A New Ben Simmons Blockbuster Plus 3 Fresh NBA Trade Ideas

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 12, 2021

A New Ben Simmons Blockbuster Plus 3 Fresh NBA Trade Ideas

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    The NBA trade winds are brewing.

    It might be just a little longer until they sweep across the hoops world, but when it happens, they could reshape the basketball landscape.

    The championship race feels as wide open as ever, which might embolden clubs to take more chances than they normally would on the trade market. Paying a steep price is never fun, but sometimes you have to take the plunge if the possible payoff is a championship parade.

    There has already been an inordinate amount of chatter regarding how this version of #TradeSZN might shape up, but it's time for some new ideas. How do four hypothetical blockbusters sound?

Blazers, Mavs Swap Scoring Guards

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    Steve Dykes/Associated Press

    Dallas Mavericks receive: CJ McCollum

    Portland Trail Blazers receive: Tim Hardaway Jr, Reggie Bullock and future first-round pick

    Both the Mavericks and Trail Blazers reside in the same tier of teams who aren't contenders but could become ones if everything breaks just right. With Portland off to a slow start and Dallas in danger of massive regression (a solid 7-4 but only 21st in net efficiency), the teams might have to look outside their locker rooms for the pieces that can push them over the top.

    The Mavs need another shot-creator to liven up their 23rd-ranked offense and ease the burden shouldered by Luka Doncic (league-leading 35.2 usage percentage). CJ McCollum could be perfect. He can steer an offensive attack with slippery scoring moves and capable table-setting, while his lethal long-range shooting makes him an easy fit with a more ball-dominant star.

    Put him in the same offense as Luka Doncic, and Dallas could keep constant pressure on opposing defenses. That would also bump Kristaps Porzingis down to the third option, which if he bought into the setup, could allow him to focus more energy on defense and make him more efficient on offense by virtue of being more selective.

    The Blazers, meanwhile, might be better off flipping McCollum for size, defense and depth on the wings, plus the incoming first-rounder could be re-invested in the trade market to help attack another need.

    Tim Hardaway Jr. would give Damian Lillard a bigger, more athletic backcourt partner who still splashes three-balls frequently and efficiently. Reggie Bullock would answer a longstanding need for a three-and-D wing in Portland, and the Blazers could perhaps better balance their roster by starting him and bringing 6'3" Norman Powell off the bench to be their ignitable sixth man.

Knicks Add Difference-Maker, Pistons Enhance Rebuild

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    New York Knicks receive: Jerami Grant

    Detroit Pistons receive: Obi Toppin, Alec Burks, Kevin Knox II, 2022 first-round pick (top-three protected) and 2023 second-round pick (via DET)

    The Knicks seem capable of sustaining last season's success, but building on it might require going outside of the organization for help. They could scratch that itch with this exchange, and it wouldn't force them to drain their asset collection.

    Now, the trade cost would partly reflect that Jerami Grant has never been an All-Star and has seen his production plummet from last season. However, he has been a star role player before, and his statistical slippage might have plenty to do with all of the inexperienced, inefficient young players around him on the rebuilding Pistons.

    New York wouldn't need to get too imaginative to picture Grant making a big difference at both ends. Offensively, he could slot behind Julius Randle and share support-scoring duties with RJ Barrett, all while using their gravity and vision to increase his output as an off-ball cutter and spot-up shooter. Defensively, Green could take on the best-forward assignment and use his length and athleticism to cause off-ball chaos.

    For the Pistons, this exchange would be about accepting the reality and gravity of their situation. In September 2020, coach Dwane Casey was telling reporters, "We're not really rebuilding here." Some 15 months and a boatload of losses later, Casey can admit this is "a restore, a rebuild."

    As it should, Detroit is rebuilding with youth at almost every spot. The 27-year-old Grant is one of the only exceptions, and with free agency awaiting him in 2023, he could get plenty more expensive before this core hits its stride.

