The NBA is always changing. I am going to allow us to enter an alternate universe for a minute. We will use knowledge and skills to match salaries and make some plausible trades which could jolt the NBA stratosphere.
One or a couple of these potential deals could ravage the association for years to come. And none of them are outside the realm of possibility.
5. Russell Westbrook To The Houston Rockets
The Thunder Receive: Chris Paul, Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, Gary Clark and 3 future 1st rounders
The Rockets Receive: Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams and Andre Roberson
Why would the Thunder do it?
Westbrook does not want to be in Oklahoma City. This does not mean Sam Presti needs to completely blow it up. Just come up with a new diagram for success. Acquiring Chris Paul gives you a high IQ pass-first point who can also bring along a younger guard like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Chris Paul may have lost a step defensively as any player does with age, but his leadership and intelligence are unquestionable.
Swapping Clint Capela out for Steven Adams allows the chemistry of Chris Paul and Clint Capela to continue in a new location. The addition of Eric Gordon should not be dismissed, as he is a streaky but effective sharpshooter and plus defender.
Gary Clark adds another shooter to a helpless and space devoid Thunder squad. The Thunder have not had quality shooters in a long time. A first-rounder to sweeten the pot. Presti, pick up the phone because I think Houston would not have a problem with this deal.
Why would the Rockets do it?
The Houston Rockets could reignite the chemistry of Westbrook and Harden. These two together have unfinished business. A trip down the same alley with the same goal. These two were a part of the original Oklahoma City big 3 with Kevin Durant. You remember right? The team in 2012 that lost to the Miami Heat in 5 in the NBA finals.
Steven Adams is no Kevin Durant, but he could be considered as an upgrade over Clint Capela. I believe Adams is a better screen setter, better range even if just slightly, better ft shooter, and better post-game. A potentially healthy Andre Roberson gives Houston’s opponents problems as he’s one of the best perimeter defenders in all of basketball.
4. Steven Adams To The Chicago Bulls
The Bulls Receive: Steven Adams and Hamidou Diallo
The Thunder Receive: Wendell Carter Jr, Cristiano Felicio and a couple of first-rounders
Why would the Bulls do it?
The Bulls are arguably one player away from contending for an NBA playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Steven Adams could complete a big 3 with Lauri Markannen and Zach LaVine in Chicago. Adams as a viable rim protector could shore up any of Lauri’s defensive shortcomings. LaVine has improved as a playmaker over the years and Adams is a perfect lob target and pick and roll buddy. The Bulls play in a big market and their fanbase is growing sour. Time for Garpax to get a win and gain some credibility back. Establish a direction. Dropping Felicio’s deal gives the Bulls good cap flexibility.
Hamidou Diallo is not just a throw-in. Diallo is a freak athlete who has an immense defensive upside. Upside if groomed correctly can translate to results. The Bulls are built to be a run and gun team. Diallo is always a plus to achieving that style of play.
Why would the Thunder do it?
The Thunder are clearly starting a rebuild. They have exited the first round the last two seasons and are searching for a fresh start. Why not get assets for trading your best big man? Wendell Carter Jr out of Duke is a young and raw stud. The big man has the range and is a different style of big than Adams. The upside of a young big man is the chance for growth.
Felicio on the surface is a temporary terrible deal, but it can work out if used he can be an effective bench piece in spot minutes. A dog on the glass who is raw offensively. Rawness if the developed right can turn to something more. Maybe, time in G League could do him good. A chance to reinvent himself.
3. Kevin Love To The Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers Receive: Kevin Love
The Cavaliers Receive: Hassan Whiteside
Why would the Trail Blazers do it?
A team’s success is predicated on fit. Kevin Love would integrate seamlessly into the picture for Portland. The star stretch four would complete a potential big 4 in Portland with Dame, CJ, and Nurkic. Of course, once Nurkic returns from his bad leg injury. Portland is so close to an NBA final. As the great Channing Frye said something along the lines of getting Kevin Love to Rip City. This is a mere paraphrase.
Nonetheless, Love could be a third option. Love trumps everything. Love and company to change the outlook for Portland. The city would not mind hanging another banner. Love does not need to be a 20-10 guy for this to work either. 18 and 11 are very sufficient. The championship experience and expert level spacing makes this an invaluable acquisition for Portland.
Why would the Cavs do it?
Kevin love does not fit with this team’s future goals. A team that will be likely lottery-bound for the next few years. Whiteside is an instant upgrade over Tristan Thompson or Mr. “Cleveland Runs the East”. Better defender, rebounder, and more complete player. In the right situation, Whiteside can be the force that he once was. There was a time where many considered him the best center in the NBA or at least in the conversation.
A perfect lob target for Darius Garland. A solid screen setter for all of their newly acquired shooters like Kevin Porter Jr. and Dylan Windler. The Cavs next play should be to move Love to a contender. Love helped Cleveland accomplish their ultimate goal. Let Love go on to his next chapter.
2. Gordon Hayward To The Houston Rockets
The Celtics Receive: Clint Capela and Eric Gordon
The Rockets Receive: Gordon Hayward, Grant Williams and future picks
Why would the Celtics do it?
The Celtics despite signing Enes Kanter are super thin in the frontcourt. Obtaining a beast on the backboard like Capela is a plus. Especially, when Philadelphia is stacking up with high-quality big men. They will be a tough opponent. The Celtics have wanted a true center for years.
The addition of Eric Gordon is not a mere throw-in. The Celtics lost four quality shooters this summer in Kyrie, Horford, Rozier and Morris Sr. It’s a shooters game. The Celtics can shoot their shot and would empty their hands of their most overpaid player. Hayward’s injury was devastating and he may never be the same player again. Some argue his existence on the Celtics halts the development of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. It’s time to sever the ties.
Why would the Rockets do it?
They have been fielding calls on Clint Capela and Eric Gordon. It’s no secret everybody besides James Harden is tradeable on the team. Gordon Hayward can still be the player he was in Utah. Hayward is in the gym every day working to get back to the player he used to be. Half of the game is mental.
Houston would be adding a high IQ point forward with a smooth shooting stroke. The worse case, he is similar to what the Rockets had in Chandler Parsons not long ago. A playmaker and a floor spacer could thrive in D’antoni’s system. Grant Williams has loads of defensive upside and moves well for a big man. Williams has the range on his shot. The pick should be a pot sweetener.
1. Chris Paul To The Orlando Magic
The Magic Receive: Chris Paul
The Rockets Receive: Evan Fournier, Markelle Fultz, Mo Bamba and 1st rounder
Why would the Magic do it?
Chris Paul would be the best point guard since Penny Hardaway for the Orlando Magic. Even in his latter prime, Paul would fit precisely on the Magic. A past first point guard who could elevate Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic to the next level. A potential big 3 in Orlando could make the Magic good enough to not only return to the postseason but start winning playoff series.
To get something, you have to be willing to give up assets. A pure scorer in Fournier, and two question marks in Bamba and Fultz. The Magic are a trade away from being contenders in a wide-open Eastern Conference. Orlando, the ball is in your court.
Why would the Rockets do it?
There could be legitimacy to a fallen out in Chris Paul’s and James Harden’s relationship. The reality is they have not been able to get to the Finals. The West is getting tougher. The Rockets need to try a new path. Getting a pure scorer and decent playmaker in Fournier who could thrive in a bench role.
Meanwhile, Mo Bamba has put on muscle and could be a star in the making. A nice stretch four to complement Clint Capela. Similar to what Brooklyn is doing with DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen. Twin towers unite. This deal largely hinges on Fultz shaking his bust label by getting healthy and living up to the status of a top pick.