2018-19).
1. Jrue Holiday
2. Buddy Hield
3. Chris Paul
It's tough setting Philadelphia's targets without knowing its postseason fate. The Sixers have perhaps more at stake than anyone in these playoffs, at least in terms of the ramifications of an early exit.
"If Philadelphia fails to advance past the second round for the third straight season, the job statuses of coach Brett Brown and general manager Elton Brand will come into question—and the possibility of trading either Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid will gain traction," according to ESPN's Tim Bontemps.
If the Sixers are dispatched ahead of schedule, they should explore significant changes. However, the issue isn't the Simmons-Embiid pairing, but rather the players around them.
They need more shooting and creativity in the backcourt, and Holiday, who made his only All-Star appearance as a pre-Process Sixer, checks both boxes. He also holds his own (and then some) on defense, which makes him an ideal target if Philly can afford him.
A teamwide shooting shortage makes Hield an obvious target, especially if the Sacramento Kings still have interest in Al Horford after pursuing him in 2019 free agency. The idea of Paul in Philly is fascinating, and the fit makes a ton of basketball sense. But his age and contract complicate things.
1. Lauri Markkanen
2. Aaron Gordon
3. John Collins
The Suns have an All-Star off-guard in Devin Booker and a blossoming big man in Deandre Ayton. Tack on a stabilizing floor general in Ricky Rubio and a collection of young wings with varying degrees of upside, and Phoenix has something close to a playoff-caliber core.
But power forward remains a weak spot, and that should drive the Suns' pursuits.
Markkanen tops the list for several reasons. He can play the pick-and-pop or pick-and-roll game with Booker, and his outside shot gives Ayton more room to operate. The fact Markkanen played his college ball at Arizona doesn't hurt, either, since the Suns averaged the fourth-fewest fans this season.
Gordon, another former Wildcat, actually sparked the Suns' interest at the trade deadline, per The Athletic's Shams Charania. Gordon's defensive versatility might put him a tick above Collins, though both make for interesting targets.
Chris Paul does as well if the Suns want a go-big-or-go-home offseason, but that seems overly aggressive when Booker is 23 years old and Ayton is only 21.
Portland Trail Blazers
1. Ben Simmons
2. Rudy Gobert
3. Josh Richardson
Let's. Get. Wild.
Sure, the Blazers could focus on another round of marginal upgrades knowing they're only one injury-riddled season removed from a trip to the Western Conference Finals. But with Damian Lillard's 30th birthday fast approaching, this might finally be time to examine a dramatic shakeup.
Yes, that means cutting ties with CJ McCollum, which won't be easy and shouldn't be done without a major piece coming back to Portland. But let's assume the Sixers actually entertain offers for Simmons this summer. Maybe a combination of McCollum, multiple prospects and draft picks gets their attention.
Put Simmons alongside Lillard, and you could have the NBA's next great pick-and-roll combo. They'd hold nightly fireworks shows on fast-break chances, and Simmons might be the Swiss army knife needed to fix Portland's 27th-ranked defense.
If Simmons is too ambitious (he probably is), maybe there's a way to turn McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic into Gobert and more. With Lillard leading the offense and Gobert anchoring the defense, Portland could strike the two-way balance needed to compete at a high level.
If Portland holds onto McCollum, it should conduct its latest search for two-way wings. Richardson's defense and spacing would have value if he gets cast aside during an active offseason in Philly.
1. Michael Porter Jr.
2. Kyle Kuzma
3. Jarrett Allen
Barring a miracle run through the Magic Kingdom, the Kings will be left enduring another year of the Association's longest active playoff drought (13 years and counting). Through that lens, it's tempting to forgive this franchise for continually attempting to accelerate its rebuild.
But at some point (preferably this offseason), Sacramento should change its target from instant gratification—i.e., throwing a ton of money at Trevor Ariza, Dewayne Dedmon and Cory Joseph—to sustainable success. While De'Aaron Fox looks like a star-in-training, no one else has consistently flashed that kind of ability. That should have the Kings scrambling to find the highest ceilings on the trade market.
If the Nuggets make a major move, Sacramento should try jumping in as a third team (perhaps with Buddy Hield headed elsewhere) and getting its mitts on Porter. It's impossible to know what his future holds after only 670 career minutes, but his potential as a three-level scorer would make him an ideal running mate with Fox and Marvin Bagley III.
Kuzma could become a No. 2 or No. 3 scorer, though he's a trickier on-court fit without Bagley transitioning to a full-time role at center. If Bagley sticks at the 4, that could put Allen into consideration, but a Fox-Bagley-Allen trio is starved for spacing on paper.
