1 Offseason Trade Every NBA Team Should Already Be Thinking About
The 2020 NBA offseason has already arrived for the eight teams left out of the Orlando bubble, and it will get here in short order for the other 22.
Considering the unique challenges of this campaign's accelerated calendar, all clubs should be devoting at least a portion of their resources to offseason strategizing.
With free agency threatening to be a dud—cap space and top-level free agents are both scarce—the trade market is where most clubs will need to go to dramatically shake up their roster. We're here to help them navigate it.
We have a trade idea each team should already be exploring, whether tearing down in a rebuild, loading up for a championship push or existing somewhere in between.
Atlanta Hawks: Sign-and-Trade for Brandon Ingram
Between Trae Young's All-Star ascension and Clint Capela's deadline arrival, the Hawks are ready to take flight at point guard and center. But they're least settled at the positions in between, especially if Atlanta reroutes high-scoring forward John Collins to a team that's less apprehensive about extending him.
The Hawks could use a rebuild accelerator on the wing, plus an offensive co-star to complement Young and keep the club afloat when he sits. Brandon Ingram would scratch both itches.
The 22-year-old booked his first All-Star trip this season while setting career highs in points (24.3), rebounds (6.3) and assists (4.3). That might be reason enough for the New Orleans Pelicans to max him out in restricted free agency, but the Hawks have nothing to lose by throwing a max offer at him and hoping the Pels are receptive to a sign-and-trade, perhaps built around Collins and draft considerations.
Boston Celtics: Upgrading at Center with Myles Turner
The worst preseason fears about Boston's Al Horford-less center rotation were never realized, as Daniel Theis led a group of scrappy center options who kept the position from being a complete disaster. But as Boston braces itself for the postseason, the position group still stands out as the roster's weak spot.
The Celtics could use a sturdier defensive presence underneath to deal with some of the colossal centers that could be standing between them and a title (like Joel Embiid or Anthony Davis). Ideally, that player can also shoot from three so as to not disrupt the spacing in Boston's fifth-ranked offense.
Myles Turner, a career 35.4 percent shooter from three who averages 2.6 blocks per 36 minutes, fits the bill. And he might be available since Indy needs to balance the roster with Domantas Sabonis and Goga Bitadze also in the frontcourt. The Celtics and Pacers could mutually benefit from a swap involving Turner and Jeremy Lamb heading to Boston while Gordon Hayward returns to his hometown of Indianapolis.
Brooklyn Nets: Forming Big Three with Bradley Beal
While several teams are racing to build the NBA's next Big Three, the Nets might actually have the trade chips to get it done. Between Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn seemingly has the foundation to broker a blockbuster exchange.
It's also apparently willing to put those pieces in play to snag a third star, per ESPN's Brian Windhorst (via B/R's Megan Armstrong). The Nets wouldn't move those players for just anyone, but Bradley Beal has caught their eye, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.
Beal would be perfect in Brooklyn. He plays both ends of the floor, works on or off the ball and is reaching the apex of his career. Slot him alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and the Nets could already be the East's team to beat next season.
Charlotte Hornets: Sign-and-Trade for Brandon Ingram
The cupboards aren't barren in Buzz City, but the Hornets have lacked a franchise focal point since Kemba Walker skipped town last summer. There are a handful of serviceable role players on the roster, but it's itching for a young star to grab the wheel.
Ingram would be a godsend, and the Hornets could even have an in if the North Carolina native wants to hoop in his home state. For a rebuilder in dire need of an offensive star, it's tough to imagine a better option than a 22-year-old who's one of only 13 players averaging 24 points, four assists and two triples.
If Charlotte can get Ingram's signature on a max offer sheet and have him convince New Orleans to let him leave, the Hornets could grease the wheels by sending a young player like Miles Bridges and draft considerations back to the Big Easy.
Chicago Bulls: Flipping Thaddeus Young for Youth
Before the Bulls found themselves on a short list of this season's biggest disappointments, there were playoff hopes breezing liberally through the Windy City. An offseason pact with veteran Thaddeus Young was supposed to help turn those dreams into reality.
