0 out of 5
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While we wait to see where Kevin Durant ends up following his Brooklyn Nets trade request, sometimes smaller deals can also make all the difference for teams.
Whether it’s PJ Tucker bringing toughness to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021, Marc Gasol helping the Toronto Raptors win the 2019 title or Channing Frye’s chemical cleanup of the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers, the simple act of adding a veteran starter or a player rotation can allow teams to take a big leap forward overall.
The following five trade ideas do not contain a player who made the All-Star team last year. Still, if any of these players are traded to the right destination, it could have a huge ripple effect on the rest of the league.
1 out of 5
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The Toronto Raptors receive: C Myles Turner
The Indiana Pacers receive: F/C Precious Achiuwa, C Khem Birch, G Malachi Flynn, G/F Svi Mykhailiuk, 2023 first round pick (top five protected)
While the Raptors weren’t on Durant’s supposed wishlist of teams to join, Toronto has some of the best assets to acquire it. Masai Ujiri obviously isn’t afraid to swing for the fences with his 2018 trade for Kawhi Leonard, a move that delivered a championship 11 months later.
So what can the Raptors do to help convince Durant to push Brooklyn into orchestrating a trade? A deal for one of the NBA’s top rim protectors should help.
Getting Turner gives Toronto an oversized potential roster, which could include four starters (with OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam) who are 6’7″ to 6’11”. If acquired, the Durant 6’10” also fits this mold.
While the Raptors give up a first-round pick in this deal, they retain all of their starters and own all of their other future first-round picks, meaning the Nets could still choose from a talent pool that includes Gary Trent Jr., Anunoby. , Barnes and Siakam.
Getting another first in 2023 would give Indiana three total (its own plus one due to the Cleveland Cavaliers) in which drafts would be a terrific draft. Achiuwa, 22, is a good young building block in the frontcourt that the Pacers should also covet.
What changes: Toronto becomes a more attractive destination for Kevin Durant without giving up any starters.
2 out of 5
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New Orleans Pelicans receive: PG Mike Conley
Utah Jazz Receive: F/C Jaxson Hayes, PG Devonte’ Graham, 2027 first-round pick (via Milwaukee Bucks)
The Pelicans were one of the feel-good stories after the trade deadline, turning what looked like another lost season into a playoff experience with a competitive first-round series against the Phoenix Suns.
The truth is, New Orleans isn’t that far off from a championship challenge, especially if Zion Williamson returns healthy next season.
Another key to pushing the Pelicans to the top of the West? Acquire a veteran playmaker who can tie it all together.
With the Utah Jazz having already traded Rudy Gobert, Conley could be the next vet to go while they revamp the roster around Donovan Mitchell. The 34-year-old point guard averaged 13.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.3 steals and just 1.7 turnovers per game for Utah last season, and his mark 40.8% from three would do wonders for a Pelicans team that finished 27th overall in outside accuracy (33.2%).
With so many top scorers already on the roster, joining a starting five of CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas would just mean setting up some guys and hitting open threes for Conley. With a bench that includes Herbert Jones, Larry Nance Jr., Jose Alvarado, Trey Murphy III and others, New Orleans could be in the hunt for the championship with a proven playmaker like Conley.
Hayes, 22, gives the Jazz a young center to potentially build with the departure of Gobert, while Graham takes on playmaking duties next to Mitchell and is seven years younger than Conley. Utah is also adding another first-round pick to a now massive collection thanks to Gobert’s trade, giving it more options to add talent around Mitchell.
What changes: The Pelicans go from an eighth seed 36-46 to a serious contender in the West.
3 out of 5
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The Los Angeles Lakers receive: G/F Josh Richardson
San Antonio Spurs receives: G/F Talen Horton-Tucker
While the Lakers weren’t short on talent last season with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker and others, one of the main reasons the season fell apart was the terrible crisis of all these players.
Finding a way to trade Westbrook for Kyrie Irving should be high on the to-do list in Los Angeles, but trading Horton-Tucker for a three-and-D wing would also do wonders for the Lakers’ return to relevance.
Horton-Tucker, 21, averaged 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.0 steals in 25.2 minutes and showed promise as a 6-point playmaker. ‘4″, although his terrible outside shot (26.9%) made a terrible fit among stars who already struggle to consistently hit all three.
While the Lakers were bad when the three-way combo of James, Davis and Westbrook were on the floor together (minus-3.5 net rating), adding Horton-Tucker to the mix made LA abysmal (minus-12, 3 clean).
