1 Blockbuster Trade Idea for Every NBA Team

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2020

1 Blockbuster Trade Idea for Every NBA Team

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    Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

    If the 2020 NBA offseason reshapes the basketball world, blockbuster trades will be behind the movement.

    Free agency, the vehicle that often drives radical offseason change, could stall before it even starts. Few teams have major money to spend, and fewer impact players are likely to be available.

    So, clubs could be racing to the trade market to find their difference-makers, and we're here to grease the wheels for a busy offseason with a blockbuster trade proposal for all 30 teams.

    Since there is so much financial uncertainty regarding free-agents-to-be and team and player options, we'll focus on forming the foundation of these trades and not the economic particulars. While many will work as presented, others will leave a few I's to dot and T's to cross before being officially executed.

Atlanta Hawks

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Trade: John Collins and Kevin Huerter to Warriors for No. 2 pick

    After witnessing Trae Young's All-Star emergence, the Hawks need to base their personnel decisions around maximizing the prolific point guard. Collins and Huerter have helped as a pick-and-roll partner and perimeter spacer, respectively. But Atlanta already added a new pick-and-roll finisher in Clint Capela, and it could use the No. 2 pick on a backcourt shooter who poses a greater off-the-dribble threat, like Anthony Edwards or LaMelo Ball.

    If the Hawks don't envision a long-term future with Collins—they're hesitant to give him "significant money," but he views himself as a max-contract player, per The Athletic's Chris Kirschner—this converts him to a major asset before he's gone. For all the negatives you've probably heard about this draft, Edwards might be a three-level scorer who defends multiple positions, and Ball could be an elite passer with unlimited range.

    The Warriors have already conceded they'll consider moving this pick, per NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole, as they should if they think healthy versions of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson can help them contend for the crown next season. Collins and Huerter offer an intriguing mix of instant impact and long-term assistance, as the 22-year-olds are established commodities who could be nowhere near their ultimate ceilings.

Boston Celtics

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Trade: Gordon Hayward to Pacers for Myles Turner, Jeremy Lamb and Aaron Holiday

    Hayward has every right to pick up his $34.2 million player option for next season. Once he does, the Celtics will have every right to seek better ways to spend $34.2 million than on a No. 4 option.

    Here, Boston addresses its need for size without sacrificing spacing (the 6'11", 250-pound Turner has a 36.3 three-point percentage since last season), adds a reliable wing reserve (once Lamb is recovered from his torn ACL) and perks up the second unit with a 23-year-old playmaker (Holiday). The Celtics immediately become less top-heavy and should expand their margin for error as a result.

    The Pacers, meanwhile, continue their offseason of change that started with coach Nate McMillan's dismissal. Between T.J. Warren's emergence as a small-ball 4 and Indy's reported interest in Mike D'Antoni, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, there are reasons to believe the team is ready to break apart its jumbo-sized frontcourt. This swap makes that change for a former All-Star wing in Hayward, who just so happens to hail from the Circle City.

Brooklyn Nets

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    The Trade: Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Nicolas Claxton to Pelicans for Jrue Holiday

    As tempting as it is for some to paint LeVert's bubble breakout as proof he can be Brooklyn's third star, the Nets should be very careful about calling off their search. The 26-year-old is an obvious talent, but if you're looking for the ideal fit to slot alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, you're not pointing to a ball-dominant isolation scorer with a so-so outside shot (career 33.9 percent).

    Instead, you want someone like Holiday, who's comfortable on or off the basketball and silences scorers of almost any size at the opposite end. He can get numbers when needed—one of six players to average 18 points and six assists each of the last three seasons—but he's just as effective in a complementary glue-guy role.

    He's also 30 years old, which puts him on a different timeline than New Orleans' young nucleus. LeVert is 26, Allen is 22 and Claxton is 21. That obviously isn't the only reason each appeals to the Pels—LeVert adds another shot-making dimension, Allen provides a presence at the rim, and Claxton offers an intriguing size-skill combo—but it's critical that they have this roster prepared to contend as soon as Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson are ready.

