1 Offseason Trade for Every NBA Team That Missed the Playoffs

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterMay 23, 2021

1 Offseason Trade for Every NBA Team That Missed the Playoffs

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    The offseason has begun for 14 NBA franchises, and their prep work for the 2021-22 season is likely already underway.

    While the draft is often the north star, a well-executed trade can do wonders to change teams' fortunes.

    Whether they are major shakeups or minor upgrades, these are deals every lottery team should consider.

Charlotte Hornets

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Charlotte Hornets Receive: C Tristan Thompson

    Boston Celtics Receive: 2023 second-round pick (via Boston Celtics)

    The Hornets need help at center. Veterans Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo can leave via free agency this offseason, and rookie Vernon Carey Jr. played just 115 minutes this season.

    Thompson, 30, is still good enough to be a starter and would be an upgrade over everyone the Hornets have at the position. He's a good screen setter and rebounder and would bring 78 games (and counting) of playoff experience, including a championship ring with the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers.

    Boston has leaned toward Robert Williams III, 23, as the future at the position. The Celtics are already at the luxury tax line for next season, and that's before any free-agent signings or a new contract for Evan Fournier.

    The move would clear $9.7 million from Boston's books and net a future pick—their own that they surrendered in the Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade.

Chicago Bulls and Sacramento Kings

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Chicago Bulls Receive: PF Marvin Bagley III

    Sacramento Kings Receive: PF Lauri Markkanen (via sign-and-trade)

    This is a swap of power forwards whose teams are likely afraid to commit to them, with Bagley and Markkanen both getting to benefit from a fresh start.

    Bagley will be entering the final year of his rookie deal. Injuries have killed his first three seasons (he's played 118 games), though the 22-year-old played well in his six contests down the stretch (15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 51.4 percent shooting in 26.8 minutes per game).

    Despite his talent, the Kings should be hesitant to give him a long-term deal given his injury history.

    Markkanen hasn't been an example of good health either, but he's at least played 50 or more games in all four of his seasons and would be the safer choice for Sacramento.

    The Kings have a spot for Markkanen as the starting power forward, an environment in which he can keep the driving lanes open for De'Aaron Fox while seeing his own touches increase once again.

    The 24-year-old averaged 17.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game and shot 37.9 percent from three as a starter this season, but his role diminished after the Bulls traded for Nikola Vucevic in late March. Chicago most certainly won't want to give a backup a big new deal, but it wouldn't be ideal to lose Markkanen for nothing via restricted free agency, either.

    Bagley would buy the Bulls another year before they have to commit significant money, and his ceiling is higher than that of Markkanen.

Cleveland Cavaliers and New Orleans Pelicans

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    Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: PG Eric Bledsoe, 2021 second-round pick (via Cleveland Cavaliers)

    New Orleans Pelicans Receive: SF Cedi Osman, F Taurean Prince

    There is a strong connection between the Cleveland and New Orleans front offices, as Cavs general manager Koby Altman was third in command behind Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin when Griffin was GM of the Cavaliers.

    As Griffin searches to add defensive-minded wings and for a team to take Bledsoe's contract, Cleveland should come to mind.

    Griffin traded for Osman on draft night in 2015. Together with Prince, he would give the Pelicans two multipositional wings to come off the bench.

    Osman's role was lessened this season as rookie wings Isaac Okoro and Dylan Windler soaked up a lot of the small forward minutes. Prince (10.1 points per game, 41.5 percent from three) was solid following a trade from the Brooklyn Nets but isn't under contract past 2021-22.

    Bledsoe could be the backup point guard the Cavs need behind Darius Garland, especially with Matthew Dellavedova set to hit free agency after an injury-marred season.

    Cleveland would get back its own second-round pick in the 2021 draft, which Griffin dealt in the Kyle Korver trade.

Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Detroit Pistons Receive: G/F Jarrett Culver

    Minnesota Timberwolves Receive: F Sekou Doumbouya, 2021 second-round pick (via Toronto Raptors)

    Detroit has interesting young talent at four positions, and a shooting guard with upside would push that to five.

    Culver was the No. 6 pick in 2019 but has yet to break out while battling injuries and Minnesota's other wings for playing time.

