The NBA is a 12-month league, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last five years, anything is possible during the offseason. Last summer, three stars, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and Lonzo Ball, switched teams on massive sign-and-trades. The Lakers sent three crucial role players to the Wizards for Russell Westbrook and his enormous contract during the 2021 offseason. And the Clippers acquired Eric Bledsoe for Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo, and Daniel Oturu.
The 2022 trade deadline was also ridiculous. Philly sent Ben Simmons to the Nets for James Harden. CJ McCollum found himself in New Orleans, and Domantas Sabonis landed in Sacramento.
The league’s in-season transactions were just the precursor for what is guaranteed to be an active offseason. The Lakers have to make a move (or three), the Trail Blazers and Kings made a series of odd February deals that should be the forerunner to more follow-up transactions during the summer, and the Wizards could have a Bradley Beal problem. The Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors, and New York Knicks should also look to make something happen.
Below we’ll highlight 10 stars that could be on the move during the summer of 2022.
Possible Destinations: Oklahoma City Thunder, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers
Jerami Grant’s name floated around the trade tides in February before the Pistons decided to keep their young wing for the rest of the year. Next year Grant will enter the final season of his $60 million contract, and he reportedly wants to sign a four-year $112 million extension over the summer to stay in Detroit long term. $28 million per year is a hefty price for a wing who can’t carry the offense, shoots a ho-hum 34.8% from deep for his career, and topped out last year with 2.8 assists per game. GM Troy Weaver could (and probably should) scoff at forking over that type of money for Grant. And if he does indeed give Grant a thumbs down, he’d have to trade his wing or watch him walk away in the summer of 2023 for nothing.
A handful of teams were interested in Grant at the trade deadline, including the Nets and Trail Blazers. Brooklyn landed Ben Simmons, taking them out of the running, while Portland traded away most of their team and have little left to offer the Pistons.
The Indiana Pacers were also interested in Grant at the deadline. They could look to rekindle trade talks with the Pistons, offering Myles Turner in exchange for Jerami Grant. The Pacers already dealt Sabonis, and if they sent Turner to Motor City, it would leave them barren at the 5. Over the last couple of seasons, Turner’s been plagued with injuries, playing only 47 games in 2020-21 and 42 contests in 2021-22. It might be smart to move on from him before his reputation morphs from a solid shot blocking big man to an in-and-out-of-the-lineup center like Anthony Davis. The Pacers would love to add Jerami Grant and his two-way capabilities, and there are several solid, dependable centers who will be free agents over the summer like JaVale McGee, Bobby Portis, and Kevon Looney they could look to add. The Pistons would lose their best wing, who already had one foot out the door, for a genuine rim protector in Myles Turner. Not bad.
The Thunder could also be interested. GM Sam Presti has collected the most impressive assortment of draft picks in the league, and he might be ready to cash in a few for the chance to build a core of Jerami Grant, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Josh Giddey. The Pistons would be wise to add a few high draft picks to their future coffers. Rookie Cade Cunningham looks like a superstar in the making, but Detroit is two or three years away from turning things around.
Sacramento could also make one of their typically foolish deals, trading Harrison Barnes, 29, with his 41.2 3P% and top-20 defense for Jerami Grant, 28, and his subpar three-point percentage and slightly worse inside-out defense.
Possible Destinations: Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat
You have to feel bad for Christian Wood. He agreed to a sign and trade to go to the Rockets last summer for the chance to play with James Harden on a playoff contender. Harden went on to miss Houston’s entire training camp and preseason before entering the regular season with a potbelly and an angry scowl on his face, clambering for a trade. The Rockets obliged Harden, sending him to the Nets, and Christian Wood and Houston predictably finished the season 19-52.
This season, the Rockets are tanking their way to the worst record in the league. The most entertaining aspect of watching a Houston game is witnessing Wood’s weekly body language go from sad to unhappy to depressed.
2022-23 is the final year of Christian Wood’s three-year contract, and after wasting two years of his prime toiling away in Houston, he’s a 100% lock to leave. Houston should trade him over the summer instead of losing him for nothing.
The Lakers reportedly had a deal in place at the trade deadline, which would have landed them John Wall and Christian Wood for Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker, and their 2027 first-round pick. Both organizations could easily revisit that trade over the summer, with the Lakers feeling enough fan pressure to mortgage their future further and pull the trigger.
The Miami Heat were interested in Christian Wood at the trade deadline but couldn’t work out a deal. Pat Riley is intrigued with pairing Bam Adebayo with Wood, forming an excellent defensive frontcourt with Jimmy Butler. They could come calling again over the summer if things don’t work out with the Lakers.
Possible Destinations: New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz
The Sacramento Kings pulled off another short-sighted and clueless trade in February, sending young stud and surefire future All-Star Tyrese Haliburton along with Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson to the Pacers for two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb, and a 2023 second-round pick.
