The 2020 offseason was cut short due to the pandemic; however, it was filled with wonder thanks to a busy trade market. Front officers were faced with Plan B and C but that will all change next year. The 2021 offseason will get the full effect like the year’s past.
Front offices knew that the market in 2020 was scarce and that 2021 will feature many more stars. Some teams like the New York Knicks have been bracing for this moment. From the win-now contenders to the long-term rebuilders, these are the best targets for each NBA team in 2021, may it be through trade or free agency.
Atlanta Hawks – Trade For LaMarcus Aldridge
John Collins is set to become a free agent after this season but all signs point to him resigning in Atlanta. The best thing to happen to Collins would be a veteran mentor to help him get over the hump and become a superstar. LaMarcus Aldridge could help the Hawks compete right now and is in a contract year, which means he will likely be on the trade block given the state of the Spurs. Before the deadline, the team should try and make a move for the former All-Star.
Boston Celtics – Trade For Myles Turner
In terms of defensive rim protectors, it doesn’t get any better than Myles Turner. The Indiana Pacers could start a fire sale sometime soon this season. Last season, Turner averaged 12.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks. Through three games this year, Turner owns an average of 5.7 blocks per game as he leads the league. Daniel Thies is a backup center at best in this league. Bringing Turner would solidify that team’s defense.
Brooklyn Nets – Sign Kelly Oubre Jr.
The Golden State Warriors thought they were going to get more out of Oubre when they traded for him last offseason. Oubre has gotten off to a slow start. Last year, he averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds. Adding Oubre would allow the team to move on from Spencer Dinwiddie, who is a free agent. The starting lineup would feature Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan, and Oubre. Joe Harris could be moved from small forward to shooting guard. This would be a rock-solid starting lineup.
Charlotte Hornets – Trade For Aaron Gordon
After allowing Kemba Walker to leave for virtually nothing, the Hornets cannot make the same mistake. Both Terry Rozier and Aaron Gordon need new homes. The backcourt in Charlotte is crowded after the team signed LaMelo Ball, while Gordon has not lived up to expectations. Gordon could fit with Ball, Devonte’ Graham, and Gordon Hayward. Rozier could serve as the team’s shooting guard with Evan Fournier set to become a free agent.
Chicago Bulls – Acquire Mo Bamba
Realistically, Year 3 of the Billy Donovan regime will be when the Chicago Bulls are contenders in the Eastern Conference. For this year and next, the Bulls should try and scour the market for undervalued prospects. Mo Bamba fits the mold. The former No. 4 overall pick has been blocked by Nikola Vucevic in Orlando. It would be worth a shot considering the Bulls, nor the Magic have nothing to lose with this trade.
Cleveland Cavaliers – A Top Draft Pick
While the 3-0 start to the Cavaliers is nice, the future looks murky. Andre Drummond will be a free agent after this year and has no reason to stay. Kevin Love is considered a trade target for teams in the middle of the season. If the Cavaliers make the playoffs, their ceiling is the second round. If the Cavaliers are serious about their rebuild, a top draft pick from this draft class should be something they either receive or trade for.
Dallas Mavericks – Acquire Bradley Beal
This might be the most far-fetched move of 2021, but it’s the move that puts Dallas back to contending for NBA championships. Luke Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis help the Mavericks own the league’s most efficient offense. However, the team is missing just one more start to get them over the hump. After trading for Russell Westbrook, the Wizards likely won’t deal with him right now. However, if the Wizards flounder, Beal could be back on the trade market in the offseason.
Denver Nuggets – Sign Jrue Holiday
The Nuggets are better when Jamal Murray doesn’t have the ball in his hand. If the Nuggets signed Holiday, Denver would have a true point guard and allow Murray to roam free. Gary Harris is set to be a free agent after this season, so the team could use some of that money to sign Holiday. A trio of Holiday, Murray, and Nikola Jokic is a solid “Big 3.”
Detroit Pistons – The No. 1 Overall Pick
Dealing Blake Griffin should be the team’s top priority while losing should be the other. Detroit’s future outlook looks bad. The only way that the team is going to get any better is to build around Cade Cunningham. The Pistons need to get lucky in the lottery and losing is the only way that will happen.
