The Best Trade Offer Every NBA Lottery Team Could Hear on Draft Night
NBA draft night is an opportunity to change the roster, and that doesn't happen solely with the selections.
Teams are always wheeling and dealing at the annual talent grab, and the activity could increase during this year's iteration. Free agency is limited—both in big spenders and available difference-makers—and the draft class lacks star power, so clubs in search of major change might have to find it on the trade market.
We're breaking out our crystal ball to determine the most intriguing trade offer each lottery club could receive during the Nov. 18 draft.
Minnesota Timberwolves receive: Victor Oladipo and Aaron Holiday
Indiana Pacers receive: James Johnson (opt in), Jarrett Culver and No. 1 pick
The Timberwolves want to win soon. That was the genesis of combining Karl-Anthony Towns with close friend D'Angelo Russell, which cost the club a lightly protected first-round pick (top-three protected in 2021 or unprotected in 2022) in the Andrew Wiggins swap.
If Minnesota isn't enamored with any particular prospect—and B/R's Jonathan Wasserman reported it isn't—then flipping the No. 1 pick for immediate help makes sense. A down draft class restricts some of the selection's trade value, but it could fetch Victor Oladipo. He's still working his way back from a Jan. 2019 ruptured quad, is only signed for one more season and is reportedly "looking to move on" this offseason, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic.
Oladipo is also potentially perfect for what the Wolves need. Unlike Towns and Russell, Oladipo does his best work on the defensive end, where he earned first-team honors in 2017-18. He can carry the offense in spurts, though, and perk up the transition attack. In this deal, he also comes attached to Aaron Holiday, who could assume control of Minnesota's second team next season.
If the Pacers are either convinced Oladipo wants out or unconvinced he's worth what he'll cost in 2021 free agency, this offers a clean escape with multiple paths to improvement. The first pick could deliver a preternatural passer (LaMelo Ball) or a three-level scorer (Anthony Edwards).
Jarrett Culver might be one developmental breakthrough away from making a two-way impact. Finally, James Johnson's expiring $16 million salary could attract a suitor before the trade deadline.
Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors receive: Mitchell Robinson and No. 8 pick
New York Knicks receive: No. 2 pick
While ESPN's Tim Bontemps reported "unanimous" thinking around the Association that the Warriors will try to trade this pick, the market isn't breaking in the Dubs' favor. If this was supposed to be their ticket to a Bradley Beal, Ben Simmons or Giannis Antetokounmpo, those exchanges aren't happening.
Golden State could set its sights on a lower tier—optimistically a Jrue Holiday type, but realistically maybe Aaron Gordon—though that might be asking for trouble. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are all on the wrong side of 30. The Splash Brothers just had their seasons wiped out by injuries, and Green could be tumbling down a steep decline. An outright pursuit of instant relief might be misguided.
Instead, it arguably makes the most sense to chase young talent and simply move down the draft board. If Ball makes it past No. 1 and the Knicks are desperate to have him, this is how the Warriors scratch both itches.
Mitchell Robinson immediately turbo-charges Golden State's frontcourt athleticism, providing both back-line protection on defense and aerial finishing on offense. The Knicks were a mess at point guard this season, and Robinson still finished in the 98th percentile of pick-and-roll screeners. He might be cheat-code dominant if he can play off Curry and Thompson.
By trading down in the draft, the Warriors can worry less about ceiling and more about polish. If the eighth pick nets them Tyrese Haliburton, Devin Vassell or Obi Toppin, they can comfortably expect that player to handle a regular role in next season's rotation.
Charlotte Hornets receive: Buddy Hield
Sacramento Kings receive: Nicolas Batum (opt in), Malik Monk and No. 32 pick (via CLE)
No matter whom the Hornets target with the No. 3 pick, the incoming prospect can only do so much to elevate this roster. It has a few intriguing support players, but it's lacked star power since Kemba Walker sought greener pastures in 2019.
Buddy Hield isn't a star, but he is an established scorer (career 20.7 points per 36 minutes) with a fiery three-point shot (41.1 percent). He could take defensive heat away from the No. 3 pick and give that player an emergency outlet on the offensive end.
