With the Feb. 8 trade deadline rapidly approaching, trade winds across the NBA have been swirling akin to the nastiest of hurricanes. We’ve seen multiple big-name players reportedly out on the trade block. We’ve also seen other teams (such as Cleveland) desperate to make a splash for the stretch-run of the playoffs.
This piece will analyze five potential trades. Using ESPN’s trade machine, all transactions work within the parameters of financial restraints and responsibilities.
The Trade Between Lottery Teams
Dallas receives: Nikola Vučević, Evan Fournier
Orlando receives: Josh McRoberts, Nerlens Noel, Wes Matthews, future first-round pick (2020)
There’s long been rumors of Dallas pursuing both Fournier and Vučević. Stylistically, the duo fits in well with what Rick Carlisle likes to employ offensively. Both are very skilled in specific areas. Fournier is hovering around the 40-percent mark from three, and can score in a myriad of ways. Vučević (when healthy) is a walking double-double on a nightly basis. Perhaps most alluring are their respective ages in correspondence with their contracts.
Fournier — at only 25 years of age — will be under contract for another three seasons after this one. The 27-year-old Vučević is slated to make a rather modest $12.75 million next season before hitting free agency. Should Dallas opt to re-sign him, it’ll also be gaining his bird rights. With Dirk Nowitzki imminently heading out the door, this team will hold a promising core of Dennis Smith Jr., Harrison Barnes, and the aforementioned duo. It’s not a bad place to start from — especially since the franchise will be getting a high draft choice in this year’s loaded field.
As for the Magic, this is nothing more than a salary dump. The team is expected to fork over plenty of cash to Aaron Gordon. By lightening the load on its cap space, Orlando will have more flexibility to impact the team in other avenues. McRoberts and Noel will drop off the books at the conclusion of this season. Matthews is slated to make $18.6 million next season — though he’ll be a free agent the following year. If anything, he’d offer Orlando much-needed professionalism, veteran leadership, and defensive capabilities. Landing a first-round pick is also highly valuable for a smaller market struggling to land an impact player in free agency.
Kemba To Cleveland
Cleveland receives: Kemba Walker, Marvin Williams
Charlotte receives: Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Jae Crowder, future first-round pick (2020)
Cleveland is an absolute mess. Recent reports have illustrated the mass amount of discord currently within the locker room. Kevin Love was called out during a highly emotional meeting, the team has collectively resembled a parking cone on the defensive end of the floor, and there are real questions as to whether Isaiah Thomas will recapture his brilliant form from last year.
As a result, something must change. Cleveland likely won’t be good enough to beat Golden State — though it’d be better to at least get to the finals rather than lose in the conference finals. In this scenario, Cleveland will acquire All-Star guard Kemba Walker and swingman Marvin Williams. Walker is only 27 years of age, is under contract for another year beyond this one, and doesn’t have serious injury issues. He’s also a high-character, fiery competitor — something the franchise would gladly welcome. Williams can guard multiple spots on the floor, offering Cleveland versatility in specific situations. Plus, he’s currently shooting 45.2-percent from beyond the arc.
The match between Cleveland and IT simply hasn’t worked up to this point. His obvious deficiencies on the defensive end of the floor were somewhat masked in Boston — but have been magnified to epic proportions with the Cavaliers. In addition, Thomas hasn’t yet been able to fully mesh with LeBron James and Kevin Love. He’s hunting far too often for his shot, and this has led to Love becoming far less effective. From Charlotte’s standpoint, it’ll dump the contracts of Walker and Williams for a future draft pick and Crowder. Crowder is another player who’s struggled to fit in Cleveland. However, he’s a great defender, and is on arguably the most team-friendly contract in the league.
When looking at Thomas, he’s only one year removed from an All-Star season. If he were to head to Charlotte, he’d be in a situation with far less pressure. Should Thomas fail to play up to last year’s level, the Hornets will let him walk. However, the team could also have the inside track in re-signing him should Thomas flash his all-league ability once again. It’s simply a win-win for Charlotte. Though Walker was a fan favorite, Thomas is at the very worst a very fascinating player to watch. The front office can use this as a means to appease what could be a disgruntled fan base.