San Antonio Spurs
1. Draft picks
2. Luke Kennard
3. Terry Rozier
After attempting to delay their post-Kawhi Leonard rebuild, the Spurs will soon have no choice other than leaning into a youth movement. DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills and Rudy Gay are all ticketed for 2021 free agency, and the Alamo City might seek out a clean split from all four.
First, though, it should see whether anyone would part with draft considerations to get a member of that quartet. DeRozan is one of seven players averaging 22 points, five assists and five rebounds. Aldridge is a two-way center with three-point range. Mills is a flamethrower from distance. Gay has spark-plug scoring ability and some defensive versatility. Someone might part with a pick to add one of the four.
If picks are off the table, then prospects are next. The Spurs don't have the trade chips to snag the most coveted around, but a mid-tier option like Kennard has purpose. His three-point shot (career 40.2 percent) could unclog future offenses in San Antonio, and his age (24), recent knee problems and 2021 restricted free agency might make him available at a discounted rate.
Assuming the Spurs don't completely abandon competitiveness—Gregg Popovich is pulling the strings, after all—then Rozier could be an option for helping both today and tomorrow. His scoring and shooting can complement the DeRozan-Aldridge combo now, and the 26-year-old is young enough to fit with Murray later. Between Rozier's $18.9 million salary and Devonte' Graham's ascension, there might be reasons for the Hornets to cut bait.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
2. Steven Adams
3. Nemanja Bjelica
Any team that feels it's seriously in the running for Antetokounmpo should be ready to place an aggressive bid this summer in case the Bucks are forced to field them. Toronto already knows the possible reward of adding a superstar ahead of his final season under contract, so even if Giannis bolts next summer, the Raptors could hang another NBA championship banner before he goes.
While most expect the Raptors to decide between Marc Gasol and Ibaka this offseason—Chris Boucher is a free agent, too—they could instead look to upgrade the position. If Toronto can live without spacing from the 5 spot, it might get even more from Adams' athleticism and defense. His contract also comes off the books next summer, so he wouldn't spoil the 2021 plans.
Neither would Bjelica, though his impact wouldn't be as significant. Saying that, his combination of size (6'10") and shooting (career-high 42.4 three-point percentage) would add yet another layer to what's already a multidimensional attack.
1. Nemanja Bjelica
2. Kevin Love
3. Zach Collins
Assuming the Jazz opt against breaking apart the Rudy Gobert-Donovan Mitchell combo—trading either would require a serious haul of prospects and picks going back to Salt Lake City—they should work on fine-tuning their roster.
The easiest way to get that done is finding a stretch big. Bjelica might be the smoothest fit next to Gobert in terms of position and cost, as a 32-year-old role player fits almost any budget but can nudge a win-now roster a little higher up the ladder.
Love has long been a pipe dream for Utah, and maybe that's still the case. His contract is tricky to fit in the budget, and given his defensive limitations, he may not justify the cap gymnastics. But if the numbers could work, he'd be a fun pick-and-choose partner for Mitchell, a floor-spacer for Gobert and a bail-out option late in offensive possessions.
If Gobert does go, then Collins is the type of prospect worth targeting. Still only 22, the 6'11" combo big could become a shot-blocking, floor-spacing unicorn sooner than later.
1. Tyler Herro
2. Michael Porter Jr.
3. Julius Randle
The Wizards probably don't have their trade target list ordered this way, since they seem committed to taking another long look at the Bradley Beal-John Wall backcourt.
Consider this a call, then, for them to reconsider.
Before even entertaining the idea of how a 30-year-old Wall might look coming off an Achilles tear, there just hasn't been much success between the two. This is Beal's eighth season in the District. The Wizards are 308-330 with three playoff series wins and zero postseason trips past the second round over that stretch.
If nothing else, that should be reason for Washington to at least hear what's available for Beal. It would take a special offer to get him, which is why Herro and Porter top our wish list for the Wizards. Porter might have the highest individual ceiling, but Herro is younger, doesn't have the same health concerns and could prove better at elevating his teammates as a shooting threat and willing passer.
If the Wizards want another go-round for their longtime backcourt, they should target plug-and-play contributors who cost little or nothing. Randle fits that bill, since his limitations (no shooting, rim protection or consistent on-ball defense) outweigh his pay rate ($18.9 million next season). But if the Knicks just want him off their books, he shouldn't have trouble getting run in Washington.
Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.