1 Trade for Every Team Not in the 2022 NBA Finals

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistJune 2, 2022

1 Trade for Every Team Not in the 2022 NBA Finals

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    Congratulations to the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors for making the 2022 NBA Finals. You deserve all the applause and attention. Just not here.

    Twenty-eight of the Association's 30 teams have already been thrust into offseason mode. This space is for the league's majority—and for trade ideas engineered from the comfort of my stair-stepper desk.

    Every squad will be included in at least one hypothetical deal. A couple will wind up in more; overlap is unavoidable in this exercise.

    The team theoretically making the initial phone call will be placed at the top of each outline. This doesn't mean the trade skews in their favor. It's just a way of adding organization to an avalanche of hypotheticals.

    Assume every deal is completed in the new league year unless otherwise noted. This allows us to ship out first-rounders as actual salaries or get around the Stepien Rule for franchises who shipped out 2021 picks. Terms get agreed upon beforehand, teams will make selections on behalf of other squads, and the transaction can go through later.

    Sign-and-trade scenarios are fair game. I don't condone tampering. Nor am I saying it happens. Except, I kind of am. Because it does. Let's all be unassuming, rule-abiding hoops heads and just count on teams not negotiating with other players and influencing 2022 draft picks that aren't theirs prior to 2022 free agency.

    Plus, we're here to have fun—good, clean, CBA-legal-yet-still-out-there fun. That is why this miscellany of trade ideas has been peppered with a handful of three- and four-team spectacles.

Atlanta, OKC and Portland Give Us a 3-Team Pre-Draft Trade

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    Atlanta Hawks Receive: No. 30, Kenrich Williams

    Oklahoma City Receive: Danilo Gallinari ($5 million partial guarantee for next season), No. 7

    Portland Trail Blazers Receive: No. 12, No. 16

    Welcome to the only trade on this list that must be pushed through before the start of the new league year. Oklahoma City is sitting on more than $30 million in cap room. Let's use it on team president Sam Presti's behalf.

    Pay no mind to Danilo Gallinari's reunion with the Thunder. They project to waive him for $5 million before his contract fully guarantees at $21.5 million next season—unless they're bent on having a large salary to anchor midseason trades. In essence, though, they're giving up No. 12, No. 30, Kenrich Williams and cash to scoop up a second top-seven pick.

    The Hawks, meanwhile, buoy their wing rotation and add a little financial flexibility. Rather than waiving Gallinari for $5 million and potentially stretching that money over three years, they get Williams for just $2 million and gain another $1.3 millionish by dropping down 14 spots in the draft. That might seem negligible, but every penny saved increases the likelihood they can access the full non-taxpayer's mid-level and re-sign Delon Wright.

    Portland shouldn't object to divesting No. 7 into No. 12 and No. 16. General manager Joe Cronin is expected to shop the seventh overall pick, per The Athletic's John Hollinger and Sam Vecenie. Many already have that selection headed to the Detroit Pistons for Jerami Grant.

    But a top-seven pick is a steep price to pay for a non-star. This framework allows the Blazers to cobble together alternative offers for Grant (and others) while still leaving themselves with a first-round prospect or additional trade ammo.

    Oklahoma City's involvement feels most questionable. It's not egregious. Moving into the top seven is a big deal. The Thunder can try to withhold Williams or No. 30 or insist on some second-round compensation.

Cleveland Takes Alternative Route to Grab a Wing from Charlotte

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    Charlotte Hornets Receive: Kevin Love, Cedi Osman

    Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Gordon Hayward, Mason Plumlee, Boston's 2024 second-round pick

    I know, I know: Kevin Love does not solve the Hornets' defensive issues. But he's a quality offensive fit as a floor-spacer and outlet passer, and his rebounding will help whether he's at the 4 or 5.

    Granted, this is more about the dollars and cents for Charlotte. Love makes less than Gordon Hayward next season and comes off the books in the summer of 2023—a full year before Hayward. Getting out from under the latter's 2023-24 salary means something to a franchise that will have Terry Rozier and, presumably, Miles Bridges (restricted) on mega-expensive contracts.

    Jettisoning the final year of Mason Plumlee's deal and netting Cedi Osman's expiring pact (2023-24 non-guaranteed) makes this more palatable for the Hornets in the interim. Osman adds some shooting and combo forward minutes on his best nights, and Charlotte is basically net neutral in contract commitments after the fact, ensuring this deal doesn't butcher any of their other plans.