    Doumbouya was a fascinating prospect when the Pistons selected him just nine picks after Culver came off the board, yet he hasn't gotten enough playing time to develop, either. After spending most of his minutes at power forward this season, he would fit better with the Wolves than Culver.

    Culver would have a chance to blossom into a star shooting guard with Detroit while Doumbouya competes for the starting power forward job with Minnesota, and the Wolves would pick up a draft selection.

Golden State Warriors

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Golden State Warriors Receive: F Dorian Finney-Smith, C Dwight Powell

    Dallas Mavericks Receive: SF Kelly Oubre Jr. (via sign-and-trade)

    If the Warriors are hesitant to re-sign Oubre after their somewhat disappointing season, they should at least explore sign-and-trade opportunities so as not to lose him for nothing.

    Dallas could use another scorer on the wing, especially with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Josh Richardson (player option) potentially leaving via free agency. At 25 years old, Oubre fits the Mavs' timeline with Luka Doncic (22) and Kristaps Porzingis (25). After a rough start, Oubre did average 17.6 points per game on 47.2 percent shooting over his final 34 games.

    Finney-Smith would give Golden State a versatile defender and good three-point shooter (39.4 percent this season, his fourth straight career best) off the bench. Powell is good enough to start at center while James Wiseman continues to develop and ended the regular season on a strong note (9.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks with 77.4 percent shooting over his final 14 games).

Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers

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    Houston Rockets Receive: C Goga Bitadze, SG Jeremy Lamb

    Indiana Pacers Receive: G/F Eric Gordon

    In their rebuilding quest, the Rockets should look to shed Gordon's contract.

    The 32-year-old will make $18.2 million next season and $19.6 million in 2022-23. His $20.9 million salary for 2023-24 is not guaranteed.

    Lamb will be on an expiring contract and is three-plus years younger than Gordon. He returned from a left ACL injury to average 10.1 points per game with 40.6 percent shooting from three this season. Bitadze, 21, was the 18th pick by Indiana in 2019 and could form a nice combo at center with the 25-year-old Christian Wood.

    The Pacers would get better immediately, as Gordon averaged 17.8 points per game this season. An Indianapolis native who played for the Indiana Hoosiers, Gordon could be a terrific sixth man.

Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: G Derrick White

    San Antonio Spurs Receive: C Al Horford, 2022 first-round pick (top-12-protected, via Phoenix Suns)

    Horford just seems like a Spur. He's a smart veteran with playoff experience who can contribute in a number of ways. San Antonio is pretty thin in the frontcourt, as evidenced by Jonas Valanciunas' 23 points, 23 rebounds and three blocks in Wednesday's play-in game.

    Horford would help balance the roster, and the Spurs would get a first-rounder for taking on his salary, giving them trade capital or another pick they can use next year. Losing White would hurt, but it would also open up more playing time and shots for players such as Lonnie Walker IV and Dejounte Murray.

    White, 26, is still young enough to fit OKC's rebuild and also would take pressure off Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

    Getting rid of Horford's contract is the main play for the Thunder, and it'd be well worth flipping one of their many firsts if it meant getting White in return.

Orlando Magic and Toronto Raptors

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Orlando Magic Receive: G/F Rodney Hood, C Aron Baynes, 2022 first-round pick (lottery-protected), 2021 second-round pick (via Golden State Warriors)

    Toronto Raptors Receive: C Mo Bamba, SF Terrence Ross

    While Orlando and Toronto both missed the playoffs, only one is rebuilding.

    The Magic should still be looking to take on draft picks, while the Raptors could be back in the postseason next year given their talent.

    In this deal, Toronto would get a potential franchise center in Bamba, the No. 6 pick in 2018 who's been stuck playing behind Nikola Vucevic and now Wendell Carter Jr. Over his final 18 games, the 23-year-old averaged 11.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 22.3 minutes.

    Ross has long been one of the league's best bench scorers and averaged a career-high 15.6 points per game this season. He'd fill the same role in a return to Toronto, the franchise that drafted him at No. 8 in 2012.

    Orlando would land a pair of veterans on expiring deals who can help mentor the young core, or the Magic can choose $18.2 million in cap space given that Hood and Baynes have non-guaranteed salaries for 2021-22. Next year's first-rounder is the key return, but the Magic would also pick up a mid-second-round pick in the upcoming draft.


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