B/R NBA Experts Build 5 New Blockbuster Trades
We've reached late August, which means we've officially entered the dog days of the NBA offseason.
With the exception of Lauri Markkanen and Paul Millsap, most of the impact free agents are off the market. The trade rumor mill seems to be churning a bit slower than it was a few weeks ago. And we're about a month away from the start of training camps.
Big NBA news can drop at seemingly any moment, though. And while we may not hear the rumor mill turning, front offices around the league are surely looking at options that could lead to improvement.
In the dog days, that generally means trades. And Bleacher Report's resident fake trade manufacturers are here to create and analyze some possibilities for you.
Spurs Win Ben Simmons Sweepstakes
The Trade: Spurs receive Ben Simmons; 76ers receive Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, a 2022 first-round pick and a 2024 first-round pick
The situation between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers looks like a good old-fashioned standoff at this point.
The Ringer's Paolo Uggetti reported, "...one scout I spoke to said they wouldn't be surprised if Simmons considers not showing up to training camp if he hasn't been traded." But Philadelphia's asking price for the All-Star point forward "remains sky-high," according to The Athletic's David Aldridge.
That could delay a resolution, but the Sixers may relent a bit if Simmons does indeed hold out. If they do, the San Antonio Spurs, who are reportedly interested, should pounce.
First-round picks haven't yielded a ton of production for San Antonio in recent years, so it should be OK with giving up a couple (maybe even three, if Philadelphia insists). And though Dejounte Murray and Derrick White are both solid, young(ish) starters, neither has a ceiling near that of Simmons. With the Spurs, the Australian playmaker could finally have a roster tailor-made for his drive-and-kick abilities (eventually).
For Philly, this deal doesn't net a star right now, but it gives a couple chances at one. And Murray and White can both help in the short-term pursuit of a title. The former has All-Defense ability on the perimeter. The latter spaces the floor far better than Simmons did. And both can create a little.
Warriors Get Kristaps Porzingis in the Right Role
The Trade: Warriors Receive Kristaps Porzingis, Dorian Finney-Smith, Jalen Brunson, Willie Cauley-Stein; Mavericks Receive: Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman
With Golden State wanting to get back into the title hunt and needing some more firepower with Klay Thompson likely out until Christmas, swinging a trade with the Mavs for some win-now help makes sense.
While Porzingis has disappointed as a No. 2 option in Dallas, he'd be a perfect No. 3 behind Stephen Curry and Thompson with the Warriors after averaging 20.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and shooting 37.6 percent from three. Finney-Smith plugs into Wiggins' old spot as a three-and-D specialist, while Brunson (12.6 points on 40.5 percent from three) and Cauley-Stein (5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in 17.1 minutes) give Golden State some much-needed depth.
Dallas moves on from the Porzingis experiment by adding a reliable scorer and improved defender in Wiggins (18.6 points on 38.0 percent from three) and Wiseman—the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft—gives them a potential future star to pair with Luka Doncic.
Dame Deal Gets Done
The NBA is waiting for Damian Lillard to demand a trade, so let's put ourselves in that scenario ahead of the 2021-22 season. The Blazers send him to a contender in a medium-to-large U.S. market, playing the villain to other suitors, and go for picks and prospects from the Celtics for their All-Star guard.
Shedding the contract of Jones Jr. in the process, the Blazers add intriguing pieces in Nesmith and Langford. Pritchard showed value as a rookie, and Williams is an inexpensive forward. Both first-rounders are unprotected, as are the pick swaps from Boston.
Moving on from Lillard, Portland can focus on building around CJ McCollum. Horford can be a veteran contributor or a future trade piece for Portland, with a somewhat friendly (albeit expensive) contract with $14.5 million of his $26 million salary guaranteed for 2022-23.
The Celtics get a big-time player in Lillard without giving up Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart or Robert Williams. They part with most of their prospects, take on a hefty luxury tax bill, and have a much better chance of competing with the Eastern Conference contenders.
The Blazers, who were slightly over the tax before the trade, dip well under the threshold to kick off their rebuild. The team will have to make one roster cut before the season, with 16 players guaranteed.
Buddy Hield Finds a New Home
The Trade: Pacers receive Buddy Hield and Kenrich Williams; Thunder receive Marvin Bagley III, Tristan Thompson and Goga Bitadze; Kings receive T.J. Warren, Jeremy Lamb and a Phoenix Suns 2022 first-rounder (via OKC)
The Sacramento Kings have too much depth at guard (recently adding Davion Mitchell in the draft), were close to dealing Hield before the draft to the Los Angeles Lakers and have a glut of frontcourt players. With the goal of making the playoffs, the Kings won't have the time or patience to develop Bagley.
Sacramento sheds about $21 million in salary and adds a first-round pick, a versatile forward in Warren and a 6'5" wing in Lamb. The Thunder drop under the salary cap to make the trade, taking on Thompson to add two intriguing prospects in Bagley and Bitadze (for the pick that projects to be the lowest of their many first-rounders in 2022).
The Pacers gamble that "Bubble Warren" won't return after losing a year to a foot injury. Instead of negotiating a new deal with Warren after the season, Indiana brings in Hield, an elite floor-spacer on a multiyear deal. And shedding Lamb helps keep the Pacers under the luxury tax.
Hornets Charge Full Steam Toward the Playoffs
The Trade: Hornets receive Christian Wood; Rockets receive P.J. Washington, Kai Jones, Mason Plumlee and a 2022 second-round pick (via Toronto Raptors)
Two teams that ended up in the lottery last season go in opposite directions, as the Hornets charge full-steam ahead toward the playoffs while the Rockets continue racking up young talent and draft picks.
Wood will be 26 before the new season starts, putting him and 19-year-old No. 2 pick Jalen Green on different timelines. Selling high on Wood now gives Houston an exciting young frontcourt that would feature Washington and a pair of 2021 first-round picks in Jones and Alperen Sengun. Plumlee is included for salary-matching purposes, but has experience acting as a mentor while with the Detroit Pistons this past season.
For a Charlotte team that added Kelly Oubre Jr. in free agency, James Bouknight in the draft and just signed Terry Rozier to a four-year, $97 million extension, trading for Wood to be the team's new starting center makes them a lock for the East playoffs.
A lineup of LaMelo Ball, Rozier, Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges and Wood would be unstoppable offensively, especially with Oubre as the sixth man.
The trade would have to wait until Oct. 5 to be completed since Plumlee was previously traded less than two months ago, but that's still two weeks before the regular season begins.