1 Trade for Every NBA Team That Missed the Play-in Tournament

Greg Swartz@@GregSwartzBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterApril 11, 2022

1 Trade for Every NBA Team That Missed the Play-in Tournament

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The 2021-22 NBA regular season is over, meaning 10 teams have already packed their vacation bags and begun dreaming of brighter tomorrows.

    For the front offices of these teams, however, the work is just beginning.

    While the draft and free agency will certainly play a part in these franchise's turnarounds, a well-timed trade could also make a major impact. Whether it be selling off a veteran to help jump-start a rebuild, acquiring an extra pick in the 2022 draft or even looking for win-now help, the following 10 teams should be quite active in what's about to be a long offseason.

    These are trades every team that missed the play-in tournament should make. Teams are listed in alphabetical order. 

Detroit Pistons

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    Rob Gray/Associated Press

    Detroit Pistons Receive: G/F Nickeil Alexander-Walker

    Utah Jazz Receive: PG Killian Hayes

    While he was slightly better in his last seven games (12.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.3 steals, 46.8 field-goal percentage), it's become clear that Hayes will likely never live up to being the No. 7 overall pick in 2020.

    Hayes hasn't blended with 2021 No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham, either. He's a non-factor when playing off the ball (27 percent from three in two seasons), and he finished with the worst net rating among Pistons regulars.

    Moving him now for another young player with upside would be getting value while Detroit still can.

    Alexander-Walker is a 6'6" wing who's still just 23 and averaged 14.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 21 starts with the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz this season. He's a slightly better outside threat (33 percent from three for his career) and would create a super-sized backcourt with Cunningham.

    Utah simply hasn't used Alexander-Walker all that much after trading for him at the deadline (9.9 minutes per game across 15 total contests) and could use a point guard with upside to groom behind 34-year-old Mike Conley.

    At 6'5" with a 6'8" wingspan, Hayes also has the frame to defend most wings, something the Jazz desperately need. There's enough scoring on this roster with Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson and Conley, so Hayes' job would be to set up shooters while playing lockdown defense.

    Swapping Hayes for Alexander-Walker—both of whom have team options this offseason—would satisfy needs for both franchises.

Houston Rockets

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Houston Rockets Receive: SG Landry Shamet, F/C Dario Saric, 2023 second-round pick

    Phoenix Suns Receive: G/F Eric Gordon

    If the Rockets want to continue to help Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. develop, adding some shooting to a roster that ranked 21st overall in three-point accuracy this season (34.9 percent) would be a nice start.

    Shamet is a career 39.0 percent marksman from deep and came into Sunday drilling 39.2 percent of his catch-and-shoot attempts this season. At 25, he's eight years younger than Gordon and makes about half the amount of money. Shamet would be a perfect plug-and-play option next to either lead guard, keeping the floor spread.

    Saric has missed the entire 2021-22 season with a torn ACL but should be ready to play before the start of next year. He would give Houston a big who can score, rebound, pass and shoot from three. Getting a second-rounder next year would help the rebuild as well.

    Phoenix would add a premier sixth man in Gordon, one who averaged 13.4 points, 2.7 assists and hit 41.2 percent of his threes this year.

Indiana Pacers

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Indiana Pacers Receive: G/F Ben Simmons

    Brooklyn Nets Receive: C Myles Turner, SG Buddy Hield, 2022 second-round pick (via Phoenix Suns)

    Simmons still has yet to play for the championship-or-bust Nets and could soon be thrown into the fire during the postseason while trying to make his way back from a herniated disc in his back.

    This just isn't an ideal situation all around, and Brooklyn should be open to trading the three-time All-Star this offseason if the right package presents itself.

    The Pacers were interested in Simmons before he was eventually traded to the Nets and should be even more intrigued now that they have embraced a mini-rebuild. Adding Simmons to a core of Tyrese Haliburton, Malcolm Brogdon, Chris Duarte, Isaiah Jackson and Oshae Brissett would give Indiana three primary ball-handlers all 6'5" to 6'10" in stature with plenty of other talent on the wing and in the frontcourt.

    For Brooklyn, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are good enough to carry a team to a title, given that they have the right role players around them. Turner would be a perfect fit as a rim-protecting, floor-spacing center. Having Hield along with Seth Curry and Joe Harris would give this roster plenty of knockdown shooters to play between Durant and Irving as well.

