Most NBA trades offer little to no shock value. They’re minor moves made on the fringes involving one or two role players or a couple of future draft picks. Every so often, NBA fans are gifted with a major deal involving one or two All-Stars, and rarely, like a full eclipse of the sun, two or three teams come up with a stunner, a blockbuster trade featuring multiple superstars.
We’ve conjured up five trades that won't merely shock NBA fans. We’re delving deeper down the rabbit hole. We’ve created five offseason trades that would blow up the internet and send the NBA global community into a tither of happiness or a spiral of hate.
Below, we’ll outline five trades that NBA diehards across the world would either love or hate.
The Knicks Land A Superstar And The Jazz Dive Into A Mini-Rebuild
New York Knicks Receive: Donovan Mitchell
Utah Jazz Receive: Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, 2022 First-Round Pick, 2023 First-Round Pick, 2024 Second-Round Pick
The Jazz have looked disinterested for the past couple of months. They finished the regular season by posting a ho-hum 13-11 record after the All-Star break falling down to the fifth seed in the Western Conference. The Jazz now find themselves down 1-2 in the First Round with a Dallas Mavericks squad missing their superstar and offensive creator, Luka Doncic. Things don’t look promising for Utah, and if they bow out early from the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year in a row with Mitchell and Gobert running the show, there’s a very real chance Spida will venture beyond the small market boundaries of Utah.
Murmurs are already spreading from “anonymous sources” that Mitchell would love to land in New York to build his brand and play in the mecca of basketball. NBA fans would love to see Spida on the Knicks, and it would be fascinating to watch what happens.
There are only two potential outcomes:
Scenario #1: Donovan Mitchell would team up with Mitchell Robinson and use his top-3 pick and roll skill set to create the type of space that would allow RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Evan Fournier to thrive. Mitchell would average close to 30 points per game, and Barrett would provide secondary scoring, emerging as a first-time All-Star. Julius Randle would stop jacking up wild three-pointers and attack his defenders in space. Evan Fournier would spread the floor with his long distance stroke, and Robinson would pressure opposing defenses as a top-tier roll man. The Knicks would finish as a top-6 seed in the Eastern Conference, to the delight of New York and the world.
Scenario #2: Donovan Mitchell would come to New York and struggle without Rudy Gobert, the premier screen-setting big man in the league. RJ Barrett would be unable to make the leap, averaging 17 inefficient points per game. Julius Randle would continue to shoot close to 30% from deep on over five attempts per game while Evan Fournier sulks on the perimeter, head down and eyes glazed over. Robinson would have problems consistently attacking the basket, allowing his defender to converge on Spida in the lane. The New York fans would turn on Mitchell as they did with Randle this season, booing and heckling him until he cracked. The Knicks would miss the playoffs after mortgaging their future for a superstar.
Fans would love to see the Knicks excel, and Spida become the king of New York. Fans would also find a sick happiness in watching Spida flop under the bright lights of The Big Apple. Either way, it would be “Must Watch TV.”
The Jazz, meanwhile, would land a truckload of solid assets. Obi Toppin, Alec Burks, and Nerlens Noel are solid two-way players, and Immanuel Quickley, 22, has flashed 20 PPG scoring potential at times for the Knicks. Utah would also get three draft picks they could package with Jordan Clarkson or Mike Conley to chase another All-Star to pair with Rudy Gobert.
Boston Acquires A Top-10 Offensive Weapon While Fracturing Their Defense
Boston Celtics Receive: Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Jaylen Brown, Derrick White
On paper, Damian Lillard and Jayson Tatum seem like an incredible pairing. Still, worldwide fans would hate our proposed trade.
The Celtics built the best record in the league after the All-Star break (17-5) behind the most effective defense in the league, a suffocating, long-armed octopus that smothers all opponents. Boston could have maneuvered from the second seed in the Eastern Conference into the third spot in an attempt to avoid a First Round matchup with the seventh-seeded Nets. Instead, they leaned into a date with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and company because they believed their octopus D was good enough to shut down anyone. So far, so good. The Celtics are up 2-0 against the Nets and look like legit championship contenders.
