Jaylen Brown to the Hawks and 2022 NBA Trade Deadline Deals to Dream About

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2022

Jaylen Brown to the Hawks and 2022 NBA Trade Deadline Deals to Dream About

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Jerami Grant is a fine player who will help whichever team winds up winning the sweepstakes for his services at the 2022 NBA trade deadline. But his status as the most impactful talent who seems certain to move by Feb. 10 is a signal that we may not be in for any truly landscape-altering swaps this season.

    Why let the facts ruin the the run-up to the deadline?

    Here we have put together a handful of trades worth dreaming about. Most involve players who won't actually be traded, but we'll (tenuously) tie these deals to reality by focusing on guys whose names have at least been whispered about at some point over the last several weeks—if only for their franchises to shout down talk of their availability soon thereafter.

    These are the big, power-structure-shifting moves we want to see. And at least until the deadline officially arrives without any of them actually happening, you can't say they're impossible.

The Grizzlies Go for It

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    Evan Vucci/Associated Press

    Memphis Grizzlies Receive: Pascal Siakam

    Toronto Raptors Receive: Steven Adams, Kyle Anderson, Ziaire Williams, Brandon Clarke, 2022 first-round pick (via Los Angeles Lakers), 2023 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick (via Golden State Warriors)

    The Memphis Grizzlies have all their own first-round picks, three more coming in from other teams and a bevy of reasonable mid-tier salaries to combine. They're basically built to trade for an in-prime superstar, and the only question is when they should push those chips in.

    Considering they have the third-highest win total in the league and might be a hot two-week stretch away from challenging for the West's top seed, now seems like a good time.

    Toronto is more likely to be a buyer at this year's deadline, so this is a tough pitch from the outset. But the Raps would be selling high on the 28-year-old Siakam, who's one of just five players currently averaging at least 20.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists. He looks like the All-NBA second-teamer he was in 2019-20.

    Memphis needs to convince the Raptors that with Williams (picked 10th in 2021) involved, this is essentially four first-rounders for Siakam—plus two starting-caliber frontcourt options and the once-again hyper efficient Brandon Clarke. The pick from L.A. has protections, so Toronto should ask for Memphis' own 2022 selection if the Lakers' looks unlikely to convey.

    The Grizzlies can also substitute more expiring salary if the Raptors want cap relief. Toronto is right up against the tax this season.

    Practicalities and sticking points aside, the part worth dreaming about here is entirely on Memphis' end. Siakam and Jaren Jackson Jr. would be among the most dynamic two-way frontcourt combos in the league. The Grizzlies would have tons of stretch, versatility and playmaking to support Ja Morant in what's looking like at least a half-decade of MVP-contending seasons ahead.

    Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, De'Anthony Melton, Tyus Jones and John Konchar would still be in the rotation to provide wing and guard depth, and Memphis could offset the loss of Adams' offensive rebounding with a cranked-up pace and superior spacing.

    The Grizzlies are already taking off. Adding Siakam would supercharge their ascent.

Atlanta Consolidates in the Best Way

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Atlanta Hawks Receive: Jaylen Brown

    Boston Celtics Receive: De'Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, Bogdan Bogdanovic, 2022 first-round pick (via Charlotte Hornets), 2023 first-round pick

    As was the case with Siakam and the Raptors, the Hawks will have to pull off quite a sell job to convince Boston that this package is enough to pry loose an All-Star.

    It helps that Hunter has shown flashes of being a high-end starter when healthy and that Huerter is the kind of facilitating wing who could get the ball moving in the Celtics' sticky offense. If I'm Boston, I want at least one more first-rounder and a discussion about including Onyeka Okongwu instead of Huerter, who comes with a poison-pill provision in his contract.

    It's also true that the Celtics are a smidge over the tax line with their current roster, and they'd have to trim money elsewhere to make this work while staying below the threshold. Dumping Dennis Schroder for picks or paying someone to take Bruno Fernando would be a solid start on that front.

    Ultimately, this is about the Hawks turning several good wings into a great one. It's a bit of a shame Cam Reddish already went out in a real-life trade to the New York Knicks; he would have fit nicely in this quantity-for-quality exchange.

    Brown's fit with Jayson Tatum has been a topic of some concern for a while now, and it's not ideal that John Collins seems to bristle about Trae Young's ball dominance once a year. Brown might not be keen on joining a player even more shot-happy than his current star teammate.

