With the NBA playoffs already in full swing, it won’t be long until trade talks take the basketball world by storm. Often players will be looking for a change of scenery, unhappy with their current situation and try to force a way out. Other times, it’s the team who decides to let go of players as they look to improve their squad for the next season. And with the salary cap receiving yet another bump thanks to the new CBA agreement, teams now have more flexibility than ever before.
But all it takes is one big trade to send the NBA into a meltdown. In 2014, Kevin Love was traded from the Timberwolves to the Cavaliers for a package headlined by Andrew Wiggins, ensuring the Cavs were outright favorites in the Eastern Conference. Additionally, it was a total shakeup for the Timberwolves as their franchise was built around two lengthy forwards for almost two decades; Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love. For the first time since 1996, Minnesota was building their team around a small forward, who is viewed by many to be one of the next big superstars in the league.
Plenty more shocking trades could be on the way this offseason. With the Warriors continuing their domination of the West and the LeBron still leading the Cavaliers in the East, not many teams look capable of competing with the juggernauts. But if the Celtics could pry a genuine superstar away from their team, who knows how far they could take the Cavs in a seven-game series.
So as the offseason approaches, let’s take a look at 15 blockbuster trades that could happen over the summer.
15. Paul George to the Lakers
Following his first-round exit to the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s looking more and more likely that Paul George will be traded away from Indiana before his contract expires in 2019.
While the Lakers don’t look especially enticing right now as a squad, George could act as a a major selling point for free agents on the market. George’s versatility and ability to play the power forward position ensures that he’s a perfect fit for the Lakers as they favor small-ball lineups
The Lakers have a pool of young assets that they should be more than willing to part with for the California native. The Lakers have ten players who are 25-years-old or younger, seven of whom average at least seven points per game. The biggest indicator of George wanting to play for the Lakers is that he reportedly has been very vocal about the idea of “wearing purple and gold” inside the Pacers locker room, according to a former teammate. It seems like George is fed up with Indiana and their lack of progress so a trade to the Lakers could be the change of scenery the SoCal native needs.
14. Chris Paul to San Antonio
Chris Paul can’t catch a break in the playoffs. Throughout his six seasons with the Clippers, he’s never reached the Conference Finals. If there was a time to blow up the Clippers’ core, it would be now before both CP3 and Griffin demand max deals, potentially over $200 million each.
In order for Doc Rivers to avoid a complicated free agency, he could send Paul to the Spurs and get back a number of serviceable players who are capable of contributing. Patty Mills, Danny Green and Jonathon Simmons represent three players who could come off the bench as the Clippers continue to build around Blake Griffin. A third team would likely need to be involved to include a few draft picks, but the Clippers are seemingly cursed when it comes to playoff basketball.
13. Wesley Matthews to Toronto
It was only two short years ago that Wesley Matthews signed with the Dallas Mavericks for a whopping $70 million over four years. At the time, the contract seemed ridiculous considering Matthews was coming off an Achilles injury.
Matthews failed to improve on his stellar career in Portland as his two seasons with the Mavericks represent his worst shooting years. During his first year with the Mavs, Matthews shot 34 percent between three and ten feet; a full 23 percent lower than his last season in Portland. So why would this trade be so big? The Raptors ranked 21st in three-pointers made during the regular season, a low number given the changing landscape of the NBA. Toronto finished as the third seed in the East and will need outside shooting if they’re to compete with the likes of Cleveland.
But this trade comes with the caveat that Matthews would be willing to come off the bench. The Raptors second unit currently rank 26th in the league, averaging a meagre 31.3 points per game. If Matthews can contribute 10 to 15 points per game, the Raptors could become a serious threat in the East.
12. Derrick Rose to Philadelphia
For the longest period of time, fans and critics alike couldn’t imagine Derrick Rose wearing a jersey that wasn’t from Chicago. A number of knee injuries later and the former MVP found himself in the Big Apple, but it doesn’t look like Rose will be there for long. Having already voiced his displeasure with running Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, it might not be long until we see Rose on the move again. With the Knicks potentially blowing up the team and rebuilding around Kristaps Porzingis, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose be traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 28-year-old has enjoyed a successful season in New York, averaging 18 points and 4.4 assists per game. While still nowhere near close to his MVP numbers, it’s still above average output for a point guard. But Rose has still copped his fair share of criticism, but in Philly he could very easily fly under the radar on an up-and-coming team. With Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons attracting all of the attention, Rose could return to the fundamentals that made him the exhilarating player he was five years ago. With Rose’s contract expiring this year, it would require the Knicks to agree to a sign-and-trade, but it could pay off for both teams long-term.
11. Ricky Rubio to New York
With Rose now out of the picture, the Knicks will need a player to run the show. Enter 26-year-old Ricky Rubio who finished this season averaging 11.1 points and 9.1 assists per game. While the Spaniard has struggled with his outside shot, knocking down an underwhelming 30 percent of his three-pointers, his play as a pass-first guard could be instrumental in developing Kristaps Porzingis.
