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With the February 7th trade deadline rapidly approaching, contenders all over the NBA will be looking to tweak their rosters ahead of a potential postseason run.
There have been a plethora of big names associated with potential transactions (namely Anthony Davis). Along the same lines, teams ready to tank — like the Washington Wizards — could opt to part with some of their younger talent (such as Bradley Beal).
This piece will look at five realistic trade options. Some of these teams are fighting to make the playoffs, whereas others are trying to get over the proverbial hump into contention.
Love Heading West
Utah gets: Kevin Love
Cleveland gets: Derrick Favors, Grayson Allen, future first-round pick, Georges Niang, Ekpe Udoh
This trade has been rumored for quite some time. Despite the fact Love has only played in four games this season, he still holds considerable value. Utah is a team in desperate need of some offensive efficiency. Donovan Mitchell is essentially the only creator on a roster full of role players. Rudy Gobert also isn’t the type of guy one can throw the ball into on the block and say “go get me a bucket.” Love, on the other hand, can be that guy.
His basketball I.Q. should work beautifully with the likes of Mitchell and Ricky Rubio. Love’s passing ability (in theory) will help Gobert and Mitchell get easier looks at the rim. He’s a plus-rebounder, and has considerable playoff experience. While the injury history and contract is a bit worrisome, Love looks like a wonderful fit within this group.
As for Cleveland, it’ll rid itself of Love’s bloated contract. In the process, it picks up cap space flexibility, and two young assets (with Allen and a first-round pick). In terms of a salary dump, this is as good as the Cavs can hope for.
A New Center in Town
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Los Angeles gets: Nikola Vučević, Terrence Ross
Orlando gets: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Mo Wagner, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Michael Beasley, future first-round pick
Let’s assume the Lakers are willing to wait on Anthony Davis. When LeBron James is fully healthy, the Lakers look like a team potentially capable of making the Western Conference finals. James is not one to exercise a ton of patience. Golden State also is looking highly vulnerable at this point in the year.
With that in mind, the front office will want to bolster its roster without compromising its young core or next summer’s precious cap space.
Vučević and Ross upgrade the roster in terms of talent. Duly, both contracts come off the books this summer. Orlando has quickly fallen out of the top eight in the East, and could be headed for another annual collapse. This trade would position the Magic to get a better pick in next year’s draft. It’d also net them a versatile young big in Wagner, and a first-round pick. Most importantly, it completely clears the way for Mo Bamba to take over at the center spot.
As for the Lakers, they’d be bringing on one of the most skilled big men in the entire league. When the game slows down in half-court situations, Vučević will be an exceptionally valuable weapon when needing to grab a basket. Ross gives the team some much-needed three-point shooting, as well as another athletic slasher (which will fit well when the Lakers are in transition).
Coming to Fruition
Los Angeles gets: Anthony Davis, Darius Miller
New Orleans gets: Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and two future first-round picks
The Lakers waited on Paul George to become a free agent…and we all saw how that turned out.
Simply put, Los Angeles isn’t going to leave anything to chance. The front office will put things in its own hands by offering a deal New Orleans cannot refuse.
In this scenario, the Pelicans will be receiving the Lakers’ two-best young players in Kuzma and Ingram. Additionally, they’ll be receiving two future first-round picks (which could be highly attractive once LeBron leaves). New Orleans may insist on adding Josh Hart to the deal — something the Lakers will surely acquiesce to.
By landing Davis, the Lakers will have the second elite player to make a real run at a title. The Chicago native also fits the mold of prior elite big men who’ve donned the purple and gold. Los Angeles will surely ink him to an extension — which will allow him to enjoy the Los Angeles-area home he recently purchased.
A Massive Blockbuster
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Philadelphia gets: Anthony Davis
New Orleans gets: Ben Simmons, Zhaire Smith, Wilson Chandler, future first-round pick
Anthony Davis and Joel Embiid on the same team?! It may not be that far-fetched.
The Lakers have long been interested in Davis. The same can be said for the Celtics (though Boston can’t trade for Davis until the summer). When looking at the potential talents that could be made available to New Orleans, we’d have to think that Simmons is the best of the bunch.
He’s a transformative player with the ability to elevate the games of his teammates. A young and dynamic player, he’d help to somewhat ease the transition in the post-Davis realm (assuming Davis wants out of New Orleans). A package including Simmons, a future first, and an explosive first-year player (Smith) may be the best New Orleans will receive.
As for Philadelphia, pairing Davis with Embiid is downright scary. The trio of Davis, Embiid, and Jimmy Butler would easily be the most elite trio in the league. Not only would the 76ers likely win the East, but they’d probably be a real problem for Golden State in the Finals (assuming each team makes it that far). Davis and Embiid would protect the rim exceptionally well, dominate the glass, and could be utilized with one on the perimeter, and one in the post.
There’s not one team in basketball equipped to defend both of them. Philadelphia would expedite its rebuilding process, as players of Davis’ ilk don’t come around too often.
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