Charlotte Hornets

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    Nell Redmond/Associated Press

    The Trade: Nicolas Batum and No. 32 pick (via CLE) to Pistons for Blake Griffin

    In January 2018, Griffin arrived as the potential missing piece for the Pistons. Not even three years later, he and his colossal contract ($36.6 million next season, $39 million player option for 2021-22) now look like a fish out of water on Detroit's rebuilding roster.

    Given his frightening and recent injury history (knee issues limited him to 18 inefficient appearances this season), he'd require some kind of sweetener in virtually every trade out of the Motor City. Since cap space is the least of the Pistons' concerns, that type of trade serves no purpose.

    But the Hornets might be desperate enough for an offensive fulcrum and the franchise's first post-Kemba Walker centerpiece that they'd actually give away an asset (albeit a second-round pick) to get Griffin. Detroit leaves this exchange out from under Griffin's shadow (and out of Batum's contract next summer) and with another throw at the dart board, while Charlotte crosses its fingers and hopes to have a 6'9" playmaker who can score from anywhere.

Chicago Bulls

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    The Trade: Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen to Timberwolves for James Johnson, Jarrett Culver and No. 1 pick

    The Bulls have gone 71-158 over the past three seasons, a stretch that coincides with the Windy City tenures of LaVine and Markkanen. That's not to suggest the two scoring threats are to blame, but if Chicago's new front office opts for a clean slate, that mountain range of towering loss columns could be among the reasons why.

    If the Bulls want a fresh start—they're already making a coaching change—this could be the offseason to initiate it. Chicago already owns the No. 4 pick, and this trade would be its ticket to No. 1, too. The Bulls then collect Culver, last summer's No. 6 pick, to slot alongside 20-year-old Coby White and 21-year-old Wendell Carter Jr. and potentially comprise the Association's youngest starting five.

    The Timberwolves, who paired Karl-Anthony Towns with D'Angelo Russell at the deadline, effectively reverse course on the 2017 Jimmy Butler deal and bring LaVine and Markkanen back to the franchise that drafted them. If Minnesota has its sights set on the 2021 postseason, it may not want the growing pains of a draft pick (or the seasoning Culver still requires) and instead picks up another potent scorer in LaVine and a possible 7'0" mismatch in Markkanen.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Trade: Kevin Love to Wizards for Thomas Bryant, Ish Smith, Jerome Robinson and No. 37 pick

    Perhaps it's just posturing, but reports continue to insist the Cavs aren't interested in salary-dumping Love. As Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor reported, the asking price remains "some combination of draft picks and young, ascending players."

    This feels like the best-case scenario for the Cavaliers, as they leverage the Wizards' hopes of competing with Bradley Beal and John Wall into receiving actual assets for a 31-year-old with a lengthy injury history and declining stats. But maybe there's a universe in which Wall and Love both dial back the clock, and the big man becomes a screening partner for the guards and a tertiary playmaker and scoring threat.

    Nothing great is coming back to Northeast Ohio, but it's not like the Cavs are taking out the Wizards' trash. Bryant boasts a unique blend of size and spacing, and both he and Robinson had some head-turning moments in the bubble. Smith works as a veteran mentor for Cleveland's young guards and maybe as a trade chip at the deadline, and the early second-rounder lets the Cavs say they got a draft pick back for Love.

Dallas Mavericks

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    Kim Klement/Associated Press

    The Trade: Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, No. 18 pick and No. 31 pick (via GSW) to Trail Blazers for CJ McCollum

    The Mavs might view Luka Doncic's age (21) as a reason to stay patient. In my mind, though, it's a reason to get uber-aggressive.

    Dallas has an MVP-level talent—he just averaged 31.0 points, 9.8 rebounds and 8.7 assists in his first NBA postseason series—making rookie-scale money. The budget will never be easier to balance than it is right now, which should free up the front office for a top-tier pursuit.

    Can you imagine defenses having to pick their poison with Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis and CJ McCollum on the floor? Good lord.

    The Mavs could trigger their offense with either guard, freeing the other to splash catch-and-release triples. This is also a way to considerably lighten Doncic's load, which might be a focus after he shouldered the eighth-highest usage percentage in NBA history (36.8).