    Plans may change if Simmons returns this postseason and makes an immediate impact. If not, the Nets need to find other pieces who can help them win now.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Los Angeles Lakers Receive: SF Gordon Hayward, C Mason Plumlee

    Charlotte Hornets Receive: PG Russell Westbrook, 2027 first-round pick (top-three protected), 2023 second-round pick, 2023 second-round pick (via Chicago Bulls)

    The Lakers aren't going to get any good trade offers for Westbrook and his expiring $47.1 million contract this offseason, although Marc Stein notes the Charlotte Hornets could have interest for financial reasons.

    With Miles Bridges likely to sign a hefty deal this offseason and a max extension almost certainly coming for LaMelo Ball next summer, the Hornets could look to move Hayward or Terry Rozier in a deal for Westbrook to open up future cap space.

    Hayward will make $31.5 million in 2023-24, so taking on Westbrook now would save the Hornets a significant amount of money next offseason. Injuries have also limited the 32-year-old Hayward to 93 total games the past two years, and having Kelly Oubre Jr. as a sixth man makes trading the veteran forward much easier.

    If Westbrook can swallow his pride, he could turn into a quality (yet overpaid) sixth man, much like Kevin Love with the Cleveland Cavaliers this year. Charlotte could also ask for some draft capital in return, highlighted by the Lakers' 2027 first-round pick. Taking on Westbrook certainly isn't ideal, but doing so for a year opens up a lot of future cap space and adds three additional picks for a player who hasn't been able to stay healthy.

    While the Lakers may not want to trade Westbrook and their 2027 first for John Wall (understandably so), Hayward is a better player who would fit well next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

    A 6'8" wing who can play on or off the ball, a healthy Hayward would be an ideal third piece for the Lakers, one who can score, rebound and set up others. Plumlee would also be a huge upgrade over Dwight Howard in the starting lineup at center for a season.

    The move saves Los Angeles $7.9 million immediately and helps all the pieces fit together far better heading into next year.

New York Knicks

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    New York Knicks Receive: $9.2 million of cap space

    Los Angeles Clippers Receive: PG Kemba Walker, 2023 second-round pick (via Utah Jazz)

    With the Kemba Walker experiment a complete dud, the Knicks shut down the four-time All-Star after just 37 games.

    New York should now be canvassing the league for teams with cap space or trade exceptions that can absorb Walker and his expiring $9.2 million deal, especially since head coach Tom Thibodeau showed little sign of wanting to play the veteran guard.

    The Clippers are far from having cap space but do possess a $9.7 million trade exception from Serge Ibaka going to the Milwaukee Bucks. They could take on Walker without sending back any salary in return.

    The Knicks attach a second-rounder next year for the trouble of taking on Walker, who the Clippers could use as an offensive spark off the bench. With injuries to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George derailing much of the 2021-22 season, having a veteran like Walker on the roster would help if either were forced to miss time again next year.

    As long as Steve Ballmer is comfortable paying another hefty luxury tax bill, the Clippers should be willing to take Walker (and a pick) off the Knicks' hands.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: C Nic Claxton (via sign-and-trade)

    Brooklyn Nets Receive: F Kenrich Williams, C Mike Muscala

    It's difficult to predict what the Thunder will do this offseason.

    They could continue tanking and collecting young talent, but they also have the draft assets to throw their hat into the ring should any star player become available. For now, adding frontcourt talent to complement Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey is a nice start.

    Claxton, 22, is a restricted free agent, so Brooklyn can match any offers he receives. The Thunder would have to work out a sign-and-trade deal to acquire him, one that would be worth giving up some of their veteran pieces for.

    Averaging 10.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and shooting 64.5 percent in his 19 starts this season in only 23.0 minutes, Claxton could thrive in a larger role with the Thunder.

    A rising luxury tax bill could prevent the Nets from giving Claxton a hefty new contract, although they won't want to lose him for nothing, either.

    Williams is a three-and-D specialist who would be a perfect fit at either forward position for Brooklyn, and the Nets would also get Muscala as a floor-stretching big. The two combined will only made $5.5 million in 2022-23, bringing in some quality production without breaking the bank.

Orlando Magic

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    Orlando Magic Receive: 2022 first-round pick, F/C JaMychal Green, F/C Zeke Nnaji

    Denver Nuggets Receive: SF Terrence Ross, 2022 second-round pick

    The Magic probably waited a little too long to deal Ross, whose value has likely dropped following a disappointing season.

    Still, in the right situation, Ross can be one of the NBA's best sixth men with his scoring ability, and he still averaged 10.0 points in 23.0 minutes for Orlando this season.

