NBA Trades from Latest Rumors: Ben Simmons, Jerami Grant and More

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2021

NBA Trades from Latest Rumors: Ben Simmons, Jerami Grant and More

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    It's the most wonderful time of the year, and that's a phrase that carries some extra weight for NBA fans.

    We're well into the regular season, when stats start to mean something and contenders are separating themselves from the field. And on December 15, a number of trade restrictions for players who signed new deals this offseason will lapse.

    As The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor noted, over 80 percent of the league will be tradable starting Wednesday. With that on the horizon, it should come as little surprise that there seems to be renewed activity on the Ben Simmons front.

    A few days after ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that trade discussions revolving around the Philadelphia 76ers multi-time All-Star were heating up, The Athletic's Shams Charania listed the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers as possible suitors.

    After months in a stalemate, it seems like there may finally be a resolution to this situation. It isn't the only one that could be wrapped up between December 15 and the February trade deadline, though.

    O'Connor, Charania and others have reported on various trade scenarios in recent days. And it looks like we may get a little action on that front this season.

    Below, you'll find some potential deals based on their reporting.

Mavericks Add Some 3-and-D Potential

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    Justin Ford/Getty Images

    The Deal: Josh Green and a lottery-protected 2025 first-round pick for Cam Reddish

    Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, who've hovered around .500 for much of the season, have been one of the league's bigger disappointments. Even when they were a fairly impressive 9-4 on November 15, they had a negative point differential that may have been a sign of things to come.

    And as their record has slid closer to that indicator, it's tough to avoid what we may be the biggest reason why: The Mavericks can't shoot. Or, at least, they're nowhere near as effective from deep as they've been in the past.

    Right now, Dallas is 28th in the league in three-point percentage and over two percentage points below the league average. And for an offense that is so heavily reliant on Doncic's drive-and-kick game, that inefficiency has been a backbreaker. The Mavs are in the bottom third of the league in points per 100 possessions.

    A proven, needle-moving floor spacer would probably help, but they don't have the trade assets to go get someone like that (unless they want to get dramatic and move Kristaps Porzingis, who's supposed to be a spacer himself). Instead, Dallas could fix its sights on 22-year-old Cam Reddish, who may be available for the right price.

    "Rival teams are expressing interest in Hawks swingman Cam Reddish," Charania wrote. "...but those teams believe Atlanta seeks a first-round draft pick for Reddish, sources said."

    That's a pretty significant ask for someone who's never had an above-replacement-level box plus/minus and is posting an above-average three-point percentage for the first time in his career. The right protections on that pick could make it work, though.

    Dallas has a checkered draft history, particularly outside the lottery, so losing a future pick from that area in the draft wouldn't be a huge issue. And while Reddish wouldn't instantly fix the Mavs, he'd almost certainly help more than Green is now.

    For the Hawks, this might actually feel like selling low. Reddish is well shy of his prime and has made serious strides since he was drafted. But the Hawks have decent depth on the wing, and there may not be many teams willing to surrender a first to get him.

    If they balk at the lottery protection, maybe adding a future second-rounder could seal the deal. A pick (or two) and a flyer on a 21-year-old defender like Green is worth considering.

Utah Bolsters Its Defense

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    Nic Antaya/Getty Images

    The Deal: Bojan Bogdanovic, a top-five-protected 2026 first-round pick and a 2022 second-round pick (from Memphis) for Jerami Grant

    The basic framework for this deal was suggested by O'Connor. And depending on the market for Grant, it might not be enough for the Detroit Pistons.

    "Jerami Grant is one of the most sought-after players in a potential trade," Charania wrote. "Grant will miss extended time with torn ligaments in his right thumb, but that is not expected to impact his trade market."

    It could be tricky for Utah to win a bidding war. It already has two outgoing first-round picks and four outgoing seconds committed through other trades. It may require the addition of Jared Butler to push the Jazz over the top.

    Either way, this move might cost them a bit on one end, but the likely gains on the other would probably be worth it.

    The Jazz aren't just first in the league in offense; they're scoring a whopping 8.8 more points per 100 possessions than the average. With Grant, that could drop to six or seven, but his switchability and willingness to bother opposing first options would push Utah closer to the top of the league defensively.

    The Jazz's undersized backcourt of Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell has sometimes struggled on that end, but filling out the rest of a lineup with Grant, Rudy Gobert and Royce O'Neale would cover for those deficiencies.

    And it isn't like Grant is a liability on offense, either. He certainly isn't the shooter and floor-spacer that Bogdanovic is, but he shot 39.1 percent from three in that role for the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

    This deal would give the Pistons a few picks to add to their stockpile, which is always a plus for rebuilding teams. And they insist on Butler's inclusion, he would give them another option for the young guard rotation.

    Bogdanovic wouldn't fit Detroit's timeline, but he might help accelerate the development of cornerstone pieces like Cade Cunningham. The Pistons could also look to flip him down the line.

    "And instead of having Grant take touches away from their young core, Detroit could add Bogdanovic’s off-ball shooting and complementary on-ball scoring," O'Connor wrote.

    A reliable kickout option such as Bogdanovic could go a long way toward juicing Cunningham's assist numbers and helping him understand how to play with NBA off-ball threats.

Knicks Address the Starting Lineup

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    The Deal: Nerlens Noel, Obi Toppin a protected 2022 first-round pick (from Charlotte), a top-10 protected 2023 first-round pick and a 2022 second-round pick for Myles Turner

    This week, Myles Turner threw a little gas on a fire caused by a report suggesting the Indiana Pacers would be willing to trade him.

