Fresh NBA Trade Ideas from Latest News and Rumors
Goodbye, 2021 NBA free agency. It's been real and quick and even really quick. We will now move on to summer-league overreactions.
And hypothetical trades.
Rumors and big-time news have slowed down to a trickle nearly a week into the free-agency process. But, much like Los Angeles Lakers jersey swaps, they are still out there. And that gives us the anecdotal ammo necessary to keep armchair GMing.
This next batch of imaginary deals is not based entirely off specific reports or framework. It should also not be interpreted as across-the-board endorsements. Each trade is instead a reaction to a certain development—rumor, quote, whatever—and proposed in the manner of "Well, if this were to happen, what might a package look like?"
Get it? Got it? Great.
Could the Celtics and Lakers Find Common Ground?
Boston Celtics Receive: Dennis Schroder (sign-and-trade)
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Josh Richardson
Dennis Schroder has caught the eye of the Celtics, according to Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer, and could land in Beantown on a one- or two-year deal worth the non-taxpayer's mid-level exception, per HoopsHype's Michael Scotto.
Boston's interest is understandable, if obligatory, after losing two of its most important offensive players—Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier—over the offseason without replacing them. Yes, Schroder is coming off a down year in which his shooting percentages at the rim and from deep took a dive and he couldn't capably pilot units without LeBron James. But he has real value to a team that right now counts its backup point guard as Kris Dunn, Payton Pritchard or Tremont Waters.
Price and contract length are bound to be a sticking point with Schroder. His market leverage is gone, insofar as it ever existed, but a $9.5 million starting salary with Boston on a one-plus-one deal is a far cry from the four-year, $84 million extension he turned down with the Lakers.
Hammering out a sign-and-trade is too smart if the Celtics really want Schroder. (Shout-out to Bleacher Report's Bryan Toporek for talking me into this one.) Older heads will claim Boston and Los Angeles will never break bread, but it's been more than a decade since they last met in the Finals and wearing cranky pants is overrated.
Granted, The Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach reported a sign-and-trade for Schroder is unlikely. That's kind of lame. Maybe the Celtics don't want to be hard-capped, but they've done enough work to position themselves to duck the tax entirely, so it shouldn't matter.
Perhaps they don't want to give up anyone on their roster for Schroder, who would need to ink a three-year deal with at least one guaranteed season. That's more fair. But Schroder gives them more downhill juice, shot creation and table-setting than Josh Richardson—who, by the way, has not been Peak Josh Richardson for some time.
The Lakers could also be against adding to their tax bill. They opted against keeping Alex Caruso, after all. But Richardson gives them a wing who can defend four different positions in crunch time and, theoretically, space the floor.
Boston's lust for 2022 flexibility seems like the bigger hurdle—and even that logic is somewhat thorny when it's trying to extend Marcus Smart, per the Boston Herald's Mark Murphy. Exchanging Richardson for Schroder addresses a glaring need while potentially still giving the Celtics a chance to duck next season's luxury tax. They should at least be open to the idea.
So Ben Simmons Wants to Play for a California Team, Eh?
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: Buddy Hield, Derrick White, Sacramento's 2022 first-round pick (unprotected), Sacramento's 2025 first-round pick (top-three protection)
Sacramento Kings Receive: Ben Simmons
San Antonio Spurs Receive: Marvin Bagley III, Davion Mitchell, 2023 first-round pick swap (via Sacramento)
"The situation is getting worse by the day with Ben in Philly," he said. "It's a marriage that's beyond repair at this point. He doesn't want to go to a bad situation. He's reading the tea leaves like everyone else. He sees [the] Toronto [Raptors], he sees [the] Portland [Trail Blazers].
"And Ben—just to be frank, the young socialite that he is—he's not really trying to go to any of those situations. He's open to the California teams is what I've been told. Joel Embiid has reached out to him several times since the end of the season. He hasn't returned Joel Embiid's calls...He doesn't want to return to the Sixers."
Simmons wants to end up with a California team, you say? He was definitely thinking about the Kings and not the Warriors, Lakers or Los Angeles Clippers.
This isn't meant as a potshot toward Sacramento. It has an intriguing base with De'Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and the still-a-bargain Richaun Holmes. Forking over No. 9 pick Davion Mitchell, two additional firsts and a swap seems like a lot at first glance. It's not. Any deal that lets the Kings hold onto Haliburton and Harrison Barnes is incredible value, and neither Buddy Hield (three years, $62.5 million) nor Marvin Bagley III (one year, $11.3) is a cornerstone asset or even on net-positive contract.
