The summer is a weird time for basketball fans. Although the NBA Finals are done and over, it’s just the beginning of free agency and the tumultuous trade season. Despite being just a few weeks into it, there have already been more big name moves than in previous years, with the promise of a lot more to come.
With the new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) allowing teams to pay more and more for players, there is no telling just how much leverage players will use to demand trades and essentially control the market.
While this may be good for the growing celebrity power for players, the truth is that a market controlled by players will inevitably lead to more contrived super teams and, you guessed it, a lot more ring chasing. So let’s get into it and see what some of the biggest NBA trades that could happen this offseason are...
16 The King Bolts for L.A.
...and no, not for the Clippers. The Lakers’ rich history and Los Angeles’ vibrant lifestyle certainly have their allure, but with the picture in Cleveland shakier than ever, it sure would seem logical to think LeBron might want to leave the party before it’s over. After all, he has been linked to the team throughout his career, and they have the young core of Lonzo Ball, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle that can easily give LeBron a lighter workload, all while providing a smooth transition out of LeBron’s basketball career. Living in Los Angeles will also offer LeBron a fast track to moving on after he retires, being so close to the bright lights of Hollywood.
What would it cost? Well, for one, freshly minted GM Magic Johnson would have to cough up unprotected picks and a package that would include some combination of Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Brook Lopez. To make a blockbuster like this happen, it is also likely that up to two other teams would have to get involved. This would be huge.
15 “Melo” Drama in New York
Between ex-Knick General Manager Phil Jackson and the belligerently interfering owner James Dolan, this Carmelo Anthony project was bound for failure from the onset. Now with team president Steve Mills and newly appointed GM Scott Perry at the helm, it is almost a certain text that Carmelo will soon be playing for another team. While rumors swirl, the Knicks find themselves once again shackled to a super-star with a no-trade clause. History doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme!
So where might he land? Make no bones about it, Carmelo Anthony’s camp is clearly expressing that Carmelo expects a trade with Houston to happen. While the buzz was that a trade was at the 2 yard line, apparently somebody fumbled the ball... no trade has happened. To the shock of a lot of New York fans, the Knicks actually practiced patience on this one, hesitating to let Carmelo leave them penniless in a lop-sided trade just to get him out of town. Don’t forget, the Knicks got completely fleeced in the 2010 trade that brought in Carmelo, as they coughed up nearly their entire starting lineup, including three players who still start on teams today. While details are still fuzzy, it seems the Knicks and the Rockets are working hard to find trade partners to satisfy the Knicks demands for Anthony. He will go on a discount, count on it, but he will go.
14 Pistons Dumping Andre Drummond???
After failing miserably to even make par on last season, the Pistons are in a weird NBA limbo. There are many question marks about point guard Reggie Jackson’s ability to meet expectations after an underwhelming and injury plagued 2016-17 campaign, and with the loss of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the Lakers and Marcus Morris to the Celtics, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Pistons decide to blow it up and get as much value for Drummond as possible. Teams with picks likely to be in the top three next season are likely to eventually come knocking. Despite a decent core on paper, the value of Drummond is at an all time high, meaning the Pistons could capitalize and get a huge amount of value back.
13 Wiggins Returns to the Team That Drafted Him... Cleveland!
Although Irving has expressed his interest to be the face of a franchise, it is clear that Minnesota’s franchise face will be Karl Anthony Towns for a LONG time. Despite how tempting it may appear on paper, it is pretty clear with the acquisition of point guard Jeff Teague and the resigning of Andrew Wiggins to a maximum contract extension that this would be a pretty unconventional move to break up something that Minnesota just laid the groundwork for... all for a trade demand of a 25 year old in Cleveland. But hey, he is a top 10 talent in this league and probably a top 5 scorer. Wiggins would provide that scoring punch for Cleveland and with the amount of assets Minnesota has to offer, it is definitely feasible that a deal could get done.