    The Magic and Nuggets essentially swap 2022 picks here, with Denver's selection currently projected at No. 20 overall and Orlando's second-rounder at No. 32. By moving Ross, Orlando gets to jump up into the first round while also picking up the 21-year-old Nnaji and a veteran on an expiring deal in Green (who has a player option for 2022-23).

    The Nuggets could use another scoring threat, with Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. still not cleared to return from injury. Getting Ross would be a nice insurance policy heading into next season, especially since they would only have to move back roughly 12 spots in the draft.

    The deal couldn't be finalized until after the draft since Denver can't yet trade its first-round pick due to the Stepien Rule, although the two sides could agree in principle beforehand.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Portland Trail Blazers Receive: C Clint Capela

    Atlanta Hawks Receive: G Eric Bledsoe, 2022 second-round pick, 2025 second-round pick (via Detroit Pistons)

    If the Blazers are hellbent on keeping Damian Lillard this season, they better make some significant roster improvements around him.

    Filling the center position will be a priority. Re-signing Jusuf Nurkic is an option, but he's an unrestricted free agent and could leave to join a more championship-ready team. Portland should check on Capela's asking price, especially with Onyeka Okongwu playing so well behind him with the Hawks.

    Capela would give Lillard a proven pick-and-roll partner and one of the NBA's best rebounders. The 27-year-old averaged a double-double this season with 11.1 points, 11.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks on 61.3 percent shooting overall.

    The Hawks could use Bledsoe's backcourt defense next to Trae Young after ranking 26th overall defensively this season. His expiring $19.4 million contract would save Atlanta a lot of future cap space, as Capela has three years and $61 million remaining on his contract.

    With Okongwu stepping into the starting center role and Bledsoe in the rotation, the Hawks would be far better defensively while also picking up a pair of second-round picks.

Sacramento Kings

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    Sacramento Kings Receive: F Max Strus, F Duncan Robinson

    Miami Heat Receive: F Harrison Barnes

    The Kings will need to add some help on the wing if they want to finally reach the playoffs next year, and they shouldn't be afraid to take on long-term money to do so.

    Robinson disappointed in the first regular season of a five-year, $90 million contract, although he still averaged 10.9 points on 37.2 percent shooting from three. A career 40.6 marksman, Robinson should get plenty of good looks playing next to De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis.

    Strus enjoyed a breakout season with Miami (10.6 points, 41.0 percent from three) but will become a free agent in 2023. With so many big salaries already on the books and a massive extension coming for Tyler Herro, the Heat may need to flip Robinson and Strus for Barnes and his expiring deal.

    Barnes would give the Heat an upgrade in the starting lineup over Robinson. Barnes averaged 16.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and hit 39.4 percent of his threes this year.

    The deal would keep Miami in the title hunt next year while also clearing future salary cap.

Washington Wizards

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    Washington Wizards Receive: PG John Wall, 2023 first-round pick (via Milwaukee Bucks)

    Houston Rockets Receive: F/C Kristaps Porzingis, F Rui Hachimura

    Following 10 years and five All-Star appearances to begin his career in Washington, Wall would welcome a return to the Wizards, according to The Athletic's David Aldridge. While Aldridge notes that a reunion would likely come via buyout and signing rather than a trade, both Houston and Washington could benefit from a deal.

    The Wizards desperately need point guard help after trading both Spencer Dinwiddie and Aaron Holiday at the deadline, and Wall could be one of the best available this summer. He should be well rested after sitting out the season while the Rockets chose to play their young guards instead. Wall averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists in 40 games during the 2020-21 season.

    His $47.4 million expiring deal is obviously massive, but at least it's expiring. Porzingis will still be owed $36.0 million in 2023-24, money that would now be off the Wizards' books.

    This is a far more talented overall team than the one Wall last played with in Washington (assuming Bradley Beal re-signs this summer), with Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Daniel Gafford, Deni Avdija and Corey Kispert balancing out the roster with scoring, rim protection and outside shooting. Washington also collects a first-round pick next year since it includes Hachimura in the deal.

    The Rockets end a disappointing Wall experiment while picking up two quality big men to help the growth and development of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.

    Wall's $47.4 million contract is now gone, even if it means taking on an extra year of Porzingis. It immediately saves the Rockets $7.2 million.

    Porzingis is just 26, so he still fits a rebuild in Houston. He has the defensive chops to be able to play next to Christian Wood in the frontcourt, giving the Rockets a suddenly formidable power forward-center combo.

    Hachimura, the No. 9 overall pick in 2019, could benefit from a fresh start. He's averaged 13 points and five rebounds in three seasons, and he shot a career-high 44.7 percent from three this year.


    Stats via NBA.com unless otherwise noted.