Phil Jackson’s insists that the Knicks continue to run his famous triangle offense, which would normally require a guard who can shoot the ball from deep. This is an area that Rubio has traditionally struggled with but not through lack of trying. This season, he averaged a career-high 2.6 attempts from behind the arc but connected on a mediocre 31 percent of those. Despite this, Rubio’s quickness and ability to finish inside the paint should compensate for his lack of finesse from the outside.
10. Brook Lopez to ????
Someone needs to tell Brook Lopez that the Nets aren’t going to be in the NBA Finals anytime soon. The 29-year-old recently became the leading scorer in franchise history, currently sitting on 10,444. After surpassing the legendary Buck Williams, very few have questioned Lopez’ dedication to the franchise. His loyalty is admirable and earning over $20 million a season doesn’t hurt either, but fans must begin to wonder why Lopez is sticking around when the franchise is clearly failing. Many argue that Lopez can’t simply pack up his bags and leave, but he can certainly force his way out.
Brook Lopez is certainly one of the most skilled big men in the league and should be on a team that’s contending for a title. While he’s had a number of injuries to contend with, he’s been averaging at least 20 points per game in three of his last four seasons. And it wasn’t until this year that he added a legitimate three-point shot, knocking down 1.8 per game. With only three draft picks over the next two years, the Nets need to find a way to bring in young talent and start rebuilding. While it may be hard to let go, their best chance at restarting the franchise from the ground up is trading away Lopez for picks and young players.
9. Reggie Jackson to Dallas
Reggie Jackson seems like a perfect fit for the Dallas Mavericks. He’s a tough player who can finish inside the paint while still distributing the basketball efficiently. And if the Mavs do indeed trade away Wesley Matthews, Jackson could easily slide into the starting point guard spot. Seth Curry could be pushed into the shooting guard position and the two could form a formidable duo similar to the Phoenix Suns’ old two-guard system consisting of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic.
Jackson has been consistent for the Detroit Pistons with his PER hovering just below 20 in his first two seasons before dropping 14.9 this year, largely due to his time spent on the sideline. But Jackson has shown that he has what it takes to lead a team and at just 26 years old, could be what the Mavs need to make it back into the playoffs.
The Mavericks are arguably closer to the playoff picture than the Pistons, who have been improving steadily over the past few seasons. Under Stan van Gundy, the team now plays basketball that is actually watchable but still lacks the offensive punch needed to defeat mid-level teams. Trading away Jackson would mark the beginning of a new era for the Pistons.
8. Carmelo Anthony to Boston
Carmelo Anthony’s tenure with the Knicks has been long and largely unsuccessful. Phil Jackson’s recent comments regarding the 32-year-old has essentially ended his career in the Big Apple.
Following an abysmal season where his team finished with a 31-51 record, Jackon spoke to the media and said: “We have not been able to win with him on the court at this time and I think the direction with our team is that he is a player that would be better off somewhere else and using his talent somewhere he can win or chase that championship.”
Melo is still producing at a high level but is clearly not the offensive threat he used to be. But he would fit perfectly with the Boston Celtics, who already have Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford scoring the majority of their points. If Anthony could become a viable third scoring option for the team, it could give the Celtics the edge they need to topple the Cavaliers. And with a bevvy of first-round draft picks to offer with a number of young assets, it looks likely that Anthony waive his trade clause and get out of New York.
7. Jonas Valanciunas to Charlotte
Ever since Serge Ibaka was traded to the Raptors, Jonas Valanciunas has taken a back seat. With the former Thunder big man capable of both stretching the floor and finishing inside, it looks like Valanciunas’ days in Toronto are numbered. There’s no doubt that Valanciunas is still a skilled big man in the league, but it’s clear that he no longer fits with the direction that the Raptors are moving in.
In Charlotte, Valanciunas could form a lethal partnership with Kemba Walker. It was only a few years ago that Walker led the Hornets to the playoffs alongside Al Jefferson. The similarities between the two are substantial, with neither being particularly strong defenders but above-average scorers. Frank Kaminsky is still a young player who is continuing to develop but lacks a significant post-game. In return for Valanciunas, the Hornets could send Jeremy Lamb or even Kaminsky himself to Toronto.
6. Kenneth Faried to Washington
When Kenneth Faried was first drafted, he was viewed by many to be a great young player who can rebound well but struggles offensively. Having just finished his sixth season in the league, Faried is now seen as a player who can rebound well but struggles offensively. The 27-year-old has failed to improve his offensive repertoire, attempting an outrageous 92 percent of his shots within 10 feet of the rim. But Faried has still rebounds at an efficient rate, pulling down 12.7 rebounds per 36 minutes. With the rise of Nikola Jokic, Faried has been limited to just 21.2 minutes per game.
It’s clear that Faried has become expendable to the Nuggets and a move to Washington could be on the cards. The Wizards ranked 23rd in rebounding with Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris the only two players on the team averaging more than 6.5 boards per game. The Wizards have a number of assets, including Trey Burke. The 24-year-old was phenomenal in Utah but has failed to impress throughout his time with the Wizards.
