1 Trade Every NBA Playoff Team Wishes It Could MakeApril 18, 2022
1 Trade Every NBA Playoff Team Wishes It Could Make
NBA playoff teams are currently prohibited from orchestrating trades, although they surely would if they could. Nothing exposes a team's weaknesses like a best-of-seven game series, after all.
Plenty has transpired since the 2022 trade deadline passed on Feb. 10, meaning several teams would have been far more active had they possessed a crystal ball at the time.
The Golden State Warriors having to shut down James Wiseman may have led to them bringing in an additional big man, the Philadelphia 76ers not having Matisse Thybulle for games in Toronto because of his vaccination status could make them yearn for another wing defender and the Chicago Bulls now being forced to defend against Giannis Antetokounmpo means they should have tried harder to pull off that Jerami Grant trade after all.
While it's too late now to execute a deal, this postseason should already be planting trade seeds in the minds of general managers, who wish they could address their current weaknesses now if they could.
The following are trades all 16 playoff teams wish they could make, and actually can when the offseason begins.
Atlanta Hawks Receive: G Malcolm Brogdon
Indiana Pacers Receive: PF John Collins
The Hawks need Trae Young to put up some eye-popping numbers for them to have any chance at taking down the mighty Miami Heat, as this unit is short on playmakers outside of their All-Star point guard.
A Game 1 where Young struggled to the tune of eight points on 1-of-12 shooting in a 115-91 loss only reminded Atlanta of its need for offensive creation, preferably someone with size who can defend and play next to Young and get him some open shots as well.
Brogdon would be a perfect fit, a 6'5" guard who can excel playing on or off the ball and would take an immense amount of pressure off of Young. He put up 19.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists this season for an Indiana Pacers team that finds itself in a bit of a retooling stage.
There are a few different trade possibilities for Indiana here, as it could ask for Collins back or build a package around Kevin Huerter, depending on what area the team feels needs more help. Both are 24 or younger and locked into multiyear extensions.
Boston Celtics Receive: C Nerlens Noel
New York Knicks Receive: F/C Daniel Theis, 2022 second-round pick
It was impossible to predict that Robert Williams III would tear his meniscus and possibly miss the Celtics' first-round playoff series (or more), but his absence should have Boston on the lookout for backup plans this summer should he suffer further knee issues.
Noel is built in the same model as Williams, a somewhat undersized shot-blocking center who can cover all areas of the court and make a major impact without having to score.
He'd also be the perfect backup to Williams moving forward, able to step into the starting lineup and allow the Celtics defense to avoid taking a major step back without its starting anchor.
Theis would be perfectly fine as a backup in New York, although the Knicks should ask for some draft compensation in return. Boston can send over its second-round pick this summer, giving New York some immediate help.
Brooklyn Nets Receive: SG Bradley Beal
Washington Wizards Receive: PG Ben Simmons, SG Cam Thomas
While Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reports that Ben Simmons could finally make his debut with the Nets in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn should rather have a player like Beal in future playoff series alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
No team would be able to match the offensive firepower that a trio like Durant, Beal and Irving could produce, especially with players like Seth Curry, Joe Harris and Patty Mills under contract for next season.
A trade could be executed either by Beal picking up his $36.4 million player option or by the Wizards and Nets working out a sign-and-trade, although such a move would hard cap a Brooklyn team that will once again have one of the NBA's most expensive rosters next season.
If Beal doesn't want to sign a long-term deal with a Wizards team that missed the play-in tournament this year, getting Simmons and Thomas back in a trade would be excellent value.
Simmons fills a need as the team's starting point guard, and Thomas would thrive as Washington's starting shooting guard, getting a green light that he'll never see on a star-studded Nets roster.
Chicago Bulls Receive: F Jerami Grant
Detroit Pistons Receive: G Coby White, F Derrick Jones Jr. (via sign-and-trade), 2022 first-round pick (projected No. 19 overall)
Grant-to-Chicago was a popular fake trade before the deadline, one that actually had some legs.
Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer wrote at the time that the Bulls were exploring trades for Grant without having to give up second-year forward and 2020 No. 4 overall pick Patrick Williams.
Now, Chicago could certainly use an athletic, switchable defender like Grant in its first-round series against Giannis Antetokounmpo and Co., especially given the former's success against the latter.
Antetokounmpo is shooting just 4-of-11 overall (36.4 percent) with three turnovers when Grant is the primary defender this season, per NBA.com's tracking data. While Grant isn't nearly as strong, he's got good size at 6'8" and 210 pounds and moves well enough to help cut off driving lanes and force players like Antetokounmpo into tough shots, something the Bulls need in this series.
While Williams could eventually become this good of a defender (or better), Chicago needs immediate help in this area with DeMar DeRozan set to turn 33 this summer.
Now down to just one year left on his contract, Detroit should be happy with a return headlined by White and Chicago's first-round pick for Grant. Asking for Williams would be too much, especially with Grant hitting free agency in 2023.
Dallas Mavericks Receive: G/F Eric Gordon
Houston Rockets Receive: G/F Tim Hardaway Jr., SG Josh Green, 2024 second-round pick
With Luka Doncic currently sidelined with a strained calf muscle, the Mavericks could really use some additional offensive creation from the rest of their roster. Outside of Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie, however, there's not much to be found.
Having a wing like Gordon who can play on or off the ball would have been huge for Dallas against the Utah Jazz, a team that's struggled with its perimeter defender.
Gordon should be an offseason trade target as well, especially with his ability as a three-point shooter when Doncic returns. The 33-year-old finished the season with a 41.2 percent mark from deep, good for 14th overall in the NBA.
Houston should have interest in Green, Dallas' first-round pick in 2020, who showed real growth in his second NBA season. Hardaway can play the floor-spacing, veteran role that Gordon filled for the Rockets this year and picking up an additional draft pick should help the Rockets' rebuild.
Denver Nuggets Receive: G Justin Holiday
Sacramento Kings Receive: F/C JaMychal Green, 2024 second-round pick
Playing the Golden State Warriors in the first round is cruel and unusual punishment for a Nuggets team missing two of its three best players. Even if Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. could return, Denver could really use some defensive-minded wings to help slow down Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the hottest current Warrior, Jordan Poole.
Poole went off for 30 points in his playoff debut, with Denver possessing few players in the backcourt who can limit his damage.
Getting a wing like Holiday would be a perfect target this offseason. His 6'6" size can handle anyone from point guards to some power forwards and would come in handy should these two teams meet in the postseason again.
With Richaun Holmes possibly facing legal charges and a suspension from the league next season after his ex-wife accused him of domestic violence and of physically abusing their son, the Kings could use another rotation big like Green.
Asking for some draft compensation in exchange for Holiday is more than fair for Sacramento, who still have plenty of guards (De'Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell, restricted free agent Donte DiVincenzo) remaining should the team deal Holiday.
Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors Receive: C Jakob Poeltl, 2022 second-round pick (via Los Angeles Lakers)
San Antonio Spurs Receive: C James Wiseman
Wiseman was supposed to be suiting up for the Warriors this postseason, although swelling in his surgically repaired knee forced Golden State to officially shut him down for the year in March. Now with just 39 total games played in his first two seasons, it could be time for the Warriors to punt on his potential in favor of a center who can actually help them compete for a title now.
Poeltl would be an upgrade in the starting lineup over Kevon Looney and provide the Warriors with some additional size and defense should they be forced to play against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets again next postseason.
The 26-year-old Poeltl enjoyed a career year with 13.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.7 blocks while shooting 61.8 percent overall. He's one of the best shot-contesters in the NBA and would turn Golden State's weakest starting position into a strength.
San Antonio won't be competing for titles anytime soon and could be more patient with Wiseman and his return to full strength. Even giving up a second-round pick in a deal with Poeltl would be worth it, as a healthy Wiseman paired with Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Joshua Primo and others would give the Spurs a really talented young core.