12 A Big 3 in OKC!
This trade has only surfaced recently, and although it wasn’t expected by many, it makes a ton of sense. OKC has seen a LOT of talent come and go in their short history, but never have they seen a big three of players in their primes. While Carmelo is certainly seeing the end of his prime this upcoming season if not the season after, he would still be a deadly combination with Russell Westbrook and Paul George. The Thunder, however, would need to most likely part with both Steven Adams and Enes Kanter to get the deal done, a tough blow to be sure. In the end though, if the Thunder want to go all in on their MVP Russell Westbrook, they would be hard pressed to not find a third or fourth team to get involved to make this deal happen.
11 Boogie On The Move?
Last winter, Sacramento got absolutely fleeced for DeMarcus Cousins, essentially receiving a sack of basketballs in return for the oft-disgruntled Kentucky product. Despite Cousins’ issues both on and off the court, it is important to realize that the guy is still a top talent in the NBA, with many prime years left ahead of him at the young age of 26 years old. One team has the best chance of prying the big fella from New Orleans...
The Celtics made a big splash this summer by signing Gordon Hayward, but unfortunately, that might not be enough to dethrone the uncontested Beast of the East, LeBron James. How else can they get over that hump? Easy: the Celtics package together some of their unprotected 1st round picks, young talents such as Jaylen Brown and/or Jason Tatum, and perhaps the position-less defenseman Marcus Smart in exchange for DeMarcus Cousins. They could make this happen in a heartbeat and the only thing holding it up would be the Pelicans' hesitance. If the Celtics went all in for Cousins and offered up some of their treasure trove of assets, this could be the least expected biggest deal of the summer!
10 A Melo And Kyrie Swap!
This actually makes even more sense than the Cavs trading with Miami, but less likely to happen due to the general dysfunction of the Knick franchise. But alas, if the trade does happen, it will most likely include young center Willy Hernangomez, a Knick 1st round unprotected pick, and, of course, Carmelo Anthony. Despite a lot of rumors of Phoenix getting involved as a third team, it would be surprising to see them part ways with Eric Bledsoe and only get back the Knicks' 7th overall pick Frank Ntilikina (who is still a raw offensive project). The Suns would also probably lose Tyson Chandler and Maryland-product Alex Len has not yet proved he can take the reigns at full time center duties. When the Knicks are involved though, anything is possible.
9 Cousins To The Cleveland Cavaliers?
While the concept of sending Kyrie Irving to the Pelicans hasn’t been widely considered, with New Orleans’ recent resigning of point guards Jrue Holiday and free agent signing of Rajon Rondo, it certainly makes them a candidate to swap talents with the reigning Eastern Conference champs. There are a bevy of ways to get this deal done and, once again, it all relies on the simple front office decision on New Orleans’ part to change direction and end the Boogie/Brow experiment already. Also, Cousins would single handedly solve multiple needs for a potentially Irving-less Cavalier team.
8 The Grindhouse is Over!
One of the strangest moves this offseason was the Memphis Grizzlies organization’s decision to retire Zach Randolph’s jersey when he left for Sacramento in free agency. Nonetheless, with the declining relevancy of Tony Allen and the impossibly unhealthy Chandler Parsons, it seems that this team is on it’s way for a break up. With only Mike Conley and Marc Gasol remaining, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Boston offer a similar package to the Grizzlies that they could offer to New Orleans for DeMarcus Cousins. The only difference is the Marc Gasol would fit their needs and system even better than Cousins. This trade could certainly put Boston over the hump that is the Cleveland Cavaliers.
7 Phoenix Ships Out Eric Bledsoe
This wouldn’t be surprising at all. Eric Bledsoe’s value is at an all time high as he finally strung together a season void of serious injuries. Also known as Baby-LeBron, Bledsoe’s youth and upside as a scorer, facilitator and elite defensive guard makes him certainly a viable trade target for a Denver Nugget team who could offer a variety of ways to get the deal done, and is in need of a true starting point guard. With the rise of Devin Booker and the arrival of lottery pick Josh Jackson, there is no doubt that eventually there just won’t be enough touches to go around. Finally, Kentucky product Tyler Ulis played his head off for the Suns in the tail end of last season, and is clearly ready to be the perfect pass-first guard to couple with the scoring threat of Devin Booker for the foreseeable future out in the desert.