    Cashing in with this exchange would mean adding: a recent lottery pick in Obi Toppin, a 22-year-old former lottery pick in Kevin Knox II, a plug-and-play vet who could become a trade chip down the line in Alec Burks, a lightly protected first-round pick and a future second-rounder this club previously traded away. That's quite a haul for an eight-year veteran with career averages of 10.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

Warriors Look for Strength in Numbers, Kings Take the Long View

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    Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

    Golden State Warriors receive: Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield and Tyrese Haliburton

    Sacramento Kings receive: Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman and Moses Moody

    While the Warriors want to win now and win later, their best bet is to pick a timeline and allocate their resources accordingly. If you've seen some of the gems Stephen Curry has cooked up this season—a 50-point, 10-assist masterpiece his last time out—it's pretty obvious Golden State should prioritize the present.

    The Dubs could do that by cashing in their best trade chips, although The Athletic's Anthony Slater said on the HoopsHype Podcast it would take "a home-run type of thing" for the Warriors to part with 2020 No. 2 pick, James Wiseman.

    Some will argue whether this return qualifies as a round-tripper since there wouldn't be an All-Star heading to the Bay. However, Golden State might get just as much mileage (if not more) out of bringing in three high-level role players who can contribute in meaningful ways right now.

    Harrison Barnes has already won a championship in this system, which values his spot-up sniping and defensive versatility. Buddy Hield would address the need for support shooting around Curry by pairing him with the only other player splashing four-plus threes per night. (Just imagine what could happen with Klay Thompson in that trio.) Tyrese Haliburton could mold his glue-guy skills to fit different roles on different nights.

    Golden State wouldn't leave the swap having upped its Big Three to a Big Four, but it could have the fourth, fifth and sixth players in its rotation. That's a ton of meaningful minutes to log, and the collective impact could be enormous.

    Sacramento, meanwhile, would recognize the formula still isn't quite right and use the opportunity to add more youth and upside to the mix.

    James Wiseman is the crown jewel, as a blue-chip prospect with a drool-worthy blend of size, skill and natural tools. Moses Moody's three-and-D floor should make him an easy fit with De'Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell, and the trio could be tremendous defensively if they max out their development. Finally, the Kings would have this season and next to see if Andrew Wiggins is worth keeping around or more valuable as a trade chip, perhaps as an expiring contract in 2022-23.

Three-Team, Star-Studded Frenzy

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Boston Celtics receive: Karl-Anthony Towns

    Philadelphia 76ers receive: Jaylen Brown and Patrick Beverley

    Minnesota Timberwolves receive: Ben Simmons, Robert Williams III, Matisse Thybulle, Jaden Springer and 2022 first-round pick (from PHI)

    This would be the blockbuster to end all blockbusters. In one single swap, the Ben Simmons saga would be finished, the question of Karl-Anthony Towns staying or going would be answered and one of the best wing combos in basketball (Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown) would be broken up.

    There's plenty to unpack here, so let's dive in.

    Boston's motivation here is simple: Walking away with the best player in the deal, or at least the one who best complements Tatum. As good as Brown is—and he's pounding on the door to greatness—there's plenty of overlap with him and Tatum, and there aren't many ways they can help each other. Towns, on the other hand, could run countless pick plays with Tatum and empty the arsenal with rolls to the rim, pops to the perimeter or quick kicks to open shooters.

    Philadelphia would follow a similar path by improving the fit of Joel Embiid's co-star. Brown, whose name has surfaced in the Simmons trade chatter, can do a little (or a lot) of everything, which would make it easy to coexist with the Sixers' star center. Brown plays both ends, finds shots for himself and his teammates, impresses with three-point volume and efficiency and keeps earning more trips to the foul line.

    Also helpful, this trade package wouldn't torpedo Philly's defense the way an all-in move for Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal might. Brown can check any wing he encounters, and Patrick Beverley is a pest on the ball.

    Minnesota, meanwhile, might already have enough data at the time of this deal—Robert Williams III can't be traded until the end of January—to know the Towns-D'Angelo Russell pairing isn't working. This trade would balance Minnesota's top-heavy roster while adding a quartet of 25-and-under talents who could all grow alongside 2020 top pick, Anthony Edwards.

    Simmons' playmaking could help bring this group together, and he would work some open-court miracles with Edwards. Williams could slide into Towns' former spot and inject the middle with defensive versatility and underrated distributing. Matisse Thybulle would give the Wolves one of the most disruptive wing defenders in the Association, while Jaden Springer and the draft pick would give the franchise a couple of long-term wild cards.

    There is win-win-win potential here, as there should be with three All-Stars on the move.