The Kings’ new threesome of De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and Harrison Barnes have gone 3-12 over their last 15 contests. Sacramento has blended one of the worst two-way attacks in the league during that span with a 110.3 OFFRTG (25th in the NBA) and 116.8 DEFRTG (22nd in the NBA).
De’Aaron Fox can’t be blamed. He’s pouring in 29.3 PPG and 7.3 APG while hitting 37.2% of his 6.0 triple attempts and logging a massive 38.9 MPG throughout the Kings’ last 15 contests.
Fox’s trade value is about as high as it will get. Maybe the Kings will stop acting like the Kings for once and begin thinking about building for the future instead of playing for today while still landing in the lottery.
The starless Knicks would LOVE to land Fox, and they’d probably give away their next three first-round picks for him. The Celtics’ top playmaker is Marcus Smart (5.7 APG). Enough said. And the Utah Jazz are stocked with an assortment of sweet-shooting wings but could use a better point guard next to Spida.
Possible Destinations: Los Angeles Lakers
John Wall is earning the second-highest salary in the league this season at $44 million for sitting on the sofa and doing whatever the hell he wants, which is 99.9999999% of the population’s dream scenario. Still, it’s probably torture for an uber-competitor like John Wall (or any NBA player). It’s also an agonizing ordeal for the 17-53 Rockets who’d have killed to scrape Wall’s cash off their cap sheet last summer. Making matters worse for Houston’s brain trust, Wall’s money tree is set to produce some of the highest quality fruit in the world next season at $47 million.
It’s safe to say both sides want to remedy this absurd situation.
That’s where the Lakers step in. They’re the only team in the league desperate enough to trade for John Wall.
The Lakers and Russell Westbrook are mired in their own ugly pairing. Brodie fits next to LeBron James like a water buffalo lost in the desert, and he’s also due $47 million.
The Lakers get to dump Brodie on the Rockets, a team that would threaten him with John Wall’s 2021-22 fate if he doesn’t accept a buyout. And Westbrook might do the math and see that his awful season with the Lakers + one year out of the league = a good chance he’d drop out of the NBA altogether.
The Purple and Gold get a redo, hoping that their second high-priced, former All-Star point guard in the last two years would come in with the understanding he isn’t the player he once was. The Lakers would also have to hope John Wall’s two major leg injuries and one year spent out of the league didn’t sap all of his lateral movement, and he’d be capable of defending at an above-average level. And if Wall got ambitious after the trade, maybe he’d hit the lab over the summer and put up 2,000 long-distance bombs a day, building the muscle memory needed to help spread the floor for LBJ and AD in 2022-23.
Possible Destinations: Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers
Julius Randle wants out of New York, and New York wants out of Julius Randle. The Big Apple has heckled Randle in 2021-22 like he’s a stuttering comic standing on stage in his underwear, and Julius has responded in the worst possible way. Instead of using all the hate as a shot of adrenaline during contests, upping his two-way play toward 120%, he has tightened up and let the jeers nest inside his head.
It’s hard to see Julius Randle coming back from this type of season in the Big Apple. The Knicks would be wise to deal their former one-time All-Star over the offseason before he either demands a trade, tanking his trade value, or falls harder down the mountain in 2022-23, also tanking his trade value.
Teams will lowball the Knicks, professing Randle’s lone All-Star season in 2020-21 was an outlier. They’ll say Orange Julius’s 2021-22 31.0% three-point mark along with his 5.2 assists versus 3.6 turnovers per game and -10.9 point differential is more in line with his actual talent level. New York will shout out to the league that their fans ruined things for Randle. In the end, it’s hard to see the Knicks getting an All-Star level player, or a handful of draft picks for their embattled power forward.
The Lakers would jump at the chance to trade Brodie for Randle. They’d take on Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker’s awful contracts while throwing in their 2027 first-round pick. And that deal might help the Knicks in the long run. They’d clear away three fairly bad long-term deals for one year of Westbrook, and they’d have a ton of cap space in the summer of 2023 to try again.
The Raptors might trade Siakam for Randle, a bulkier and better overall defender. And the Pacers might send Malcolm Brogdon over to the Big Apple now that they have Haliburton, their point guard of the future.
Possible Destinations: Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics
You’ve heard about Russell Westbrook’s struggles this season, but how bad has he really been?
Here’s a breakdown:
Russell Westbrook ranks 87th out of 97 players who’ve taken at least 200 total open shots (closest defender is 4 to 6 feet away) with a 46.6 eFG%.
24 players have taken a minimum of 200 wide-open shots (no defender within 6 feet), and Russell Westbrook is last among them with a 44.8 eFG%.
