5 Realistic Trades to Give NBA Stars New Homes After the Draft
Several hours before the 2021 NBA draft started, Thursday produced plenty of fireworks for fans to enjoy.
Plenty of smaller-profile deals went down between then and the end of the draft, but there are still a number of stars who've basically lived in the rumor mill this summer and might be available.
Will all the smoke rising around Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal or Ben Simmons lead to real trades? Will Hield get out of Sacramento, after all?
Now that the draft's dust has settled, let's look at some other moves that might land stars in new homes.
Damian Lillard to the Warriors
The Trade: Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, a 2023 first-round pick swap, a 2025 first-round pick swap and a 2026 first-round pick for Damian Lillard
When Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported June 27 that Lillard might push his way "out the door," it felt inevitable he'd demand a trade. Now, it's been over a month since that report, and Lillard is still a Trail Blazer.
That doesn't necessarily mean all is well in Portland, though, especially if it can't add a star to play with Lillard. If the superstar does ask out, The Athletic's Anthony Slater noted that Golden State might be interested in swooping in.
"They'd make a call and have already internally discussed the idea, as I'm sure most contenders have, considering the rising smoke out of Portland," Slater wrote.
There would be some concern regarding the skill and usage overlap with Lillard and Stephen Curry, but both have shown an ability to work with high-end scorers (Kevin Durant for Curry and CJ McCollum for Lillard). The talent level of that backcourt would be ridiculous.
Yes, it would put a lot of pressure on Klay Thompson (who's missed the last two seasons with a torn ACL and torn Achilles), Draymond Green and Kevon Looney to carry a decent defense, but the offensive firepower would be immense.
For Portland, entertaining any Lillard packages would almost certainly require a trade demand from the star. And receiving the seventh and 14th picks in this draft might've been more intriguing before the selections were made, but this is a rebuild starter kit for the Blazers.
Jonathan Kuminga hovered around the top five of mock drafts and big boards for months before sliding to No. 7 Thursday. His combination of 6'7" size and versatility is intriguing. There's plenty of that from last year's No. 2 pick, 7-footer James Wiseman, as well.
Throw in some future draft consideration and Andrew Wiggins' deal for salary-matching purposes (his contract expires after the 2022-23 season) and you can see why Portland would at least be intrigued.
A team like the New Orleans Pelicans or Oklahoma City Thunder could come over the top with their treasure troves of assets, but stars have increasingly had their say in their own trades of late. A chance to return to The Bay and compete for a title would almost certainly tempt Lillard, an Oakland native.
Ben Simmons to the Raptors
The Sign-and-Trade: Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, a 2023 first-round pick and a 2025 first-round pick for Ben Simmons and George Hill
There are a handful of disclaimers to get out of the way on this one. First, and probably most important, the Philadelphia 76ers' asking price for Ben Simmons is exorbitant. Actually, that might not even be a strong enough description.
According to The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor (h/t News 4 San Antonio's Jeff Garcia), Philadelphia asked for a whopping four first-round picks, three pick swaps and a young player for Simmons.
If the Sixers move Simmons, it will be next to impossible for them to get that much in return. They could still be posturing, though, as there's a good chance those demands will come down to earth.
If (or when) they do, the Toronto Raptors could move in.
Now, for the second disclaimer. Kyle Lowry is an impending free agent, so his inclusion in the deal requires sign-and-trade mechanics. And Philadelphia might have to include more outgoing salary to make that potential contract signed by Lowry more realistic.
However the intricacies shake out, the point would be the Sixers get a shooter in Lowry and a forward who can play on the perimeter in Siakam. And Philadelphia should (and likely will) prioritize spacing around Joel Embiid.
Now, this might feel like too much for Simmons. The inclusion of two picks is a reaction to the Sixers' stance. If Siakam is heading out, the Raptors would be within their rights to try to limit draft consideration.
But Lowry could've been on his way out anyway, and Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reported that Siakam is "considered available for trade by sources around the league."
If Toronto emerged from all of this with lineups featuring Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Simmons and Chris Boucher, it'd be in good shape for a return to the postseason in 2022.