Even though Horton-Tucker has the most potential of any young Laker and could eventually learn to play effectively alongside James, the four-time MVP turns 38 in December and enters the final year of his contract. Los Angeles simply cannot afford to wait.
Moving Horton-Tucker for a proven three-and-D wing like Richardson immediately makes the Lakers better. The 28-year-old can play and defend multiple positions and averaged 10.2 points while shooting 41.5% on three last season between the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs. After his trade to San Antonio, Richardson ranked in the 89th percentile among all players with a swing rating of over 7.9, according to Cleaning the Glass.
Spurs are clearly kicking off the 2022-23 season after trading Dejounte Murray, so moving a veteran like Richardson for a talented 21-year-old in Horton-Tucker is just smart tanking.
What changes: With a core of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers can get back into the championship mix if they put better-fitting pieces around their two superstars.
4 out of 5
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The Philadelphia 76ers receive: F Bojan Bogdanovic, SG Jordan Clarkson, F Rudy Gay
Utah Jazz Receive: PF Tobias Harris, SF Matisse Thybulle
Utah should be wary of a trade request from star Donovan Mitchell, especially since the Jazz could very well drop out of the playoff draw after trading Rudy Gobert and Royce O’Neale.
A way to please him without having to sacrifice any of the five first-round picks acquired in these two trades? Call Philadelphia.
Harris, 29, would give Utah another big scorer to help ease the pressure on Mitchell. He averaged 17.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and shot 36.7% on three for the 76ers last season as a third and fourth option at times and would be a great pick. as a starting forward now with the Jazz.
Given how often Utah’s perimeter defense has crippled the team in recent years, the addition of one of the NBA’s best wing stoppers in Thybulle should also appeal to Mitchell. The 76ers allowed 3.7 fewer points per 100 possessions with the 25-year-old small forward on the court last season because Thybulle can stop anyone from point guards to some power forwards. With Patrick Beverley and Malik Beasley likely off the Utah bench, the Jazz can afford to part ways with Clarkson in the deal.
For Philly, this craft ticks a number of boxes.
Shedding Harris’ contract (two years, $77 million) is a big deal for a 76ers roster set to get even more expensive when James Harden signs his next contract. It also prevents them from extending Thybulle (a restricted free agent next year). Overall, this trade takes about $20 million off the books for next season while bringing back some good talent.
Bogdanovic averaged 18.1 points and hit 38.7% of his three last season and should fit in well amid a roster that now includes Tyrese Maxey, Harden, PJ Tucker and Joel Embiid. Clarkson is only a year away from winning sixth man of the year, and Gay is helping him solidify that Philadelphia bench.
What changes: Donovan Mitchell suspends a potential trade request and the Sixers cut their 2023-24 payroll by $20 million.
5 out of 5
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Brooklyn Nets receive: PG Spencer Dinwiddie, F/C Maxi Kleber, 2025 First Round Pick (lottery protected), 2027 First Round Pick (lottery protected)
Dallas Mavericks receives: PG Ben Simmons
Although the Nets are giving up the best player in this deal with Simmons, there is a good reason for it.
Moving the three-time All-Star now opens up a lot more trade opportunities for Kevin Durant, as players who are on designated rookie extensions could now return to Brooklyn in a trade with Simmons gone. That could help facilitate a Durant trade to the Miami Heat (with Bam Adebayo involved), the Denver Nuggets (Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.) or the Golden State Warriors (Andrew Wiggins), among others.
The Nets aren’t content to dump Simmons either, as Dinwiddie returns to the franchise that made him a top point guard. The 29-year-old averaged 13.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 0.7 steals between the Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks last year.
Kleber is a good veteran big man who can shoot all three and defend, and the Nets are collecting two future first-round picks to use as trade bait to reshape the roster around Durant or whoever comes back in a trade for him.
For Dallas, adding a point guard like Simmons helps ease the pain of losing Jalen Brunson to the New York Knicks in free agency.
A backcourt of Doncic (6’7″) and Simmons (6’11”) would potentially be the largest in the NBA, combining two of the league’s best point guards. If Simmons is healthy, the line of him, Doncic and Christian Wood is the best Big Three Doncic has ever played with, and this team could be back in the Western Conference Finals with Tim Hardaway Jr. also returning. with a broken foot.
If they make that move, the Mavs couldn’t trade a first-round pick until 2029 and would be banking on Simmons being healthy and wanting to play, but that’s a low buy chance on an All-Star. three times which is still barely 25 years old.
What changes: The Nets can now trade Kevin Durant for any player on a designated rookie extension while the Mavericks make up for the loss of Jalen Brunson.