1 NBA Trade Idea for Every Team Ahead of Deadline
It's trade-deadline week, so you know what that means, everybody: proposed trade time!
We've constructed 30 deals, one that each team should make before Thursday's deadline. However, to create a (highly unlikely) universe in which all of these trades could play out as constructed, no player or draft pick is used twice.
We discussed landing spots for the trade market's most coveted players last week here and are diving in deeper on particulars of those potential deals, so if some of this looks especially familiar, that's why.
Let's dig in!
Atlanta: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Talen Horton-Tucker, Alfonzo McKinnie, 2023 2nd-Rounder
LA Lakers: Bogdan Bogdanovic
Despite being hurt for much of this season and underwhelming when healthy, Bogdan Bogdanovic is apparently unhappy with his diminished role in Atlanta, per ESPN's Brian Windhorst. With the Hawks getting by just fine while Bogdanovic struggles, they're likely willing to move him. The Warriors and Celtics have reportedly shown interest in the Serbian guard, but he might achieve the most success with the reigning champions.
Tim Bontemps of ESPN wrote about this specific trade yesterday: "The Hawks need defense, and will get that in both KCP and THT. The Lakers, meanwhile, need another creator and shot-maker, and Bogdanovic would provide both. Plus he'd be able to start long-term for them, something he'd like. He'd also give a team facing a lot of difficult financial decisions this summer some cost certainty, given he's under contract for the next three seasons."
While Los Angeles' need for another playmaker is particularly acute right now with LeBron James on the sidelines, it was a skill worth upgrading anyway considering the team ranks in the bottom 10 leaguewide in assist-to-turnover ratio. Simultaneously, the Hawks continue to bolster their defensive ranks behind Trae Young while adding two low-usage shooters (THT and KCP), one of whom was integral to the Lakers' championship core in Caldwell-Pope.
Provided that Bogdanovic shakes off his leg injuries, this could be a win-win trade.
Boston: Al Horford
Oklahoma City: Tristan Thompson, 2023 1st-Rounder (Top-10 Protected)
One thing to remember about the Boston Celtics is that they're hard-capped this year. So, using that $28.5 million trade exception that has hung over their entire season is more difficult than it seems. In order to acquire a big-name player, they'll probably have to give up somebody of consequence.
Now, considering how the Celtics have performed this year, it seems unlikely that anybody who's currently available could vault them into the East's top tier. However, as long as they have Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Brad Stevens' club is deadly, and if they can acquire a game-changer by Thursday, that's a deal worth making.
After a fairly disastrous stint in Philly, Al Horford has returned to form for the rebuilding Thunder this year. If he were to continue playing this well for the Celtics, there's no doubt they'd be a better team. A reunion with the 34-year-old would improve Boston's spacing, make their offense run more smoothly and potentially help with rim protection.
Oklahoma City might not be interested in giving up one of its only veterans (George Hill is also a hot trade candidate this week), but Tristan Thompson would present yet another opportunity for GM Sam Presti to work his draft pick wizardry.
Brooklyn: Daniel Gafford
Chicago: Tyler Johnson, PHX 2021 2nd-Rounder
The Nets adding Blake Griffin to their Evil Empire is a fun story for numerous reasons, not least of which is that he finally dunked again! However, even in his prime, Blake wouldn't solve Brooklyn's egregious lack of rim protection.
Trading away Jarrett Allen, while necessary to acquire James Harden, was a tough blow for Steve Nash's team. DeAndre Jordan might be even further past his prime than Griffin, and while Nicolas Claxton is an intriguing young player who ranks 14th in the NBA in block percentage, he's played 26 career games.
Daniel Gafford is only a year older than Claxton, but he's slightly better than the Georgia Bulldog in most areas. He's a more efficient scorer, places ninth in block percentage and is even more explosive, finishing dunks with contagious energy. Harden and Claxton developed lob chemistry almost instantly, so just imagine what The Beard and Kyrie Irving would do with Gafford in the mix too.
Meanwhile, Tyler Johnson is an impending free agent but could be an intriguing bench scorer and playmaker if the Bulls make the playoffs. However, this deal is mostly good for Chicago because it gains another second-round pick in the 2021 draft.
