1 New Trade Idea for Every NBA Contender
Contenders are beginning to shine through a few weeks into the 2021-22 NBA season, with many expected faces and some surprises.
Regardless of success (or stumbles), it's never too early to identify needs and canvas for help via trade. These deals could range from blockbusters to adding depth at a thin position, depending on where a team's weaknesses lie.
Based on the teams with the 10 best odds to win the 2022 NBA title according to FanDuel (sorry, Chicago Bulls fans), here are trade ideas for the league's top squads.
Denver Nuggets Receive: C Mike Muscala, 2022 second-round pick, 2023 second-round pick (via Washington Wizards)
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: F/C Bol Bol
Injuries have hammered the Nuggets, which is out of their control. One weakness that can be corrected via trade, however, is three-point shooting.
Denver is 22nd in made threes this season (11.2 per game) and 26th in accuracy (32.3 percent) and could desperately use more shot-makers from the outside. They also continue to keep Bol on the bench, even though the 22-year-old possesses incredible raw talent in his 7'2" frame.
If the Nuggets aren't going to play Bol (42 total minutes in eight games this year), they might as well trade him for a backup center who can knock down threes.
Muscala should be available from the rebuilding Thunder, and the 30-year-old is averaging 8.7 points and 3.4 rebounds in 14.7 minutes. He's shooting a sizzling 45.1 percent from three, and 61.4 percent of his shots come from outside the arc.
The young Thunder should be interested in taking a flyer on Bol, even if it means giving up two of their approximate 1,000 future second-round picks.
Note: Deal cannot be completed until Dec. 15 since Muscala signed as a free agent this past summer.
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers Receive: SG Malik Beasley
Minnesota Timberwolves Receive: G/F Luke Kennard, 2022 second-round pick
The Clippers offense has predictably struggled without Kawhi Leonard, ranking 25th (105.3 rating) to begin the year. Reggie Jackson, the team's second-leading scorer behind Paul George, is shooting 40.3 percent overall.
Los Angeles should look to get George some help.
Enter Beasley, who averaged 19.6 points and shot 39.9 percent from three a season ago yet has been moved to a bench role with the Timberwolves. His scoring is down to 10.3 points per night, but Beasley would look far better as the starting shooting guard next to George in L.A.
For Minnesota, having floor-spacers so guys like Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell have room to operate is important. Kennard is one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA and is connecting on 44.1 percent of his attempts this season.
Both players would shine in their new situations, especially Beasley in L.A.
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: G/F Eric Gordon, F Danuel House Jr., PG D.J. Augustin, 2023 first-round pick (via Milwaukee Bucks), 2025 first-round pick (top-three-protected)
Houston Rockets Receive: PG Ben Simmons, SG Isaiah Joe, PF Charles Bassey
Though the Sixers would love to get an All-Star talent in return for Simmons, his value is too low and likely won't climb as long as he doesn't take the floor in Philly.
The team's best bet may be to move Simmons for a combination of immediate help, young players and future picks, making the 76ers better in the short term while keeping the door open to a future star trade.
Gordon (13.1 points, 42.3 percent from three) would be a strong rotation member who has a good salary-matching contract ($18.2 million). House is a good wing defender who's hit 38.1 percent of his threes this year and Augustin gives Philly another ball-handler with Simmons gone. The Sixers also collect a pair of first-round picks from Houston that they can use in a future trade.
The Rockets need a point guard since Kevin Porter Jr. is struggling with turnovers. Simmons would be a great table-setter for him and Jalen Green.
Even though it may not be the blockbuster Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal deal that Daryl Morey probably dreamed of, the Sixers become instantly better and remain flexible for future trade talks.
Phoenix Suns Receive: PF Thaddeus Young
San Antonio Spurs Receive: PF Jalen Smith, F/C Dario Saric, 2022 second-round pick
The Suns may not need a ton of help at 15-3, but adding a veteran big who defends, passes and makes winning plays makes this squad deeper and more dangerous.
Young, 33, can play and defend both power forward and center and would become an important part of the Suns bench. Although he's played sparingly for a young Spurs team this season (16.6 minutes per game), Young has improved San Antonio's defense by 8.5 points per 100 possessions, ranking in the 84th percentile, per Cleaning the Glass.
With Young in the final year of his contract and the Spurs circling the drain at 4-13, trading the veteran big man before he hits free agency would be wise.
Smith, 21, was the 10th overall pick in 2020 and carries upside as a three-point shooter and rim protector. Saric is rehabbing a torn ACL but is a solid scorer and playmaking big, and San Antonio gets to make another selection in the 2022 draft with this deal.
The Suns are really, really good. Young makes them even better.
Miami Heat Receive: PG Brad Wanamaker, 2022 second-round pick (via Miami Heat)
Indiana Pacers Receive: PF KZ Okpala
Miami is limited in the deals it can make, considering it owns one pick over the next two years (a 2022 second-rounder), doesn't have any trade exceptions and almost certainly won't part with its high-salary players (Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, Bam Adebayo).
Tyler Herro is this team's best trade asset, but he looks like a star again following a disappointing 2020-21 season. There's no reason to move him either.
Instead, the 12-7 Heat should concentrate on adding depth, especially at point guard behind the 35-year-old Lowry.
Wanamaker is hitting 36.4 percent of his threes as a backup with the Indiana Pacers and carries 21 games of playoff experience despite entering the NBA in the 2018-19 season. He'd be a solid veteran option off Miami's bench, and giving up Okpala in the deal should bring a much-needed draft pick in return.
With Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. McConnell, the Pacers don't need Wanamaker at point guard as much as the Heat would. Giving him up to acquire a 22-year-old forward in Okpala would be wise, especially since T.J. Warren is still working his way back from a foot injury.