But Chicago sputtered to a 6-14 start and never got back on track, while Young, averaging his fewest minutes since his rookie season, grew unhappy enough with his role that Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported in December "the Bulls shouldn't be surprised if Young's camp asks for a trade."
The two sides seem like they'd be better off without the other. Young could go to a team closer to competing for a playoff spot, and Chicago could bring back a player who better fits the timeline of its young nucleus. The Portland Trail Blazers (for Nassir Little) or the Washington Wizards (Troy Brown Jr.) might have interest in Young as the Bulls attempt to wash away the bad taste of a wasted 2019-20 campaign.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Dumping Kevin Love
The Cavaliers haven't abandoned hope of turning Kevin Love into something of value on the trade market.
Even though they're rebuilding and he's an expensive 31-year-old ($91.5 million over the next three seasons), Cleveland continues claiming it's in no rush to let him go but would be seeking "some combination of draft picks and young, ascending players" in return, per Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor.
That's quite the ambitious ask, given Love's age, injury history, salary and defensive limitations. Saying that, his offense could still be a boon for a win-now club. The Portland Trail Blazers could be desperate enough with Damian Lillard on the wrong side of 30 to give up actual assets for Love. Building an offer around a first-round pick and one of Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little or Zach Collins could be worth it given Love's potential impact.
"Small-market teams like Portland can't be too picky about acquiring stars," NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh wrote. "Being on the playoff bubble should be a wake-up call for the Blazers. Nothing in this league is guaranteed. Adding Love would be costly, but the opportunity cost of not doing anything might be just as dangerous."
Dallas Mavericks: Grabbing Rudy Gobert
Some Mavericks fans might be preaching the importance of patience since Luka Doncic is only in his second season and Kristaps Porzingis hasn't turned 25 yet. But this is actually a tremendous time to buy. Dallas has a legitimate MVP candidate making rookie-scale money in Doncic, so it's better positioned to splurge than almost anyone.
Since the Mavs already have history's most efficient offense, their ideal addition would help on the other end, where they rank just 17th in efficiency. A wing stopper theoretically best fits the roster, but no one would transform this defense more than two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.
Putting Gobert alongside Kristaps Porzingis would give the Mavericks an absurd amount of length and, for their sizes, mobility along the frontcourt. Putting Gobert on the back end of lob passes from Doncic could make the young prodigy even more prolific.
It would take a lot to get Gobert—the package probably starts with Tim Hardaway Jr., Jalen Brunson and multiple first-round picks—but Utah could be more open to a change than you think. There's tension between Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, and the big fella needs a new deal by 2021.
Denver Nuggets: Giving Nikola Jokic a Sidekick
The Nuggets are one of three teams—and the only one in the West—to win at least 65 percent of their games both this season and last. But when people are talking about contenders, Denver either gets left out of the discussion or sits on the periphery as an only-if-everything-goes-perfectly fringe contender.
Why is that? If you want to blame casual fans, you could point to a lack of appreciation for Nikola Jokic's virtuosic skills. But if you think Denver shares in the blame, then the issue is the absence of a championship-level sidekick. The Nuggets paid Jamal Murray to fill that role, but he's too erratic to handle it on a nightly basis.
Denver, which understands better than anyone the magnitude of Jokic's impact, should make an all-in push for a legitimate co-star with Bradley Beal. It won't be cheap to get him away from Washington—start the offer with Gary Harris, Michael Porter Jr. and a future first, then go from there if needed—but the reward could be a championship ring ceremony in the Rockies, as Mark Kiszla noted for the Denver Post:
"Trade for Beal, and he could form a one-two punch with Joker fully capable of trading blows in the playoffs with the Warriors' Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, the Clippers' Kawhi Leonard and Paul George or the Lakers' LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Add Beal ... and Denver pries open its championship window for the next five years."