    Cleveland is saddling itself with more risk. That's fine. It needs a wing who's more dynamic on offense than Osman and Isaac Okoro. Hayward remains that guy...when healthy. Even a tamped-down version of him promises above-average outside shooting.

    For the record: This deal can take place whenever. Shoehorning it into this league year lets the Cavs waive Plumlee for $4.2 million. If they want another big behind Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, they can keep him on the books for $9.1 million, perhaps even peddling him as a salary-matching chip around February's trade deadline.

Dallas Tries Getting a Big from Sacramento

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    Dallas Mavericks Receive: Richaun Holmes

    Sacramento Kings Receive: No. 26 pick, Dwight Powell, 2024 second-round pick

    Mavericks fans may want a splashier acquisition following their Western Conference Finals bid. Don't bet on one. Dallas doesn't have any blue-chip prospects to dangle, can't flip a future first-rounder before 2025 and has a bunch of contracts that'll be treated as net negatives by other teams (mainly those of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Davis Bertans).

    Pairing No. 26 (after the draft) with Dwight Powell's expiring salary is among their most sensible paths to a notable addition. Richaun Holmes fits the bill. He gives Luka Doncic a viable pick-and-roll partner who can both finish above the rim and convert on-a-whim push shots. His rebounding and rim protection are both undervalued, and he's on one of the league's team-friendliest deals (three years, $36.2 million remaining).

    All of which raises the question: Why would the Kings unload Holmes for a late first-rounder and a future second?

    They might not. But landing Domantas Sabonis inherently drives down Holmes' value—both internally and on the market. This isn't selling low. It's more like selling a hair too late. Given that Holmes didn't get a richer deal during 2020 free agency, there's also a chance teams aren't actually smitten with a soon-to-be 29-year-old big earning more than the mid-level-exception. (Related: This is stupid, if true.)

    Dallas can sweeten the deal ever so slightly if Sacramento wants to prioritize flexibility. The Mavs have a $10.8 million trade exception left over from shipping Josh Richardson to Boston. Holmes' 2021-22 cap hit fits into that if the move is consummated before the new league year and they send out No. 26 after the draft but not as actual money.

4-Team Mini-Buster Featuring Denver, Philadelphia, Chicago and OKC

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    Denver Nuggets Receive: Matisse Thybulle

    Philadelphia 76ers Receive: Zeke Nnaji, Kenrich Williams, No. 30 pick

    Chicago Bulls: Furkan Korkmaz (into Daniel Theis trade exception), 2023 second-round pick (via Philadelphia, second-most favorable from Atlanta, Brooklyn, Charlotte or Philly), 2026 second-round pick (via OKC, top-55 protection)

    Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: No. 21 pick

    Acquiring an extension-eligible wing who frequently devolves into a net-zero on offense may not jibe with the Nuggets' mushrooming cap sheet. New deals for Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. kick in next season, Nikola Jokic is about to sign a supermax deal, and Jamal Murray is only halfway through his own max contract.

    To the Nuggets' credit, they generally don't skimp on talent. Just front-office execs. And unlike most teams, they have the runway to deploy Matisse Thybulle without regard for his offense—so long as he's swallowing souls at the other end and they have at least one of Murray or MPJ available.

    Thybulle is also more likely to cook off cuts when playing beside Nikola Jokic. Denver needn't worry about his next deal being too expensive, either. It'll have match rights in restricted free agency, and he's not getting a two-syllable buh-ag if he doesn't develop a set three-pointer.

    Philly shouldn't flinch. It's surrendering some defense but bolstering its versatility. Kenrich Williams is extremely plug-and-play at both ends, and Zeke Nnaji is a rock-solid floor-spacer and major upgrade to the backup-big rotation—especially if the Sixers can steal minutes with him at the 5.

    The No. 30 pick is gravy and gives the Sixers two first-rounders with which they can fiddle. Moving Furkan Korkmaz's $5 million salary into Chicago's Daniel Theis TPE also makes Philly $2.5 million cheaper. And as Bryan Toporek unpacked for Forbes, every dollar counts as team president Daryl Morey attempts to re-sign James Harden (player option) while unlocking access to the bigger MLE and the bi-annual exception.

    Oklahoma City is again using Williams to climb up the draft board. A nine-spot spike may not do the trick when it also owns No. 2 and No. 12. But Williams entering the final year of his deal at least makes this a conversation. The Thunder can try to use No. 12 and No. 21 to move up again.