    The Blazers, who decide they've taken the McCollum-Damian Lillard backcourt as far as it can go, brighten their future without necessarily dimming their present. Hardaway isn't a consistent shot-creator, but his ignitable shooting could catch fire playing off Lillard. Kleber scratches Portland's biggest itch for defensive versatility, and the picks either add to the young core or could be packaged in a deal for another win-now piece.

Denver Nuggets

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The Trade: Gary Harris, Michael Porter Jr., Monte Morris and No. 22 pick (via HOU) to Wizards for Bradley Beal

    Maybe this is perception shaping reality, but the Nuggets still seem a half-step (or more) behind basketball's heavyweight contenders. But the gap is close enough that one major move could be all it takes to join that exclusive company.

    That's what the Nuggets must think to part with a talent like Porter, at least. Saying that, the 22-year-old has enough shortcomings to address (namely, anything connected to defense) that Denver could decide his developmental process should be done on someone else's dime. There's a risk he launches into stardom elsewhere, but the reward in this blockbuster is enormous.

    "Add Beal...and Denver pries open its championship window for the next five years," Mark Kiszla wrote for the Denver Post.

    Beal and Nikola Jokic enter the conversation of the NBA's best duos, and a consistent Jamal Murray could give the Nuggets a legitimate Big Three. The Wizards don't abandon hope of competing with John Wall—Harris is a dominant defender and has been a high-level shooter before—but the focus of this package is on the future, where Washington's attention should arguably already be.

Detroit Pistons

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The Trade: Derrick Rose to Lakers for Kyle Kuzma and Avery Bradley

    The Pistons effectively received nothing for Andre Drummond at the trade deadline, and they can expect the same should they try trading Blake Griffin anytime soon. Rose is the lone veteran who could actually deliver an asset to a franchise in dire need of them.

    This has win-win potential. The Lakers need another playmaker and more off-the-bounce scoring, and the 31-year-old Rose not only turned back the clocks this past season but also was statistically better than ever. That may sound hyperbolic for a former MVP, but he outpaced his award-winning campaign in per-36-minute points (25.1 to 24.1) and assists (7.7 to 7.4) while also posting a better true shooting percentage (55.5 to 55.0).

    That's enough for the Lakers to sacrifice the remainder of Kuzma's potential in acknowledgment of the fact that his game isn't a great fit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Get Kuzma back to his native Michigan, though, and he should get control of the offense and a chance to flash his versatility. Assuming no one puts a great draft pick on the table for Rose, Kuzma could be the best long-term addition the Pistons can receive.

Golden State Warriors

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    The Trade: Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney, Jordan Poole and No. 2 pick to 76ers for Ben Simmons and Al Horford

    Cast some skepticism toward any murmuring of the Warriors doing anything other than chasing an established marquee talent this offseason. There might be ways to convince yourself that Steve Kerr's system can bring out the best in Wiggins or that the No. 2 pick can contribute now while laying the foundation for later, but really, both are assets best utilized in a blockbuster.

    Like this one.

    If Golden State wants to pace-and-space its way back to championship contention, Simmons gets the club to full throttle. In the Warriors' best lineups, everyone on the floor could snatch a rebound and race up court with the basketball, and if that player is Simmons, he'll never miss an open Splash Brother. Horford's contract is a liability (as is Wiggins'), but his size, shooting stroke and savvy would make him a simple fit in the rotation.

    Philadelphia relents on the poor fit between Simmons and Joel Embiid, and it recognizes the roster is in such disrepair that only a trade of one of its stars can fix it. Philly needs to really like someone with the No. 2 pick (or have a second deal lined up to transform it into a win-now contributor) and really want to get Horford out of town. If those things are true, the Sixers get a chance to construct a supporting cast that's much more conducive to Embiid's success.

Houston Rockets

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The Trade: Eric Gordon to 76ers for Al Horford

    Unless the Rockets decide to deal James Harden or Russell Westbrook, they don't really have the trade chips to broker a blockbuster. Instead, they're ticketed here for a deal more defined by name recognition than current numbers.

    Saying that, maybe a change of scenery could reenergize both Horford and Gordon.

