Six trades teams should consider leading into the 2023 NBA Draft

Jun 21, 2023, 6:00 AM | Updated: 9:00 am

Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans sits on the bench during the second half of their NB...

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It’s hard to believe that we are just one day away from the 2023 NBA Draft, yet here we are.

While most of the world is focused on Victor Wembanyama going first to San Antonio Spurs Thursday night, the real draft begins after that.

Reports have indicated that Alabama’s Brandon Miller could be the second pick for the Charlotte Hornets, over Scoot Henderson. While there is still time for that to change, most major draft experts have circled in Miller for that spot.

But what could happen after that?

With a new CBA on the horizon, teams are scrambling to make moves under the current regime for next season. That could mean a very busy draft night in New York City.

So with that being said, here are six trades that could happen by the time the clock strikes midnight Friday morning.

1. Bradley Beal trade complete, Chris Paul returns to LA

Details: PHX gets Bradley Beal, Ivica Zubac, Marcus Morris Sr., Nicolas Batum, Monte Morris, Jordan Goodwin, No. 30 overall pick; LAC gets Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, Cameron Payne, No. 42 overall pick; WAS gets Landry Shamet, Terance Mann, Bones Hyland, Amir Coffey, No. 48 overall pick, PHX 2024 second-round pick, PHX 2025 second-round pick, PHX 2027 second-round pick

How does the ole saying go: Killing two birds with one stone? Well, here you go.

Chris Paul & the Clippers have been linked for a reunion since it was announced to would be traded for Bradley Beal. That’s not surprising, especially because LA could use a natural floor general to assist Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

What is surprising is landed DeAndre Ayton as well.

It’s clear that the Suns-Ayton marriage needs to end. He was a negative in the playoffs for them, lacking effort throughout the Denver series. But the real kicker is his deal, scheduled to make 30 million-plus for the next three years.

This three-team trade mitigates all of that, allowing Phoenix to add depth behind their new Big 3.

Marcus Morris and Nic Batum are three & D veterans on expiring deals. Ivica Zubac does everything Ayton does but at a much cheaper price. And Monte Morris can play in the backup PG role, which is his bread & butter, on a contending team.

For Washington, this is tear-it-down time.

Adding role players that can be versatile, but won’t take over too many games, is perfect for the Wizards. Maybe they ask for an additional first or another young player, but this saves a whole max salary for Washington next season.

Point being: Everyone wins here.

2. Zion joins Dame in Portland

Details: POR gets Zion Williamson; NOP gets Anfernee Simons, No. 3 overall pick

This trade is much simpler and solves both teams’ problems.

For New Orleans, it’s probably time for a split from Zion Williamson. While he possesses MVP-level talent, he can’t stay on the court, featuring in 119 games in his entire career. Last season, he played only 29 contests before suffering a lower-body injury. His lack of involvement/effort to stay healthy has set the Pelicans back substantially.

Trading him for the No. 3 pick makes sense.

Whether it’s Brandon Miller or Scoot Henderson, New Orleans gets a new franchise guy to pair with CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram. Plus, they’ll be taking Simons, a young scoring talent in the league.

For Portland it’s simple: You get Zion Williamson.

A former No. 1 overall pick, the Duke product will be the best talent Damian Lillard has ever played with in his career. The pick & rolls between the two will be electrifying stuff if they can stay healthy.

Thanks to Portland’s hell-bent need to win a ring with Dame, they overlook all the concerns off the court, for a chance at something special on it.

It’s a big swing, but one the Trail Blazers need to make if they plan on keeping Lillard.


3. The Magic find a star to pair with Paolo

Details: ORL gets Zach Lavine, Alex Caruso; CHI gets Cole Anthony, Jonathan Issac, Gary Harris, No. 6 overall pick

The second trade of the draft sees the Bulls deal Zach Lavine to the Magic for pieces and a top-six draft pick.

While finishing near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, Orlando was surprisingly competitive in most games last season. That partially had to do with the play of rookie sensation Paolo Banchero.

Banchero averaged 20 points and almost seven boards in 72 games as a rookie. He quickly became the focal point of the offense, dazzling with his physicality and array of moves in the midrange. Entering the season at 21 years old, the sky is the limit for him.

So now it’s time to find a co-star to accelerate the process.

Chicago is stuck in no-mans-land as well, missing the postseason in 2022. Zach Lavine regressed, Nikola Vucevic needs a new deal, their draft picks haven’t panned out and now DeMar DeRozan is entering age 34. Losing Lonzo Ball indefinitely (knee) hurt them the most though, killing any momentum they had in the 2021-22 season.

It’s time to rebuild.

The tear-down starts with Lavine, scheduled to make more than $40 million each of the next four years. Orlando could use a bucket-getter like him, able to alleviate the pressure from Banchero & Franz Wagner. Still only 28, Lavine probably has three to four more years of peak scoring left before his knee begins to wear down.

Why not try and build something in central Florida?

To do it, the Magic would need to give Chicago their sixth overall pick as the main trade piece. That way the Bulls can add a foundational piece for the future.

An assortment of Jonathan Issac, Gary Harris and Cole Anthony should be enough to see it over the line. Maybe Markelle Fultz or Jalen Suggs is also thrown in, but you get the picture.

Orlando is a future playoff contender for years to come.


