Realistic off-season trades NBA fans wouldn’t see coming | Launderer’s report
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Most NBA deals surface in a trail of breadcrumbs.
Follow the right rumblings and you’ll be seized with part of the deal, if not the entire trade.
Every once in a while, however, the basketball gods cook up a stunner. Maybe a player who no one knew was available is traded. Maybe a mysterious team is shocking the hoops world with an acquisition out of nowhere.
It’s the kind of internet-breaking magic we’re conjuring up here by piecing together four realistic summertime swaps that no one could see coming.
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Oklahoma City Thunder receives: John Collins
The Atlanta Hawks receive: Lu Dort, Kenrich Williams, Derrick Favors and 2022 first-round pick (top five protected, via LAC)
In one year, the Hawks have nosedived from the Eastern Conference Finals to the Qualifying Tournament. It’s the kind of decline that, if punctuated by an early exit from the playoffs, could spark a sea change in Atlanta.
Of course, the Hawks were already barking at that tree. In January, B/R’s Jake Fischer reported that Atlanta was looking for Collins for “a valuable first-round pick and top-caliber player.” This package could be close enough for the Hawks decision makers to strike.
They need a perimeter stop defender in the worst possible way. You know, the caliber of stopper that wouldn’t let Jimmy Butler score 45 on 25 field goal attempts two days after Duncan Robinson scored 27 of 10. (Too early?)
Dort is that guy. This season he has handled the toughest clashes in the league, for Bball-Index.comhad no rim protection behind it and was still shaved 0.4% on the field goal percentage of his opponents. Put him on the wings with De’Andre Hunter and Kevin Huerter, and the Hawks could have a wall of active, long-limbed defensemen, all backed up by Clint Capela or Onyeka Okongwu. If there’s one way a Trae Young-led roster can have a functional defense, it’s this one.
The Hawks walk away with a lottery pick, which should meet their “value” criteria. Plus, they add a plug-and-play, three-and-D swingman to Williams, with Favors coming along for the ride only as a money-matcher.
OKC, meanwhile, is stepping up its rebuild a bit, but not recklessly.
Collins, whose finishing and floor spacing could shine alongside planners Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, is not even a year older than SGA and less than two years older than Dort. The Thunder have enough picks and prospects to sacrifice a few for a player under 25 who has posted near-star numbers the past four seasons (18.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 55, 6/37.9/79.5 shots).
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The Dallas Mavericks receive: Tobias Harris, Jaden Springer and 2023 second-round pick (via ATL, CHO or BRK)
The Philadelphia 76ers receive: Reggie Bullock, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dwight Powell
No matter where Philadelphia’s playoff series ends, Harris should get a huge thumbs up for his ever-evolving role.
“This guy gave his all for this team,” Sixers skipper Doc Rivers said. told reporters. “Like he started as a second option, then Tyrese [Maxey] got going, then we bring in James [Harden] Tobias had to make more changes than anyone in our squad.”
Again, Harris deserves a world of credit for transforming his game to suit this team’s needs. But, as Rivers pointed out, Philly’s transformation dropped Harris to the No. 4 option. It’s a testament to the team’s talent, but also likely an unworkable setup, since he owes more than $76.9 million for the next two seasons.
If the Sixers think it’s too much for a fourth scorer (they should), then they could use this deal to better balance the roster.
Bullock would be a clean, effortless fit as a wing three and D. Hardaway could either improve front-five spacing or lead the second unit as a quick scorer. Powell would give Philadelphia a legitimate backup for MVP candidate Joel Embiid.
If the Sixers decided that any (or all) of the pieces didn’t fit the puzzle, their salaries would be easier to move than Harris’ monster.
The Mavericks, meanwhile, would snag a top scorer in Harris to ease the burden on Luka Doncic and perhaps soften the blow if Jalen Brunson books him in free agency. Trading three rotation regulars for one is tricky, but that’s why Dallas would also be looking for Springer, the 28th pick in last year’s draft, and a decent second-rounder (the most favorable of the three listed). This trade could also make it easier for the Mavs to expand the role of 2020 first-rounder Josh Green if they think he’s ready for it.
