3 NBA Trade Ideas: Are Lauri Markkanen, Goran Dragic, Buddy Hield Available?
The spending frenzy that was 2021 NBA free agency's opening on Monday was followed by a more subdued— but still fascinating—batch of signings Tuesday.
The Los Angeles Lakers finally linked close friends and 2003 draft classmates LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony together. The Chicago Bulls continued their aggressive overhaul by landing DeMar DeRozan in a sign-and-trade. The Utah Jazz upped the power of their scoring punch by adding veteran bucket-getter Rudy Gay.
It was an eventful, productive day, and not just on the news front. The rumor mill continued buzzing, so we rounded up some of the chatter and used it to grease the trade-machine gears to piece together these fresh roster-reshaping ideas.
Lauri Markkanen to Minnesota
Minnesota Timberwolves receive: Lauri Markkanen (sign-and-trade)
Chicago Bulls receive: Taurean Prince and 2023 first-round pick (top-10 protected)
The Timberwolves have thrown just about everything at the wall in hopes of finding the right frontcourt partner for Karl-Anthony Towns. The next one that sticks will be the first.
As part of this ongoing search, Minnesota has set its sights on Lauri Markkanen, per SKOR North's Darren Wolfson. It would take a sign-and-trade to get him to the Gopher State, but he might be worth the sacrifice.
Offensively, he's a skilled 7-footer who pairs a soft shooting touch with the footwork to slither past his man in the post. For his career, he has averaged 19 points and 2.7 three-pointers per 36 minutes; and this past season, he posted an impressive 48.0/40.2/82.6 shooting slash.
Slotting him alongside Towns would give the Wolves a pair of mismatch bigs who can score in myriad ways. They could be a defensive disaster, but maybe with D'Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards in the mix, Minnesota would have the horsepower to win nightly races to 125 points.
The Bulls, who are reportedly open to sign-and-trade scenarios with Markkanen, per HoopsHype's Michael Scotto, might pounce on the chance to convert the talented-but-oft-injured big into a future first-round pick and the serviceable Taurean Prince. Chicago, in turn, might utilize the pick and Prince's expiring $13 million salary to swing another win-now trade in this transformational summer.
Goran Dragic to Dallas
Dallas Mavericks receive: Goran Dragic
Toronto Raptors receive: Dwight Powell, Tyrell Terry and 2022 second-round pick
Forgive me for plucking this piece of low-hanging fruit, but getting Goran Dragic to Dallas makes too much sense not to happen.
Well, it makes sense to everyone other than the Mavericks, at least.
ESPN's Tim MacMahon told The Lowe Post podcast that the Mavs "are not eager to add Dragic with a $19 million salary" (h/t 105.3 The Fan's Kevin Gray Jr). The Athletic's Tim Cato added Dallas doesn't want to part with Dwight Powell because he "is beloved around the organization" and wouldn't be interested in losing a prospect like Josh Green or Tyrell Terry.
This just all sounds like posturing, though.
It's easy to draw a direct line between Dallas and Dragic. The Mavs need another perimeter shot-creator, and Dragic teamed with Luka Doncic (and played for new Dallas assistant Igor Kokoskov) on the Slovenia national team. Dragic himself has even discussed the possibility, despite not being officially sign-and-traded away for the Miami Heat—let alone getting to Toronto—yet.
Dallas wants to convey the message it has options, and those don't have to include Dragic. That's technically true, but where are the difference-making shot-creators left on the market? The Mavs aren't getting a player of Dragic's caliber elsewhere, and they need to incentivize the Raptors to make this happen.
Toronto, which could be closer to rebuilding than contention, can't have big plans for Dragic, a 35-year-old on an expiring contract. But it could see a lot of value in Terry, the 31st pick in 2020, a future second-rounder and a serviceable placeholder or moderate trade chip in Dwight Powell.
Warriors Add Buddy Hield
Golden State Warriors receive: Buddy Hield
Sacramento Kings receive: Kelly Oubre Jr. (sign-and-trade) and 2026 first-round pick (top-10 protected)
The top tier in the Western Conference looks as treacherous as ever, and the Warriors have yet to uncover the major move that gains them re-entry. Adding fire-baller Buddy Hield to an offense already featuring all-time snipers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson might do the trick.
Hield certainly seems to be available. The Los Angeles Lakers nearly acquired him before changing gears to get Russell Westbrook, per ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. Even after the Westbrook blockbuster, the Lakers "have not ended their search for ways to land Buddy Hield," per B/R's Jake Fischer.
Consider this opportunity's knock for the Warriors. Their top sign-and-trade candidate, Kelly Oubre Jr., is a much cleaner fit with Kings guards De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton than the Lakers', Dennis Schroder. Add a future protected pick to the equation, and Golden State might have the formula for turning the Splash Brothers into the Splash Triplets.
Even if this exposes the Warriors' defense a bit—to what degree might depend on how much ability Thompson retained through consecutive seasons lost to leg injuries—it would electrify their offense. And, should the right superstar trade target come available (cough, Bradley Beal), they'd still have the trade chips to go in hot pursuit.
The Kings could turn a player they're seemingly content losing into a plug-and-play 25-year-old wing and a future pick from a franchise built around three 30-somethings. That has win-today, win-tomorrow potential, or maybe a double-win for right now if they cash in the pick in a separate swap.