Detroit Pistons: Flipping Derrick Rose for Draft Picks
The Pistons half-stepped into an organizational overhaul at the trade deadline despite Big Daddy Kane's explicit instructions to do anything but. They probably could've fetched a late first- or early second-round pick at the deadline for 31-year-old Derrick Rose, but they valued his leadership more, per Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
Detroit should reconsider. The Pistons have very few (if any) long-term keepers on the roster. They need as many throws at the draft-night dart board as they can get, but their previous attempts to make the playoffs mean there are more future draft picks leaving the Motor City than there are arriving.
If Rose can still bring back a decent draft pick, the Pistons need to pounce. They should already have calls in to the Orlando Magic, who could draft just outside the lottery and need someone like Rose to goose the offense, replace D.J. Augustin and show Markelle Fultz the finer points of playing like an athletic lead guard.
Golden State Warriors: Turning Top Pick into John Collins
The Warriors are in a unique spot as a club that could collect the No. 1 pick this offseason and enter the next campaign with realistic hopes of competing for the crown. Even in a normal draft, that high pick could have trouble contributing to a championship run, and that's especially true in this one, which isn't exactly brimming with high-end talent.
That's why Golden State is considering trading the pick for more immediate help, and it might find a taker in the Hawks. If they aren't planning a long future with Collins, flipping him for a top-five pick—potentially giving them two selections in that range—plus Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall could make a lot of sense.
And yet, the Warriors would still feel like they won the exchange. Collins could fortify the defense as a shot-blocker and capable switcher. He'd be an asset on the glass. And he might leave his biggest imprint on the offensive end, where he's a blossoming spacer (career-high 40.1 percent from three this season) and an explosive lob-finisher.
Houston Rockets: Swapping Eric Gordon for Healthy Shooter
The Rockets are running short on trade chips, which limits how high they can aim. But with general manager Daryl Morey behind the wheel, they should never be underestimated in finding a creative way to upgrade the roster.
Could Eric Gordon interest anyone? That seems a stretch when he followed a four-year, $76 million extension inked in August with an injury-riddled, inefficient campaign. But if he gets healthy, he offers an intriguing combination of long-range shooting, off-the-dribble attacking and perimeter defense.
He would still need to be attached to some assets—maybe Danuel House Jr. and a couple of second-rounders—but could be enough to get the Orlando Magic to part with an opted-in Evan Fournier. The Magic are overdue for a shakeup, and they've probably seen enough defensive breakdowns from Fournier to roll the dice on Gordon. Houston, meanwhile, would be drawn to Fournier's 37.6 career three-point percentage.
Indiana Pacers: Bringing Gordon Hayward Home
Regardless of how the Pacers handle Victor Oladipo's future—he'll be among the most coveted free agents in 2021—they still have a need for another high-level shot-creator. Gordon Hayward, a former All-Star who hails from the Circle City, could be perfect.
"The kind of player Hayward is, is the kind of player [the Pacers] would definitely be interested in," J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star said on NBC Sports Boston's Celtics Talk Podcast.
Hayward is an easy fit for virtually any roster. He can run offense or play off the ball, and he defends multiple positions. He's one of only 13 players averaging at least 17 points, six rebounds and four assists. Put him on the same roster with Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon—probably at the cost of Myles Turner and Jeremy Lamb—and Indy could have a nucleus capable of winning the East.
Los Angeles Clippers: Getting Big with Gobert
On the surface, the Clippers seemingly have zero need to rock the boat. They've only had Kawhi Leonard and Paul George together in 32 games this season, and they still have the league's fourth-most wins and third-highest net rating (plus-6.4).
But they still seem vulnerable on the interior, which could prove a fatal flaw in a postseason matchup with Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo or Joel Embiid. And if the Clippers fall short of their championship goal in these playoffs, they only have one more year to get things right before George and Leonard can enter free agency.
If L.A. makes a bold move for Rudy Gobert, it could be looking at a historically dominant defense with an offense that still features two perimeter superstars. It would cut down the Clippers' depth—say goodbye to Patrick Beverley, Ivica Zubac, Landry Shamet and multiple future picks at the very least—but they'd be so talented at the top, that might not matter.