He should be available too. He inked a $94 million extension last October and was pulled from the starting lineup in January. He has reportedly "soured on [Luke] Walton to the point he will not answer his coach's phone calls," per Jason Jones of The Athletic.
The Kings aren't publicly panicking, but this could be a big headache for a non-star player. Not to mention, if Bogdan Bogdanovic scores a new deal and turns Hield's substitute gig into a permanent role, the latter will be overpaid in Sacramento. Get him to Charlotte, though, and Hield helps balance the backcourt, juices the NBA's third-worst offense and lets the front office see how its young players perform alongside an established net-shredder.
Sacramento wiggles out of Hield's colossal contract without adding any guaranteed money beyond next season. Then, the Kings hope De'Aaron Fox can bring the best out of his former teammate, Malik Monk, and that the 32nd pick yields a contributor. Nicolas Batum makes the money work, but maybe a club that's set on expanding its buying power ahead of 2021 free agency will be drawn to his expiring $27.1 million salary.
Chicago Bulls receive: DeMar DeRozan (opt in) and Patty Mills
San Antonio Spurs receive: Otto Porter Jr. (opt in), Chandler Hutchison and No. 44 pick (via MEM)
When the Bulls assessed themselves last October, they saw a playoff team. Even after a 22-43 season, that optimism is apparently shared by the front office, which veered away from a rebuild with the hiring of head coach Billy Donovan and could continue in that direction with an offseason focused on improvement.
"We've talked a lot about, 'This is not a rebuild,'" Bulls general manager Marc Eversley told reporters. "We're looking to retool this thing, and we think Billy is going to put us in a position to do that in the foreseeable future."
Chicago should aim first at fixing its 29th-ranked attack, and this deal brings back scoring, shooting and veteran know-how.
DeMar DeRozan might not be a spacer, but he is one of just eight players to average 20 points, five assists and five rebounds each of the last two seasons. Patty Mills has cleared 37 percent on mid- to high volume from three in five straight seasons. Both can plug into clear, capable roles in Chicago, which should make it easier for the young Bulls to find their own areas to impact.
The Spurs can continue their developmental focus from the bubble and work to brighten their future. Losing DeRozan makes it easier for their young guards to play more prominent roles. A healthy Otto Porter Jr. is a low-maintenance support player. A healthy Chandler Hutchison could be the same. And if any team can turn the 44th pick into a major contributor, it's this one.
Cleveland Cavaliers receive: Harrison Barnes, Jabari Parker (opt in) and No. 35 pick (via DET)
Sacramento Kings receive: Kevin Love
The Cavaliers keep posturing in an attempt to convince everyone they don't need to deal Kevin Love. When Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor laid out the asking price in April, the Cavs were reportedly seeking "a combination of picks and players."
This might be as close as Cleveland can get without being laughed off the phone.
Harrison Barnes is overpaid (three years, $60.9 million remaining), but he's not useless. He's a career 37.5 percent three-point shooter who defends multiple positions. That can play in any rotation, especially that of a bottom-feeder who hopes to escape the cellar.
Jabari Parker mainly makes the money work here, though if the Cavs are desperate for scoring, he has supplied 18.5 points per 36 minutes for his career. But between his defensive deficiencies and shooting limitations (career 32.4 percent from deep), he's almost assuredly less attractive to Cleveland than the incoming second-round pick would be.
The Kings, meanwhile, decide Love's three-point shooting and outlet passing provide enough of a lift to this offense to justify the trade cost. If a healthy Marvin Bagley III can do enough defensively to hide Love, then the latter's hit-ahead passes can speed up this offense, while his three-ball will help widen attack lanes for Fox.
Atlanta Hawks receive: Bradley Beal and Ish Smith
Washington Wizards receive: John Collins, De'Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, Dewayne Dedmon and 2021 first-round pick (top-10 protected)
The Hawks' deadline deal for Clint Capela sent two messages. The first is the franchise feels it's almost ready to take flight, a belief surely buoyed by Trae Young's All-Star ascension. The second is an apparent willingness to consider life without John Collins, who does his best offensive work as a pick-and-roll screener, just like Capela.
