With the NBA Trade Deadline roughly one month away, rumors have begun to swirl around the NBA. With a free agent class that is loaded with superstars (LeBron James, Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins), numerous teams that have not met the lofty expectations set for them (Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Memphis Grizzlies), and lots of potential superstars being shopped around (DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol), this appears to be a very active trading deadline. I’m not necessarily sold that we will see a blockbuster trade at the deadline, in which a superstar (like an Anthony Davis) is moved, but I am fairly certain that numerous second-tier players will move, and that many teams will shuffle their rosters for a shot to dethrone LeBron James, and to knock off Golden State.
Trade Idea #1: DeAndre Jordan is on the Move
-DeAndre Jordan and his relationship with the Los Angeles Clippers is, well, complicated. He appeared to commit to signing with the Dallas Mavericks back in the Summer of 2015, only to back out of that deal, and re-sign with the Clips. While Jordan’s reputation took a bit of a hit, he truthfully never blossomed into a superstar player. DeAndre Jordan is still the same player he was three years ago; he’s one of the best rebounders in the NBA, a great interior defender who is athletic enough to switch onto perimeter players, and he can dunk the ball. He’s still an awful foul shooter, he’s still severely limited offensively, and he still can’t make a shot outside of 12 feet. However, his defense, athleticism, and rim-running ability makes him a valuable piece, even if he might test the free agent waters again. This is why I think the Clippers look to trade him now, as they might land a solid return for a top-10 center. Below, I have a scenario that I think makes some sense for all of those involved:
Los Angeles Clippers Receive: Nerlens Noel, D.J. Wilson, 2018 first round pick (lottery protected, from MIL), 2019 2nd round pick (from DAL)
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Barea
Dallas Mavericks Receive: Jabari Parker, John Henson, Jason Terry
-There is a lot going on in this proposed three-team deal, so let’s break it down. The Clippers move Jordan, who might leave in free agency anyways, and get a solid young center in Nerlens Noel (who is also a free agent), Milwaukee’s 2017 first round pick in D.J. Wilson (who has barely played), and, most likely, Milwaukee’s first round pick this year, and a throw-in 2nd round pick from the Mavericks. That is a solid haul for a player who might leave for nothing this off-season, and while it isn’t a spectacular return, adding two young frontcourt players in D.J. Wilson & Nerlens Noel, while also adding a pick that would probably land in the 20-24 range, is good for the Clippers.
-The Milwaukee Bucks give up a lot in this deal (D.J. Wilson, 2018 first round pick, Jabari Parker, John Henson, Jason Terry), but it is well worth it. DeAndre Jordan is the caliber of a player that can lift Milwaukee from a 5-6 seed, into a 3-4 seed, and gives them the talent infusion that allows them to compete with the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers. A starting five of Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, & DeAndre Jordan is fearsome, and can compete with anyone. J.J. Barea is one of the most underrated players in the NBA, and his experience with Jason Kidd (they were teammates on the 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks team), and overall playoff experience would be a huge help for the young Bucks. Giving up D.J. Wilson and a first rounder hurts, but not too badly as Wilson would have a tough time cracking a loaded frontcourt rotation anyways. I know a lot of people are freaking out about including Jabari Parker, but here it is: Parker has insane upside, but he has torn his ACL twice, is a restricted free agent that might get a max deal, and is not yet fully healthy. Throwing Parker in allows Milwaukee to move John Henson’s bad deal, and Jason Terry as filler to make the money work.
-The Dallas Mavericks appear to be the real winner here, as they land Jabari Parker, John Henson, and Jason Terry (a Dallas favorite), while only giving up Nerlens Noel and J.J. Barea. The Mavericks land a potential superstar (Parker), who pairs nicely with Dennis Smith Jr., and Harrison Barnes. Now, while Dallas getting Parker is nice, he will be a restricted free agent this off-season, and might receive a huge contract offer. Dallas would have to be willing to spend a lot on Parker to make this trade worthwhile for them. John Henson is a solid big, but he has a very expensive deal, and is the “baggage” that Dallas receives by getting Parker. Jason Terry is thrown in to make the money work (and so he can retire a Maverick), and hopefully, every team goes home happy.
Trade Idea #2: The Cleveland Cavaliers Make an Upgrade
-The Cleveland Cavaliers are in a tail-spin, and although I believe they will be fine without making a move, it is a near-certainty Cleveland will be extremely active around the trade deadline. The Cavaliers are an interesting case; they have multiple players on bad deals (Iman Shumpert, Tristan Thompson), they have a potential top-10 pick in this year’s draft, and have a team ready to win. Below, I have an idea that is out-of-the-box, but makes a lot of sense:
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Jordan Clarkson, Thaddeus Young
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Channing Frye, 2020 first round pick (from CLE, protected 1-7)
Indiana Pacers Receive: Tristan Thompson Cedi Osman, Jose Calderon, 2018 2nd round pick (from CLE), 2019 2nd round pick (from LAL)
-Once again, let’s break this trade down:
-The Cleveland Cavaliers end up making a trade without involving the Brooklyn Nets’ first round pick, which is the ideal scenario. Adding Jordan Clarkson, one of the best 6th men in the league, and Thaddeus Young, a solid forward who is capable of starting or coming off the bench, gives Cleveland two talented players. Clarkson immediately bolsters their second unit, and allows Dwayne Wade to slide back over to his natural SG position, while also reduces the minutes for J.R. Smith. Thaddeus Young gives the Cavaliers much-needed frontcourt depth, and gives them a versatile forward who can really defend. This trade doesn’t hurt Cleveland too badly, but if LeBron James leaves in free agency, the floodgates open. This could lead to Isaiah Thomas also leaving, and Jordan Clarkson is under contract at $12M per year for the next 3 seasons, which could hamper Cleveland’s salary cap predicaments.