Los Angeles Lakers: Using Kyle Kuzma to Get Spencer Dinwiddie
Maybe a stretch of playoff heroics would change this, but Kyle Kuzma continues to look out of place—or at least not ideally utilized—on a win-now roster with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Kuzma needs minutes and touches to realize his massive potential, and he has seen both sliced since Davis' arrival.
But Kuzma should still hold major interest to rebuilders as a versatile 6'8" forward with a deep bag of scoring tricks. The problem is most rebuilders won't have the kind of win-now help the Lakers want. That might open the door to a three-team exchange where Kuzma heads to the Wizards (along with more), Bradley Beal goes to Brooklyn and L.A. native (and longtime Lakers fan) Spencer Dinwiddie comes home.
Dubbed an "ideal target" by B/R's Eric Pincus, Dinwiddie addresses a need for non-LeBron shot creation and is good enough on the ball to run the offense in relief of the stars. It would help if Dinwiddie were a bit more accurate with his three-ball (career 31.8 percent), but his willingness to fire (5.7 attempts since the start of 2017-18) might be enough to maintain optimal spacing.
Memphis Grizzlies: Finding a Bargain Prospect
While the Grizzlies are surely enjoying the ride to the playoff bubble, they haven't let it distract them from their ultimate goal. No matter how good Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. look now, their best days are still ahead of them, and Memphis hasn't forgotten that.
It's why the Grizzlies flipped present-day contributors Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill for a future asset in Justise Winslow. And while they don't have Crowder and Andre Iguodala to help land a major piece, maybe they could turn Kyle Anderson's distributing and defensive versatility into something interesting.
The Bulls need another ball-mover, and they might get the Grizzlies' attention by making Chandler Hutchison available. The 24-year-old has had trouble staying healthy, but if he gets that under control, he could be a quick-strike scoring reserve or even a starting wing if his three-point shot comes along.
Miami Heat: Betting Big on Jrue Holiday
The Heat don't have to wait until 2021 to find their difference-maker. They already have the trade chips on hand to broker a blockbuster, and they might have the motivation to move sooner than later with Jimmy Butler's 30th birthday behind him.
Jrue Holiday would be a tremendous get for this team. He can lead the offense or serve as an off-ball spacer. He plays Erik Spoelstra-approved defense. And Holiday might be obtainable if New Orleans wants to get players who better fit with Zion Williamson's timeline. Holiday isn't a big enough whale to warrant Tyler Herro or Bam Adebayo, but the Pels could probably walk away with Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson and Kelly Olynyk.
Getting Holiday would get the Heat firmly into next season's championship race, and even though he holds a $27 million player option for 2021-22, that wouldn't necessarily spoil any of the franchise's big plans for next summer.
"The Heat believes that even if it doesn't have cap space, it usually can acquire any player who wants to be here," Barry Jackson reported for the Miami Herald. "Exhibit A: Jimmy Butler, who was snagged despite Miami being well over the cap."
Milwaukee Bucks: Picking Up the Point God
For all the star power present in the bubble, no one might have more eyes on him than Eric Bledsoe. Milwaukee's floor general is desperate to prove he can be just as effective in the postseason as he is in the regular season after back-to-back playoff flops.
If he does anything other than star in a championship run by the Bucks, they'll want to examine upgrading this position over the offseason. Even if they get a super-max commitment from Giannis Antetokounmpo, they can't get complacent. The 25-year-old is entering the heart of his prime, and Milwaukee must build the strongest possible roster around him.
Chris Paul would be a clear upgrade, and he was said to have eyes on Milwaukee in October. He can be the same kind of defensive pest as Bledsoe, only Paul is a much more accomplished shooter (career 37.0 percent from three) and shot creator (9.5 assists against 2.4 turnovers). He's also a much better playoff performer than his reputation suggests, as his career 24.5 player efficiency rating in the postseason is eighth-highest in NBA history.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Boost the Offense with Buddy Hield
With D'Angelo Russell lining up alongside Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves could field a top-five offense next season. But why stop there? With a pretty transparent plan to overwhelm the opposition with offense, Minnesota could up the ante by adding Buddy Hield to the fold.