Charlotte: Nerlens Noel
New York: Malik Monk
Before this season, it seemed like Malik Monk was another bad year away from needing to rejuvenate his career overseas. The addition of LaMelo Ball to a backcourt already featuring Terry Rozier and Devonte' Graham didn't seem like it would help Monk's chances of making a lasting impression.
Nevertheless, the fourth-year guard has finally broken through.
Though his counting stats are only marginally improved, Monk's efficiency has become commendable, as he's now shooting 40.8 percent from three on a career-best 5.1 long-range attempts per game. The 23-year-old has scored over 20 points six times and has made a mental breakthrough, saying that he "started taking everything serious." If Monk re-signed with the Knicks this summer, he'd undoubtedly become a fan favorite once the Madison Square Garden faithful return en masse.
Noel is not to be underrated in this deal either. While also an impending free agent, the big man's rim-running and defensive versatility would bolster Charlotte's bench. There's no guarantee that Noel would re-sign, and he wouldn't be a sufficient long-term replacement for Cody Zeller, but if the Kentucky alum's contributions help get the Hornets to the postseason for the third time in a decade, then this trade is worth it.
Chicago: Dorian Finney-Smith
Dallas: Wendell Carter Jr., 2021 2nd-Rounder
Injuries have diminished Wendell Carter Jr.'s chance to put together a sustained period of growth, but he has still generally underwhelmed in Chicago. Coach Billy Donovan clearly shares this opinion and recently acted on it, benching the former lottery pick.
Let's get Carter in a more competent organization and see if that does the trick. Luka Doncic might help unlock aspects of Carter's game that haven't translated, such as consistent three-point range and high-post passing. His defensive fit alongside Kristaps Porzingis seems questionable, but then Rick Carlisle could use Carter as a second-unit center and stagger their minutes as often as possible.
As for the Bulls' side of things, Finney-Smith might be the player that locks everything into place. Chicago is an average defensive team by net rating, but slotting the savvy Florida alum next to Patrick Williams could make for an interesting wing rotation against some of the East's top teams.
The Bulls would still be unlikely to win multiple games against the Nets, Bucks or 76ers, but making those high-powered teams work for victories is just as valuable an experience for a young group.
Cleveland: Otto Porter Jr.
Chicago: Andre Drummond
On its face, this is a mere swap of expiring salaries. Drummond finally leaves Cleveland and temporarily solidifies the Bulls' center position as they push for the postseason, while Porter provides spacing and defense for the Cavaliers. But it's possible that this deal has longer-term dividends, particularly for Cleveland.
It may seem like a waste for Porter to re-sign with the Cavaliers when his player type is coveted by contenders. But he's in a tricky spot right now. After an underwhelming tenure in Chicago dominated by injuries, the Georgetown alum might not command as large a deal as he'd want on the open market this summer.
However, Porter is still just 27 years old and could benefit from a reset. As such, signing a one-year deal with Cleveland, staying healthy, producing at usual levels and acting as a culture setter could return his value to a reasonable place while hopefully benefiting the Cavaliers' young core in the process.
We're now far afield from reality. The most likely outcome of this deal would be Porter playing out the string and departing when free agency begins. But the wing could be valuable to Cleveland if he chooses to extend his stay.
Dallas: Aaron Gordon
Orlando: Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Green, 2023 2nd-Rounder
At long last, Aaron Gordon has requested a trade from the Orlando Magic, per Sam Amick and Jared Weiss of The Athletic. A deal can't come soon enough.
The Mavericks don't appear to be one of the several teams in talks to acquire Gordon, but they should be. We discussed the benefits of a partnership between Rick Carlisle's club and the bouncy forward last week, and suffice it to say that nothing has changed. Gordon would be an unbelievable lob threat for Luka Doncic and would provide a boost to the team's 23rd-ranked defense.
Of course, Dallas would have to provide a tantalizing return to land the 2014 fourth overall pick. Based on salaries and team needs, Hardaway seems to be the most likely headliner. He flourished next to Luka Doncic and might revert to his Knicks days as a low-efficiency, high-volume gunner with the Magic, but they need all the help they can get on offense.
Josh Green would be a nice low-risk flier, as the rookie has already earned praise from Carlisle and Mavericks vets for his high-intensity defense.