Damian Lillard is a top-10 player in the NBA, an offensive hero. However, he has a -0.8 career Defensive Box Plus/Minus and, at best, can be described as a subpar defender. The Celtics have built their title case around their defense, and Jaylen Brown and Derrick White are two of their most critical cogs. While Lillard and Tatum would be exceptional on offense, Dame would fracture the Celtics on the less fun end. Opposing squads would hunt him off switches, and without the length and speed of Brown and White, Boston would get sliced up. Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart and center Robert Williams would be enough to drag the Celtics into a top-12 defensive ranking, but there’s a vast difference between being the number one team on the less fun end versus the tenth or 11th rated D.
As for the Trail Blazers, Jaylen Brown and Derrick White would be an outstanding return for Damian Lillard. Brown would probably average 25.0 PPG, and White would play his typical brand of excellent two-way basketball. Still, it would be sad to watch two high-quality personalities toil away in lottery hell for the foreseeable future.
The Lakers Trade Anthony Davis In A Blockbuster Trade
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Deandre Ayton (sign and trade), Mikal Bridges
Phoenix Suns Receive: Anthony Davis
Would the Suns go out on a limb and make this deal if they miss out on a title for the second year in a row?
This season could be the Suns’ most likely chance to hang a banner. Chris Paul is closer to 40 than 35, and they ended the regular season with the best record in the league. Still, the Warriors look scary with Jordan Poole stepping up in the playoffs alongside Steph and Klay. The Celtics, 76ers, and Bucks also pose a major threat if Phoenix manages to make it out of the Western Conference.
The Suns could easily miss out on the title in 2022, which would be good news for NBA fans across the world, who’d love nothing more than to see this trade.
Let’s begin with Mikal Bridges.
We need to free Bridges. He’s trapped behind Chris Paul and Devin Booker, pushed off to the side as a glorified 3-and-D wing. He can be so much more. In only 28% of his field goal attempts during the season, he held the ball between two and six seconds. Rather, he was routinely forced into a catch and shoot role, launching the ball without taking a dribble. But when Bridges actually created his own shot, he had a 58.6% hit rate. Bridges has an excellent offensive skill set that’s been stifled by the Suns plethora of scoring options. As a member of a Lakers squad devoid of top-tier wing talent, he’d be given the freedom to work out of isolation sets or from the pick and roll. He could easily launch his average up into the low 20s and transform from the leading role player in the league into an All-Star.
Deandre Ayton would have to take slightly less than the max to make the math work on our trade. However, he’s likely to find it difficult to get a huge payday while playing for a contender next season. It’s easy to see the Suns’ current big man agreeing to a slight discount to play next to LeBron James under the bright lights of Hollywood. In the end, if Ayton refuses to take anything less than the maximum, The Purple and Gold could offer any combination of Kendrick Nunn, Austin Reaves, and Mac McClung or simply add Talen Horton-Tucker to the deal in order to even out the money.
Deandre Ayton formed a nice synergy with Chris Paul as one of the most reliable roll men in the league. He’d transition to the Lakers and fit like a baby sleeping in his mother’s arms next to LeBron. James is one of the most talented playmakers in the NBA, an unselfish MVP-caliber player who attracts dozens of double-teams nightly and is adept at finding his teammates off cuts or rolls to the rim. James could quickly help transform Ayton from an almost All-Star to a genuine member of the NBA’s mid-season classic.
A combination of Bridges, James, and Ayton could form into a Big-3 for the Lakers, helping propel them towards a top-4 seed in the Western Conference.
On the Suns’ side of things, the only thing that would stop a combination of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Jae Crowder, Cameron Johnson, and Anthony Davis from winning the title would be the health of their core. If AD could avoid the injury bug next season, the Suns would feature three top-15 players alongside some of the finest role players in the league. From then on, they'd become an entertaining juggernaut that would enthrall fans from the U.S. to the Philippines, and CP3 would have an opportunity to cement his legacy as one of the greatest players of all time by winning his first chip.
The Heat And Pelicans Exchange All-Star Wings
Miami Heat Receive: Brandon Ingram
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: Jimmy Butler
Who wins this trade?
Jimmy Butler has the name power and more experience, but it’s difficult to say which team would be better off.
Compare both players' 2021-22 statistics:
Jimmy Butler: 21.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 5.5 APG, 23.3 3P%, and 1.9 DBPM
Brandon Ingram: 22.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 5.6 APG, 32.7 3P%, and -0.6 DBPM
Their numbers are comparable. Jimmy Butler is clearly the better defender, a player with the size and agility to cover all five positions. Brandon Ingram is eight years younger and the more skilled offensive weapon, an athlete who could lead the league in scoring once he reaches his prime.