    "It's clear that I'm not valued as anything more than a glorified role player here, and I want something more, more opportunity," Turner told The Athletic's Jared Weiss

    A trade usually seems less likely than the status quo, but that kind of quote is difficult to work around. Turner clearly wants out. And the team is reportedly open to obliging him.

    Among a number of potential suitors, the New York Knicks might be the most intriguing.

    "As the Pacers reportedly pivot to a rebuild, there are Knicks decision-makers in favor of pursuing Turner via trade this season," Ian Begley wrote for SNY. "... In Turner's case, the Knicks can put together several trade packages that would satisfy NBA salary-matching rules."

    New York's starting lineup has struggled for two years now, and while Julius Randle could be the elephant in that room, a stretch 5 might help.

    Turner is shooting 39.8 percent from three this season (and 36.2 percent since the start of 2018-19), which is more than good enough to force opposing centers to pay attention when he's at the three-point line. Nerlens Noel and Mitchell Robinson don't do that, and their presence may be crowding the lane for Randle's slashing.

    His fit on offense just makes more sense than that of New York's current centers, and he may be an upgrade on the other end, too. Turner is leading the league in blocks per game for the second year in a row, and he has a career average of 2.3.

    Meanwhile, this package would give Indiana multiple bites at the proverbial draft apple. The protections on the Charlotte Hornets pick are somewhat convoluted, but they look like a playoff team (which means the pick should convey in the next few years). And Turner would presumably push New York closer to a playoff lock, which means that pick should convey, too.

    Those picks and Toppin (a high-flying big who's third on the Knicks in box plus/minus) would give the Pacers far more ammo for the rebuild that they're flirting with.

Warriors Flip Young Talent for Sabonis

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Deal: James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and a top-five-protected 2026 first-round pick for Domantas Sabonis

    The Golden State Warriors are already all-in. Adding any more salary to a luxury-tax bill already approaching $200 million may not be feasible.

    But as risky as it may be to let this many recent draftees go, they should try flip their young core for a multi-time All-Star who looks like a good fit on paper.

    Domantas Sabonis obviously isn't the defensive anchor Andrew Bogut was, but he could resurrect the high-post-passing aspect of the Warriors' offense that contributed to its dynamism in 2014-15. Commanding some defensive attention in the post might give extra tenths of a second to shooters, too.

    And while Sabonis isn't known as a great defender, his defensive estimated plus-minus is better than Kevon Looney's.

    The Pacers may be more likely to move one of their big men as opposed to both, per Charania, but embracing a full rebuild shouldn't be off the table.

    Last season, the Orlando Magic received three separate hauls for Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier, supercharging their rebuild and helping them put together one of the game's more intriguing young cores. Indiana could do something similar with Sabonis, Turner and Caris LeVert.

    And if the Pacers pulled off something like each of the last two deals detailed, they'd suddenly have a stockpile of future firsts and a ton of upside in Toppin, Wiseman, Kuminga and Moody. If even two of those guys hit, Indiana could quickly find a new direction.

    After years of treading water in the middle of the East, it may be time for the Pacers to finally embrace a full rebuild.

The Ben Simmons Saga Ends in Portland

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    The Deal: CJ McCollum, Nassir Little, a 2023 first-round pick swap, a 2024 first-round pick and a 2025 first-round pick swap for Ben Simmons

    A number of possible deals that might've made sense for Simmons prior to this season don't look quite as good now. And that includes the oft-analyzed McCollum-for-Simmons framework.

    With how well Tyrese Maxey and Seth Curry have played, Philadelphia might not have much interest in another undersized combo guard. A recently diagnosed collapsed lung and a below-average true shooting percentage probably don't help McCollum's value, either.

    But it's impossible to argue that he'd contribute less than Simmons is right now. And even with the defensive downgrade that McCollum might be, the idea of pick-and-rolls between he and Joel Embiid remains intriguing.

    With the amount of attention Embiid commands inside, McCollum would likely get tons of open looks outside.

    Nassir Little and a haul of draft picks would help, too. With the 27-year-old Embiid moving into his prime, Philadelphia should be in win-now mode, but young players and picks can help on that front as well. Philadelphia president of basketball operations Daryl Morey could then flip some or all of those assets for another short-term contributor.

    But given all of the factors outlined above, he might insist on even more. And given the Portland Trail Blazers' current situation, they might be desperate enough to ante up another pick or some seconds.

    Shortly after Portland fired its own president of basketball operations, Neil Olshey, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the "franchise has no interest in moving [Damian Lillard]." Lillard himself added "that s--t is not accurate" when asked about rumors that he wanted out of Portland.

    But with the front office in turmoil, Lillard in his 30s and the team under .500 and outside the playoffs, the Blazers need to do something quick.

    Things broke right in 2019 when this core made the Western Conference Finals, but it's hard to imagine the Big Two of Lillard and McCollum going much further than that. After nearly a decade together, it's fair to think we've already seen the ceiling.

    Replacing McCollum with Simmons would completely change the basketball dynamic of the Blazers. He would instantly be the team's best defender. Lineups with him and Larry Nance Jr. would have all kinds of defensive versatility. And Lillard-Simmons pick-and-rolls could conjure up some of the magic the Warriors have seen with Stephen Curry-Draymond Green sets.

    It's been a long, strange few months for Simmons and the Sixers. But this potential answer that's been staring us all in the face since before the holdout even started still makes sense.

    All statistics via Basketball Reference and are current heading into Monday, Dec. 13.

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