Golden State Warriors – Sign John Collins
The Warriors didn’t want to trade for Bradley Beal, which was understandable. Their title hopes this year is out the door with Klay Thompson missing the year. The hope is that the combination of Stephen Curry, Thompson, and Draymond Green can compete for one more title before the window closes. If Thompson and Green can stay healthy, and if Wiggins stays, signing John Collins to play power forward would solidify the starting lineup. Collins would fit right in with this team and be worth the money.
Houston Rockets – Trade For Doug McDermott
The Rockets need some more outside shooters. John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins are great in the paint. James Harden is James Harden, but teams narrow in on him defensively. Outside of Eric Gordon, who can shoot from outside. McDermott would be a rental, but he is someone that can shoot 40% from the three-point range. The Rockets need guard depth. McDermott could provide that.
Indiana Pacers – Trade For Cedi Osman
Let’s say the Pacers are serious about contending. The starting lineup, so what needs to be improved on the bench? Outside of Jeremy Lamb (injured) and Justin Holiday, there’s not a lot of appeals there. Cedi Osman is playing strong in Cleveland, averaging 15.7 points and 3.3 rebounds. Osman can play small forward and power forward. This would be a minor deal in the headlines, but a mighty move for the Pacers bench.
Los Angeles Clippers – Trade For Derrick Rose
When you read Rose’s story, it’s hard to not like him. Rose has given teams enough reason to believe that he is 100% healthy after playing more than 50 games in back-to-back seasons. Last year, Rose averaged 18.1 points coming off the bench. Rose would be a perfect playoff starter or backup point guard. The former MVP deserves a chance to chase rings and L.A. should take a chance that Rose will help them do that.
Los Angeles Lakers – Sign Chris Paul
Paul is going to turn 36 years old this season. He has never made the NBA Finals. He is one of LeBron James’ best friends. Money is irrelevant at this point. If there was a way that Paul doesn’t pick up that $44.2 million player option, the Lakers should do everything they can to bring Paul to Los Angeles. Paul has a huge decision this offseason. Money or a chance at an NBA championship?
Memphis Grizzlies – Trade For Kevin Love
The Grizzlies don’t have a true superstar on their team but have two budding stars in Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant. The Grizzlies won’t be title contenders until some supporting cast members are added. However, a lineup with Morant, Jackson, Dillon Brooks, Jonas Valunchunias, and Love has some appeal. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol led Memphis to a Western Conference once. This lineup could potentially do the same.
Miami Heat – Trade For Joel Embiid
Philadelphia didn’t see it, but the combination of Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid should have been brought back, not Ben Simmons and Al Horford. The Miami Heat have a true star in Butler. Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro are superior shooters not making a lot of money. Goran Dragic has a few high-level seasons left. The Heat have a two to a three-year window. Trading for Embiid would allow the Heat to compete with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Milwaukee Bucks – Acquire Chris Paul
For similar reasons to the Lakers, the Bucks could get over the hump with Paul handling the ball. The idea of Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Paul as the “Big 3” has some real appeal. Paul has played with some great players in his time, but nothing compared to a player like Giannis. Again, it all depends on if Jrue Holiday is brought back, or if Paul picks up his player option.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Trade For Aaron Gordon
This is another great fit for Gordon. The Timberwolves are set at three positions with D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, and Karl-Anthony Towns. The power forward is lacking. Gordon would immediately fit in. This would be a low-cost, high-reward for Minnesota. Gordon is just 25 years old, which is about the same age as the rest of the core.
New Orleans Pelicans – Sign Duncan Robinson
The Pelicans have a base that looks familiar to the championship mold of the Toronto Raptors. They have their star in Zion Williamson. They have their true center in Steven Adams, as well as their version of Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam in Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. What are they missing? Danny Green or Fred VanVleet. Robinson will be one of the best shooters on the market and would be the missing piece for New Orleans.
New York Knicks – Acquire Russell Westbrook
Imagine Westbrook playing in Madison Square Garden. None of the premier free agents like Kawhi Leonard or Jrue Holiday are going to come to New York. Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond should not be overpaid. The only way the Knicks are going to bring a star to New York is to trade for one. Westbrook wouldn’t bring a title, but at least would keep the Knicks relevant.