Playing Simmons in tandem with Fox and Holmes could get dicey. Let me go on record as saying I don't care. Fox's pull-up jumper is more than a non-factor, and both Barnes and Haliburton can open up the floor off the ball. Giving Holmes the green light from three like Philly did in 2016-17 should be on the table.
Basically: Get Simmons, his transcendent defense, his playmaking, his potential to carry lineups without Fox, and then figure out the rest later.
The Sixers will want more value for Simmons. That's a tough ask right now, on the heels of his vanishing attack during the conference semifinals and given his apparent distaste for staying put.
Hield would significantly open up the half-court offense, and Derrick White is a pesky wing defender who can guard up and absorb reps at point. The Kings wouldn't profile as contenders with Simmons alone, so those two additional first-rounders can create other trade opportunities for the Sixers. The 2025 pick also disentangles them from the Stepien Rule bind they're in with their 2025 draft obligation to Oklahoma City.
San Antonio's side of the deal is the most tenuous. It has been billed as a dark-horse Simmons suitor rather than third-party facilitator. But drafting the youngest player of this year's rookie class, Josh Primo, and signing-and-trading DeMar DeRozan hints at prioritizing the bigger picture. Turning a 27-year-old White into a high-upside flier project in Bagley, another guard who can defend his behind off and future control over a Sacramento pick jibes with the longer-haul slant.
Can Portland Give Dame a Reason to Smile?
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Derrick Jones Jr., Nassir Little, 2022 first-round pick (top-12 protection through 2023; turns into two seconds if not conveyed), 2027 second-round pick
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Larry Nance Jr.
Damian Lillard's recent comments about the Blazers' offseason should do nothing to assuage concerns about his future.
"Obviously, this go-round, we weren’t able to go out there and get some of the guys that we would have liked," he said, per Basketball News' Chris Sheridan. "You know, you go down the list and you go through the guys you like that are out there and haven’t committed to another team or that was a part of your plans in free agency and you get the ones that want to be a part of what you are doing, and I think that’s what we did."
In the Blazers' defense, they didn't have the cap space to hook a big fish and did shell out a five-year, $90 million deal for Norman Powell. In Lillard's defense, though, urging the organization to make significant upgrades only to see them pick up...Ben McLemore, Tony Snell and Cody Zeller isn't exactly inspiring.
Something needs to give. It isn't a blockbuster trade—at least not here. The Blazers don't appear to be entertaining Lillard overtures, and general manager Neil Olshey isn't actively trying to move CJ McCollum, according to The Athletic's Jason Quick. Also: How many different iterations of Dame-to-Philly or Dame-to-New Orleans or CJ-for-Ben Simmons do you really want to consume?
Landing Larry Nance Jr. would be akin to hitting a double or triple. That's worth celebrating. He can defend essentially every position, is shooting 35.5 percent from deep over the past two seasons and can pass the hell out of the ball on the move. Minutes with him as your primary rim protector can be iffy, but he stretches the floor enough to play beside Jusuf Nurkic and a Nance-Robert Covington frontcourt should absolutely hold its own.
Conceding next year's first-round pick shouldn't give the Blazers pause. Compensation beyond that gets awkward. Things with Dame might continue to go sideways, yet the Cavaliers may push for another first-rounder when Nance has two years and $20.4 million left on his deal.
This package seems like a worthwhile starting point. Next year's Blazers pick could wind up just outside the lottery, and the Cavs are getting a rotation wing in Derrick Jones Jr., a flier on a 21-year-old wing-big with a 7'2" wingspan in Nassir Little and a distant unprotected second to stash in their coffers.
If Cleveland insists on access to an additional first-rounder, replacing Little and the 2027 second with a protected pick swap should not be a total deal-breaker for Portland. Including another actual first-rounder should be. The Blazers can't get into the business of mortgaging picks beyond next season without knowing how the Dame situation plays out.
Do the Kings Have the Assets to Get Pascal Siakam?
Sacramento Kings Receive: Pascal Siakam
Toronto Raptors Receive: Marvin Bagley III, Harrison Barnes, 2022 first-round pick (unprotected), 2024 first-round (top-eight protection)
"The Kings definitely have interest and seem to have been somewhat … waiting for clarity about to what degree the Raptors legitimately were willing to move Pascal. I don’t get the sense that they knew, or know, for sure and that’s pretty recent insight that I’ve been hearing. They would like a crack at him, but it’s just a matter of what that looks like … but that is certainly a name you hear with the Kings a lot."