Keep Malik Beasley too, and the Timberwolves could put opposing defenses into pick-your-poison scenarios, and that's without even knowing who takes the fifth spot. As Dane Moore wrote for Zone Coverage, Hield could take what this offense already does well and make it even more potent:
"In Towns, the Wolves already have the elite pick-and-pop big. In Russell, they have the extended-range lead-guard who can pull from anywhere with ball-in-hand. And in Beasley, they have a high-level spot-up threat. Hield's shooting skill set is a combination of what Beasley and Russell do best. He's not only a spot-up threat; he can create space for himself."
This only works if the Sacramento Kings are willing to talk Hield trades, but after giving him a $94 million extension and then benching him in January, they might be more eager than you'd think. If Jarrett Culver and James Johnson are enough for the Kings to bite, this should be a no-brainer for the Wolves.
New Orleans Pelicans: Pairing Zion Williamson with John Collins
The Pelicans bully opponents whenever Zion Williamson takes the floor (plus-10.4 net rating over his 565 minutes), but they're especially lethal when Williamson is alongside Derrick Favors (plus-17.0). What makes that even more terrifying is the fact that Favors isn't the ideal frontcourt partner for Williamson.
That player gets up and down the floor faster than Favors to help take advantage of Williamson's speed. That player also poses enough of a shooting threat to clear the runway for the Big Easy's newest star. Last season was Favors' first in which he averaged one three-point attempt per game, and he shot a dismal 21.8 percent from distance.
That ideal player sounds an awful lot like John Collins, doesn't it? He offers some of the same interior protection as Favors but with extra pep in his step and a budding perimeter game (career-high 59 threes this season at a 40.1 percent clip).
While Favors' next birthday will be his 30th, Collins will only turn 23 in September. That's a big deal to a team whose best player can't legally down an adult beverage until July 2021. Collins is a good enough fit for the Pels to part with real assets, like Josh Hart and their upcoming first-round pick.
New York Knicks: Going All out for Devin Booker
For all the CP3-to-NYC talks spurred by the arrival of new Knicks president—and Paul's former agent—Leon Rose, the executive might have his sights set on a different former client. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Devin Booker is "the player to watch out for most" and "could get tired of the perennial losing in Phoenix."
Booker is also close with Knicks adviser William Wesley, and Booker was effusive in his praise of Rose upon the hiring.
"I think he'll do unbelievable," Booker said. "One of the most genuine guys I know. One of the most honest guys I know. So I'm happy for him in his new position. I think the Knicks are in really good hands."
Would the Suns deal Booker after his All-Star debut? It doesn't seem impossible. He's owed an incredible amount of money for a player who has yet to prove he can impact winning, and he hasn't always seen eye to eye with Deandre Ayton. There's enough here for New York to offer its 2020 first-rounder, Julius Randle and Frank Ntilikina and see how Phoenix responds.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Shedding Chris Paul's Albatross Contract
Chris Paul has been a godsend for the Thunder, and they've provided him the opportunity to reclaim his status as an All-Star. But this was never meant to be a long-term relationship, and one modestly successful season shouldn't change that.
If OKC can find takers for Paul—the Knicks are reportedly keeping tabs on him—it's basically a no-brainer. The Thunder are still rebuilding, and the Point God is still a 35-year-old who's owed $41.4 million for next season and has a $44.2 million player option for 2021-22. They don't make sense for each other.
While OKC might be able to work out a deal with Milwaukee, sending Paul to New York seems the best option. The Knicks could absorb Paul into cap space, which might mean the only things heading to the Thunder are a combination of draft considerations, prospects and a giant trade exception.
Shedding a contract this rich attached to a player this age without bringing back bad money in return would be a monumental victory for the front office. And while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hasn't seen his development stunted by Paul's presence, getting SGA behind the wheel could accelerate his growth.
