It’s not even midway through the season but NBA GMs should have an eye for how their team can improve. Here’s a list of trades I think some teams should make:
Wizards get: SG Wesley Matthews
Mavericks get: Ian Mahinmi, Wiz 2018 first Rd pick, Wiz 2019 first round pick.
The effect for the Wizards is threefold: one, they get rid of Ian Mahinmi’s terrible contract, get a proven veteran contributor in Mathews who would be on the last year of his contract (assuming he accepts his $20 mil player option, which he will), and therefore creates enough cap room to extend Kelly Oubre’s, who has proven to be a dynamic complement at the power forward spot alongside Wall, Beal and Porter. It hurts to give away first round picks in consecutive years, bit with the Wizards core locked up for multiple seasons their record will mean their picks will fall in the late first round, which is bearable to give up.
The Mavs speed up their rebuilding process by getting rid of Matthews (who probably provides two or three wins per season on his lonesome) and acquiring multiple picks. Mahinmi’s contract is huge ($16 mil per year for until the end of the 2020 season) but when healthy he is an elite rebounder and shot blocker, and has Mavs pedigree from their 2011 championship, so he’d provide experience to the young players on the squad. Plus, they have heaps of cap room, so absorbing his contract isn’t too bad.
Mavericks get: Luol Deng, Jordan Clarkson, Lakers 2018 first round pick (likely to fall in the 6-10 range)
Lakers get: cash considerations.
This deal only works if the Lakers don’t finish with a record putting them between 2nd and 5th in the lottery, in which case the pick would be conveyed to the Celtics through the Fultz-Tatum trade last offseason. I predict the Lakers to be 7th worst this season so it’ll be tight, but let’s assume they place there.
The Mavs get a good young scorer in Clarkson and a high lottery pick (I’d take Miles Bridges if I was them). They have to take Deng’s bad contract on as compensation, but he too can contribute, especially as a stretch four which I think he can do off the bench. Just like they did when they acquired Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut from the Warriors for nothing, they give up nothing in order to relive the Lakers of slaaires that would be better suited to be allocated elsewhere..
..the Lakers relieve $26 million from their payroll, which means they can offer two $30 mil plus contracts per year, to guys like LeBron James and Chris Paul. I think the likelihood of LeBron leaving the Cavs to be around 60%, while the Rockets cannot retain Paul without paying a gigantic luxury tax bill or letting Clint Capela walk, which is something I don’t think they’ll do. With James running the point like Magic, CP3 being like an uber Byron Scott, Lonzo Ball defending like Michael Hooper, Brandon Ingram rim running like James Worthy, and a guy like Javale McGee holding up the middle like Kareem, that Lakers team could make the Western Conference semis at the least, for one of the most storied franchises in sports, in one of the biggest markets in the world. What’s not to like? I don’t see James going anywhere else.
Nuggets get: DeAngelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Nets get: Trey Lyles, Tyler Lydon, Emmanuel Mudiay
The Nets are all about acquiring as much talent as possible – turning two former first round picks into three is a good move for depth and roster flexibility. Russell is at odds stylistically with the Nets, who have the personnel to be fast paced, but Russell is more methodical, so Mudiay is a better alternative. In terms of NBA skills, the players who arrive on the Nets are not as NBA ready as the Nuggets ones, which fits into both teams respective hands (the Nets will finally have their own first round pick in 2019 and I expect them to tank for a high pick). The Nuggets get a former 2nd overall pick in Russell, give up Mudiay who they don’t like much (he barely played last season) and acquire some more NBA-ready talent compared to Lydon.
Knicks get: LaMarcus Aldridge and a 2018 second round pick.
Spurs get: Courtney Lee and Willy Hernangomez
The Knicks get a great talent in Aldridge who would complement Porzingis well as a banger and floor spacer, plus a second rounder to bolster their young core. The Spurs get a sorely needed backup center who better fits age-wise to their young core of Kawhi, Murray etc, plus a veteran shooter in Lee. I actually see Porzingis being traded after the 2018-2019 season, as his decision to ignore meetings in the past riled executives. Plus, Aldridge is a better fit as a long term option to complement Frank Ntilikana, who is better in a half court offense.
Suns get: George Hill, Harry Giles, Frank Mason
Kings get: Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight
The Suns get some young talent for Chandler’s expiring deal and Knight’s combo guard abilities, who don’t fit on a tanking team. The Kings get rid of Hill’s contract, and acquire veterans who can ease the rebuilding process.
Cavaliers get: Harrison Barnes and JJ Barea
Mavericks get: Ante Zizic and a 2018 second round pick.
This is if LeBron James leaves in free agency (I think it’s a 60% chance he leaves for the Lakers.) Barnes would be an ok alternative at the SF spot, as the Cavs would still like to contend with Kevin Love in his prime, and Barea provides some solid veteran play as a backup. The Mavs get Barnes’ large contract off their hands, get a promising young center, and an ever-important pick, meaning they’ll have the draft capital to make some moves and trade up for an elite talent that mightn’t be available to them as a borderline playoff team with a 10-14 lottery ranking.
I’ve thought up a bunch more trades of draft picks but I’ll probably include them in my draft analysis post. Thanks for reading.