With Collins needing a new deal before next offseason, and the Hawks having "hesitation" about giving the bouncy big man "significant money," per The Athletic's Chris Kirschner, this might be time to cut the cord. That's a much less painful process when it involves bringing back Beal, who would create one of the Association's most dynamic backcourts alongside Young.
Four players averaged 29 points and six assists this season; Atlanta would roster half of them after this deal.
While an aggressive move for win-now assistance might seem premature for a club coming off a 20-47 campaign, this doesn't deplete the Hawks' asset collection. Young, the crown jewel, sticks around, as does the intriguing Cam Reddish. Atlanta also keeps the No. 6 pick, which could be a path to another starter. Plus, Beal is only 27 and Young is 22, so the Hawks have a little time to figure this out.
Also, don't overlook the arrival of Ish Smith. He is serviceable, and that's not meant as a backhanded compliment. The Hawks have been hunting for someone who keeps them from getting demolished when Young needs a breather, and Smith can handle that role.
The Wizards could wait and see what they have with Beal and a healthy John Wall, but shouldn't they know by now? The twosome has never advanced beyond the second round, and while Beal is better than he was before Wall's absence, the latter is a 30-year-old coming off a torn Achilles. Oh, and he's always been heavily dependent on his athleticism, so if that burst is gone, his effectiveness could be too.
Instead, Washington can pounce on an opportunity to rebuild with a strong prospect haul and a future first-round pick in a deeper draft. Collins can get 20 points and 10 rebounds in his sleep, and his increased offensive range bodes well for his fit with Rui Hachimura. Kevin Huerter's shooting range and De'Andre Hunter's three-and-D skills make them easy to plug in complementary roles.
Detroit Pistons receive: Melvin Frazier Jr. and No. 15 pick
Orlando Magic receive: Derrick Rose
Why does Derrick Rose still reside in the Motor City?
The Pistons value his leadership, senior adviser Ed Stefanski told Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, but who, exactly, is Rose supposed to be leading?
Detroit has almost no high-level prospects. Christian Wood's late-season surge potentially puts him in that range, but he's an unrestricted free agent with a tiny track record of strong play. Luke Kennard is another candidate, but he was plagued by knee tendinitis and saw his name surface in trade talks.
Whatever insight Rose can pass on to Svi Mykhailiuk, Sekou Doumbouya and Bruce Brown isn't nearly as helpful to this long-term rebuild as the 15th overall pick should be. And hey, Melvin Frazier Jr. is only 24, so maybe he can make good on his three-and-D potential.
The Magic, meanwhile, have an obvious itch for Rose's scoring, plus a pupil for him to mentor in Markelle Fultz. Assuming Orlando hasn't given up on this core—the 11th-ranked defense is ready to compete if the 23rd-ranked offense gets its act together—then Rose can be an impact acquisition at a relatively modest cost.
New York Knicks
New York Knicks receive: Enes Kanter, Romeo Langford, No. 14 pick (via MEM) and No. 30 pick (via MIL)
Boston Celtics receive: Taj Gibson and No. 8 pick
The Knicks might covet a star, but what they need are warm bodies for their rebuild. Even with seven first-rounders over the next four drafts, they could always use more picks and prospects, especially when Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett might comprise their entire long-term nucleus.
New York might find a willing trade partner in Boston, which needs to consolidate with more first-round picks in 2020 (three) than roster openings. This takes the Celtics into the top 10, plus gives them a physical presence in Taj Gibson, who might provide more resistance should they encounter Bam Adebayo (or Joel Embiid) in next year's postseason.
There's one of two ways this works for the Knicks. Either they don't see much drop-off between the eighth and 14th picks, or they see enough in Romeo Langford to compensate for the opportunity cost of moving down. If both of those things are true, this enters no-brainer territory for the 'Bockers.