Memphis Grizzlies Receive: G/F Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Washington Wizards Receive: PG De'Anthony Melton
The Grizzlies certainly aren't short on talent, although this group collectively lacks playoff experience that others at the top of the West (Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors) possess.
Adding a rotation player who's recently won a championship and can bring some of that knowledge to this young group would be helpful moving forward.
Caldwell-Pope was a starter on the Los Angeles Lakers team that won the 2020 NBA title, soaking up the experience of playing next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis while contributing with his three-and-D abilities.
He'd be a good fit off the Grizzlies bench, and someone they could have used in Memphis' first-round series against the Minnesota Timberwolves as another body to throw at Anthony Edwards.
The point guard-needy Wizards should be happy to bring Melton on board. The 23-year-old averaged 10.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.4 steals in 22.7 minutes this season and would instantly become Washington's starter at floor general next to Bradley Beal.
Miami Heat Receive: F Lamar Stevens
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: C Omer Yurtseven
Finishing as the No. 1 overall seed in the East and featuring one of the best starting lineups in all of basketball along with the presumed Sixth Man of the Year, there's probably little the Heat wish they could do right now.
With limited draft picks and young players, there's also little Miami could do to make a big splash in the trade market.
Stevens would be a nice low-cost get, as the 6'6", 230-pound forward is a versatile defender and instant energy player off the bench. The 24-year-old showed real growth with the Cavs this season and would fit in well with Miami's player development system while backing up P.J. Tucker.
For Cleveland, backup centers Moses Brown and Ed Davis will both be free agents this offseason, meaning the Cavs could use some depth behind Jarrett Allen. Yurtseven played well when his number was called this year and, at 23, should only be improving.
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: PG Tre Jones
San Antonio Spurs Receive: F Jordan Nwora
Like the Miami Heat, Milwaukee should feel really good about its current roster and not be looking to make any big deals this summer.
If we're nitpicking, the Bucks could use a young backup point guard behind Jrue Holiday since George Hill has declined quickly over the past few years.
After leading the NBA with a 46.0 percent from three in his last season in Milwaukee (2019-20), Hill made just 30.6 percent of his attempts this year. His 12.4 assist percentage was also the lowest of Hill's 14-year-career.
Jones hasn't received a lot of run behind Dejounte Murray and now Joshua Primo in San Antonio (16.6 minutes per game) but has shown potential as a floor general and would be a nice developmental piece for when Hill's contract expires next offseason.
The Spurs should be happy to take Nwora back in return. He is a 6'8" forward who fits the roster better than Jones currently does. Swapping the two young players could be mutually beneficial, and it is a move the Bucks should want to make immediately.
Minnesota Timberwolves Receive: C Myles Turner
Indiana Pacers Receive: SG Malik Beasley, F Jaden McDaniels
Turner was a trade target of Minnesota before the deadline, per Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer, who also reported that the Timberwolves "remain in the market for a front court partner for Karl-Anthony Towns, despite his successful pairing with Jarred Vanderbilt. It's believed Minnesota is willing to part with Malik Beasley in such a deal."
There's no reason these plans should change this offseason, as Turner would now help the Wolves push for a top-four seed in the West in 2022-23.
He would have been useful in their current series against the Memphis Grizzlies, a team that features a formidable front court of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Steven Adams. Having two big men in Turner and Towns who can space the floor would have forced Adams to leave the paint, opening up space for Anthony Edwards and D'Angelo Russell to drive.
For Indiana, both Beasley and McDaniels are 25 or younger and give the Pacers a talented scorer and versatile defender to help build around.
New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: F Doug McDermott
San Antonio Spurs Receive: F/C Jaxson Hayes, G Garrett Temple
The Pelicans are looking to take the leap from feel-good story to legitimate contender, which even winning a few games in their first-round series against the Phoenix Suns would help do.
One thing that would also assist New Orleans in taking this step? Shooting.
The Pelicans ranked 27th overall in three-point shooting (33.2 percent), a number that won't improve even if Zion Williamson can somehow come back in the postseason.
McDermott would certainly make a difference, as he drilled 42.2 percent of his outside shots for the Spurs this season and is a career 40.9 percent marksman in his eight pro seasons.
