Blockbuster Deals That Would Blow Up the 2022 NBA Trade DeadlineDecember 21, 2021
Blockbuster Deals That Would Blow Up the 2022 NBA Trade Deadline
The 2022 NBA trade deadline is less than two months away, with some of today's stars already popping up in rumors.
From Domantas Sabonis reportedly wanting out of Indiana to "a lot of smoke" surrounding De'Aaron Fox in Sacramento, we could see some really good, young players on the move. The Ben Simmons situation is still unsettled, and the Pistons are now focused on trading Jerami Grant while he still has multiple years left on his deal.
With a 13-18 record and in danger of falling out of the play-in tournament altogether, the Portland Trail Blazers will certainly be a team to watch around the deadline as well.
Based on the latest trade rumors, the following are four trades that would blow up the Feb. 10 deadline.
Celtics Get a 3rd Star with Domantas Sabonis
Boston Celtics Receive: F/C Domantas Sabonis
Indiana Pacers Receive: G Marcus Smart, PF Grant Williams, SG Romeo Langford, 2022 first-round pick (top-five protected)
If the Pacers end up trading one of their big men, you can bet it won't be for a rebuild. Governor Herb Simon, 87, has already said as much. Even when Indiana traded Paul George, it did so for Victor Oladipo and Sabonis, with no draft picks changing hands.
If Sabonis is indeed unhappy in Indy, the Pacers will primarily seek win-now help in return.
Smart is still a bulldog of a defender, and Indiana could use his playmaking with backup point guard TJ McConnell likely done for the season following hand surgery. The Pacers are 14th in defense, even with all-world rim-protector Myles Turner. Having Smart and Turner in the same starting lineup could make them elite.
Williams, 23, is good enough to take over the starting power forward job in Indiana with Sabonis gone and provides elite floor-spacing (45.3 percent from three) next to Turner. Langford is a former Indiana University star who's also enjoying a career year from outside the arc (37.2 percent).
While the trade is primarily done to acquire Smart, Williams and Langford, adding the Celtics' lightly protected first-round pick doesn't hurt, either.
For Boston, this is a chance to add a star without giving up Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown and make a serious run toward the top of the East.
Sabonis is a two-time All-Star and one of the best passing big men in the NBA. He is also under contract for two more seasons after this one, giving Boston a core (along with Robert Williams III) that has a chance to play together for a long time.
Giving up Smart hurts, but getting Sabonis in return would be worth it.
Jerami Grant Pushes Bulls All-in for a Title
Chicago Bulls Receive: F Jerami Grant
Detroit Pistons Receive: G Coby White, F Derrick Jones Jr., C Tony Bradley, 2022 first-round pick (lottery-protected, via Portland Trail Blazers*)
The acquisitions of DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso have clearly worked for Chicago, but adding some two-way help at power forward should be a priority with Patrick Williams potentially out for the season following wrist surgery.
Grant would be a perfect fit in Chicago's lineup between DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic with his ability to defend multiple positions and carry the offense in spurts when other stars need a break. The 27-year-old is averaging 20.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks in his 33.2 minutes per game.
A starting five of Ball, LaVine, DeRozan, Grant and Vucevic may be the best in the NBA.
For the Pistons, moving Grant now while he still has a year left on his deal after this season is going to yield the highest return, even if he's been an important part of their young locker room.
White is still shaking off the rust from offseason shoulder surgery and a recent COVID-19 absence, but the 21-year-old has shown flashes of his former self with his scoring and playmaking ability. At 6'5", he gives the Pistons another supersized ball-handler in the backcourt to complement Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes.
Jones, 24, and Bradley, 23, give Detroit some young depth for its rebuild on the wing and at center, and getting a first-round pick that could convert as early as this offseason helps provide the Pistons with some additional draft ammo.
*The pick from Portland is lottery-protected from 2022 to 2028. If it has not been conveyed by 2028, Portland will convey its 2028 second-round pick instead.