The Heat can't do much unless they part with one of their core players, so getting Wanamaker for depth to keep Lowry fresh for the postseason may be as good as it gets.
Note: Deal cannot be completed until Jan. 4 since Wanamaker signed as a free agent this past summer.
Utah Jazz Receive: PG Tre Jones
San Antonio Spurs Receive: C Udoka Azubuike
Utah should look for a young point guard to develop under Mike Conley while being willing to part with frontcourt talent.
Conley is 34 and the Jazz possess little depth at point guard, so swapping Azubuike for the 21-year-old Jones gives them some insurance. Few point guards would be better to learn and grow behind than Conley, a 15-year veteran who's started 67 playoff games.
Jones was the 41st overall pick in 2020 by San Antonio yet has fallen victim to the Spurs' depth at the position. While Dejounte Murray runs the offense, 2021 first-round pick Joshua Primo could be the future floor general. This leaves Jones in limbo despite his averages of 15.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.2 steals per 36 minutes this year.
San Antonio could use more frontcourt talent to build around, and the 22-year-old Azubuike has been buried behind Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside in Utah.
This is no blockbuster—just a swap of young players who would get more opportunity in new situations.
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: F Kenrich Williams
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: 2023 second-round pick, 2025 second-round pick
No matter how much work LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis put in to make the offense run smoothly, the unit lacks athletic wing defenders who can get stops, especially after L.A. traded Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the offseason.
Williams would be the perfect trade target for Los Angeles. The 6'6", 210-pound forward can defend multiple positions and knock down open shots. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Thunder allow 8.5 fewer points per 100 possessions with Williams on the floor, which ranks in the 84th percentile.
While he's made just 12 of 38 three-pointers this season, Williams nailed 44.4 percent of his 117 attempts a year ago, so he has floor-spacing ability. At age 26, he'd bring fresh legs to the Lakers and would be one of the team's best defenders.
With the Thunder still collecting draft picks, the Lakers could pass along two second-rounders and absorb Williams' $2 million contract into the Marc Gasol trade exception.
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: C Goga Bitadze
Indiana Pacers Receive: SG Pat Connaughton
Part of the Bucks' success last year was rim protection, led by the frontcourt of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez. Lopez has missed all but one game this season with a back injury, and opponents are finding far more success against Milwaukee inside.
Last year, opponents made 61.3 percent of their shots in the restricted area, tied for second in the NBA. That number has risen to 63.7 percent (16th). Back issues can linger, meaning the Bucks should be on the lookout for center depth.
Bitadze was the 18th overall pick in 2019 by Indiana but hasn't gotten the proper shine while playing behind Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. Still, he's been an incredible shot-blocker, tying for second in the NBA last season in block percentage (8.7 percent, minimum 500 total minutes played) behind Turner.
Indiana gets a veteran wing with championship experience in Connaughton, one the Bucks won't have as many minutes for when Donte DiVincenzo returns to complement Grayson Allen at shooting guard.
Averaging 11.6 points and 5.1 rebounds and shooting 41.0 percent from three in 28.9 minutes, Connaughton would give the Pacers wing depth with T.J. Warren out indefinitely and Caris LeVert (40.2 percent shooting overall, 20.8 percent from three) struggling.
Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors Receive: C Jakob Poeltl, 2024 first-round pick (lottery-protected)
San Antonio Spurs Receive: C James Wiseman
With the Warriors off to an NBA-best 16-2 start, they have no need for major roster shake-ups.
What Golden State should be concerned about, however, is how to incorporate second-year center James Wiseman into the rotation without hurting the team. The Warriors were far worse with the 2020 No. 2 overall pick on the floor last season (minus-16.9 points were 100 possessions, per Cleaning the Glass, ranking in the first percentile), but they can't let his raw talent go to waste.
The solution? Move Wiseman to a rebuilding team for win-now help.
Poeltl has been excellent this year, averaging 12.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 blocks while shooting 63.8 percent in 28.5 minutes for San Antonio. His 12.6 contested shots per game rank second in the NBA.
The 26-year-old center would be an upgrade over Kevon Looney while Wiseman gets a fresh start with the Spurs. As good as Poeltl is now, Wiseman has a higher ceiling and won't be forced to produce right away like he would in Golden State.
San Antonio gets a big man to build around, and the Warriors receive a win-now center and a future first.
Brooklyn Nets Receive: PF Kristaps Porzingis, PG Jalen Brunson
Dallas Mavericks Receive: PG Kyrie Irving, PF Day'Ron Sharpe
A 13-5 start proves the Nets can survive without Irving, but letting their star point guard go to waste will hurt their championship chances.
If Irving agrees to it, a trade to Dallas (where there's no COVID-19 vaccine mandate) would create a devastating duo with Luka Doncic and give the Nets a new star point guard.
Brunson (15.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 49.3 percent shooting overall) has enjoyed a breakout season for Dallas and would slide in next to James Harden in Brooklyn's starting backcourt. This would allow Patty Mills to return to a sixth man role full-time, as expected when he signed with the Nets.
Porzingis isn't living up to expectations as a No. 2 in Dallas but could thrive as a floor-spacing No. 3 (or No. 4 on some nights) in Brooklyn, giving Kevin Durant and Harden their driving lanes.
Irving would be the most talented teammate Doncic has ever had and relieve playmaking pressure. He's also shown the ability to thrive alongside ball-dominant teammates in the past (LeBron James, Durant, Harden) and is an outstanding spot-up shooter. The deal also gets Porzingis' contract (two years, $69.8 million after this season) off Dallas' books and adds a young, talented power forward in the 20-year-old Sharpe.
Of course, this would be contingent on Irving's wanting to play for the Mavs, who wouldn't make the deal unless they knew he was on board.
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