Adding the 30-year-old to the rotation would help keep driving lanes open for players like Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum and give them an elite floor spacer to kick the ball out to.
San Antonio adds a former lottery pick in Hayes, one who could lose major minutes in New Orleans when Williamson returns. He should find a better opportunity with the Spurs and returns to the area where he starred in college at the University of Texas.
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: F Kenrich Williams
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: SG Jaden Springer, 2023 second-round pick
Drawing the Toronto Raptors in the first round was a huge disappointment for the 76ers, who won't have star defensive wing Matisse Thybulle for road games since he isn't fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
While Danny Green is no stranger to Scotiabank Arena, he's approaching his 35th birthday and is far removed from being an elite defender. Philly could use some defensive help in this series, something the team could pursue this summer with Williams.
The 27-year-old Williams, like the rest of his current Oklahoma City Thunder teammates, is fully vaccinated, so there would be no issues regarding his playing status regardless of location.
Few players made a bigger defensive impact this season than Williams, who improved the Thunder by a whopping 13.5 points per 100 possessions on defense alone, ranking in the 99th percentile, per Cleaning the Glass.
The Sixers could trade Springer, the team's 2021 first-round pick, and future draft capital in return for Williams, who will be easy to salary-match with his expiring $2 million deal.
Phoenix Suns Receive: G/F Alec Burks
New York Knicks Receive: SG Landry Shamet, 2023 second-round pick
The New Orleans Pelicans won't be an easy out for the Suns, as Mikal Bridges can't guard both CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram at the same time. While Phoenix's starting lineup is one of the best in all of basketball, adding a versatile wing defender off the bench who also hits threes at a high level should be a priority this summer.
Burks would be a nice piece to have in this series, as his 6'6" frame could match up with either Pelicans star. The 30-year-old also hit 40.4 percent of his threes this season, giving players like Chris Paul and Devin Booker another option to kick out to.
Shamet gives the Knicks a proven outside shooter, even if he's not as good defensively as Burks. At 25 and on a team-friendly, four-year, $43 million deal, Shamet would be a good investment for a New York franchise that needs yet another reset this offseason.
Getting a future draft pick is a bonus for the Knicks along with Shamet, who returns to New York after spending the 2020-21 season with the Brooklyn Nets.
Toronto Raptors Receive: C Derrick Favors
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: C Khem Birch, 2025 second-round pick
Can you have enough big men to defend Joel Embiid? No, you cannot have enough big men to defend Joel Embiid.
While the Raptors did an admirable job in Game 1 by holding the potential MVP to 19 points on 5-of-15 shooting overall, they should be on the lookout for additional options this summer should the two teams meet again next postseason.
Favors should definitely be available as he collects dust with the Oklahoma City Thunder, although the 30-year-old center did surprisingly well against Embiid this season. Per NBA.com's tracking data, Embiid shot just 9-of-23 overall (39.1 percent) with Favors as the primary defender.
Rumor has it that OKC loves it some draft picks, so moving a future second along with a salary match in Birch (who the Thunder will likely trade at some point for another pick) should be enough to get a deal done.
Utah Jazz Receive: F Nicolas Batum
Los Angeles Clippers Receive: F Rudy Gay, 2025 second-round pick
With Batum now on summer break after the Clippers were eliminated in the play-in tournament, Utah could desperately use his services as a wing defender in a series where Luka Doncic could return by Game 3.
Even at age 33, Batum is still one of the most versatile defenders in the NBA with his 6'8", 230-pound frame. He'd be a perfect player to stick on Doncic, and one the Jazz should pursue this summer if the Clippers are interested in at least having a conversation.
Gay would be a welcomed scorer off the bench for a Los Angeles team that struggled to manufacturer offense this season with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George missing significant time. Even if both are healthy to begin the 2022-23 season, Gay is a nice insurance policy as a reserve.
Utah probably has to include a draft pick here for the Clippers to give Batum up, although the team should be more than willing to and would be pairing him with fellow Frenchman Rudy Gobert.