The Golden State Warriors reclaimed their seat at the throne last week with a 4-1 series victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2017 NBA Finals. Since then, the league offseason has kicked into full swing and has everybody's attention. Teams are feverishly making trades with the NBA Draft taking place this Thursday, jockeying for position to dig up the next basketball superstar while the fans sift through the rumors like they would for their favorite soap opera.
The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers shook up the offseason this past weekend with a swap for the 1st-overall selection (presumably Markelle Fultz) and the Los Angeles Lakers added Brook Lopez, gained a late 1st-round pick and dumped Timofey Mozgov's contract at the cost of D'Angelo Russell, thanks to Tuesday's trade with the Brooklyn Nets. Nevertheless, here are 15 trade scenarios, some likely and some improbable though not impossible that have the potential to shake up the league this offseason.
16 Knicks Trade Carmelo Anthony To Heat For Justise Winslow
Phil Jackson has been adamant about his insistence to rid Carmelo Anthony of New York for quite some time now, even though it was Jackson who banged the table for the team to extend him when he took over as President of Basketball Operations. Regardless of Jackson’s questionable zen games and Anthony’s mammoth contract, the Knicks should still have a few key suitors for their superstar small forward, namely Pat Riley and the Miami Heat who is looking to bolster his team back into being a contender and competition for Boston and Cleveland.
The Knicks are no stranger to “worst case scenarios,” so while Anthony’s value may not be as high as it once was they need to use him to bring on an upside player with plenty of room to grow. Miami will be in the market for a superstar after the latest news on Chris Bosh’s deteriorating health. One has to wonder how married the team is Justise Winslow, who missed most of last season with a torn labrum and has struggled to break out in the minutes he has received. Given the trending direction of both franchises, this would be a trade that solves problems for both parties.
15 Cavs Trade J.R. Smith To Kings For The Rights To Bogdan Bogdanovic
One criticism of LeBron James coming out of the NBA Finals had to do with him being a subpar “general manager.” From the fan’s perspective, it is impossible to really know to what extent LeBron is pulling the strings in Cleveland, but he did campaign for the team giving J.R. Smith a raise. The problem? His notable run in the 2016 Finals aside, Smith is not a player who is going to move the needle for any team, especially the Cavaliers. Whoever the general manager actually is in Cleveland, whether it is James or et. al (David Griffin will be out by month's end) they will need to at the very least look into cheaper alternatives.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, a 24-year-old Serbian, is coming off the best season of his career for Fenerbahçe in the Euro League, and shot 43 percent from beyond the arc. He is a former 1st-round pick (27th-overall to Phoenix in 2014) and would have been selected higher had he decided to come straight to the NBA. He is a bit of an unknown quantity having never played on American soil but is seven years younger than Smith and in addition to being cheaper. If the Kings are looking for another shooter and the Cavs are looking to shake things up, this trade could definitely work.
14 Warriors Trade Klay Thompson To The 76ers For Robert Covington And Two Unprotected Future 1st Round Picks
Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers have “trusted the process” for the last few seasons and now their tanking ways have finally begun to bear fruit. Embiid is healthy. Ben Simmons is expected to be healthy for next year. Dario Saric is in America. The list goes on and on. Still, the team is missing a bonafide perimeter shooter to complement its inside pieces and playmakers. Markelle Fultz is now in the fold but it remains to be seen if he can become the focal point of the offense. With everything else in place, it makes sense for the Sixers to buy a proven commodity at shooting guard down the line, and who better than Klay Thompson?
If the Golden State Warriors hope to keep their core in tact for at least the next four years, they could have to pay over one billion dollars in luxury tax over that time. Historically, good teams have gotten around this by shipping out just one of its cornerstones for cheaper contributors and assets. Remember the James Harden trade? Well, the Sixers and Warriors can pull off a similar deal, though a much simpler one. Josh Jackson may have his shooting woes but is a long, defensive-minded player with all-star upside if he can figure out his shot. If the Sixers can provide another unprotected first on top they just might be able to land their “James Harden.” It’s also worth noting that the Sixers have plenty of room under the cap and a similar type deal could materialize in future years if not in 2017.