Jimmy Butler and Brandon Ingram have similar numbers, but fans would hate this trade.
The uber-competitive Jimmy Butler deserves more at this stage of his career than playing for a Pelicans team with one of the most disinterested fan bases in the league. New Orleans featured an up-and-coming playoff squad this season yet still came in 26th in the NBA in attendance, and it’s difficult to see Butler moving the needle much in a city that eats and drinks football.
A core of CJ McCollum, Jimmy Butler, and Zion Williamson would be solid. However, it would be next to impossible for this grouping to make it out of the west against the Warriors, Suns, Mavs, and Grizzlies. In the event Zion suffers another long-term injury, New Orleans' youth along with McCollum's inability to play above-average defense could lead Jimmy Buckets to go on strike, demanding a trade, a sad end for one of the league's premier wings.
As for the Heat, they might scoff at our trade proposal. A core of Brandon Ingram, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro is intriguing. Still, they’d take a step back next season. Fans of competitive, tough-nosed basketball would miss out on seeing the Heat take on the Bucks, Celtics, and 76ers for Eastern Conference dominance.
Golden State Pairs Steph With Another MVP
Golden State Warriors Receive: Nikola Jokic, Monte Morris
Denver Nuggets Receive: Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga, James Wiseman, 2023 First-Round Pick
Last year's MVP, Nikola Jokic, is expected to sign the richest contract in NBA history this summer with the Nuggets, according to his agent.
But what if getting swept at the hands of the Warriors in the First Round rubs Jokic raw? What if he stews on his sofa thinking about another year of his prime getting flushed down the toilet?
It’s unlikely Jokic will demand a trade during the offseason, but it’s not impossible.
The Golden State Warriors would be the perfect landing spot for Jokic, and with Jordan Poole’s emergence and incredibly cheap contract, he makes the math work.
A pairing of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green alongside Nikola Jokic would get hardcore NBA fans yelling with pleasure. They’d be so damn exciting that football, soccer, and baseball enthusiasts would also cross enemy lines to take in the spectacle.
Jokic, Steph, Klay, and Green would win multiple titles and dazzle along the way as the most dominant passing and shooting team in NBA history. Opposing teams would have no options. Double-team Steph, and he’d hit Jokic on the inside. Double-team Jokic, and he’d hit Steph or Klay on the outside. The Warriors might break the Lakers record of most national TV games for a season with all 82 of their contests televised across America.
The Nuggets would be a captivating franchise as well. A starting unit of Jamal Murray, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, Michael Porter Jr, and James Wiseman would blitz opposing teams on offense. Will Barton, Aaron Gordon, and Jonathan Kuninga would offer three elite two-way wings off the bench who could be integrated into the starting five if their defense leaked too much. Denver would feature one of the deepest and most well-rounded squads in the NBA, a group that would make the playoffs as an incredibly entertaining young squad.
Five Love-Hate Trades
Don’t discount our five suggested trades.
The Jazz look lost against the Mavericks in the First Round, and the signs are there. We’ve seen dozens of superstars ask out of their small-market clubs for the lure of building their brand in a major American city. Donovan Mitchell could be next. Fans across the world would love to see Spida in New York.
The Portland Trail Blazers traded most of their starting unit during the season and could look to deal their superstar, starting a rebuild. The Celtics look dominant, but Boston’s front office could pull the trigger on Lillard if their fortunes change. Diehards would hate to see Lillard in Boston, botching up their number one rated defense.
The Suns could flounder again deep in the postseason and look to bring in Anthony Davis, betting his injury woes are behind him. The Lakers could trade their All-Star big man for more top-tier depth in Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges. Fans would love to see Bridges and Ayton next LBJ in LA, and AD alongside CP3 and Book would be fascinating to watch.
Jimmy Butler got into it with head coach Erik Spoelstra earlier in the season. If the Heat lose in the Eastern Conference Semifinals or Finals, he could demand a trade. Brandon Ingram, 24, would be a solid addition for Miami, and the Pelicans would love to add Jimmy Butler and his defensive acumen. In the end, it would be sad to see Jimmy Buckets in the empty confines of the Smoothie King Center.
Nikola Jokic could demand a trade this summer, disappointed in the Nuggets’ consistent playoff woes. Jokic, Steph, Klay, and Green would be among the most formidable foursomes ever assembled. Wiggins, Poole, Wiseman, and Kuminga would fit nicely next to Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Both squads would delight fans for years to come.