Langford, last summer's 14th pick, battled injuries and inconsistency as a rookie, but in June 2019, Wasserman projected him to be a "starting 2-guard." Get Langford on the wing with Barrett, have Robinson anchoring the interior and hit on enough of these draft picks, and New York could organically grow a stronger, more sustainable core than it could via any quick-fix offseason trade.
Washington Wizards receive: Steven Adams and No. 53 pick
Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Thomas Bryant, Jerome Robinson, Moritz Wagner and Ish Smith
Right or wrong, Washington is living in the present. As The Athletic's Fred Katz put it, "The Wizards genuinely believe they can compete next year."
That's the rationale behind not moving Beal for a rebuilder's starter kit and not turning Davis Bertans into draft picks ahead of his free agency. So long as that's the motivation, then fixing the defense—which was one of history's worst, and that's not hyperbole—should be the primary offseason focus.
The Wizards can put that challenge on the broad shoulders of the 6'11", 265-pound Steven Adams. He's approaching the final season of his contract, and he's no longer of use to an OKC team veering toward a large-scale rebuild. But in D.C., he could shore up the interior with length, strength and physicality. Plus, having him in the middle means not having to spend the No. 9 pick on a big man and instead attacking a weak spot along the wings.
The Thunder turn one veteran into three prospects (plus Smith for salary-matching purposes), which is almost always a win for rebuilders. The 6'10" Thomas Bryant boasts an intriguing combination of length and shooting, Jerome Robinson's off-the-dribble offense perked up in the bubble (14.8 points per game on 42.6/36.7/71.4 shooting) and Moritz Wagner's 81.8 career free-throw percentage points to more efficient days ahead for the 6'11" spacer.
Phoenix Suns receive: Jordan Poole and No. 2 pick
Golden State Warriors receive: Kelly Oubre Jr. and No. 10 pick
Patience probably isn't the easiest thing to sell in the desert. It's been two seasons since Devin Booker declared he was "done with not making the playoffs," but not even an 8-0 surge in the bubble could keep the Suns' postseason drought from reaching its 10th year.
All of that said, the Suns shouldn't rush the process. Booker is 23 years old. Deandre Ayton is 22. Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson are both 24. The future remains brighter than the present, but Phoenix could enhance that luminosity by adding one more high-ceiling piece.
Even in a draft as unpredictable as this, that's easier to do with the second pick than the 10th. Spend this selection wisely, and the Suns could find Booker's backcourt mate for the next decade (Ball or Edwards), or fill the forward spot with an explosive scorer (Toppin) or do-it-all glue guy (Deni Avdija).
That potential is enough for Phoenix to part ways with Valley Boyz architect Kelly Oubre Jr., who needs a new deal in 2021. That sacrifice is easier to make if the Suns see Jordan Poole boosting their bench as a spark-plug scorer and secondary distributor.
As for the Warriors, they find the two-way wing they need in Oubre, and they remain inside the top 10 to ideally bulk up next season's rotation and help support their post-Splash Brothers era.
San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs receive: Aaron Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu and No. 15 pick
Orlando Magic receive: DeMar DeRozan and Patty Mills
It's time for San Antonio to embrace its youth movement. Technically, that came when Kawhi Leonard forced his way out of town in July 2018, but unless the Spurs stumble across a time machine, they can't correct that mistake.
They can, however, turn contract-year 30-somethings DeRozan and Mills into potentially two keepers.
The 6'8" Gordon's combination of size, skills and athleticism is the kind of clay ball the Spurs should be eager to mold. Get him off the perimeter and repurpose him as a do-it-all small-ball big, and he can finally show why he was the fourth overall selection in 2014. The 15th pick provides another rebuilding asset, though San Antonio must cover the cost of Al-Farouq Aminu's remaining contract to get it (two years, $19.9 million).
The Magic finally get their mitts on DeRozan, who they reportedly eyed in November to fix their offensive issues, per The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor. If nothing else, DeRozan packs enough of an offensive punch that opposing defenses can't overload on Nikola Vucevic. To that end, it will also help having Mills' perimeter threat to bolster an attack that finished 22nd in made threes and 25th in three-point percentage.