5. Blake Griffin to Oklahoma City
If the Clippers do intend to blow up their squad, their biggest trade asset is Blake Griffin. The 28-year-old has come a long way from being the rookie known for nothing but his dunks, evolving into a versatile forward who can now stretch the floor. Throughout his seven years in the league, Griffin has averaged at least 18 points in every season and was named an All-Star in his first five seasons. While injuries have hampered his last two seasons under Doc Rivers, the University of Oklahoma alum still has plenty left in the tank.
This season saw Griffin seriously attempt to add a three-point shot to his game, attempting 1.9 per game after never shooting more than 0.6 per game. He connected on 34 percent of his shots from downtown before succumbing to a broken toe in the first round of the playoffs against Utah. With the Thunder, Griffin could be the perfect foil to Russell Westbrook. It would give OKC a legitimate second scoring option behind The Brodie. Not only is Griffin an Oklahoma native but his fit with the squad would propel the team to the upper echelon of the Western Conference.
4. Boban Marjanovic to ????
Quite literally a HUGE trade for the Pistons as they try to unshackle themselves from one of the most questionable signings in recent memory. Boban Marjanovic stands at a ridiculous 7’3″, making him one of the tallest players in the league. He was a fan favorite while with the Spurs, only making $1.2 million for the year. His stats were never good enough to warrant possibly starting on another team, let alone coming off the bench for significant minutes outside of garbage time. In spite of all this, the Pistons offered him a three-year deal worth $21 million.
Why exactly the Pistons did this is still a mystery. Not only do they have Andre Drummond but Australian big man Aron Baynes has proven to be a serviceable backup.
While his contract is still relatively cheap thanks to the ever exploding CBA agreement, he’s simply a player that the Pistons didn’t need. Where he’ll end up is still a mystery as not many teams need a big man who can’t space the floor anymore.
3. Jahlil Okafor to New York
In just 31 short games, Joel Embiid rose to the top of the 2016 rookie class and usurped Jahlil Okafor as the top dog in Philadelphia. After averaging 17.5 points and 7 rebounds per game in his rookie year, Okafor took a big step back thanks to a number of injuries. The 21-year-old featured in just 50 games but shot an astounding 70 percent whenever he was within three feet of the rim.
But the Duke product finished the season strong, scoring in double-figures in seven of his last 12 games of the season. And at such a young age, Okafor could be the perfect pairing for Kristaps Porzingis. The two could build a similar partnership to Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, with the pair constantly feeding off each other. The 76ers could get a number of serviceable bench players in return and greatly improve their squad depth. While they currently rank 4th in the league in bench scoring, it’s something they’ll need to continuously improve on if they’re to even think about making it to the playoffs.
It seems strange to talk about trading away Jahlil Okafor after just two seasons in the league. But with Joel Embiid already showing All-Star potential and Ben Simmons on his way back, there might not be much room left for Jah.
2. Derrick Favors to Portland
Once considered to be the next big thing, Derrick Favors has fallen astoundingly short of what many saw to be All-Star potential. But this isn’t through lack of trying, but rather the quick rise of Rudy Gobert. The Frenchman looks likely to maintain his spot in the starting five but Favors is still no slouch. The 25-year-old averages 9.5 points and 6.1 rebounds in just under 24 minutes of action per night. While these numbers look rather mediocre, they balloon out to 14.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per 36 minutes.
This season was a down year for the former New Jersey big man, who was the main selling point for Utah when they traded Deron Williams. But with their starting five well established, the Jazz must look to improve their bench scoring as they rank 21st in the league.
Sending Favors to Portland for Allen Crabbe and a draft pick could see both teams improve drastically. The Trail Blazers have been lacking a big man who can play defense while the Jazz receives a player who can come off the bench and light up the scoreboard. While Jusuf Nurkic can help them on the offensive end, adding Favors could be a game-changing trade for them.
1. Ben McLemore to Indiana
When Ben McLemore was drafted seventh in 2013, many saw him to be a big part of the Sacramento Kings’ future as they pushed for the playoffs. Alongside DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, the trio were meant to represent an exciting future. McLemore experienced a good start to his still young career, averaging 10.5 points per game and 2.9 rebounds throughout his first two seasons. His ability to knock down the three will keep him in the league for a number of years and at just 24, could still have a bright future. After the Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins for Buddy Hield, it looks likely that McLemore will be somewhere else by next season.
In Indiana, the starting shooting guard spot alternated between Monta Ellia, 31, and C.J. Miles, 29. With the recent (re)signing of Lance Stephenson, the log jam for the shooting guard position just got a lot messier. But if the Kings and Pacers can orchestrate a straight swap of McLemore for Ellis and/or Miles, it could be beneficial to both teams. Both players have less than two years on their contracts and could provide veteran leadership for the young Kings team. Meanwhile, McLemore could come off the bench as a spot-up shooter, improving an already lethal squad. The Pacers knocked down nearly 38 percent of all shots from deep this season, good for fourth in the league.
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