Realistic Trades Post-NBA Lottery: Finding Homes for Bradley Beal and More

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 18, 2022

Realistic Trades Post-NBA Lottery: Finding Homes for Bradley Beal and More

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    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    The pingpong balls have spoken.

    The 2022 NBA draft lottery results are in, and the celebration is on in the Sunshine State after the Orlando Magic won the No. 1 overall pick. The Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons round out the top five in that order.

    Up next comes a series of workouts, interviews and enough mock drafts to run through almost every possible outcome. Meanwhile, trade machines are about to start churning now that franchises (and fanbases) know exactly where they will be picking and, of equal importance, which specific selections are now up for grabs.

    We're here to contribute to the hypothetical wheeling and dealing with a quartet of trade ideas that grew more realistic after Tuesday's drawing.

Portland Pounces on Jerami Grant

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    Cameron Browne/Getty Images

    Portland Trail Blazers receive: Jerami Grant

    Detroit Pistons receive: Eric Bledsoe, Keon Johnson and No. 7 pick

    Since tanking through the season's second half, the Trail Blazers haven't masked their desire for a rapid recovery. They also haven't really kept a lid on their interest in versatile swingman Jerami Grant, whom B/R's Jake Fischer described as "[seeming] to be at the top of their list."

    It all makes sense since they're building around 31-year-old Damian Lillard, who clearly needs more win-now support. With both Portland and Detroit failing to move up at the lottery, the arrows should be aligned to make this happen.

    The No. 7 pick is good, but not so good that the Blazers should balk at its inclusion in a deal for an accelerator like Grant. The Pistons, meanwhile, might be more willing to accept that their rebuild could take some time without another blue-chipper coming to town. In that case, expanding this Cade Cunningham-led core with the Nos. 5 and 7 picks should hold more appeal than keeping the 28-year-old Grant around and giving him a new deal between now and next summer.

    The Blazers desperately need a multi-dimensional stopper like Grant, and their offense should have enough opportunities available for him to find the prominent scoring role he reportedly seeks, per Fischer.

    Back at the trade deadline, Fischer reported Detroit wanted "two first-round picks or one first-round pick plus a high-upside young player." This deal could scratch that itch. It might be debatable how much upside Keon Johnson actually offers, but he's also a 20-year-old with only one season and less than 700 career minutes under his belt. Besides, the Pistons aren't just getting a first-round pick. It's the No. 7 overall selection.

    Add Eric Bledsoe as a money-matcher, and this long speculated swap could finally have enough legs to reach the league's transaction log.

Knicks Add Offense, Rockets Get Younger

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    New York Knicks receive: Christian Wood and Eric Gordon

    Houston Rockets receive: Mitchell Robinson (sign-and-trade), Cam Reddish and Kemba Walker

    The 'Bockers just finished with a bottom-10 offense for the fourth consecutive season (23rd overall this time around). They need scoring and spacing in a bad way, and this swap could deliver both.

    Christian Wood might struggle with consistency, but he remains among the Association's most tantalizing talents at center. There aren't many players with his combination of size (6'10"), skill and athleticism. If he managed to avoid getting on Tom Thibodeau's bad side and leaned on the seasoned skipper to improve his defense, Wood could be a real asset.

    Now, there might be a bit of a minutes crunch with Julius Randle, Obi Toppin, Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims all in the same frontcourt. However, the Knicks could form a three-headed scoring monster with Randle, Toppin and Wood, leaving Noel and Sims to do the dirty work on the interior in limited, high-energy spurts. Besides, the Knicks would have the same congestion if they re-signed Mitchell Robinson, just with worse spacing.

    Since Randle and RJ Barrett, New York's top two scorers, operate best inside the arc, the Knicks could be drawn to this deal's ability to expand beyond it. Wood just shot better than 37 percent from range for the third consecutive season. Eric Gordon just dialed back the clock by splashing 41.2 percent of his long-balls. Both would give this group some badly needed breathing room.

    As for Houston, the Rockets are now positioned to draft Wood's replacement since the No. 3 pick will pave a path to at least one of Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero or Chet Holmgren. They could flip Wood, who's 26 and unsigned beyond next season, for 24-year-old Mitchell Robinson and 22-year-old Cam Reddish. The Knicks would include Kemba Walker for salary-matching purposes, but the Rockets could buy him out immediately.