6 Trouble In San Antonio
The Spurs and their second fiddle LaMarcus Aldridge have been a mismatch from the get-go and, despite his talents, he just might not ever be a fit in Coach Pop’s world. Having said that, there are a lot of teams that would welcome LA into the fold with open arms, being one of the best scoring big men in the league. One possibility would be the reuniting of Aldridge and Portland, as the Blazers recently cleared some cap room from the books by sending Allan Crabbe’s bloated contract to the original bidders for his services last summer, the Brooklyn Nets. In a deal such as this, the Spurs would be the perfect landing spot for the savvy rookie Zach Collins out of Gonzaga. In addition, a player like Evan Turner is the exact type of talent the Spurs have turned into gold time and time again. It would probably take a third team to get the math right, but this would be a huge deal no doubt.
5 Milwaukee Moving Monroe To Keep The Greek Freak from Leaving
This is just another NBA tale: oversized contract for an underperforming complimentary player means a trade will happen sooner than later. It will be tough for the Bucks to find a team that is willing to take on the mediocre Greg Monroe for his talents, but they have a chance of dumping him for a team looking for an expiring contract and a short term seat-filler... in walks the Atlanta Hawks. With the uncontested exit of Paul Millsap and trade of Dwight Howard to Charlotte, the team is clearly in a full on rebuild. This would be a nice way to dump some of their veterans still hanging around from the 60-win squad of 2015. If the Bucks are serious about keeping the enigmatic Giannis Antetokounmpo, they will start think about how to incentivize him now. Expect a deal.
3 Porzingis on the Move...
Ugh. This is tough to say, but when it comes to trading the untradable, never count out the Knicks. Granted, this concept was floated by a now-axed New York GM Phil Jackson. But nonetheless, everyone knows that when it comes to the Knicks, the buck stops with owner James Dolan, and he has proven himself to truly be a basketball know-nothing. If he is presented with a deal that is shiny enough, don’t be surprised if the Knicks say farewell to the Unicorn.
2 Portland Backcourt Pushing For A Trade To Contend
Even though Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are a deadly offensive combination, the duo would welcome a trade of Carmelo Anthony to Portland. Portland doesn’t have much to offer off the bench, but if a deal does get done, the combination of C.J. McCollum, Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony would make for one of the most tantalizing offensive forces in the past decade. Although it doesn’t seem like a deal that will happen as of now, this certainly is a sign that the Blazer backcourt wants to win sooner than later. The bottom line is that if the right team calls, don’t be surprised to see these two guards use their star-power to will a trade.
1 The Elephant in the Room: Kyrie Irving
There isn’t an NBA fan that wasn’t surprised when news broke this week that Kyrie Irving, the 25 year old who has accomplished nearly everything a player can as he enters his prime, demanded a trade away from the best player in the world and the organization that drafted him, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Granted, the lack of participation in the free agency frenzy and trade market left many wondering just what the Cavs were up to. But when Kyrie demanded this trade, it caused a seismic reaction all across the landscape of the NBA, with all faults leading back to Cleveland. Despite what many may believe, Kyrie holds no real power in this situation, aside from the unlikely possibility of the Cavs not trading him, therefore upsetting LeBron James and possibly losing their current title-contending team as it is composed.
The most likely destination? Miami. Why? Because it makes the most sense. The Heat have a plethora of young talents to offer in return so the Cavs can stay relevant (and in contention) now, and even gain talent young enough to help rebuild should LeBron bolt for the Lakers next season. In addition, Kyrie would get to be Batman instead of Robin, which is exactly what Kyrie would want. The Heat would obviously welcome the trade, but getting it done would force them to part ways with some combination of Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, and Justice Winslow... and most likely coughing up the established Goran Dragic. Doesn’t sound too appealing does it? A third team would most likely be getting involved here as well.