    Does the Brown homecoming angle do anything for you? No? That never matters? Never?!

    OK, fine. But still, Brown would give Atlanta a massive upgrade alongside Young and Collins, and the Hawks' recent hot streak may have them feeling confident about another deep playoff run. Now would be a good time to capitalize on that momentum with a bold move.

The Sixers Pull the Ripcord

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Philadelphia 76ers Receive: De'Aaron Fox

    Sacramento Kings Receive: Ben Simmons

    I'll admit it. I have Ben Simmons trade fatigue.

    So do the Sixers, most likely, except they should also be wrestling with another emotion: fear.

    Fear of squandering a season in which Joel Embiid is doing Wilt Chamberlain things. Fear of the rest of the league catching onto their posturing about acquiring and paying a fading James Harden upward of $200 million this offseason. Fear that teams around the league may have declining interest in Simmons, a player who wilted in a massive moment and then opted not to play for what may be an entire season.

    Any team acquiring Simmons will have to be desperate and willing to look past the fit issues and uncertainties that surround him.

    Enter the Kings.

    De'Aaron Fox has disappointed this season, but he may be the best player Philly can realistically get for Simmons—not just now, but ever. There is no guarantee Bradley Beal will leave the Washington Wizards, or that the Portland Trail Blazers will ever trade Damian Lillard. Sacramento is in its annual free fall, and every option—including getting rid of the recently maxed-out Fox—has to be on the table.

    And no, I'm not walking this back after ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Kings are cutting off talks. Presume everything is a smokescreen or deliberate leak until Feb. 11.

    Maybe Fox busts out with the Sixers and becomes a perennial All-Star while the Kings languish at the bottom of the West. So be it. That's where they are now with him, and he doesn't look likely to reach his potential in Sacramento anyway. A change of scenery may do Fox some good, and change of any kind feels like what the Kings need.

    The Sixers have asked and will ask for more. The Kings may give more. But this is a simple and clean exchange: one devalued young talent for another, with the key difference being Fox's superior upside. He averaged 25.2 points per game last season, is still a blur on the break and, unlike Simmons, actually shoots threes. He even made 37.1 percent of them in 2018-19!

    Let's end a saga that has dragged on too long. We're all tired.

The Hawks Gamble on a Defensive Fix

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Atlanta Hawks Receive: Jonathan Isaac, E'Twaun Moore*, 2023 first-round pick (via Chicago Bulls)

    Orlando Magic Receive: John Collins

    The Hawks rank second in offense and 27th in defense, leaving zero doubt as to their trade deadline needs. Another situation reaching similar levels of clarity: the widening divide between the team and forward John Collins.     

    Per B/R's Jake Fischer, "One team contacted by Atlanta regarding Collins told Bleacher Report the Hawks were only seeking a valuable first-round pick and a starting-caliber player in exchange for the talented young forward."

    Collins has made an annual habit of voicing his displeasure with his role, which partly explains the Hawks' low asking price for a player of Collins' talent and productivity. He's a legit 40 percent three-point shooter who can defend both forward spots, rebound, create his own looks and get up for lobs. But if he's unhappy, and the Hawks have to choose between changing a Trae Young-led offense that always scores at elite rates or moving Collins, well...that's no decision at all.

    Isaac is among the biggest wild cards in the league. Shelved since tearing up his knee in August 2020, he remains without a clear return timetable. We've seen hints that he could take the floor this season, but Orlando has yet to publicize anything concrete.

    Atlanta, looking better after a rough first half, doesn't seem like a team that would want to invest in someone who may not play this season and could also be compromised going forward by a long list of previous injuries. But the promise of Isaac, who showed the potential to be a Defensive Player of the Year as early as his age-21 season, is too great and too tailor-made for Atlanta's needs to ignore. And if Collins is never going to be satisfied with his position, why not take a home run swing on a player whose five-position defensive chops could single-handedly erase the team's biggest issue?

    The Magic get a forward on a sub-max contract who will likely contend for an All-Star berth in a larger role, and the Hawks improve their defense and locker room vibes...as long as Isaac makes it back onto the floor.

    This isn't a win-now move for Atlanta, but this team isn't a championship contender as presently built. With luck, Isaac could change that.

    *Moore is pure salary filler.


    Stats courtesy of NBA.com, Basketball Reference and Cleaning the Glass. Accurate through Jan. 28. Salary info via Spotrac.