Orlando Magic: Getting DeMar DeRozan for Cheap
The Magic are in danger of spinning their titles in mediocrity, plagued in no small part by a 24th-ranked offense that lacks a focal point. Orlando could decide its formula is flawed and shift its focus on player development, but it's worth exploring a low-cost trade for someone who can lead this attack.
DeMar DeRozan had the team's attention all the way back in November, per The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor, and the four-time All-Star remains an interesting option to perk up the point production. While DeRozan can't help the spacing issues, he would instantly become the team's high man in points (22.2) and assists (5.6).
He shouldn't cost too much, either. With the Spurs prioritizing player development, they might be looking for a way out of DeRozan's $27.7 million player option. Would Evan Fournier and salary filler be enough to interest the Spurs? If not, they could use Aaron Gordon to anchor the deal or build a package around Terrence Ross and Mo Bamba.
Philadelphia 76ers: Swapping Al Horford for Eric Gordon
Not to dash Philadelphia's hopes, but there may not be an interesting way to unload Al Horford or the $81 million he's owed for the next three seasons. If he could somehow create a path to Buddy Hield or Zach LaVine, those would obviously be worth exploring.
A more likely scenario, though, involves moving Horford for a contract someone else doesn't want. Sending him to Houston for Eric Gordon and filler has win-win potential.
Philly's frontcourt gets less crowded without Horford, and if Gordon gets right, he can elevate the offense without bringing down the defense. Houston could get bigger with Horford but not lose the spacing its super-small-ball strategy created. He's a good enough shooter to keep the attack lanes clear for James Harden and Russell Westbrook, and Horford could keep the Rockets from getting clobbered on the glass (29th in rebounding percentage since the deadline).
Phoenix Suns: Bringing Lauri Markkanen Back to Arizona
The Suns are finally trending in the right direction, but they still need another piece to get them over the hump. Having Lauri Markkanen return to Arizona, where he played his college ball, could be the deal that gets it done.
Phoenix stabilized its point guard position with Ricky Rubio, but Dario Saric failed to do the same at the 4 spot. Markkanen would scratch that itch. He'd be a floor-spacer to keep the heat off Deandre Ayton and a shot-creator to keep Devin Booker from being overwhelmed.
It's unclear whether Markkanen is actually available, but any time there's a regime change, it's worth checking how committed the new executives are to the roster. The Suns could probably make the Bulls think by pairing a first-round pick with a young wing (Mikal Bridges or Cameron Johnson) and a young point guard (Ty Jerome or Elie Okobo).
Portland Trail Blazers: Break Up the Backcourt—For Ben Simmons
The Blazers have given the Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum backcourt the college try and then some. Now is the time to throw caution to the wind before Lillard, a 30-year-old who should get some MVP votes, sees his championship window sealed shut.
Portland can't just give McCollum away—he's one of 10 players averaging 22.0 points, 4.0 assists and 2.5 turnovers—but he's worth sacrificing for a star. If Philadelphia thinks it has taken the Joel Embiid-Ben Simmons twosome as far as it could go, that's the obvious place to shop McCollum. Maybe him, a couple of prospects (two of Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little and Zach Collins) and a first-round pick is enough to snag Simmons.
In Portland, Simmons could help Lillard in myriad ways. The two would work magic together in transition and pick-and-rolls, and Simmons could silence the opposition's top scorer while keeping the offense humming without Lillard.
For Philly, McCollum could handle the perimeter shot-creating duties while giving Embiid room to work in the post, and the youngsters could expand the rotation (either by logging minutes themselves or fueling another trade).
Sacramento Kings: Sending Buddy Hield to Brooklyn
Would Buddy Hield satisfy Brooklyn's search for a third star? If I'm running Sacramento, I'm making the call to find out.
As a shooting specialist with defensive limitations, Hield isn't bringing back all of the Nets' trade assets. But Jarrett Allen, a first-round pick and salary filler seems doable.
