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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Surprising NBA Offseason Trades to Start Thinking About Now

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Now that the 2021 NBA trade deadline has come and gone, it will be months before we get to see another deal go down.

    This doesn’t mean teams won’t be maintaining communication, of course, and all sorts of new trade possibilities will open up when expiring contracts come off the books this offseason and cap space suddenly opens up.

    The remainder of the regular season and playoffs also gives franchises some additional time to identify their needs and weaknesses, ones that have already begun to surface.

    While the following five trade ideas may not have been brought up in rumors at the deadline, all would benefit the teams included.

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    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    San Antonio Spurs Receive: PF Marvin Bagley III

    Sacramento Kings Receive: 2021 second-round pick, 2023 second-round pick

    It’s tough to get a pulse on what the Spurs will do this offseason.

    After buying out veteran center LaMarcus Aldridge despite currently in the Western Conference playoff race, we could see a total youth movement in San Antonio with DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Patty Mills all becoming unrestricted free agents.

    The Spurs are projected to have $47.7 million in cap space (per RealGM’s Keith Smith), meaning they should be on the lookout to absorb contracts other teams may be looking to part with, especially if they feel some potential is there.

    Bagley fits this idea.

    San Antonio is loaded with young guards and wings, but only two big men (Jakob Poeltl, Luka Samanic) are on fully guaranteed contracts for next season.

    If there were even an organization to maximize Bagley’s potential, it would be the Spurs.

    The 22-year-old power forward/center has played just 112 total games in his three seasons, with averages of 14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 25.5 minutes. While he was showing off an improved outside shot this season (35.4 percent from three on 2.6 attempts per game), Bagley is still a poor defender who has never seemed interested in passing.

    The No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Bagley will make $11.3 million next season in the final year of his rookie deal. Since the Kings wouldn’t be taking back salary in return, they’d save a good chunk of cap space while also generating a trade exception of the same amount.

    For the Spurs, giving up a pair of second-round picks and no players is a safe investment, especially if Bagley can finally put together a healthy season. His potential alone is worth the price.

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    New Orleans Pelicans Receive: C Myles Turner

    Dallas Mavericks Receive: C Steven Adams

    Indiana Pacers Receive: F/C Maxi Kleber, C Jaxson Hayes, 2021 first-round pick (top-five protected, via Pelicans)

    The Pelicans have the foundation to become one of the NBA’s best teams in a few years, but only if they can fix a 28th-ranked defense first.

    Opponents are shooting a blistering 68.6 percent at the rim, the worst mark in the NBA. Only the Washington Wizards (3.8) and Miami Heat (4.1) block fewer shots per game than New Orleans (4.2) as well.

    Basically, the Pelicans need Turner.

    While Adams is a good defender and always plays hard, he’s not an elite rim protector and offers zero floor spacing, something the Pelicans need to maximize Zion Williamson.

    Turner is holding opponents to just 48.6 percent shooting at the rim, a 20 percent improvement over the Pelicans’ current team rating. He’s blocking a league-high 3.5 shots per game and is a career 35.3 percent shooter from three.

    While New Orleans gets its perfect center, the Pacers net a nice return for Turner, who never put up great lineup numbers alongside Domantas Sabonis. Indiana can use Kleber as its starting power forward or center next to Sabonis, as the 29-year-old is shooting a career-high 43.5 percent from three.

    The Pacers also get Hayes, the No. 8 overall pick in 2019, and the Pelicans’ first-rounder this year (currently 10th overall).

    Dallas is essentially swapping Kleber for Adams, who would be the perfect fit next to Kristaps Porzingis and serve as a devastating screen setter for Luka Doncic.

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Los Angeles Lakers Receive: SG Buddy Hield

    Sacramento Kings Receive: PF Kyle Kuzma, C Marc Gasol, SF Alfonzo McKinnie

    Hield and Kuzma are both talented players with flaws, ones who would ultimately be better in different situations.

    While he looked like one of the league’s best three-point shooters a few seasons ago, Hield just hasn’t performed up to expectations in Sacramento. Playing between LeBron James and Anthony Davis would give Hield the most spacing he’s ever had while also receiving passes from one of the NBA’s all-time greats. A lifetime 40.5 percent marksman from three already, Hield’s game would take off with the Lakers.

    Kuzma will always be a reserve with Anthony Davis around, so moving him for a potential high-level starting shooting guard seems like a no-brainer.

