5 trades NBA teams could consider post free agency
Jul 6, 2023, 9:00 AM | Updated: 10:56 am
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
With NBA free agency winding down, most teams seem pretty set with their rosters for the upcoming season. While some, are waiting for the next big superstar to make his move before staying pat (we’re waiting for Damian Lillard).
Besides Dame, a number of high-level players could still be available for teams looking to spend big to contend this season. Teams like Toronto, Pheonix, and even Atlanta could still be in the market for that final piece to the puzzle. And with so much parity in the NBA right now, anything is possible next season.
So without further ado, here are five more trades teams could make before the start of the 2023-2034 NBA season.
Dame Gets His Wish
Miami Heat receive: Damian Lillard, Jusuf Nurkic, Royce O’Neale, Edmond Sumner
Portland Trail Blazers receive: Ben Simmons, Duncan Robinson, Nikola Jovic, Day’Ron Sharpe, MIA 2024 1st, BKN 2025 1st (via PHX), MIA 2026 1st (pick swap), MIA 2027 1st, MIA 2029 1st, MIA 2030 2nd
Brooklyn Nets receive: Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry, Nasir Little
The biggest trade of the summer sees Damian Lillard head to South Beach.
After 12 seasons in Rip City, Lillard has requested a trade away, with the Miami Heat in his sights. Joining Jimmy butler and Bam Adebayo, Miami should be one of the favorites to come out of the East next season. And for Dame, it’s his best chance to win a ring before he retires.
But they’ll need some help though.
Portland has made it clear they don’t want Tyler Herro in a Dame trade so they’ll need to find a third team to take him. Portland also desires an All-Star caliber return.
Enter the Brooklyn Nets and Ben Simmons.
The Trail Blazers take on the final two years of his deal, while holding out hope that he can revert back to his All-NBA self in PDX. Portland also gets Duncan Robinson, Nikola Jovic and Day’Ron Sharpe, to match salaries. And then to match assets, the Trail Blazers get 5 firsts and a second, a massive haul for a full rebuild.
Brooklyn helps out here by taking Herro and Kyle Lowry from Miami, and Nassir Little from Portland. The Nets are an interesting team with a ton of younger talent, inserting two standout guards should only make them stronger.
Miami is also taking on Jusuf Nurkic’s deal worth $54 million over three more years. From the Nets, Royce O’Neale and Edmond Sumner give the Heat more depth.
Everyone is happy here, except for Portland who is taking a slight hit to accommodate Lillard’s wishes. Like they said they would all along.
Portland Gets Max Value
Portland Trail Blazers receive: Karl-Anthony Towns, Gordon Hayward, Kai Jones, Wendell Moore Jr., Jaylen Nowell, Josh Minott, MIN 2024 1st, MIN 2026 2nd (via UTA), CHA 2027 1st (Top-10 Protected), MIN 2028 2nd, 2030 MIN 1st
Minnesota Timberwolves receive: Damian Lillard, Nasir Little
Charlotte Hornets receive: Jusuf Nurkic
Portland does the unprecedented and trades Lillard for maximum value. And the team to do that is the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Timberwolves have to get off Karl-Anthony Towns after last season because clearly, him and Rudy Gobert don’t work together. The two centers clogged up the lane for budding superstar Anthony Edwards, causing KAT to be moved outside along the perimeter. And while he’s perfectly okay at being a outside scorer, that’s not where the former No.1 overall pick should be.
This trade allows the Timberwolves to adjust salaries to fit Lillard into their books. By trading Towns, plus a boatload of picks and picks swaps, Minnesota will be pairing Edwards with Dame.
That sounds fun.
Portland would also want to get off Jusuf Nurkic in this deal, so Minnesota will need a third team to facilitate.
How about Charlotte?
By trading for Nurkic, the Hornets not only get a starting bigman, but also get off Gordon Hayward’s expiring deal. Two birds, one stone, as they say. Also shipping off Kai Jones and a Top-10-protected first in 2027, Portland feels properly compensated.
Other guard/wing types will be used to make the salaries match up, but the key here is getting Towns for the future. That’s the All-Star caliber haul that Blazers’ general manager Joe Cronin will be looking for.
Dame might not be happy at first, but he should warm up to the idea of playing alongside ANT and Gobert in Minneapolis.