    Chicago shouldn't have any issues. It's essentially turning an expiring trade exception into a human trade exception (Korkmaz's $5 million expiring salary). The Bulls may not even need the promise of a real second-rounder. Denver might have more qualms than anyone since Thybulle is in the final year of his rookie deal. It can push to be the team that snares No. 30 instead of Philly.

Lakers Reconfigure Rotation, New York Leans into Youth Movement

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    New York Knicks Receive: Russell Westbrook, 2026 first-round pick swap (top-two protection), 2027 first-round pick (top-four protection)

    Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Evan Fournier, Julius Randle

    Another team calling the Lakers about Russell Westbrook feels weird. In this case, it also feels right.

    New York will value future cap space more than other squads. Getting off Evan Fournier (two years, $36.9 million; $19 million team option in 2024-25) and Julius Randle (four years, $117 million) might be incentive enough on its own. Gaining control of two distant firsts from Los Angeles makes it easier to give up on Randle returning to All-NBA form.

    A report from The Athletic's Jovan Buha suggests the Lakers won't include first-round compensation to move the final year of Westbrook's contract ($47.1 million player option). Holding that line is franchise malpractice. The Lakers have LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They need to optimize their roster for now. Keeping Westbrook doesn't do that, and saddling new head coach Darvin Ham with the job of fitting the squarest-ever peg into the most circular of round holes does neither him nor the franchise any favors.

    Fournier slots in nicely as an outside shooter and complementary scorer. Randle is the more complicated addition, but he shot better on catch-and-fire threes than Westbrook even in a down year and can be more readily used as a screener. Using him to run the offense during LeBron-less stretches also figures to be more effective. Randle at least has a one-year track record of drilling step-back jumpers at an astronomical clip (2020-21).

    Both the 2026 swap and 2027 first-rounder are fungible. If the Knicks are desperate for added flexibility in 2023, the Lakers have some leverage. Maybe it takes just one. Or none.

Memphis Keeps Buidling, Washington Beefs Up Defense

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    Memphis Grizzlies Receive: No. 10 pick, Ish Smith

    Washington Wizards Receive: De'Anthony Melton, No. 22 pick, 2023 first-round pick (lottery protection for two seasons; turns into two seconds if not conveyed)

    Anyone waiting on pins and needles for the Grizzlies to do something seismic should probably stop. As The Athletic's John Hollinger explained, a steadily ballooning cap sheet in the years to come coupled with a trade market barren of clearly available stars decreases the likelihood Memphis opts for consolidation over the offseason.

    Attempting to cannonball back into the draft lottery would be more the Grizzlies' speed. They have an enviable collection of role-player contracts, two firsts in this draft (No. 22 and No. 29), all their own first-rounders moving forward and Golden State's 2024 selection (top-four selection).

    Washington seems like a prime candidate to explore just about everything. Bradley Beal is on course to re-sign in free agency (player option), per The Washington Post's Ava Wallace. Reloading now is the Wizards' obligation.

    That preferably happens in the form of a blockbuster acquisition. But the trade climate isn't conducive to one. Snagging some immediate help while deepening their future assets is a worthwhile alternative to a red-carpet deal. This trade follows that blueprint.

    Bringing in more defense was cited as a top priority by general manager Tommy Sheppard on a recent episode of the Dunc'd On podcast. De'Anthony Melton is as disruptive as it gets in the backcourt and has the chops to guard up. Though he doesn't add much table-setting, he offers the next best thing: experience working off the ball, with a 38.8 percent clip from downtown over the past two seasons.

    Melton alone won't get the Grizzlies the No. 10 pick. He is coming off a not-so-hot postseason. His team-friendly contract offsets some of the concern (two years, $16.3 million with only the first guaranteed). Adding a protected 2023 pick should get this near the finish line. Washington stays in this year's draft and acquires an extra selection to keep or reroute in other deals. Memphis lands another top-10 prospect to develop, and without Melton on the books, it should be willing to meet Tyus Jones' market value in free agency.

Miami and Houston Link Up for Eric Gordon Trade

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    Miami Heat Receive: Eric Gordon

    Houston Rockets Receive: Duncan Robinson, 2023 first-round pick (top-eight protection; turns into two seconds if not conveyed), 2026 second-round pick (via Miami, least favorable from Dallas, OKC and Philadelphia)

    Duncan Robinson finished the postseason almost entirely out of the Heat's rotation. That comes as a gargantuan blow to his trade value when he's guaranteed $74.4 million over the next four years.