Denver: Cory Joseph, Nemanja Bjelica
Sacramento: Gary Harris, Bol Bol, 2023 2nd-Rounder
It would make sense for the Nuggets to stand pat. More than half of their second unit departed in free agency last year and they rightly want to keep Michael Porter Jr., so the cupboard is more barren than usual. However, if an opposing franchise sees value in Gary Harris and wants to develop Bol Bol, there are deals to be had.
Though his contract doesn't suggest it, Harris is now a sixth man, and backing up Tyrese Haliburton in Sacramento would confirm that. Bol still hasn't really popped beyond that one exciting bubble scrimmage, so he is very much a wait-and-see proposition.
Joseph and Bjelica, meanwhile, would join Denver's rotation and be welcome sources of veteran wisdom. Joseph is recording his best effective field-goal percentage in six years and brings a championship pedigree alongside his steady hands. Bjelica would essentially replace Jerami Grant, providing frontcourt versatility and floor spacing.
A new-and-improved second unit involving Joseph, Monte Morris, PJ Dozier, Bjelica and JaMychal Green isn't making many waves, but those under-the-radar acquisitions are often more important than trading for an All-Star. Don't be surprised if an upgraded bench makes the difference for Denver in the playoffs.
Detroit: Jarrett Culver
Minnesota: Rodney McGruder, 2023 CLE/GSW 2nd-Rounder
The Pistons have had some nice breakout performances this year, particularly from Jerami Grant and Saddiq Bey, but the ridicule that their offseason provoked has proved to be fair. It will likely be a long while before this team returns to the playoffs.
What, if anything, should Detroit do this week? Well, a smart strategy for any rebuilder is to buy low on talented young players who haven't established themselves, like Jarrett Culver. The 2019 sixth overall pick is going nowhere fast for the league-worst Minnesota Timberwolves, playing less than he did as a rookie and regressing on offense. Minnesota may not want to move him yet, but Culver is positionally redundant with and worse than Anthony Edwards, Malik Beasley and Josh Okogie.
The Pistons have nothing to lose by acquiring Culver. Sure, they have Bey and a few other players taking up wing space, but there's generally a lot of playing time and little pressure in Detroit these days.
Minnesota would gain an extra second-round pick here as well as McGruder, a grinder who'd help set a tone for the team's flailing defense.
Golden State Warriors
Golden State: Garrett Temple, Ryan Arcidiacono
Chicago: Kevon Looney, Brad Wanamaker, 2022 2nd-Rounder
The Warriors have been surprisingly competent without Stephen Curry these past few games, but when your backup point guards are Nico Mannion and Brad Wanamaker—and presumably Jordan Poole, though he's rarely played the point this year—it's time to make a change.
With Tomas Satoransky, Zach LaVine and Coby White capable of collectively managing the Bulls offense, Ryan Arcidiacono has become expendable. However, his savvy would be welcomed with open arms in Golden State. The former Villanova star plays to his strengths, usually making the best pass and frequently defending the opponent's best guard.
In addition, Garrett Temple is playing quite well for the Bulls and would provide solid defense on the wing.
Seeing Temple go would be tough for Chicago, but a second-rounder next year and Looney could make it worth it. The big man has struggled with health issues throughout his career, but he proved his value in the 2019 NBA Finals, playing a major role for the injury-ravaged Warriors despite having a fractured collarbone himself. If Looney can stay on the court, the Bulls might have their next backup center.
Houston: Eric Bledsoe, 2022 1st-Rounder (Top-Five Protected)
New Orleans: Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo has been making a late push to increase his trade value, averaging 25.4 points, 5.1 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game on 43.4/36.2/80.5 shooting splits in the month of March. Considering how inconsistent he's been since returning from the January 2019 quad injury, it's hard to know how sustainable this hot streak will be. But that's not the Rockets' problem, as they should sell high before he likely departs this summer.
Houston won't fetch beaucoup return for the two-time All-Star, but it should be asking for at least one first-round pick in return. Plus, in this deal, John Wall gets to be reunited with Kentucky teammate Eric Bledsoe, and considering how both point guards are badly overpaid, they'll likely be stuck together for several more years while the team tries to embark on a rebuild.
We talked about Oladipo's fit on the Pelicans last week, and he remains an imperfect yet intriguing fit in the Big Easy. If the Indiana alum ever permanently shakes his knee troubles and regains the explosiveness that made his breakout so exciting, then New Orleans will be a problem.
