The NBA’s trade deadline is now just 10 days away, set for February 8th at 3 p.m. ET. So far, things have been quiet… too quiet. The league has given us plenty of newsworthy items to devour in recent days, with players and refs feuding, the league itself trying to get in on the legal sports betting game, and the All-Star selections and draft.
So, it seems that the normal discussion of which teams should buy and sell, and some people’s maniacal fiddling with ESPN’s Trade Machine has been kept to a minimum so far. Well, we’re here to fix that. In a year that seems to be building to another championship for the Golden State Warriors juggernaut, we want to see some teams make a run at slaying the four-headed dragon by the Bay.
For that to happen, teams would need to nibble at the edges with real-life transactions that actually improve their chances. But where’s the fun in that? For this particular piece, we’re swinging for the fences, proposing trades big enough to shake up the impending playoff monotony come April and May. Now, join me in a trip to Dreamland, where logic doesn’t hold sway over what trades are actually possible. (Note: DeMarcus Cousins blowing out his Achilles took away one of the fun trades we had in here. Get well soon, Boogie!)
1) Oklahoma City Thunder trade Paul George to Houston Rockets in exchange for Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza and 2020 1st-round and 2nd-round picks.
Hey, we said this was Dreamland, right? Look, it’s very unlikely that the Thunder will throw in the towel on the Westbrook, Anthony, George, Adams quartet, especially considering that they’re currently on an eight-game winning streak and in fifth place in the Western Conference, just one game behind of the Timberwolves for the fourth spot. Okay, now that we’ve got real-life qualifiers out of the way, here’s why we want to see this trade.
Imagine a starting lineup in Houston of Chris Paul, James Harden, Paul George, Ryan Anderson, and Clint Capela squaring off with the Warriors. The Rockets have already taken two out of three games from the Warriors this season and adding a high-level defender and shotmaker like George to their lineup would only increase their chances. In this scenario, OKC actually gets back a pair of tough-defending, knock-down three-point shooters to surround Westbrook and the defensively lacking Carmelo Anthony. Again, this would never happen in the real world, but I’d really like to see what Houston looks like with a super-charged version of their starting lineup that could then morph into small-ball with P.J. Tucker or Luc Richard Mbah a Moute replacing Anderson.
2) Los Angeles Clippers trade C DeAndre Jordan to Cleveland Cavaliers for PF/C Tristan Thompson, PF Channing Frye and Cleveland’s 2018 1st-round pick. Charlotte Hornets trade PF Marvin Williams and PG Kemba Walker to Cleveland Cavaliers for PF/C Kevin Love, PG Isaiah Thomas, PF Ante Zizic and 2018 Brooklyn 1st-round pick
A pair of trades made by the Cavaliers here to try and fix their defensive issues and get back into competition with the Warriors. Out goes Love, Thomas, Thompson, Frye and Zizic along with both of this year’s first-rounders and in comes DeAndre Jordan, Marvin Williams and Kemba Walker. Jordan could theoretically opt out after this year, but Kemba has two more years left. And maybe the combination of Kemba and a big to protect the rim convinces LeBron to stay. Who knows? At the very least, the lineup of Walker, J.R. Smith, LeBron, Williams and Jordan should be better defensively than what the Cavs are currently running out there. Williams is hitting 44% of his threes on 3.7 attempts per game this season, and Walker is hitting 35% of his seven three-pointers a night. This would require the Cavs giving up on the I.T. experiment less than a year in, but, again, Dreamland folks.
The Clippers get a 1st-round pick for DeAndre to continue building, try and reclaim some of Thompson’s promise with a new city. And Channing Frye is an expiring contract that they can let walk after the year to have more cap space this summer.
The Hornets get back Thomas and Kevin Love, and they also get the Nets’ 2018 pick that will likely end up in the top 10, which, when combined with their own, could mean two lottery picks depending on how the rest of their season plays out.
3) New Orleans Pelicans trade PF/C Anthony Davis to Boston Celtics for 2018 Lakers/2019 Kings 1st-round pick, SF Jayson Tatum, PG/SG Marcus Smart, PF Marcus Morris, C Aron Baynes and PG Terry Rozier
The long-rumored Anthony Davis trade to Boston comes true. In this case, it’s because DeMarcus Cousins just got hurt, there’s no guarantee he re-signs in New Orleans, and Davis is tired of carrying the team. I’m not saying that’s the case, but you can see it, right? So Boston swoops in, offering the shiny Lakers/Kings pick from the Sixers, a stud rookie in Jayson Tatum, the frustratingly inconsistent Marcus Smart, a solid young backup guard in Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris and Baynes as salary filler to make it work. Meanwhile, the Celtics now get to trot out Kyrie, AD and Horford with Jaylen Brown in the starting lineup. The best part is, the core group adds Gordon Hayward once he gets healthy, and this Celtics team becomes a true adversary for the Warriors with Irving, Brown, Hayward, AD and Horford as the starting five.
4) Dallas Mavericks trade PF/C Nerlens Noel to Milwaukee Bucks for PF/C John Henson and 2019 1st-round pick.
The last two aren’t as eye-catching as the first three, because most of the big names have honestly already been dealt. Here we have Nerlens Noel getting out of Rick Carlisle’s doghouse and heading to Milwaukee to fulfill his role as rim-protector and roll dunk man alongside Giannis and the rest of the super-long, bouncy Bucks. Noel should theoretically help the Bucks defense, which is 22nd in the league in defensive rating, allowing 106.9 points per 100 possessions. Plug Noel into the starting lineup alongside Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton and the Greek Freak, and you’ve got yourself quite the formidable defense, with plenty of offensive firepower still in play. Yes, Noel is currently recovering from thumb surgery that he had back in November, but in this case, let’s say that he’s ready to come back shortly and contribute. For the Mavericks, they get rid of the conundrum of what to do with Noel, who Carlisle has soured on, and they get a useful big and a 1st-rounder in return.
5) Detroit Pistons trade SG Avery Bradley to Philadelphia 76ers for PG/SG Jerryd Bayless and 2020 1st-round pick.
The Pistons are reportedly interested in trading Avery Bradley, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. Here, they send him to Philly for Jerryd Bayless and a future 1st-round pick. For the Sixers, they don’t add salary past this season, as Bradley’s contract runs out after this year, and they add a legit 3-and-D wing to their rotation, who can help them make a playoff push. For Detroit, currently three games behind Philadelphia for the final playoff spot, they add a veteran guard in Bayless and a future 1st-round pick as they try to figure out their roster that doesn’t seem well constructed to win the way Stan Van Gundy wants to right now.