The DeMarcus Cousins trade might start the ball rolling as we approach the NBA Trade Deadline
With a couple of days left before the trade deadline, team executives working overtime to try and see who is and isn’t available in the market. The New Orleans may have saved their season and secured their future when they made the move to acquire DeMarcus Cousins for, as one NBA executive said, a “3-piece meal in Popeyes lol.” As the second half of the season tips off with the playoffs just around the corner, there are a couple of franchises who could make major noise in their conferences.
Below are the 5 trades that need to happen to make this season a little bit more interesting.
- CHICAGO BULLS trade Jimmy Butler to the BOSTON CELTICS for Amir Johnson, Jae Crowder, and Brooklyn Nets’s 2017 1st round pick.
Contrary to popular belief, the Eastern Conference is very much open this season. The Cavaliers are without Kevin Love and JR Smith, which has caused LeBron (second in minutes per game) and Kyrie to do more. Cleveland will look to rest their stars for another deep playoff run, which opens an opportunity for Boston to take the top seed (currently 3 games behind with 25 games left). Lucky for the Celtics, they have a wealth of picks and players that other teams are drooling over, especially THAT Brooklyn pick that Boston acquired from the Pierce/Garnett trade.
I can’t stress this enough — the 2017 NBA Draft class is loaded. Markelle Fultz (a mix of Harden/D’Angelo Russell), Lonzo Ball (Jason Kidd/Penny Hardaway), and Josh Jackson (McGrady/Wiggins) are some of the players that look to be solid franchise centerpieces. But if Boston are serious on contending for a championship, they need to let go of that pick and acquire someone who could go toe-to-toe with LeBron in the postseason.
Plus, Boston already has enough guards to work on (Thomas, Bradley, Smart, Rozier) and are still waiting for Jaylen Brown to develop. The last thing they need is another young player, albeit with a huge upside, to develop while Al Horford enters the wrong side of 30 and Isiah Thomas about to enter his peak.
The Chicago Bulls are a mess to say the least. Their gamble on signing Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo has only slowed down the progress of their young core (Bobby Portis, Doug McDermott, Nikola Mirotic) and their chemistry has taken a hit since Butler and Wade called out their team for not helping them enough. It’s clear that Chicago can only go as far as the 1st round in the Playoffs and are about to lose the top-10 protected pick from Sacramento. They need to end the Butler-era and build for the future through the 2017 NBA Draft. Plus, they get to free cap space through Amir Johnson’s expiring contract and Jae Crowder, a poor poor man’s Jimmy Butler.
2. LA CLIPPERS receive Carmelo Anthony; CLEVELAND CAVALIERS receive Brandon Jennings and Brandon Rush; MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES receive Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert; NEW YORK KNICKS acquire Ricky Rubio, Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers, and Shabazz Muhammad
Oh my. I did it — my first 4-team trade in the ESPN Trade Machine! Not only that, but it makes sense for all teams involved! Trust me.
This trade will be very dependent on Carmelo’s willingness to waive his no-trade clause. If he chooses to stay with the Knicks, then I just wasted a good 30 minutes working this. But if he decides to move on, Carmelo will find himself in a position to compete for the championship along with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan. News of blowing up the Clippers core will be put on hold as their window opened just a little bit and the team’s chances of retaining Griffin, who will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, have dramatically improved.
The Cavaliers have been looking for a reliable playmaker off the bench to help Kyrie and LeBron, and they may find that in Brandon Jennings who is averaging 5 assists in very limited minutes as a backup to Derrick Rose. Brandon Rush was part of the Golden State team that won the 2015 NBA tile and could provide the 3-and-D that the Cavs will lose by giving away Iman Shumpert. Plus they just signed Derrick Williams who plays an awful lot like Shumpert.
Thibodeau’s affinity for his former players have been well-known around the NBA, as rumors of Minnesota looking to acquire Derrick Rose are starting to heat up. Rose’s dynamic play could replace what they have lost in Zach Lavine while also grooming Kris Dunn as their future point. And if Thibodeau can somehow resurrect Rose’s MVP form, then Minnesota will have the first dibs as he enters the free agency. In Shumpert, Thibs acquires a hard-nosed defender who could help Wiggins in the perimeter for this season and space the floor by occasionally hitting from the outside (career-high 40% this year).
