Blockbuster NBA Trade Ideas 1 Month Before 2021-22 Season
Although we're in the hibernation period of the NBA offseason, this doesn't mean we can't see a few fireworks before 2021-22 officially kicks off.
There's the whole Ben Simmons situation that needs to resolve itself, the Portland Trail Blazers should constantly be looking for ways to keep Damian Lillard happy and the guard-heavy Sacramento Kings could use some better roster balance.
Rebuilding teams containing win-now veterans with two years or less on their deals need to be wary about their contention timelines, making players like Christian Wood and Thaddeus Young likely to pop up in trade talks soon as well.
Here are five big trades that could all still happen before the start of the season.
Christian Wood Gives Clippers a Center Upgrade
Los Angeles Clippers Receive: C Christian Wood, F Danuel House
Houston Rockets Receive: SG Keon Johnson, C Ivica Zubac, G/F Luke Kennard, 2022 second-round pick, 2023 second-round pick, 2024 second-round pick, 2025 second-round pick
The Clippers should be on the playoff fringe assuming Kawhi Leonard misses most (if not all) of the regular season with a partially torn ACL. Trading for Wood gives Paul George a true running mate while Leonard recovers and a legit Big 3 for the postseason—a destination the Clippers are far more likely to reach with Wood en tow.
Last year's starting center Serge Ibaka picked up his $9.7 million player option to return to L.A., but the 31-year-old big man had back surgery in June. Leaning on Ibaka to play a full, healthy season is unrealistic given what he's returning from. With Wood as the starting 5 and Ibaka as a reserve, it's far more likely the three-time All-Defensive team member will hold up throughout the regular season and playoffs.
Wood averaged 21.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and shot 37.4 percent from three last season, giving George, Reggie Jackson, Eric Bledsoe and the rest of L.A.'s guards some frontcourt spacing. House provides more wing defense with Leonard out.
For a Rockets team that's now built around 19-year-old Jalen Green, even Wood (who turns 26 later this month) doesn't fit the timeline, especially with just two years left until he hits unrestricted free agency.
Trading Wood now guarantees the best possible return, one that includes a nice package of young(ish) players in Johnson (19), Zubac (24) and Kennard (25, with four years remaining on his deal) and draft picks in each of the next four years.
Zubac keeps Houston's starting center job warm until Alperen Sengun is ready to take over, Johnson is another high-upside wing for the team to build around and Kennard (44.6 percent from three last season) gives everyone the spacing they need.
Kristaps Porzingis Balances out Kings' Roster, Mavs Get Luka Another Shooter
Sacramento Kings Receive: F/C Kristaps Porzingis, F Dorian Finney-Smith
Dallas Mavericks Receive: SG Buddy Hield, PF Marvin Bagley III, 2022 second-round pick (via Atlanta Hawks)
The Porzingis experiment should be scrapped in Dallas immediately, as the 26-year-old just hasn't played up to his billing as a No. 2 option next to Luka Doncic. Moving him to Sacramento (and its collection of high-upside guards) gives both sides a fresh start.
For Sacramento, Porzingis is still the only All-Star in this group, even if his contract (three years, $101.5 million) and injury history may give them pause. Still, he averaged 20.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and shot 37.6 percent from three for Dallas last season and has been a productive offensive player when healthy.
The Kings would also be getting off Hield's contract (three years, $61.5 million), and moving the veteran shooting guard opens up more playing time for Tyrese Haliburton and rookie Davion Mitchell. A lineup of De'Aaron Fox, Haliburton, Harrison Barnes, Porzingis and Richaun Holmes with Mitchell and Finney-Smith off the bench is far better that what the Kings have now and affords them better overall roster balance.
Finney-Smith is an ideal 3-and-D forward who's on an insanely-good contract ($4 million), and moving Bagley (who likely wouldn't have re-signed next summer anyways) shouldn't hurt.
For Dallas, this is about getting off Porzingis' deal while adding some useful players who complement Luka Doncic.
Hield is a big shooting guard who's averaged 18.9 points and shot 40.3 percent from three over the past three years. Loading up on shooters next to Doncic (Hield, Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Bullock) while putting a single big on the floor (Maxi Kleber/Dwight Powell) may be the Mavs' best strategy given his incredible shot-creation ability.