Toronto Cashes in on Siakam
Toronto Raptors receive: De’Andre Hunter, Bogdan Bogdanovic, AJ Griffin, ATL 2024 1st (via SAC), ATL 2024 1st, CHA 2026 1st, ATL 2026 2nd (via GSW), ATL 2030 1st
Atlanta Hawks receive: Pascal Siakam, Gordon Hayward
Charlotte Hornets receive: Clint Capela, Thaddeus Young, ATL 2027 2nd (via LAC)
Losing Fred VanVleet in free agency for nothing is a hard pill to swallow for the Raptors, but it was time.
Toronto wasn’t going anywhere with the current roster and after firing Nick Nurse, do we really think the new guy is going to be better from Day 1? Doubtful.
So Masai Ujiri does the even harder, but necessary, next step of cashing in on his best assets, starting with Pascal Siakam. With one year left on his deal, rumors have swirled that “Spicy P” could be on the move before the season starts. The Atlanta Hawks have been a reported destination for the Cameroonian bigman.
To do this, ATL must give up both players and draft capital to add Siakam, two things they actually have up their sleeve. A combination of De’Andre Hunter, Bogdan Bogdanovic and AJ Griffin should make the money work and satisfy player concerns. It’s the picks they really want, getting four unprotected firsts in the deal.
To facilitate the trade, the Charlotte Hornets would be included to take on Clint Capela and his contract. They would in return, send a first to Toronto, while also giving Atlanta Gordon Hayward’s expiring. The former All-Star finds himself on a team with deep playoff aspirations, something he hasn’t had since Boston.
Atlanta get better, Charlotte gets a starting bigman and Toronto gets a jumpstart in the rebuild. Not a bad day at the office for all three teams.
Suns Trade for the Final Piece of the Puzzle
Phoenix Suns receive: Myles Turner, T.J. McConnell
Indiana Pacers receive: Deandre Ayton
This trade should have happened 365 days ago, and yet, here we are.
It seems clear to everyone, but the Phoenix Suns, that Deandre Ayton is going to work out the way they wanted him to. The bigman has been very inconsistent as a Sun, one night scoring 25 points and 12 rebounds, the next, well we all saw the playoffs.
Point being: Both sides may need a change of scenery.
The Pacers had interest in Ayton last year, offering him a max offer sheet that the Suns matched. Why wouldn’t they not want him still?
To make the deal, Indiana finally trades Myles Turner, despite giving him a two-year extension in the last calendar year. The Pacers would also be sending T.J. McConnell, giving Phoenix an actual starting point guard for depth.
No picks would be needed in this deal, a simple player swap can solve both teams’ problems. Indiana gets their bigman of the present & future, while Phoenix gets 100% better defensively.
It’s a Win-Win scenario.
DeMar DeRozan goes to a Contender in the Big Apple
Chicago Bulls receive: RJ Barrett, Evan Fournier, 2024 1st, 2025 1st (via MIL)
New York Knicks receive: DeMar Derozan, Alex Caruso
The Chicago Bulls have done some very surprising things this offseason, from extending Nikola Vucevic to being reluctant about moving off big contracts.
That has to give eventually.
While the New York Knicks were rumored to have been sniffing around Zach Lavine, his value probably isn’t high enough for Chicago to trade him currently. So why not go back to the Bulls and ask for DeMar DeRozan?
DeRozan, 34, has been a stellar scorer for Chicago the last two seasons, giving Bulls fans countless memories of clutch buckets. Now in the final year of his deal, it may be time to cash in.
Snagging RJ Barrett is a great return for Chicago.
Barrett is only 23 years old and has improved almost every season he’s been in the league. His contract is also reasonable, valued at () over four years. It’s hard to find true star for star compensation in the NBA, especially for someone of DeRozan’s age, but Barrett may be the best swap you could ask for.
To help New York, Chicago will also be taking Evan Fournier and his remaining deal. But that comes at a price of two first-round picks. The Bulls will also be sending Alex Caruso to the Madison Square Garden, a dream player for coach Tom Thibs.
The Knicks now have a legit scoring option next to Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson, making them a fierce contender in the East. On the flip side, Chicago gets a young player to build around as they wait and see how this season goes before blowing it up.
Not a bad haul for both parties.