Indiana: Semi Ojeleye, Romeo Langford, 2022 2nd-Rounder
Boston: Aaron Holiday, Kelan Martin
Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reports that Aaron Holiday is on the block, and that makes sense. In his third season, the younger Holiday brother has fallen behind T.J. McConnell in Indiana's rotation while averaging career-worst marks in scoring efficiency and assists. A fresh start seems appropriate, and there are few teams in the league more in need of a backup point guard than Boston.
Arguably the two most important members of the Celtics organization have been open about their dissatisfaction with the team's 2020-21 performance, and while Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens are likely not giving up on the campaign, it seems they understand that a title is probably not in the cards for this particular team.
As such, Holiday could be given a little bit of extra latitude to work through his mistakes than would normally be the case with this perpetually competitive franchise.
From Indiana's perspective, this deal is worth doing for several reasons. It officially de-clutters the Pacers' point guard depth chart, adds wing depth and defense with Ojeleye, and brings home a native son and recent lottery pick in Langford. The Pacers have a ready-made starting lineup, so this deadline is all about the margins anyway.
Los Angeles Clippers
LA Clippers: Lonzo Ball
New Orleans: Lou Williams, Patrick Patterson, Daniel Oturu, 2027 1st-Rounder (Lottery-Protected)
In a perfect world, the Clippers would acquire Kyle Lowry. Unfortunately, they lack the assets to execute such a trade, and so a reunion with Kawhi Leonard and Serge Ibaka is not to be at this time. Of course, Lowry is not the only point guard on the market, so Los Angeles is zeroing in on more reasonably priced candidates.
For instance, Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that the team wants to acquire Lonzo Ball. Ball is a much different player than Lowry in that he’s pass-first and generally an inconsistent shooter, but he’d nevertheless fill the Clippers’ need, just in a different way.
Lonzo is unorthodox, to the point where it took coaches until the middle of this year to figure out how best to use him in the NBA. However, he’s been playing great over the last two months, and when he’s in a groove, it’s contagious.
Insert the 23-year-old into Lou Williams’ spot in the Clippers lineup—like most teams, the Pelicans would love Lou Will’s heat-check scoring—watch him throw hit-ahead alley-oops and prowl the passing lanes for deflections, and just wait for the rest of the team to follow suit.
Los Angeles Lakers
LA Lakers: Jordan McLaughlin
Minnesota: 2024 2nd-Rounder
Until very recently, the Lakers seemed like a prime candidate to land LaMarcus Aldridge. The big man is on his way out of San Antonio, and Anthony Davis' extended absence has exposed Los Angeles' lack of depth up front. All of that is still true, but now that LeBron James is out for the next month in addition to Davis' indefinite timetable, the Purple and Gold need another ball-handler to merely stay afloat.
Jordan McLaughlin is obviously no Kyle Lowry and he's not even George Hill, but the former USC Trojan is one of the smartest distributors in the NBA. He's ranked in the top 20 league-wide in assist-to-turnover ratio in each of his two seasons despite playing on the Timberwolves, and is one of those classic college veterans who finds his way onto a contender through sheer hustle and basketball IQ.
McLaughlin wouldn't need to have a big role on the Lakers. Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso and Marc Gasol are all playmakers too. But LeBron conducted this high-flying offense nearly by himself, and this incumbent trio is struggling to match his success.
Adding one more guard off the bench could only help Los Angeles.
Memphis: Harrison Barnes
Sacramento: Jonas Valanciunas, Desmond Bane, Jontay Porter, 2021 2nd-Rounder
The Kings seem reluctant to deal Harrison Barnes, and the reasons make sense. He's in the midst of a career year while becoming a team leader. On the other hand, they trail three much more talented teams—Golden State, Memphis and New Orleans—in the race for the play-in tournament and may come to regret not dealing the forward if regression comes.
A deal with Memphis could end up replacing much of Barnes' value to the Kings. Valanciunas is a similarly respected veteran in the middle of his prime and provides a rebounding boost, Bane has shown promise as a two-way wing, and Porter was a lottery-caliber big man before tearing his ACL twice in two years.
The Grizzlies, of course, could use Barnes for the same reasons the Kings want to keep him, but this particular deal would also clarify their frontcourt, opening up more minutes for Brandon Clarke and Xavier Tillman while officially anointing Jaren Jackson Jr. as the team's center whenever he returns to the court.