    Horford could help Houston get bigger without sacrificing spacing (career 36.4 percent from distance). He could also diversify the Rockets' offensive menu by teaming with Westbrook and Harden in pick-and-choose (roll, pop or slip) plays. The good version of Gordon would give Philadelphia more shooting and another shot-creator. And if the deal doesn't work, the two sides just switched out salaries they aren't keen on paying.

Indiana Pacers

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    Kim Klement/Associated Press

    The Trade: Victor Oladipo to Heat for Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson and Kelly Olynyk

    The Pacers are motoring toward a crossroads with Oladipo—and they only have so much control over this situation. It's probably in his best financial interest to decline any extension offer this offseason, which means he's likely looking at unrestricted free agency after next season. There have been rumblings that he "didn't plan on re-signing," per The Athletic's Sam Amick, which gives Indiana plenty to think about.

    "We don't feel any rush to make a quick decision on Victor. We have him for another year. After next year we can engage in negotiations. But it will be up to him," Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard told reporters.

    If Indy thinks Oladipo is leaving—or isn't sure about giving max money to someone who is still dealing with the aftereffects of a January 2019 knee injury and doesn't have a huge sample of stardom—then trading him now is the right call.

    Miami adds its third star to complement Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, and it doesn't even have to sacrifice Tyler Herro to do it. Indiana adds three players it can plug into next season's rotation, as Robinson is an elite shooter, Nunn is a clever shot-maker and Olynyk can take on stretch-center duties if the Pacers reconfigure their frontcourt.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Alonzo Adams/Associated Press

    The Trade: Montrezl Harrell (sign-and-trade) and Landry Shamet to Thunder for Steven Adams

    If the Clippers can't win a championship this season, they'll have one more chance at making the ultimate sales pitch before Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can enter free agency. In other words, L.A. should leave nothing to chance next season.

    Adding Adams as an anchor could elevate this defense from really good (fifth in efficiency) to cheat-code great. With championship paths potentially encountering Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic or Anthony Davis, Adams can provide the muscle and interior defense this club needs to take the title.

    OKC may not (and arguably should not) see this season's surprising success as a reason to divert from the rebuilding strategy. While this isn't a tear-down maneuver, it does turn the 27-year-old Adams into the 26-year-old Harrell and 23-year-old Shamet. Whether the Clippers aim for competitiveness next season or set their sights further down the road, Harrell and Shamet can help.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    The Trade: Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso to Thunder for Chris Paul

    The Lakers are sending out four players for one and still not giving up enough money to match Paul's mammoth salary. That's a not insignificant part of why the Thunder may consider moving the 35-year-old floor general even after his first season back in the Sooner State was such a resounding success.

    If OKC is less than thrilled about paying Paul's contract—$41.4 million next season, $44.2 million player option for 2021-22—L.A. should be ready to pounce. Finally putting the Point God in Purple and Gold has missing-piece potential for the club, plus it would unite James with his close friend and fulfill half of the King's wish to one day share a locker room with Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony.

    "I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together," James said in a 2017 interview with B/R's Howard Beck. "At least one, maybe one or two seasons—me, Melo, D-Wade, CP—we can get a year in. I would actually take a pay cut to do that."

    The Wade part isn't happening, but Anthony is a free agent this offseason. I'm just saying.

    The Thunder, meanwhile, grab at least two players who can grow with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in Kuzma and Caruso. As for Green and Caldwell-Pope (who needs to pick up an $8.5 million player option for this to happen), they can either help OKC chase a playoff spot next season or be flipped to contenders as veteran rentals.

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    The Trade: Justise Winslow, Kyle Anderson and Grayson Allen to Kings for Buddy Hield

    The Grizzlies could decide that even after a surprise trip to the play-in tournament, the Western Conference is too crowded for them to try rushing their rebuild. But what's the fun in that? Ja Morant is electric. Jaren Jackson Jr. could be similarly ticketed to stardom. Why not find an impact player who can complement them in a big way now?

    Memphis needs shooting in the worst kind of way. The Grizzlies were 25th in threes (10.9 per game) and 23rd in three-point percentage (34.7). They had the third-worst conversion rate on open threes (32.0 percent with 4-6 feet of space).

