We’ve officially made our way past the first quarter of our NBA season. Some teams have risen above expectations like the Sabonis-led Pacers or the all-around improved (1st in the West!!) Jazz. Some have fallen off a cliff, desperately searching for ways to reinvigorate their lineups and rosters. Teams like the Pelicans have been rumored to be looking to move around some role players as their lineups surrounding franchise players Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram have severely underperformed. Teams like the Wizards, who have failed miserably this season, could be looking to move a superstar. And lastly, there are teams like the Nets; contenders who are one piece away from a fully loaded run to the Finals.
So I’ll be taking a way-too-early look at players that have been recently thrown around in some trade talks. So here’s my ideal trade deadline; after a month of the 2021 season.
In an ideal world, the Pelicans will try to find capable outside creators with a combo of Ball, another player and picks. They’re not exactly contending this season, so New Orleans doesn’t need to look for immediate roster help at the deadline.
Pels Receive: Bojan Bogdanovic, 2022 Unprotected First Round Pick, 2023+2025 Second Round Picks
Jazz Receive: Lonzo Ball, Niccolo Meli, 2021 First Round Pick (Unprotected) (via LAL)
As he fails to progress in New Orleans, Lonzo Ball’s future becomes murky. It’s clear that he still has quite a bit of talent, it just seems like his confidence has fallen since his awful stint in the bubble. So naturally, it’s probably time to find a change of scenery for the former Top 3 Pick.
The Jazz have over-performed so far this season, so I’m not sure how likely it is that they make a move at the trade deadline. I still believe that Lonzo should be a trade target for them. It’s likely that the Jazz will face a guard-dominant team in the playoffs this year, and they surely don’t want to see a repeat of last year’s duel with the Nuggets. Lonzo Ball could easily be one of the best perimeter defenders in the league currently, and he could help take a bit off of Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley’s defensive plates. Bogdanovic has never been a natural fit in Utah, so I don’t think it would be a bad break between him and the Jazz. The Jazz will receive the Lakers’ first pick in this year’s draft, likely a very late pick; to add a potential role player as Utah attempts to maximize Mitchell and Gobert’s prime window.
Ever since he re-emerged as a reliable off-the-bench scorer, Derrick Rose has a bad habit of ending up on teams that don’t need him. So obviously this isn’t the first time his name has been floated around before the trade deadline. Luckily, there’s always a market for a second-unit playmaker and scorer. More than a few teams looking to make a playoff push would welcome a guy like Rose.
Pistons Receive: PG Dennis Smith Jr., 2021 Dallas First Round Pick (Unprotected)
Knicks Receive: PG Derrick Rose
This move brings D-Rose back to MSG, which is a universally loved possibility. It also gives Dennis Smith another change of scenery, but his future in the league is honestly looking bleak. I think the first round pick is necessary because I’m not sure how much value Smith Jr. actually has; but it works out because this Dallas pick will likely be outside of the lottery. This trade is sorta boring but it benefits both teams, as the Knicks acquire another on-ball scorer to help Immanuel Quickley with the New York second unit.
Pistons Receive: PG/SG Terence Davis, 2021 Second Round Pick, 2022 Second Round Pick
Raptors Receive: PG Derrick Rose
The Raptors fall under the umbrella of “Teams that have severely underwhelmed” this season. This isn’t necessarily their fault, as they left the Disney bubble in October, went home for a month, then were abruptly relocated to Tampa for the year. This is a tough situation for every Raptors member involved, but a trade could still help shake things up a little. Terence Davis is a promising defender and overall contributor off the bench for ‘Toronto’, but I don’t think he’d be a difficult goodbye for the Raptors. The Raptors need more offensive creators off their bench, the playmaking from Davis and Norman Powell isn’t nearly enough for them. This gives Detroit a non-depreciating asset, and a pick in this year’s draft. I’m not sure Detroit pulls the trigger on this, but I like the idea.
Obviously I had to save the main event for last. Bradley Beal trade machine possibilities have been discussed ad-nauseum for the past few years, and both sides have remained loyal, not wanting to move anything around. This may have come to an end; Beal is averaging over 34 points per game with a 3-10 record.
The Wiz will likely be looking for youth with this trade, trying to acquire draft picks and assets for the future. Remember though, Beal and the Wizards have a prior agreement to give Beal veto power on any trade. Don’t expect the Wizards to dump Beal to a non-playoff team.
Wizards Receive: SF De’Andre Hunter, C/PF Onyeka Okongwu, SF Tony Snell, PG Brandon Goodwin, 2021 First Round Pick (Lottery Protected) 2023 First Round Pick (Unprotected)
Hawks Receive: SG Bradley Beal, SG/SF Troy Brown Jr.
This is probably my most fun, least realistic trade for Bradley Beal. Of course it would be unbelievable to see a reincarnation of the Splash Brothers in Trae Young and Bradley Beal, but Young would have to become less ball dominant. This would be an absolute positive for Young’s game regardless, but we haven’t really seen how he works without the ball. Washington probably doesn’t get enough back in this trade, depending on how you view De’Andre Hunter and Onyeka Okongwu’s respective futures. Hunter has improved quite a bit in his sophomore year, showing small flashes of Kawhi in his game as he progresses. Okongwu is less proven in the league, and there’s reason to be skeptical of an all-star level future. He looks a bit small on the court, he’s been pretty lost on offense so far, and he’s super raw as far as skills go. He’s shown a ton of explosiveness around the rim though, and he’s an outstanding rim protector given his time in the league.
Hunter and Okongwu together is a solid package of assets, and they won’t get in the way of a tanking-style rebuild. Washington’s picks plus the newly acquired Atlanta picks could give them a rock-solid foundation to build with those two guys.
And now, for my absolute favorite trade scenario….
Wizards Receive: C/PF James Wiseman, SF Kelly Oubre Jr., 2021 First Round Pick (Top 3 Protected) (via MIN), First Round Pick (Swap Best) in 2023+2025
Warriors Receive: SG Bradley Beal, First Round Pick (Swap Worst) 2023+2025
This is the only trade that I’ve included that immediately changes the scope of the NBA. Even as someone who’s hoping for Lebron to secure his fifth ring this June, I would love to see the Warriors catapulted back into title contention. Steph and Beal would immediately become the best backcourt in the NBA (sorry Blazers), and the Warriors would go back to an offense that actually resembles what we saw during their previous title runs.
It would be tough to let go of James Wiseman so soon, especially considering his almost-certain all-star offensive potential. He just hasn’t been good enough defensively, and I’m not sure he’ll be experienced enough to contribute defensively come playoff time, this year or the next. So this is a huge incentive for the Warriors to capitalize on his trade value now. Wiseman is probably the most valuable asset the Wizards will have the chance to acquire, assuming Ben Simmons is never offered. Wiseman could eventually be a franchise cornerstone for Washington, and it’s almost certain that the Minnesota pick will be top 10 whether it’s this year or next. The pick swaps will probably be a cherry on top, as Golden State still doesn’t have a ton of leverage, and they’ll have to give up as much as Washington wants for Beal. The Warriors won’t have a ton of rim protection after this trade, but the offensive improvements will far outweigh this.