NBA Offseason Trades for League's Most Disappointing Teams
Entering a season knowing your favorite NBA team is rebuilding is one thing.
Fully expecting a playoff run only to end up with a spot in the lottery is quite another.
No franchises have been as disappointing this year as the Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans and Toronto Raptors.
As of May 3, all six teams were seeded ninth or lower in their respective conferences, with none possessing a record above .500. Given that all had legitimate postseason hope when the year began, this year has been a massive disappointment.
With the offseason quickly approaching for most, these are trades all six should be considering.
Raptors Add Al Horford on the Cheap
Toronto Raptors Receive: C Al Horford
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: C Aron Baynes, G/F Rodney Hood
The Raptors still have plenty of talent on the roster even if Kyle Lowry leaves in free agency, and especially if Gary Trent Jr. re-signs. Toronto shouldn't even consider tearing things down, instead focusing on upgrading the center position around Chris Boucher.
Horford should be very available while he waits for a trade out of Oklahoma City. The 34-year-old center averaged 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.9 blocks while knocking down 36.8 percent of his threes.
His contract has become far more manageable, with $27 million due in 2021-22 and $26.5 million in 2022-23, though only $14.5 million is guaranteed in that final season.
Both Baynes (5.8 points on 43.1 percent shooting) and Hood (4.2 points on 34.6 percent shooting) have been awful in their time with the Raptors this season, so flipping them for Horford at least gives Toronto a starting center in return.
This is a financially driven move for OKC, as both Baynes and Hood are on expiring team options for the 2021-22 season. Moving Horford means getting off his guaranteed money for 2022-23 and opening up some additional long-term cap space.
The Thunder could use the expiring deals as trade bait at the 2022 deadline as well.
Bulls Pick Up Ricky Rubio, End Lauri Markkanen Dilemma
Chicago Bulls Receive: PG Ricky Rubio, 2022 second-round pick, 2023 second-round pick
Minnesota Timberwolves Receive: PF Lauri Markkanen (via sign-and-trade)
If the Bulls have any hesitations about paying Markkanen in restricted free agency this offseason, working out a sign-and-trade may be the best possible solution for all involved.
Chicago could also use a true point guard, allowing Zach LaVine and Coby White to focus on their own offensive talents rather than try to fill the playmaking role they've been forced into at times.
Rubio ranks in the top-15 this season in assist percentage (34.1 percent) and assists per game (6.5) and has never been one to clog up an offense with his own shots. He would set the table for everyone else on the Bulls roster, allowing players like LaVine, White, Nikola Vucevic and Patrick Williams to shine.
Now coming off the bench in Chicago, Markkanen could once again compete for a starting job in Minnesota.
His scoring and floor-spacing ability (14.1 points on 39.1 percent shooting from deep) keeps the driving lanes open for players like Anthony Edwards and D'Angelo Russell, giving them another pick-and-pop target to play off of.
Since Minnesota is getting the younger player on a presumably longer contract, they add in a few second-round picks to help even everything out.
Pelicans Get Jonas Valanciunas, Kyle Anderson from Grizzlies
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: C Jonas Valanciunas, F Kyle Anderson
Memphis Grizzlies Receive: C Steven Adams, G Eric Bledsoe, 2021 first-round pick, 2022 second-round pick (via Cleveland Cavaliers)
The Pelicans need to start making the playoffs as soon as next season to keep the young core happy, especially with Zion Williamson becoming extension eligible in 2022.
Adams is a solid center, but having two non-thee-point shooters on the court at the same time in today's NBA is a death sentence for spacing.
Valanciunas has only gotten better as an outside shooter, going 21-of-55 this season (38.2 percent) from beyond the arc. He's got the same type of toughness Adams brings on defense and on the boards, but with a better overall offensive game.
Anderson is the ideal sixth man, able to play and defend multiple positions while acting as both scorer and playmaker. He's enjoying a career year with 12.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals and a 34.9 percent mark from three.
Getting off Bledsoe's contract while freeing up more minutes for the young guards would be a blessing as well.
Adams is basically the basketball equivalent of a grizzly bear, so it seems only right he play in Memphis. He's a far better fit alongside Jaren Jackson Jr., who spends more offensive time on the perimeter than Zion Williamson. Having Adams around means Jackson doesn't have to defend opposing centers, either.
Bledsoe gives Ja Morant a veteran in the backcourt to learn from, but primarily nets the Grizzlies the Pelicans first-round pick in this year's draft, a selection that's currently projected to be 11th overall.
New Orleans gets better immediately while Memphis adds a lottery pick to try and land a third star in the draft.
Pacers Finally Land Gordon Hayward
Indiana Pacers Receive: SF Gordon Hayward, C Vernon Carey Jr.
Charlotte Hornets Receive: C Myles Turner, G/F Jeremy Lamb
The Pacers already made a run to get Hayward last offseason, with team president Kevin Pritchard admitting they "pursued as hard as we possibly could", per J. Michael of the Indy Star. Pritchard also said that, "the feedback was he wanted to be here."
ESPN's Zach Lowe reported the Hornets had "strong interest" in Turner at the deadline, and will have a huge need at center with Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo hitting free agency.
So why not just make everyone happy?
A Hayward-Turner swap makes complete sense for both teams, especially when throwing in Carey and Lamb to make the financials line up. Carey, 20, gives the Pacers some moldable depth at the center position after losing Turner and Lamb is an excellent backup wing who's making 40.6 percent of his threes this season.
The Pacers can roll out a starting five of Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, Hayward, T.J. Warren and Domantas Sabonis, while Charlotte can counter with LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges, P.J. Washington and Turner.
Indiana probably needs to break up the Sabonis-Turner pairing to break out of basketball purgatory, and Hayward (19.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists) gives them yet another wing who can score and facilitate.
Turner can solidify a Hornets defense on a team that already has plenty of offensive fireworks, and the trade gives Miles Bridges a full-time starting role that he's earned this season.
Warriors, Rockets Swap Centers
Houston Rockets Receive: C James Wiseman
Golden State Warriors Receive: C Christian Wood
While both the Rockets and Warriors have disappointed this season, the two teams are on very different trajectories moving forward.
Houston is now in full rebuild mode while Golden State should still carry championship aspirations if Klay Thompson can return next season.
Starting with Wiseman, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft just wasn't very good as a rookie. He put up 11.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 21.4 minutes, although the Warriors were 13.4 points per 100 possessions worse with the 20-year-old center on the floor.
The potential for Wiseman is still extremely high, but it's clear the Warriors and a 33-year-old Stephen Curry can't wait around for it to materialize. The Rockets can, and pairing him with another 20-year-old with All-Star talent in Kevin Porter Jr. would be a tremendous start in a return to relevancy.
Wood, 25, is ready to help a title contender now, which is what he thought he was originally signing up for with the Rockets.
Averaging 21.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and shooting 37.4 percent from three this season, Wood is a massive short-term upgrade over Wiseman, even if his eventual ceiling may not be as high.
Given where both teams expect to be next season, swapping Wiseman for Wood makes too much sense not to happen.