    Enter Hield. Buddy Buckets is on a short list of basketball's best quantity-plus-quality snipers. Over his four NBA seasons, he ranks sixth in three-point makes (873) and has the 14th-highest connection rate of this stretch (41.4). He isn't cheap ($24.9 million), but Memphis can afford a splurge with Jackson and Morant both on their rookie deals.

    Sacramento makes this move in preparation of inking Bogdan Bogdanovic to a long-term deal, which could've made Hield's situation with the Kings untenable. Instead, Sacramento adds a couple of multipositional stoppers in Winslow and Anderson, plus a 24-year-old shooter in Allen.

Miami Heat

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The Trade: Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn and Kelly Olynyk for Joel Embiid

    As hard as it is to envision Miami moving Adebayo on the heels of his All-Star emergence, this trade could be one of the few exceptions. It not only delivers a superstar in Embiid, but he's a superstar who's only three years older than Adebayo and happens to be good friends with Jimmy Butler.

    "That's my guy," Butler told The Athletic's Sam Amick. "Outside of basketball, I love that man to death. He knows that. I tell him every opportunity I get, and I appreciate him for making me a better player, a better leader, better at understanding so many different things."

    The Embiid-Butler pairing is like a souped-up version of the Adebayo-Butler duo. The defense should be just as dominant—Embiid and Butler posted a 106.7 defensive rating together in Philly last season; Butler and Adebayo had a 107.2 mark this year—and the offense would be more explosive given Embiid's far superior scoring arsenal. Losing Adebayo stings, but Embiid is a massive get (and he's not coming at the expense of Tyler Herro.)

    The Sixers admit their roster is too flawed to make the Embiid-Ben Simmons pairing ever work, so they load up on shooters and athletes to best complement the 6'10" point guard. Simmons and Adebayo is an absurdly versatile defensive combo, Robinson becomes Philly's new version of JJ Redick and Nunn fills a void for secondary shot-making.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    The Trade: Eric Bledsoe, Donte DiVincenzo, DJ Wilson, Ersan Ilyasova and No. 24 pick (via IND) to Thunder for Chris Paul

    The most important player in OKC's entire franchise is 22-year-old Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. That makes it virtually impossible to justify paying Paul $41.4 million for his age-35 season and $44.2 million for his age-36 campaign.

    That contract makes it tough to extract value from anyone, but the Bucks could put a few assets on the table if it means giving Giannis Antetokounmpo more support. With or without his commitment to a supermax contract, Milwaukee should be prepared to chase a championship at all costs. The Bucks have a once-in-a-generation talent on their hands, so they should juice the orange for all its worth.

    This immediately makes Milwaukee more dangerous in the half court, which is where most postseason series are decided. The Paul-Antetokounmpo pick-and-roll immediately makes the short list of the league's most unstoppable plays. Paul's shot creation also allows Khris Middleton to slide into the third-option role his game is arguably better designed to fit.

    The Thunder can stay competitive with this package or scour the market to see what it will bear for Bledsoe and Ilyasova. Either way, the most helpful assets to have are DiVincenzo (a 23-year-old combo guard who competes at both ends) and the upcoming first-round pick.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    The Trade: Jarrett Culver, James Johnson and No. 1 pick to Pacers for Victor Oladipo

    The Timberwolves are both on the clock and open for business.

    "Sources around the league expect that [Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas will] work the phones over the next couple of months at least to see what's out there on the market," The Athletic's Sam Vecenie wrote. "The consensus around the league is that this will simply be a value play for Rosas."

    Could Minnesota value Oladipo more than Culver and the No. 1 pick? Absolutely. Minnesota needs to win sooner than later to justify the D'Angelo Russell trade, and that gets a lot easier with a third star—especially one who defends. If Oladipo gets back to his All-Star form, he's almost a player with no weaknesses.

    Now, could Indiana value this package over Oladipo? Sure. The pick might bring the next star to the Hoosier State, Culver is one year removed from being the sixth overall pick, and Johnson's expiring $16 million salary will look awfully attractive to any team trying to maximize its cap space for 2021.

