1 Trade for Every NBA Team Playing on Christmas DayDecember 25, 2021
1 Trade for Every NBA Team Playing on Christmas Day
Two of the NBA's favorite traditions are upon us: Christmas Day games and trade season.
Today, we're going to combine the two.
Even though several of the teams that will be in action on Christmas are already contenders (or at least, borderline contenders), most can still get better before the Feb. 15 trade deadline.
And below, you'll find deals that could move the needle.
Mavericks and Nets Swap Stars
The Deal: Kristaps Porzingis, a 2025 first-round pick and a 2027 first-round pick for Kyrie Irving
When news broke that Kyrie Irving would be reactivated for Brooklyn Nets road games, it was fair to speculate that the move might've been aimed at bolstering his trade value.
If he looks like the player he was before the extended hiatus, he'll surely have some value around the league (though it may be limited by numerous team chemistry issues over the years).
And one team that could use a dynamic playmaker (and has reportedly already gauged Brooklyn's interest in a move, per SNY.tv's Scott Thompson and Ian Begley) is the Dallas Mavericks.
Mavs governor Mark Cuban has refuted that report, but a deal involving Irving and Kristaps Porzingis does make some sense, assuming Dallas would be willing to include draft compensation.
For whatever reason, the combination of Luka Doncic and Porzingis hasn't worked. Over their three seasons together, the Mavericks are plus-4.4 points per 100 possessions when Luka plays without KP, plus-4.8 when KP plays without Luka and plus-0.9 when they're together.
In theory, Porzingis would do more than Irving defensively, but an offensive upgrade of this caliber could help them outscore just about anyone. Head coach Jason Kidd probably doesn't want to take the ball out of Luka's hands altogether, but the offensive burden he's carrying is unsustainable.
For the Nets, any deal involving Irving would probably require the blessing of Kevin Durant and James Harden. That alone could nix something like this. But this team has plenty of outside firepower with KD, Harden and Patty Mills. Porzingis' frontcourt scoring could bring a little more balance.
That assumes he could be sold on more of a rim-running role, which has been difficult to pull off in the past. If he gets a sense of how easy it is to score off Harden lobs, he might change his opinion on such a role.
A fringe benefit of a deal like this is recouping some of the draft capital that was lost in the Harden deal.
Jazz Take a 3-and-D Flier
The Deal: Udoka Azubuike, Miye Oni and a lottery-protected 2026 first-round pick for Cam Reddish
Depth is a good thing to have right now, as the league's super-reporters seem to add a new name to the "health and safety protocols" list every hour, but the Atlanta Hawks are one of those rare teams that might actually have a little too much talent.
With De'Andre Hunter, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter and Danilo Gallinari on the roster, it's been difficult to find consistent minutes for Cam Reddish, who's on the verge of his second NBA contract. Whether it's an effort to open some wiggle room in the rotation or avoid paying that next contract, Atlanta is reportedly interested in moving Reddish.
"The Hawks have been searching around the league for a first-round pick in return for swingman Cam Reddish, sources said," Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer wrote, "as Atlanta faces a logjam at the wing."
That may seem like a steep asking price for someone with a career average of 11.0 points and a 32.9 three-point percentage, but the Utah Jazz might be one team that could justify paying it (assuming there are decent protections in place).
Reddish is just 22 years old, and an 89.1 free-throw percentage this season suggests there's still room to grow as a shooter. More importantly, though he hasn't proved to be a lockdown defender yet, the Jazz could use someone with his size (6'8") and athleticism outside.
With the undersized backcourt of 6'1" Donovan Mitchell and 6'1" Mike Conley in place, Utah has often struggled to contain bigger guards. Under the tutelage of Quin Snyder and the Jazz coaching staff, Reddish could develop into a useful three-and-D option.
Atlanta, meanwhile, gets what it is reportedly asking for in this hypothetical trade, along with a couple of fliers on young-ish players who probably won't command as much salary as Reddish on their second contracts.
Knicks Add a Defensive Anchor
The Deal: Nerlens Noel, Obi Toppin and Miles McBride and a top-10 protected 2022 first-round pick (from Charlotte) for Myles Turner
The Indiana Pacers are due for a reset.
Shortly after Shams Charania and Bob Kravitz of The Athletic reported Indiana was open for business on multiple fronts, Myles Turner bluntly shared his discontent with his role.
"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.
Turner could get that with the New York Knicks, who have been mired in mediocrity after outperforming expectations in 2020-21.
One of New York's biggest problems has been Julius Randle's steep regression to career norms from three-point range. And if he could play alongside a bona fide stretch 5 in Turner, he could focus more on attacking the paint.
As one of the league's premier rim protectors (Turner is leading the NBA in blocks for the third time in four seasons), he'd fit in with Tom Thibodeau's defense-first mindset too.
For Indiana, turning Turner into a decent reserve big, two prospects with some upside and another potential draft pick would be a win.
There is value in being consistently competitive, as Indiana has been for decades, but most organizations (especially small-market teams) are eventually faced with the question of whether they should entertain a full rebuild.
After an embarrassing 29-point loss on national TV to a Miami Heat squad without Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo on Tuesday, it might be time for the Pacers to enter asset-accumulation mode.
Celtics Go All-In
The Deal: Jaylen Brown, Dennis Schroder, a 2022 first-round pick, a 2024 first-round pick and a lottery-protected 2026 first-round pick for Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard and interim Portland Trail Blazers executive Joe Cronin recently shut down rumors that the superstar might be available for trade, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe. And most reporting on the Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown front sounds similar.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix discussed the latter on The Crossover podcast:
"There's never really been, from what I've been able to gather any type of decommitment from Jaylen Brown. He's been frustrated. He's been out of the lineup. And he's only got one, I think a couple of years left on his contract. The idea that they're gonna move Jaylen Brown, I think it would take something huge. Like Damian Lillard-level huge."