Kudos to the Kings for their interest in a good player, and for what that interest an infers: a commitment to absconding from the sub-middle of the Western Conference.
Just so we're clear, Siakam hypotheticals fly in the face of what the Raptors are saying. General manager Bobby Webster mentioned him as one of the team's foremost building blocks, per The Athletic's Blake Murphy. He also talked about how "philosophically, I think going young became a more desirable path" over the offseason.
Siakam is 27 and owed $106.3 million over the next three years. If the Raptors want to go young, he isn't necessarily assured a spot in the bigger picture. Then again, he could be. In my opinion, he should be. But the Raptors' overall direction is a discussion. Siakam's future should be, too.
Sticking him beside De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton isn't a no-brainer for the Kings. Siakam offers additional off-the-dribble playmaking and can exist within a high-octane offense but is used to soaking up a fair amount of iso possessions. That part of his game is not the comfiest fit in lineups with Fox.
News flash: He won't always be playing with Fox. And he has shown in the past he can be more of a third wheel who finds ways to score without serving as the primary screener. That experience ensures he can play beside Richaun Holmes in dual-big lineups. His three-point volume does the same, even if his clip has dropped off. He shot a combined 36.3 percent from deep in 2018-19 and 2019-20. Last season could be the anomaly. And even if it's not, he's still a snugger fit than Ben Simmons.
Toronto might need to be leaning toward a reset to consider this return. Barnes slots in nicely as a floor-spacer and defender at the 4 and is owed a reasonable $38.7 million—on a declining scale—over the next two years, but Bagley is a project and will be up for a new deal next summer.
Two future Sacramento picks are the primary draw. They could be anything—building blocks the Raptors retain or main dishes of other trades. Toronto could demand Davion Mitchell, as well. That should probably be a no-go for the Kings. Sending out Barnes gives the Raptors a chance to remain competitive while stockpiling bigger-swing assets. This is not to say Mitchell should be untouchable. Sacramento should just push to rework the salary filler (i.e. Barnes) if Toronto wants him.
Could the Raptors Actually Be Buyers?
San Antonio Spurs Receive: Goran Dragic, Malachi Flynn, 2022 first-round pick, 2024 first-round swap (top-three protection), 2025 second-round pick
Toronto Raptors Receive: Derrick White
Let's explore the inverse of imaginary Pascal Siakam trades: a scenario in which Toronto acts as the buyer.
Don't rule it out. It sounds like a possibility.
"It's pretty clear: We're gonna build around Fred [VanVleet], OG [Anunoby], Pascal," general manager Bobby Webster told reporters, per The Athletic's Blake Murphy. "Now it's on us to fit pieces around it, make opportunistic trades, spend wisely."
Bringing in Derrick White sure qualifies as "opportunistic." The Spurs' offseason intimates an affinity for youth. They drafted Josh Primo, the youngest player in this year's rookie class, at No. 12. DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Patty Mills are all gone. They paid Doug McDermott and, for some reason, Zach Collins but have steered clear of any truly win-now investments.
White should be up for grabs if the Spurs are emphasizing the kiddies. He isn't ancient but just turned 27, making him noticeably older than fellow guards Primo (18), Dejounte Murray (24) and Devin Vassell (20).
Gaining control of two first-round picks and Malachi Flynn, a 23-year-old guard with an immeasurable defensive motor, is more in line with the longer view. Goran Dragic is expensive ($19.4 million) but comes off the books after next season and pairs nicely in the backcourt with Murray if the Spurs are looking to tread water on the play-in periphery. The 2024 swap is far enough away San Antonio can talk itself into exercising it.
The Raptors shouldn't have an issue with this opportunity cost unless the Spurs want the 2024 swap to become an actual pick. White gives them a gritty wing stopper; he and FVV will do unspeakable things to opposing bakcourts, and lineups that partner these two with Anunoby, Siakam and Scottie Barnes could feasibly allow, like, 0.25 points per possession.
White does come with a semi-steep price tag (four years, $70 million) and a checkered injury history. Still, in addition to his defensive energy, he brings some initiation and iso scoring and just shot 37 percent on 5.1 catch-and-fire three-point attempts per game. Acquiring him is most certainly a win-now play. That's fine. Left untouched elsewhere, the Raptors are good enough to bankroll one.