New Orleans Pelicans

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    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    The Trade: Jrue Holiday to Heat for Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn and Kelly Olynyk

    Jrue Holiday is a lot of things: scorer and stopper, dimer and disruptor, complementary glue guy and captain. What he's not, though, is on the same timeline as Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, which should make the Pelicans receptive to a trade.

    This exchange nets New Orleans a 26-year-old marksman in Robinson and a 25-year-old shot-creator in Nunn. This was Robinson's first year in an NBA rotation and Nunn's first on an NBA roster, and each was a starter and double-digit scorer for a 44-29 team that has advanced to at least the second round. They are the kind of plug-and-play support pieces every good-to-great club has to have.

    Holiday nearly impacts the Heat like an All-Star would, only his price isn't close to that level. His two-way versatility is an easy fit with this (or any) roster, and his motor makes him a natural to mesh with Miami's culture.

New York Knicks

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    The Trade: Mitchell Robinson and No. 8 pick to Warriors for No. 2 pick

    Can LaMelo Ball make it past the No. 1 pick? As long as that answer is yes, then this blockbuster has legs. (Considering Anthony Edwards is both the most popular player mocked at No. 1 and the cleanest fit of the top prospects with Minnesota's roster, it feels more likely than not.)

    The Knicks like LaMelo, as they should given their seemingly perpetual questions at point guard. He might like them too, which makes sense when he could be a star in the Empire State and receive unlimited touches. Had New York bucked recent history and actually enjoyed some lottery luck, Ball would've been a no-brainer target. He still can be—as long as the Knicks are prepared to pay the cost.

    The Warriors can add moon-boots bounce to their frontcourt with Robinson, plus he can hold his own on perimeter switches. By moving down the draft board, the Dubs remain in range to grab a good prospect (maybe Devin Vassell or Tyrese Haliburton?) or convince someone else to trade up for one.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

    The Trade: Eric Bledsoe, Donte DiVincenzo, DJ Wilson, Ersan Ilyasova and No. 24 pick (via IND) to Thunder for Chris Paul

    Paul's contract isn't so outrageous that OKC should give it away for nothing, but it's in that vicinity.

    If the Thunder can shed it without taking an egregious contract back—Bledsoe is owed $35 million the next two seasons and then has a partial guarantee for his 2022-23 salary—and with multiple assets coming their way, the offer might take a nanosecond for Sam Presti to accept.

    DiVincenzo can be a long-term backcourt mate with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as a shooter, secondary table-setter and transition finisher. The late first-rounder could let OKC chase a massive upside option (Aleksej Pokusevski?) or add an instant-impact reserve (Xavier Tillman?). While Wilson has failed to secure a rotation spot in Milwaukee, he's still a 24-year-old with physical tools and untapped potential at both ends.

Orlando Magic

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    Reinhold Matay/Associated Press

    The Trade: Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu to Warriors for Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole and No. 2 pick

    The Magic should've learned two important lessons inside the bubble. The first is that they are very much plateauing (two consecutive first-round exits) and should be shifting their focus to the future. The second is that Vucevic is a tremendous talent (playoff averages of 28 points, 11 rebounds and four assists with 50.5/40.9/90.9 shooting) who might command a sizable haul on the trade market.

    If Orlando is willing to take back Wiggins, this could be its ticket to the No. 2 pick and a new offensive focal point like Anthony Edwards or LaMelo Ball. While Wiggins won't help the spacing issues, he will help juice the transition attacks that should become staples as Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac continue seeing their roles expand.

    The Dubs throw caution to the wind and shift their offense into overdrive with Vucevic. He can get exposed defensively, but Golden State could wager it will get more than enough from the Splash Brothers and its new 6'11" floor-spacer (182 triples at a 35 percent clip over this season and last) to sprint past most opponents. Plus, Aminu will increase the versatility of a defensive unit that already features Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    The Trade: Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson to Kings for Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield

    While trade machines are rushing to print virtual tickets out of Philly for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, 76ers general manager Elton Brand says we're all wasting our time.

    "I'm not looking to trade Ben or Joel," Brand told reporters on August 25. "I'm looking to complement them better. They are 24 and 26 years old, respectively. You try to make that fit as long as you can."