13 Bulls Trade Rajon Rondo And Pick 16 To The Kings For The 5th-overall pick
All indicators are that the Sacramento Kings are will not let former Kentucky guard and NCAA Tournament standout De’Aaron Fox slip past them at 5 and would even be willing to trade up to get him. But if Sacramento decided to take the opposite approach and add more good players, there might be a trade-down scenario in the cards involving a Rajon Rondo return to Northern California.
Should Chicago decide to go all-in on a rebuild, such a line of thinking would make Rondo expendable. The emphasis should then be placed on acquiring as many strong assets as they can with the already competent, yet unspectacular roster they currently have after Jimmy Butler. Rondo may be 31, but he shot a career-high in three-point percentage in 2016 and has shown no signs of regression. If Fox goes to the Suns, Sixers or Lakers and the Kings are not sold on Jayson Tatum or Malik Monk, they could always stick with what they know, which is Rondo, who averaged a career-high in assists for the Kings in 2015, while adding another pick which could end up being someone like California’s Ivan Rabb as General Manager Vlade Divac attempts to replace the production of Demarcus Cousins. Remember, his job depends on it.
12 Suns Trade Tyson Chandler To Knicks For Joakim Noah
One of the smaller trades on this list, it is still noteworthy given the fanfare in which surrounded Joakim Noah’s signing with the Knicks last offseason. Unfortunately for the Knickerbockers, Noah brought very little to the table in his first season with the team, and this was prior to his 20-game suspension for a banned substance which will carry over into the start of this season.
Tyson Chandler was far from the disappointment Noah was, as he averaged 11.5 rebounds per game, tied for his third best career mark. The Suns did shut him down early, however to afford more minutes to its younger players. As competent as Chandler still is beneath the glass, he will be entering his age-35 season and makes comparable money to Noah. Should the Suns and Knicks decide to swap big men, the trade works more as a risk/reward type trade for the Suns while the Knicks would be returning a player with nostalgia appeal, in addition to a veteran presence not at all unlike Marcus Camby in his final season with the team.
11 Nets Trade Jeremy Lin To The Spurs For A Future 1st-Round Pick
The Brooklyn Nets have every reason to be sellers each and every year for the next three seasons, or at least until they have collected enough assets to obtain a positive long-term outlook for themselves. The cupboard is bare in Brooklyn right now and General Manager Sean Marks did the right thing when he sent Brook Lopez to the Lakers on Tuesday afternoon. D'Angelo Russell could be an unlikely building block, but in order for this to happen Marks needs to clear the way so Russell can have the playing time to develop properly. This means bringing "Linsanity" to an end for the second time in New York.
Ever since "Linsanity" swept the nation back in 2011, Jeremy Lin has settled into the role of a solid yet unspectacular NBA player, a fine achievement nonetheless for the Harvard graduate. With the exception of Russell, however (and possibly new addition Timofey Mozgov), Lin is probably the best player on the Nets' roster and the team needs to take whatever they can get for him and call it a day so they can "tank" the following season and draft a franchise cornerstone. The Spurs are looking for contributors to their aging roster as they look to keep their championship hopes alive in a very unforgiving Western Conference. A future 1st-round pick may not mean much to them, but it could mean everything to the Nets, making them natural trade partners.
10 Raptors Trade DeMarre Carroll And Pick 23 To The Nets For Pick 47
Remember when I mentioned how the Nets are in full tank mode? Sometimes that means taking on a bad contract or two because you can. Often times, teams will be incentivized for this and that is exactly why a DeMarre Carroll trade from the Raptors to the Nets makes sense.
The Raptors are firmly in “win-now,” even if that means the possibility of losing Kyle Lowry in free agency. Their chances of paying him, however will increase if they can move DeMarre Carroll’s contract off the roster. Carroll took advantage of a big postseason for the Atlanta Hawks in 2014-15 but has since not been the guy the Raptors have paid him to be and was a journeyman prior to his time in Toronto. If the Raptors dangle the 23rd overall pick, one would have to believe the Nets would jump at the opportunity to add another young piece to an otherwise depleted roster, regardless of what role Carroll would play.
