NBA Trade Ideas to Create the Next Superteams
Pairing star players is the ultimate goal of any NBA general manager. The more the better, even if it often means gutting the roster and sacrificing the future at the chance of immediate success.
It worked for the Los Angeles Lakers when they paired Anthony Davis with LeBron James (for one season, at least), as even winning one title together should be considered a success.
Looking ahead to this offseason, here's a guess as to what superstars may be available, what franchises they could join to create the newest superteam and what a trade might look like.
LaMelo Ball, Rudy Gobert Turn Charlotte into Lob City 2.0
Trade Idea: Utah Jazz trade Rudy Gobert to Charlotte Hornets for Gordon Hayward, PJ Washington, Mason Plumlee and a 2022 first-round pick
New Superteam Core: LaMelo Ball, Rudy Gobert, Miles Bridges (RFA), Terry Rozier and Kelly Oubre Jr.
As the nation watches the Utah Jazz crumble to pieces at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, it seems inevitable that major roster changes are coming.
Should Gobert become available, the Hornets are the first team that should make a call for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Charlotte ranked 22nd overall defensively (113.1 rating) this season and 27th in rebounding (48.6 percent). Gobert led the NBA in glass-cleaning (14.7 rebounds per game, 25.0 rebound percentage) and has a sparkling career swing rating of plus-8.4 points per 100 possessions.
Pairing Gobert with LaMelo Ball, one of the best lob passers in the NBA today, would help maximize the 29-year-old center's offensive game as well.
With Ball making his first All-Star team this season and on his way to becoming a superstar, this Hornets team would suddenly be packed with talent and more well-rounded overall. Bridges (20.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists) should be back on a hefty new deal as a restricted free agent, while Rozier and Oubre give Charlotte plenty of offensive firepower.
With Utah going as far as it can with Gobert, swapping him out for a familiar face in Hayward gives the Jazz another playmaker and scorer on the wing, and Washington is a good, young floor-spacing big who's still on his rookie deal. Plumlee gives Utah some insurance at center with Gobert gone, and the Jazz can use Charlotte's first-round pick (projected No. 13 overall) to look for some perimeter defense in the draft.
Dejounte Murray Makes Cavaliers One of NBA's Best
Trade Idea: San Antonio Spurs trade Dejounte Murray and Doug McDermott to Cleveland Cavaliers for Collin Sexton (sign-and-trade), Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman, 2022 first-round pick (projected No. 14 overall), 2025 first-round pick (top-five protected) and 2022 second-round pick (via San Antonio Spurs)
New Superteam Core: Darius Garland, Dejounte Murray, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert
The young Cavaliers were flirting with the best record in the Eastern Conference before injuries to Ricky Rubio and Allen derailed the season. While Allen was able to return for the play-in tournament against the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland never got enough playmaking behind Garland to push the Cavs into the playoffs.
Murray would be the perfect fit for this group if the Spurs were willing to give him up.
A first-time All-Star this year, Murray ranked fourth in assists per game (9.2) and fifth in assist percentage (40.6), all while giving San Antonio 21.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and an NBA-best 2.0 steals per contest. At 6'4" and with a 6'10" wingspan, Murray has the size and defensive chops to play next to Garland in the starting lineup, giving the Cavs a lethal one-two backcourt combo for opponents to try to stop.
A starting unit that features Murray, Mobley and Allen would also be one of the best defensive trios in the NBA now and for years to come, combining excellent point-of-attack defense with elite rim protection.
Add in Sixth Man of the Year finalist Kevin Love off the bench and the Cavs would instantly be a force in the NBA next season.
Cleveland should hope for a Gregg Popovich retirement and complete rebuild in San Antonio, likely the only scenario where Murray becomes available. Sexton is two years younger than Murray and is a proven scorer who could plug in next to Josh Primo in the starting backcourt.
Okoro, 21, has the potential to be an elite wing defender who hit 44.2 percent of his threes after the All-Star break, and Osman is a solid rotation piece. The Spurs would also get the Cavs' first-rounder this year (projected No. 14 overall), a lightly protected first in 2025 and their own second-rounder back this draft.
If both parties agreed, the Cavaliers would have to make their picks on behalf of the Spurs during the draft, with a trade to be officially complete when Sexton can sign a new deal in free agency.
Bradley Beal Creates NBA's Best Big 3 in Los Angeles (with Clippers)
Trade Idea: Washington Wizards trade Bradley Beal to Los Angeles Clippers for SG Norman Powell, G/F Terance Mann, G/F Luke Kennard, PG Jason Preston, 2028 first-round pick (top-five protected), 2022 second-round pick, 2023 second-round pick, 2024 second-round pick
New Superteam Core: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Bradley Beal
What Beal chooses to do this summer will be one of the offseason's most fascinating storylines to follow.
The three-time All-Star can sign the biggest contract in NBA history (five years, $248 million) should he stay in Washington or still get four years and $183.6 million from another team or in a sign-and-trade, per ESPN's Bobby Marks.
If Beal decides he finally wants out from a Wizards team that even missed the play-in tournament this year, the Clippers should be high on his list of teams to join.
A trio of Beal, Leonard and George would be the best in the NBA when healthy and push Los Angeles to the top of the West with the Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors and others. Even by giving up a significant amount of talent for Beal, the Clippers would still have Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac and Nicolas Batum (player option) to surround their stars with.
Washington would still be competitive next season with Powell as the team's new starting shooting guard, especially with the upside that players like Mann, Kennard and Preston provide. Getting a lightly protected future first from the Clippers is a terrific asset, and the Wizards pick up three second-rounders starting with the 2022 draft as well.
The Wizards would be doing right by Beal by sending him to a championship contender in a move that would have to be agreed upon by all parties.
Dame Time in Chicago
Trade Idea: Portland Trail Blazers trade Damian Lillard to Chicago Bulls for Patrick Williams, Lonzo Ball, Coby White and a 2023 first-round pick (via Portland Trail Blazers)
New Superteam Core: Damian Lillard, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine (UFA) and Nikola Vucevic
While the Blazers have held firm on their decision to keep Lillard, the roster around him looks much further away from a championship than the one they began the 2021-22 season with. Lillard has yet to publicly request a trade, although he probably should.
The Bulls are knocking on the door to becoming a superteam, although a sixth-place finish in the East means they could use a six-time All-Star like Lillard to push them up to an elite level.
Putting Lillard in a starting lineup that features DeRozan and LaVine would be a nightmare for opponents to guard, especially with Vucevic in the middle. Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu give the backcourt plenty of depth, making sure Lillard stays fresh for the playoffs.
Ball was having a strong first season in Chicago, but injuries limited him to just 35 total games. Still just 24, he's young enough to join a rebuild in Portland, one already featuring former Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans teammate Josh Hart.
The Blazers also get the two best prospects from Chicago in Williams and White, former lottery picks who could take off with bigger roles now in Portland. Getting their own 2023 first-rounder back from Chicago, originally sent away in the Lauri Markkanen-Larry Nance Jr. three-team trade, should be enough to seal the deal.
Portland does right by Lillard by sending him to a title contender in a deal that nets them three good, young players and a first-round pick.