Barnes might not fit Memphis' long-term competitive timeline, but his mentorship could prove invaluable as the team climbs the Western Conference hierarchy in the years to come.
Miami: Wayne Ellington
Detroit: KZ Okpala, 2022 PHI/DEN 2nd-Rounder
The rumor mill is starting to buzz around Kyle Lowry getting traded to Miami, reportedly because he's close with Jimmy Butler. However, if that's the case, then Lowry might want to join the Heat in free agency this summer, so why would they trade Duncan Robinson or Tyler Herro to acquire him instead of just waiting several months?
Miami should try for a smaller-scale move this week, specifically to address its worryingly subpar shooting. After an out-of-body 2020 postseason resulted in a surprise Finals appearance, the Heat's thin margin for error on offense has reared its ugly head this year, as they rank 28th in three-point efficiency and 29th in clutch offense.
A reunion with Wayne Ellington, who's shooting the lights out for a rebuilding Pistons club, seems like a good bet for both sides. The 33-year-old would play for a legitimate contender once more, while Miami would fill its most pressing hole.
As we discussed with Detroit earlier, its priority should be taking on long-term projects who are either of no use to win-now teams or are just falling out of favor in their current rotations. The raw but promising KZ Okpala fits this bill.
Milwaukee: Elfrid Payton
New York: Pat Connaughton, 2023 2nd-Rounder
After acquiring P.J. Tucker to unofficially kick-start trade season, it would be understandable if the Bucks stood pat from here on out. Provided his pre-trade performance in Houston had more to do with frustration than aging, Tucker gives the team a quintet worthy of challenging for the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Plus, between the Tucker and Jrue Holiday deals, Milwaukee has close to emptied its chest of draft picks.
However, the Bucks did move D.J. Augustin to acquire Tucker, and while he wasn't great in Milwaukee and the team has capable secondary playmakers including Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, it still needs a formal backup point guard for Holiday.
Enter Elfrid Payton. The Knicks have a crowded backcourt, and while Tom Thibodeau favors Payton over rookie Immanuel Quickley, the latter has much more long-term promise, so it would make sense for them to move on from the 27-year-old. While Payton is fairly scoring-challenged, he is an excellent passer and rebounder, and considering what the Bucks require out of a backup point guard, the Louisiana alum fits like a glove.
New York, meanwhile, could get a low-cost look at Connaughton, a high-flying, high-motor wing, and gain a second-rounder in the 2023 draft.
Minnesota: Lauri Markkanen, Thaddeus Young
Chicago: Ricky Rubio, 2024 1st-Rounder (Top-10 Protected)
The Timberwolves' power forward spot has been a weak link all season. Players receiving rotation minutes at the 4 include Juan Hernangomez, Jarred Vanderbilt, Jaden McDaniels and Jake Layman. When 6'4" rookie Anthony Edwards has played 17 percent of his minutes down low, you know something needs to change.
Let's address Minnesota's positional and skill-based needs in one fell swoop here. Markkanen is in the midst of the best shooting season of his career and would team with Karl-Anthony Towns to form a dynamic scoring frontcourt. He's stagnated in other areas, but that's why Young is also in the deal.
The Bulls claim that Young is off-limits, but they might be interested in moving him if Minnesota offers a future first. The 32-year-old would hopefully serve a similar role for the Wolves as the one he's excelled in with Chicago, providing efficient offense around the basket while setting a more professional tone and grinding on defense.
As for the Bulls, that future first is appetizing and Rubio should be too. Chicago ranks 29th in turnover percentage and lacks a primary ball-handling point guard, so the Spaniard would be of service in helping to further unlock the team's enticing youngsters.
New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans: Spencer Dinwiddie
Brooklyn: JJ Redick, 2025 MIL 1st-Rounder (Lottery-Protected)
It's hard to know what to make of Spencer Dinwiddie's future. Though torn ACLs aren't an automatic death sentence anymore, contenders might be understandably hesitant to acquire him. However, a trade probably would make sense, given Brooklyn's trio of all-world ball-handlers.
One team that could use Dinwiddie that isn't ready to compete right away is the Pelicans. While Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson are both good playmakers for their size, New Orleans could still use a classic backcourt initiator, one who can break down a defense and create space for Ingram and Zion to plow to the basket. Dinwiddie is slightly older than the Pelicans' young group, but he'll likely still be good by the time they're ready for a serious playoff push.