    Still, shooters with gravitational pull have utility no matter how steep their contract. For all Robinson's struggles, he ranked inside the top five of BBall Index's pull-up three-point shot-making metric among players who logged at least 1,000 minutes.

    To be clear: Houston doesn't necessarily need him. But surrounding younger ball-handlers (Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Josh Christopher) and passers (Alperen Sengun) with competent, high-volume outside shooting should help streamline developmental curves.

    The Rockets are getting a loosely protected 2023 first for their "trouble," which Miami has the ability to trade after reconfiguring its draft obligations to Oklahoma City. Houston can try pushing for this year's No. 27 selection on top of everything, but it's tough to see the Heat ponying up two firsts for a non-star.

    Eric Gordon could be worth it. Miami needs to deepen its options in the half-court, and he's a dependable outside shooter who puts physical pressure on the basket. He was among 79 players who attempted at least 200 field goals off drives this past season—his 57.8 percent clip ranked fourth, trailing only Chris Paul, Karl-Anthony Towns and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

    Age and historically spotty health dull some of Gordon's shine. His contract might, too. He's owed $19.6 million next year, and his $20.9 million salary will guarantee for 2023-24 if his team wins a title (or he makes an All-Star roster). A championship contender will not just presume he's an expiring contract, which is why Houston gets one first for him—though, also including No. 27 should not be an outright deal-breaker for Miami.

Milwaukee Downsizes for Wing Depth, Charlotte Gets a Big-Man Stopgap

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    Milwaukee Bucks Receive: Kelly Oubre Jr.

    Charlotte Hornets Receive: Brook Lopez, 2023 second-round pick (less favorable from Cleveland and Golden State)

    Brook Lopez doesn't address the Hornets' long-term issues in the middle, but he's an enviable stopgap if they want to keep the seat warm for Kai Jones or someone they draft at No. 13 or No. 15.

    "Back issues cost him most of this past season, but he was pretty reliable upon return. He can still stretch defenses beyond the three-point line and capitalize on lurking in the dunker's spot, and his pump-and-drive-into-a-flip-shot game remains effective. Milwaukee doesn't throw it to him on the block in droves, and his outside volume and efficiency plunged during the playoffs, but he can punish smaller mismatches if given the opportunity"

    Charlotte doesn't have to worry about his slowing down its fast-break opportunities; he's used to trailing. And Lopez's defense in drop coverage continues to be some of the best. Opponents shot just 36 percent against him at the basket this season, the stingiest mark in the league among 377 players who contested as many point-blanks.

    Wing-for-big trades aren't standard practice these days, and the Hornets don't exactly have them available in spades. But they still have Gordon Hayward, plus the capacity to bring back Miles Bridges (restricted) and Cody Martin (restricted) and explore the wing market in the draft.

    Losing Lopez comes as a blow to the Bucks, but constructing a roster better suited to downsize is the more dire need. They can bring back Bobby Portis (player option) to soak up most of the center minutes, and Kelly Oubre gives them a ready-made path to running out Giannis Antetokounmpo-as-the-big lineups. His three-point clip is shaky, but he takes more triples than Lopez at this point. And going on 27, he's more likely to be part of the bigger picture.

Minnesota Takes a Risk, Orlando Plays It Safe

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    Minnesota Timberwolves Receive: Jonathan Isaac

    Orlando Magic Receive: Malik Beasley, No. 19 pick, 2023 first-round pick (lottery protection)

    Malik Beasley and two mediocre-at-best first-rounders wouldn't be enough to nab Jonathan Isaac under normal circumstances. But his career is no longer unfolding on a normal trajectory.

    Isaac hasn't played since August 2020 after tearing his left ACL. His future is so uncertain the balance of his contract after next season is only partially guaranteed.

    With Orlando slated to select a big at No. 1 and already having extended Wendell Carter Jr., now might be the time to explore Isaac's value. This is no doubt a sell-low point, but the Magic can do worse than positioning itself to land two first-rounders and a microwave shooting wing in Malik Beasley.

    Healthy Isaac is a Utopian fit in Minnesota. He's nearly a defensive system unto himself, both inside and out, and his finite range on offense is hardly a concern alongside the all-time floor spacing provided by Karl-Anthony Towns.

    Whether the Timberwolves can justify putting two first-rounders on the table is debatable. Isaac is a steal on his current deal if he recaptures his previous form, even if he doesn't progress that much offensively. But Minnesota will have burned some of its best trade chips if he doesn't pan out.