Westbrook is 129th out of 145 players who’ve taken 200 or more shots from within 10 feet of the basket in 2021 with a 51.4 eFG%.
Russell Westbrook leads the league in total turnovers at 265
Brodie ranks 108th out of 125 guards who’ve defended at least 8 field goals per game in defensive field goal percentage in 2021-22 at 49.4%.
Summary: Russell Westbrook has gotten a crap-load of open or wide-open shots this season, and he’s missed WAY more than half of them. When Brodie gets into the lane, he’s one of the worst finishers in the league. He also bumbles the ball out of bounds like a guy without thumbs, and he’s one of the poorest perimeter defenders in the league.
A more direct summary: Russell Westbrook is one of the 10 worst players in the league this season (and he has the fourth-highest salary).
Brodie’s play this season, coupled with his I-don’t-care-about-any-of-it attitude, makes it seem like his 2022-23 contract will be impossible to trade (outside of a deal with Houston).
Here’s the thing: Every now and again, Brodie unleashes a gem on the league as he did in the Lakers’ recent win versus the Raptors. Westbrook dropped an easy 10 dimes in Toronto as he constantly collapsed the Raptors defense, showing he still has one of the best drive and kick games in the association. Brodie also shot the ball well, going 8 for 18 from the field, AND he somehow played hard-nosed defense, giving up only eight points on his 10 defensive field goal attempts.
Lakers GM Rob Pelinka HAS TO trade Westbrook over the summer, or the entire city of Los Angeles might boycott the Lakers. Pelinka must be praying nightly Westbrook can string ten more end-of-the-season games like his Toronto showing (he also played well against the Wizards). Then he’ll be able to head over to the Knicks and Celtics with some tangible evidence that Brodie could actually help them with his playmaking ability on a cap-cleansing expiring contract in return for either team’s two or three worst contracts. If New York or Boston has no interest, Pelinka will have to crawl back to the Rockets and give them the Lakers’ first-round pick to dump Westbrook for John Wall.
Possible Destinations: Utah Jazz, New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers
This year, Pascal Siakam is averaging 21.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and 5.1 APG. That’s a solid, All-Star-caliber slash line, but he’s slotted in at the power forward position, giving away nearly as many points on defense to bulkier big men as he scores on offense. The Raptors are stacked with excellent defenders, Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet. Yet, they rank 14th in the NBA in defensive rating as Siakam gets abused on the block, which is the main reason they’re outside of the east’s top-6 facing an upcoming play-in game just to make the NBA’s second season.
-Toronto would be wise to cash in on Siakam’s offensive excellence by bringing in a player (or players) who’d provide better two-way play.
-GM Masai Ujiri has proven to be one of the shrewdest execs in the league.
-Siakam’s name has been blowing in the trade winds for the last couple of seasons.
Pascal Siakam could very well be on the move during the 2022 offseason.
Utah could make sense, as we described above if Donovan Mitchell wants out, but inside sources have made it known Ujiri craves a better interior defender.
Would the Cavs be willing to deal All-Star Jarrett Allen for Siakam and Trent Jr.?
A Cleveland starting unit of Evan Mobley at his natural center position, flanked by Markkanen at the power forward spot and Siakam down at the 3, with Garland and Trent Jr. in the backcourt, would be scary.
On the other side of this deal. The Raptors would feature a twin tower set with Allen and Anunoby as Scottie Barnes, Thaddeus Young, and Fred VanVleet fill out the starting unit.
Ujiri could also look to fleece the Knicks by sending Siakam to New York for a couple of first-round draft picks along with Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, and Alec Burks, giving the Raptors more draft capital to pull off a future blockbuster and three solid role players.
Possible Destinations: Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors
Let’s start by saying the small-market-free-agents-don’t-want-to-come-here Jazz genuinely don’t want to trade Donovan Mitchell. Sadly, Utah could be one more Spida/Gobert locker room mix-up and one more early playoff exit away from seeing their superstar go James Harden on them, forcing his way to a bigger market where he has a better chance to win and grow his brand.
As much as organizations want to believe they’re in control, this is a player’s league, and even the most courageous GMs (Daryl Morey) eventually give in to their superstar’s demands. If Mitchell wants out, he’s going to find a way out.
The Clippers, Celtics, and Raptors have the necessary assets and city populations to land Mitchell.
The Clippers would want to keep Paul George, but they’d probably trade him for the better pairing of Kawhi Leonard and Donovan Mitchell, a twosome that would fit together perfectly. Mitchell’s playmaking and pick-and-roll offense would be devastating next to Kawhi’s mid-range game and outside touch. At the same time, the Jazz wouldn’t see too much of a drop-off over the next couple of seasons with All-Star Paul George in the fold.