De'Aaron Fox Becomes Knicks' Franchise Point Guard
New York Knicks Receive: PG De'Aaron Fox
Sacramento Kings Receive: PF Obi Toppin, PG Kemba Walker, G/F Alec Burks, 2022 first-round pick (top-three protected), 2023 first-round pick (via Dallas Mavericks), 2022 second-round pick
The Knicks have stumbled to a 13-17 start after a strong 2020-21 campaign, with hopes of Kemba Walker being the team's franchise point guard now dashed.
Fox's numbers have been down across the board this season, and ESPN's Brian Windhorst noted the 24-year-old entered the season 15 pounds heavier than his previous playing weight. Still, with four years left on his deal after this season, Fox has plenty of time to become one of the NBA's best floor generals.
A rejuvenated Fox would jump-start the Knicks' 19th-ranked offense and take playmaking responsibilities off Julius Randle and RJ Barrett.
This isn't a teardown for the Kings, either, as they receive pieces that can help now and in the future.
Walker showed he still has a lot left in the tank in his return to New York's lineup Dec. 18, scoring 29 points on 45.5 percent shooting from three with six rebounds, three assists and only one turnover. While Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell are the future of the Kings backcourt, Walker gives them a veteran presence either in the starting lineup or off the bench who can generate instant offense.
Toppin has been far better in Year 2 and is averaging 19.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.4 blocks per 36 minutes while shooting 53.0 percent overall. With Marvin Bagley III a free agent at the end of the season and never finding his footing in Sacramento, Toppin could be the franchise's new starting power forward.
Burks (11.6 points, 40.4 percent shooting from three) gives the Kings some much-needed help on the wing, and getting a pair of first-round picks should give Sacramento enough value in return to part with Fox.
The Portland-Indy-Philly Blockbuster
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: G/F Ben Simmons, C Myles Turner, G/F Danny Green
Indiana Pacers Receive: SG CJ McCollum, F Nassir Little, C Cody Zeller, 2024 first-round pick (lottery-protected, via Portland Trail Blazers*), 2022 second-round pick (via Portland)
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: G/F Caris LeVert, SG Norman Powell, PF Larry Nance Jr.
The Blazers should still avoid trading superstar Damian Lillard as long as he's happy in Portland, but it may take a complete teardown around him to turn this roster into a title contender.
Fixing a defense that ranks 27th is the primary focus, so adding an elite perimeter defender (Simmons) and rim protector (Turner) around Lillard could actually make this one of the top units in the league.
Putting the 6'11" Simmons in a backcourt with Lillard should only maximize his strengths, with the 25-year-old perfectly happy playing a table-setting, elite-defender role at this point in his career. The Blazers would go from starting three guards 6'3" and under to having the tallest point guard in the NBA next to Lillard.
Turner is a force in the paint, holding opponents to just 54.2 percent shooting at the rim and swatting an NBA-best 2.9 shots per game. Green would become Portland's new starting small forward and is still a capable three-and-D wing who has three titles on his resume.
The Pacers aren't blowing anything completely up even if they move Turner, so getting McCollum back to join Malcolm Brogdon in the backcourt gives them another big-time scorer and playmaker. Little can play and defend multiple positions, and Zeller gives Indiana some depth at center with Turner gone. Indiana also collects a pair of picks from Portland, including a first-rounder that will convert as early as 2024.
With the Sixers striking out in their hopes of acquiring an All-Star for Simmons, getting three solid starters/rotation players all under contract for multiple seasons is good value.
LeVert, 27, has shown star flashes in his time with the Brooklyn Nets and Pacers and gives Philly some additional playmaking with Simmons gone. Powell, 28, is averaging 18.1 points on 41.5 percent shooting from three this season, and Nance, 28, has the versatility to play on the wing or serve as a small-ball center. Nance's teams have always been better with him on the floor, with a plus-9.4 swing rating this season serving as the best of his career.
Portland turns its weak defense into a strength, Indiana stays competitive while picking up future assets, and Philly gains some important win-now pieces.
*Portland can trade a first-rounder two years after its 2022 pick owed to the Chicago Bulls is conveyed. That pick is lottery-protected from 2022-28.