    Maybe Orlando accepts Jared Vanderbilt instead of the 2023 pick. The Wolves might also value Vanderbilt more than that selection. Regardless, the overall baseline is Malik Beasley's salary, No. 19 and...something else. And while this represents a huge swing for Minnesota no matter what, the West is shaping up to be bloodbath next season. Huge swings are what it will take for this roster to progress amid that hellfire.

A 'What If OG Is Available?' Idea for New Orleans and Toronto

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    New Orleans Pelicans Receive: OG Anunoby

    Toronto Raptors Receive: Larry Nance Jr., Trey Murphy III, No. 8 pick

    Please note the operable word here is a big, fat, friggin "IF."

    Sources told Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer chatter has "circulated among rival front offices that Anunoby grew dissatisfied at times with his role in Toronto, where [Scottie] Barnes joined Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet as the primary ball-handlers in Nick Nurse's offense," but that OG "has not directly expressed discontent with his situation with the Raptors."

    Translation: There is no trade request. And even if there was, moving Anunoby doesn't quite align with the Raptors' place in the East. They're far more win-now than on the come-up. Flipping OG only makes sense if it's as part of a consolidation trade, but a star-starved market and Toronto's relative lack of expendable matching salary renders a blockbuster buy difficult, if not outright off the table until February's deadline.

    New Orleans is among the teams most equipped to at least get Toronto thinking. Trey Murphy III showed plenty of defensive moxie and deadeye shooting over the latter half of last season and has three years left on his rookie scale. The Raptors can grab another wing on a rookie scale at No. 8, which might make them less hesitant to bankroll Gary Trent Jr.'s next deal (2023-24 player option).

    Larry Nance Jr.'s expiring contract has limited value given what it could cost to keep him beyond 2022-23, but he's right in Toronto's functional wheelhouse—a 6'7" near-positionless defender who can play the 4 or 5, pass from standstills and on rolls and hits juuust enough of his threes to space the floor.

    Forking over this much could prove prohibitive for the Pelicans. But Anunoby packs a defensive punch that spans bigs and wings and similarly unlocks small-ball combinations. Lineups with him, Brandon Ingram and Herb Jones Jr. will let them effectively plumb Zion Williamson-at-the-5. And any arrangement with Jones, OG and Jose Alvarado is terrible news for opposing offenses.

    Skeptics will argue the Pelicans shouldn't be indulging all-in plays. I disagree. You don't acquire CJ McCollum to play it safe, and turning Murphy, No. 8 and an expiring contract into a 24-year-old wing and defensive anchor under team control for at least two more seasons (2024-25 player option) doesn't qualify as short-circuiting the future.

4-Team Extravaganza with Phoenix, Brooklyn, Detroit and San Antonio

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    Phoenix Suns Receive: Jerami Grant, Jakob Poeltl, Josh Richardson

    San Antonio Spurs Receive: Deandre Ayton (sign-and-trade), Dario Saric

    Detroit Pistons Receive: Cameron Payne, No. 9 pick (via San Antonio)

    Brooklyn Nets Receive: Torrey Craig (into DeAndre Jordan trade exception), No. 46 pick (via Detroit), 2024 second-round pick (via San Antonio, top-55 protection)

    Deandre Ayton is expected to command max money in restricted free agency, and, according to Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer, the Suns don't view him or, really, any other big man as worth that much coin. This more than opens the door for sign-and-trade scenarios.

    Dealing Ayton is not without complications. Base Year Compensation makes it so he counts as only 50 percent of his max salary for Phoenix's purposes. The Suns can take back about $19.1 million when trading him alone, but he'd still count for the full $30.5 million on his new team's books.

    Talking shop with San Antonio helps simplify the process. The Spurs have near-max space and are among those being mentioned as potential Ayton landing spots, per Fischer.

    Giving up the No. 9 pick is higher-end compensation than we see in most sign-and-trades, and surrendering Jakob Poeltl and Josh Richardson doesn't amount to nothing. But restricted free agency is a different beast. The Suns can and will match any offer sheet for Ayton, because losing him for nothing is a non-starter. It should take a more aggressive premium to extricate him, and the Spurs can afford to pay it with two other first-rounders in the clip (No. 20 and No. 25) and with Richardson and Poelt entering contract years.

    The Suns could be content with that straight-up return, but the urgency of Chris Paul's timeline beckons. Turning No. 9 into Jerami Grant arms them with length, some on-ball explosion and flashy no-big combinations—all things they need.