Brooklyn's side of this deal is more straightforward. Redick hasn't had a very good season overall but is playing better of late, shooting 46.4 percent from three since February. He'd be an unbelievable fit next to the Nets' Big Three, benefiting from the oceans of space they create in the same way that Joe Harris has—and he might finally win an NBA title after years of falling short in the postseason.
New York Knicks
New York: Aron Baynes, Paul Watson
Toronto: Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox II, 2023 UTA 2nd-Rounder
We're more than halfway through the season and the New York Knicks are still in the playoff picture. At the risk of a jinx, this team is here to stay.
Considering how bleak the team's 21st century has been, fans might not want to mess with success, but New York could still make some marginal moves. One skill-based need it would do well to address is three-point shooting. The Knicks rank 11th in long-range efficiency, but two of their most important players—RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson—are mediocre or non-shooters, so they should keep looking for passable spacers to open up the floor as much as possible.
Aron Baynes has disappointed with Toronto. But things seem to be trending upward, as he's making 33.3 percent of his threes in March and looking more like the willing shooter we saw in Boston several years ago. It's not a perfect fit, but the Knicks have been so impressive thus far that small tweaks are all that's necessary.
From the Raptors' perspective, bringing in Ntilikina and Knox is another challenge for their player development department. If Toronto can't save these two, then it's best to assume they'll fade out of the league.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City: Jalen Smith, Jevon Carter, E'Twaun Moore, 2027 1st Rounder, 2023 2nd Rounder
Phoenix: George Hill
Since the Thunder have begun rebuilding, GM Sam Presti has extracted every last ounce of value from his veterans in trades. Al Horford and George Hill are Oklahoma City's remaining candidates to receive this treatment, and we discussed Horford in the Celtics' slide. That means we're talking about Hill here.
Hill never quite seemed good enough to be the starting point guard on a playoff team, but he's perfectly suited to leading a second unit. Adding Hill to the dynamic ball-handling duo of Chris Paul and Devin Booker would give Phoenix at least one consistent playmaker on the floor at all times and provide another strong locker room presence alongside Paul and Jae Crowder. Whether he'd be enough to make the Suns a legitimate Finals threat is questionable, but acquiring Hill is about as good as the team can do right now.
This trade's appeal for Oklahoma City is obvious. Presti collects yet another first rounder, gets to develop a recent first-round pick in Smith, and unleashes Carter's bulldog intensity on the young Thunder.
We won't see the fruits of his labor for a while, but it's undeniable that Presti has managed Oklahoma City brilliantly these last two years.
Orlando: Tyus Jones, John Konchar, PHX 2021 2nd Rounder
Memphis: Chuma Okeke, Michael Carter-Williams, Gary Clark, 2023 1st Rounder
The Magic have declared Markelle Fultz off-limits, and while the former top pick's development has been fun to track, depending on him to be your starting point guard for the foreseeable future is risky. He's not a very efficient scorer, and while that's offset by capable passing, the way that opponents still treat his jumper is problematic for Orlando's offense writ large.
Tyus Jones isn't the most consistent shooter either, but he's a pass-first guard and a very good one at that. He's currently sixth in the Association in assist-turnover ratio and generally brings out the best in his teammates, whether they be Duke Blue Devils, Minnesota Timberwolves or Memphis Grizzlies. On a Magic team that has struggled to score points for the better part of a decade, Jones might be just what the doctor ordered.
In exchange for giving up Ja Morant's backup, the Grizzlies would get a look at another young wing in Chuma Okeke. He's struggled through the first three months of his NBA career, but with Morant leading the way and a much more balanced supporting cast in Memphis than Orlando, Okeke would be given a prime chance to succeed and reach his lottery-ratified potential.
Philadelphia: Kyle Lowry
Toronto: Danny Green, Mike Scott, Tyrese Maxey, Shake Milton, 2021 1st Rounder, 2024 MIA 2nd Rounder
The Sixers have outperformed expectations this year, riding an MVP-caliber season from Joel Embiid to the East's top seed. But considering how deadly the Nets and Bucks have looked, Philly should aim for an all-in move this week. Luckily, Daryl Morey is the team's GM, and he specializes in this exact genre of trade.