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The Chicago Bulls receive: Rudy Gobert and Rudy Gay
Utah Jazz receives: Nikola Vucevic, Patrick Williams and Coby White
The Bulls shocked everyone when their revamped roster not only stormed the gate, but did so mostly on the defensive end. With newcomers Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso locking down the perimeter, Chicago sailed into 2022 with the Association 10th rank defense.
Of course, Ball and Caruso were hurt soon after, and Chicago’s defense immediately fell apart. From January to April, the Bulls were 27 in defensive effectiveness. Now, that says a lot about Ball and Caruso’s impact, but it’s more telling about what the rest of the roster has — or doesn’t have, rather. Chicago is woefully short on stops and too easily muscled down the middle. Alone three teams allowed more field goals inside five feet.
If the Bulls want to bolster their home defense, it would be hard to find a bigger upgrade than Gobert. The 29-year-old has already won three Defensive Player of the Year awards and won bronze for this season’s honour. Put him on the back line and healthy versions of Ball and Caruso on the perimeter, and Chicago’s defense would likely come back in the first third next season.
This trade would also provide Gay, who hasn’t quite found his footing in Salt Lake City but remains an otherwise reliable veteran who can bury open shots, play up front or center and create an offense against the second team defences.
For the Jazz to make this deal, they must have decided that Gobert should leave, but a total teardown isn’t necessary. If they keep the rest of their roster, they might be able to raise their cap above the level where the current Core has plateaued.
Vucevic is not a great defender, but he is solid in a team scheme and much more gifted offensively than Gobert. Vucevic can score from inside and outside, find shots for his teammates and function as a pick-and-roll screen. His offensive arsenal could make things easier for Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley, either expanding their attacking lanes as a spacer, working two-man action with them, or providing a safety valve as a free-lance goalscorer.
Williams is the real jewel in the crown here, however, and potentially the big wing defender the Jazz have sorely missed. He’s still a bit of a mystery with just 88 games under his belt, but he’s already laid the foundation for threes and Ds and shown the potential to become so much more. White is a spark scorer who could team up with Jordan Clarkson to give Utah a mighty punch off the bench.
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The Cleveland Cavaliers receive: Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neale
Utah Jazz receives: Collin Sexton (sign-and-trade), Lauri Markkanen, Isaac Okoro, 2022 second-round pick (via SAS), 2025 first-round pick and 2027 first-round pick
Want to really rock Cleveland? Bottle up all the good vibes from this season’s jump and use it as the rocket fuel needed to win the Mitchell contest.
Maybe you haven’t heard of the Mitchell contest yet, but assuming the last stand in Salt Lake City ends as badly as it’s heading, trade talks could erupt the second the final buzzer sounds. .
“Other teams have been planning to run Donovan Mitchell all season long,” ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said. Lowe’s post Podcast.
The Cavaliers aren’t the most obvious suitors, but why shouldn’t they be in on the action? Cleveland had this season 20th Rank Offense. Imagine how high that could go if the team supercharged the backcourt by pairing Mitchell, a career scoring 23.9 ppg, with Darius Garland, who just landed his first All-Star trip by scoring 21.7. points and 8.6 assists on a nightly basis?
Is the fifth-tier defense dip a bit after the deal? Sure, but he wouldn’t fall off a cliff with O’Neale, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen rounding out the top five. There’s a scenario where the Cavs field the top 10 units at both ends of the floor next season, and history sees that as key to championship contention.
As for the Jazz, if Mitchell is looking for the closest exit this summer, it’s time to hit the self-destruct button. This escape hatch happens to feature two future unprotected firsts, a pick in the top half of the second round and the top 10 picks of 2017 (Markkanen, No. 7), 2018 (Sexton, No. 8) and 2020 ( Okoro, No. 5).
A healthy Sexton is a fiery scorer who dropped 24.3 points per night in his last full season. Markkanen is a flammable offensive threat who can shred paint nets at the perimeter, and he quietly offers good defensive versatility. Okoro is a defensive threat and is making progress as a shooter and ball mover.
Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.