8 Trailblazers Trade Allen Crabbe And Pick 15 To The Knicks For Two 2nds
The Knicks, similar to the Nets, might be able to take advantage of a salary dump to add another valuable asset to its collection in 2017. As of this moment, Allen Crabbe is the second highest paid player on the Portland Trailblazers (C.J. McCollum’s extension will kick in next season). The Blazers matched a four-year, $75 million offer sheet last offseason from the Nets to keep Crabbe in Portland. While 2016-17 marked the best season of his career, his 10.7 points per game average does not match $18.5 million per year price tag.
Depending on how eager the Blazers are to get out from underneath the contract, it could present on opportunity for the Knicks to take advantage. It is not so much that Crabbe is a bad player. He has averaged at least 10 points per game each of the last two seasons, which can come in handy, though not at his current salary. Small forwards OG Anunoby and Justin Jackson could be options if the team that adds the pick decides to move on from Carmelo Anthony.
7 Jazz Trade Dante Exum To The Kings For Pick
Yahoo Sports and The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting the Heat and Celtics to be at least two of the suitors for Jazz forward Gordon Hayward in free agency this summer. Hayward has a great foundation in Utah under head coach Quin Snyder and a balanced supporting cast capable of a little bit of everything. Should he decide to leave though, the Jazz will have a huge hole to fill in the front court.
Meanwhile, playing time has not come easy for former 4th-overall draft pick Dante Exum. He did come on strong in the Jazz' impressive stretch run, however. Furthermore, it may be too soon for the Jazz to cut bait on the former lottery pick, but desperate times call for desperate measures. If Sacramento is keen on trading the 10th-overall pick and Kristaps Porzingis-comparable Lauri Markkanen is still available, this is a trade the Jazz should jump on if they think Hayward is leaning towards leaving. The 7-foot Finland native may not be able to give the Jazz what Hayward gives them right out of the gate but in time could be a star if his massive upside comes to promise.
6 Cavaliers Trade Kevin Love To Clippers For Blake Griffin (sign and trade)
One of the big questions for any team this offseason is how the Cleveland Cavaliers will respond to getting thumped 4-1 by the Warriors just one year removed after taking their crown in the NBA Finals. Three Cavs trades ended up making this list, but one of the more obvious moves the team can make is to move Kevin Love for a piece more likely to mesh with LeBron. Love’s name has come up in trade chatter on numerous occasions even dating back to last year when the Cavs usurped the Warriors.
Meanwhile, the Clippers are in need of a facelift. Chris Paul is an impending free agent and Blake Griffin, like Love, is a name that has surfaced in trade talks around the league dating back to around the same time. So why not a Love-for-Griffin swap? It would give Love a chance to be more ball-dominant like he used to be in Minnesota, while Griffin receives an opportunity to reinvent himself next to LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Or maybe not? We’ll get to that.
5 Timberwolves Trade Ricky Rubio To Spurs For Kyle Anderson, Spurs' 2017 1st (29th overall)
If the Spurs lose out on the Chris Paul sweepstakes, Ricky Rubio seems to check off all the boxes for a Gregg Popovich-type player. He an unselfish, veteran presence, yet still only 26-years-old with plenty of room to grow and should remain cheaper than Paul in the immediate future. The Spurs organization would just need to decide if he is worth what they may have to pay in a potential deal, which is likely a 1st-round pick and a player, perhaps Kyle Anderson.
Rubio’s availability is partially due to Kris Dunn eating into his playing time. The Timberwolves invested a top-five pick in Dunn last year and is the team’s point guard of the future, so somebody like Anderson who profiles more as a bench piece may make more sense in the current team context. A back-end 1st round pick in a deep draft where the Timberwolves can add another complimentary piece to their long-term puzzle may or may not be enough to entice Minnesota, but there is incentive for the team to give Dunn the reigns now so he can develop properly.
4 Cavaliers Trade Kyrie Irving To Clippers For Chris Paul And Edy Tavares (sign and trade)
The hot rumor seems to be Chris Paul signing with the Spurs to play with Kawhi Leonard, but if the Cavs are serious about fielding a more consistent team to take down the Warriors then they should go out and do what they need to do to get LeBron James' buddy in the fold. If they are looking to deal with the Clippers directly in an attempt to save money, they could have to overpay in terms of overall value, though “overall value” is in the eye of the beholder.