4. Raptors finally hit factory reset

Details: TOR gets Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Green, Chris Duarte, Davis Bertans, No. 7, 10, 32 overall picks, DAL 2026 first-round pick, IND 2026 first-round pick (Top-10 protected), IND 2028 first-round pick; IND gets O.G. Anunoby and Jaden Hardy; DAL gets Pascal Siakam, Buddy Hield, T.J. McConnell

Okay here me out.

Toronto needs to start from scratch, whether they like it or not. Their current core isn’t working and firing Nick Nurse isn’t going to change much. So here’s a chance to cash in big on two of their stars.

It all starts with O.G. Anunoby going to the Pacers for the No. 7 overall pick, additional draft pieces, and Chris Duarte. While most think this is an overpay for a non-all-star, O.G. has more value than you think on the market. Which is why Dallas is needed for this.

The Mavericks are used as the salary-filler team while acquiring a third star in Pascal Siakam. To make the deal happen, Dallas gives the Raptors No. 10 overall, an additional first in 2026, and a slew of players that have shorter salaries. In return, the Mavs take Buddy Hield & T.J. McConnell to round out their depth.

Dallas needs the Pacers for draft picks, while Indiana needs the Mavericks for salary filler. It’s a win-win move, except for Toronto who are blowing it up.

Maybe Dallas has to throw Indiana another second-rounder or two, or the Pacers want to swap picks this year, but the framework is sufficient for all parties involved.


5. KAT to ATL

Details: ATL gets Karl-Anthony Towns, Kyle Anderson, Gordon Hayward, Taurean Prince; MIN gets John Collins, De’Andre Hunter, Bogdan Bogdanovic, 2024 first-round pick (via SAC), ATL 2029 first-round pick; CHA gets Clint Capela, 2027 second-round pick

Let’s face it: The Minnesota Timberwolves messed up.

After trading the entire farm to Utah for Rudy Gobert last summer, The Twin Cities made it clear that they wanted to contend in the present. The problem is they chose the wrong guy to get them there.

Gobert is an elite defender and rim protector in the NBA, but that’s all he brings. He has no outside shot, lackluster defensive switchability, vests exposed in the playoffs, and a contract that only gets worse, as he gets older.

Now strapped to $141 million ENTERING the 2023 offseason, it’s time to make a big move. And the best candidate for that is Karl Anthony-Towns.

Entering his ninth season in the league, Towns has done nothing of note as a winning basketball player (despite what he thinks of himself). Here’s a fun fact: In nine years, the Timberwolves have a combined record of 273-355 (43.4%). Not great.

Point being: He needs to find a new home in the NBA. And what’s a more perfect “fresh start” than Atlanta for KAT?

The Hawks are also rudderless at the moment, stuck smack in the middle of competency. While they’ve had some fun playoff moments with Trae Young, the majority of the last few years has been ugly. Dejounte Murray was also subpage for his previous value when they made the move to acquire him last summer. Now on his fifth head coach, Young & the Hawks need to start winning fast.

It’s time to form a Big 3.

Giving back John Collins, DeAndre Hunter, Bogdan Bogdanovic and two first-round picks, the Hawks pair Young & Murray with a All-Star center in Towns. He’s a very good three-point shooter, 39.5% for his career. Additionally, he has an assortment of post moves to hit tough buckets.

The problem is his defense, getting exposed the last few years in the playoffs. If that can’t improve, he may have to be benched late in the game.

But maybe Atlanta looks past that by grabbing players that can fill the gaps around him. Kyle Anderson and Taurean Prince are solid rotational pieces. And if they get another team involved for Clint Capela (*cough, cough Charlotte Hornets), maybe adding some wing depth in Gordon Hayward is a good thing.

For the Timberwolves, they don’t have to pay KAT that 4-year, $224 million deal. They also get rotational pieces that better complement Anthony Edwards and Rudy Gobert.

It’s a nice change of scenery trade for all three teams.


6. Jordan Clarkson back in Purple & Gold

Details: LAL gets Jordan Clarkson, Kelly Olynyk, No. 28 overall pick; UTA gets Mo Bamba, No. 17 overall pick

Not one, but TWO returns to Tinseltown on draft night.

The Lakers made the Western Conference Finals after a grizzled first season with Darvin Ham as their coach. Despite falling to 2-10 to start the year, and suffering significant injuries to LeBron James & Anthony Davis, LA somehow made the postseason as the eight-seed.

From there, the duo began to string games together, while also getting help from the bench. Austin Reaves turned into a legit third option, Rui Hachimura became Mr. Sixth Man. Even Lonnie Walker IV had a moment against the Golden State Warriors.

But just like in Cinderella, LA turned back into pumpkins at the hands of the Denver Nuggets.

The eventual champs swept the Lakers in a competitive four-game series, leaving LeBron & Co. searching for answers. That starts with the draft Thursday.

While they could take a young talent at pick 17, LA needs win-now talent next season. Guess who doesn’t: Utah. The Jazz should be willing to move Jordan Clarkson and Kelly Olynyk’s expiring contracts for another pick in the teens. Moving up 11 spots, they would have back-to-back selections, and three in ten picks.

The Lakers get shooting and that’s what they need.

Pairing more ball-handling, bucket getters work with LeBron, allowing him to play point guard more. Clarkson and Olynyk both shoot the ball well, and have experience in big games. And they still have a 2023 first round pick.


To do this, Mo Bamba goes and they officially renounce the rights of D’Angelo Russell (which they were doing anyways).

Quality depth is king in the NBA today, we just saw that with Denver. This gets LA closer to a real contender.

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Six trades teams should consider leading into the 2023 NBA Draft