The Celtics desperately need playmaking next to Jayson Tatum, and they have a truckload of draft picks and an All-Star in Jaylen Brown they’d give up in a heartbeat to land Spida. The Jazz would lose this deal, but they’d still be a playoff team with Conley, Brown, and Gobert forming their core.
The Toronto Raptors are 39-31, and they’d be legitimate title contenders with Mitchell in their backcourt. They could offer a combination of Pascal Siakam (a player who was rumored to be on the trade block at the deadline), Gary Trent Jr., and a couple of first-round draft picks. A pairing of VanVleet, Mitchell, Anunoby and Scottie Barnes would be special. The Utah Jazz would hate to lose Mitchell’s playmaking, but they’d be much better defensively and still make the postseason with Siakam and Trent Jr. in the fold.
Possible Destinations: Philadelphia 76ers
Bradley Beal has spent his entire career in the nation’s capital, mainly losing. He’s poured in heavy numbers throughout the last four seasons but has only two first-round playoff exits in 2018 and 2021 to show for it. Beal has said all the right things, claiming he wants to build something in Washington, which could be true. Still, we’ve seen this movie plot before: Superstar A says he wants to finish his career with the team that drafted him, then he flows into a sweaty, jealous rage as he watches his peers grow their legacies during the playoffs while spending May and June chilling at home, and when the postseason is finished Superstar A screams, “Get me out of here!”
The Washington Wizards roster is barren. A five-man starting lineup of K. Porzingis, R. Hachimura, K. Kuzma, B. Beal, and K. Caldwell-Pope will be lucky to make the play-in tourney in the stacked Eastern Conference. Bradley Beal, 28, must understand he has no chance to make real postseason noise in Washington, especially if they max him out, taking away their ability to land another high-impact player.
Considering all the factors surrounding Beal and the Wizards, It’d be incredibly unsurprising if he asked for a sign-and-trade this summer.
The smoke rings are already floating overhead.
Former NBA center Andrew Bogut claimed on a recent episode of his Rogue Bogues podcast he’s heard Beal wants to head over to Philly to team up with Joel Embiid and James Harden, forming the NBA’s latest Big-3.
Possible Destinations: Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves
Would the Trail Blazers do the once unthinkable? Would they trade their top-10 superstar in his prime?
Portland management already sent shock waves through the league, trading Robert Covington and Norman Powell to the Clippers for Eric Bledsoe and a few other minor pieces before sending CJ McCollum to the Pelicans for a collection of bench players along with Josh Hart.
The Trail Blazers' current roster features Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Josh Hart, Joe Ingles, Drew Eubanks, and Justice Winslow along with Jusuf Nurkic and Bledsoe who are both as good as gone at the end of the season.
Josh Hart is an excellent two-way wing, Anfernee Simons has shown flashes this year, and Drew Eubanks is an upgrade over the slow-as-a-snail Jusuf Nurkic. Still, this is nowhere near a playoff squad, even with Damian Lillard throwing on his Iron Man suit and taking over the league next season.
The Blazers can maneuver into max-money territory over the summer, but this year’s (real) free agency class is as barren as we’ve seen in the last decade. James Harden, Bradley Beal, and Kyrie Irving all have player options for next season. Still, only Beal has shown interest in switching stadiums, and he hasn’t shown even the slightest interest in pairing up with Lillard in Portland. Zach LaVine is the only genuine unrestricted superstar on the market, but it would be a stunner if signed anywhere but in Chicago. That leaves Portland with Deandre Ayton, Joe Ingles, T. J. Warren, Bobby Portis (PO), or Kevon Looney to chase after.
Let’s say Portland’s best-case offseason plays out and they resign Joe Ingles and land Deandre Ayton. The Blazers’ starting lineup would showcase Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons in the backcourt, with Josh Hart, Ingles, and Ayton rounding out the frontcourt. Not bad. They could even make the second round of the playoffs before getting smoked by the Suns, Warriors, Clippers, or Mavs.
Is Portland’s goal to make the second round and lose?
Probably not. The Trail Blazers could go into a mini rebuild by trading Lillard to the Bulls, Celtics, or Timberwolves for an assortment of solid young players or for an All-Star and draft picks.
The Summer Of 2022 Should Be Exciting
The Lakers have to move Russell Westbrook, and the Houston Rockets would love to find a way to dump John Wall on another squad. It’s also easy to see Bradley Beal asking for a sign-and-trade with the 76ers.
Damian Lillard and De’Aaron Fox, two excellent Western Conference point guards who’ve never been able to lead their teams deep in the playoffs, could find new homes during the offseason. And Donovan Mitchell could ask out of small-market Utah.
Pascal Siakam and Julius Randle could also be on the move, and it’s easy to see Jerami Grant and Christian Wood suiting up for another organization in 2022-23.