In order for the Cavs to be salary cap compliant with bringing CP3 in to reunite with former “Redeem Team” running mate LeBron James, they will have to move Kyrie Irving. Irving will no doubt carry a lot of value if the Cavs do decide to shop him around and that might be the most beneficial scenario. For the intents and purposes of this scenario, however, sending him to Los Angeles does make sense. If there are questions about his ability to mesh with King James, how could they expect him to mesh better with another all-star point guard on the roster? If the Cavs are looking to mortgage its future for realistic championship possibilities for the next three-to-five years, they should take the deal. From the Clippers’ perspective, adding Irving for Paul would be a great haul and breathe new life into the Steve Ballmer-led franchise.
3 Blazers Trade Picks 20, 26 And A Protected Future 1st-Round Pick To The Hornets For 11th Overall
The Trailblazers front office has decided to build their team from the outside in and have guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum each under contract for at least the next four seasons. What they lack, however, is a dominant front court presence. The team has every reason to to package two of their three 1st round picks and possibly a future 1st rounder to trade up and make sure they get a player who can clean the glass and create more opportunities for its volume-shooting guards.
Harry Giles Jr. fits the profile of a future frontcourt stud and many questioned whether he should have even entered this year’s draft, coming off an injury-shortened season at Duke. He started just six games, but ESPN ranked him as the No. 1 high school recruit of the 2016 class, putting him in similar company to Josh Jackson. He will be a gamble for a usually risk-adverse club, but could pay big dividends if the Blazers decide to pay up. The Charlotte Hornets currently own the 11th-overall pick and do not have a ton of incentive to move out of that spot but could afford to accept an overpayment.
2 Lakers Trade Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. And A Future 1st-Round Pick To The Pacers For Paul George
The Lakers could be in the market for a star, but will not have as much to offer by way of assets. Luckily, Paul George should come a little cheaper, considering he only has one year left on his deal and seems to have his mind made up on bolting Indiana when his contract expires. The Lakers cannot offer George what a team like Boston can by way of culture and built-in team around him, but George is a native of Los Angeles and the chances of the Lakers’ securing his services in 2018 may increase if he gets a taste of what it’s like to play and perhaps gel with the team’s young core one year in advance.
There is more incentive for the Lakers to pull the trigger on this trade because they drafted Lonzo Ball with the 2nd-overall pick. Ball’s acquisition might make Clarkson expendable to the team when it comes to trading for a superstar who could be sticking around for a while, unless of course they plan on rolling with him as the starting shooting guard. The difference between the Pacers trading George and the Bulls trading Butler is the Pacers have a greater incentive to get what they can now, while the Bulls could always look to restock their team around Butler in the long-term. Adding a piece like Clarkson, who is a solid player still with much to prove, along with Nance and an unprotected draft pick, would be a nice haul for PG-13.
1 Celtics Trade The Third Overall Pick For Jimmy Butler
The Chicago Bulls are a directionless franchise. However, for the purposes of this article let’s pretend they’ve decided to go all-in on a rebuild (and frankly a rebuild would be an easier feat than a retool). If the team is sold on moving Jimmy Butler, the price is going to have to come down even if he was named as the NBA’s 15 best bargains in a recent ESPN.com piece. As this pertains to Butler’s top suitor, the Boston Celtics, the price of top five picks will only climb as the Draft inches closer and players like Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and Celtics target Josh Jackson start lighting up the scoreboard in Summer League.
As crazy as it may sound, there is precedent for the number one pick switching teams before the regular season tips off. Remember the Andrew Wiggins-Kevin Love deal from 2014? If the Celtics are all-in on challenging the Warriors for their crown and truly surpassing the Cavaliers in the East, it’s hard to envision them not accepting this deal, even with as safe of a pick as Jackson is said to be. As for the Bulls, while the Butler return here is less than was originally anticipated, Jackson's upside is similar to Butler's. The ex-Jayhawk is not afraid to assert himself on both ends of the floor and could provide the Bulls with the building block they need to come back to relevance. They can re-brand, spike jersey sales, and will have a cost-controlled new franchise face who they won’t have to worry about leaving in free agency.