Bradley Beal to the Nuggets
The Trade: Michael Porter Jr., Monte Morris and Aaron Gordon for Bradley Beal
Beal's availability (or lack thereof) seems to change every couple of weeks. In the wake of the Westbrook deal, The Athletic's Marcus Thompson tweeted, "From what I'm hearing, Bradley Beal is opting to stay in DC." But with Russ gone and some intriguing young talent in Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant and Deni Avdija in place, a full-fledged rebuild might be tempting.
And the Denver Nuggets have a potential star who would fit alongside Hachimura at the forward spots who could fast-track that rebuild. In his age-22 season, Michael Porter Jr. averaged 19.0 points in just 31.3 minutes per game and shot 44.5 percent from three.
In fact, if he and the rest of the young Wizards stayed healthy, it wouldn't be surprising to see Washington in roughly the same place it was this past season: battling for a play-in spot. The difference, of course, would be the core's age.
For the Nuggets, this would be far from a no-brainer. Not only are they giving up a potential star in Porter, they're also losing depth and two solid players near their primes in Aaron Gordon, 25, and Monte Morris, 26. There's an argument that this kind of consolidation trade wouldn't even help Denver.
But contention windows are rarely open wide. And Beal is one of just 18 players in league history to have multiple 30-point-per-game seasons. Once Jamal Murray recovers from his ACL reconstruction, a trio of Beal, Murray and Nikola Jokic would have terrifying offensive potential.
DeMar DeRozan to the Clippers
The Sign-and-Trade: Luke Kennard and Ivica Zubac for DeMar DeRozan
There's an argument to be made for the Los Angeles Clippers blowing it up. With Kawhi Leonard's torn ACL potentially costing him all of 2021-22, it's hard to imagine L.A. competing for a title next season. And piling that on top of age and a long list of health issues makes it hard to pencil in the Clippers as contenders in 2022-23.
If they made Paul George, 31, and Kawhi, 30, available (assuming the latter picks up his $36 million player option), they could haul in some draft capital, get a head start on a rebuild and recoup some of what they lost when they traded for George in 2019.
Instead of that route, though, let's have them double-down on the win-now mentality they signaled when they added Kawhi and PG.
DeMar DeRozan would be a high-end second option alongside George. And his defensive shortcomings could be covered in large part by Patrick Beverley, PG and Marcus Morris Sr.
For the San Antonio Spurs, they are likely losing DeRozan in free agency anyway. If some team is willing to give them something for him, they should probably be interested. Luke Kennard and Ivica Zubac are certainly better than nothing.
Kennard struggled to find a significant role in Tyronn Lue's rotation, but he shot 44.6 percent from three last season. And Zubac could pair with Jakob Poeltl to give San Antonio 48 minutes of competent center play.
Buddy Hield to the Grizzlies
The Trade: Eric Bledsoe, John Konchar and two second-round picks for Buddy Hield
Hield reportedly just missed out on going to the Lakers, but he may yet be on the move. He's seemingly been in the rumor mill for months, and The Athletic's John Hollinger recently linked him to the Memphis Grizzlies:
Sources tell The Athletic the Grizzlies are also discussing deals involving their surfeit of perimeter players. Additionally, [Eric] Bledsoe is unlikely to be in Memphis's plans and could be bought out or stretched; the latter would give Memphis $14 million in cap room, though it might overly complicate future seasons once Jaren Jackson, Jr. and Ja Morant have extensions on the books. (A perhaps more valid thought is once the deal is completed, Memphis could turn and swap Bledsoe and [John] Konchar to Sacramento for Buddy Hield.)
With Bledsoe under contract through 2022-23 and 25-year-old Konchar being a bit older than you might expect, Memphis could have to kick in some draft consideration to entice the Kings (although, with Sacramento's history, you might as well try without adding more).
Even if they did have to include some second-rounders, though, winding up with Hield would be a win for the Grizzlies. Stephen Curry is the only player in the league who exceeds both of Hield's marks for total three-point attempts and three-point percentage since the latter entered the league in 2016-17.
His ability to space the floor in lineups with Ja Morant and Steven Adams would go a long way.
For Sacramento, it'd unload a player who has long been rumored to want out while getting some draft picks and an interesting, well-rounded player in Konchar in return.
Bledsoe likely wouldn't be part of the Kings' long-term future, with De'Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell in place, but his contract expires a year before Hield's. That would open some flexibility in 2023.