While Kyle Lowry is an unrestricted free agent this summer, he could permanently and immediately elevate the Sixers into the 2021 title discussion. The six-time All Star would be the final piece of a potentially dominant defense, bolster the team's spacing, and be a much-needed source of half-court offense.
As much as Joel Embiid has developed as a shooter—and him making 42.2 percent of his threes this year really shouldn't be underrated—his clutch shot-creation and shot-making is still just not reliable enough. Lowry's no Curry or Lillard, but he's at least got a reliable handle, jump shot, and foul-drawing acumen.
The Raptors wouldn't get a top-tier prospect back in this package, but Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton have both noticeably improved during their tenures with the Sixers and could thrive with Toronto's acclaimed player development staff.
Phoenix: JaVale McGee, 2022 SAS 2nd Rounder
Cleveland: Abdel Nader, Langston Galloway
As good as Dario Saric has been off Phoenix's bench, he will be toyed with in the playoffs by the West's All-Star big men. The Suns need someone strong enough to hold his own in short spurts down low, and we've seen JaVale McGee do just that in playoff runs with the Warriors and Lakers.
The big man ended up on the Cavaliers in a salary-clearing move by the Lakers, and if his scoring efficiency is any indication, he seems to be waiting for the deadline to find his way back to a contender. Cleveland's young players seem to love him, but as an impending free agent, McGee could very well leave this summer anyway, so it's smart for the team to deal him.
As for the Cavs, it may seem irrational to trade a beloved veteran for half a season of two journeyman wings who might not re-sign either. But they're just 3.5 games out of the play-in tournament, and a few hot-shooting games from Galloway (47.5% from three) and Nader (41.9%) on top of Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and the team's other snipers could be enough to vault them back to the postseason fringe.
Portland Trail Blazers
Portland: Delon Wright
Detroit: Zach Collins, Nassir Little, 2022 2nd Rounder
With the ability to play both guard spots, Delon Wright shouldn't be wasting away on the Pistons. Let's get him to Portland, where Damian Lillard's current backup is 21-year-old Anfernee Simons.
It's become less of a talking point recently, but the Blazers still need a second lead guard. In the midst of a career-best season, Wright looks more than capable of filling that role. At 6'5” with a top 20 assist-turnover ratio this season, the 28-year-old is often reminiscent of Shaun Livingston, except he's also a willing and capable three-point shooter.
Portland has reportedly looked into big men lately, but with playoff defenses likely to swarm Lillard and McCollum, it would help to have a secondary playmaker in the rotation.
This deal also continues our motif of the Pistons stockpiling young players ill-suited to their current situations. Here, that means Detroit acquires the talented but injury-prone Collins and Little, who's been receiving regular minutes recently and occasionally breaking out as a result.
The former was a lottery pick and the latter was considered a lottery talent in high school, so there's no harm in seeing what they can do over the final two months of the season.
Sacramento: Maxi Kleber, James Johnson, 2025 1st Rounder
Dallas: Buddy Hield
Despite letting Bogdan Bogdanovic walk to avoid a guard logjam, the Kings still have a crowded backcourt. De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Tyrese Haliburton are all deserving of 30-plus minutes a night. As the rookie in the group, Haliburton has taken the back seat thus far, but he's exceeded expectations to the point that it's already time to see what Fox and Haliburton look like regularly.
Hield isn't the most well-rounded player, but he'd still serve a number of contenders well. In the case of the Mavericks, the Bahamian would thrive next to Luka Doncic, feasting on the space that the Slovenian creates on his forays to the hoop. Hield might not start in Dallas either—Josh Richardson is a much better defender and a lower-usage player—but he'd probably be more interested in coming off the bench for a contender than he seemed to be in Sacramento.
In addition to streamlining their guard minutes, the Kings would acquire an immediate frontcourt rotation player in Kleber, who'd provide much-needed spacing and underrated rim protection. A first-rounder several years down the road might pay sneaky dividends, too. Considering the NBA's fast pace nowadays, Dallas could be weathering a Doncic trade request by then.