Portland Shakes Things Up
Portland receives: DeAndre Jordan
Los Angeles receives: Moe Harkless, Ed Davis, Jusuf Nurkić
Recent reports have indicated Portland going all-in on Jordan. Cleveland would love to nab both Jordan and Lou Williams — though the Clippers’ front office surely won’t want the bloated contracts of J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson in return.
This certainly would be a calculated risk by Portland — though the franchise simply has nothing to lose. The Trail Blazers are good enough to be a bottom-tier playoff team in the Western Conference, but aren’t at the level needed to be competitive as a true title threat. A possible acquisition of Jordan — at the very least — shakes things up. He has a player option of $24.1 million for next season. There’s no guarantee that Jordan will stay in Portland — which would then make acquiring him a rental.
From the Clippers’ standpoint, Davis and Nurkić’s contracts will come off the books. Trading for Nurkić gives the team a younger and cheaper alternative to Jordan. In the next few months, they’d be able to ascertain whether Nurkić would indeed be worth re-signing. Harkless is a springy 24-year-old wing with some tools. He recently lost his spot within Portland’s rotation, and has thus been languishing on the bench. Harkless is a decent defender, and has the ability to both slash and be a passable three-point shooter. At the very worst, the Clippers can hope a change of scenery would revitalize Harkless’s career. Los Angeles would have two additional years of control with Harkless (at only $22 million).
Spurs Act Unconventionally
San Antonio receives: Nikola Mirotić
Chicago receives: Rudy Gay, Joffrey Lauvergne, future first-round pick (2019)
The Spurs rarely make a ton of noise prior to the deadline. Since 1996, San Antonio has made only four trades — which included the following acquisitions: Nazr Mohammed, Jamison Brewer, Stephen Jackson, and Austin Daye. That isn’t exactly murderer’s row.
But we’re throwing all of that out the window — as San Antonio will make a splash by acquiring Mirotić from the Bulls. The 26-year-old has arguably been Chicago’s best player this season. Mirotić is shooting 48.3-percent from the field and a blistering 43.9-percent from three-point range. Perhaps most impressively, he’s averaging 17.1 PPG and 6.7 RPG in only 24.7 minutes.
San Antonio is renowned for its free-flowing, European-like style of basketball. Mirotić would be an absolutely perfect fit alongside LaMarcus Aldridge — whether that means starting alongside him or coming off the bench to spell Pau Gasol. He’ll help to further add space on the floor for San Antonio’s creators to penetrate the lane. Above all else, Mirotić will offer scoring in the wake of the ambiguous status surrounding Kawhi Leonard. Mirotić has a team option for $12.5 million next year. If not exercised, he will become a (desirable) free agent.
As for Chicago, it’s simply executing this trade for yet another asset in its rebuild. Lauvergne and Gay will be on the books for next season — though it’ll only cost Chicago roughly $10 million. The two salaries must be included to make the transaction go through. However, the Bulls’ motivation in executing this trade is to simply get a draft pick (whilst also ridding themselves of another salary in preparation to pay Zach LaVine a hefty contract).
Philadelphia Adds Shooting
Philadelphia receives: Rodney Hood
Utah receives: Justin Anderson, future first-round pick (2020)
The 76ers are hoping to crash the party and make the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time since 2011. After trusting the process, the team has many components necessary to make a higher seed sweat a bit. However, one ingredient is glaringly missing: shooting.
Philadelphia ranks No. 18 in the NBA in three-point percentage (35.9-percent). The emergence of Joel Embiid — plus the inability of Ben Simmons to shoot from beyond three feet — has led to opponents packing the paint against the Sixers. Though Robert Covington and J.J. Redick have been good in spurts, Philadelphia sorely needs another shot-maker from the perimeter.
A long-rumored trade chip, Utah has seemingly given up on Hood with the slightly unexpected emergence of rookie Donovan Mitchell. Hood is shooting 38.6-percent from three (which would place him directly in-between the percentages of Redick and Covington). However, he’s a far better player off the bounce than either of the aforementioned players. Hood isn’t shy when attacking the paint with a plethora of fakes, hesitations, and the usual unconventionality stemming from a left-handed player. With Hood becoming a free agent, the front office can also determine whether it’d make more sense in pursuing Hood during the offseason as opposed to re-signing Redick.
As for Utah, it’ll collect what could ultimately turn out to be a very attractive asset. Anderson is under contract for one more year after this current season at a paltry $2.5 million.
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