-At first glance, it seems as if the Los Angeles Lakers get fleeced in this deal, but let’s dive in more. The Lakers have made it clear they want to shed cap space, as they believe they can land Paul George and/or LeBron James this off-season, and Jordan Clarkson is an easy way to do it. Clarkson is a great talent, he’s young, and they already have Lonzo Ball in front of him. The Lakers also give up a 2019 second round pick which isn’t much, but bring back a 2020 first round pick from the Cavaliers. This pick is a huge wildcard; if LeBron leaves and Cleveland goes for a full rebuild, all of a sudden, that pick is very valuable for the Lakers. If LeBron stays, odds are that in three years, his title window is closing, and the Cavaliers aren’t the same dominant team. Channing Frye is on an expiring contract, so he doesn’t hurt the Lakers this off-season
-The Indiana Pacers may not trade Thaddeus Young, especially after it was announced that Myles Turner will be out for a few weeks. The Pacers are in the playoff race, and probably don’t want their frontcourt to end up being a mix of Domantas Sabonis, T.J. Leaf, and Al Jefferson while pushing for a playoff spot. However, if Indiana were open to this deal, adding a guy like Tristan Thompson could help them, as they are one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA. For Indiana, taking on Tristan Thompson’s mega contract isn’t ideal, but he is still a very productive player, and would give Indiana a nice frontcourt mix with Thompson, Myles Turner and Sabonis. Indiana also lands Cedi Osman, a rookie forward with a nice shooting touch, and Jose Calderon, who is a free agent this summer. Adding two picks is a nice little bonus, but this deal makes a lot of sense for Indiana to improve their team.
Trade Idea #3: A Shocking Move Nobody Sees Coming
-The Charlotte Hornets suck this year; there is no way around it. Kemba Walker has developed into a star, and Dwight Howard has been great, but the rest of the roster has underperformed, outside of maybe Jeremy Lamb & Frank Kaminsky. General Manager Rich Cho has a decision to make, as the team has multiple bad contracts (Nicolas Batum, Cody Zeller, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist), and is one of the worst teams in the NBA. Cho can either choose to pray that Steve Clifford returning as head coach can right the ship and make Charlotte a playoff team (which is highly unlikely), he can attempt to improve his team and make a run at the playoffs, or he can rebuild. Below, I have a rebuilding scenario for the Hornets (and, beware, it’s crazy):
Charlotte Hornets Receive: Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard, Langston Galloway, 2019 first round pick (from DET, 1-7 protected)
Detroit Pistons Receive: Kemba Walker, Greg Monroe
Phoenix Suns Receive: Reggie Jackson
-Let’s break it down:
-The Hornets have to make a move at the deadline, and by trading away Kemba Walker, they clearly signal they are ready to rebuild. Adding two former lottery picks in Stanley Johnson and Luke Kennard is a great start, and a future pick from Detroit looks good as well. The Hornets big problem here is that Nicolas Batum, Cody Zeller, Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are still on the books, so moving 1-2 of them in a subsequent move would make a ton of sense. However, landing this much for Kemba Walker is a solid start, especially with Kemba due to hit free agency in 2019.
-The Detroit Pistons make a strong win-now move here, and shed Reggie Jackson’s contract. Kemba Walker is a star, and he immediately makes the Detroit Pistons a dangerous team. Losing Kennard & Johnson hurts, especially since it depletes the Pistons’ already weak bench, but adding Greg Monroe, a former Piston, could give this team a short-term boost. A starting five of Kemba Walker, Avery Bradley, Reggie Bullock, Tobias Harris & Andre Drummond looks really good, even if they mortgage the future to get there.
-The Phoenix Suns get a point guard in Reggie Jackson, and can pair him with Devin Booker to give them a solid backcourt for the future. Greg Monroe is moved to make the salary work, and Phoenix not giving up a pick here is big for the Suns.
-As for the Hornets in this scenario, they could (and should) look to trade Batum, Zeller, MKG and Marvin Williams. Since Charlotte enters a rebuild phase, they don’t want to attach draft picks with these players, but rather try to find a contender to take them on, and hope they can bounce back. For example, Marvin Williams is still a solid two-way forward, and a team like the Los Angeles Clippers could use him for depth if they become buyers. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist still has a lot of potential, and him landing in San Antonio (where Kawhi Leonard is out indefinitely) could make a lot of sense, especially if the Hornets were to get a player such as Derrick White in return. Nicolas Batum is probably near-impossible to move, but he’s still a really solid player and the Hornets could choose to feature him in hopes of boosting his trade stock