San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio: Evan Fournier, Mo Bamba, 2023 2nd Rounder
Orlando: DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan has been in no man's land with the Spurs since the franchise's younger players broke out in the bubble, and that's only becoming more the case. To his credit, the four-time All Star isn't just playing out the string in San Antonio— he's leading the team in scoring, averaging a career-best 7.4 assists per game, playing 67 percent of his minutes at power forward, and finally shooting threes at a reasonable rate.
At age 32, DeRozan is still evolving and has boosted his trade value in the process.
With the league's 28th-ranked offense, the Orlando Magic could use a playmaker as skilled as DeRozan. He's an impending free agent and by no means a lock to re-sign, but neither was Evan Fournier, also available this summer. The Frenchman is nearly as efficient as DeRozan but lower-usage, giving Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker IV and Keldon Johnson more opportunity to run the offense.
A flier on Mo Bamba is also tantalizing, as the third-year has been buried in Orlando's frontcourt and deserves a proper shot at development. Of course, the Spurs have been peerless in this department throughout the 21st century, so Gregg Popovich coaching Bamba could be massive.
Toronto: Bruno Fernando
Atlanta: Terence Davis
Aside from Lowry talks, the Raptors’ week could be quiet. Norman Powell has been floated as a potential mover, but B/R’s Jake Fischer reports that he’s likely to decline his $11.6 million player option and reach unrestricted free agency, so finding a trade partner there could be difficult.
With a rebuild seeming unlikely, a rearranging of the deck chairs might have to do. One way to proceed in this regard could be acquiring a young big man who can’t find footing on his current roster.
These criteria suit Bruno Fernando, a second-year center buried behind Clint Capela, John Collins, Onyeka Okongwu and the emerging Nathan Knight in Atlanta. He’s had some encouraging moments, particularly as a rookie, but has found developmental minutes tough to come by. That likely won’t be as much the case in Toronto, as the Raptors have a dearth of big men and could offer him consistent minutes as a 10th or 11th man over the next year-plus.
Terence Davis hasn’t built upon his surprising rookie season, scoring less efficiently and regressing to the mean in most stats, but he’s still a worthy flier for a Hawks team searching for deep bench talent.
Utah: Danuel House Jr.
Houston: Udoka Azubuike, Georges Niang, Juwan Morgan, 2025 2nd Rounder
Though they’ve fallen back to Earth after winning 20 of 21, things are still great for the top-seeded Utah Jazz. However, they can still improve, and should be looking to fill out the last spots of their rotation this week.
With Houston in total free fall, it would not be surprising to see Danuel House Jr. traded by the deadline. Though his play has declined this season, there’s no doubt that House would be better served playing alongside the Jazz’s collection of All-Stars and above-average role players than whoever the Rockets are starting on a nightly basis. He’d make for a killer bench duo alongside Joe Ingles, bolster Utah’s already excellent defense, and complete an eight or nine-man rotation that’s tough to match come postseason time.
Comparing Danuel House Jr. to Rasheed Wallace is wrong on many levels, but his acquisition might be similar to Wallace’s by the Pistons in 2004. Detroit famously lacked a superstar, and while Wallace wasn’t one himself, he essentially rid the team of skill-based weaknesses and enabled it to march to a title.
If the Jazz make this trade or another one like it, they might just turn into the same kind of juggernaut.
Washington: Jarred Vanderbilt, Jake Layman
Minnesota: Troy Brown Jr., Raul Neto
Neither of these teams is in position to make the playoffs right now. So, what’s the point of making such a low-ceiling deal, you ask? Well, trades are always good if they’re addressing targeted, skill-based needs, and this one accomplishes that for both Minnesota and Washington.
Though the Wizards have regressed positively to the mean after a horrendous 2019-20 showing, their defense is still an eyesore, and Layman and Vanderbilt are two of the Wolves’ best defenders (faint praise, yes). In addition, both are also highly efficient interior scorers, with Layman shooting 62.8 percent from inside the arc and Vanderbilt making 61.2 percent of his twos. Washington’s frontcourt is already somewhat crowded, but there’s always room for versatile forwards who can finish easy passes from Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal.
Meanwhile, Minnesota gets a low-cost look at a former first round pick in Troy Brown Jr. Lost beneath Davis Bertans and Deni Avdija in the Wizards’ rotation, Brown has regressed hard in his third season. However, considering that the Wolves lack playmaking wings and that is theoretically Brown’s player type, he might be welcomed and given regular playing time as Minnesota tanks the last weeks of the season.