Oklahoma City Thunder – A Top-3 Pick
The Thunder could deal with Al Horford or George Hill for more draft picks. With 17 first-round picks over the next six seasons, the team’s future could be bright. In 2021, drafting Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, or Brandon Boston Jr. would all be great additions to this team. The Thunder will likely be near the basement of the standings, which is okay.
Orlando Magic – Trade For Zach LaVine
Have the Magic understood that relying on Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic is not going to transpire into postseason success? Evan Fournier is set to become a free agent and shouldn’t be overpaid. However, if the Magic want to enjoy some strong shooting, the team should find a way to trade for LaVine, who averaged over 25 points per game last year. He can stretch the floor and make the team’s frontcourt better, so they don’t overplay the paint.
Philadelphia 76ers – Trade For Buddy Hield
Everyone and their mother knows that Ben Simmons can’t shoot from outside. That’s why the team brought in Danny Green and Seth Curry. How about one more shooter to be safe? Hield owns a career 41% shooting percentage from the three-point range. A lineup with Simmons, Hield, Tobias Harris, and Joel Embiid is strong. Are the 76ers willing to shell out a first-round pick though?
Phoenix Suns – Trade For Lauri Markkenan
The stock for Markkanen is threading the needle. Two years ago, he averaged 18.7 points and 9.0 rebounds. Last year, he averaged 14.7 points and 6.3, while his shooting percentage dropped. The Bulls could get the most value for Markkanen right now. For Phoenix, if he plays up to his sophomore numbers, he gives the Suns a 7-footer that can shoot from outside.
Portland Trail Blazers – Trade For Myles Turner
Turner is Plan B for Portland. Originally, the Trail Blazers would have loved to trade for Rudy Gobert, but he signed a max deal with Utah earlier in December. The Trail Blazers are lacking a rim protector. Turner would push Nurkic to the bench, while Covington could switch to small forward. Along with the combination of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony, that’s a true starting five.
Sacramento Kings – Trade For Victor Oladipo
This all comes in the hopes that Marvin Bagley III becomes a real producer in the league. If Bagley can play inside, the team needs a complement to De’Aaron Fox in the backcourt. The Pacers could lose Oladipo, so the Kings should reach out about a trade, but also propose an offer, so they keep him around. Fox just signed a max deal, so the Kings could roll the dice with Fox and Oladipo running this franchise.
San Antonio Spurs – Draft Picks
This is hard to type. The Spurs need to tear everything down. That means trading LaMarcus Aldridge. Find a deal for DeMar DeRozan. Reach out to teams about Rudy Gay and Patty Mills. This run is over and it could be the end of Gregg Popovich’s tenure too. The only way that the Spurs will get back to their winning ways is to get younger and look to the future. The end of an era is sad, but this one hurts.
Toronto Raptors – Draft Picks
The Raptors thought they had a chance to sign Giannis before he resigned with Milwaukee. Kyle Lowry can be a free agent after this season and is midway through his 30s. Pascal Siakam has a looming contract extension on the way. The Raptors have lost Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka over the last two offseasons. The Raptors could compete this season, but what about next year? There’s no free agent or trade that the Raptors could pull that would prop them back to the top of the Eastern Conference, so rebuilding could be on the team’s forecast.
Utah Jazz – Trade For Kevin Love
Mike Conley could be a free agent after this season. If the Jazz wants to make a serious run at the title this year, finding a way to acquire Kevin Love is essential. The starting lineup of Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic, Love, and Rudy Gobert would be enough to compete with the Lakers, Clippers, or Nuggets. It would strap the team over the next two seasons, but if the Jazz wants to win now, this is the move that gets them over the hump.
Washington Wizards – Trade For Julius Randle
This could cost the Wizards a first-round pick, but that’s what happens when a player’s stock is at an all-time high. In the last two seasons, Randle has averaged close to 20 points and nine rebounds per game. Randle is owed around $18 million the next two seasons, which is fairly cheap for the production he is giving. A lineup of Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans, and Randle could prop the Wizards towards being a top-3 team in the Eastern Conference.