    This is the sensible direction for the Sixers to take. They already know Simmons and Embiid can thrive alongside one another—plus-15.5 net rating across 1,306 minutes in 2017-18—as long as they have the right pieces around them. This gets Philly closer to that point by swapping out Richardson for a much better shooter in Hield and ditching Harris' ball dominance for Barnes' more complementary approach.

    Sacramento, meanwhile, gets a perimeter shot-creator and a wing defender. Harris becomes the Kings' second option and gives them a safety valve in the half court. Richardson handles the opponents' top perimeter player every night and makes his open shots at the other end.

Phoenix Suns

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The Trade: Kelly Oubre Jr. and Ty Jerome to Magic for Aaron Gordon

    The Suns' next step in constructing a playoff roster might be adding the impact power forward that has eluded them for so long. Gordon, who played his college ball at Arizona, could be the answer as an explosive weapon on fast breaks, a five-tool defender and a secondary playmaker.

    Get him back to the desert, and Phoenix may never stop running. Even if the spacing gets a little tight with Gordon, Ricky Rubio and Deandre Ayton on the floor together, two of them are aerial finishers and two are shot-creators. Monty Williams can make this work.

    Orlando finally snags an actual wing and adds some off-the-dribble scoring with Oubre. With Jonathan Isaac, Al-Farouq Aminu and Chuma Okeke still around, the Magic should lose nothing on the defensive end. If Jerome can settle into the reserve role behind Markelle Fultz, that takes another item off Orlando's to-do list.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

    The Trade: CJ McCollum, Anfernee Simons, No. 16 pick and 2022 first-round pick (top-five protected) to 76ers for Ben Simmons

    The Blazers need a versatile stopper, and the Sixers need a perimeter shot-maker. Check and check in this potential win-win swap.

    Portland decides its third opening-round exit in four years is reason enough to break up the CJ McCollum-Damian Lillard backcourt. The Blazers cobble together enough assets to snag Simmons, an open-court rim-rocker who can dazzle as a pick-and-roll partner with Lillard. Having another top-shelf shot-creator around should also lighten the load on Lillard and ensure he's fresh as can be come playoff time.

    Philly washes its hands of the Simmons-Embiid debates and finds a potent perimeter creator to complement this generation's closest clone to Hakeem Olajuwon. McCollum can make plays but doesn't dominate the basketball, and he'll hold defenses accountable as a 39.7 percent three-point shooter. Simons and the two picks give Philly three chances to expand the rotation or perhaps consolidate them in a separate swap.

Sacramento Kings

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    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    The Trade: Buddy Hield to Spurs for LaMarcus Aldridge and Lonnie Walker IV

    While the Kings could shop Hield for draft considerations, they might impact the roster more by finding the kind of instant-impact help that gets them over the playoff hump. They need to rid themselves of the losing culture that can envelop a franchise over a 14-year postseason drought.

    Aldridge might be perfect for them. He can help balance the roster and give this frontcourt more scoring punch. He can also provide invaluable experience and guidance to Sacramento's youth, especially 2018's No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III. This trade gives De'Aaron Fox his best shot at making the playoffs to date, and if Walker realizes his potential, it could also give Fox a long-term running mate.

    The Spurs decide they're not in position to cover $24 million for Aldridge's age-35 season. But they also stop short of a total demolition and instead bring in Hield for the way his shooting and off-ball activity puts a gravitational pull on opposing defenses and simplifies the game for the players around him. Any questions of whether there's enough shooting for Derrick White and Dejounte Murray to coexist are much easier to answer with Hield around.

San Antonio Spurs

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    The Trade: LaMarcus Aldridge and Derrick White to Nets for Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince and No. 19 pick (via PHI)

    The Spurs should be keeping a close eye on the Nets' search for a third star, as the best-case scenario for San Antonio is Brooklyn tabbing either Aldridge or DeMar DeRozan to be that player. Since Aldridge is less ball-dominant and more capable from distance (38.9 percent this season), he should be the easier fit for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

    But Aldridge alone isn't fetching the Nets' best assets. For that to happen, the Spurs also need to send out White, who had some magical moments in the bubble (21.8 points, 5.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds over his first five outings). Since his game is more deferential, it's easier to slot him in a complementary role to the Nets' stars than it would be with LeVert.