    For Sacramento, moving off of Hield opens up the starting shooting guard position for star rookie Tyrese Haliburton. He’s already thrived as a starting, yet undersized, small forward (16.0 points, 4.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 50.5 percent shooting overall and 42.6 percent from three in his last nine games), but Haliburton’s future needs to be in the backcourt.

    If the Kings do indeed move Marvin Bagley III (as suggested in the first trade idea), Kuzma could become the team’s starting power forward. He’s on a reasonable contract (a three-year, $40 million extension kicks in next year) and has averaged 18.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists on 55.3 percent true shooting in 132 career starts.

    Gasol, 36, would be a good veteran for a young Kings team or a buyout of his $2.7 million 2021-22 salary could be easily arranged. Either way, this move shaves some salary both now and over the next three seasons by getting off of Hield’s remaining three-year, $62.4 million deal.

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Los Angeles Clippers Receive: PG Russell Westbrook, 2023 second-round pick (via Boston Celtics), 2024 second-round pick (via Boston Celtics)

    Washington Wizards Receive: G/F Luke Kennard, PG Patrick Beverley, C Daniel Oturu, 2021 second-round pick (via Brooklyn Nets)

    Charlotte Hornets Receive: C Ivica Zubac

    Taking a gamble on Westbrook will largely depend on how the Clippers fare in the playoffs.

    Anything short of winning a championship should be considered a failure for a team that has sacrificed nearly all its draft capital and young players to build around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Maximizing their primes should be the priority.

    Westbrook is far from a perfect player, and his salary is significant ($44.2 million in 2021-22, $47.1 million player option in 2022-23), but the Clippers are severely limited in ways they can add talent. The nine-time All-Star and Los Angeles area native has actually played much better as of late for the Washington Wizards, averaging 24.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, 12.5 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 44.8 percent overall and 37.0 percent from three over his last 15 games.

    A Big Three of Leonard, George and Westbrook would become arguably the best outside of Brooklyn and still have Serge Ibaka, Marcus Morris and Rajon Rondo in the rotation. For taking on Westbrook’s contract, the Clippers receive a pair of second-round picks as well.

    For Washington, even a backcourt of Westbrook and Bradley Beal hasn’t led to winning this season (17-31 record, 12th in the East), so this move is about getting off the veteran point guard’s contract while taking back some usable rotation pieces and a modest pick. Beverley would be a good fit next to Beal, and Kennard, 24, is hitting 47.1 percent of his threes this season.

    With young centers Daniel Gafford and Thomas Bryant already on the roster for next season, the Wizards reroute Zubac to Charlotte, a move that helps clear $17.1 million in salary off the books overall.

    The Hornets can lose both Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo in free agency, and Zubac gives them a good, young starting center on a terrific contract.

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Golden State Warriors Receive: F/C Pascal Siakam, C Chris Boucher

    Toronto Raptors Receive: C James Wiseman, SF Andrew Wiggins

    With a healthy Klay Thompson back next season and Stephen Curry now 33, how long are the Warriors really willing to wait on Wiseman’s development?

    The No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft is putting up 11.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in his 35 games (23 starts), yet the Warriors have been 11.1 points per 100 possessions worse with Wiseman in the game. He has the skill set to become an All-Star, but it’s just a question of if Golden State can wait to see him develop before its championship window closes.

    Siakam has already been an All-Star starter. And he’s a 27-year-old power forward-center who is improving the Toronto Raptors by 9.5 points per 100 possessions this year with his 20.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game.

    His ability as a willing passer and defender fits the Warriors’ DNA, and his play in the 2019 Finals (19.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists on 50.5 percent shooting) was a big reason why Golden State wasn’t able to three-peat. A frontcourt of Siakam and Draymond Green could mix and match defensively while still giving the Warriors a third scorer behind Curry and Thompson.

    Boucher is arguably the NBA’s best backup center, averaging 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks while shooting 40.7 percent from three. He’d be a big piece to the Warriors’ rotation.

    For Toronto, this trade would represent a mini-rebuild—perhaps a necessity following what’s become a disastrous 19-30 start to the season.

    Wiseman becomes the center of the future with Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. surrounding him. Wiggins is still overpaid but is putting together the best season of his career (18.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 blocks, 57.0 true shooting percentage) and is a Toronto native who should still be improving at age 26.

    The Warriors increase their title odds while the Raptors go for long-term potential.

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