And of course, the Knicks can finally move on! This trade effectively gives the keys to NBA unicorn, Kristaps Porzingis! In trading away Melo, New York acquires Ricky Rubio, a point guard that actually distributes the ball (8.3 apg this year), and Austin Rivers, a point guard that is not a fan of distributing the ball (2.1 apg this year). They also welcome back Crawford to help their bench and Muhammad’s expiring contract. End the Knicks drama! We did it! Now all we need is to fix that Charles Oakley — James Dolan situation.
3. LOS ANGELES LAKERS trade Lou Williams to the WASHINGTON WIZARDS for Trey Burke’s expiring contract, Tomas Satoransky, and WAS 2017 1st round pick
(Update: The Lakers traded Williams to the Houston Rockets for Corey Brewer and HOU’s 1st round pick. So yeah, my prediction was still true considering they flipped their best player for another draft pick)
I stole this trade from Bill Simmons’ mailbag just because it makes perfect sense for both teams.
As a Lakers fan, let me just say WE NEED ’EM DRAFT PICKS! Los Angeles owe Philadelphia their 2017 1st round pick if it falls outside the top 3. With 25 games left and a small possibility of making the Playoffs, the Lakers will have to tank yet again to hold onto to their pick. But aside from Lou Williams, their leading scorer, LA lacks any asset to trade for a lottery pick without giving away any of their young core.
Enter Washington, who have been on the rise in recent weeks. Wall, Beal, and Porter have put the Wizards in great position in the East but will have to bolster their bench if they want a chance to go deep in the postseason. Lou Williams, the favorite to win the Sixth Man of the Year award again, can provide that scoring punch off the bench and take pressure off from their stars.
Lakers meanwhile will clear up some cap space with Burke’s expiring and could possibly have 2 1st round picks in the draft to speed up their rebuilding process. The Wizards pick may not seem like the best of the bunch but Lakers have shown in previous drafts that they can spot gems in the latter rounds of the draft (Clarkson, Zubac).
4. INDIANA PACERS trade Aaron Brooks and their 2017 1st Round Pick to the PHILADELPHIA 76ERS for Jahlil Okafor
The Pacers need to show that they can provide help to shoulder the scoring load from their star, Paul George, and Jahlil Okafor can be that guy. Okafor has been in a limbo with the Sixers, finding himself playing behind Embiid, Saric, and Noel. But at 21, Jahlil is still very young and a showed his back to the basket style where he can convert most of his points in the paint. His limitations on the defensive end can be covered by Myles Turner, who can play the 4 to Okafor’s 5. The Pacers may not last long in the Playoffs but at least they get two young players to build their front court and give George another reason to resign once his current contract is up.
The offseason is going to be another big year for the Sixers as they continue to trust the process. They have their own pick while also hoping that the Lakers pick will fall out of the top 3. If they acquire another draft pick from the Pacers, they may possibly have 3 opportunities to add young players and finally build a core around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Brooks’ expiring contract is included as a filler.
5. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER trades Nick Collison, Anthony Morrow, and draft pick/s to the DENVER NUGGETS for Wilson Chandler
Before Rudy Gay went down with a torn Achilles, OKC were reportedly have been looking to acquire him in a trade to help Westbrook. But that didn’t stop the Thunder from looking to another swingman who could stretch the floor with Kanter out for a couple of weeks. Wilson Chandler has made it clear that he wants to get out of Denver, after losing his starting spot to Kenneth Faried. The expiring contracts of Collison and Morrow will help the Nuggets ease their cap situation while a future draft pick or two will be a cherry on top.
Meanwhile, Chandler can step in and play the 4 as the team waits on Kanter’s recovery. His arrival also means that OKC will have more to share the load with and help Westbrook exact revenge on, hopefully, the Golden State Warriors in a 7-game 1st round Playoff series. Oh my, what I wouldn’t give to watch that.
So there you have it! I just have my fingers crossed just in case an NBA executive is actually reading this and asks his staff, “WHO SAYS NO?”
– David Gamboa