    San Antonio, though, needs an offensive focal point for its next chapter, and LeVert might ace that role. There's a smoothness to his style that suggests he never gets rattled, and he has enough shake to get to wherever he's trying to go. Allen could form a lethal defensive combo at center with Jakob Poeltl (assuming he returns from restricted free agency), and ideally one of Prince or the pick pans out.

Toronto Raptors

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    The Trade: Fred VanVleet (sign-and-trade) to Pacers for Victor Oladipo

    The Raptors have carefully managed their cap—all in preparation of an ambitious run at Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021—to the point they don't have many big contracts to throw around in a blockbuster. Pascal Siakam is going nowhere, Kyle Lowry is approaching the final year of his pact, and Norman Powell isn't netting them a difference-maker.

    So, a sign-and-swap with VanVleet must suffice, and it might pique the Pacers' interest as their best option for moving on without Oladipo. Having VanVleet and Malcolm Brogdon in the same backcourt creates major versatility at both ends of the court, and each is a sharp enough shooter to increase the potency of Domantas Sabonis' passing.

    Rather than paying VanVleet, Toronto takes a one-year flier on Oladipo to remain in championship contention and maintain maximum flexibility for what it hopes can be a transformational offseason. Assuming the Raptors have already budgeted for a new deal with VanVleet, this could actually increase the Raptors' buying power and maybe gets them an in with Oladipo, who wouldn't be a bad consolation prize if Antetokounmpo declines a trip north of the border.

Utah Jazz

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    The Trade: Rudy Gobert and No. 23 pick to 76ers for Joel Embiid

    Gobert reportedly repaired his relationship with Donovan Mitchell at the bubble, per Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, but that was quietly never Utah's greatest concern. That distinction instead goes to the fact that both players are extension-eligible this offseason, and Mitchell is already set to ink a max extension when the market opens, per Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes.

    But it's a thornier debate with Gobert. He'll be 29 when his next contract kicks in. He isn't a shot-creator by any stretch. His offensive range doesn't reach far beyond the restricted area. And his position has never been devalued to the degree it is now.

    Granted, the Jazz don't switch positions in this swap, but Embiid offers a massive offensive upgrade without sacrificing much (if any) of the defense. Utah also has the shooting Philly has failed to give him, plus its lineup is better equipped to navigate the half-court possessions he prefers to run. The Jazz send their ceiling higher in this exchange, though their floor inevitably drops with Embiid's myriad injury concerns.

    Philly, meanwhile, rids itself of Embiid's question marks and potentially doesn't skip a beat with a new elite interior presence coming to town (along with a first-round pick). Gobert's lack of range isn't ideal, but his lower-maintenance style and willingness to run the floor are easier fits with Simmons.

Washington Wizards

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Trade: Bradley Beal to Heat for Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn and Kelly Olynyk

    The message coming out of D.C. shouldn't be that Beal is unavailable. It shouldn't be a message at all, but rather a directive: If you want Beal, bring only your finest trade offers.

    Heat fans might think this is too much, but if that's how Pat Riley feels, then Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard can hang up the phone and get on with his life. Beal is a 27-year-old two-time All-Star who has shined as everything from an elite shooter, lockdown defender and secondary playmaker to now an absurdly productive focal point (30.5 points and 6.1 assists this season, making him just the 12th player to ever average 30 and 6).

    A Beal deal only makes sense for the Wizards if it brings back a haul, and this package should qualify. Herro is the centerpiece as a 20-year-old with a fiery three-point shot and flashes of advanced shot-making maneuvers. But Robinson's sniping, Nunn's off-the-bounce scoring and Olynyk's spacing all add to the equation for Washington, quite possibly nudging its whole clear of where it currently resides.

    Miami, meanwhile, snags an in-prime star without giving up anyone near that level. Maybe Herro eventually comes close, but by the time that happens, Jimmy Butler's championship window might be sealed shut. This trade for Beal, though, keeps it open indefinitely and could make Miami a popular pick to take the East next season.


    All stats courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted. Salary information via Basketball Insiders.

    Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.


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