The Mavs also get a look at Bagley while he's still on his rookie deal, and they can match any deal he receives in restricted free agency should the 2018 No. 2 pick have a break-out year in a new environment.
Thaddeus Young Joins Phoenix Suns in 3-Team Deal
Phoenix Suns Receive: PF Thaddeus Young
San Antonio Spurs Receive: PF Davis Bertans, F/C Jalen Smith
Washington Wizards Receive: PG Tre Jones, F/C Dario Saric
While Jae Crowder did a solid job as the Suns' starting power forward in their run to the NBA Finals last season, Young would be an overall upgrade at the position.
The veteran big man showed off the best passing of his career last year with the Chicago Bulls, is a solid team defender and can play small-ball 5. He's also shown the ability to knock down threes when asked, making 37.2 percent of his catch-and-shoot looks in 2019-20. For a team that's ready to win now, both Smith (156 total minutes as a rookie last year) and Saric (possibly out for the year with a torn ACL) aren't going to help.
San Antonio needs frontcourt help with a guard-heavy roster, both now and in the future. Bertans has thrived with the Spurs before (40.4 percent from three in 220 games from 2016-2019) and would help space the floor for guys like Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson and others. Smith, the No. 10 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, has shown potential as a three-point shooter and rim protector, one that can take his time developing on a rebuilding Spurs squad.
Washington does this deal for the salary relief, as Bertans is owed $65 million over the next four years, and the Wizards now have Kyle Kuzma to go with Rui Hachimura at power forward. While Saric likely won't play this year, he's under a more reasonable two-year, $18.7 million deal.
Jones, 21, gives Washington some added point guard depth behind Spencer Dinwiddie.
Sixers Swap Tobias Harris for CJ McCollum...
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: PF Tobias Harris
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: SG CJ McCollum
While the popular Ben Simmons-for-McCollum trade has been floated around, the Sixers should be eyeing another player on their roster to flip in a deal for the veteran shooting guard.
Harris and McCollum are extremely similar in many ways. Both are 29, have been borderline All-Stars for years now and are big-time scorers and good distributors on $30-plus million annual contracts.
The key difference? Positioning.
By swapping McCollum for Harris, Portland gets to move Norman Powell back to shooting guard on a full-time basis, giving them a bigger frontcourt with Harris and Robert Covington. The Blazers don't lose any scoring, with Harris giving them a floor-spacing power forward who can create off the short roll and make life easier for Damian Lillard.
McCollum would shine as the lead ball-handler in Philly after putting up 23.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and shooting 40.2 percent from three as a second backcourt option in Portland. He's never played with a frontcourt talent like Joel Embiid before, and there's plenty of shooters (Seth Curry, Danny Green) to kick out to as well.
Moving Harris for McCollum gives the Sixers more Simmons trade possibilities as well.
While the Sixers were likely focused on getting an All-Star guard back in return, they can now focus on trade partners offering frontcourt talent instead.
...then Send Ben Simmons to the Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks Receive: G Ben Simmons
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: G/F Cam Reddish, SG Kevin Huerter, PF Danilo Gallinari
Assuming the Sixers pull off the CJ McCollum-Tobias Harris swap, they still need to figure out a new home for Simmons.
The three-time All-Star has already helped the Hawks advance in the postseason, so joining Atlanta on a full-time basis only makes sense.
Simmons and Trae Young would be one of the NBA's best backcourts and could cover for each other's weaknesses extremely well. Young has no problem taking shots from anywhere inside the halfcourt line, and his defensive shortcomings would be negated by Simmons' incredible abilities on that end.
There's also enough shooters left on Atlanta's roster to make the fit work (Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic, John Collins, DeAndre Hunter, Lou Williams, Delon Wright), and Simmons can play anywhere up or down the lineup as an all-world shot-creator and defender.
For Philly, they get a replacement for Harris at power forward in Gallinari, who's still one of the best floor-spacing big men in the NBA. Huerter is a 6'7" shooting guard who can handle the ball and Reddish still carries incredible upside on both ends.
The Sixers would carry a starting five of McCollum, Seth Curry, Danny Green, Gallinari and Embiid to begin the season, with a bench of Huerter, Reddish, Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle and Andre Drummond.
Not only is Philly set up to win right away, there's still enough young talent on the roster to make a run at Damian Lillard or any other star who may pop up on the trade market during the year.