Sacramento Kings receive: Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner
Indiana Pacers receive: Buddy Hield, Nemanja Bjelica and No. 12 pick
The Kings are surely eager to book their first playoff trip since 2006, but this deal isn't solely designed for instant gratification. While postseason expectations would follow, this could be more of a forward-thinking team-building plan, provided Sacramento can convince Oladipo to stick around.
If he can put this knee problem behind him, he would instantly form one of the league's most athletic backcourts with Fox. They would be an electric pairing in the open court, and they could pester opposing guards at the less glamorous end. It might get a little squeezed for spacing, but Oladipo has been an above-average perimeter shooter before, and Myles Turner's stretch-5 skills would provide some relief.
Speaking of Turner, he might be the ideal frontcourt partner for Marvin Bagley III. Turner's shooting would help clear the lane for Bagley's rim attacks. On defense, Bagley's versatility would free up Turner, 2018-19's blocks leader, to focus on paint protection. Add Richaun Holmes and Barnes to the mix, and the Kings could field a formidable frontcourt rotation.
If the Pacers are ready for life without Oladipo (and without the antiquated two-big frontcourt), this deal delivers a lottery pick and brings back a pair of three-point splashers to a team that finished 29th in three-point makes. Hield's catch-and-fire sniping might prove even more potent alongside an expert table-setter like Domantas Sabonis, while Nemanja Bjelica would give the frontcourt a different dimension no matter how he's used.
New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans Pelicans receive: Gary Harris, Bol Bol, Keita Bates-Diop and No. 22 pick (via HOU)
Denver Nuggets receive: Jrue Holiday
The Pelicans could stand pat and try for a playoff push next season, but they should be thinking much farther into the future.
New franchise centerpiece Zion Williamson doesn't turn 21 until July, and first-time All-Star Brandon Ingram just celebrated his 23rd birthday. Every move New Orleans makes should revolve around these players and reset the organizational clock to coincide with their presumed peaks. Flipping 30-year-old Jrue Holiday for 26-year-old Gary Harris, 24-year-old Keita Bates-Diop, 20-year-old Bol Bol and a draft pick is one to do that.
Harris is an elite perimeter defender, and while he has struggled with his shot of late, he did splash 263 triples at a 40.5 percent clip from 2016-17 to 2017-18. Bol's 7'2", 220-pound body needs work, but his combination of interior length and perimeter skill is wildly intriguing (and almost perfect for a Williamson running mate). Bates-Diop doesn't have the highest ceiling, but his two-way versatility gives him glue-guy potential.
As for the Nuggets, they discussed Holiday at the deadline, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post, and they could reasonably see him as the missing piece of their championship puzzle. They just made a conference finals run without him, but they struggled to find a consistent third option to complement Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Holiday can handle that role and ensure there's no defensive slippage without Harris.
Memphis Grizzlies receive: Romeo Langford, Carsen Edwards, Enes Kanter, Vincent Poirier and No. 26 pick
Boston Celtics receive: Jonas Valanciunas
The Grizzlies are the lone lottery team without their first-round pick, as they're finally paying their tab (coincidentally to the Celtics) for the 2015 trade for Jeff Green. That's a shame, because Memphis could really stand to add more young players.
Yes, Beale Street's ballers nearly snagged an improbable playoff spot, but the Western Conference will get even more treacherous next season. Rather than attempting to keep up with the win-now competition, the Grizzlies would be wise to remember their most important players are all on the right side of 25: Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke, Justise Winslow and Dillon Brooks.
This trade lets the Grizzlies expand that nucleus. A healthy Langford should be able to fit somewhere, and Carsen Edwards might find his calling as a quick-strike scoring sub. The No. 26 pick at least lets Memphis back into the first round. Maybe the Grizzlies even decide to keep Enes Kanter or Vincent Poirier around to help Clarke and Jackson cover the interior.
The Celtics, meanwhile, address their biggest weakness without disrupting the core of their conference finals roster. Jonas Valanciunas is the muscle Boston doesn't have and the physical answer to another Adebayo-type challenge. Between Valanciunas, Daniel Theis and Robert Williams III, head coach Brad Stevens should have a center for any situation.
Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.