If the Kings aren't keen on keeping Hield—they'll soon need to pay Bogdan Bogdanovic, the player who took Hield's spot in the opening lineup—this turns him into things they'll want to have around. Allen's shot-blocking would be big to anchor this 18th-ranked defense, and he has enough athleticism to keep up with De'Aaron Fox in the open court.
The Nets don't quite get a third star, but they do add a lethal shooting threat who can make life easier on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. If opponents don't give Hield enough attention, they'll be at the mercy of someone who has the sixth-most threes since the start of 2016-17 and a 41.1 percent conversion rate over that stretch. If teams do focus on Hield, they're in danger of letting Durant and Irving run wild.
San Antonio Spurs: Finding More Draft Picks
The Spurs have been in win-now mode for as long as most of us can remember. But if their 22-year playoff streak finally comes to an end, that may be the push they need to jump-start a rebuilding process that's been inevitable ever since Kawhi Leonard skipped town.
The first order of business becomes converting as many veterans into draft considerations or young talent as possible. DeMar DeRozan (player option) and LaMarcus Aldridge are the most logical names to shop, but it's worth finding out what the market would bear for Rudy Gay and Patty Mills, too.
The Spurs have collected a few interesting youngsters here and there, but their future plans should be liquid enough to welcome prospects of all types. If the best they can do is moving DeRozan to Orlando for a package built around Terrence Ross and Mo Bamba, the big fella could form a lethal defensive combo with Dejounte Murray and give this franchise an identity to build around.
Toronto Raptors: Aggressively Pursuing Giannis Deal
A word to the wise: The Giannis Antetokounmpo sweepstakes could open a year early. If he declines a supermax offer from Milwaukee this summer, the Bucks could immediately open the bidding on the trade market. While clubs could be apprehensive about offering too much given his future uncertainty, the Raptors already know the massive impact a superstar rental can provide (see: Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard).
It's a bold proposition, but it's close enough to the realm of possibilities that SI.com's Chris Mannix included a Giannis-to-Toronto trade as an "outlandish prediction" in an NBA notebook. The scribe even took things a step further by predicting another title run for Toronto, this one led by Antetokounmpo and Pascal Siakam.
Could this really happen? If the Bucks are forced to listen to offers, the Raptors could make a compelling one, likely built around Kyle Lowry, OG Anunoby and Terence Davis. Add a few draft picks to the equation, and it might be Milwaukee making the best of a tough situation.
Utah Jazz: Finding a Stretch Big
The Jazz have been daydreaming about a stretch 4 for as long as Rudy Gobert has manned their middle. They even had Nemanja Bjelica in their crosshairs before.
There could still be time to finally get him. The Kings are a little lower on the Western Conference pecking order than they planned, which might lead them to float the 32-year-old sharpshooter on the trade market.
The Jazz might stumble over themselves racing to the phone if that happens. They've needed a jumbo shooter forever, and here's a 6'10" combo big who has splashed 41.4 percent of his triples since 2017-18. If Utah sees him as the missing piece, it might give up Tony Bradley and a future first-round pick to get it done.
Washington Wizards: Finding Win-Now Trade Values
Rather than use this space as a plea for the Wizards to hit the reset button—which we would 1,000 percent do in their shoes—we need to approach it from their point of view. If they really want to compete with John Wall and Bradley Beal next season, they need to improve the supporting cast around them.
But they can't sacrifice real assets to do it. Not when a reality check could force them down the rebuilding road sooner than later.
Instead, they should scour the hoops world for undervalued (and probably overpaid) contributors. How much would the Knicks want for Julius Randle? If Thomas Bryant and Jerome Robinson could anchor the deal, the Wizards would elevate their talent level. Randle has his weaknesses, but he's still a 25-year-old who just averaged 19.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
Kevin Love would be the extreme example of this approach, but his contract is trickier to work into the books. If there is a potential deal there, though, his floor-spacing and outlet passes would be far more potent than anything Beal and Wall have around them at the moment.
Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.