    Robinson's athleticism and above-the-rim play could be a fascinating counterpoint for the ground-bound wizardry of Alperen Sengun. There should be more than enough minutes to go around up front for those two and the No. 3 pick. Meanwhile, Reddish remains without a niche, but joining a long-term rebuilder like the Rockets would give him more time to find it. There's an impact three-and-D swingman somewhere inside of him, if Houston can just bring that player out.

Hornets Find Their 5, Suns Deepen Roster and Asset Pool

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    Barry Gossage/Getty Images

    Charlotte Hornets receive: Deandre Ayton (sign-and-trade)

    Phoenix Suns receive: P.J. Washington, Kelly Oubre Jr., Mason Plumlee and No. 13 pick

    Deandre Ayton enters restricted free agency on an ominous note after logging only 17 minutes in Phoenix's winner-take-all Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

    Suns head coach Monty Williams told reporters "it's internal" when explaining Ayton's limited usage. Could those be the same internal forces that drove Phoenix to balk at Ayton's request for a max extension before the season? Could they now send the solid but sporadically productive center searching for a change of scenery over the summer?

    It would take a team coveting Ayton to the point of incentivizing the Suns to let him walk. How about the Hornets, who've been desperate to find any signs of life at the center spot since Al Jefferson booked it out of Buzz City?

    Ayton is everything the Hornets could want in a center and then some. He can run pick-and-rolls with LaMelo Ball, motor in transition alongside Miles Bridges, make enough mid-range jumpers to keep the attack lanes open and shore up Charlotte's 22nd-ranked defense.

    Ayton is also only 23 years old, putting him on an identical developmental timeline as the 24-year-old Bridges and 20-year-old Ball. That could be a playoff core by next season and perhaps a contending nucleus shortly thereafter.

    As for the Suns, they might have reservations about committing so many resources to the center spot when they were only marginally worse with JaVale McGee (minus-1.1 net rating)—and substantially better with Bismack Biyombo (plus-8.8)—than they were with Ayton (plus-1.2) during the postseason.

    If they don't want to pay Ayton, this could be their escape chute. Mason Plumlee is fine in a low-minute, low-usage role. P.J. Washington can man the middle in small-ball sets or kick over to the 4 in bigger lineups. Kelly Oubre Jr. played his best basketball in Phoenix and might give the Suns one of the Association's deepest wing rotations.

    Tack on a late lottery pick to keep or trade, and this could be the haul that convinces Phoenix to let Ayton go.

Cavaliers Surprise Winners of the Bradley Beal Sweepstakes

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    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Cleveland Cavaliers receive: Bradley Beal

    Washington Wizards receive: Collin Sexton (sign-and-trade), Lauri Markkanen, No. 14 pick (can't be traded until after the draft) and 2025 first-round pick

    It's never been easy to tell where the Wizards think they can find the co-star for Bradley Beal who transforms them from an Eastern Conference afterthought into a heavyweight contender. They can probably cross the 2022 draft off the list of possibilities, though. Lottery luck didn't find them, and they wound up stuck in the No. 10 spot.

    Maybe now is the time to pull the plug on this relationship for good. You know, before the 28-year-old Beal and the Wizards, lottery participants for the third time in four years, do something they'll live to regret—like committing to a five-year, $247.7 million max contract this summer.

    If Beal or the Wizards (or both) are open to alternatives, the Cavaliers should be ready to strike.

    For all of the progress made in Cleveland this season, the club's 20th-ranked offense always put a cap on how high it could climb. While player development could eventually prop up that number, an offensive elite like Beal could skyrocket it.

    In his last two healthy seasons—this one was derailed by wrist surgery—he averaged better than 30 points per night. Imagine him spearheading an attack that allows Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley to trickle down into roles that better fit their age and ability. A Beal-Garland backcourt looks nightmarish on paper, since both can shoot, pass and create off the bounce, and any defensive questions might be answered by the Allen-Mobley tandem underneath.

    If the Wizards ever accept that they don't have the personnel to compete for anything of substance with Beal, this could be the kind of offer that gets him out of the District. It's a current lottery pick, an unprotected future first and a pair of 25-and-under building blocks in Collin Sexton, a career 20-points-per-game scorer, and Lauri Markkanen, a sharpshooting 7-footer who keeps making strides on defense.

              

    Statistics courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.

    Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.

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