    Detroit wants two firsts or one first and a "promising rookie-scale prospect," per Fischer. But getting the No. 9 pick for a non-star on an expiring contract feels like the consolidated equivalent. Phoenix has Landry Shamet to dangle instead of Cameron Payne if the talks sour.

    Brooklyn joins the fracas as a Torrey Craig dumping ground. It desperately needs wing depth. Team governor Joseph Tsai may not want to inflate his luxury-tax bill, but Craig is insurance against Bruce Brown's departure and deepens a shallow perimeter rotation even if the latter stays.

Portland and Indiana Commit to Directions

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    Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner

    Indiana Pacers Receive: Eric Bledsoe, Keon Johnson, No. 7 pick, 2025 first-round pick (via Milwaukee)

    Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner are two of the Pacers' three best players. Moving both consigns them to a real, full-fledged rebuild—a direction that hasn't been their style under team governor Herb Simon.

    Then again, Marc Stein reported on his Substack the Pacers have "definitely left the impression around the league that they're going to trade" Brogdon. That infers some willingness to rebuild knowing the three years and $67.6 million left on his deal won't secure a king's ransom.

    Landing the No. 7 pick on top of already owning No. 6 makes the idea of a, let's say, more gradual build that much easier to digest. Bledsoe's expiring salary gets guaranteed to make the math work, but he gives Indy another body to sponge up ball-handling reps.

    Keon Johnson parlayed his athleticism into some situational attacking and spirited defense during a partial-season with the Blazers. Acquiring him is like picking up another late first-rounder. And the Pacers are getting an actual additional first-rounder in that 2025 Milwaukee pick.

    Portland's side of the equation is more straightforward, though not inarguable. Shopping No. 7 is mandatory if it wants to retool around Damian Lillard. Turner is a perfect fit at both ends (and goes into the CJ McCollum TPE). But he's in a contract year, and the Blazers have Jusuf Nurkic entering free agency. They're at once dramatically different players and redundant.

    Brogdon can fit beside Lillard and Anfernee Simons (restricted) quite nicely. He's also not a wing. The Blazers just did the three-guard thing and pivoted elsewhere. Brogdon is bigger than McCollum and Norman Powell—and a better defender than both when healthy. But he's nowhere near Jerami Grant.

    That can't be the hangup. Grant will be more expensive to keep long-term, and the Blazers shouldn't move No. 7 for a singular player if he's a non-star. They can explore sign-and-trade scenarios for Nurkic or retain him now with the intention of moving him later. They can also try holding back Johnson. Either way, the return here is far more helpful to Lillard's window than keeping No. 7.

Jazz and Clippers Broker a Wing-for-Guard Deal

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    Utah Jazz Receive: Marcus Morris Sr.

    L.A. Clippers Receive: Jordan Clarkson

    Going the more nuclear route for the Jazz is tempting. Not only are they "weighing trade possibilities" for Rudy Gobert, according to Bleacher Reports Jake Fischer, but head coach Quin Snyder hasn't yet committed to returning next season, per ESPN's Tim MacMahon and Adrian Wojnarowski.

    All this speculation still feels too preliminary. Utah needs to give a clearer indication it's willing to move Gobert (or Donovan Mitchell) before hypotheticals shift to teardown mode.

    Finding the Jazz a combo forward who can take on some spot minutes as a small-ball 5 remains the play in the meantime. Marcus Morris Sr. checks pretty much every box. He's by no means a lockdown defender, but he'd have been Utah's best non-Gobert weapon this past season.

    Flipping Jordan Clarkson for Morris straight up is doable if the Jazz are holding on to Mitchell and Mike Conley. This move does add to their tax bill, so they could try to send out Rudy Gay, but shaving a few bucks off the Clippers' own tax sheet is part of the pitch.

    Clarkson does add another on-ball scoring element to L.A.'s offense—no small footnote given the checkered health bills of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Norman Powell. But he cannot be trusted to orchestrate offense for others.

    Just as much as this is about landing his on-ball pizzazz, it's about bringing in someone who could make it easier to pay incumbent free agents over the next couple of years. Nicolas Batum (player option), Amir Coffey (restricted) and Isaiah Hartenstein (non-Bird) are hitting the open market this summer, and Ivica Zubac is entering the final season of his deal. Clarkson is only a hair cheaper than Morris, but every bit counts, and his 2023-24 player option could turn him into an expiring contract.

    Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of NBA.com, Basketball Reference, Stathead or Cleaning the Glass. Salary information via Spotrac.

    Dan Favale covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@danfavale), and subscribe to his Hardwood Knocks podcast.