Well, let's go for something "Damian Lillard-level huge."
Boston has been mediocre, at best, this season. And though there's time between now and the primes of Brown, 25, and Jayson Tatum, 23, the addition of Lillard would jump the team up a couple of tiers. Boston might not be on the level of the Brooklyn Nets or Milwaukee Bucks, but it would be headed that way.
When healthy, Lillard is one of the game's most dynamic offensive engines. And making Tatum his No. 2 eliminates one of the biggest issues that has plagued him throughout his career: the lack of size between him and CJ McCollum (both 6'3" or under).
The Trail Blazers, meanwhile, are getting a borderline foundational piece in Brown and plenty of draft capital with which to build around him.
This is the kind of deal that could set up a two-track rebuild that keeps Portland moderately competitive while simultaneously adding to the asset stockpile.
Bucks Add a Backup 5
The Deal: Brook Lopez and a 2023 second-round pick for Derrick Favors
This one is heavily dependent on if or when it becomes clear that Brook Lopez's back surgery might prevent him from playing again this season.
Lopez was a crucial piece of the Milwaukee Bucks' title run in 2021, but it's less than ideal for his $13.3 million salary to be sitting on the books while he's unable to play.
Enter the Oklahoma City Thunder, who've taken advantage of less-than-ideal contracts in the past. In exchange for a pick (and they might insist on a more valuable one), OKC might be willing to take on the remainder of Lopez's deal.
The other piece of this, of course, is Derrick Favors. And though he's been flat-out bad this season, the circumstance of playing for a tanking team has a lot to do with that.
As recently as last season, Favors was a well-above-average player (per box plus/minus), as the Utah Jazz's backup 5.
In Milwaukee, he could be sort of a change-of-pace bruiser behind Bobby Portis' stretch 5 game.
Warriors Go All-In
The Deal: James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody for Domantas Sabonis
There is certainly an argument for keeping the young players and developing a future core that can take the reins after Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson age out of their primes, but the Golden State Warriors should know as well as anyone how fragile title windows are.
All the losses over the seasons between Kevin Durant's 2019 departure and this one led to intriguing young talent, but James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody are, at best, wild cards.
Domantas Sabonis, on the other hand, is not.
He isn't the defender Andrew Bogut was, but Sabonis is one of the game's most productive big men and could reintroduce some of that playmaking 5 element that Bogut brought.
Since the start of the 2019-20 campaign, he's averaged 19.1 points, 12.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. The amount of attention he'd command inside would presumably loosen up perimeter coverage on Curry and Thompson.
And with this specific trade framework, Golden State would still have plenty of veteran defenders with whom it could pivot to smaller, switch-happy defensive schemes.
For Indiana, the argument here mirrors the one for the Turner deal. New coach Rick Carlisle may not be keen on a rebuild, but he sort of opened himself up to one with this season's early returns.
There's an argument to only move one of the big men, commit to the other and build around him, but dealing both could instantly give the Pacers one of the game's better rebuilding starter kits.
Suns Bolster Depth
The Deal: Dario Saric, Abdel Nader and a 2022 second-round pick for Thaddeus Young
Even though Thaddeus Young averaged 18.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 6.4 assists per 75 possessions and finished in the top 40 in box plus/minus last season, it became clear fairly early in 2021-22 that he wasn't a big part of the San Antonio Spurs' plans.
His average minutes per game has dropped from 24.3 to 14.1, and it sounds like he has a good idea why.
Young told Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes:
"With being in a rebuilding situation, that's not ideal for a guy that just came off a really good season, going into his 15th season to going to another rebuild. I don't mind playing through rebuilds and stuff like that, but the one thing about it is I'm not getting any younger. I'm getting older and at some point, I want to start contending for championships."
Young would have an opportunity to do just that for the Phoenix Suns, who could use a playmaking 4 or 5 thanks to Dario Saric's torn-ACL-induced absence.
Even in his mid-30s, Young remains a solid slasher, especially against slower bigs. And the improved vision and passing he flashed last season would be put to good use for a Suns team so focused on ball and player movement.
San Antonio, meanwhile, could turn a player who isn't part of the long-term plans into a draft pick. He's certainly not going to re-sign this offseason, so the Spurs should at least get something for him. Even if they insist on a first-rounder to go with the salary filler, Phoenix shouldn't necessarily balk.
Lakers Get Desperate
The Deal: Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, Wayne Ellington and Austin Reaves for Buddy Hield
The lopsided raw numbers on this deal would probably require the Los Angeles Lakers to add players off the scrap heap and the Sacramento Kings to cut some players, but adding Buddy Hield could go a long way toward writing a wrong committed this offseason.
Injuries, health and safety protocols and too many minutes with two-big lineups are responsible for a lot of L.A.'s problems, but it's hard to watch Russell Westbrook and LeBron James play together without wondering how much better Hield would fit.
This summer, as the Lakers were closing in on a deal to acquire Hield from the Sacramento Kings, it all came crashing down in deference to the Westbrook trade.
Now, L.A. is 26th in the league in three-point attempts per 100 possessions and 15th in three-point percentage. Adding one of the best high-volume three-point shooters of all time could go a long way toward boosting both of those ranks. And it would create precious extra space for the star trio that does much of its damage inside the three-point line.
For the Kings' part, this deal unloads a player who's been on the trade block and voiced his frustration with the organization for years. And it's not like they're just giving him away. Wayne Ellington is mostly salary filler who would probably be bought out, but there are varying levels of upside in each of Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn and Austin Reaves.
Advanced statistics via Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.